Welcome back to Buy & Sell! Another crazy week has gone by, and it seems we’ve simultaneously learned a lot and nothing at all. We’re all basically forced to play hot potato, whack-a-mole, or whacking a baked potato in mole sauce. Like it or not, we’re already a quarter of the way through the season, so smart streaming gives you a much bigger advantage. Remember that major league teams will also be more impatient with struggling players, so embrace the chaos. After all, if it weren’t chaotic, I’m sure I wouldn’t be recommending three Detroit Tigers. Note than I’m using Yahoo eligibility and Own% so results may vary. With that said, here’s the insanity’s biggest beneficiaries..
Jesus Aguilar (1B, Miami Marlins)
After his 2019 flop Jesus was dead to me, but now he is having his second coming. Aguilar is in prime form, hitting .306/.346/.694 with 4 HR in 41 PA, and his peripherals stats support the resurgence being real. Statcast supports his line with a .310 xBA and .670 xSLG, which are 92nd and 97th percentile, respectively. While he hit for huge power in 2018, the primary difference this year has been a massive improvement in contact. His 12% strikeout rate is less than half his 2018 rate of 25%, and it’s actually supported by a fantastic 88% contact rate and a six percent swinging strike rate, halved from last year. Wildest of all, he leads the league among qualified players in Z-Contact%, making contact with 100% of pitches in the zone. Especially with the Marlins’ shortened OF wall, I think Aguilar will be a top-10 1B the rest of the way. Add him in all leagues before someone else realizes that this big fish is for reel.
Dylan Moore (Seattle Mariners, 2B/3B/SS/OF)
He’s got playing time, he’s got power/speed, he’s got multi-position eligibility, who could ask for anything Moore? Also, who is he again? To be fair, the 28-year-old career minor leaguer did have a rather decent but unheralded power-speed debut for the M’s in 2019, hitting .206/.302/.389 with nine homers and 11 SB (9 CS) in 282 PA. But obviously nobody expected this surge, as he’s now hitting .333 with four homers and three steals in 49 PA. It hasn’t been done with sheer luck either, as his 94 mph average exit velocity is 96th percentile, so Statcast supports his success with a .294 xBA and .664 xSLG. While his high 30% rate and low four percent walk rate would seem to indicate volatility, I actually believe these should positively regress as he has a great 24% chase rate and solid 75% contact rate. While he’s been a hot add as his ownership jumped to 49% due to his critical positional versatility, he should be added in all 15-teams and 12-team formats in which he’s still available, and even a solid bench/utility stream in 10-teamers.
Max Stassi (C, Los Angeles Angels)
I binged on Jason Castro last week, but now I’m feeling fat and Stassi. I got so bullish that I submit an $100 FAAB bid on him in my two-catcher 15-teamer, and felt like a clown when there were no other bids. So far he already has four homers, and also has four barrels. Stassi has always had a high exit-velocity bat, but his improved defense and contact have helped a ton. His excellent 14% k-rate will likely regress as he’s always been streaky, but he’s managed to make the most of his power with more flyballs. He’s managed to hit 50% flyball rate with just an eight percent pop-up rate, and Statcast believes his power thus far was no fluke. While he won’t keep this up, I believe he can get 10 HR by season’s end with a solid average. Unfortunately, he’ll have fewer PAs to do it, as I doubt he wrests more than a 65/35 playing time split from Castro. He’s owned in 32% of leagues, and if your catcher is killing you, his bat makes him worth owning in all two-catcher leagues and 15-team leagues and is a viable stream in 12-teamers.
Austin Slater (1B/OF, San Francisco Giants)
Slater has been so smooth that you’d think he’s making Zack Morris jealous. The 27-year-old platoon guy wasn’t expected to be a starter but has hit .333/.405/.667 with three homers and steals each. While he was never exactly a speed demon in the minors, in his MLB time he’s been a legit stolen base threat, with 12 stolen bases in 13 attempts from in 453 PA from 2018 to now. And while he won’t keep this hot hitting up, Statcast does validate what he’s done so far with a .315 xBA and still-great .569 xSLG. I think the power can continue, thanks in part to his reduced groundball rate, which has dropped from a troubling 52% to a much more acceptable 39%; improved contact; and the best Sweet Spot% in baseball at 65%. There’s plenty of skepticism as evidenced by his 10% ownership rate, but there’s a lot to like here and he could be quite the discount to Trent Grisham. Add in all 15-team formats and deeper 12-team formats, especially OBP leagues.
Mike Tauchman (OF, New York Yankees)
Another year, another Stanton injury. Well, technically, another another Stanton injury. While Roster Resource lists Mike Ford as the replacement, and some said Miguel Andujar could take it, Tauchman is who has had more at-bats and who I think is the better fantasy gamble. While the power has yet to arrive, he’s providing sneaky value with his .310 AVG and four stolen bases (0 CS). It’s rather astounding that despite a 40th percentile sprint speed, he’s now 10-for-10 in stolen bases since 2019. So I’d bet on him continuing to get the green light, and despite his streakiness has multiple ways to provide value. Statcast remains skeptical on his batting average and power, with a .251 xBA and .316 xSLG, but perhaps the system underrates players with his skill set, plus his favorable Bronx park factor. He’s currently just 10% owned, but his power-speed upside makes him a must-add in 15-teamers, and a worthy SB stream in deeper 12-team AVG leagues.
Miguel Cabrera (1B, Detroit Tigers)
Pre-2019, I said don’t stick a fork in him, and he knifed me. But I’ll go to plate for him once more. After losing his usually-excellent bat speed in 2019, his current average exit velocity of 95 mph (97th percentile) is his highest in years. While his .204 AVG with four hoemrs and .469 slugging don’t excite at his position, he’s deserved at least somewhat closer to his xBA of .278 and xSLG of .531 (somewhat because he often underperforms his Statcast rates). Still, he looks much healthier this year and even without Castellanos, Detroit’s offense has looked (somewhat) better than expected. While his career-worst contact rate of 71% suggests he won’t return the .300+ batting averages of yesteryear, he should be an underrated power source and accumulator with his prime lineup spot. Miggy is still just 17% owned and is a solid add in most 15-teamers, especially OBP leagues, and even that may be too conservative for the future Hall of Famer.
Jake Cronenworth (1B/2B/SS, San Diego Padres)
I think I misfired my portal gun and slipped into Cronenworth world. But there’s nothing ugly about what Cronenworth has done in limited PT, hitting .344/.364/.750 with 2 HR in 33 PA, and I’m bullish. Small sample size of course applies, but I think it’s wild that Statcast considers the 26-year-old’s sample to be bad luck, with a crazy xBA of .390 and xSLG of .811. I’m naturally skeptical as his 10 homers last year in a bouncy ball Triple-A were a career high, but I do believe in the bat nonetheless. He’s kept a low 15% k-rate which is supported by a solid 83% contact rate. He seems to be making a concerted effort to barrel more with a 56% pull rate and 37% line drive rate, but I think he’ll be more useful in batting average than power. But his speed may still be his best tool, with 95th-percentile sprint speed that he has yet to utilize this year. If he does, he could be 12-team viable as the rare 1B-eligible SB play, and should be available at just 9% Owned. Right now I’d add in all 18-team formats and most 15-team formats, especially AVG leagues, though I’d consider in 12-teamers if you have a need at any of his positions.
Victor Reyes (OF, Detroit Tigers)
To the victor go the stolen bases. He’s been solid so far, hitting .270 with one homer and three steals, but he may be on the cusp of a bigger breakout everyone’s sleeping on. While he seemed to be lucky with his .304 AVG in 2019, this year so far he’s been unlucky, with an xBA of .349 and xSLG of .498. He’s cut his K% by more than half, from 22% to 10% this year, but it seems suspect as his SwStr% of 14% is much higher than 10% in 2019. He has hit for better exit velocity this year, averaging 90 mph, so I think he should be able to hit .280-.300 with a few more homers and 5-8 more steals the rest of the way, which has plenty of value in 15-teamers.
Willie Calhoun (OF, Texas Rangers)
They say he’s scared of the ball. They say his power is gone. Well I don’t believe them. In the hyper-impatient environment this year, he may be owned in your 12-team league and may be a free agent in your AL-only. I mean, his current line of .152/.189/.242 is downright ugly, but he’s one guy I’m not giving up on in deeper leagues. He’s hitting the ball much harder, with his exit velocity up to 93 mph (90 mph in 2019). So he must be whiffing more, right? Wrong. In fact, his plate discipline and contact have been the best ever, with a 23% chase rate and 90% contact rate giving him a nearly Mookie-esque five percent swinging strike rate. If you have some patience (or take advantage of another owner’s impatience) you may soon be handsomely rewarded. He’s not available everywhere at 29% owned, but if he’s in your league, he’s must-add in all 18-team formats, and I think he’s worth a spec add in 15-team as well and 12-team with a deep bench. Because I think it still might soon click, and when it does the upside is still 10-team worthy.
Jeimer Candelario (1B/3B, Detroit Tigers)
Even after so many false starts, it’s still too soon to blow out the flame on Candelario. He’s been quietly solid this year, hitting .256 with a homer in 42 PA, and he may have something less boring on the horizon. With Cron hitting the IL, Candelario is guaranteed playing time and may move up in the lineup. Not only that, but his 91 mph exit velocity is the best of his career, and he can hit a solid .270 with 4-5 HR and decent run production over the next month. He’s worth an add in all AL-only formats and 18-team AVG leagues.
Eduardo Escobar (2B/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks)
Recommending buys is the easy part. It’s the sells and the drops that cause the pain. Escobar hasn’t been a complete disaster, but he’s also doing little to reward your patience, as he’s just hit .167 with one home run in 60 PA. The good news is Statcast suggests he’s been among the league’s unluckiest hitters with a .267 xBA and .382 xSLG. The bad news is… is anyone happy about a .382 slugging percentage? Escobar’s great 2019 never matched up with the underlying stats and there are many options with more power/speed upside like Moore or in power/average (Kendrick) so I think you have to cut the cord in 10-teamers and most shallower 12-teamers unless there’s a category for stubbornness.
Oscar Mercado (OF, Cleveland Indians)
Anyone who invested on him on draft day is getting Merked. He has nary a homer or a stolen base in 43 PA, and hitting a miserable .122/.163/.122 with just two runs and three RBI in 43 PA. He looks lost at the plate with a 30% k-rate that’s double his 2019 rate, and while his exit velocity has remained stable, Statcast thinks he’s deserved his WorstBall/Bizarro league MVP season. At 63% owned, it’s clear that fantasy teams don’t want to give up on their failed speed investment, but there are some good SB options still on the wire (see above). But with the Indians in a playoff race, if he doesn’t start hitting soon, it won’t be long before Oscar meets the trash.
Justin Smoak (1B, Milwaukee Brewers)
I said he’d be on fire but instead I got burned. I don’t know what is wrong with him this year, besides, well, everything. Statcast says he’s earned his .167 AVG and .271 slugging (actually lucky with a .248 xSLG), but the most pitiful part is his complete implosion of plate skills. His 42% k-rate is double his 2019 mark, with a 68% contact rate. While his OBP may improve a bit, I think the Brew Crew may as well take a chance on lightning in a bottle from a youngster because any spark from Smoak looks extinguished.
Khris Davis (UT, Oakland Athletics)
The A’s shocked the baseball world by showing in less than a month of at-bats that their previous star hitter would now be relegated to the short side of a platoon. But keep in mind, that’s also like a third of the season. He was hitting just .167/.250/.278 with one home run in 40 PA, doing little to calm concerns that he’s either not fully healthy or that his bat last year flat-out gave up the ghost. It may seem ridiculous to cut a former top-100 pick in 12-teamers and even 15-teamers, but that’s the smart thing to do. He’s still owned in 51% of leagues and that’s far too high.
Justin Upton (OF, Los Angeles Angels)
If I sounded negative on Davis, I may as well be an electron on Upton because there’s no positivity. You know when you’re losing playing time to Brian Goodwin the team has no faith in you. Perhaps he’s still playing hurt, but I think he just lost the ability to hit breaking pitches and the book is out on him, and he’s only getting worse as he’s hitting .083 with six Ks in 12 ABs this week. Even at 57% owen, it’s time to move on. Don’t feel bad cutting him even in AL-only formats, you’re not paying him like the Angels are.
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