Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire
Welcome back to Buy and Sell, where we’ve just had an exciting week for prospect fans, with many out-of-contention teams handing the reins to their young talent. If you didn’t see Adam Jones give deference to Cedric Mullins II, you really should watch it for some feel good vibes. Or just watch the Rays clubhouse any dang day. Live your life like the Rays clubhouse, and you’ll probably have develop multiple personalities so maybe just pick one player to emulate. But yes, excitement abounds! This was a tough list as it could have been twice as long with so many new hitters and so many hitters on fire right now. Let’s get to it.
Ryan Zimmerman (1B, Washington Nationals) – He’s been so hot, he’s not Zimmering, he’s Zizzling. The big Z has had an offensive explosion to the tune of .458/.517/1.000 over the past week with 3 homers and a whopping 13 RBI this week. On the season, sure, he just has a .259/.330/.506 line, but I think that is he can stay on the field, he could be one of the biggest homestretch difference-makers. xStats strongly believes that he’s been unlucky up to this point, as his xSlash of .293/.360/.535 suggests an entire different hitter below the surface numbers, and his Barrel/PA of 10.8% is 5th-best in baseball. We’ve seen what he’s capable of when healthy, and I recommend putting a felt med Kit and vitamins in the hand of your Zimmerman voodoo doll and rolling with him in all, yes, ALL leagues (except for Entire-Roster-Full-of-Jose-Ramirezes Leagues).
Austin Hedges (C – San Diego Padres) – The Hedgeshog has definitely had a Sonic boom of a month, hitting .352/.410/.685 with 5 HR and 3 SB in 54 AB over the past three weeks, more than doubling his homer total for the year. Considering he was sporting a .199 Average in 548 AB coming into the year, his current .262 average is quite the surprise, and we may finally be witnessing the breakout that we had hoped on in years past. While some positive luck may be playing a role, as his xSlash of .233/.292/.412 isn’t quite as rosy, I’m optimistic since his 6/12 K/BB over the past 3 weeks is far better than it had been. Especially since he was hitting .176 at one point in June, I think it’s not crazy to expect better results going forward even with some BABIP regression. With catcher being such a drag, his power-speed combo makes him entirely viable in all mixed leagues, so the fact he’s still only owned in under 24% of ESPN leagues is a shame, though far less of a travesty than his 8.8% ownership last week. Before you get white Knuckles in anticipation, scoop him up while he’s casting a Shadow over the other backstops… and Dr. Robotnik.
Willy Adames (2B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays) – His early-season numbers made it look like he was getting beaten into submission, but now he is finally Adaminating. He’s been hitting .468/.500/.696 with a homer and 4 stolen bases over the past week after being under the Mendoza line for most of the season, and it seems he’s finally acclimating as both his power and speed are coming online, now with 5 HR and 5 SB in just 152 AB this year. Now with the Rays clearly out of contention and his prior competition in Daniel Robertson on the mend, playing time is no longer a concern. While he still lacks OBP skills, his power/speed combo at shortstop is worth starting and 15-team and streaming while hot in 12-team Batting Average leagues as well. Don’t treat potential 20/20 shortstops like they grow on trees, they grow in the womb like all baseball players and other humans, but also there are not many of them.
Danny Jansen (C, Toronto Blue Jays) – It’s about dang time for Dan. No relation to Cam Jansen, but he seems to have a photographic memory of pitches because he’s been hitting all year in Triple-A. It seems at some point he may have had a change in approach as earlier in the year he hit for high average with more limited power, and then in July his average started dipping but went on a significant power surge, with 7 of his home runs from July 4 to August 4. He must’ve been a true American and just wanted to see more fireworks. Some doubt his true power upside but I think in the majors it’s not unreasonable to expect him to hit .270 with an above-average catcher OBP and 4-5 home runs down the homestretch, which will make him more valuable than most other catchers on your waiver wire, as well as many others that are likely owned. He’s worth an immediate add in all two-catcher leagues, and single-catcher 15-team leagues, and even worth an add in 12-team formats. Due to his excellent plate discipline and burgeoning power, I’ve been one his biggest fans since last year and don’t think it’s crazy to say he could end the year as a top-10 catcher. so give Jansen a chance-en.
Ben Zobrist (2B/OF, Chicago Cubs) – He may no longer be the Zorilla of yesteryear, but he can still be a Zorangutang. Wait, who came up with the idea to combine “Zobrist” and “Gorilla” anyway? They literally have one letter in common. I’m asking the REAL questions here, just about five years too late. Anyway, while this week he’s been getting over a hip injury, he’s still riding a hot past few weeks, as he’s hit .413/..463/.739 in 46 ABs the past 21 days, and it’s raised his season line to .308/.393/.461 with 8 HR. It’s hard not to love that even at 37, he has just as many walks (45) as he does strikeouts, so he’s proving to still be a reliable option for high average and even better OBP even though the power has declined and the stolen base ability is nonexistent. Well if your team has been in an offensive hangover, in deeper 15-team AVG leagues or for 12-team OBP leagues it may not be fun, but you may benefit from a stint of Zobriety.
Franmil Reyes (OF, San Diego Padres) – If you’re looking for taters, Randy Newman will sing you, “You got a Fran in mil”. Reyes has returned with the same thump he displayed earlier this year, hitting .310/.393/.690 with 3 HR and 6 Ks in just 29 AB since his return. Although 4 of those strikeouts are from this week, overall I’m still encouraged that he can contribute on the power front without being a total batting average liability (less optimistic about his OBP prospects. I wouldn’t get too bullish, as xStats thinks his curernt SLG% of .485 is a whopping 70 points above his .415 xSLG, but at this point Franmil is likely available in deeper leagues where even a .415 SLG% wouldn’t be the end of the world. As long as he stays in the lineup, the Franch Friar can easily hit 5-8 dingers with a .250+ average the rest of the way, which makes him viable in NL-only and 18-team leagues and a viable short-term Home Run stream in 15-team.
Hunter Renfroe (OF, San Diego Padres) – Everyone assumed at this point he’d be a regular fixture in the lineup but he’s been tossed around to and renfroe.. His season was interrupted by an injury stint, and he hasn’t really had great chances to get acclimated while serving much of the season as a lefty side of a platoon and pinch hitter. But now, with Myers down YET AGAIN (ugh) Renfroe has gotten another chance, and he’s ran with the opportunity. hitting .267/.313/.643 with 3 Homers this past week, including a grand slam against Soria. So far he’s acquitted himself well vs righties, and if he can continue to do so, may be able to fight his way out of a platoon role when Myers returns. Of course, much like his teammate Franmil, the fact that power is his only true tool makes him more of a deep league play for 18-team formats and for streaming in 15-team, and unlike last year is viable not just in AVG leagues but also OBP.
David Bote (2B, 3B, Chicago Cubs) – For Bote, he’s been cruising like he’s going down a big blue watery road. While his playing time has been sporadic, he’s made the most of his opportunities, hitting .333/.412/.667 with a homer and 7 RBI in 15 RBI this week, and is hitting an impressive .329//.418/.539 in 76 AB in the majors so far. Of course, like Kevin Garnett, anything’s possible in such a small sample size, but it seems clear that his ability to hit is no fluke. He’s sporting an average exit velocity of 96.1 which is actually best in the majors (min 50 BBE) and his FB/LD eV of 99.5 mph is 3rd-best, and his Barrel% of 8.8% is still excellent and top-30. So it shouldn’t be so surprising that xStats adores him as much as an algorithm is capable of love, with an xSlash of ..364/.447/.602. No, I wouldn’t project that for him moving forward, as his strikeout rate and minor league numbers are more grounded in reality, but in the short term, here’s a virtually unowned player who is legit raking. With many Cubs infielders returning soon, the Bote will likely soon dock at harbor, but you should ride it out in NL-only, 18-team and even AVG/OBP streaming in deeper 15-leagues if you can set daily lineups.
Logan Forsythe (2B/3B, Minnesota Twins) – Forsooth, there is nobody that intrigues a fantasy baseball owner in 2018 much less than Forsythe. What was once a well-rounded player now lacks the average and power to be a mixed league asset, but he’s showing that he still has his batting average ability intact, with a .405/.476/.459 mark over the past two weeks and hitting .440 over the past week over everyday at-bats. With no real competition in the Twins’ wasteland, he should continue to be of service for streaming for average and OBP for the time being, making him a decent one-category streamer in both batting average and OBP-based AL-only or 18-team leagues, even if he’s no longer a Forsythe to be reckoned with.
Elvis Andrus (SS, Texas Rangers) – This drop, recommendation, I should mention, is really not at all recommended by the actual add/drop leaderboards. And frankly, that puzzles me. Look, I know he was hurt and had a great year last year, but considering it’s mid-August and not Mid-May, no I don’t think it’s crazy to ask “What have you done for me lately?” And the answer is, a whole lotta nothing. Okay, well he’s been fine for runs and RBI, even hitting for a solid average. But still, over a full season of at-bats, with just 4 HR and 4 SB in 277 PA, he’d be on pace for a full-season of about 10 HR and 10 SB, which really just isn’t that far above shallow league replacement level, and the average is good but not enough to justify owning him over guys like Aledmys Diaz or Adalberto Mondesi (AKA better-Billy-Hamilton-at-shortstop). He’s still perfectly cromulent in deeper leagues, but in 10-team and shallow 12-team OBP leagues, you’d benefit from more flavor than Blandrus.
Ryon Healy (1B, Seattle Mariners) – In Healy’s defense, he hasn’t been bad, but he also hasn’t been that good, and Healy and Defense don’t belong in the same sentence. Well unless that sentence is “Healy is really bad at defense”. Now, that doesn’t matter in fantasy per se, but with Cano due back and likely to get his at-bats playing 1B and DH, Healy is at risk of losing playing time. It’s true that he is a similar one-tool player as many who I recommened under the BUY section, but unlike them, Healy is owned in many shallower leagues by owners blinded by his 22 homers. His .237 average looks pretty compared to his ugly .271 OBP, and he’s hit just .203/..257/.348 in 69 AB the past 21 days. At such an offense-rich position, in 10-team, 12-team, and even shallower 15-team OBP, you should glide away from him with those Healy shoes the kids are wearing nowadays.
Greg Bird (1B, New York Yankees) – He’s getting kind of old to still have not left the nest. A favorite sleeper pick year after year, he just can’t manage to stay both healthy and productive, and he’s now in an environment where his one carrying tool, his power, is a dime a dozen, and with guys like Sano, Carter and Chris Davis having kind-of-similar power-patience shticks, the Yankees may start to be ready to move on from Bird if he can’t put together a hot streak soon. He’s hit an abysmal .136/.188/.182 in 44 AB over the past 2 weeks, and even with Judge still out indefinitely, the Yankees may soon lose patience and give his playing time to someone else, perhaps Romine when Sanchez returns. In all but the deepest 18-team OBP and NL-only leagues, time for bird droppings. In some cultures that means good luck!