Welcome back to Buy & Sell, and in some leagues, you’ve already passed or are rapidly approaching the league’s trade deadline. What that means for you is that the waiver wire is your last bastion of finding value and improving your team. In my NFBC, I foolishly overbid in May and June and have had some luck getting several of these guys with Dollar Days. The toughest part was all of the other sleeper and surging deeper league hitters I had to leave out, but I’ll be happy to answer questions about them too. On to the list!
Max Muncy (1B/2B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Muncy is back in the money. He has the highest August OPS of all hitters with an insane 1.352 OPS, with a .400 average and 3 homers just in the past week. His poor performance always did seem to be injury-related, and perhaps his short layoff was just what he needed. It’s no fluke either, as his .474 xwOBA over his past 50 PA is the second-biggest improvement of all hitters, and he’s definitely going to rack up numbers now considering they played him even through his worst struggles. With his fantastic walk rate and triple-eligibility, he’s a must-own in all formats, and don’t hesitate to scoop him now if a frustrated owner cut him in July and hasn’t caught on.
Jon Berti (2B/3B/OF, Miami Marlins)
As the song “One Week” said, Berti Kaempfert’s got the mad hits, but you can’t match wits with his fast and furious stolen bases. In more competitive leagues and prize leagues, he’s likely highly rostered, but the injury has made him a forgotten man in the more standard ESPN and Yahoo 12-team formats, where he’s only 26% Rostered and 68% Rostered, respectively. Get it together, ESPN leaguers.
Berti certainly hasn’t lit the league on fire the same way since his return, hitting just .235 with just 1 SB in 17 AB since his return. Between that and rather unreliable playing time (Major League teams care not for our fantasy teams), he’s been dropped more than added, but you’ll wish you started him when he has a run of double-bag days. While he doesn’t contribute much elsewhere, he’s at least a passable hitter with a league-average .323 xwOBA to go with his .268 AVG, 2 HR, and whopping 30 SB in 239 PA. With such earth-shattering base-stealing, he’s worth the warts, and starting Berti will help you Earni prize money.
Andrew Vaughn (1B/OF, Chicago White Sox)
He lures me in with his lilting batting average, and though I’ve been fooled by this sweet song before, I don’t think it’s a Vaughn Trapp. While he hasn’t put up the power numbers we were hoping for, it’s pretty hard to complain about his .300/.349/.475 line with 13 HR and 58 RBI in 360 ABs. In fact, I’d argue he’s been similar but better than the much-hyped Josh Bell, who had a higher OBP but a worse average and is in a wicked slump. Vaughn, meanwhile, is hitting .360 with 3 HR and 9 RBI over the past two weeks.
It is worth noting that his barrel rate has not been good this year at just 7%, well down from his 10% in 2021 in which he struggled. However, he still has excellent raw exit velocity with a 112 mph MaxEV, and given that the 24-year-old is still developing as a hitter, I still believe he can hit a bunch of homers in a hurry. With the useful dual 1B/OF eligibility and a reliable batting average, he’s well worth streaming for average in 10-team batting average formats and should be rostered in 12-team batting average formats.
Vaughn Grissom (SS, Atlanta Braves)
I thought I needed John Grisham for thrillers until I saw the fear of pitchers throwing to Vaughn Grissom. Yes, I doubled down on Vaughns.
Despite the lack of relation to Marquis, this Grissom has shown he definitely belongs in the majors, hitting .400 with 2 HR and 1 SB in his first 25 AB. Not too shabby for a first impression. The 21-year-old phenom could well be following the footsteps of Michael Harris II, though obviously also receiving extra hype from the comparison alone. That being said, he’s certainly impressed in the minors, hitting .312/.404/.487 in High-A, then .363/.408/.516 in Double-A, to go with 14 homers and 27 SB.
As excited as I am, it’s worth noting that his strikeout rate in the majors is up considerably from his minors rates at 21%, and his overall contact rate of 75% suggests it could go even higher, making him a potential batting average liability. And while his current double-digit walk rate looks nice in the small sample, that’s unlikely to last given his minors rates and poor 38% chase rate. There’s also the issue of what happens when Albies (hopefully) returns in a few weeks, though I do think if the bat stays hot, the team will be able to find ways to continue to get the bat in the lineup. Despite the concerns, I think 12-teamers in batting average leagues can take a chance on the upside of the power-speed play, and if he cools off and you need to move on in a few weeks, that’s just Grissom for the mill.
Joey Meneses (1B/OF, Washington Nationals)
Meneses bat is out for blood, and not only because his last name has an unfortunate similarity to a monthly biological process. …I probably could have gone without writing that. I’m a firm believer that every year, there’s one journeyman minor league bat that comes out of nowhere to be awesome, and usually fades into obscurity thereafter, and this year, I think this is his year. Even though the 30-year-old was only called up to fill the gap from the Nationals trading away Josh Bell, he’s actually been an improvement, hitting a highly improbably .356/.396/.689 with 5 HR in just 48 PA.
While nobody expects him to continue that, it’s not a complete fluke either. He’s managed 5 barrels for a 14% rate and a strong 46% HardHit% with a healthy launch angle. Given the complete lack of talent on the team now, he’s certainly going to play plenty in the final two months and could be somewhat like Frank Schwindel’s 2021 in terms of what he could provide, as he has been surprisingly good at contact. His 16% K% would seem fluky as it’s below the 21% K% he put up in the minors, but for what it’s worth, he currently does have an 84% Contact% that suggests his ability may be legit. In 12-team leagues, I consider him more of a short-term streamer for teams looking to catch lightning in a bottle, but given his fantastic start, I think he should be picked up in all 15-team formats right now.
Michael Massey (2B, Kansas City Royals)
Massey may easily slip past your notice among the slew of recently promoted middle-infielders, including on his own team. I initially overlooked the 24-year-old as an older prospect just smurfing Triple-A in hitter-friendly confines, after he hit well above .300 with 16 HR and 13 SB across two levels of the farm this year. So naturally, I expected an Olivares-type (minus the team promoting and demoting him umpteen times) who does a bit of everything but doesn’t excel at anything, but I may have made a Masseyve oversight.
He’s hitting a strong .303/353/.438, though the sample of 58 PA makes that not so impressive, especially as it comes with 0 HR and just 1 SB. But looking under the hood, I see more promise here, as he shocked me with an 18% Barrel% (7 total barrels) and 17 Hard Hit balls in the majors. That’s actually more barrels and the same amount of Hard Hits as Joey Maneses. So it’s no surprise that given not one of those barrels left the park, Statcast thinks he’s deserved better, with a .349 xBA and .654 xSLG. Of course, the sample is still small, but it’s certainly an encouraging start, and with the speed to compliment his power, I think he’s a sneaky five-category play in all AL-only as well as 15-team formats.
Lars Nootbaar (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)
Who needs a Mars Bar when you can have yourself a Lars Baar? He certainly might not look so appealing on the outside, especially as he’s hitting just .216 with no homers the past two weeks. But under the surface is the creamy Nootgat, as his xwOBA has been quite high as late and steadily rising over his past 100 PA. It’s mostly due to his honing his plate skills the past few weeks, as evidenced by his excellent 10/11 BB/K over 63 PA over the past 3 weeks with 2 SB this week alone. Still, he’s often ignored with his .227/.322/.400 line with 5 HR and 3 SB in 150 total AB.
You may have noticed that the first number in that triple-slash looks a lot worse than the second. He’s managed to post a studly 16% walk rate since the start of July, stealthily inflating his value in deep leagues, but he’s also been improving his contact. He’s actually posted an improved K rate every consecutive month since the season start, which is impressive although easier when you’re starting at 47% K%. In July it was down to just 20% before bringing it to 16% in August. A 1:1 BB/K ratio may remind you of Yandy Diaz, but unlike Yandy, Nooty actually hits the ball in the air a lot, with just a 35% GB% to go with a 22% LD% and 43% FB% in the second half.
In deep leagues, you have to buy now while the coals have cooled, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a player with power, with a 10% Barrel% and excellent 111 mph MaxEV, to go with great OBP in speed. This makes him a must-add in NL-only formats but also a sneaky play in deeper 15-team OBP formats. While he started the year seeming like an intern just there to mop up other players’ messes, soon we’ll drunkenly plan a whole party and rap in appreciation of Noot-Noot. And that’s the wayyyyyy the Noots goes!
LaMonte Wade, Jr. (1B/OF, San Francisco Giants)
His talent is finally getting exposed, but we don’t need to see the Full LaMonte. Wade is the rare player who has 7 home runs in just 107 AB, yet in many leagues may still be flying under the radar. That’s because of his ugly .196 AVG, which will make anyone turn away like when you hear a cat meowing and it turns its head and is missing an eye and an ear. I’ll still adopt them because I’m a crazy cat matey.
Wadey is hitting much better as of late with a .300 AVG and 4 HR and 7 RBI over the past two weeks, and I think he’ll keep the good times rolling. Despite the seeming decline from last year, he’s actually hitting the ball just as hard, with a superior 12% Barrel%, although his HardHit% of 37% is a tad inferior so it balances out. But more impressively, he’s also improved his contact rate, with an 83% mark and 23% CSW%. So if he’s better, why does he seem so much worse? Enter, freakishly low .187 BABIP. It is worth pointing out that he did increase his flyball rate to an extreme 52%, which comes with an unsightly 17% Infield Fly Ball rate, so it’s not all bad luck, especially since Fangraphs says his soft% is up to 21% from 11% in 2021.
Still, I think we saw from last year that he can provide deep league punch in a big way, and there’s still the off chance he steals a bag or two, though clearly, he won’t match the 6 from last year. Although the playing time is not so reliable, he’s well worth rostering for the lion’s share in NL-only and 18-team formats, and may even be worth streaming for HR in 15-team OBP formats.
J.D. Martinez (OF, Boston Red Sox)
For many years he was a well-oiled hitting machine, but he’s clearly no longer J.D. Hammer. It must be one of his associates. JD got off to a rip-roaring start to the year, even if a little light on the homer front, but we were so sure the homers would come, just like Godot. He hasn’t hit a single homer since the beginning of July, leaving him at just 9 HR on the year with a rapidly declining .277/.344/.435 line. Over the past 3 weeks, he’s hit just .169, with the 8 RBIs being the only thing palatable.
It’s not just bad luck either, as his xwOBA, which had been quite high, has been below league average over his past 100 ABs. My guess is that he’s hiding an injury, or that he’s just losing the magic as many hitters in their mid-thirties do. If you’re holding him, it’s really on name value in the hopes he can bounce back, but everything is trending the wrong way and there are many better options in 10-team formats. As hard as it may be to do, I think it’s time you cut ties with JD because he’s more useful as a tie designer than as a hitter right now.
Joc Pederson (OF, San Francisco Giants)
I actually debated whether to have Joc and J.D. trade places, but despite Joc having the better season numbers, he lacks the track record. And his train which was barreling full speed ahead seems to have gone off the rails. It’s rather subtle, as Statcast still decorates his buttons in shiny red, but if the buttons had sizes they’d be getting much smaller. While he’s often in the starting lineup, since his return from the concussion IL, he’s had just 2 at-bats per game in the vast majority of the games he’s played. We punish starting pitchers for short innings counts, why wouldn’t we do the same for the same?
Despite that, Pederson has hit well in his limited time, hitting .417 in 12 ABs the past week, but the fact remains that he hasn’t had a single home run since June 25th. JUNE! I know that he’s maddening as his power comes in streaks, but especially given the playing time reduction, this is a streak you can’t get out. And despite the nice average, he’s posted just a .272 xwOBA over his last 50 PA. Eject Joc in all 12-team formats.
Riley Greene (OF, Detroit Tigers)
If I want to turn Greene, I can just look at his strikeout/walk ratio. Greene got a lot of hype upon his midseason debut (though a bit less than the preseason hype before his injury) but it’s just gotten worse and worse. In a rather large sample of 221 AB, he’s logged a rather atrocious .231 with 3 HR and just 1 SB. The power and speed were the appeal, so what makes that worse is that his one stolen base comes with 4 caught stealings, for a rate of 20% SB% success. Not great, Bob!
Despite getting lots of playing time, he has been especially bad as of late, with a .198/.222/.302 line and a hideous 35/2 K/BB in 86 AB (88 PA). Generally, it’s not great for baseball success to be striking out in 40% of your time at the dish. So let’s review, limited power, a red light on the basepaths, terrible plate discipline, and no indicators of a turnaround. If I spent serious FAAB on him I’d be pretty Riled up, but it’s time to move on in 15-team leagues, especially OBP formats.
Ji-Man Choi (1B, Tampa Bay Rays)
ChoiManJi is starting to get trampled by a stampede. He started the year hitting quite hot but it’s been a steady decline to oblivion ever since and is hitting just .083 in the past week and just .125 with 1 lonely tater over the past 3 weeks. He used to benefit from being in a platoon, but even that isn’t helping him now, and with the Rays surging in the playoff competition, he’s likely to stop getting chances. Yandy, Paredes, and others can also cover first base, and it’s not like he was ever known for being a defensive whiz. But this may be the first time in recent memory that he’s provided so little power that he’s no longer useful even in deeper OBP leagues. He’s an easy cut in all 15-team formats and batting average AL formats, but I think you can also cut bait and find a better option in many AL-only OBP leagues. Especially if you still have guys like Wade, J.D. Davis, or Nootbaar still around, it’s time to tell Ji-Man Ciao.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Joe Robbins & Roland Harrison / Icon Sportswire
you mention vaughn grissom having stats in triple A but he never played above AA and that was only about 3 weeks there
Just to clarify, Massey has not played SS in the majors or minors. He’s a second baseman.
You’re absolutely right, great catch. It was across High-A and Double-A, my bad.
re: meneses – you definitely could have gone without writing that.