Buy & Sell 8/21—Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop
Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is injury returners and jacked-up journeymen. This year more than ever, seemingly ordinary players have managed to perform surprisingly well, perhaps thanks to the flubber-ized baseballs.
At this point, for all the misguided but well-meaning folks assuming this Buy & Sell title is referring to trade value, we’re now at the point in the season where it should be clear that trades are no longer happening in most fantasy leagues. It’s all about getting the hot streak that will carry your team to the finish line. So yes, I want you to buy hot players and drop cold ones, but I’m picking my favorite ones who are least likely to trip on their own feet before the finish line. And at this point, you may have better odds of winning them with half of your league already in football mode.
With that said, on to the list!
Kyle Seager (3B, Seattle Mariners)
Here he goes again, he’s turning the page. Seager has been an unexpected late-season surge after a season marred by general injury and ineffectiveness. He’s now smoking a delicious .365/.425/.810 line with eight home runs and 18 RBI over the past 21 days and .345 with five of those homers and 11 RBI just this week. The fact that this late in the season he doubled his season total shows both how bad he was before and also how great he is now. But now, even when looking at the full-season numbers, he’d be on a pace to top 30 tates over a full season. Although the Mariners are out of contention, they have no reason not to play him as much as his body will allow, and at this point in the season, it’s worth banking on the hot streak because we know he’s had the ability to do this before. Scoop him up in all 12-team formats and even stream in most 10-team formats, especially if they use batting average.
Hunter Pence (OF, Texas Rangers)
He feels bad for getting hurt, but he re-Pence for that sin. His early breakout was easy to forget while he was on the IL, and it seems everyone and their son was having some sort of offensive breakout, but Pence has his mojo back now, hitting .500 with a homer, a stolen base, and a 6:2 BB/K over 18 at-bats this week to raise his season line to a superb .300/.363/.568 with 18 home runs, five stolen bases (caught stealing once), 53 runs, and 56 RBI in just 273 at-bats. It’s crazy that he’s having such a renaissance at age 36, especially with the the speed component on top of everything else, but it’s clear the changes are real. The biggest knock against him is that the Rangers are out of contention, so daily lineups leagues should keep an eye on whether he’s starting. Still, even with that caveat, his ability to provide power, average, OBP, run production, and chip in speed is worth scooping in 12-teamers and at least a solid all-around bench bat for 10-team formats.
Nick Ahmed (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks)
Hallelujah, Hall of Famer Hallelujah Ahmed. OK, that’s taking it too far, but he’s been surprisingly solid all year and has turned up the heat even more lately. He’s hitting .308/.375/.662 with six home runs over 65 at-bats the past 21 days and a scorching .360 with three home runs in 25 at-bats this week. Statcast thinks the improvement is more than just a fluke, with an significant improvement in expected wOBA, hitting .421 over his past 100 plate appearances, up from .307 over his previous 100 plate appearances. Don’t look now, but his season line of .272 with 16 home runs and seven stolen bases is right up there with many other strong mid-tier options, but he often gets overlooked despite his continued improvement because of his past of being a lousy hitter. If he’s still a pariah on your 12-team wire, it’s time to take your Ahmedicine.
Matt Beaty (1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Look, another one of those eager rookies, all bushy-tailed and Beaty-eyed. Alex Verdugo’s oblique injury opened the door for Beaty to get more than just spot playing time, and he’s taken it and ran with it with as he owns a .297/.335/.520 triple-slash with 27 runs, seven home runs, 37 RBI, and two steals in 175 at-bats at the major league level. He’s hitting .333 with two home runs and six RBI this week. He’s displayed strong plate discipline as of late, with just six strikeouts and five walks over his past 47 at-bats. The 26-year-old has always been known to have a good bat but was an unlikely bet to crack the Dodger’s stacked lineup. But I think he’s here to stay. Statcast validates his bat with a strong 90 mph exit velocity and .294 xBA but is less keen on the power with a .452 xSLG and a weak 5% barrel rate. Still I think he’s a must-add in 15-team formats and a fine utility bat in 12-team average formats.
Hanser Alberto (2B/3B, Baltimore Orioles)
Maybe he’d have more notoriety if he switched the letters around is his name to become El Barto. He’s been under the radar all year as the kind of utility guy deep leagues only consider when decimated by injury, but many are noticing now that he’s actually been pretty amazing. On the season, he’s hit .319 with seven home runs and four stolen bases over 389 at-bats, which may not light the world on fire like Danny Santana but sure is useful. The power is likely not sustainable as he has an exit velocity of just 83 mph and an xSLG of .389, but a cromulent xBA of .290 thanks to his high contact rate. With this large a sample size and this late in the season, I’m weighing his current production more heavily, especially considering his home park, so teams looking for help in batting average would be wise to add him in 15-team formats, but his terrible walk rate makes him better to avoid in OBP formats.
Nick Solak (2B, Texas Rangers)
So this list was darn near complete when the news broke about this call-up and this column would’ve been so lacking without him. Solak hit .291 with 27 home runs in Triple-A, making one scratch his head as to why the Rays would be so willing to part with him. He’s always been a solid older prospect before his surge, and while he certainly benefited from the Triple-A superball, such a boost in power still seems significant. He’s likely to get regular reps as the designated hitter for Texas and should benefit from the park, making him an intriguing call-up at a weak position, even though his true position, like teammate Willie Calhoun, should be designated hitter. I’m still hedging my bets by currently only recommending him in 15-team formats if you have a good option there, but teams aching for a shakeup at the keystone can roll the dice on him in 12-team.
Jake Fraley (OF, Seattle Mariners)
Fraley may very well be the power/speed feel-good hit of the summer. He’s no Oscar Mercado, but he did have a strong year in the minors, hitting .298/.365/.545 line with 19 home runs and 22 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A this year before earning his promotion. I’m actually more encouraged that he performed well at Double-A, which doesn’t have Triple-A’s enhanced ball, and still managed to hit for good average and power. Although the M’s brass says he’s here just to fill in for the injured Domingo Santana, the Mariners have been running a skeleton crew out there for a while. I would not be at all surprised to see Fraley take over for Mallex Smith, who honestly profiled better as a fourth outfielder/pinch runner all along. Fraley was traded from the Rays in the Mike Zunino deal, and although he still doesn’t have the highest upside, he could still be an all-around solid Kevin Pillar-type if his baserunning translates. With speed being so scarce this year, that’s worth a gamble in 18-team leagues and deeper 15-team leagues as a speculative add.
Corban Joseph (1B/2B, Oakland Athletics)
The question for Joseph is: Does what happens in Triple-A Vegas stay in Vegas? Joseph hit the cover off the ball and some of the yarn too, hitting .371/.421/.585 with 13 homers in 425 plate appearances in Triple-A—in the most juiced environment possible—but anything’s worth trying over Jurickson Profar at this point. Joseph combines moderate power with a low strikeout rate, though he lacks the high walk rate. Playing every day with Profar’s struggles continuing, Joseph has held his own, and even though his .217 average isn’t good, it seems he deserves better with a .278 xBA. I’d be more bullish on him if he weren’t 30 already and going from one of the easiest to one of the toughest environments to maintain a high batting average with half his games in Oakland, but I believe in his contact ability (100% zone contact rate) enough to say at worst he shouldn’t hurt you in deeper formats and at best he could be an underrated contributor like Sam Travis, which is worth a speculative add in all AL-only leagues as well as a spec add in 18-team average formats.
Jake Lamb (3B, Arizona Diamondbacks)
Now here’s a true buy-low, and it’s hard for his stock to be much lower After following up an injury-destroyed season with an injury-marred season in which the bat has yet to get going. Still, there are some mild signs of a turnaround. Over his past 100 plate appearances, he’s hit for an expected wOBA .342, about league average and far better than his previous 100 plate appearances xwOBA of .236. This hasn’t been reflected in his abysmal surface numbers, but it’s at least encouraging that he’s striking out less. Sure, he doesn’t have guaranteed playing time, but we know he still has 25- to 30-homer power when healthy. If you’re a deep-leaguer who needs power in the worst way, I think he’ll help you more than many of the flashier names. Spin the wheel with him in NL-only and 18-team formats.
Franmil Reyes (OF, Cleveland Indians)
I adored him earlier on this year, but lately he’s become our Franemy. I have touted him many times this season, including recently upon his move to Cleveland, but La Mole’s bat is hiding underground as he’s hit just .156 with two home runs, five runs, and seven RBI in 64 at-bats the past 21 days and .143 with zero homers this week. Statcast’s rolling windows validate his struggles, as he went from a solid .356 xwOBA over his previous 100 plate appearances to a nasty .271 xwOBA over his most recent 100 plate appearances. The 29 homers were nice, but 10-teamers can find so many better power options without the warts. Even in 12-teamers, I wouldn’t blame you for moving on for a hot hand and would even recommend it in three-outfielder leagues.
Dan Vogelbach (1B, Seattle Mariners)
I can no longer Stan for Dan the Man. When you look at his season line, everything looks hunky dory, but if you remember just how much of his homer total came from one month in May, you realize he really has only hurt you for a while now. His attempt to join the launch angle revolution came with some rather exploitable flaws, and lately, he’s been more exposed than a drunk go-go dancer in an X-ray. While his average has been ugly for a while, it’s now gotten so bad that even his high walk rate doesn’t compensate enough to make him worth holding. I am still a believer in his future, but for now, it’s time to toss Vogel back.
Travis d’Arnaud (1B/C, Tampa Bay Rays)
Easy come, easy d’Arnaud. He went from one of the hottest hitters in the league to one of the coldest, personifying the phrase “flash in the pan.” Not to say he doesn’t have a history of success, but over the past 21 days, he’s hit .196/.281/.232 with zero home runs and only two extra-base hits. It’s not just bad luck either, as over his past 50 plate appearances, he’s posted a lousy .244 expected wOBA, a huge fall off from his .423 mark in his previous 50 plate appearances. Yes that’s still a small sample, but perhaps he’s playing hurt, given his history, and at this rate, Zunino will start to eat more into his playing time. Cut in all 15-team single-catcher formats and consider cutting even in 18-teamers if there’s a hot catcher on your wire while d’Arnaud has been reduced to “d’Oh!”
Jose Peraza (2B/SS/OF, Cincinnati Reds)
It’s not the first time I’ve written him as a sell, but frankly there are just too many people still holding on and there is absolutely zero reason to do so. There’s nothing to redeem here. Near-zero speed, zero power, and not even batting average, though even if it were .300 from here on out, it just wouldn’t have been enough. It seemed at one point midseason he might finally heat up, but it was just a mirage. I’d rather take my chances on a Solak or even a Corban Joseph at this point, so cut him to save face if for nothing else.
(Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire)