Buy & Sell 8/22: Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop
Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire
Welcome back to Buy & Sell, and I have been advised by my lawyer not to mention the name Elvis Andrus. Oops. I’m not going to brag about looking right for one week because I know what karma likes to do with that. If you’re in leagues with playoffs, this very well may be the end for you, in which case I wish you emotional strength in taking your L, better luck next year, and in between, some riveting rounds of fantasy golf. But this could be make or break, and your chance to not only make the playoffs, but enter it with your strongest team yet. After all, that was how I won the PitcherList staff league (and a stuffed platypus) last year. Gotta rub that in now since it’s looking like I won’t make it this year! So make your transactions boldly!
Ryan Braun (OF/1B, Milwaukee Brewers) – Brains may beat Braun, but teams with brains have Braun join them. Although he had been nursing a ribcage injury this week, likely dampening the optimism for a healthy Braun down the homestretch, he’s still been legit, hitting .341/.420/.614 over the past 21 days with 3 HR and 2 SB. On the year he’s hitting .250/.301/.457 with 14 Homers and 9 Stolen bases, which is a lot more impressive when you consider he’s done that over just 300 AB. While at 34 we can no longer expect vintage power/speed rates that made him a fantasy first-rounder, he still offers more power/speed/OBP ability than many players who are owned in 90% of leagues, such as, say, Andrew McCutchen, who has similar power/speed totals over a full sesaon of at-bats. He also carries OF/1B dual eligiblity, and while 1B is among the least useful eligibility, two positions is still better than one. His 91.8 mph exit velocity (eV) is 18th-best among qualified players, with his 97.3 mph FB/LD eV placing 11th, so the power is super legit. As the Ryan-based sequel to last week, Braun is my recommendation to add in all leagues
Marwin Gonzalez (1B/2B/SS/OF, Houston Astros) – The only position he doesn’t play is catcher, though I bet he could do that too. The multifaceted marvelous Marwin has been a machine lately, hitting .328/.403/.656 with 6 homers over the past 21 days. That’s right, in 3 weeks, he hit as many homers as the previous 4 months. His overall season line of .245/.326/.401 with 12 HR is much closer to the his production in previous years that weren’t 2017, so one wonders whether if this is just regression to his mean with 2017 being a fluke. Well, his current streak does look legit as this past month he has a p30xSlash of .280/.368/.554, just a few points shy of his actual line over that span. He had a hot finish to the season last year, and a hot Marwin is a very good thing to have. With his versatility, he should be owned in 12-team formats and is a viable utility streamer in 10-teamers, so scoop him up if a frustrated owner cut him in July.
Marcus Semien (SS, Oakland Athletics) – Is it just me, or is Marcus Semien like a pretty underrated shortstop option? He’s hit a blistering .348/.405/.530 over the past 21 days with 3 HR and 3 SB, indicating that the 27-year old may finally be over the long bout of mediocrity he was mired in earlier this year. Some of that was to be expected, as his broken wrist last year may have contributed to his reduced power output this year, as such injuries can take a long time to fully recover from. While Semien’s power numbers may still be a far cry from his 27-tater banner year in 2016, he’s becoming more well-rounded with a much-improved 18.5% K rate, besting his previous low of 22%, and this change is supported by his 81% contact rate. I think that due to this, he is now more of a .255-.265 hitter than a .240 hitter he had been in past years, making his solid power/speed combo more enticing. I put my money where my mouth was last week and dropped Andrus for him and am feeling good. Add in all 15-team and 12-team formats.
Cedric Mullins II (OF, Baltimore Orioles) -He’s Cedric II because he’s the new Cedric the Entertainer. You can’t help but smile at that .343/.425/.571 with a homer in 41 PA over his first two weeks of the majors, and he’ll continue to play every day on the hapless O’s. Yet he still seems too apprehensive to apprehend an extra base, with no SB attempts after stealing as many as 30 in a season in 2016 and an 81% SB success rate in his minor league career. xStats does think he’s great even if due for some regression, with an xSlash of .306/.393/.487. He should be good for a few more homers and I do think he may still get a handful of SB the rest of the way even if not commensurate with his minors rates. Are you not entertained? Don’t Mullins it over too long and take him in AL-only, 18-team and as a streamer for AVG or OBP (He’s good for both) who doesn’t hurt in any category in 15-team formats. If you’re feeling extra bold, he could be worth the leap of faith even in 12-team formats, though I’d like to see him attempt at least one SB before getting too hyped.
Amed Rosario (SS, New York Mets) – As part of my controversial anti-Andrus attack last week, one Elvisian said (paraphrasing) “Are you seriously going to tell me I should drop Andrus for a guy like Amed Rosario? After looking at the numbers, I said “Actually, yes I most seriously would.” Round 2, Elvisians, DING DING! But really this about He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Amed, who has been subtly stellar, hitting .328 with 2 HR and 4 SB over the past two weeks and hitting .364 this week. On the year he’s hitting a somewhat disappointing .246/.290/.369, but he’s still 22 and growing into his major league shoes. His best asset remains his speed, though his poor 67% SB success rate (14 SB, 7 CS) isn’t encouraging, he’s also on a team with nothing to lose. If Semien has already been scooped in your league, Rosario makes for a nice high-risk high-reward consolation prize in 15-team formats and a viable speed streamer in deep and Amedium 12-team leagues.
Kevin Pillar (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) – Aaaand he’s back. The Pillar Pendulum never fails, as for a player who doesn’t sport an exceptionally high strikeout rate, seems to have multiple hero-to-zero swings and back every year. He’s been on a tear since activation from the DL, with a .444/.464/.741 slash with 4 R and 8 RBI this week, and hitting .317 with 2 HR and 2 SB over 60 AB overall since then. On the year, xStats still thinks more positive regression could be in order, with a .279 xAVG compared to his .257 season mark. But all I can really say here is he’s the kind of player that you just need to ride out when he’s on a hot stretch like this, as the batting average and run production upside make up for the merely average power and speed. Scoop up in 15-team leagues and stream in 12-teamers that use AVG, though I wouldn’t lean on this Pillar in OBP.
Tyler White (1B, Houston Astros) – I still have felt for a while now (and I mean YEARS) that Tyler White wasn’t really given a fair shake. He did so well in the minors and even with a slump, he was never bad. Well this time he’s certainly capitalized on his opportunity, hitting .333/.389/.788 with 4 longballs over the past two weeks. He’s also finally translated his high double-digit minor league walk rates to the majors with an excellent 12.7% walk rate to go with a reasonable 23.5% K%. I was already pretty geeked about him, but looking deeper made my excitement intensify. This year he’s sporting a terrific 90.3% Z-Contact% and 83.8% Contact% each of which are about 6 points higher than his previous best, with a career-best 26.3% O-Swing, combining for a sexy 6.7% Swstr%, which would be 22nd-best in the majors if he qualified. He’s also sporting a strong 90.1 mph eV, 93.8 mph FB/LD eV and 7.8% Barrel%, so he’s been an above average power hitter with well-above-average contact. Yes, please. This may be too bold for some, but I’m going beyond AL-only with him and recommending scooping him up in all 18-team AVG leagues and streaming in 15-team OBP formats or even as a bench bat in deep 12-team OBP while he’s playing most every day and rocking a White hot power bat.
Taylor Ward (C/3B, Los Angeles Angels) – You have arrived at the hospital for outfitters, welcome to the tailor ward. The catcher-turned-third baseman enjoyed his first week in the show, hitting a solid .286 /.348/.476 with a homer, 3 R and 4 RBI in 21 AB. Of course, if you’re playing him at third base, you’re doing it wrong. He has catcher eligibility in most leagues and is far more valuable, and has the rare ability to offer SB potential as a backstop with 18 stolen bases this year in the high minors to go with his fantastic 349/.446/.531 with 14 home runs 102 games this season. I wouldn’t get too excited about a high average as his .400+ minors BABIP belies a pedestrian 20% minors K rate. That being said, a catcher-eligible non-catcher is a great thing since he can play every day and his offense won’t be hindered by the physical burdens of catching. Time to Taylor hoard him in all two-catcher, 18-team, and 15-team formats, though I still prefer my boy Jansen over him.
Jeff McNeil (2B, New York Mets) – Move over, the Real McCoy, Jeff is the Real McNeil. He’s done nothing but hit (other than sleep, eat, travel, etc.) since his promotion, with a .301/.329/.466 line with 2 HR and an SB over 73 AB and a .345 AVG this week. He’s playing just about every day (was benched Monday but still ended up with a hit) and while the 26-year-old rookie lacks sky-high offensive upside, he did have a fantastic breakout campaign with 19 homers and a mid-.300s batting average across Double-A and Triple-A, so this seems mostly sustainable. xStats thinks he’s right on the money, with a near-identical xSlash of .291/.359/.441. He should be picked up in all NL-only and 18-team formats, and while his value’s not beyond that in OBP formats, makes a great sleeper batting average stream in AVG-based 15-team formats.
Greg Allen (OF, Cleveland Indians) – He must be Tim Allen’s brother because when he’s playing it’s Five-Tool time. He’s been hitting .400/.455/.550 with a homer and 2 SB this week, and has stolen 5 bases over the past 2 weeks. Due to his low power numbers and low early season batting average, he’s been flying under the radar even in super deep leagues, but he’s looking like a great deeper league speed stream down the homestretch. While he may lack the pure speed and aggressiveness of a guy like Adalberto Mondesi, he’s a better bet for high average with just 4 Ks in his last 43 PA, which should help him get on base enough to nab some extras. Utilize this the Allen wrench in AL-only and 18-team leagues and you can stream him for speed in 15-team AVG leagues.
Ender Inciarte (OF, Atlanta Braves) – As far as his shallow league fantasy value is concerned, I’m afraid this is the Ender. He’s only stolen 1 base since July 4th, with one caught stealing, in a month and a half. This, after stealing 23 bags before July 4th, and with no power to boot. Since the Braves’ deadline acquisition of Duvall, Ender’s been relegated to a platoon role which is understandable considering his sizable platoon split. With fewer opportunities to produce runs and steal bases, you can look past the still decent-looking season numbers and in 10-team and 12-team formats (especially OBP), you can feel justified sending Inciarte to the incinerator.
Jake Bauers (1B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays) – I really like his long-term outlook, but boy is he in a swoon. He’s hitting an ugly .100/.229/.100 with 0 HR and 0 SB over the past two weeks, and I don’t remember seeing such a low SLG% since Craig Grebeck. It’s also not just bad luck, as his xSlash of .224/.340/.408. The Rays will likely give him more chances to work through his slump as they’re out of contention, but that doesn’t mean you should, especially if you’re not in an OBP format. Cut in 12-team, 15-team formats, and even 18-team AVG formats, especially if there’s a guy like Tyler White on your wire. For now, it’s better if Bauers is not ours.
Jonathan Lucroy (C, Oakland Athletics) – I don’t know which I find more unbelievable… That Lucroy is still owned in 22% of leagues, or that he is still the starting catcher for a competing Oakland squad. It’s awfully generous of him to make backup catchers look like silver sluggers in comparison, with his .242/.298/.324 season line with two whole homers in 327 AB. Okay, granted, Bruce Maxwell has 1 homer in the majors and 0 over 180 PA in the minors, but still, they should’ve gotten someone, anyone better. You should too, yes even in 18-team and AL-only leagues… he was just dropped in my AL-only TWO-catcher league, and nobody will touch him. Learn from us and move on from Cool Bat Lucroy.