Welcome back to this week’s Buy & Sell, where I may be leaning way too heavily into the Yankees and Red Sox, but I can’t help it. I mean, there’s a lot of hot hitters on both teams right now, with an honorable shallow league mention to Alex Verdugo, who has made me dizzy with multi-hit games. But honestly, there’s some solid strategy in considering teams that are out of contention to guide your roster decisions, as you may need to cut bait with crusty vets on bad teams and ride surprising hot hands on competitors. All this talk of hot hands and crusts makes me hungry for some September apple pie, so let’s get baking with the list!
Hunter Renfroe (OF, Boston Red Sox)
Here comes a hitting monster, Renfroe your lives! I bet on the wrong horse expecting Franchy to be the better bat this preseason, but Renfroe has transformed himself into a better all-around hitter this year. His 116 mph max exit velocity is over 2 mph better than any previous year, with career bests in HardHit% (44%) and Barrel/BBE (14%). Most importantly, he cut his previously problematic K rate down to a palatable 22%, which has enabled him to hit a solid .254 and .504 backed by an xBA of .260 and xSLG of .500. He’s been especially hot the past two weeks, with a .308/.386/.769 line with 5 HR and 12 RBI in 39 ABs. I think he’s a more reliable slugger right now than more popular names like Joey Gallo and should be added in all formats for teams in need of a well-rounded power profile.
Luke Voit (1B, New York Yankees)
It’s hard to ever quit Voit because when he’s healthy, he’s usually mashing. The stock of the stocky first baseman seemed at an all-time low when the Yanks acquired Rizzo, but thanks to Rizzo unwisely betting his arbitration dollars on the fact that he didn’t need a vaccine, Voit was given a second chance. He’s hit a scorching .500 with 2 HR in 18 AB over the past week and .320/.382/.620 in 50 AB over the past 3 weeks to raise his previously puny season line to a much more promising .266/.345/.449 with 7 HR in 158 AB. Of course, now Rizzo is back, but the Yanks may resort to playing Stanton in the outfield in order to get both first baseman bats into the lineup with how hot he’s been. Just note that he’ll have to stay hot to keep playing, but I obviously believe if healthy, he should do that. He’s worthy of a stream in 10-team formats and rostering in 12-team formats.
Tyler Stephenson (C, Cincinnati Reds)
If it weren’t for Tyler Stephenson, I would’ve never discovered Dummy Stephenson, an actual baseball player from 1898. Stephenson has cooled off a bit but still looks pretty dandy over the past two weeks, with a .333 AVG and 3 HR in 24 AB over that span. He’s finally gotten some more run in the majors and has acclimated quite well, hitting .290/.375/.454 with 9 HR in 269 ABs. Although I expected a bit more in the home run department, he’s overachieved in batting average, and I still believe he can be one of the few above-average hitting catchers in the game. Although he’s due for some batting average regression, with his rare plus ability to hit for average, power, and OBP as a backstop, he makes a fine play in all 12-team formats for the stretch run.
Ian Happ (OF/2B, Chicago Cubs)
The Cubs already burnt the main course, but you can still load up on the Happetizers. Despite struggling with strikeouts and ineffectiveness for much of the year, he’s hit a delicious .474 with 2 HRs and 3 doubles this week and a 3/3 BB/K in 19 AB, though he’s still under the Mendoza line on the year with a .195/.301/.361 line with 14 HR and 1 SB in 338 AB. His 30% K% still concerns me, and I still expect a poor batting average as he’s earned this with an abysmal .204 xBA. However, he now qualifies at 2B where the bar is much lower, and he’s always provided power in bunches. In 12-team OBP formats, the risk is much lower to roll the dice on him, and I’d only recommend streaming him in 12-team AVG leagues if you have an exit strategy.
Frank Schwindel (1B, Chicago Cubs)
Who needs intelligence when you can have Schwindelligence? He’s outsmarted most pitchers, hitting .333 this week and hitting a Schwizzling hot .366/.423/.648 with 4 HR in 71 ABs the past 3 weeks. He’s been on my radar since his big minor league season in 2019 and again mashed the minors with a .317/.262/.630 line with 16 HR in 207 PA with a 16% K%, and I bet the A’s regret not giving him a bigger chance in the majors. While he obviously won’t keep this pace up, he’s displayed enough abilities with his plus barrel rate and contact rate to be a league-average hitter or better, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit .270+ with another 6-7 HR the rest of the way on a team that has no reason not to play him. He’s a solid streaming option in 12-team formats and a must-add in all 15-team formats.
Nicky Lopez (2B/SS, Kansas City Royals)
Little Nicky is here to save the day now that the second base is hell on earth. And he’s been hotter than Popeye’s chicken, hitting .407/.448/.556 this week with 5 SB as well as his first homer of the year. While it may be tempting to stop reading at the fact that he only has one homer this year, he’s at least made up for it with 18 stolen bases, with 10 of them coming in just the past 3 weeks. It’s quite surprising given he’s already been in the majors two years and didn’t display this kind of speed previously, but his stolen base success rate indicates he can keep it going, and the far-gone Royals have nothing to lose, giving him the green light. Add in 15-team and 12-team AVG formats in need of some gas at the keystone, and I don’t mean what happens to me when I drink cheap college beer.
Jake Meyers (OF, Houston Astros)
I was outbid for him, but I wish I were an Astro Meyers winner. The 25-year-old came from seemingly out of nowhere with a two-homer debut and has continued his torrid pace hitting .313/.346/.563 with 3 HR and 1 SB in just 48 AB. Although he was hardly on a prospect list entering this year, he crushed Triple-A to the tune of .343 with 16 HR and 10 SB in 303 PA and is showing shades of Arozarena. He already has 5 barrels and a 55% HardHit%, but he’s not a total hacker either, with a strong 86% Z-Contact% and 12.6% SwStr% that suggests his 31% K% will improve a bit. But what really intrigues me is his 97th percentile sprint speed, which should help him maintain a strong average and be a legitimate power/speed threat down the homestretch as long as he continues to play. Add in all deep leagues and 15-team batting average, though he has a chance to be a viable power/speed short-term streamer in 12-team AVG formats as well.
Jose Barrero (SS, Cincinnati Reds)
Barrero put up an excellent season across two levels in the minors, hitting .303 with 17 HR and 15 SB in 361 AB. The 23-year-old certainly has talent, but we’ve seen this year more than most that the talent gap from Triple-A to the Majors is a wide chasm to cross, and we could see Barrerro barreling down the abyss. But the speedster, at last, has managed in his first few games to avoid too many strikeouts, as his 18% rate is better than the 23% rate he had in the minors. He’s definitely a lottery ticket and not as appealing in redraft as dynasty formats, but those in need of a spark plug could take a chance on the talented young speedster. The real question is where playing time will come from, which is why now he’s only a starting option in NL-only formats and a spec add in 18-team leagues and deeper 15-team leagues.
Emmanuel Rivera (3B, Kansas City Royals)
Despite not playing for most of the year, Rivera can still end the season as the best performing third baseman in Kansas City, which is pretty sad. But what’s not so sad is that Rivera actually may be a diamond in the Royal rough, currently hitting a smelting-hot .389 with 1 HR and 1 SB in 18 AB this week, raising his small sample line to a cromulent .295/.338/.377 with 1 HR and 1 SB in 61 AB. He won’t drive in many runs, as he only has 7 R and 5 RBI to show for his efforts, but I think he can be a batting average sleeper. He has an excellent 91% Z-Contact% (79% contact%) and is no slouch with the power, hitting a max eV of 108 mph with a 48% HardHit%. He showed more of the power ability than contact in the minors with a nifty .286/.338/.604 with 15 HR and 2 SB in 198 PA. He can be a Mark Teahen type as a line drive-oriented hitter with more average than power, and his current xBA of .303 and xSLG of .414 suggests it’s at least possible. Despite being the #9 hitter, he’s worth rolling with in AL-only formats and 18-team batting average formats.
D.J. Lemahieu (2B, New York Yankees)
For a while, you’ve probably felt stuck with him and just assumed that the production is right around the corner. Or the next corner. Or the next one. And next thing you know, you realize you’re just a mouse stuck in a LeMazehieu. He’s hit just .269/.352/.369 with 8 HR in 472 ABs, a power output that fell short of his small sample in 2020, with a batting average that doesn’t even move the needle and makes me feel like 10-team wire options like India, Chris Taylor, and Polanco could be superior short term plays. The silver pinstripe lining is that he’s at least been drawing more walks lately, with 12 in the past three weeks, giving him a decent .308/.407/.449 line over that span. My issue is simply that with his 8 HR and 4 SB on the season, that even a decent average here on out, he just isn’t providing enough value to meet the demands in a 10-team league. While you may find it tough to cut him while he seems to be turning another corner, I think it’s time to squeak someone else past him in 10-team formats.
Joey Gallo (OF, New York Yankees)
I just really hate the Yankees, obviously. Though probably not as much as the fans will hate him as long as he’s keeping this up. Perhaps the premier case of a player being “wrecked” by the home run derby, he’s mostly been a mess since, hitting just .152 with 4 HR and 37 Ks in 66 AB (82 PA) over the past 3 weeks and just .053 this week. Even with his great defense, with the Yankees’ Rizzo/Voit logjam, the Yankees could resort to having Stanton play the field just to save the offense. When he clicks, the power will once again be huge, but especially in batting average leagues, the batting average just hurts too much to make the tradeoff worthwhile. I’d rather roll with bats like Renfroe, Santander, and even Soler going forward in 12-team AVG formats, though naturally, the three-true-outcomes king is still worth holding in 12-team OBP.
Alec Bohm (3B, Philadelphia Phillies)
After so many months of disappointment, I’ve got a Bohm to pick with him. He’s had a measly .245/.302/.342 line with 7 HR and 4 SB in 371 AB, essentially a poor man’s D.J. LeMahieu but at a position that requires a lot more power. After his strong small sample last year, he was pegged by many as a breakout candidate, though we probably should have realized his .338 average in 2020 was largely BABIP-dependent, and his power had not actually been very good. He’s been even colder lately, hitting just .059 in 17 ABs the past two weeks and getting deservedly squeezed out of playing time, and I doubt his stay in the minors will be a short one. While I wish I said this back in June, In 12-team and even 15-formats, it’s time to send Bohm home.
Harold Castro (1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, Detroit Tigers)
He plays first, second, third, short, outfield—he does it all! Except, well, hit. With absolute zero power, he lives and dies by the BABIP, and lately, the spirits have turned on him, with a .139/.135/.167 line with 0 HR, 2 RBI, and 2 R in 36 AB over the past two weeks. He’s remained an overly popular mainstay of lazy deep league lineups due to his multi-position eligibility, but he’s really a sinkhole in every category with weak run production and no speed, so you’re really better off with just about anyone else, even with fewer positions, such as Andy Ibanez, Yonny Hernandez or really any scrub getting ABs in Texas. All formats should send off Castroway to an island with Wilson Ramos the volleyball.
Bohm was optioned to AAA, so yeah seems like a pretty safe drop
“but I wish I were an Astro Meyers winner.” That was really, really funny.
I am renfroeing my life, with a do or die, head to head series for the last playoff spot. I want to drop Grisham who is slumping, only facing righties, and has 6 games (Astros, Sneks) next week, for Renfroe with 7 games ( Rays, Indians). Duran is gone to AAA too, so less competition for at bats.
I hardly have any salary left though, and may be broke by playoffs if I make them.
As I read what I typed, I feel like I have to do this, unless you talk me out of it.