Buy & Sell 8/28—Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop
Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where the theme for this week is “age is just a number.” Several players on this list have been overlooked because they don’t follow the traditional prospect development curve, but their production speaks for itself. This may be the time you start frantically lunging for any hot streak to sustain you, unless you’re like me in my NFBC leagues and whittled my FAAB down to zero. If you’re still reading this, you may still be close enough to make an impact in the homestretch, so good luck and Acunaspeed!
Willie Calhoun (OF, Texas Rangers)
This feels weird to take the L for this, as I’ve been a huge Calhoun backer for most of the season. But last week, I read the tea leaves wrong and went against the grain to declare him a sell high. But the grain was right as rain, as Calhoun hailed four longballs this week with six runs, seven RBI, and a .303 average. Now, on the season he’s hitting .286 with 15 home runs in just 199 at-bats, on his way to fulfill his original scouting reports of a .300 average and 30-home run upside. It’s too bad that even with Odor on his way out the door, Calhoun’s likely done getting playing time at the keystone, but even so, he looks poised for a big September and will likely be pushing his way up draft boards all offseason as the hype builds. He’s a must-own in 12-team and 10-team average leagues, and he’s still only 36% owned in Yahoo.
Ryan Braun (OF/1B, Milwaukee Brewers)
Brauny man has been swinging hot lumber as he’s chopping the ball with a .388/.446/.633 line with two home runs and two stolen bases in 49 at-bats the past 21 days to bring him up to a .288/.340/.499 with 18 home runs and 10 stolen bases on the season. While the 35-year-old’s speed is in an expected gradual decline, his ability to consistently hit .290 with 20 to 25 home runs and double digit stolen bases makes him a continually underrated fantasy commodity. Earlier this year, the production was sagging, but he managed to catch up by virtue of staying mostly healthy, as he’s a few games from surpassing his at-bat totals from 2018 and 2017 with 393 so far. His no-real-weakness as a strength approach makes him essentially a discount Tommy Pham, who has provided more bang for the buck, so make sure an impatient leaguemate didn’t drop him for being cold and old. He’s a fine add in 12-team average and OBP formats and a utility in 10-team.
Freddy Galvis (SS, Cincinnati Reds)
Forget what you know, and with that, forget that before 2019 Freddy Galvis has never been legitimately good. The question of whether his 2019 is legitimate is a moot point by now as he’s cruising to the tune of 22 homers with a .280 average. Despite Toronto scoring as a homer haven, he’s done even better in Cincinnati’s bandbox, hitting a searing .404 with four yaks, nine runs, and 11 RBI over the past two weeks. It seems borderline nonsensical if you believe his Statcast .238 xAVG and .371 xSLG that gives him an xWOBA of a terrible .278, the exact same as his xwOBA from 2018. But while he’s mostly benefited from a career-high 16% HR/FB rate despite a career-worst 24% strikeout rate, coming to Cincy has electrified his bat, and he’s well worth streaming while hotter than Galveston. Scoop up in 12-team average leagues in which he’s still available.
Mark Canha (1B/OF, Oakland Athletics)
Canha’s finally proving he deserves consideration as a real-life and fantasy regular in his age-30 season. He’s had a torrid week, hitting .480 with four homers in 25 at-bats to bring his season total up to .279/.391/.545 with 22 taters, 59 runs, 46 RBI, and two stolen bases in just 308 at-bats. He’s been an especially sneaky play in OBP leagues with his career-best 13% walk rate (48 walks), giving him a near-.400 OBP, and he’s managed to do so while cutting his strikeout rate. Statcast has been down on him all season and says his excellent .396 wOBA deserves worse at a .355 xwOBA, and it’s fair to point out his 89 mph exit velocity and launch angle of 15 degrees are right in line with previous seasons. But his strategy of solid contact skills with hitting lots of fly balls (42%) plus bouncy ball is a good combination for power spike nonetheless. He’s a must-add in 15-team formats and a wise stream in 12-team OBP.
Mike Ford (1B, New York Yankees)
Ford hopes to follow the Yankees’ recent history of first baseman with four-letter word names: Greg Bird and Luke Voit. Well, Ford has been hitting plenty of four-baggers, with four tates in just 16 at-bats the past week and eight in 97 at-bats. This isn’t exactly out of nowhere for the 27-year-old, as he crushed Triple-A to the tune of .303/.401/.605 with 23 home runs in 349 plate appearances, but I don’t shrug this off like the glut of other Triple-A boons this year. His high 13% walk rate in Triple-A was nearly as impressive as his low 15% strikeout rate, and he’s carrying over that discipline to the majors with a 10% walk rate and 16% strikeout rate with just one strikeout this week. While it might just be more of the mysterious Yankees magic, there’s good reason to see him and be reminded of Voit’s 2018. Statcast buys it too, with an excellent 91.7 mph exit velocity, and says he has been a bit lucky on power (.472 xSLG) but unlucky for average (.272 xAVG), so it evens out. The big caveat is that he’s done nearly all of his major league damage and six of his eight home runs vs. lefties, which is surprising as he’s a lefty himself. But I dug down into his minor league splits to discover he’s been solid against righties with a .277/.379/.549 with 20 of his combined 31 home runs (between Triple-A and the majors), so he’s been no slouch. I’d add him in all AL-only and 18-team leagues and would consider him as a speculative streamer add in 15-team OBP. Yes, Voit is coming back, but I wouldn’t be so surprised for Ford to continue playing while he’s swinging like a Cadillac.
Seth Brown (1B/OF, Oakland Athletics)
They kicked him out of Vegas for winning too much. The Triple-A club, that is. Yes, he’s far from being considered a prospect at 30 years of age, but it’s hard to ignore that he slugged .297 with a whopping 37 home runs in 451 at-bats (500 plate appearances) in Triple-A, even with it being among the most hitter-friendly environments in the minors. Now with the injury to Stephen Piscotty, Brown’s promoted to one of the toughest hitter environments, and it’ll be interesting to see whether he produces closer to his numbers in 2018 in Double-A, where he hit just 14 home runs, than this year or the prior year in hitter-friendly High-A, where he hit 30 home runs. Power is his standout tool but also his only one, as he doesn’t make a ton of contact or walk a lot, but he’s also not terrible in either regard and did also steal eight bases. It’s still a flash-in-the-plan crapshoot, but I’d bet on red in AL-only and 18-team formats and a Hail Mary pickup in 15-teamers hoping for a second coming of Aristedes Aquino.
Ronny Rodriguez (1B/2B/SS, Detroit Tigers)
Car RonRod appears back on the road. Perhaps because of the pressure from call-up Willi Castro, he’s heated up to the tune of .286 with three home runs and one stolen base over 35 at-bats the past two weeks. No, that line isn’t jaw-dropping, but after how bad he flamed out and burned owners who waited too long to scoop him up, it’s nice to see him recover some value. If he can keep his whiffs in check, he could certainly hit for some deep-league home runs with a passable batting average and run production with some unusual versatility. Add in AL-only and 18-team formats.
Willi Castro (SS, Detroit Tigers)
Speaking of which, Castro is an interesting waiver wire add in his own right. He’s certainly hit the ground running, hitting 3-for-7 in his first eight plate appearances in the majors after hitting .301 with 11 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 525 plate appearances in Triple-A. With the juiced ball, that power number may mean little, but the combo of power and speed makes it more enticing with speed being such a landmine category this year. Then again, rookies often are more hesitant on the basepaths, as even minor league stolen base kings Oscar Mercado and Luis Rengifo were rather quiet (Rengifo more so) on the basepaths in the majors. But Castro at 22 still has plenty of growth, and his age relative to level needs to be accounted for when comparing him with 27-year-old and 30-year-old call-ups. He could be a sneaky source of power/speed contributions and is worth a shot in AL-only formats and a speculative add in 18-teamers.
Khris Davis (OF, Oakland Athletics)
This is something I would’ve never imagined myself saying before the season, but there are at least 20 other things I can think of that fit that bill. Davis simply hasn’t been himself since he’s come back, and it seems he’s still playing hurt. While he does have two homers this week, he’s hit just .136/.208/.273 with two home runs in 44 at-bats over the past two weeks. On the season, he’s hitting .220/.290/.385 with just 19 home runs in 395 at-bats, and for a player whose only true calling card is his power to be in a power-rich year, that’s really hard to have any optimism about going into September. In fact, his season line is slightly worse than Teoscar Hernandez and his .222 with 20 home runs line, with the only real difference being Hernandez has fewer at-bats and some chip-in stolen bases. He may be a solid rebound buy in 2020, but it’s time to acknowledge he’s not going to hit .247 this year and cut him in 10-team average and OBP formats.
Rougned Odor (2B, Texas Rangers)
It looks like Texas may finally be ready to show Rougned the O-door. Although the arrival of Nick Solak didn’t necessarily spell his end, his awful hitting has, as he’s hit an abysmal .040 this week and just .129 with one home run over the past three weeks to bring his average below the Mendoza line at just .195. Sure, he has power, but 21 homers in this climate is far from Joey Gallo-esque power. He deserves the cut in your 15-team and even 18-team leagues, and I even cut him in my AL-only. But still, he’s currently 45% owned in Yahoo, which is too damn high.
Chris Taylor (2B/SS/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)
I continue to be nonplussed by Taylor, perhaps because in every hitting ability category, he has been nonplus. Since his return, he’s done fine with his playing time, hitting .292 with a homer to bring him to a solid .263 average with nine home runs and seven stolen bases in 285 at-bats. But aside from speed, his Statcast page is as Blue as the Eiffel 65 hit ’90s song, with a weak 84.6 mph exit velocity that leads to a .229 xBA and .356 xSLG. Even though he’s getting playing time in a stacked Dodgers lineup, I simply think there are more enticing options, and he’s vastly over-owned at his current Yahoo rate of 35%.
Brandon Dixon (1B/OF, Detroit Tigers)
Dixon seemed to be an intriguing deep-league power/speed option earlier this summer with 14 home runs and five stolen bases on the season, but the wheels have really come off. He’s hit just .056 in 18 at-bats the past week and .192 with no homers or stolen bases over the past 21 days. He’s probably just biding his time for Christin Stewart to come back or some other September call-up to eat away what was left of his playing time. You can safely cut in all formats.
(Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire)