Buy & Sell 8/29: Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop
Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire
Welcome back to Buy & Sell, and for some with playoffs, this is the season finale. For some, the season race is coming down the homestretch. Though this isn’t like a footrace, horse race, or car race, since you don’t usually see racers who are trailing behind stop mid-way, sit on a couch and watch football. Although September call-ups are nigh, there are still quite a few interesting names available who will likely outproduce any of those flashy September names. So if you’re still in the race, listen up and do some Jaywalking!
Kendrys Morales (DH, Toronto Blue Jays) – I haven’t seen many Mo-rallies like this one. I know, the cat’s out of the bag on this one, since there’s not much more someone can do in the span of one week to get noticed. He quite amazingly homered in 7 straight games and has hit .436/.522/1.051 with 8 HR in just 39 AB over the past two weeks, which is why his ownership multiplied nearly by a factor of 10 from 7.4% up to 60.7%. But really if you take out his terrible April, he has been surprisingly solid for most of the season when given the at-bats. He has the 9th best exit velo of all major leaguers at 93.0 mph, and his Barrel% of 9.0 is 15th best and tied with Matt Carpenter. Even with the Jays being out of contention, he should continue to receive full playing time and they may instead be more cautious with Donaldson if they can’t find a suitor before the break. While he obviously won’t stay this hot and lacks position versatility, next to JD Martinez, he should be the top DH to own for the stretch run and should be added in all leagues, as he’s doing all he can-drys to help you out.
Lourdes Gurriel (2B/SS, Toronto Blue Jays) – Fantasy owners must have short memories. His ownership was down to 12.6% this week before it jumped to 17.6%, but that’s still far too low with the level of talent he possesses. Before he hit the DL, he was in the midst of a historic multi-game hit streak, and there’s no clear reason to believe he can’t do that again. xStats is a big fan, supporting his excellent .309/.335/.480 with an even better xSlash of .315/.341/.530. He clearly has the talent to produce like a star in the final month, and should be added in all 15-team formats and 12-team batting average formats, and is streamable in 10-team AVG formats as well.
Yan Gomes (C, Cleveland Indians) – I haven’t been a fan of Yan, but now I think I can, man. He’s been hitting .362/.392/.489 in 47 AB the past 21 days and an even better .474 with a homer this week. While his strikeout rate of 26.7% remains the highest of his career, it’s been improving as the season goes on and he has only 7 K in his last 49 PA (47 AB). He has no legitimate competition for playing time and is in a great lineup, so he deserves a bit better than his current 30.1% ownership rate, though that’s better than the 20.9% mark from last week. He has an xSLG% of .462, so he may be due for more power than you’d expect. Scoop him in 15-team and 12-team AVG leagues.
David Dahl (OF, Colorado Rockies) – It’s time to get all Dahl-ed up and ready to go. Dahl hasn’t had a particularly hot week since his return: He’s hit just .238 with a homer this week and .266 with 3 HR and 2 SB over the past 21 days. Still, it seems he’s over his injuries, as he’s logged 5 multi-hit games out of his last 10. It also seems that he’s getting more regular playing time over Parra, who is there because…reasons. While he may not hit quite as well as he did in last year’s small sample where he hit .315/.359/.500 in 222 AB, I am mildly encouraged that he only struck out 3 times in his past 21 AB, and in Colorado it’s especially encouraging to see talented hitters putting the ball in play. His well-rounded upside makes him worth adding in most 15-team leagues or even in 12-team AVG leagues if you’re feeling lucky.
Billy McKinney (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) – This William McKinney has no relation to William McKinley, and it’s looking like his tenure won’t be nearly as short-lived. Although his performance in the minors has ho-hum at best, his numbers so far in the majors appear to be more than just beginner’s luck. So far in the majors he’s hitting an excellent .353/.463/.706 with 3 HR, 6 R and 9 RBI in just 34 AB (43 PA), and while it’s easy to write that off as small sample size luck, I actually think he looks super legit. He’s shown surprisingly excellent plate discipline, with a 20.8% O-Swing% vs. a 70.8% Z-Swing%, and has combined it with a strong contact rate with a 91.3% Z-Contact% (82.4% Contact%) and a low 7.0% Swstr%. The power is also looking quite real with a strong 91.8 mph avg eV, 95.4 mph FB/LD eV, and a 10.8% Barrel% that is 5th-best in the MLB (minimum 20 BBE). No wonder he’s sporting an xSlash of .330/.439/.678… look at it again, it’s beautiful. Some regression is likely inevitable, but I’m relying more on his MLB indicators than his minors numbers, so I think he’s one of the most enticing deep league value plays for the stretch run. Add in all 18-team and 15-team formats, and as crazy as it may sound, I think he’s a good candidate for a speculative add even in deeper 12-team formats (especially OBP) for now if you’ll do anything to McWinney.
Matt Wieters (C, Washington Nationals) – Hey, look who the Nats dragged in! Wieters likely won’t be able to shake off the overall stench of failure that has largely defined his tenure with the Nationals, but at least he can spray it with axe. Lately he’s been swinging a hot axe, hitting .340/.390/.453 with 1 longball, 5 R, 8 RBI and a 4/7 BB/K ratio in 53 AB. While his overall season average of .240 is disappointing, he’s drawing walks at a 10.0% clip and his 15.5% K% rate is his best since 2011, and it’s backed by a career-best 90.6% Z-Contact%, 84.5% Contact%, 29.0% O-Contact% (2nd best) and 7.1% Swstr%. It seems like it may be part of a conscious effort to trade some power for contact, and it’s worth a try. In this catching landscape, I don’t think it’s crazy to say he should be owned in all two catcher leagues,18-team formats, and even worth a speculative add in 15-team OBP leagues.
Melky Cabrera (OF, Cleveland Indians) – You may take him for granted, but week after week, the Melkman keeps on delivering. Okay, nowadays nobody would take that for granted, I hate having to go to the store to get my milk! He’s been extra fresh lately, hitting .333/.415/.649 with 5 homers in 57 AB the past 21 days and .474 with 2 HR this week. xStats indicated he was due for a better average back in July, and stands by that with an xAVG of .307, though his xSLG% of .433 suggests he may be slightly overperforming in the power department, since that’s .020 lower than his current .453 SLG%. Still, he’s widely underrated as his high batting average and run production makes him entirely viable in 18-team and 15-team AVG leagues (and still an okay stream in 15-team OBP).
Ramon Laureano (OF, Oakland Athletics) – Every year, there are prospects that are all hype, and there are some that are right under your nose and you completely miss. Laureano is the latter, as I only noticed him after his incredible outfield throw (watch it now if you haven’t seen it). But lately he’s deserved notice with the bat as well, hitting .318/.400/.773 this week with 3 HR and 2 SB. Although he offers enticing power/speed upside (He hit .297 with 14 HR and 11 SB in 246 AB in Triple-A), he still has a low offensive floor with a 32.1% K% and just a 5.7% BB%, which is supported by a 15.0% Swstr%. Still, he could be lightning in a September bottle in AL-only and 18-team formats, and is a viable power/speed stream in 15-team AVG formats for the time being.
Tyler Austin (1B, Minnesota Twins) – With all the other power-hitting first baseman around, he tends to get Austin the shuffle, but in his new digs he shouldn’t be forgotten. Over the past 2 weeks, he’s hit a mighty .371/.395/.826 with 5 Home Runs, although with only 6 R and 7 RBI. Hey, this is the Twins, what did you expect. Still, it’s surprising to see that his total of 14 Home Runs on the season has come in only 163 AB (174 PA), for an excellent.552 SLG% to go with his .252 AVG and .303 OBP. All year he’s been near the top of the Statcast Barrel% leaderboard with a 9.6% Barrel% and fantastic 97.1 mph FB/LD eV (though only 89.8 mph overall eV), which honestly is probably the only thing keeping him in the majors with a Gallo-esque 36.5% K% (actually worse than Gallo, and without Joey’s high walk rate). While he probably still is not first-division starter caliber, now that he’s finally getting regular reps in Minnesota, he makes for a great under the radar deep league power stream. Pick him up in all 18-team formats and in 15-team batting average formats even you can stomach his risky AVG/OBP floor for his SLG% and Homers.
Luke Voit (1B, New York Yankees) – The early Greg Bird may get the worm, but a struggling Bird is prey for the circling Voit-ure. Voit is entering the fray as an unknown, a 27-year-old who has had good offensive production in the Cardinals minor league system and had 114 largely forgettable at-bats with them last year, but 1B remains a gaping hole and he’s been going in for the kill. He’s hit a blistering .500 with 3 home runs, 5 R and 7 RBI over the past week, and the Yankees thought highly enough of him to bat him cleanup on Monday. But as exciting as that is, this is looking more like a flash in the pan than anything. xStats poo-poohs his .313/.377/.563 line with a sobering xSlash of .248/.324/.471, which is still solid for power but a far cry from his current hype. Statcast seems more optimistic with a 93.6 mph avg eV, 95.9 mph FB/LD eV, and 8.2% Barrel%, so the power is real, but with a 67.9% Contact% the average looks bound to plummet towards the Daniel Palka zone. Now would be a prime time to flip him to a desperate team if you own him, though he should retain some value by virtue of earning at least semi-regular playing time in a stacked offense. I almost wrote him as a sell, but you can hold or add in AL-only and stream him in 18-team leagues, but you should cut him if you can’t deal him in 15-team formats, especially in AVG leagues.
Jonathan Schoop (2B/SS, Milwaukee Brewers) – This one is a tough one, since he hasn’t been that bad from a performance standpoint… unless you count playing time as part of performance. While he’s been far better in the second half after a first half plagued by injury and general ineffectiveness, he’s only logged 24 AB (26 PA) over the past two weeks as his trade to the Brewers (plus the Moustakas trade) has left him fighting for playing time at the keystone with Travis Shaw. Of course the hope would be that he’d prove to be a flawless shortstop despite being a rather mediocre defensive second baseman, but that hasn’t really panned out and Arcia is now hitting well enough (.316 over the past 21 days) to justify starting over him. Without a secure full-time gig, he can be cut in most 12-team formats and even shallower 15-team OBP, though he can still be useful in 15-team AVG leagues if you can manage lineups daily.
Josh Bell (1B, Pittsburgh Pirates) – Maybe he belongs in Philadelphia, because it seems that this Bell is cracked, and not what he was cracked up to be. His power display of last year has all but vanished, with just 8 jacks in 409 AB this year after 26 in 549 AB last year… He’s one-third of his former self! The hope would be that if he weren’t hitting for power, he’d at least be a beast in AVG and OBP, but that hasn’t really happened either, as his .262 AVG and .348 OBP is only slightly better than his 2017 marks. With only 1B eligibility, there’s really not any format where he has significant value even with his OBP-heavy approach. The Bell has already tolled for him and he should be cut in all 12-team and 15-team leagues, and also cuttable in 18-team AVG formats.
Austin Romine (C, New York Yankees) – Look, sometimes I like to be controversial with my drop recommendations, such as the Andrus one (Not saying I was right, but I’m not NOT saying it). This one is pretty boring and self-explanatory. Gary Sanchez is doing well on his rehab assignment, and looking to be just a few days away from returning. Of course, we thought the same thing a month ago, but this time he seems ready. While there’s always a chance Romine stays in the lineup with one of the catchers playing 1B, he hasn’t done enough to justify playing time over Voit or any other September call-up. He’s cuttable in all formats but AL-only two-catcher leagues… yes they do exist, I’m in one, and it’s terrible.
Adrian Beltre (3B, Texas Rangers) – Adrian Beltre is still owned in 41.4% of leagues! Translation: 41.4% of league owners have long since stopped paying any attention. At this point, he’s in Victor Martinez territory of just playing to be a familiar face and play out his farewell tour, but lacking any real offensive contribution. His 2.9% Barrel% is terrible for a power hitter, and more importantly, he’s not even playing regularly, with just 19 AB the past two weeks. He is basically a lock for the Hall of Fame, but that won’t stop me from recommending cutting him in ALL leagues, save for deep AL-only, Bizarro leagues or leagues that use age as a category. It’s gotta exist somewhere, right?