Welcome to the week leading up to the final homestretch here at Buy & Sell. This could be called the “strangely about the Minnesota Twins edition”, and I still had to stop myself from writing about more Twins such as Kepler and Mauer who have also been hot. Just like the Twins, you may have thought you were out of contention and suddenly you have a fighting chance, so here are some players that have been electric for your attempt to ride the lightning and shock your league mates.
Byron Buxton (OF, Minnesota Twins) – When it comes to carrying his weight, I think it’s fair to say lately his performance has provided not just a ton, but a metric Buxton. He’s hit .365 with 4 Homers and 4 SB over the past 2 weeks, with 3 of those homers (and 2 stolen bases) coming in the past week. Jeff Sullivan just penned a great piece on how Buxton has simplified his mechanics and swung and more good pitches and fewer bad ones, which has substantially helped his previously pitiful contact percentage. With Keon Broxton-like power and stolen base ability (which will only improve given his ridiculous sprint speed), it’s time you Buyron in 12-team mixed and even worth a flier in 10-team mixed AVG. leagues.
Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies) – No, you’re not experiencing deja vu, I really am recommending him a third time in a row. Because he’s risen in ownership to 25.9%, but that’s still not enough. Not close. Sure, it’s been a very small sample size, but there’s so much to like here. The best is his low 22.6% GB%, allowing him to utilize his power with a 51.9% FB%. But what’s truly awesome is his 97.8% Z-Contact%, which is 3rd-best in baseball, and only behind two contact-first slappy guys. With this profile, he resembles 2017 Justin Smoak but with better OBP. His xTripleSlash is a .264/.405/.622, which for those of you playing at home, is an OPS of 1.027. Plus, he now has OF eligibility in most leagues with 10 games played there. I just nabbed him off waivers in the writer’s league (12-team), but I’d rush to snag him in 10-team OBP as well for your Rhys to the finish line.
Howie Kendrick – (2B/OF, Washington Nationals) – The month of August has been Hungry Howie’s and just as delicious as their pizza (it’s a solid Michigan-based pizza chain) Fantasy baseball tends to be rather ageist, but Kendrick’s month has not gone unnoticed, raising his ownership to 25.9%, after hitting .373 with 5 HR, 9 R, 14 RBI and 2 SB in 51 AB over the past 3 weeks. When he’s locked in like this, you best ride it out, as he has always possessed excellent contact skills and can look like an elite 2B when everything is clicking. Even In some 15-team mixers he may be overlooked due to a mediocre season line, though I think he’s a solid flier in deeper AVG 12-teamers as well.
Curtis Granderson (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) – Well look who’s come back to do his best Bellinger impression. Grandy has been sweeping with a boomstick, with an impressive 8 HR to go with a .250 AVG, 14 R, 19 RB, and 1 SB over the past 3 weeks. While the K rate doesn’t suggest any batting average improvement, Granderson has shown the ability to hit at a 40-homer pace in the past, and even at 36 I still trust in his power tool and expect to see him drill plenty more homers in August and rack up RBI. I’d add him in 15-team formats, but he’s worth consideration in 12-teamers where your offense needs a jolt. I could get behind dropping an Eric Thames for him, for example. Wouldn’t have expected to say that in May.
Wilson Ramos (C, Tampa Bay Rays) – Wilson showed some rust in his return, but lately he’s been getting it going like vamos. This past week, he’s hitting a crazy-go-nuts .588 with a homer in 17 AB, and has exhibited better plate discipline. His season average is still .233, and this late in the season, it’s more likely that his surge may have gone largely unnoticed by less savvy or checked-out league mates. While I’m not ready to add him in 10-team one-catcher formats since he’s not in a great run production situation. There are not many catchers who can hit .300 with some power from here on out, so he should be picked up in all 15-teamers and 12-teamers and you’ll be Ramost grateful.
Neil Walker (2B, Milwaukee Brewers) – This past week, out of the team’s hitter’s Neil Walker has been Milwaukee’s best. But, like, actually good, very unlike the beer of the same name. In the 8 games with them, he’s hit .444 with 5 RBI and 1 HR , and with the team fighting for a shot at the postseason, he’s going to be playing everyday to lead the charge. While he doesn’t offer much for speed, he’s still a solid add in 15-team mixed, and a fine flier in deeper 12-team mixed.
Delino DeShields (OF, Texas Rangers) – DeShields has dealt with maturity issues in the past, but it at least seems that he’s maturing as a hitter. It seems he’s abandoned his previous attempts to hit for power, with just 3 HR in 253 ABs on the year, but his more contact and grounder-heavy approach suits his hitter type well. He’s displayed improved plate discipline with a 7/10 BB/K over 44 ABs, helping him hit .318 and nab 6 bases. He’s now earned everyday playing time as a table-setter, and with an excellent SB rate of 25 SB to just 5 CS, he will likely continue to run plenty. And now that he’s getting on base more both via hits and walks, he’ll get more opportunities. He’s a great fallback for speed hunters who couldn’t get Buxton, and worth adding in 15-teamers and 12-teamers.
Nick Delmonico (3B, Chicago White Sox) – Wouldn’t it be funny if this guy ends up the best “Delmon” in baseball history, over Delmon Young? After hitting .341 with 5 HR and 2 SB over the past two weeks, with all of the homers and stolen bases coming in the past week, hey, it could happen. Little Nicky was having a solid but unspectacular year before this, but he has displayed the ability to hit for power and average in the past so it’s not a total fluke. xStats believes he’s been lucky but has still been pretty legit, with an xTripleSlash of .284/.393/.490. He’s displayed great plate discipline and will continue to get playing time, making him a fine add in 18-team and 15-team OBP formats. Drink a gin & tonico, it’s time for Delmonico.
Jorge Polanco (SS, Minnesota Twins) – Which Twins regular has been leading the Twins in batting average over the past the weeks. Yep, this guy, the one with a .245 season average. He’s hit .385 over those last 58 AB but also with 9 R and 15 RBI with 2 SB and 3 dingers all coming in his last 2 games. He’s probably been a bit unlucky as his xTripleSlash is .263/.309/.388, which surprisingly is nearly identical to Gregory Polanco’s (.252/.310/.390). Still, despite his youth and adequate power/speed profile, he’s owned in only 4.5% of leagues, which is too low. He should be owned in AL-only and 18-team, but I also think he can be a solid flier or injury replacement in deeper 15-team batting average leagues.
Kennys Vargas (1B, Minnesota Twins) – The hefty 1B is once again on the shuttle to the majors, but this time it could be for keeps. Grossman and Sano are sidelined, giving him and opening, and he was hitting .394 in the 9 games before his call-up before hitting a game-winning homer in his first game back. While his season numbers do look ho-hum, he still has 9 homers in just 184 AB and I believe he can still be a sneaky OBP asset since I expect his walk rate to positively regress closer to his minors rates. He’s very widely available at just 0.4% owned, but he’s a fine add in AL-only and worth a flier in 18-team because deep-league value can be hard to find.
Kendrys Morales – (1B/DH, Toronto Blue Jays) – The Blue Jays slugger has been especially ice-cold as of late, hitting just .159 with just 1 Homer over the past 3 weeks and .059 over the past week. And his .185 SLG% over the past 2 weeks has been perhaps even more pitiful. Players with his body type often don’t age well, and he may be giving in to the wear-and-tear of the dog days of summer. While he still has power, I’m comfortable cutting him loose in 10-teamers and 12-teamers, and I’d bench him in 15-team if I could. If not, I’d consider pulling the plug, especially if it’s OBP. I’d like to see less of Morales.
Eric Thames (1B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – Look, on the season, he still has great numbers, I get that. But if you go from the start of June onwards, he really has not been a useful ballplayer, and stubborn owners (including me) have been assuming the glory days of April would return. Well, they haven’t, and now as a strikeout-prone hitter with only moderate power in a quasi-platoon, he really isn’t anything special anymore in shallower leagues. I’d cut in him 10-team without hesitation, but if you’re in a tight race in 12-team and you need a hot hand from the waiver wire, I think that’s okay too. So let’s lower that ownership rate from 85% or else you may lose the title and bring Thames upon your family.
Yoan Moncada (2B, Chicago White Sox) – I always advocate picking up high-upside prospects because you never know if you’ll get a true gem like Hoskins or Devers. But sometimes, you get a Moncada, and you throw it back. Yes, the 16.2% walk rate has been nice, but it doesn’t make up for the 36.9% K%, which can only work if you have Joey Gallo power, which he presently does not. I was bearish on him preseason and he hasn’t alleviated my concerns about his strikeout problem, and it limits him from using the rest of his toolkit, since he can’t steal first. He’s currently at 26.9% owned, above the far superior Hoskins, and I would gladly cut him in 12-team, 15-team, and 18-team Batting Average league formats. So scout your wire and I’m sure you’ll find someone more exciting than Yawn Moncada.