I don’t mean to brag (who am I kidding, yes I do!), but I’m glad I insisted three Buy/Sell editions in a row to add Hoskins, and hopefully he’s winning some of you fantasy titles. But for those of you who missed out on him, there still may be some other waves you can ride that can help you hang ten over your competition. Of course, this is the last edition before September Call-ups, and I can’t predict what teams will do, but I’ll try to keep that in mind for this list. But perhaps that’s why I got a little sell-happy on this week’s edition.
Scott Schebler (OF, Cincinnati Reds) – At last, the Schebler returns to his flock. He’s been forgotten in many leagues, as he’s only 20.4% owned, so you may need a reminder that on the year, he has 25 HR and 4 SB in just 404 PA, and is hitting .370 with 2 of those HR, 6 R and 6 RBI in 29 PA since his return (not including his 2-for-5 with a homer, 2 Runs, and 5 RBI tonight). And yet, at 20.4% he’s still owned less than the 26.0% ownership rate of… am I reading this right? …Nick Markakis? WHYYY?!!! While he may not be a boon in average, I think it will improve and his touch of speed helps enough to make him viable in all 12-team and worth a flier in 10-team.
Jorge Polanco (SS, Minnesota Twins) – He may not quite be Hoskins, but he has certainly earned a repeat mention on this list, because lately he’s become Jorge Po-longball. Over his last 8 games, Polanco has hit 6 Homers, which is DOUBLE the amount of homers he’d hit over an entire season! Seeing as he has elite contact skills and is also getting more aggressive on the base paths with 3 SB over the past 2 weeks, I’d be adding him in more leagues. He’s still just 24 and his underwhelming start made people forget he was one of the Twins’ top prospects for a reason. Add in 15-team and 12-team formats, but you can even consider him as a flier in 10-team average leagues while he’s this hot.
Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves) – He may be excellent defensively, but the Wizard of Ozz has more to like behind the curtain. Over the past week, he’s hitting .381 over 24 PA while taking 3 walks to 4 strikeouts, but I like more than just the hot streak. Despite only 2 Home Runs over 100 PA, he’s posting a strong ISO of .216, especially for a rookie middle infielder, and he’s combining a high FB% of 43.1% with a strong Hard% of 37.7%. So the signs point to more homers in Ozzie’s future, and he looks poised to also contribute in batting average with some speed while playing every day. He should be started in 15-teamers due to his upside but also worth a speculative add in deeper 12-team formats. If he doesn’t help, well Albies a monkey’s uncle.
Trey Mancini (1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles) – Mancini is tickling my fancini, with a .520 AVG with a HR, 6 R and 8 RBI over the past week. His strikeout rate has gradually improved as the season has gone on, though the power has gone down with it. Still, with Trumbo laying goose eggs, Mancini should be getting regular playing time down the stretch to establish himself as a regular, and with a bat capable of hitting for solid power and average, he’s well worth starting in 15-team and 12-team AVG leagues. This is neither here nor there, but it’s too bad he doesn’t tie up his hair in the back, because he could call it a Mancini-man bun. Pick him up before I’m tempted to make another joke as terrible as that one.
Robinson Chirinos (C, Texas Rangers) – Chirinos may be the winner of this year’s Rodney Dangerfield Award, because even with everything he’s done this year, he still gets no respect. In just 231 PA this year, he’s hit .255 with a .348 OBP and 15 HR, with 34 R and RBI, yet he’s still only 13.6% owned in ESPN. And over the past month, he’s been red-hot with 3 HR, a .392 AVG, 11 R and 6 RBI over the past 3 weeks, with a surprising 11/10 BB/K over those 62 PA. Seeing as he rates positively on his defensive catching, it really is a shame the Rangers have given up on him playing full-time, but at least now he’s playing enough to make a fantasy impact. He’s a worth add in 12-team single-catcher formats because he can hit at a 30 HR pace while drawing walks, and if you can play daily matchups, I’d consider him in 10-team OBP. So follow your Chiri-nose, and in September you may see him make fruit loops around the bases.
Greg Bird (1B, New York Yankees) – It’s been a challenging season for Bird person. But while he was left for dead, we can still hope for a triumphant return. While it’s only been a handful of at-bats, he hasn’t seemed overmatched, and he did show power in his rehab campaign. If he can stay injury-free, he’ll still find playing time even with Frazier on the team, and in OBP leagues he can still be had easily as he’s still owned in just 14.4% of ESPN leagues. We’ve seen how he can hit home runs in bunches and he could be in for a big September, so take a chance on him in 15-team and deeper 12-team OBP formats.
Yolmer Sanchez (2B/3B, Chicago White Sox) – Even deep leaguers may have overlooked this guy, perhaps because the shortstop formerly known as Carlos now rocks a name that makes him sound like a character in a Dr. Seuss book. But Sanchez has been coming into his own in the second half, hitting .313 with 3 HR with 5 R and 11 RBI over the past 2 weeks, and hitting .435 with 3 HR this past week. While he’s still not great with plate discipline, he has cut his walk rate by over 5% (from 25.8% down to 20.2%) compared to 2016, and more than doubled his walk rate (from 3.1% to 6.9%) While he still may be a bit lucky on the power front, he’s establishing himself a solid regular which is plenty useful in 20-team and 18-team formats, where he can still be had at just 3.5% owned. Don’t let him escape you like Yolmer Fudd.
Tommy La Stella (2B/3B, Chicago Cubs) – I feel like it’s fitting to counter the AL deep leaguer with a deep leaguer at the same positions from the opposite end of the same city. Tommy has been La Stellar in his limited playing time this year, hitting .322 with 5 HR, 16 R, and 16 RBI in 104 PA, and hitting .438 with 3 of those homers over the past week. While the 28-year old has shown plus plate discipline in prior years, this is the first time he’s sported a 13.3% Walk Rate that’s better than his K rate at just 9.7%, and with a .244 ISO that trounces his wimpy career power. Sure, this will likely regress somewhat, but it’s hard not to recommend a guy hitting for average, power, and OBP with multi-position eligibility, especially when he’s owned in just 1.4% of leagues. Pick him up in 20-team format and 18-team, but you may even want to take him as a flier in 15-team OBP where you can set daily lineups. Pick him up and La Stella friend to do the same.
Miguel Cabrera (1B, Detroit Tigers) – Say it ain’t so Miggy. Maybe this is karmic retribution for taking the uncreative “Miggy” moniker from Tejada back in the day. He’s been ice cold, hitting an uncharacteristic .250 with just 4 R and 5 RBI over his last 62 PA, and hitting .143 over the past week. With the Tigers out of contention, it seems likely that this is a lost season, and while he still has the ability for a September run, at age 34 with nagging health issues, I just don’t think it’s worth it to still be owning him in 10-team formats anymore. In 12-team, I would try to bench him if your rosters run deep, but I also wouldn’t fault you for cutting him in shallower ones.
Mark Trumbo (OF, Baltimore Orioles) – I hate to say I told you so… Who am I kidding, no I don’t! Trumbo has continued his mediocrity with no signs of it changing, hitting .246 with 3 HR over his last 71 PA. Sure, he has 20 HR on the year, but you know who else does? Matt Joyce, who did it in fewer PA, with a similar batting AVG, better OBP, and even a few stolen bases. All of the pro-Trumbo arguments about Camden heating up no longer apply, and it’s long past time to drop him in 10-teams and 12-teams, and he also deserves to be on your chopping block in 15-team OBP leagues.
Jose Bautista (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) – Seriously, guys? You’re still owning Bautista in 84.9% of ESPN mixed leagues? He just got cut in my AL-only. While he does has 20 HR and 6 SB, he’s hitting a putrid .209 and hitting .163 over the past two weeks. The Blue Jays insistence on batting him leadoff through his struggles may have been the single biggest mistake they made all season. Sure, he draws tons of walks and scores runs, but it’s not like a .317 OBP makes up for the rest and he doesn’t get many RBI. It’s past time to cut Joey Bats in 10-teamers, 12-teamers, and 15-team Batting Avg. leagues.
Kolten Wong (2B, St. Louis Cardinals) – I know he’s hot so you might think I made a mistake in recommending to drop him, but you’d be Wong. Look, I know it’s easy to kick a player while he’s down, and much more dangerous to kick one who’s up, but I’m doing it anyway. Why? Because his .315 AVG is nice, exciting, and not at all sustainable. His average has been propped up by a .360 BABIP, way above his career .294 BABIP with few changes in his batted ball profile to suggest real change. He’s popping infield flies over 10%, with roughly equal BB/K, GB/FB/LD, Pull% and Soft/Hard Contact% as 2016, so the average should regress closer towards that .240 mark he posted that year (though 2016 seems like it was unlucky). With limited power and now rather limited speed, he’s just a one-tool player who probably doesn’t actually possess that one tool. Cut him in 12-team and most 15-team formats, especially if they use OBP.
Nick Markakis (OF, Atlanta Braves) – WHYYYY??? He has limited power, passable batting average and run production, and zero speed. And he’s owned in 26% of ESPN leagues. WHYYYY? I’d much rather have Nick Williams (19.3%), Joyce (8.7%), Mahtook (8.5%), and a pile of oily barber-floor hair (6.9%). If you own him in a 12-team, 15-team, or even 18-team league and you still refuse to cut him, I have a bridge to sell you. A very dilapidated bridge, held up by a thousand Nick Markakis clones, don’t worry you’ll love it, sorry no insurance policy or refunds.