Photo by John Adams/Icon Sportswire
Welcome back to Buy & Sell, September edition, where there are a million new players but I’m going to focus on the same boring older ones until we see how this all shakes out. That being said, I see you, Luis Urias and Francisco Mejia. It was mighty tempting to write something up for many other hot players deeper league players like Hunter Dozier and Niko Goodrum, but I won’t for now… Beck said it best: “That was a Goodrum break”. Let me be clear that I really just wanted to make that pun before the season is done. On to the September studs!
Franmil Reyes (OF, San Diego Padres) – I think Franmil’s been one of my most frequently written-up players this year, because I’m inclined to write more about the streaker hitters, and right now Reyes’s streak in Frantastic. He’s hitting .429/.478/1.000 (!) this week with 4 home runs, to bring his season line to .261/.314/.544 and 15 homers… in 180 ABs! On the surface, he may still look like a high-K masher as his 31.8% K% is considerably higher than Frazier’s, but it’s much improved from where it was; He had a 41/6 K/BB in 105 PA in the first half, and it’s improved considerably to a 20/8 K/BB in 89 PA in the second half. I expect him to continue to hit for big power with solid average and OBP, which is why I’m recommending him in all 15-team formats as well as 12-team, and even as a streamer for HR in 10-team. A fran in power need is a power Fran indeed.
Jonathan Villar (2B, Baltimore Orioles) – Villar is perhaps the only hitter I’m putting on this list despite not having a good average. That’s because despite his uninspiring .253 AVG and .329 OBP in 75 AB the past 21 days, he’s managed to rack up 5 home runs and 8 SB in that span, bringing him up to 12 HR and 23 SB with just 3 CS in 376 AB this year. While that may still be a far cry from his insane 62 SB campaign in 2016, it at least shows he’s improved from his awful 2017 season that had lost him a starting job, and he should be able to maintain an average in the .250 range while having an outside shot at a 15 HR, 30 SB season, which makes him plenty valuable even in shallower formats. He’s now 12-team viable for teams in need of a dual power/speed threat and could even be streamed for HR/SB in 10-team, but only if you’re safe in AVG and OBP.
Ryan O’Hearn (1B, Kansas City Royals) – Have you O’heard about O’Hearn, because O’Holy Moses has he been hot! The Royal’s answer to Luke Voit, O’Hearn actually does have more prospect pedigree but only hit 11 homers over 406 PA in the minors, compared to 9 blasts in the majors in just 91 PA, and 7 of them in the past 21 days. While it’s easy to point at his 36% HR/FB and call it unsustainable, his 93.7 mph AVG eV, 98.3 mph FB/LD and 9.9% Barrel/PA are all Top 10 in baseball (small sample size alert notwithstanding). And unlike Voit, xStats largely thinks he’s earned his crazy rate of production with an xSlash of .283/.354/.605, which is still fantastic even if it’s down from his current SLG% of .646. With him mashing like this and getting full-time reps to strut his stuff, be the rooster to get into the O’Hearnhouse and scoop up in AL-only, 18-team, 15-team, and even stream in 12-team AVG and OBP formats, since he can be for 2018 what Matt Olson was last year (and I’d currently rather start him than the 2018 Olson).
Dansby Swanson – (SS, Atlanta Braves) – Congrats Dansby, you finally forced a Buy/Sell writeup out of me! For most of this year I had been rather bearish on Swanson as far as shallow league value, since I didn’t think he had enough current power/speed upside to offset his batting average downside. Well in recent weeks he’s done enough to get me to change my tune. He’s hitting a robust .323/.368/.613 with 5 HR and 2 SB (1 CS) in 62 AB the past 21 days, to raise his season line to .249/.307/.416 with 14 HR and 7 SB (3 CS) in 425 AB. While that might not blow you away, the total package is certainly an improvement from his 2017 campaign and lends credence to the idea that the 24-year-old is blossoming into a legitimate fantasy asset. xStats supports that his recent production has been mostly legitimate (just lucky with power), with a p30xSlash (past 30 days) of .307/.364/.517. Even though he has his loyal backers, he may be available due to his dragged-down average. It’s time to add him in all 15-team and most deeper 12-team formats, though he lacks any standalone ability to make him useful for streaming in 10-team.
Brandon Lowe (2B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays) – Compared to the other top prospects making a splash, he’s managed to keep a Lowe profile. Thanks, to his terrible start, you may not realize Lowe has hit .375/.474/.719 with 3 homers and 2 SB over the past two weeks (with all 3 homers coming this week), thanks to his .246 AVG on the season. But I’ll never ding a rookie for a shaky debut, as his teammate Willy Adames showed that patience pays off. While he was mentioned on nary a preseason Top 100 list, Lowe has proven to be a great prospect and was on Carson Cistulli’s venerable Fringe Five, as the now-24-year-old hit .297/.391/.558 with 22 Homers and 8 SB between Double-A and Triple-A, displaying a broad base of skills. Tampa Bay has no reason not to play him now, so expect at least semi-regular playing time with a handful more homers and SB and a solid OBP. He should be added in AL-only and 18-team formats, and he makes a viable 15-team OBP streamer with that 13.9% walk rate.
Joey Wendle (2B/SS/3B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays) – Wendle is finally catching on, even though he’s long deserved more recognition. So basically the opposite of Frindle, which even as a kid I thought was a stupid idea for a book, since “pen” is a perfectly good word, and even wors-. (EDIT: the rest of my five page rant about how I hated “Frindle” has been redacted by the editor). While Wendle hasn’t hit for much power, he’s contributed everywhere else, he’s turned heads by hitting .391 over 46 AB this past two weeks and .444 with 3 SB this week, to raise his season line to .302/.350/.432 with 7 Home Runs and 12 SB (4 CS) in 407 AB. With eligibility at every position but 1B and Catcher, he’s been a massively valuable pickup who was likely ignored even in AL-only leagues earlier this year. Before you start hailing him as the second coming of Dustin Pedroia, note than xStats projects a less exciting .277/.327/.387 line, and he isn’t nearly as useful in OBP leagues. Still, it’s time he’s owned in all 18-team leagues and 15-team batting average leagues, and his versatility makes him usable even in 12-team AVG leagues as a utility/bench streamer. Marry Wendle, kill Frindle.
Hunter Renfroe (OF, San Diego Padres) – I wrote him up a few weeks ago, but I feel obligated to sing his praises again. Why? Because the dude hits dingers. He’s hit 7 longballs with a .315 AVG over the past 21 days and 3 of them came this past week, bringing him to 19 tates on the year in 317 ABs. He is more or less a slightly more powerful version of the guy we saw last year, who really only has one tool, a power tool, but it makes up for his deficits elsewhere. That being said, he’s still more likely to slump due to his ugly plate discipline. At this point Renfroe should be owned in all 15-teams and streamed for home runs in 12-team AVG formats, though just make sure you can afford some AVG/OBP downside if he cools off.
Adam Frazier (2B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates) – There aren’t many hitters right now how have been hitting crazier than Frazier. He’s hit .333/.417/.619 with 3 homers, 8 R, 10 RBI and 1 SB over the past 2 weeks, to bring his season total to .288/.358/.469 with 8 HR in in 243 AB. Not bad for a player who had been slumping so badly earlier this year that he was demoted. For the entire second half he’s been hitting for average, hitting .352 over that span, though his 4-for-4 day this week is what really got him noticed. xStats thinks he’s overperforming for power (.425 xSLG%) but has a completely identical xAVG and xOBP to his current mark. He stole 9 bases last year, but with 5 CS, it’s no surprise he’s running less, but his dual 2B/OF eligibility makes him a nice higher-floor streamer if you find a complete newcomer like Brandon Lowe too risky. He should be added in NL-only and 18-team formats, and streamed for AVG in 15-team AVG formats.
Roman Quinn (OF, Philadelphia Phillies) – A few years back, he was the Quinn-tessential rabbit. While he may no longer be quite so quick, he’s certainly has been on a tear. Over the past 21 days, he’s hitting an excellent .392/.404/.672 with a homer and 4 nabbed bases (0 CS) in 51 AB, which drives his season line to .346/.363/.528 with a homer and 6 SB in 78 AB. With his high season average, he’s not as stealthy as a pickup as he’s likely taken in NL only and other deep leagues, but he may even deserve some play in shallower formats. While his .346 AVG is unsurprisingly unsustainable, xStats still gives him a strong xSlash of .310/.327/.391, which makes him intriguing in AVG leagues and completely pedestrian in OBP.. That’s a little surprising as it was the other way around in his 2016 debut, but this year he’s swinging at many more pitches but also making better contact both on and off the plate. He lacks any real power though, so for now his perfect-world offensive upside looks like Ben Revere, but remember how highly valuable Revere was in fantasy in his peak years, even if his actual value was rather negligible. He’s worth adding in all NL-only and 18-team AVG formats for his speed alone, but should only be used for streaming in deeper 15-team AVG leagues.
Brian Dozier (2B, Los Angeles Dodgers) – WARNING: Shallow leagues only! I know, some say never drop your early round picks. It also may seem crazy, as he does have 20 HR and 11 SB on the year, and Rotoworld just ranked him as the #9 2B for September. But I disagree as lately he’s really been dozing at the wheel, and I’m glad I unloaded all my shares of him shortly before the Dodgers trade. Everyone is fell for the gambler’s fallacy, expecting him to have a monster second half because he had a bad first half, but there’s just nothing in the numbers to suggest that should happen. His xSlash of .229/.317/.394 suggests he’s earned his poor production, and his p30xSlash of .212/.321/.374 and even worse actual .136/.181/.250 with 1 HR in 44 AB the past two weeks suggests there’s no reason to expect him to turn it around. He’s never been an exit velocity darling, but his current 86.4 mph eV, 91.4 mph FB/LD eV, and 4.4 Barrel% all rank just below Devon Travis, whereas in both 2016 and 2017 he had a FB/LD eV above 94 mph. I hate to kick him while he’s having heart problems, but he’s clearly not right this year, and the Dodgers have enough depth with Muncy able to play 2B that Dozier may be running out of time. He hasn’t been as bad in OBP leagues, but in batting average leagues, I don’t think it’s crazy to cut him in 10-team AVG formats from his current 95.4% ownership, and take your chances with another power/speed threat like Swanson, Villar or Mondesi. Everyone will think you’re crazy, but it might just be crazy enough to wor
Maikel Franco (3B, Philadelphia Phillies) – Maikel is really my killer, as I fall for his hot streaks every time and get stuck cleaning up the mess. I know why I’m a sucker, as his ISO over .200 with a career-best 13.6% K rate makes me continually think a star-level breakout is just another small adjustment away. But any adjustments he makes right now will probably be a negative, as he’s dealing with wrist pain after an injury, and is going for an MRI. I usually don’t write up injured players in the Sell category, but I make an exception for September situations like this, since you may end up strung along waiting for a DL stint that never comes. Even if he’s back and supposedly healthy, wrist issues make me wary enough that I consider him okay to cut in all 10-team leagues and even 12-team leagues, especially OBP formats, as 3B is rather deep and you may need every at-bat. Hey may be one of my targets next year, but for September I’m tossing Franco like the JNCO jeans I recently found in the back of my closet… Middle school was a weird time for me, okay?
Jake Bauers (OF/1B, Tampa Bay Rays) – I think someone needs to turn the Bauers off and on again. No not like that, stop imagining naked grandmas. But he clearly seems broken, hitting a miserable .077/.231/.096 over the past 21 days. A slugging percentage under .100! Did he have a Freaky Friday with Craig Grebeck? Despite that, he was getting regular reps on a longshot Rays ballclub, but with Cron heating up and Ji-Man Choi starting to establish himself, Bauers is likely to receive some well-deserved time riding the pine as the team hopes he gets his head straight. While he’s obviously been awful in all formats, his high walk rate makes his floor higher in OBP. Cut in 15-team and 18-team AVG formats, though in 18-team OBP I’d hold out hope he rights the ship for now unless and until the playing time dries up. His future remains bright, but better that Bauers is not ours, at least for now-ers.