I know Pitcher List is a family-friendly site, but still like Holden Caulfield, I’m seeing the dreaded F-word everywhere… football. Hey, it was a Catcher in the Rye, not a Wide Receiver in the Rye. Welcome back to Buy & Sell: September call-ups (are kind of overrated) edition! We are of course getting to see some of the premium minor league talent, but I think the shiny new toys might leave bigger values for the matte almost new toys that too often get cast aside. As everyone’s attention shifts to football, now’s a prime time to pick up players on the sly, and especially with a few extra October games, you better believe it can make an impact. So onto the list!
If your stolen base situation is Tricky, you definitely want Run JMC. McCarthy has quietly been a discount version of Julio Rodriguez in the second half, and discount J-Rod is premium anything else. He’s hitting a studly .288/.348/.458 with 6 HR and 12 HR in just 235 PA, and has hit .355 with 3 HR and 5 of those SB over the past 3 weeks. The speed is no joke either, as he’s rocking a 98th percentile Sprint Speed and on a team with no reason not to keep giving him the green light. He might be overachieving in power a bit with his 3% Barrel% but the whole package is well worth adding in 10-team AVG leagues or those needing stolen bases. Because, when it comes to stealing, this McCarthy has no shame.
Tyler O’Neill (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)
What better way to celebrate six months from St. Patrick’s Day than with a pair of Irish twins? O’Neill has certainly been finding his old form, hitting 4 Tyler tater tots in the past week with 10 RBI on a surging Redbirds offense. It’s possible some people are missing this since his overall line is a rather disappointing .227 with 12 HR and 10 SB in 336 PA, especially if you spent the ill-advised top 5 round draft pick on him. Still, his plate discipline has been much better as of late, with a 5/5 K/BB this week and just 19 Ks in 78 PA the past three weeks, and on the year his 27% K% and 9% BB% are notable improvements from last year, and now he’s lifting the ball well again. With him playing that often, it’s clear the team trusts in his health and wants his power-speed combo in the lineup. He could easily pop another half dozen dingers and nab a few bags with lots of runs produced in the next few weeks and compliments McCarthy nicely as the more risky but higher upside power/speed play with an emphasis on the power… but O’Neill also shares a Guinness with McCarthy in the 98th percentile sprint speed club. Add in all OBP formats and most 10-team AVG leagues.
I know it might seem outrageous to some to list the top prospect in baseball as something other than an all-formats play, and I’m not saying that if you added him in 10-teamers that you need to panic and cut the Corb. Corbin’s the rare prospect with massive power and 70-grade speed and rocked a .307/.425/.611 with 24 home runs and 31 stolen bases across 422 plate appearances across three levels in the minors. The talent is obviously excellent, but talent is also kind of the problem. Surprisingly, the Diamondbacks have at least 3 intriguing power/speed lefty outfielders they want to put in the lineup with the aforementioned McCarthy and Stone Garrett, and the D’Backs have already indicated that they’re not averse to benching Carroll every few days. That can really be a difference maker, and I’d rather go for the bird in the hand than the corvid in the bush.
8 stolen bases in just 72 AB? Now that’s Bubbalicious. It tells you almost everything you need to know about his profile that he has more SBs than he does RBI (7). Although I was initially intrigued by his crazy minor league season and then grew wary of his high early strikeout rate and terrible Statcast data, he’s turned it back around, hitting .300 with 1 HR and 4 SB in 30 AB over the past two weeks. I’m also encouraged by his homer, in the fact it was not a mere wallscraper but a true 430+ footer blast, which indicates that his 14 HR in the minors wasn’t merely a hitter’s league illusion (see Esteury Ruiz). He’s still not entirely guaranteed full-time reps but if you’re getting him for SBs, he always can snag a few bags even off the bench, and with 99th percentile sprint speed, you better believe he’ll run at nearly any chance he gets. While it obviously depends on your team category needs, if you need to push hard in that category in 12-team AVG leagues, there’s no one on the wire better at burglarizing bags than Bubba,
When it comes to September call-up impact, he may be the star of Top Gunnar. He’s cruised through the minors with a .297 AVG to go with 19 HR and 22 SB, and although that pace had cooled some from a scorching start, it’s extremely impressive to put up those kinds of numbers across Double-A and Triple-A in his age 20 season (he could only legally drink as of June). He also had a great debut with a homer, and there’s a fair argument for having Henderson rated above Carroll since I’m more confident in his playing time with the O’s relative lack of talent in the middle and corner infield positions. He played 3B in his first game, but his eligibility may vary widely from league to league, and he’s likely an immediate 12-team add if he qualifies at multiple positions or even just 3B with so many other top 3B falling apart. It’s just a shame he has to play half of his games in a park that could limit his power. He’s a spec add or stream in 12-team for the upside but a must-add in all 15-team formats.
For a while, he was really stinking up the place, but it looks like someone finally changed the Sheets. His hitting lately has got you covered with a fresh .444 AVG with 3 HR and 12 RBI in 36 AB over the last two weeks, with all three blasts coming in the last week. That raises his season line to .256 with 12 HR in 293 AB, which if you doubled it to a full season of ABs, would look just about what we expected from him in the preseason. While he’ll continue playing as long as he’s hitting this hot with Vaughn riding the pine more, it’s worth noting his Statcast over this span has been right at league average, so luck may be a big factor here. But it’s also worth noting that Sheets’ top offensive comp according to Statcast is Andrew Vaughn, and their numbers are trending closer and closer to the point that you can totally see it now. Ride the wave and pick up in 15-team AVG formats for as long as he’s playing regularly.
I know you might be thinking that he’s likely snagged in a lot of 15-teamers and so it’s impossible that he’d be available in 18-team and NL-only formats, but then you underestimate the effect football has on offensive diamonds in the rough (or at least, like, opals or something). His season line still doesn’t wow at .280/.313/.429 with 5 HR in 201 PA, though note that it’s quite similar to Oscar Gonzalez who is far more widely rostered. And Dickerson has been redbird red-hot with an insane .468 AVG and a tater over 47 AB the past 4 weeks. According to Statcast though, he’s still overall in line with his career norms which is why I’m pouncing moreso for the Cardinals’ devil magic situation and hope he can keep the hits coming for a few more weeks. Stream in deep 15-team formats and add in all 18-team and NL-only formats.
There are a lot of Garretts in baseball, but only one Stone (as a first name, anyway), and even though he’s not playing every day, I think he rocks. It’s hard to believe he can’t get regular reps still while hitting a superlative .407/.407/.741 with 2 HR and 1 SB in his first 27 major league At-Bats. I think it’s safe to say he’s not overmatched. As you probably realized though, this is the third Diamondback outfielder with a similar profile, so it’s going to be hard to fight for more ABs with that logjam. But for those who can play part-timers, I should point out that Garrett’s not just lucky with an outrageous 71% HardHit%, 96 MPH average eV, and 14% Barrel% that would be best in baseball if small samples and regression to the mean didn’t exist. For those who can weather the off days, don’t let Stone erode on the wire in NL-only and deep 18-team or even 15-team formats with big benches.
D.J. Lemahieu (1B/2B/3B, New York Yankees)
This DJ seems to be scratching up his record, and not in a good way. LeMahieu was in a solid rhythm through the midsummer, but he hasn’t looked the same after missing a few days with a toe injury and trying to come back. He’s hitting just .172 with 0 HR and 0 SB in 58 AB over the past three weeks, dragging his average down to a quite pedestrian .269. Given the general shocking negative momentum AKA collapse of the Yankees in real-time and the fact that the Yankees probably want him ready for the playoffs assuming they don’t somehow blow it, he’ll probably get rest days, and if he doesn’t, I feel like the performance issues will linger. Cut in 10-team OBP formats and most AVG formats with solid alternatives.
His output over the past few months has been uGley. He’s hit just .185 with 2 HR and 1 SB in 65 AB over the past three weeks, bringing his total season stats to .242 with 18 HR and 6 SB, so it might seem kind of harsh to call him a 12-team cut given that the power and power are both superior to LeMahieu. But a closer look reveals the season stats don’t matter as much as the progression, and his past 250 PA show a player in the red steadily getting colder and bluer to the point it might inspire Picasso. His K rate went up this year, and the deadened ball killed some of his fringier power… and also, yeah why not blame Baltimore’s new park while we’re at it? It’s a bit gutsy and doesn’t feel good, but I think it’s time to move in 12-team OBP and most AVG leagues if you need to Torresurrect your offense.
In the second half, Heim has been a whale of a disappointment. He’s hitting just .094 over the past 2 weeks and hasn’t homered in a month, as his season line is now a weak .237 with 13 HR and 2 SB in 337 AB. Granted, his K/BB has remained solid and Statcast thinks he’s been roughly league average over the past 100 PA, but I think that’s heavily reliant on his strong 10% walk rate and not much else. If you have the chance, I’d gladly jump from Jonah to Jansen, who has been surging and rocks the 3rd-highest barrel rate of all major leaguers, granted it’s only 137 AB but still 11 HR. Sell in 15-team AVG leagues, in OBP it really depends on alternatives, but for what it’s worth, he was just cut for Jansen in my AL-only home league. Heimighty have fallen.
Red Bird or not, even Cardinals devil magic has its limits. His hot streak was never supported by the peripherals on his return and I’m glad I fought the urge to make him a buy. Because he’s hitting a seemingly impossible .096 with 1 HR in his last 52 AB over the past 3 weeks, and if that doesn’t knock you out of a major league and fantasy lineup, I don’t know what will. Shortstop is a deep position. It’s easy to improve, just pick, like, anyone else. Massey, great. Andrus, sure. Just don’t let yourself get smoked out by Cheech and DeJong.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Keith Gillett & Bob Kupbens / Icon Sportswire