Buy & Sell 9/11—Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop
Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is: EXTRA PLAYOFF BONUS COLUMNS! That’s right, I’ll be out of the country for the next two weeks in Chile with limited internet access, so I added some extra writeups this week. I may as well because at this point, many teams in H2H formats are already eliminated, including one of mine (so long, Kikuchimama), but this could be pivotal time for roto leagues or H2H semifinals (C’mon, Astudillo Ghibli!). I’m in a high-stakes match with the near-unbeatable Statcast Darlings in which the winner is promoted to the Legacy League, and the early returns look bad. But there’s still plenty of week left, so here are some players that could help you recover!
Best of luck and Vive Chile Mierda!
Mitch Garver (C, Minnesota Twins)
I know … duh. Yet somehow despite having hit 29 home runs and being on a 50-home run pace over a full season of at-bats, Garver is only owned at 69% in Yahoo, and his ownership rate has budged so little in ESPN that his add/drop late wasn’t even in the list of the 25 most-added CATCHERS! For those citing dead leagues as the cause, I call BS as Aristides Aquino is owned at 87% in ESPN. Garver leads baseball in xwOBA improvement over his past 50 plate appearances with an insane .504 mark after only .278 in his previous 50 plate appearances. Unless you own Gary Sanchez or JT Realmuto, he’s better than your catcher even if he does only play part-time, although his share of the time has steadily increased as the divide between Garver and Jason Castro offensively has widened. He’s a must-add in all formats, even if you own Sanchez or Realmuto and have to play him at utility.
Gio Urshela (3B/SS New York Yankees)
Urshela is back, but he’s been getting left behind for no good reason. He was the No. 1 most-dropped player in ESPN leagues for his short IL stint, and he proved why that was a bad idea by going 2-for-4 with a tate in his first game back. With so many other breakthroughs this year, Urshela’s has been rather overshadowed, but it’s one of the breakouts more supported by the metrics. The 27-year-old former journeyman has hit a superb .332 with 19 home runs this season in 389 at-bats, so it’s rather shocking that he’s still owned in only 69% of leagues even while playing for such a big-name team as the Yankees. His .304 xBA and .504 xSLG are excellent, and Statcast does not account for park factors, which are greatly in his favor playing half his games in the Yankees bandbox. If an impatient owner parted ways with him during his IL stint, scoop him up and start him in all leagues, pronto.
Wil Myers (OF, San Diego Padres)
Myers may have tripped and fallen on his face for fantasy owners, but now he’s turbo-somersaulting to the finish line. After losing his full-time role, he’s surging to the tune of .476 with two home runs and a stolen base this week, raising his season line to .243/.324/.421 with 17 home runs and 14 stolen bases over 387 at-bats. That may still seem disappointing, but on a per at-bat basis, it really is right in line with the .245 30/20 line we’re accustomed from seeing from Myers. Health seems to always be an issue for Myers, which makes him tough to hold through struggles, but you should jump back on the bandwagon when hot because he still likely has more power/speed upside than most players even on shallower league waiver wires. Add in all 12-team formats, especially OBP, but honestly, right now I’d even consider adding him in 10-Team OBP as well.
Nick Solak (2B, Texas Rangers)
Considering what he’s done, he’s solaking in respect from fantasy owners. He’s only 9% owned despite hitting well with a reliable .328/.449/.500 slash with two home runs and a stolen base over 64 plate appearances. While his power/speed numbers don’t jump off the page, I believe he’ll be a deep-league stalwart down the homestretch. While he may be overperforming his Statcast metrics with an xBA of .270 and xSLG of .403, he’s been moved to the heart of the order and is a run-producing machine with his 12.8% walk rate. He’s also a sleeper source of stolen bases with a strong sprint speed, though it’s not uncommon for even fast rookies to be more timid on the basepaths. He should be owned in all 15-team formats, but I like him so much I’ll say that for 12-team average or OBP leagues, you should also heat your team up with a Solak flare.
Jurickson Profar (1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, Oakland Athletics)
Jurickson suddenly has been awakened by the Profar shofar. After nearly a full season of mediocrity, Profar has become a run production monster lately, hitting .321/.480/.679 with five taters, 19 runs, and 15 RBI in 56 at-bats (72 plate appearances) over the past three weeks, raising his season line to .220/.302/.420 with 20 home runs and seven stolen bases. While last year was certainly better, it’s worth noting that if he kept hitting .300 through September and stole three more bases, he’d end up replicating his 2018 line. While you could assume the run production in particular is largely luck, over that span he’s posted an unusual 16:9 BB/K, a 22% walk rate, and a 13% strikeout rate. It’s a bit surprising that after stealing seven bases and only one caught stealing, his stolen bases have tailed off completely, but with him seeing the ball this well, he may still outproduce power/speed contemporaries such as Tommy Edman and Kolten Wong. Add the fact he qualifies at every hitter position not named catcher, and he’s well-worth adding in all 15-team leagues but also a must-stream in 12-team OBP formats.
C.J. Cron (1B, Minnesota Twins)
Yes, I know he just came off a dreadful week, winning the weekly PL Worstball award. But that’s also why he may be available, and I do believe he can turn it around in a hurry. Cron has quietly managed to become a better hitter every single year, with a career-best 91 mph exit velocity and three-year-low strikeout rate of 21%. His 10.9% barrel per plate appearance rate is sixth-best in baseball, and even with his bad week, his xwOBA over his past 50 plate apearances is a solid .362. With his improvements in strikeout rate and exit velocity, he’s outgrown his old Mark Trumbo-esque comp and deserves to be owned in a lot more than just 31% of leagues. Cron-Magnon is a must-add in 15-team formats but also a viable scoop in 12-team average formats if you have a Plan B for when he is occasionally benched as a result of the depth of the Twins lineup (or for the tendency for managers to low-key hate him for some reason).
Rougned Odor (2B, Texas Rangers)
He has 24 home runs, 10 stolen bases, and he’s currently sitting unclaimed in my 10-team AL-only home league. That may seem impossibly dumb, yet it’s almost understandable after a frustrating season where he’s dipped his stinky toes below the Mendoza line and several times faced demotion or bench relegation. But weeks like this are why he’s so hard to quit. This week, he’s hitting a scorching .409 with three home runs, two stolen bases, five RBI, five runs, and a 3:4 BB/K over 22 plate appearances, though over the past three weeks, that average is just .203 thanks to how bad he was prior. Yet even with the influx of flashy power/speed prospects, Odor is a player who will actually steal bases (even if he’s not great at it, success rate-wise) and has the upside to make an impact. Of course, in H2H formats, it’s slightly terrifying to let your playoffs ride on a guy like him, but in deep leagues, you’re better off taking that risk, especially if your offensive numbers are behind and you need an aggressive strategy to catch up. Add in all 15-team leagues, and he is worth considering streaming in 12-team leagues if you need a shakeup and are feeling lucky.
Nico Hoerner (SS, Chicago Cubs)
He was an unexpected call-up after injuries forced the Chicago brass’ hand, but that doesn’t mean Nico can’t make you smile. The 2018 first-round pick rocked his debut in style, going 3-for-5 with a triple, two runs and four RBI. Before you get too excited, note that he didn’t show much speed or power in the minors this year, hitting .284 with three home runs and eight stolen bases across 294 plate appearances in Double-A, and he hasn’t had much seasoning in the minors. But I’m bullish on the 22-year-old even for this year because he did this in the pitcher-friendly Double-A, and in this year’s hitting environment especially, I target bats with strong contact skills first. Playing time over the rest of the month is not guaranteed, but I’m scooping him up in 18-team and 15-team formats and could even consider streaming for his average/speed combo in 12-team formats if he continues to hit. After all, nobody makes little Nico Hoerner sit in a corner.
Kyle Lewis (OF, Seattle Mariners)
Lewis is, or at least was, a near-elite talent, but his injury-marred career has dimmed his star. Perhaps a taste of The Show will awaken some of that untapped potential. This year, he definitely didn’t light up the minors, hitting .263 with 11 home runs and three stolen bases in 517 plate appearances in Double-A. But remember that Double-A is now a much tougher hitter environment than Triple-A, so I’d cut him some slack there. There’s always the chance underperformance is in part because of frustration with still being in the minors at 24 despite his excellent tools, though I still don’t expect him to steal many bases. I’d still scoop him up in 18-team leagues and think the combo of upside and playing time makes him worth streaming consideration in the deepest 15-teamers.
Harold Castro (2B/3B/SS/OF, Detroit Tigers)
I’ll admit that I always mix him up with fellow Detroit Tiger Victor Reyes, as they both look similar, have rather generic-sounding names, terrible plate discipline, and probably would be organizational depth on an actual major league team. That said, Castro has been on fire this week, hitting .480 with six RBI over 25 at-bats to raise his season line to .293/.305/.383 with four home runs and four stolen bases. Statcast is skeptical of the average with a .255 xBA and his 2% walk rate is awful, but it helps that he’s been striking out less with just three strikeouts over his past 25 at-bats. In super deep leagues where you’re trying to stream for average, he’s worth riding out with his positional flexibility and near-guaranteed playing time. But if you’re looking for power, I’d give Christin Stewart a chance instead as he can be a deeper sleeper tater bopper.
Ryan O’Hearn (1B, Kansas City Royals)
A matchup saved is a matchup O’Hearned. After having rather lofty expectations foisted upon the 26-year-old, he toiled fruitlessly for most of the year in Kansas City, resulting in an overdue demotion, but he’s improved since the callback, hitting .260 with four dingers over the past three weeks. Granted, most of that surge was from when he first came up three weeks ago and has cooled off a bit, but he still seems to be doing enough to play every day and mostly hold off competition from recent acquisition and fellow Irishman Ryan McBroom. With that said, even with plenty of playing time, the large sample size of 2019 awfulness makes him only worth speculating on in 18-team and AL-only formats.
Will Smith (C, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Will Smith had been getting jiggy with it, but now he’s as rough as Wild Wild West. Yes I know the Will Smith puns are already done thanks to the pitcher Will Smith, with whom he faced off with last week as they locked eyes and the organist played “Just the Two of Us.” In the comments last week, multiple commenters asked about dropping Smith from their UTIL spot, which they held for him to prevent other teams from acquiring him. While I would gladly do that for Garver, Smith is not that kind of talent, and he’s hit an ice-cold .184 with just two home runs over his past 49 at-bats over the past three weeks to back me on that. Statcast was a skeptic from the start, as they pooh-pooh his season line of .271 with 13 home runs and a .624 slugging percentage in 133 at-bats with a much more sobering xBA of .231 and xSLG of .469. Note that those expected rates would still be solid or even pretty good for a catcher but not so good that he’s worth riding out the slump if you have a superior catcher.
Luke Voit (1B, New York Yankees)
With Edwin Encarnacion and Urshela both back off the IL, I’m afraid your warranty is null and Voit. Although Mike Ford has indeed ceded the bulk of his playing time to Voit, I still expect Ford to steal away a chunk of Voit’s time vs. lefties as I think the Yankees likely realize that Voit really hasn’t outproduced Ford this year if not for volume. Voit has yet to homer since his return, and at this point in the season, even with a strong 14% walk rate, his season line of .275 batting average, 19 home runs over 382 at-bats (453 plate appearances) really isn’t getting it done in shallow leagues at a deep first base position. He’s still owned in 63% of leagues, close to the far superior Matt Olson at 69%, although he is nowhere near the stud he was last year, and his exit velocity dropped from a fantastic 93 mph last year to an 89.6 mph this year, which is above league average (87.5 mph) but kind of meh for a first baseman. Avoit him in 10-team formats as well as average-based 12-team leagues.
Adam Frazier (2B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)
There are always people saying that Frazier is underrated, but I think they’re talking about the TV show before Seinfeld. The scrappy Pirate has been bland this year, hitting .277 with nine home runs and four stolen bases over 544 plate appearances, still not topping the 10 home runs he hit in just 352 plate appearances last year. Hailed as a preseason sleeper for the possibility of thriving in a leadoff role, he’s been outshined by many of his teammates without getting the experience points for going first, as he has 72 RBI but just 44 runs. In this enhanced power environment, it’s disappointing to see he’s not riding the wave, and it makes him unworthy of most 15-team league rosters unless you’re streaming for average and runs.
Victor Reyes (OF, Detroit Tigers)
You there! Do you like players who only hit homers via cosmic accident? Then do I have the thing for you! Reyes likely only earned a role because of the sorry post-Nicholas Castellanos state of the Tigers outfield, but he’s hit the ground running, hitting .354/.366/.443 with four stolen bases over 79 at-bats the past three weeks to raise his season line to .309 with a home run and five stolen bases (caught stealing twice) over 204 at-bats. The 24-year-old center fielder is not just lucking his way into nabbed bags as his 29.2 ft/sec sprint speed is top 40 in the majors, and he actually has earned a fair batting average with a .286 xBA. However, he cannot walk his way out of a paper bag, which makes his value largely dependent on hits continuing to fall, something that’s hard to count on with a 22% strikeout rate. I will say he could pop another homer as his 86 mph exit velocity is actually pretty good for a rabbit, but he tends to hit for the ground so it’s unlikely. It’s true that he’s worth riding out still in AL-only average leagues if you’re streaming for average and/or stolen bases, but in any OBP format, I wouldn’t touch this Tiger by the toe.
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)