Buy & Sell 9/23 – Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop

Ben Pernick recommends the hottest and coldest hitters to add and drop.

Welcome back to the FINAL Buy & Sell of the year! Many of you in head-to-head formats have already been eliminated to some degree. And I can attest, thanks to all of my Yahoo league teams’ players’ performing an immaculately synchronized pooping of their pants, I am among the eliminated. If you’re still clinging on, or, y’know, just in roto (because you’re practical), then this is for you. This is a time of zen… you must free yourself from attachment to your big name players. Live in the now. With that, I won’t keep you waiting, for one last time til 2023, on to the list!

BUY

10-team

Gunnar Henderson (3B/SS, Baltimore Orioles)

Nothing sends pitchers to the mat like the Stone Cold Gunnar. It may seem rather outdated to quote Stone Cold Steve Austin, but I just had to, because earlier this week, his batting average was 3:16. He’s now up to .324 with 3 homers and a stolen base, rather quietly bursting onto the scene as the next prospect phenom. While I wrote him up as a 12-team add a few weeks ago, I’ll admit to some skepticism as I expected better than a 77% contact%, which suggests he will likely have a 20%+ strikeout rate. But he’s made up for that with a patient approach (24% O-Swing%) and plenty of hard contact (53% HardHit% and 11% Barrel%) that makes me think he could continue to demolish in the final sprint.

Another reason he is quite valuable even in 10-team leagues is the fact he now qualifies in virtually all leagues as a third baseman, a position sorely lacking reliable bats. It’s pretty great to qualify at both MI and CI, and on that note, he’s only two appearances away from reaching 5 at second base, which would make him triple-eligible in most leagues. Right now I’d probably rather arm myself with Gunnar than Vaughn Grissom (unless I badly needed SBs), which is a testament to how much he’s impressed. Get tipsy with Henny in all formats, and that’s the bottom line.

Danny Jansen (C, Toronto Blue Jays)

I think I may have written more about him than any singular player this year, which may be why after his huge couple of weeks, I’m singing “Jansen with Myself”. Such is the inherent weirdness of writing about waiver wire players instead of, like, the actual stars. He’s constantly teased that this year should be a breakout year, but a combination of low average, sporadic playing time, and untimely injuries really weighed him down. But finally, it’s all coming together, so I’m glad I at least mentioned him as 10-team viable. He’s hit a studly .429 with 2 dingers in 35 AB over the last 2 weeks, raising his season line substantially all the way up to .258 with 13 HR in just 182 AB (208 PA).

It doesn’t take a lot of extrapolation math to realize that these numbers could approach a 25-30 HR season in full-time reps, but what’s more impressive is his huge increase in barrel rate. His 15 Barrel/BBE% mark is nearly double his 9% career rate, and his 11% Barrel/PA is 10th-best in baseball. Sure, it’d likely regress in a larger sample, but I do think his big increase in Z-Contact% to 87%, his best mark since 2019, suggests an explanation. Although Kirk is likely coming back, given Jansen’s superior defense which is now supported by arguably superior offense, I think Jansen will play plenty down the stretch and is a great option for both average, power, and run production. It’s a bit risky, but in 10-teamers I think Jansen is worth chancin’.

12-team

Harrison Bader (OF, New York Yankees)

You may have forgotten about him, but I hope you never bade him farewell. Bader has finally made his Yankees debut, and while he may still not stop the Yankees from regretting dealing away a surging Jordan Montgomery for the outfielder, he’s certainly had a strong AL debut. He’s gone 3-for-8 with 2 R and 5 RBI in his first two games back, and it certainly seems like he’ll be a regular fixture going forward. Sure, it’s not impressive that he only has 5 Homers this year, but he’s more than made up for it with a solid .260 AVG and excellent 15 Stolen Bases (just 2 caught stealing) in 272 PA.

In many ways, he profiles as a poor man’s Tommy Edman, or rather, a non-2022 Tommy Edman, in his big speed to go with solid bat and passable power. One could wonder if his lack of power has been fluky. Well, his 6% HR/FB is less than half of the 14% rate he compiled in 2020 and 2021, and of course, the deadened ball likely plays some role (see Ian Happ, Lourdes Gurriel, Justin Turner etc.) and it’s also true that his 26% HardHit% and 4% Barrel% are career-worsts… so actually I think he probably deserves it. But on the positive side, his 18% K% is a career-best 80% Contact% and 26% CSW%, so this may be part of a conscious effort to focus on contact, since with his best SB success this year, he can always get extra bases in post. Given his loaded lineup, he’s entirely viable in deeper 12-team batting average formats or 12-team OBP in need of stolen bases.

Nick Gordon (2B/SS/OF, Minnesota Twins)

It was a tough choice here between Gordon and the also hot Luis Rengifo, but I picked Gordon since he’s the one people have been overlooking more recently due to being compared to his punchless speedster brother. But unlike Dee Gordon, Nick stings like a Bee plus. He’s hitting .320 with 3 taters and 7 RBI this week, bringing his season line to an impressive .280/.326/.448 with 9 HR and 6 SB in 364 AB. That’s essentially Jean Segura-level production, plus the fact that he’s playing every day and is on fire now, which is of course most relevant since we have about 10 games left to go in the season.

I pointed out earlier in the year that Nick Gordon was a sleeper despite at the time being mired in a slump and not playing consistently, due to the fact his strong barrel rate and above-average strikeout rate, as well as his Statcast rates, suggested he was underperforming. He’s still underperforming his expected slugging of .488 with an excellent 10% barrel rate. However, if you’re looking for speed, it’s worth noting that he has not attempted a stolen base in over 3 weeks, which could be either due to health or the fact that his 60% success rate just isn’t that good. Again, he’s not Dee. For teams in need of a useful swiss-army knife, Gordon is a fine add in 12-team AVG formats, though I’d stay away in OBP given his measly 5% walk rate.

15-team

Rodolfo Castro (2B/3B/SS, Pittsburgh Pirates)

If you want your offense to fly, hitch a ride with Rodolfo the red-hot reindeer. He’s hitting a festive .278 with 5 HR, 12 RBI, and a stolen base in 54 AB over the past two weeks, proving to be quietly a better value fantasy asset than the talented-yet-volatile Oneil Cruz. The 23-year-old Castro intrigued me last year in his brief splashy debut (before sinking under the Mendoza line) thanks to his extremely impressive 113 mph max eV for a rather unheralded rookie.

He’s continued that pop this year in a larger sample with a 112 mph MaxEV, 7% Barrel%, and 36% HardHit%, which are all down from last year, so I assumed his contact rate must have improved from last year. But nope, his 70% Contact% and 31% CSW% are all weaker than last year when he had a solid 73% Contact% and 27% CSW%. That’s not to say that this year is a fluke, just rather that we shouldn’t have slept on him this preseason given those peripherals, as they add up to a talented player. Of course, here the sample is over twice as large, and he’s stolen 5 bases to add to the fantasy goodness. He’s a viable streamer for power/speed needs in all 15-team formats, especially with his extra-handy 2B/SS/3B triple eligibility. Pick him up like Sinatra would pick up a lady at the bar with a  “Hey there, Rodollface”.

Kerry Carpenter (OF, Detroit Tigers)

Carpenter, is sending the ball so far, he’s started singing “Please Mr. Postman” to find the ZIP code. Carp quickly fizzled after a big start and a stunning minor league season in which he hit .304 with 22 HR in 262 PA in Double-A, and then hit .331 with 8 HR in 138 PA in Triple-A. Normally I’d be more impressed by a big power total in Double-A, but I think I’m more impressed by the fact that he cut his K rate down from 28% in Double-A% by more than half to just 12% (with a 12% walk rate to boot) in Triple-A. Granted, he’s not a prospect in the truest sense at age 25, but it’s certainly not too late to establish yourself as a major leaguer… especially when you play for the Tigers. Excuse me now while I cry extra-salty Tiger fan tears. Still less salty than the peanuts I bought outside Tiger Stadium that nearly melted my tongue off.

Okay, back to the program, Carpenter has hit a studly .357 with 2 HR this week and has 4 over the past two weeks to prove he deserves to continue getting regular reps in the lineup. While his minor league performance was dynamic and suggested perhaps uncanny plate skills, his major league debut indicates nothing of the sort. He’s been a free swinger with a 37% O-Swing% and hasn’t been great at putting the bat on the ball with a 73% contact%. However, working in his favor is an excellent 13% Barrel%, which does seem a bit fluky given his solid but less awesome 36% HardHit%. Basically, I think he can be a solid stand-in for Nolan Gorman as a power-first player with considerable strikeout concerns, but without the playing time concerns. If only he were Nolan Foreman I’d make another pun, but regardless, Carpenter should be owned in 15-team formats, though his need for your team is dependent on your categories and your roster construction. Heh, construction.

Deep Leagues

Jason Vosler (3B, San Francisco Giants)

I’m a big Vosler fan, not just because he’s from my hometown or at least the town I say is my hometown because it’s cooler in every way than my actual hometown. Considering what a mess third base has been outside of utility stud Thairo Estrada, it’s surprising it took this long to give Vosler another chance, especially since he did darn well in his debut, hitting .287 with 4 HR, 11 RBI, and 1 SB in 70 at-bats before being demoted. It’s not like the Giants were exactly hitting like gangbusters without him.

Now, I don’t necessarily think his performance level was sustainable, but I can at least latch on to a few things I like in his profile that make him more interesting than some other deep league plays. For one, he makes good contact in the zone, with an excellent 90% Z-Contact%, in sharp contrast to his sub-par 59% O-Contact%. That, combined with the fact that his 30% LD% and 33% FB%  go with a solid (okay, average) 31% HardHit%, I’m rather surprised his barrel rate is just 4%, less than half of his 9% mark from last year. Still, his xBA of .257 and xSLG of .408, while well below his current numbers, combined with an opportunity for playing time with La Stella banged up (yet again) and Longoria in a big swoon (likely due to being banged up (yet again)), he should play a fair amount down the home stretch and should be a solid bat with some power and a dash of speed should make the 29-year-old sophomore a sneaky play who is likely available everywhere and can help in all NL-only formats.

Jordan Diaz (1B, Oakland Athletics)

He’s not quite the third base prospect Jordan that everyone was hoping to see in the majors, but he’s a great bat in his own right. Diaz is off to a fine start, hitting 3-for-8 with a walk and 2 Ks since his debut. He also got two errors in his second game, so it’s probably a better start for fantasy purposes than real life. Diaz had a splendid season with the stick across two levels, hitting .319 with 15 HR in 407 PA in Double-A and then .348 with 4 HR in 120 PA in Triple-A to earn the big-league chew at a debut.

It’s honestly pretty silly to try to parse anything from 9 PA in the majors, but I can say thus far, his 67% contact% suggests he may not be a lock to translate his low K rate and high batting average to the majors, especially with Oakland. But seeing as the team couldn’t be much more out of contention, he should get playing time, and although he lacks the prospect hype of many bigger names, he will likely be on a top 150 prospects list next year, and I like bat-first prospects as the most likely to contribute immediately upon a debut.  In leagues with single-game eligibility, he now qualifies at first and second, so there’s also that. In AL-only formats, the waiver wire is very barren, and Diaz represents one of the few intriguing options left. Take the plunge in AL-only batting average leagues.

SELL

10-team

Cal Raleigh (C, Seattle Mariners)

If there’s one kind of player who annoys me in the final week, it’s ones who are maybe-sort-of-still injured. I’m glad I had no patience in that regard with D.J. LeMahieu, and while I’m glad Raleigh is back after a 3-game layoff, now is the one time of year when it’s fair to ask “What have you done for me lately?”, and as long as you go back two weeks and not three, the answer is “not much”. Despite his early September power binge, in the past two weeks, he’s hitting an anemic .120/.214/.120 with just 3 hits (all singles) in 25 At-Bats.

Yes I know that’s a small sample size, but also catcher is relatively deep this year compared to past years, and I feel that the call-up of Luis Torrens could be a sign that Raleigh is still not 100% and may need some off days, and with so few games left, each one is a dagger slashing your production (especially since you probably don’t have another catching option to fill in. You’re likely stuck with him in deeper leagues, but in 10-team, find a hotter hand to ride, such as Jansen or Melendez (Yes I know I said to cut him last week, and he clearly took offense to that). Cut in all 10-team leagues, and consider cutting in 12-team average leagues.

12-team

Christopher Morel (2B/3B/SS/OF, Chicago Cubs)

Even though the minor league season is over and he had become a mostly regular fixture in the Cubs lineup, I think it’s about time he gets Morelegated. He’s hitting a terrible .077 with 1 HR and 1 SB in 26 ABs over the past two weeks, sinking his batting average to just .235 with a .308 OBP. Sure, the 14 HR and 10 SB in just 349 AB is hard to quit, but a lot of the production from this season was frontloaded, and if you stick with him, you’ll get kicked in the caboose.

It’s not just a fluke either, as Statcast rolling windows have him as one of the biggest xwOBA decliners over the past 100 PA (5th in MLB), with a .240 xwOBA in his past 100 PA compared to a .361 mark prior. I know that the power/speed is hard to quit if you’re hurting there, not to mention the fact that his quadruple-position eligibility makes him quite versatile, but I highlighted earlier some much hotter and generally more appealing multi-eligible bats for whom you should cut Christopher Morelatively quickly.

15-team

Evan Longoria (3B, San Francisco Giants)

Looks like I’m taking a big fat L-ongoria for my preseason sleeper love. The tough thing about a guy like Longo is that he can put up incredible small samples with favorable matchups and health, but neither of those are predictable, and it sure seems like right now he’s getting the benefit of neither. He’s been playing rather often but doesn’t deserve to be, hitting an abysmal .143 with no homers in 49 AB over the past 21 days. This isn’t unlucky either, if anything, the opposite! His abysmal .196 wOBA over his past 50 PA is the 4th-biggest decline in 50 PA rolling xwOBA in the MLB.

If the Giants are smart, and I generally assume they are, they’ll start playing Vosler over Longo, because they may as well see what they have in Vosler, and I doubt Longoria couldn’t benefit from more off days. But if you were hoping you’d ride one of his classic barrel-fueled surges, it doesn’t look like that’s coming back, at least not this year. Cut him in 15-teamers unless your league has a category for “Good Clubhouse Guy” in which case you should definitely also add Kevin Plawecki and drop Josh Donaldson.

Deep Leagues

Miguel Cabrera (1B, Detroit Tigers)

Sadly, he wasn’t let in on the Albert Pujols retirement magic party. Never thought I’d see Miggy go out like Higgy.

 

Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Cliff Welch & Frank Jansky / Icon Sportswire

Ben Pernick

I've been writing for Pitcher List since the beginning, and have been a fantasy baseball addict now for 20 years. I grew up as a Red Sox fan in New York, but now I declare allegiance only to my fantasy teams.

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