Buy & Sell 9/8 – Identifying Who to Buy and Who to Drop

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

Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is “playing time isn’t always king”. There are a few platoon or semi-starters that are so hot that you need to play them anyway, though it’s obviously much better if you have the luxury of subbing for them on their days off. There are also some surprising disappointments finally losing playing time like Merrifield and Winker, so it may be finally time to stop HODLing them because there’s no such thing as a short squeeze in fantasy baseball. On to the list!

BUY

10-team

Cal Raleigh (C, Seattle Mariners)

It’s been a while since I rooted this much for a Cal R… unless you count my Calzone Ravioli. Yes, it’s cheese encased inside of more cheese and exists in my dreams. Right now this Cal’s in the zone, managing to be the best-hitting catcher this month despite still not playing every day, hitting .375 with 4 Baja blasts in just 18 PA. From a fantasy perspective, he’s doing an awfully good impression of Zunino’s 31-homer season in 2021, and much like that season, I yell at my TV and computer every time he’s riding the pine for a catcher that couldn’t slug his way out of a snail shell.

Unlike Zunino, Raleigh doesn’t have a disastrous strikeout rate (29%), and is younger (25) with a recent track record of being able to hit for average. I’ve gone to bat for him (not literally) several times this season, as the early season slump and bad luck according to Statcast have him not getting the respect he’s clearly owed as the American League Home Run leader at the position. That’s right, Raleigh’s 23 dongs give him a semi-comfortable lead over Salvador Perez (20), and he’s had 19 of those homers since the start of June. Don’t let him play hide-and-seek on the waiver wire in 10-team formats and call Raleigh Raleigh Oxen free.

Joc Pederson (OF, San Francisco Giants)

After a hot start, he Pedered out. And now, he’s Yeeterson. Despite being one of the most maddening players on the wire due to his unpredictable streaks, when you add it all up he’s been quite a good hitter this year and far more complete, and he’s currently en fuego hitting .500 with 3 HR in 26 AB over the past two weeks.

The breakout is supported by Statcast which ranks him as the 5th-biggest improver in his past 50 PA, with a .420 xWOBA over that span. In total, he’s hitting .269 with 21 HR and 3 SB in 316 AB, and as you can probably tell from the number of At-Bats, it’s because he’s not quite playing every day due to long-known lefty struggles, but his impact vs righties is massive. The long summer swoon has left him available in shallower leagues, and he’s just a guy you need to ride when he’s hot like he is now. Add in all leagues where you have a bench option to fill in when he’s facing a lefty.

12-team

Harold Ramirez (1B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays)

How did I know that when the Rays ended up with Harold Ramirez, they would end up looking smart? I knew this, and yet I didn’t draft him anywhere. Despite starting the year failing to carve out a proper role and his performance lagging, he has been hitting nonstop for the past few months, raising his line to a rather impossible .327/.366/.437 with 5 HR and 3 SB in 327 PAs. If he had enough at-bats to qualify he’d be the frontrunner to win the batting title, as that bests Bogaerts’s .315 and Arraez’s .314 AVG, and no one in AL with even 50 At-Bats tops it. Lately, he’s been a run-producing machine too, hitting .324 with 16 RBI in the past 3 weeks, with 12 RBI in the last 2 weeks.

You may ask yourself “How in the Harold is he doing this?” Well, Statcast mostly supports it, giving him a .297 xBA that’s clearly lower, but still 97th percentile, and it’s likely mostly based on continuing to do what made him one of my most written-about players last year, which is combining strong hard-hit rate with a low-ish K rate and surprising speed. Granted, this year he actually has a lower Barrel% (4%), HardHit (41%), and launch angle (3), so he’s definitely riding a luck dragon. It also doesn’t help that he’s been caught 5 times stealing, which ensures a red light from the analytic Rays. So basically, statistically he’s rather similar to Arraez, but is hotter and needs to be owned in all batting average 12-teamers while hitting like this.

 

Joey Meneses (1B/OF, Washington Nationals)

He’s separating the Meneses from the boyeses. Joey M’s managed to show he’s unkillable as Rasputin, as the 30-year-old rookie continued his hitting from his hot start, in a rather similar vein as Frank Schwindel managed last year. He’s hitting in the heart of the Nationals’ depleted lineup, giving him a lot more run production opportunities and at-bats per game compared to your typical waiver wire options. He’s rocking a splendid .339/.369/.573 line with 7 long dongs, 20 R, and 16 RBI in just 130 PA. Yeah, I don’t think the Nats are missing the production of Josh Bell much.

Despite being a virtually unknown player, not being a prospect of any note in some time, his performance thus far has been supported by solid Statcast rates that suggest he can maintain this level over the final few weeks. While his .279 xBA suggests the obvious that this level isn’t sustainable, he’s managed a strong 10% Barrel%, solid 11 Launch Angle, and 46% HardHit% while not beating himself with a 20% K%. If you can use both average and power (and let’s face it, who doesnt?) he’s a fine add in 12-team leagues and even a viable stream in 10-team batting average leagues based on the specifics of your league, though granted, I could say that with everyone here. So fatten your stats up with a Joey Bag O’ Donuts.

Elvis Andrus (SS, Chicago White Sox)

As it turns out, Elvis has not left the building. Not yet, anyway. The veteran shortstop has seemed to gain new life after his trade to Chicago, which may be helped by the fact that he beats up on the Indians in a manner only rivaled by peak Gleyber against the Orioles. Despite being on the waiver wire even in many AL-only formats, he’s now actually at the second-highest home run total of his career at 11  and he’s still hitting for a passable average while playing regularly and stealing 8 bags.

He’s also been quite hot lately, hitting .333 with 3 homers just this week, making him a surprisingly viable option at a shortstop position that has thinned out some from Opening Day. He’s also now in a far better home park for his flyballs as well as a fully (well, mostly) healthy lineup that is among the most deadly in the AL. At this point, Andrus should be owned and started in all 15-team formats, and even some 12-team AVG leagues, so improvise with him and say “Yes and Rus”.

15-team

Triston Casas (1B. Boston Red Sox)

Mi Casas, Su Casas. The slugging first baseman finally makes his long-awaited (and long-deserved) debut now that it’s garbage time In Beantown, and experts suggest this could potentially be an upgrade over the Franchy Cordero/Arroyo/Refsnyder 1B platoon. Though, I’m not so sure, actually, because I do love Arroyo and Ref.

Casas didn’t get the Gunnar Henderson explosive start some were hoping for, but the good news is that he’s been basically guaranteed to get everyday reps in Boston with no platooning, or so the brass said, anyway. With Hosmer likely out for the year and an open start near the heart of a still-potent lineup, you need to take and hold for now if you don’t have an established option at first base. He’s hard to analyze as he was merely solid in the minors this year, hitting .273/.382/.431 with 11 HR in 317 AB in Triple-A, and thus far his 40% K% has been ugly. But I still think the upside is worth the gamble, especially in 15-team formats and even 12-team OBP, though more as a gamble and I wouldn’t necessarily Trustin Casas.

Nick Fortes (C, Miami Marlins)

If you need power and speed but can’t cut anyone at other positions, let Fortes be your fortress. He’s managed 7 HR and 5 SB in his part-time role behind the dish in Miami, and he’s been especially hot as of late. His .376 xwOBA in his past 50 PA is the 2nd-biggest improvement in xwOBA of active players behind just Bo Bichette. That’s pretty good company. Catcher is full of mediocrity right now on the back half, and I’d rather roster a catcher who I can trust to actually produce when he’s in the lineup, so I think he’s a must-add in two-catcher leagues and most 15-team formats.

A.J. Pollock (OF, Chicago White Sox)

Pollock was swimming in circles for a while, but now he’s looking like a fresh catch. Pollock’s start with his new team was marred by performance and injury, but he’s been bringing the power stick hitting .269 with 3 Homers over 26 ABs this week. He’s not really stealing bases much anymore, which shouldn’t be so surprising for the now 34-year-old, but I expected more than just 2 attempts.

Despite the ho-hum performance overall, Statcast thinks he’s been rather unlucky with a .253 xBA and .415 xSLG, and his xwOBA over his past 100 PA has been higher than it had been at any other point this season. If you need run production and are in a deeper 5-outfielder league, players who provide reliable production like this shouldn’t be overlooked, so in 15-team leagues, it’s not a crime to get in touch with Interpollock.

 Deep Leagues

Spencer Steer (2B, Cincinnati Reds)

In deeper formats, I’m having a cow over Steer. While he hasn’t done much after his post-debut homer, he’s showing lots of things I like in his 18 major league PAs. The 24-year-old is currently hitting .250 with the aforementioned dinger, and more importantly, he’s playing regularly. He hasn’t displayed big pop in the majors, but he did hit 23 homers in the minors between the Twins and Reds and has at least barreled the ball.

But what I like more is his mature plate approach, or at least what seems like it from the tiny sample. He’s managed a superb 92% Contact% with a 100% Z-Contact%, and while that’s sure to regress, it also suggests the rookie isn’t overmatched. With his home park helping flyballs a good deal, and him not beating himself with the K’s, I think he can be a sneaky source of both AVG/OBP and power and is a must-roster in NL-only formats and if you’re looking for a solid speculative play in 15-team OBP, I’d steer this way.

Mike Ford (1B, Los Angeles Angels)

His last name is fitting because it feels like he’s often breaking down and always for sale. That said, he’s at least built tough. The former Yankee is hitting .270 3 smackeroos over this week after another season of relative obscurity, and will probably hit another one if I promise to never say “smackeroos” again. I’ve liked his bat since his splashy debut due to his combination of power and patience, and there remains a reality where he can carve out a Mike Carp-esque career platoon role.

For this year, though, he’s likely to play because the Angels really don’t have anyone else after Walsh went down for TOS surgery, and, well, he’s already hitting better than Walsh did over the past few months. He’s a sneaky streamer in OBP formats but deserves reps in AL-only. Stay afloat and Ford the river… or at least the stream.

SELL

10-team

Giancarlo Stanton (OF, New York Yankees)

I’m sure I’ll take heat for this, especially since just last week I started off by saying to sell two other Yankees. I mean, I think right now most Yankee fans would sell their whole offense minus Judge. Stanton has really been a mess since he’s returned, without a single homer and hitting just .105 in 37 PA.

If you can manage to pull your eyes from his cranberry-red Statcast page, all of the sudden, you look at his season stats, with a .214 AVG and 24 HR, and you may be reminded of another player’s numbers from last year, a player they dreaded… Yeah, that’s Joey Gallo, no? Obviously, when healthy, Stanton’s upside is immense, but now he’s day to day with a foot thing, and while the break could do him good, do you really think in 10-team formats you can’t find a similar power bat without Stanton’s considerable downslide downside? If not, think harder. Because a team in contention can’t Giancarlo Standhim.

12-team

Nolan Gorman (2B, St. Louis Cardinals)

After my massive FAAB bids to win him, his recent production is leaving me Nolan Squirmin’. He’s lost ground in the fight to stay in the lineup as of late with good reason, hitting just .194 with 1 HR and 3 RBI in 31 PA over the past two weeks, with an ugly 15/0 K/BB ratio over that span. That’s striking out in nearly half of his at-bats!

At least before, the massive power seemingly made up for the immediately apparent batting average downside, but with just a single homer in the past several weeks, and his xwOBA over his past 50 PA in a nosedive, it’s possible that Gorman is hitting what is often known as the “Rookie Wall” and it might take him a while to assess the damage and contact his insurance. In a league where I have him and Andrus as my options for MI, I’ve been rolling with Andrus and haven’t looked back. You should probably do something similar in 12-team leagues, and even some 15-team OBP formats.

15-team

Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B, Pittsburgh Pirates)

Take out the B, because his season is leaving me Ke’ryin’. He’s hitting an abysmal .147/.194/.206 with nary a homer in 34 ABs over the last 3 weeks, and just .111 this week, so his 2 SB (1 CS) over that 3-week span hardly make it up to us at all. He’s experienced a general power outage all season with just 6 taters and 36 RBI in 435 ABs, with a .242 AVG. Oh yeah and I guess there are 14 SB too.

He probably needs to go to the minors or something to reset because he definitely seems broken, and Statcast validates that this slump is more than just bad luck. I think not enough attention has been paid to his struggles for no other reason than the stolen bases, and I’ll admit stubbornly holding in a league or two hoping for a late-season breakout. But right now, I think that in all 12-team formats and most 15-teamers, you’re far better off with a waiver wire option like Emmanuel Rivera, J.D. Davis, or even someone less rostered and let Ke’Breezy get lost in the Hayes.

Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Cliff Welch / 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.

3 responses to “Buy & Sell 9/8 – Identifying Who to Buy and Who to Drop”

  1. Joe Mulvey says:

    Great fun, good info, reading you.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Beer City Baseball Fan says:

    Would you drop Travis D’arnaud for Cal Reliegh?

  3. BB says:

    Raleigh fan here, but not sure about the “bad luck according to Statcast” – he’s slightly underperforming his still bad xBA (.210 to .216), but overperforming his xSLG (.492 to .459) and xWOBA (.331 to .323).

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