Buy & Sell 4/4 – Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop

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

Oh boy, here we go. We spend countless hours meticulously planning our draft round by round, player by player, and then the starting gun goes off and we start scrambling like mad for players completely off our board and throwing everyone overboard. Or maybe I’m just talking from personal experience. Overall, I’d like to preach caution and the danger of small sample sizes, but I know nobody’s going to listen anyway (including myself) so I’ll try to navigate these stormy seas and differentiate the mermaids from the sirens and the sluggers from the sea slugs. On to the list!



Jake Burger (3B, Miami Marlins)

I’ll admit, in the early going I tend to be so deep-league minded that I did a double-take when I saw that ESPN leagues now only roster Burger in 37% of leagues! And last week it was just 29%! Well for the 63% of you in those leagues he’s still available, order up now, because this Burger is rare. The 27-year-old late bloomer has hit a juicy .320/.333/360 in 27 PA despite not hitting his first homer, continuing his Marlins trend of hitting for higher average. He’s also incredibly managed to just strike out thrice, and while that 11% K% is bound to regress, it’s definitely a good sign that he’s hitting for a career-best contact% of 79%. If he could maintain this better plate discipline, his fantasy floor will rise substantially, as will the ceiling.

Yes, it’s silly to be parsing numbers in 27 PA, as it’s well below the stability point, but given that the main concern was that he’d forget the changes he made in the second half, it’s definitely reaffirming my confirmation bias, and he should already be rostered in all leagues for the easy 40-homer pop. What’s more, he may soon gain 1B eligibility in most leagues, as he’s already played 3 games there, and more flexibility always helps, especially in NL-only leagues where the 1B talent pool is especially thin. Whether he focuses on power or average, with contact as hard as Burger’s, you’ll be feasting.

Tyler O’Neill (OF, Boston Red Sox)

After a fair amount of drama in St. Louis, I bet Tyler is glad to have departed to the city of The Departed. O’Neill continued his fantastic streak of 5 opening day home runs, but the magic doesn’t end there. The biggest spell of all has been a spell of good health, something which has often eluded him, but he’s also continuing a career-long trend of becoming a more disciplined and higher-contact hitter. Since 2018, his contact rate has risen every year (ok from 2020-2021 it was the exact same), going from 56% Contact% in ’18 all the way up to 75% last year. This year, it’s 84%. Not bad, kid.

He’s currently hitting .400 with 2 homers and a stolen base, showing how exciting he can be when all of the cylinders are firing at the same time. In the early going he’s also been unusually patient, with a shockingly low 34% Swing rate, and if that’s a sign of an approach change he can be a sneaky stud in OBP formats. That being said, he’ll need to start swinging at more strikes, since a 49% Z-Swing% is simply not viable for success. But I think he’ll be good. Sure, there’s always the health question, but while he’s on the field you have to keep running him out because until then, he’ll keep running and hitting them out. He’s an all-formats add.


Luis Campusano (C, San Diego Padres)

He was just a freshman, but now Luis is the Big Man on Campus… ah no. He’s the most added player in ESPN leagues this week with a 20% bump up from a scant 7%, which is a good reason why in shallow leagues you shouldn’t draft catchers early. I believe Campusano easily has the talent to finish the year as a top 10 catcher, and if everything breaks right, could even approach the top 5. The former top prospect excelled in a limited sample in 2023, with elite IPA% and HC% rates that were among the best in baseball; not just among catchers, but among all hitters. It’s true that his raw power, with a league-average 108 mph MaxEV seemed to indicate a lack of real thump. But this year, he’s already hit one 110 mph, and even though the barrels (1) and hard contact (23%) haven’t arrived yet, I’m taking this as a net positive.

While he’s definitely over his skis with his current .400 AVG and 3% strikeout rate, I like that he’s aggressive given his propensity for contact, and could be a higher average, lower power copy of Yainer Diaz. Campusano is also surrounded by a great lineup. If you recently lost Sean Murphy, he’s a great fill-in to add now and see what happens, but I think he’s good enough that you can consider him as a UT bat since he may not wind up all that different from a Masataka Yoshida/Lourdes Gurriel Jr. type. Which frankly, once you make it a C, isn’t all that different from an Adley Rutschman type.

Jonathan India (2B, Cincinnati Reds)

India is rising just like my desire for water after eating a Bhut Jolokia ghost pepper. Okay, I didn’t actually do that, just Joloking. India just a few short weeks ago was looking squeezed out of regular playing time and a popular trade candidate, but the combined knuckleheadery of Noelvi Marte and the brutal Matt McLain shoulder injury suddenly handed India not only into significant playing time security, but even thrust him into the leadoff spot. Sometimes you move up simply by not getting knocked down.

He’s been quietly productive in the early going hitting .250 but with a .375 OBP and .400 SLG%, with lots of hard contact at 44%. And even though it’s way too early to cite plate discipline stats, it’s definitely a good thing that his contact rate and swing decisions have been better by a huge margin. How huge? Last year, he had a career-best CSW% of 30%, though that’s still worse than league average. So far this year, it’s 25%, which of course could regress in a few days but it’s at least encouraging. Atop a still-strong lineup in those homer-friendly confines, I’m not waiting to pounce on the chance that this is even slightly for real. Add in all 12-team OBP formats (though I’d also consider in AVG formats), and I’d even be so bold as to say to target him in 10-team OBP formats.


Victor Scott II (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)

Do you need speed? How badly? If very very badly, or you built your team leaning on a stolen base foundation of Esteury Ruiz and the house just collapsed like a Buster Keaton film, then go for Scott and you’ll end up mostly unharmed. There’s a lot we don’t know about Scott but what we do know is Victor can run. A lot. He stole 94 stolen bases across two levels in the minors in 2023, and he hit for a nifty .300 AVG as he did it. We still don’t know how much power he actually has, as he only hit 9 homers last year and some of his ISO may have been carried by his legs stretching out extra-base hits. We also don’t know about how much he’ll draw walks, as his walk rate dropped substantially as he’s climbed the ladder, so I’d lean on the latter.

Personally, I get why you may need a player like him; he has an opportunity with all of St. Louis’s roster falling apart like a house of Cards. But even with the nice Spring Training, I’m pumping the brakes on recommending him in 10-teamers. For one, like Esteury, even at his best he’s a very one-dimensional player who leaves you lacking in other categories. Also, while Ruiz ran wild in 2023, it’s a different team and it wouldn’t be the first time a player who ran like crazy in the minors becomes more conservative in the majors against tougher competition, and that he only stole 4 bases in spring training suggests that’s not so outrageous. If he steals only 30-40 bases (or at that full-season pace, anyway), he’s basically just Dee Gordon in a best-case offensive scenario. But we’ve also already seen from his debut what the worst-case scenario looks like. Maybe it’s worth the add for someone in your league who needs speed, that’ll play. But it’s not going to be me.

Brice Turang (2B/SS, Milwaukee Brewers)

Only a robot can forget the heartbreak of last year and look at his stats from this year and say “add him” without hesitation: that’s the Turang Test. If you want to have fun and confusion with early April stat lines, look no further than Brice, who is hitting .500 with 4 stolen bases, but a .247 xBA and .285 xSLG. I know small sample size and all, but how is that even possible?

Well, as much as I could say “done and dusted, he’s a fluke”, here’s why I’m bullish. First of all, 6 stolen bases. Second of all, 6 stolen bases. Third of all, xBA and xSLG are very unreliable at this point, especially for a fast player who can steal 6 bases. Also, he’s hitting for more contact so far, with a great 92% contact% and 20% CSW%. Now of course, he teased with much of the same last April before falling apart, but I think he’s worth riding while he’s hot for the potential for batting average and stolen bases with a touch of pop, and unlike last year, we’ll know better if it’s time to hop off the train, hopefully with some nabbed bags from the other passengers. Also, did I mention that he stole 6 bases?

Jared Walsh (1B, Texas Rangers)

If there’s one thing you can do to get noticed in less than 10 at-bats, hitting the ball really, really hard is probably it. I had planned to put Walsh as a deep league add, but I like him enough to at least take a spec add in 15-teamers after he wasted no time destroying a ball with a 113 mph max exit velocity. Not only is that significantly higher than any exit velocity he posted in his post-Thoracic Outlet Syndrome season last year (109 mph was his Max in 116 PA), it was also higher than his MaxEV in 454 PA in 2022. Yes, I know that season was also pretty terrible, but still.

He now has a fresh start on a ballclub I definitely trust more than the Angels, who definitely must’ve seen something they liked to sign him and start him while Nathaniel Lowe is out even though Justin Foscue was a perfectly viable (and expected) option. Now that he’s displayed the power I believe in it, and perhaps the bigger question is whether he can regain the relatively high contact rates of his short prime. If he can, before you know it he’ll be added in 12-team leagues, but even if not, he could hit at a 25-30 homer pace and might even be able to stick around when Lowe gets back. Yes, perhaps I’m putting too much stock in one number, but I feel like that’s more meaningful than his .389 AVG, or his expected slugging% (xSLG) of .785. Gotta love April.

Deep Leagues

Trey Lipscomb (3B, Washington Nationals)

Lipscomb is a useful short-term fantasy asset, not just a product for people with particularly hirsute labium oris. Yes, the best kind of joke is one that makes you use Google to understand the punchline. Trey is kind of a jack-of-all-trades, master of none kind of player who isn’t usually exciting in fantasy, but then again right now everyone is fawning over Oswaldo Cabrera who was much of the same, which shows you how these guys can be good while they’re hot. Like dollar pizza. He hit the ground running going 5 for 12 with a homer and a stolen base.

Last year Lipscomb had a solid season across two levels, with 12 homers and 10 stolen bases, though it’s worth noting that he did steal 12 bags in just 101 PA in A-Ball in 2022, so he may be aggressive enough for the stolen bases to translate. Lipscomb got the opportunity thanks to the regularly scheduled Nick Senzel injury, but given that he also plays the keystone and the team refused to commit to Luis García Jr. being the full-time second baseman, I see enough paths to him sticking on the roster if he keeps hitting, though I see his best-case short-term outcome as a Luis Rengifo type. But hey, people were drafting Luis Rengifo this March, so that’s something. So go claim in NL-only formats and consider in 18-team AVG formats while I go check patent history for the LipsComb.

Braden Shewmake (SS, Chicago White Sox)

Speaking of names that sound like product patents… Shewmake already has his foot in the door in Chicago as the strong side platoon shortstop, which frankly is worth a shot given that we know what the alternative, Paul DeJong is (and moreso what he isn’t). The 26-year-old Shewmake was traded from the Braves last year after hitting 16 HR and stealing 27 bases in Triple-A, although buyer beware that it came with a .234 AVG. While you can point to the fact that he had a low .264 BABIP, he actually had low BABIPs at nearly every stop, so I wouldn’t project him for a high batting average even in the unlikely event he keeps a strikeout rate below 20%.

He probably wouldn’t be on this list if not for his playing time situation, but on a team like the 2024 White Sox, he’ll probably get some run, and unlike Oakland, hitters can actually succeed at home here. However, he could be something like a light version of what Brice Turang was last year with a bit of pop and a decent stolen base rate, though I still expect him to hit in the bottom of the order and not get a full run at playing time. Still, with Shewmake, in deep leagues you can cobble together some production. Heh, cobble.



Cedric Mullins (OF, Baltimore Orioles)

I don’t like to sound alarm bells early, but I’m getting the hook out for Cedric the Entertainer. Although it’s not entirely surprising, the biggest blow to his fantasy value was the move in his lineup spot from leadoff to 6th, where he simply will have fewer opportunities to accumulate even in Baltimore’s loaded lineup. Beyond that though, all the trends that made me worried in 2023 that I tried to chalk up to injury are continuing so far in April. While there are certainly worse lines than his .167/.211/.389 line with a homer, here’s why I’m not so sure it’s just April.

For one, the wheels. He stole 30 and 34 bases in 2021 and 2022, respectively, and especially given the current SB environment, he’ll need to steal more than the 19 he put up in 2023 to remain 10-team relevant, as the bar is high, especially as many 10-teamers have only 3 outfield spots. The fact that he hasn’t stolen a bag yet is made more concerning by the fact that he hit stole just 1 base this spring, since spring stolen base attempts correlate with actual totals that year. It probably doesn’t help also that in spring he hit just .111 with a .000 ISO. I also don’t like his declining plate skills, as his swing decisions have been worse and he’s also made less contact, resulting in him having a concerning 13% swinging strike rate and a substantially worse 31% CSW% (Career 28% CSW%). If last year’s struggles were due to injury alone, I’d expect him to show his health through some performance in nearly 50 PA combined. Given his March ADP was 146, it might hurt but I think you’d be better off in such a shallow format riding a hot bat like Taylor Ward or Tyler O’Neill than stay here Mullins it over.


Luis Rengifo (2B/SS/3B/OF, Los Angeles Angels)

I realize this may not seem that bold, but given that it’s the first few days of the season, I’d rather be safe than be the forgot-it’s-April Fool. He was a popular name for an end-pick utility player with an ADP of 243, thanks primarily to his handy quadruple eligibility. The team had talked about batting him from the leadoff spot, but what they didn’t reveal was that not only did they not mean that seriously, they also didn’t take him being a regular in the lineup seriously.  He only started 1 of his first 3 games, and RosterResource lists him on the bench, though perhaps on the small side of a platoon as a switch hitter. Still, given that all of his value depended on accumulation, I’m going to RENGTFO.

Esteury Ruiz (OF, Oakland Athletics)

This is why you find rabbits, you don’t keep them. Also, because they reproduce very quickly. I’m still talking baseball here, okay? Ruiz helped win many people leagues with his production in the first half last year, especially for teams who realized it was time to cash in and traded him or benched him towards the end. But now, the team has made it rather clear that they’re done with him, even though he actually hit well in his short spring sample.

Even if he gets called back up, it may be in a pinch runner role, and that’s not worth holding. I’m not saying he’ll be Dairon Blanco, but perhaps peak Terrance Gore, who would inevitably send people running to the waiver wire when it seemed he finally got a break at playing time but overall always fell short. I think in deep leagues, you may not want to fully panic and hold for now in case he can turn his playing time situation with a well-timed hot streak, given that your alternatives are pretty bad. But in shallow formats, if you need speed that bad, why not target a speed guy who actually plays, perhaps Daulton Varsho or someone on the suddenly run-happy Angels. He’s now an obvious cut in 10-team formats and 12-team formats that don’t offer a minors stash, and I’d say it’s not too early to cut in 15-teamers as well unless you need speed and the wire doesn’t offer good alternatives.


Joey Ortiz (2B/3B/SS, Milwaukee Brewers)

It seems this Joey might not be ready to hop out of the pouch just yet, and for fantasy, he may provide us Kangaroo Jack. (That’s a bad thing, take it from someone who’s seen the movie for some sadistic reason). Ortiz looked totally blocked in Baltimore and finally set free of Milwaukee’s fledgling back half of their offense, yet somehow he seems to be partially blocked again. Brice Turang’s hot start, combined with the call-up of an inferior utility second baseman Oliver Dunn suddenly seem to be clouding his path, such that RosterResource currently lists him as a backup.

Sure it may seem like an overreaction to him going 1 for 9, but I think it’s more what the team is saying that matters. Basically they’re not guaranteeing his regular playing time, and as a better real-life player than fantasy player due to lacking impact power or speed, he really needs all the reps to even justify rostering him. At a March ADP of 450, he was likely one of your last players anyway, and I’d much rather take a shot on the clearer path for Lipscomb or higher upside of Jorge Mateo. Yes, in leagues this deep, what Mateo can do does count as upside, okay?

Deep Leagues

Wilyer Abreu (OF, Boston Red Sox)

Those who were asleep at the wheel in late drafts may have wound up with Wilyer, but after seeing his playing time situation post-Rafaela-starting, I simply Won’tyer. He’s still on the roster for some reason, and in his one chance thus far he didn’t do himself any favors going 0-4 with 3 strikeouts. There’s too many more interesting players even on deep league wires now to not bid Wilyer Adieu.


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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