Buy & Sell 5/16 – Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop

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

Welcome back to Buy & Sell, where this is my birthday week. WOO! Will that mean my fantasy teams will actually start hitting for me? Probably not! But that’s okay because if you have league mates who checked out after the first couple weeks of April, you can be sitting pretty with some mid-May finds who seem much more likely to be legit. Just make sure to budget your FAAB if you can and remember you don’t need to grab every interesting player. Okay, this is more for myself, who already spent nearly half my season FAAB in the TGFBI league (then again I’m in 10th/420 in the overall, so I guess it worked okay?) Anyway, on to the list!



Brent Rooker (OF, Oakland Athletics)


If you want the fantasy king’s crown, you’ll have to Rook it. Rooker may inspire some skepticism after last year’s rip-roaring start followed by a massive slump, but he’s doing it again but with feeling this time, hitting a splendid .303/.393/.692 with 10 homers and 2 SB in 125 AB. While he remains a strikeout-prone and streaky hitter, I think the floor and the ceiling are higher now. His 113 mph MaxEV already bested last year’s mark, and he’s also upped his pull% (43%) and line drive rate (27%), both helping out his power surge.

So why do I think he’s less prone to collapse? Better contact, for one, with an overall jump to 68% Contact% overshadowing the fact that his Z-Contact% soared to a career-best 88% (last year’s was 79%). Although he’s helpless on pitches off the plate with a 37.3% O-Contact%, he’s at least fairly disciplined with a 32% O-Swing%. With so much quality of contact (lots of flyballs, line drives, pulls) and an elite 93 mph average exit velocity (51% HardHit%), I think his 30% CSW% won’t stop him from doing big damage. This year he could be a surprise .260 35+ homer slugger, a bit similar to the 2023 version of Adolis García.

It doesn’t matter that he’s on Oakland, since he’s managed to get the offense to even play decently. Given the combination of elite power and an approached approach, he’s a must-add in all formats.

Honorable Mention: Jo Adell (OF, Los Angeles Angels) – I’ve waxed poetic already about Adell, but I expect the game-changing average + speed combo to continue even if the average continues to slide (though I expect it to rebound). If I write him up again, it’s only to apologize for being wrong.

Honorable Mention: Jeremy Peña (SS, Houston Astros) – Despite the .321 xBA, he’s surprisingly still available in 36% of ESPN leagues, and although the low barrel rate means he’s likely in over his head, his 99th percentile sprint speed makes him a sleeper for 20+ or even 25+SBs.



Jake Burger (3B, Miami Marlins)


I thought I wouldn’t need to contemplate people dropping Burger in a 10-team league. As it turns out, he’s been dropped in many 12-team leagues, with a roster rate that fell 6% all the way down to 23% this week. Although it may not be safe to reheat a Burger that went cold, I think you buy that artichoke dip. Burger might need a week to recover from his injury, and true, his surrounding offense this year suddenly looks a whole lot more awful than before, and it’s pretty bad right now with a .174 AVG and just 3 home runs so far… I promise it gets better soon, sort of.

See, I don’t have a big shiny number like I had last year with Burger’s suddenly amazing MaxEV. It’s still not bad at 113 mph, but last year’s was 118 mph and it seems he may have continued last year’s conscious efforts to trade massive power for contact. Plus, it’s worth noting that oblique injuries are tricky since obliques very much involve the torque used to generate power. Still, I think he can thrive with a small approach change. This year, he’s been less aggressive on strikes, with a career-low 65% Z-Swing%, though it hasn’t helped his discipline as he still swings at 43% off the plate. He’s still making contact at a career-best 74%, however, a big jump from last year’s 68%. Given he’s still hitting the ball pretty hard with a 46% HardHit% and 90 mph average exit velocity, I think perhaps this gives him a higher floor even if the power ceiling may be lower.

While it’s unlikely he’s going to hit at a 40-homer pace like I hoped preseason, if he can stay healthy he can end up with a better average than you’d expect with final stats looking a fair amount like Bryan De La Cruz but at third base. Especially with so many early-round average sinkholes, who couldn’t use that? Target in 10-team AVG leagues and 12-team OBP formats and hope your Fish Burger doesn’t leave you being a Krabby Patty.

Honorable Mention: Max Kepler (OF, Minnesota Twins) – Platoon, schplatoon, no I haven’t played the game. He’s been very lucky (.245 xBA .418 xSLG far below .325 AVG & .482 SLG%, but he did hit one 115 mph and has a career-best 22% CSW%, so you should ride this hot streak out.

Honorable Mention: Bryan De La Cruz (OF, Miami Marlins) He already has 8 tates on the year & Statcast says he’s been unlucky, but he’s mostly the same guy as from years past, underrated for solid stats thanks to AVG + HRs.



Davis Schneider (2B, Toronto Blue Jays)


He loves his barrels even more than Captain Holt and Amy Santiago. He kinda looks like an extra on Brooklyn 99, as those glasses and mustache deserve more authority. I find him to be a fascinating case, as a journeyman type without major raw tools but some freakish ability to hit barrels anyway. I was a skeptic last year, but there’s gotta be something to lightning striking twice. He actually has an even better barrel rate than last year at 20%, which is 99th percentile (aka the best of the best) in the majors. Yet, his MaxEV is merely league average at 109 mph. So how is this happening?

Basically, it’s the Isaac Paredes approach but with more power and less contact. Schneider is posting a rather extreme 50% pull% as well as a 49% FB%, and one wonders if he’d have better numbers than his .263/.366/.474 with 4 homers and 2 SB in 112 PA before Toronto’s apparently terrible park changes. While Statcast doesn’t think so, and PitcherList’s metrics I expected to save my argument double-crossed me with a .200 xAVG, I’m still buying on the process.

For one, his floor has raised substantially by virtue of his improved contact rate, which like Jake Burger jumped to 74%, but unlike Burger, Schneider makes great plate decisions. With a 21% O-Swing% and 68% Z-Swing%, he gets better pitches to hit, and his 11% SwStr% is solid and the 30% CSW% is passable and much better than his 34% mark last year.

So what are we really expecting of Schneider?  I’d guess a .260 average, another 15 homers, and another handful of stolen bases, and here’s where I’ll risk getting bold: I think he’ll be better than Edouard Julien ROS. More on that later. The point is there aren’t many second basemen who can provide the power Schneider offers with his discipline, and I think that makes him a fine 12-team add who will surge like GameStop, and you’ll wish you didn’t wait until the ride took off. Add in all 15-team leagues and 12-team OBP formats.

Honorable Mention: Willi Castro (2B/SS/3B/OF, Minnesota Twins) He’s going to make me eat crow for this, or maybe motor oil. Castrol, of course. He’s been on fire hitting .347/.372/.600 with 2 homers and 4 SB over the past 3 weeks. More hard contact, but he has been caught 4 times, and a 56% success rate could result in red lights if it continues.

Honorable Mention: Dairon Blanco (OF, Kansas City Royals) – More well-rounded than previous SB heartthrob Jacob Young, Dairon has some glimpses of power (9% Barrel%) and is running hot (.368 with 1 HR, 6 SB in 19 AB over the past 14 days). Playing time opening up makes him worth the flier.


Deep Leagues

Korey Lee (C, Chicago White Sox)


If last week showed with Otto Lopez (you’re welcome for that, BTW), I don’t get on my pedestal any more than with deep leaguers who are ignored and who I think should be noticed. I’ve actually added Korey in multiple formats, and I’m hoping he’ll make me “yerok”, which is Korey backward but in Hebrew it’s “green.” Lee has long been scouted as having a bad bat, but he’s showing he’s more than that on both sides of the plate.

He’s been showing better power than anyone expected with a career-best 110 mph MaxEV, a big jump from 105 mph last year (which was a big jump from just 101 mph in his debut). While his hard hit rate is rather low, signaling a lack of consistency getting to it, his 9% Barrel% is solid. He’s also improved some in the average department, as his 74% Contact% rate shows (although I don’t love his Z-Contact% of just 77%). I think it can work thanks to his great swing decisions though, with an assertive 82% Z-Swing% and excellent 32% O-Swing%. Okay, it’s excellent given the massive Z-Swing% anyway… it’s like Corey Seager, and so that’s one way Korey’s in this league-r. Oof, I know.

In single-catcher formats, he’s worth diving for to replace a struggling or hurt option, and I actually surprised myself by dropping Austin Wells for him (who has had bad luck but also a more obstructed runway to PT). Add in deep formats and all two-catcher leagues.

Honorable MentionBryan Ramos (3B, Chicago White Sox) – A puzzle with a great minor league pedigree, a lousy minor league season but a solid MLB debut with lots of hard contact. Two out of three ain’t bad.

Honorable MentionYasmani Grandal (C, Pittsburgh Pirates) – I trust the Pirates when they acquire old vets, and I don’t trust Bart to stick. With a 22% barrel%, I’m diving back in in deep formats. 




Gleyber Torres (2B, New York Yankees)


I’ve taken to calling him Glep Torres, as his bat has been a tiny nonsense-babbling side character who also spit in my face, but I don’t think right now he’s one of my Smiling Friends. He tricked us into thinking he’s “safe” after two 20+ homer years, but now he is reminding us of the scary floor he showed us in 2020-2021 hitting just .208 with 2 homers and 3 SB. That’s really burning many fantasy wallets as a top 100 pick, and it’s hard to find many signs for optimism.

For one, his hard contact is way down across the board, and Statcast thinks it hasn’t warmed up at all, with a .207 xBA and .294 xSLG. That latter number is bottom 4th percentile in the league, along with a lot of dreck. Yikes. The raw power also seems to have declined, with a league-average 109 mph MaxEV, which is far from the 112 mph high from last year. The weird thing is he’s still 27 and arguably should be in his power prime, but the latest stat, a 20th percentile bat speed, makes it pretty clear he’s not the “power ” hitter he used to be. And with a career-worst 28% CSW% it’s not like he’s making up for it with great contact skills.

Will he be better? Probably! Should we realize that a 15-homer pace going forward is more likely than 25 and that this would make him mostly unhelpful in shallow formats? Definitely! Don’t panic drop if there are no alternatives, but maybe sell low to a Yankee fan league mate while you still can as there are several interesting 2B-eligible options now.


Michael Busch (1B/3B, Chicago Cubs)


I never studied the Bible much, so I had no warning that Busch would end up burning me. His rolling xwOBA is among one the biggest fallers in his past 50 PA, with just a .215 xwOBA over his last 50 PA (a drop of .094). His peripherals looked pretty from a small sample as he had been hitting the ball hard with good contact, but that’s pumpkined hard with a terrible 35% K%, though I think that will positively regress given that his CSW% is still solid at 28%. I get that the barrel rate is still good, and there are still things to like… but his 17th-percentile bat speed signals a likely decline there as well. Sell high or medium if you still can, as there are plenty of equally or more intriguing options on 10-team waiver wires.

Dishonorable MentionJustin Turner (1B/3B, Toronto Blue Jays) – He’s been solid, hitting .250/.321/.411 with 4 HR in 140 PA and .280 xBA, but he’s cooling off. Also, Statcast revealing his bat speed is 1st percentile has me looking to sell in shallow formats.



Paul Goldschmidt (1B, St. Louis Cardinals)


I feel like we’ve been fools who bought Paul Pyriteschmidt. Y’know, because that’s fool’s gold? It’s even funnier when I explain the joke! Goldy’s bat has been the real joke, though, as he’s hitting just .199 with 3 HR and 1 SB. Although the statcast page is less blue than some other strugglers (looking at you, Gleyber), I try to remember what some wise folks at the WAF podcast say: struggles with contact are more concerning than struggles with quality of contact. And Goldy has both.

While Goldy’s never been a high-contact hitter, never managing a Contact% in the 80s, this is the lowest it’s ever been at 70%, and he’s also sporting career worsts in SwStr% (14%) and CSW% (32%). That already places a lot of pressure on the contact, even for a true slugger, and Goldy hasn’t been that either with a barrel rate that has plummeted to just 5% from 2023’s rate of 12%. The 110 mph MaxEV signals his raw power drop is down to match the actual power drop, and the demise of former 36-37 year old José Abreu makes me bearish on his odds of turning the clock back in the 2nd half. It’s time to cut in 12-team batting average leagues, and I wouldn’t fault you for bailing in OBP formats either.

Dishonorable MentionColton Cowser (OF, Baltimore Orioles) – Now may be the best time to buy him in dynasty, but he’s hurting you in redraft because a bat that doesn’t play doesn’t pay. 



Cedanne Rafaela (SS/OF, Boston Red Sox)

Ignore the fact for a minute that he has 3 homers and 4 stolen bases, and consider that he hits the ball weakly (85 mph average exit velocity is bottom 5th percentile), and also strikes out a lot without walking, and I see someone who will hurt a lot of fantasy squads. I’m the crazy one who thinks Otto Lopez would be an upgrade over him ROS, feel free to take me up on that board bet. Rafaela should be an AL-only play going forward, only useful for those needing at-bats and speed.

Dishonorable Mention Lawrence Butler (OF, Oakland Athletics) – Those hoping for a Butler turnaround were left feeling like a dumbwaiter. He has earned his struggles with a .201 50PA xwOBA, a drop of .298 from his first 50 PA. Arguably a drop in AL-only formats too at this point.

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 5/16 – Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop”

  1. Joseph Mulvey says:

    I always enjoy your writing.

  2. J-Dawg says:

    Great article, as always. The GameStop analogy for Schneider is apt as he is surging like GameStop but may also crash just like the stock did in real life. I’m not giving up my Eddie Julien shares just yet…je me souviens!

  3. Light Saberist says:

    Great article! Great site! However…

    Typo: Willi Castro (BUY / 15-team / Honorable Mention) is on the Twins, not the Angels.

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