Buy & Sell 5/2 – 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, and while I ruined my jet lag sleep schedule to write this, I’m glad to catch up on all I missed while on my 12-hour flight. A few more significant injury hitters have struck, the big fish of course being Trout, but I promise you can still patch the holes in your boat and float to safety. If you followed my advice last week you’ll be sitting pretty with everything except for Willi Castro, who decided to turn his life around the day I posted. But values come and go, digging for a leg up is forever, so let’s get on to the list!



Riley Greene (OF, Detroit Tigers)

I almost thought it was Christmas when looking at his Statcast page, because I saw so much Red with Greene. The former jack-of-all-trades player seems to be trading-for-all-the-jacks, as he’s already bopped 7 long flies in 129 PA, a truly impressive feat given the terrible home hitter’s park, and the fact that he hit just 11 last season (416 PA). It seems supported by a big jump in barrel rate (19%) from his 11% mark last season, showing yet again to not judge a player’s power when they’re young (he’s still just 23, many his age are still in Double-A).

He has some changes to his game I like but also some concerns. He has a massive 17% walk rate, but I think it will regress and he actually has reduced his swing rate more on strikes than balls (9% drop in Z-Swing%, 5% drop in O-Swing%), and I think a hitter of his caliber should take the Seager approach and have much higher than a 61% Z-Swing% and 20% Called Strike%. As far as the power, it seems some of the barrel increase is due to raising his launch angle, as he’s rocking a career-best FB% of 37%, a big jump from his 25% FB% last season. It’s a bit disappointing that he hasn’t stolen a single base or even attempted one yet, and even though his speed is fine, I wouldn’t project him for more than a single digit total.

I still don’t see him as a star, but even though the only real positive change he made was raising his launch angle, I think that a player with his combination of solid contact and power, he can hit another 15-20 homers over the season with a batting average that won’t hurt you and solid run production hitting in the heart of the Detroit lineup (which is still better than hitting towards the bottom of a better lineup). He’s 48% rostered in ESPN and I’d add him in all 12-team formats and strongly consider in 10-team OBP.

Jo Adell (OF, Los Angeles Angels)

Maybe this is coincidence, but Adell is finally saying “Hello” at 25. Okay, yeah now I have to explain that I know that “25” was the name of the Adele album in which “Hello” was released, and this is irrelevant but consider that I’m sparing you my rant on how lazy it is that Adele just named multiple albums on her age at the time, which is as close to “untitled” as you can get. Okay, back to the player, who I’ve ranted in past weeks that he’s an add based on the talent, yet kicking myself on waiting a week too long in some to see how the playing time shook out. Now, it shook out, and you’re going to have to pay.

The surface stats were already there, after all, as he’s hitting .316/.365/.614 with 4 homers and 5 SB in just 63 PA (remember that’s about half of “regular” hitters at this point). Statcast has loved him since the start this year, as they argue he’s actually been quite unlucky with a .358 xBA and .651 xSLG that are both 99th percentile. Which begs the question… why the heck were they playing Mickey Moniak and (the now DFA’d) Aaron Hicks over him?

The main reason Statcast loves him is he’s upped his barrel rate to an elite 16% barrel/BBE and a still great 11% Barrel/PA. I was in on him last year after flashing a fantastic 117 mph MaxEV, and although this year so far his MaxEV has been 111 mph, he’s hitting hard more consistently with a 55% HardHit%. Sure, that could come and go, but what intrigues me is that he’s also making more contact, with a 75% contact% and slightly better than league-average 27% CSW%, which if he can maintain, is more than enough to make his big power work. It’s also good to see he’s finally using his wheels (5 SB), which is already more than he stole in any other season. Then again, with 5 CS (including one bad call), the light may not remain so green.

Still, here can be that age-old story of the late-career prospect everyone had more or less given up on putting it together in his last chance, and given that he’s out of options and now Trout is down, he finally has the runway to be an everyday player. His production could end up looking something like Nick Castellanos’s 2023, and I see the perfect-world upside as closer to previous seasons of fellow late bloomers Adolis García or Randy Arozarena. If he’s still available in your league, he’s well worth the regression risk to shoot the moon in all leagues.

Honorable Mention: Alec Bohm (1B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies): He may be hitting a bit over his head, but his career-best contact rate (89% Contact%) raises his batting average floor to be a .300+ hitter with 20+ homers.


Jake Cronenworth (1B/2B, San Diego Padres)

Forget the past few years and he’ll make it Cronenworth your while. He seems to have rediscovered his exciting rookie form and become a Statcast darling yet again, and it’s not exactly a secret as his roster rate is up to 77%, but I’m still buying high. After all, his .263 AVG and 4 homers in 133 PA seems rather plain, but it’s masking the fact that he’s 90th percentile or higher in his Statcast expected rates, with a .308 xBA and .529 xSLG. This is not at all normal for him as it’s about 80 points higher than his xBA and 160 points higher than his xSLG from 2022-2023. But still, since Statcast is just descriptive and not predictive, is this relevant going forward?

I think so. I mean, he does have a higher groundball rate and line-drive rate, and the latter isn’t so sticky, so that’s good for now but maybe not later. But he is barreling the ball well with a career high 11% and his lowest soft contact% (13%, career 18%). Then again, 11% is good but not amazing, but his high-contact profile makes it carry further. Last year he actually improved his CSW and took it a bit further, with career-best swing decisions (24% O-Swing% and 69% Z-Swing%.) Unfortunately, the stolen bases and positional versatility he had early in his career than had us comparing him to Zorilla (Ben Zobrist for non-baseball vets) have dried up.

So what do I see for him? Basically, a sort of higher-OBP version of the good Ty France (I still like him this year by the way) who could hit .270-.280 with about 12-15 homers and a handful of stolen bases in a good lineup the rest of the way, with some upside for more if he can maintain that Barrel rate and low 25% CSW%. That may not sound so exciting, but given the increasingly fraught state of first base this year, that high floor can help carry you and he’ll be great when hot in a pretty strong lineup. Add in 10-team OBP leagues and all 12-teamers, and consider as a low-key target in a trade.

Ryan Jeffers (C, Minnesota Twins)

Jeffers is the latest in the unexpected Five Homer April Catcher Club (FHACC) and I want to say right now that he’s probably lucky but I also don’t really care.  Yeah, behind his .295 AVG and 5 dingers is a .249 xBA and .430 xSLG, but I still believe in his overall process. While it is concerning he’s hitting the ball much less hard with a 32% HardHit%, he’s also showing the best strikeout rate of his career at 17%. It seems due to regress, especially given his less than stellar 11% SwStr%. But I love that he’s seeming like he’s no longer a part-timer.

Jeffers wowed me last year with his 117 mph MaxEV, and even though his highest this year so far is just 111 mph, I still believe that wasn’t a total fluke given how physical he is. But what also impressed me is that he actually hit well against righties for the first time in his career. Even though he was below league replacement level (wRC+ below 100) over his career, he posted a 131 wRC+ against righties in ’23 (with a 156 wRC+ vs. lefties), certainly better than battery-mate Christian Vázquez did against either handedness. Now in an admittedly small sample size, he’s hitting a 162 wRC+ against righties (181 wRC+ vs. lefties), suggesting it wasn’t a one-year fluke. While I actually think Vazquez is less bad this year compared to last, Jeffers will play as much as his body will allow and I think the floor is 20 homers by year’s end and rack up extra playing time by hitting near the heart of the Twins’ ailing lineup. Add in 12-team formats.

Honorable Mention: Jacob Young (OF, Washington Nationals) With 12 SB now, it’s becoming clear that he’s this year’s Esteury Ruiz and could do it with a better batting average.


Trevor Larnach (OF, Minnesota Twins)

Perhaps I’m falling for it again, but I’ve had my share of heartache and Larnache. I loved Larnach as a prospect for his projected ability to hit for power and OBP, and maybe this is actually the year. He has a lot of small improvements that point him in the right direction, with the most notable being his 54% HardHit%, though I think the improvement is more notable in his average eV jumping from 90 mph to 94 (small sample size alert).

He’s also pulling more flyballs with a career-high 46% Pull% which matches his 46% flyball%, a batted ball type Statcast often overlooks. So it’s pretty encouraging that they mostly back his great early sample of a .394 AVG and .636 SLG% with a .361 xBA and .663 xSLG, though keep in mind xStats have very little predictive value in such small samples (38 PA). Still, given his strong base of big raw power (112 maxEV in 2022-2023), it might only take a few tweaks to make him a real power threat. I still think the batting average will plummet given his poor 65% contact% this year, but this year he’s foregone patience with a career-high 50% Swing% (42% career Swing%), which has resulted in a surprisingly decent 29% CSW% (still a bit worse than league-average). Now that he’s likely earned regular reps, he’s a solid bet to hit .230-.245 with 16-20 dingers, making him a nice find in 15-team leagues.

Joey Loperfido (1B/OF, Houston Astros)

Given my investment in his high-risk profile, I hope his minor league numbers are not Loperfidious. You kind of have to roll the dice on the power, given that the man, in just one month, walloped 13 apple jacks with 5 stolen bases in 122 PA. I mean, clearly the Astros believe in it enough to call him up and actually option José Abreu to the minors to find his missing bat. There’s just one number I can’t stop staring at when I get too giddy and be reminded of a teammate no one wants. The number is the 30% K%, and the other power/speed “prospect” I don’t want to think of when I see it is Trey Cabbage. Leaves a real bitter taste in my mouth.

Still, some advantages that soothe those nightmares are the fact that Loperfido still isn’t 25 (Cabbage was 26 in his .302 20 HR 32 SB 2023 season), and that Loperfido’s power showing is more impressive, given that a .405 ISO is simply rarely seen ever in a sample this large. And it’s not just fence-scrapers either, as he was recorded with a MaxEV of 113 mph. I hope the Astros help him become more aggressive even if it brings down the walk rate, and given that the team’s top alternatives at 1B are Jon Singleton and Victor Caratini, I think he’ll be given every opportunity to win the job.

Also note that in leagues that count 2023 minor league position eligibility, Loperfido may also qualify at 2B, as he played 21 games there between 2 levels (although he’s clearly not playing there over Altuve). The team situation if he succeeds I believe is worth adding in all 15-teamers and 12-teamers with deeper benches as his playing time role is still unclear. It might be a short fling, but you may as well have fun and be an eloper… using the alias of a common dog name.

Honorable Mention: Tyler Black (3B, Milwaukee Brewers) – He offers an intriguing option for OBP and speed from the hot corner, but I’m starting to have doubts about his MLB SB output after pumping the brakes in Triple-A (11 SB in 290 PA from 2023-24)

Deep Leagues

Matt Vierling (3B/OF, Detroit Tigers)

I got many shares of him pre-season, so I didn’t vier too far off-course. Vierling hasn’t exactly been guaranteed a full-time role at any point and hasn’t wowed, hitting a rather blasé .268/.302/.402 with just 2 homers on the season (0 SB). But then again, he’s been better this week hitting .300 with 1 of those homers in 20 AB, and I see some exciting indicators for at least a low level breakout. Yes, from Matt Vierling.

The biggest indicator is his launch angle, as he’s managed a career-high launch angle of 18 thanks in part to a career-low 29% groundball rate. He’s always posted strong MaxEVs with an 113 mph mark last year, so he could unlock some real power by lifting it… if only he didn’t play half his games at Comerica. Still, if Riley Greene, Mark Canha and Wenceel Pérez are hitting jacks, why can’t he? Although his strikeout rate is high and so is his 30% CSW%, I think it should improve as he’s actually showing career-best plate discipline with a career-low 22% O-Swing% and career-high 66% Z-Swing%. The career-best 7% barrel% still isn’t great, but I wouldn’t be surprised for him to have a .280 AVG with 12-15 homers, not too unlike the 2023 Ke’Bryan Hayes but with only single digit stolen bases. That’s actually arguably viable in 15-teamers, so he makes a solid high-floor injury replacement in 15-teamers and a must-add in 18-teamers and AL-only formats.

Graham Pauley (3B, San Diego Padres)

I get that the early results have been quite bad, but it’s the strikeout rate that’s truly a-Pauley-ing. He’s hitting .138 with 2 homers and a 48% K% with a 0% BB%. But then again, it’s only been 28 PA, and I blame small sample shenanigans. Because actually, his 27% O-Swing% and 75% Z-Swing% both signify good plate discipline, and his 73% contact% (83% Z-Contact%) suggests a player whose strikeout rate should actually be under 30%. Sure, those rate stats haven’t stabilized either, but they’re much more reliable than the surface stats.

And given that we’re looking at a minor leaguer, let’s use our noggins and look at the minor league stats for clues. This year in the minors, he hit 4 homers with an 18% BB% and only 8% K% over 39 PA. Given that, and the fact that he’s never had a strikeout rate even above 20% in a single year, he’ll be fine, and while he lacks raw power, he’s still rocking a 60% Hard% (9 hard hits total). Now’s a good time to scoop up the pre-post-hype sleeper or target in a trade.

Honorable Mention: Jonathan Singleton (1B, Houston Astros) – Sure, it could’ve just been because he tee-balled off Cookie Carrasco, but his 114 mph homer suggests he may have more pop than we realize to pair with good contact skills.




Isaac Paredes (1B/3B, Tampa Bay Rays)

Let me start this off by pleading to those readers who just read the headline and react, DO NOT DROP HIM. Okay? This is a sell-high thing. Sometimes I do that. Readers will know I’ve liked Paredes, and had my best prediction yet last year that he would hit .250 with 30 homers (would’ve stunk if I bet big money on the exact number when #31 landed). But this may be your best chance to sell high before reality and regression rain on his Paredes.

Paredes does two things really well: makes contact, and hits pulled flyballs that turn into homers. So far, it’s worked, even last year when his hard contact rate dropped. Right now he looks shinier than ever hitting .291 with 7 homers in 123 PA. But when the veneer comes off, you’ll see it’s pretty undeserved, as he’s been worse in almost every way than last year. The one “positive” is a higher average launch angle, though I’d argue his 50% FB% puts him in an extreme where it hurt his average more than it helps his power. He’s also pulling the ball less with a 47% pull% compared to a 55% mark last year (though perhaps reversing this extreme pull rate isn’t all bad). But what concerns me most is further decline in plate skills, with a career-worst 35% O-Swing% and 81% Contact% rate, which aren’t great for someone trying to pull a Bregman to volume his way into homers. His career-worst 10% SwStr% (8% SwStr% in 2023) suggest that he should have a worse batting average than last year, with at best similar power totals.

Given so many struggling cold corner players in the early going, Paredes’s hot bat can land you some nice value as people are likely not paying attention to these problems. Sure, maybe Paredes will also correct these issues and bank another great season, but I strongly doubt his trade value will be higher than it is right now, so use that value before one of his slumps hit. DO NOT DROP (for those looking for the TL:DR but consider selling high on him in a trade).

Dishonorable Mention:  Yandy Díaz (1B, Tampa Bay Rays– He’s better than this, but the high groundball rate plus a weaker supporting cast make the juiced biceps not worth the squeeze.


Spencer Torkelson (1B, Detroit Tigers)

If you told me preseason “unranked” prospect Wenceel Pérez will have more homers than Spencer Torkelson going into May, I’d buy you a golden ticket… to a sanitarium. Yet here we are. Torkelson doesn’t have even a single homer to show for his struggles, hitting just .216/.290/.297 in 114 AB. Oh dear lord, Wenceel’s batting average is higher than Tork’s SLUGGING percentage! Yikes.

Unlike last year, it’s hard to find cause for optimism, and blaming the park is not enough (unless you want to argue the homer-crippling park has crushed his spirit). His barrel rate was 14% last year, right now it’s 2%. Two total barrels. His avg eV of 88 mph is less than Zach McKinstry. The only positive is a lower strikeout rate, but I actually am going to throw a big smelly wet blanket over that too by pointing out that the underlying numbers actually suggest a worse strikeout rate due to a career-worst 28% CSW% (thanks to swinging at fewer strikes, the rest is largely unchanged). At some point, I hope he’ll figure things out, but you simply can’t hold this in 12-teamers with no benches or shallow benches anymore, and you’ll have time to scoop him up if and when he finally wakes up. Cut in all 10-teamers and 12-teamers.

Dishonorable Mention: Jurickson Profar (OF, San Diego Padres) – As I’m about to type this, he’s just hit 4-for-4 and raised his batting average to .342. Sell high while you can, he’s rostered in 40% of ESPN leagues and this will not last long.


Henry Davis (C/OF, Pittsburg Pirates)

Oh no, Henry. He couldn’t catch the craze of surprisingly good hitting catchers, as he’s struggled to a tune of .169/.282/.215 with 0 HR and 0 SB in 79 PA, with the .215 SLG% perhaps the saddest number. There hasn’t been much cause for optimism in the numbers with his 34% K%, and his 86 mph avg eV and 2% barrel% show he hasn’t even been able to do damage when he has made contact. Sure, he did show the raw talent is still there, with a new MaxEV of 111 mph, and his plate discipline did improve and the 29 CSW% isn’t so bad. But right now there are definitely at least 15 other catchers I’d rather have, so in single-catcher redraft formats, you can cut now and just keep an eye on what happens with Joey Bart (I still have a hunch he’s just a bust who had one good week, but we’ll see).

Dishonorable Mention: Mitch Garver (C, Seattle Mariners) – Even with catcher eligibility, his total lack of contact (37% CSW%) and barrels (2 total) makes him a drop even in 2-catcher formats.

Deep Leagues

Mickey Moniak (OF, Los Angeles Angels)

This may be seen as going against the grain somewhat, given he will benefit from Angels’ decision to cut ties with Hicks and Trout’s meniscus’s decision to cut ties with itself. But you will end up broke trying to invest in Monopoly Moniak. I mean, maybe people will be scared away by the .150 average and lack of homers,  but if that doesn’t spook you, the horrific 23% HardHit% is a go-to-Jail card, though I’ll admit the 75% contact% is mildly encouraging given his 65% contact% for his career. Still, his volume will likely do more harm than good. Don’t panic and leave the Moniak in the mailbox.

Dishonorable Mention: Eddie Rosario (OF, Washington Nationals) – Stop! Stop! His bat is already dead!

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.

One response to “Buy & Sell 5/2 – Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop”

  1. Jack says:

    Would you cut Willson Contreras for Jeffers? Really shallow 11-team points league, Ks count against. I’m seriously considering it. Mind you, I dropped Bo Bichette this week right after someone else dropped Springer. It’s like that in this league.

    And yes, I am also considering adding Adell in the same league.

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