Buy & Sell 5/24 – Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop

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

This season may seem like one of the weirder ones, but, well, it must be a normal season, because Eloy is hurt again. Honestly, I think we can give him the nickname “The Big Hurt”. Anyway, I had a commenter ask me recently if I ever evaluate my picks for each week sometime later, and I realized that I don’t do so much. So I’m going to try to do that at least twice this year, though obviously I won’t go over every pick since in my early season articles I often wrote about 15-20 players a pop. But it got me thinking… we strike out a lot on our buy calls in general, and that’s okay because you only need to hit once. Striking out on a sell call, however, can really burn you. though often with all the injuries, you may not even need to drop players (at least if you have IL stashes, and I won’t kick an injured player while he’s down). But now we have more data so hopefully, the calls are a bit better, now on to the list!



Oneil Cruz (SS, Pittsburgh Pirates)

I find it perhaps unlikely you’ll find him on your wire in savvier leagues, but some of us do play in leagues where April overreactions lead to some strange moves, like the guy in my AL-only league who cut Mason Miller in the first week. Oopsie! What Mason Miller is for pitching, Oneil Cruz is for hitting, as the velocities are eye-popping, and I think that is more than just a neat trick. Granted, on Tuesday night he hit balls 116, 120, and 122 (well, 121.5) mph, though none of them left the park. Weird to be disappointed in a 3-for-5 game.

Anyway, Cruz is heating up with a .415 xwOBA over his past 50 PA, a big improvement from the .340 wOBA he posted before that, but what’s really intriguing to me is that he’s managing to tap into his gargantuan power (his bat speed is 100th percentile), and his barrels, more consistently. Previously, despite all of the raw power, his best HardHit% was a good, even great 46%, but for someone like Oneil, it felt like waiting for your Ferrari cake only to receive an Acura cake. Oh dear lord, that reference is old enough to vote. Anyway, now Cruz is at a much more fitting 56% HardHit%, which is still somehow dwarfed by his average exit velocity of 96 mph. That’s third only behind Aaron Judge and Juan Soto and ahead of Shohei Ohtani, so you know that’s special company.

While of course, you’re worried about the Ks, given his current 34% mark is the same as in his rookie campaign, a closer look reveals it was actually 37% in April and just 27% in May, which is definitely low enough to do damage. And it makes sense that he’d need some reps to get his groove back given all the missed time last year. What I’m taking too long to say is that he’s going to break out like gangbusters, and right now with his more modest .260 AVG with 7 HR and 4 SB, you should pay what it takes to get him. He could end the season as a 40-20 guy (I wish he stole more bags like Elly De La Cruz, but also, I get it). Add in any shallow leagues he’s around, but assuming he’s not, give a strong offer for him. Would they take Jeremy Peña for him? I’d do that in an heartbeat.

Honorable Mention: Francisco Lindor (SS, New York Mets) – I said in April not to give up on him, and although he now has 7 homers and 6 SB, he’s still hitting .199. DO NOT GIVE UP ON HIM. His xBA of .265 is actually his best since 2020, it’s just been bad luck.

Honorable Mention: Jo Adell (OF, Los Angeles Angels) – His batting average has cooled off, but he’s still hitting .242 with 9 homers and 8 SB in 142 AB, and I think he’s been unlucky as the xwOBA continues to rise. Buy “low” now or never.



Zach Neto (SS, Los Angeles Angels)

I’ll admit, it was hard for me to hold him in April, but if you held firm, you ended up with a Neto gain. He’s had an especially good week, hitting .304 with 3 longballs, and had hit .288 with four homers and two SB over the past 21 days, bringing him up to six homers and six stolen bases to go with a .251 average. Looks pretty good compared to Lindor, eh? Remember, he’s still just 23, so you really like to see someone with his prospect pedigree tap into his potential… so why, OH WHY, is he still batting NINTH on the frickin’ ANGELS?

Yeah, I’m really hoping that’ll change, even though their offense has been better than expected, given he had been the leadoff hitter in 2023 before he got the ultimate demotion (well, aside from the bench/minors I guess). It’s true the running game has not actually been good with five CS, good for a cringe-inducing 55% success rate, but if you play in a league without a caught stealing penalty, I still think the Angels will continue to push him on the basepaths and make him a legit 20/15 threat this year with additional batting average upside. I’d add him now on the spec that he gets moved up with another hot week or two and starts scoring more runs. Bounceback sophomores like him often slip under the radar, so grab him now in all 15-team and most 12-team formats. After all, “The Netos make me think happy times”, once said a wise Salad Fingers. Oh jeez, why do my cultural references get older and older? Am I still hip?  UPDATE: He’s day-to-day (elbow), so maybe wait on this one.  See if you can get Matt Chapman instead.

Honorable Mention: Jake Meyers (OF, Houston Astros) – It’s been very under the radar, but Meyers has looked like a new man this year and keeps getting better, with his .302 AVG backed by a superb .309 xBA and .529 xSLG to go with his 5 HR and 3 SB in just 106 AB (119 PA). The rub is that his 19% contact% looks bound to regress as it’s actually his worst career contact% of 69%, but the hard contact and good defense will still play.

Honorable Mention: Joey Ortiz (2B/3B, Milwaukee Brewers) – He had an injury scare, but Ortiz has quietly been quite the asset, hitting .400 this week in 20 AB with a dandy 4/2 BB/K ratio. Could provide 20 homer pop and average, but what really makes him relevant in 12-team is exceptional OBP from the 2B position, and 3B eligibility as the position has been very thin.

Honorable Mention: Kevin Pillar (OF, Los Angeles Angels) – While he can’t possibly remain this hot, I think he’s he’s already done enough to lock up a mostly regular role for now, and can keep bringing power and speed even as the average drops. He has 6 SB and a 100% success rate, so he’s a sleeper for 20+ SB given the team’s philosophy.



Willie Calhoun (UT, Los Angeles Angels)

At 5’8″, he may be a baja man, but he’s finally the one who let the dongs out. Houn! Houn! Houn!  Okay, maybe we need to find a new slang term for homer and help me as I’m apparently falling into a vortex through the past. But I have never given up on Calhoun as for years now he’s puzzled me as to how he could post such good contact rates AND pretty good hard-hit rates, with decent launch angles, and still never hit well. Well, the sample has been small, but it seems a solution popped up for little Willie. Okay, new nickname for that too.

Calhoun has been more aggressive against all pitches this year, with a career-high 74% Z-Swing%, and even though that comes with a career-worst 36% O-Swing%, given his contact skills, that’s okay. His Z-Contact% of 95% is a career-best and so is his CSW% at 21%, and while .311 with one homer is certainly solid, Statcast thinks he’s deserved much better with a ridiculous .374 xBA and .474 xSLG. Yes, his sample is small and so the rates are wacky as Helga Pataki, but there’s reason to believe we’re onto something big here. His IPA of 45% isn’t just amazing, it’s best in baseball. His HC% of 45% is fifth best in the MLB. Oh, and he’s also been batting cleanup for the Angels. Maybe they noticed too.

Now, I get that UT isn’t exactly a fun spot in most leagues, and it stinks if you roster a guy there you can’t move like Ohtani or Ozuna. Just kidding, it doesn’t stink, it rocks. But still, I’d find a way to get him onto the roster anyway, especially if you’re not in a no-trade league, because I think what we may have here is essentially the answer to the question “What if Luis Arraez actually had some thump?”  Oh, and don’t forget, as a left playing half his games in Anaheim, if he can pull more flyballs like he did in his rookie year, he has a short fence for some easy taters. Also, in Yahoo leagues, he qualifies at 1B and OF, which of course is a total game-changer. Add him in 15-teamers everywhere you can, you can get your speed elsewhere.

Honorable Mention: Luis Matos (OF, San Francisco Giants) – Injuries have cleared the path for him, and he’s bringing his elite contact skills with much better batted ball quality (46% HardHit%) to hit .324 with 2 homers. Seems like he’s attempting an Isaac Paredes approach with a high pull% (55%) and FB% (46%),

Honorable Mention: David Fry (C/3B, Cleveland GuardiansHe can do it all. The 28-year-old journeyman is hitting a crazy .338 with 5 homers and 3 SB, and .625 with 2 HR and 2 SB with a 4/1 BB/K this week. Still doesn’t play enough but maybe they finally realize it’s time he usurps the slumping Bo Naylor.

Honorable Mention: Otto Lopez (2B/3B, Miami Marlins). – I just love this guy. Contact quality and quantity with some speed, this Otto has rocket power.


Deep Leagues

Kevin Newman (2B/3B/SS, Arizona Diamondbacks)

Hello, Newman. Much like a mailman, he isn’t exciting, but he delivers. Over the past three weeks, he’s hit .400 over 50 plate appearances, which has been enough to earn him regular reps for a rather depleted and Blaze Alexander-less D-backs offense. In an NL-only league, you shouldn’t discount stopgap types like Newman who plug the holes with solid production, especially as he has a track record of reliability.

Oh, also, he has a 3% barrel% this year. You’re probably thinking “That’s terrible”. And you’re right! But still, it’s actually the best barrel rate of his career, with his career average just a smidge below 2%, so maybe that means a slight uptick his power projections. He’s a fine guy to at the very least ride for batting average while he’s this hot, making him an underrated add in NL-only formats.

Honorable Mention: Colt Keith (2B/3B, Detroit Tigers) – Don’t look now, but he’s actually been hitting like gangbusters, hitting .550 this week, though still without his first homer. At least he’s staving off demotion talk for now, and I believe he may have traded too much power for contact, but the dingers will come.

Honorable Mention: Zach DeLoach (OF, Chicago White Sox). – He hit 23 homers in Triple-A last year, and I’m hoping the White Sox give him a fair shot with Eloy down. I mean, we know what Dominic Fletcher is at this point, and it’s as milk toast as Powdered Toast Man, so it’s worth the dice roll to see if his power will play in the CrySox hitter-friendly pad.




Cedric Mullins (OF, Baltimore Orioles)

I know I probably sounded crazy to say to cut him in 10-team leagues after a week in April, but, like, even a crazy person is right twice a day. I tried to warn because I saw early signs of poor quality contact that carried over from spring training, and it really hasn’t gotten much better, with a lousy .191/.240/.342 line with 6 homers and 8 SB in 154 PA. Don’t you DARE say “Hey, that looks like Francisco Lindor!” Like it does look like it kinda, okay a lot, but this is different, okay?

For one, Mullins has not been unlucky. In fact, with a .200 xBA and .314 xSLG, he’s actually been slightly lucky. You still can’t steal first base, and thanks to a rising K% now up to 25%, he is only getting worse, with his rolling xwOBA in a rather steep decline over his past 50 PA. That’s a problem, given that Colton Cowser can play center field, and that roster is so jam-packed that arguably one of the year’s most exciting prospects could hardly earn an at-bat. His defense may be better, which has kept him there this long.

So why am I still calling him a 10-team drop? Mostly because for some crazy reason, he’s still rostered in 63% of leagues, though you could’ve had better production from just three weeks of Kevin Pillar. Crazy world, innit? Still, I’m calling him a drop in 10-team leagues AND 12-team leagues.

Dishonorable Mention: George Springer (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) – Maybe this should’ve been the main one since I just think he doesn’t have the power to be shallow-league relevant anymore. Hitting .194 with 3 HR and 7 SB, and every single one of his hard-hit metrics is below 50th percentile. 


Andy Pages (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)

Looks like recommending him in his first week, while it paid early dividends, now looks like quite the fantasy faux-Pax-es. I will never forgive his weird name pronunciation for how it makes good wordplay near impossible. He showed decent contact skills to go with his plus power early on, showing enough for the Dodgers to jettison James Outman, but it’s been downhill from there, as he’s hit just .154/.202/.259 with one homer over 46 AB the past two weeks. Not so fine and dandy, Andy.

But then why am I only recommending him as a drop in 12-team and not 15-team? Because, like, I still like him, I just don’t like him like him. The upside is still there for him to turn it around, as he still does have plus power and also plus speed with a surprising 81st percentile sprint speed. It’s also worth mentioning that his defense is really pretty good, which will keep him in the lineup through the struggles. Also, his contact of 77% is pretty good, so although he chases too much, he’s aggressive on strikes and his 27% CSW% is better than league average. So I have hope he can turn it around.

Still, the bar for outfielders is high, and with his extreme 24-degree launch angle, he seems to be too much of a batting average detriment to be worth the clusters of homers he’ll hit when he’s in a groove. Whether or not I consider him a cut depends on whether you’re in a three-outfielder league (yes) or five-outfielder league (no). Also, I’d say he’s a cut if you’re in an OBP format since even though his walk rate can’t remain THAT bad, it won’t be good.

Dishonorable Mention: Ryan Mountcastle (1B, Baltimore Orioles) – He sure has been getting benched a lot, and I prefer Ryan O’Hearn’s blend of elite contact with his pop. On any other team I’d like him, but here he just doesn’t play regularly enough to be rosterable.


Joey Loperfido (OF, Houston Astros)

It probably seems weird for me to call for dropping a power hitter who has hit .333 with a homer and a stolen base in 39 AB. But then you might say to yourself, “Only 39 ABs? I thought he’s been up for over three weeks now, and you’d be right. He’s just not playing. And despite the strong surface numbers, given the fact he has a 39% K rate, I kind of see why. Granted, that may be some bad luck, as his 72% Contact% is actually better than I expected, but he’s displayed bad swing decisions with a 43% O-Swing%.

Also, like, Joey, where’s the beef? The power hasn’t showed up yet, with a 105 mph MaxEV. But why won’t the Astros keep playing him? Well, Meyers has been a hotter dog than the Oscar Meyers Weinermobile, and Mauricio Dubón and Jon Singleton have also earned their shares of PT as well. With Chas McCormick due back soon, despite his prior struggles, someone has to go, and I think the writing is on the wall for a Loperfido demotion. So I’d sell for pretty much whatever I can, telling them not to look behind the .571 BABIP behind the curtain.

Dishonorable Mention: Oswaldo Cabrera (3B/OF, New York Yankees) – I called him a drop in my April 18th edition, noting he had just one great week that was mostly luck-driven, and still he’s being rostered far too widely. Just because he still plays doesn’t mean he’s playing well.


Deep Leagues

Tyler Nevin (3B/OF, Oakland Athletics)

At first he helped pad your score, then the raven said “Nevinmore”. Yeah, I’m now in the 1800s with my references. If you happened to get in early you sure enjoyed your four homers, but odds are that you only added him afterwards like the folks who bought into GameStop after the latest spike. The A’s are going with the spaghetti-against-the-wall approach and after Nevin went .071/.220/.167, the management likely said “Uh oh, that’s too many zeros.” Given that Abraham Toro has stayed hot and claimed the spot, it’s safe to cut him in AL-only batting average formats

Dishonorable Mention: Cavan Biggio (2B/3B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays) – I bite my thumb at your 81 avg mph exit velocity, sir. Deep league or not, nobly flee from brave Sir Cavan.


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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