Welcome to Buy & Sell, where this week’s theme is let’s try to forget about all the injuries and just focus on Wander Franco. I think nobody will object to that. Actually, you may, since he is widely owned, and deservedly so. However, there are some other much less heralded names who should provide excellent value. They’re important too!
He’s finally here! I had been faked out so many times, thinking he’d get the call soon, I called him Wander Sykes. But alas, now he’s been called up to the majors, likely for good, and Wandermania has officially begun. The top prospect in baseball is as sure as a bet to hit the ground running (and hitting) as any prospect, though Vlad Jr. has taught us that he may not quite be ready yet to reach his true superstar level. He hit an outstanding ..315/.367/.586 with 7 HR and 5 SB in 177 PA as a 20-year old, which is absolutely ridiculous when you remember, again, that he’s just 20 years old. While Kelenic reminds us that sometimes hyped rookies fail in their first go-round, Wander’s generational talent gives me confidence that his worst-case scenario floor for this year is a Miguel Rojas or Cronenworth type, but the ceiling is somewhat similar to Xander Bogaerts. And, of course, for the future, he may well bring far better. You don’t have to be a Francophile to add in all leagues where he’s somehow not rostered already.
Gary Sanchez (C, New York Yankees)
Hitting above .200 is no longer an impossible dream, according to Man of La Sancha. Gary is hitting a studly .343 with 5 HR ad 10 RBI over 35 AB the past 2 weeks to raise his season line to .237/.340/.480 with 11 tates in just 173 ABs. With Higashioka falling off the map if not off the face of the earth, he has alleviated any and all concerns about playing time and has been striking out less lately, with 8 Ks in 37 PA the past few weeks. With the fantasy-viable catching pool being seaweed paper-thin, Sanchez doesn’t have to keep this hot streak up to be a top 5 catcher the rest of the way. Add in 10-team OBP formats and strongly consider in AVG leagues unless you’re already rolling with the likes of Perez or Posey.
He must be swinging the hammer of the gods because he’s homered his way into Duvallhalla. Lately, he’s been super locked in, with 7 HRs in the past two weeks and 4 of them with a .400 AVG coming this week. There’s streaky, and there’s Duvall streaky, and I’m riding this mean streak like the old roller coaster at Cedar Point. The sweet 16 homers come with an ugly average, but you know that’s just a thing you have to be ready to stomach as a Duvall owner for the sweet, sweet power bunches. His 15% Barrel% and 91 mph avg. exit velocity are both career-bests as he’s somehow selling out a bit more for power, but you’ll gladly take a .220 AVG and poor OBP if he’s hitting 35+ dingers. He should at least be held for the short run in all 12-team formats because the juiced ball is worth the squeeze.
Amed Rosario (SS/OF, Cleveland Indians)
He was nearly replaced by Gimenez but then gave him a taste of his own Amedicine. Rosario has shined this year, hitting for a solid average while stealing seven bases and taking over the shortstop position for Cleveland. None of this is so new for Amed, who has always displayed blistering 97th percentile sprint speed, but what is new and substantial is his 0 Caught Stealing. His poor SB Success Rate threatened to give him the red light in seasons past, but now that he’s apparently refined his SB technique, he’s a threat to steal 15+ bases in the second half. He may as well, as Cleveland looks to be out of contention. I think he might just barely eclipse double-digit homers, but the ability to hit .280 with 20+ SB makes him Jean Segura-esque, which certainly is 12-team worth in batting average leagues. In OBP or leagues that downplay SB, you can pass on him, though.
I’m definitely Bullish on Toro, and I don’t see red flags. With Bregman down for what seems like a while, Toro gets his third major league trial, and I think it should fare better than the other two duds. He was cruising in Triple-A with a .352 AVG and 2 HR and 2 SB, and so far in the majors, he only has 2 strikeouts in 34 PA. While he’s not a masher, he’s not a slap hitter either, and he earned a combo meal for those who took a chance on him early. He could well hit at a .290/15/10 pace which is super helpful in most deeper formats, especially given the state of the position. Enter the ring with Toro in 15-team batting average formats, and consider streaming in OBP formats as well.
Taylor Ward might just be the greatest Ward since Piggy Ward, journeyman 2nd baseman from 1883-1894. Ward started the year as an ice-cold backup but has been heating up and earning regular at-bats in the OF with Trout being out, hitting .290 with 3 HR over the past 3 weeks. He’s improved in his past 100 PA with a rolling xwOBA of .379 compared to just .320 in his previous 100 ABs. In fact, if you look at the chart for his entire career since his age 23 debut, his wOBA has gradually been improving the whole time with it increasing exponentially in his last 50 PA. Statcast is a believer in his bat, with a .254 xBA and .480 xSLG aided by a strong 13% Barrel% and improved 25% K%. He only has one stolen base, but with his 79th percentile sprint speed, he could grab a handful more, which could make him like a Justin Upton lite. Add in all 15-team formats.
Ryan O’Hearn (1B, Kansas City Royals)
In deeper league formats, I’m always looking for lineup security and power, so you may wonder why I’m interested in this long-time stinker. Well, here’s why: 12 homers in 72 ABs. I mean, he also hit .375/451/.931, good for a 1.382 OPS, but 12 HR in 72 AB is a 92 HR pace in a 550 AB season, and that’s just nuts. He’s still just 27, and with Mondesi down, the team may as well run with him and hope this time he learned something in the minors. Add in all deep leagues and spec add in 18-team OBP.
Jesus Sanchez (OF, Miami Marlins)
You don’t mess with the Jesus. He was obliterating Triple-A pitching to get the call, and although he’s floundered in previous major league attempts, this one very well may be different. For one, unlike O’Hearn, he’s still very much a prospect at age 23, so he’ll be provided a bigger chance to succeed. While his 41% K% may scare many off, he has at least displayed his prodigious power with a max exit velo of 111 mph, and the K rate should improve, as it’s belied by a decent 71% Contact%. His power/speed upside makes him worth the significant batting average risk as long as your team can afford it. Add in all deep and NL-only leagues.
He must be daydreaming at the dish because Austin Meadows has looked lost in meadows. The 2019 phenom has regained his power stroke from his forgettable 2020, but his performance has sunk hopes of those hoping for him to be a batting average buoy. He’s hitting just .226 with a .475 SLG%. Statcast thinks the average is spot-on, and he’s actually deserved a worse slugging percentage of just .435. While that’s not predictive, his expected rolling xwOBA has nosedived over his past 50 ABs, and one wonders if he’s playing through an injury. While the power totals and OBP have been nice, he could very well prove less valuable than Adam Duvall going forward with less power and hardly more stolen bases. There are simply many more promising options in shallow leagues, so in 10-team AVG formats, it’s time to put Meadows out to pasture.
They’re pavin paradise and putting up a parking lot in front of his locker. The talk of the town in May, Pavin has been coming up empty lately, hitting just .205/.262/.231 with no homers in the past 2 weeks, leaving him with a yawn-inducing line of .275 with 5 HR and 1 SB in 251 AB. While he’s still playing mostly regularly and can accumulate, the concerning lack of power and speed makes him a pretty low upside bat that is easily replaceable in all 12-team formats.
At first, I figured the Franco call-up would push Taylor to a backup role. But maybe, they’ll switch positions and platoon; that’s how the Rays be, and after all, they’re my Wander Walls. I’m not even sorry for that joke; deal with it. Walls are still viable in OBP formats where his stingy ways continue to provide him value, but a lack of apparent power and speed on top of the reduced playing time outlook makes him no longer viable in 15-team batting average leagues.
Take the other Amed without the “h,” because the “h” apparently stands for horrible. Dr. Nick has botched this season up with just 1 HR in 205 AB and 3 SB (2 CS) with a .210 AVG. He’s been especially lousy lately, hitting just .132/.154/158 in 38 AB the past two weeks. With a career-high 24% K rate, it’s no surprise Statcast has hated him with an xBA of .189 and xSLG of .260. Even with him playing every day for some forsaken reason, he only hurts you, and you’re better with a part-timer with a modicum of promise like Ernie Clement.
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Alyssa Buckter (alyssabuckter.com) and Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)