Buy & Sell 6/30 – 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 week I celebrate “nobodies” who are becoming somebodies! They’re much easier to acquire than the more established names, which makes them great targets in trade season, if you are ready for some wheeling and dealing. I’ll remind you all, since people forget every time, that this is not a “buy low, sell high” article, but rather analyzing my favorite and trending hot and cold hitters. That said, I do occasionally add in buy lows or sell highs when I feel strongly about it. Anyway, on to the list!



Michael Harris II (OF, Atlanta Braves)

It wasn’t meant to last, but so far Harris had been looking like a lock to be the best #9 hitter in baseball history. After many false starts, he finally got the ball rolling into an avalanche, as he’s hitting .417/.427/.682 with 4 HR and 4 SB in 72 AB over the last 3 weeks. Even more impressive is that over this stretch, he only struck out 5 times, and only struck out once in 26 AB over the past week. And just like that, his strikeout rate, which before was only slightly better than his 24% K% from 2022, is looking like a quite healthy 19% mark, and at this rate will continue to drop as he puts the early struggles behind him.

He also has a slightly better walk rate (still just 6%) and launch angle than last year (still just 7 degrees), but with his strong 46% HardHit% backed by his excellent 114 mph MaxEV, he’s looking primed for a monster second half. Given his combination of big line drive power, moderate speed, and poor plate discipline, he could have a second half not too dissimilar to that of Bo Bichette, if you really needed another reason to pounce on him in all formats, even 10-team OBP. His roster rate is still quite high as it jumped from 77% to 82% in ESPN formats, but I think that given his strikeout improvement, he’s a player worth buying very high, perhaps with another player who is hot but less backed with skills improvement.

Lane Thomas (OF, Washington Nationals)

I’ll admit, he wasn’t one of my guys this year, but I’m ready to change to this Lane without using my blinkah (I’m a Sox fan, after all). Thomas has been a tank engine the past couple weeks, cranking 5 homers with a .362 AVG and a stolen base in 58 AB over the past two weeks.  Choo choo, all aboard!

The weird thing about the 27-year-old late breakout is that he’s not the OBP machine he was a few years ago, with only a 6% BB% on the year and just 1 walk (to 17 K) in his 58 AB over the past two weeks. Also somewhat disappointingly, this isn’t a sign of a more aggressive approach, as he still has a sub-par 60% Z-Swing% to his raised 29% O-Swing%, and most of his other batted ball quality peripherals are similar to that of 2021 and 2022. And if you don’t remember what he did in 2021 and 2022, it’s probably because it was rather mid.

But what is boosting his value, other than simply hitting the ball well, is an xwOBA that has continued to rise as the season has progressed from below league average to above league average (250 PA span). Even in a weaker lineup, batting leadoff and his balance of batting average and stolen bases makes him a great accumulator, kind of like a peak Melky Cabrera. I just wouldn’t take him over some other similar profile players like Leody Taveras or Ezequiel Duran, but he’s still a fine add in 10-team batting average leagues and all 10-team formats, and at 79% rostered, you might still have a chance.


Jose Siri (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)

His production has been rather elite, but it’s apparently not enough for him to be taken Siri-usly. Shockingly, he’s still rostered in just 19% of Yahoo leagues, and started in only 14%. Why? With 15 HR and 7 SB in just 185 PA, he’s looking like a solid bet for a 30-15 season not too unlike Adolis García’s debut year, though Siri hasn’t had the regular playing time to provide similar counting stats nor the decent (despite seemingly unsustainable) batting average. Siri certainly got into more games this week and proved his worth, with 3 homers and 6 RBI in 21 AB.

Given his more disappointing cups of coffee the past couple years, his power surge in 2023 has been a welcome surprise, although the stolen bases totals (7 SB, 2 CS) are disappointing given his 98th percentile sprint speed. Because his playing time is likely safer now as a plus defender who can man center, it’s time to put 81% of Yahoo owners to shame and pick him up in all 12-team formats.

Jordan Westburg (3B/SS, Baltimore Orioles)

Now that Jake Burger is slumping, Jordan may be the Bestburg. The 24-year-old long-awaited hitting prospect is taking no time to adjust to the big leagues thus far, hitting .417/.500/.500 in 14 PA for Baltimore. While the samples are still too small to make much of, it’s certainly a nice start that he’s rocking a 14% walk rate double his 7% K%, as well as a 63% HardHit%. Those are both likely to regress given his minor league track record and peripherals, but if he manages to keep a K% around 20%, his plus hitting with a bit of speed can make him quite valuable even playing half his games in Walltimore.  He hit .295 with 18 HR and 6 SB in 301 PA in Triple-A, and I think he could hit .245-.265 with another 10-12  homers and a handful of SB and lots of runs produced.

Granted, he’ll need to get moved up a bit in the lineup for that to truly come to fruition, but I think it can still happen and Mullins’ return makes the lineup suddenly seem formidable. In some leagues, Westburg is made considerably more valuable thanks to his multi-position potential, as he has played more than 5 minor league games at SS, 3B, 2B, and OF. In a perfect world, he could be similar to Ezequiel Duran this year with less batting average but more OBP, but I feel his floor is higher than most hitting prospects with his consistent plus minor league production and tools. Add in 12-team leagues since he’s likely to be the best hitting prospect to reach the majors (excluding cups of espresso) this year. I must be a fan of Boston ska bands because I’m hopping aboard the Westburg Train. …Where are all of the ska fans to appreciate this reference? Hello? Anybody?

Patrick Bailey (C, San Francisco Giants)

I just did my first Underdog midseason draft, so now I can ask, “Ever drunk drafted Bailey from a shoe?”. Bailey is the kind of profile the fantasy community at large loves to hate as someone with a high K rate and low walk rate, which makes the slumps much worse to bear (see Jake Burger, again). But remember, this is catcher, and a catcher who is barreling the ball like crazy. The 24-year-old rookie managed to take a small debut and capitalize on it to make Joey Bart a forgotten man, and is now hitting an impressive .381 with a homer this week to raise his season line to .318/.345/.533 with 4 HR and 23 RBI in 113 PA.

He wasn’t considered a top prospect previously, and he hasn’t displayed the elite exit velocities expected with maintaining a 14% barrel% with an average MaxEV of 108, but he has seemed to improve his contact rate, with only 11 Ks and 3 BB in 55 PA over the last 3 weeks, compared to an 18/1 K/BB in his initial 56 AB. Given the sorry state of the catcher this year, you have to ride a hot bat like this, and it’s not too late to grab him, as he’s still available in 80% of Yahoo leagues. If you’re in a 12-team batting average league and still hesitating because you don’t want to drop a guy like Yasmani Grandal, perk up with an Irish coffee and get your Baileys.


Ryan O’Hearn (1B, Baltimore Orioles)

It looks like he may have really just been O’Yearning to leave the Royals. Yeah, I can’t believe I’m writing him up as a buy, either. But I think now is actually, potentially the best opportunity to target him, as he’s coming off a bad week in which he hit just .125, and given how he was essentially seen as the Julio Teheran of hitting and proof that anyone can have a hot stretch, teams that picked him up may already be cutting him or looking to sell high. So if you’re in a trading league and missed the chance to pick him up, here you can O’earn a second chance. Just like the second chance I blew with another name pun.

Of course, he’s not this good, as his xBA of .262 suggests he’s not a sudden batting average Adonis, but his xSLG of .532 is at least encouraging. For all the worries about Mount Walltimore, O’Hearn is a lefty, where the wall can’t hurt him, and is likely more favorable than Kaufmann. In fact, last year, in a small sample, his expected stats were quietly solid, with a .271 xBA and .425 xSLG despite a .238 actual batting average and non-impact role. But back to the present, he only struck out twice last week, and his xwOBA actually went up. While the talent influx is making things increasingly crowded, I think the present power ability with a more manageable 22% K% makes him worth rolling the dice on in 15-team batting average formats, and still stream-worthy in OBP.

Joey Votto (1B, Cincinnati Reds)

A year off from doing Harry Potter Tiktok cosplay may be the magic he needs. The 39-year-old slugger continues to amaze, with 3 homers in 4 games in his first week back, and even though he’s had a few subpar games since, he’s still worth holding to see if he’s for real. In total he’s hitting .238/.407/.667 with 3 homers with 7 RBI in 21 AB. He is just two years away from an incredible age-37 campaign in which, statistically speaking, he was one of the top first baseman in baseball, before a brutal injury-riddled collapse last year, so it’s certainly an encouraging sign that he already has three barrels in his tiny sample. After all, you have to be pretty healthy to hit a barrel… unless you’re Byron Buxton, I suppose.

That said, while the sample is tiny, there are definitely some red flags, and not just his uniform. Although it’s a miniscule sample that I normally would toss out, currently his strikeout rate is 33%, and it’s supported by a poor contact% of 66% that has been in a long and not-so-slow decline. Although he’s getting walks so far, his elevated O-Swing% of 32% is meaningful only since it’s continuing a four-year pattern of deteriorating plate discipline from when his O-Swing% was an elite 16% in 2018. Basically, I think he can be a power streamer, but statistically he’s profiling too close to Josh Donaldson for me to give him a long leash. He’s essentially a short-term spec buy for now in 15-teamers, who could be a spec sell if he can’t get it together, but I think that given the long layoff we should give him some slack. Just tell him to not send his Harry Potter videos to his colleagues on Slack.

Deep Leagues

Billy McKinney (OF, New York Yankees)

While we’re on the topic of long-toiling journeyman who have interesting small samples, here is McKinney, which makes me cringe after recommending McKinstry right before he repaid the favor by throwing his stats off a cliff. Still McKinney has present opportunity, and has done quite well with it given very modest expectations, with a quartet of dingers and a .281 AVG in 57 AB. If this happened in April, we’d all be losing our minds, but it’s easily lost in the shuffle in late June.

While it may very well be mostly fluky, I do love that he’s barreling the ball with a 17% clip, and while he hasn’t walked much, he’s only struck out 10 times in 57 ABs, which certainly helps his batted ball outcomes playing half his games in the Yankee bandbox. Don’t look at his expected stats because they’re silly, but I just traded for him in my AL-only home league on the chance he’s a sneaky value for power in the short-term.

Jake Bauers (OF, New York Yankees)

I should preface this by saying I like McKinney more of the pair, with McKinney being viable in 18-team formats and soon perhaps even shallower, but Bauers is the easier one to get in the deepest of leagues. Although his playing time remains spotty, I like Bauers as a part time player for two numbers: his 20% Barrel%, and his K% that just dipped under 30%. He’s also walking more, with a 4/6 BB/K in his past 30 AB, even though the dingers haven’t been there. It seems like he’s bound to find a balance between the Gallo-esque start and this McKinstry-esque punchless follow-up, and given that he often bats leadoff (at least for now), he’s worth riding, especially if you can sit him when he’s platooned.



Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, Chicago Cubs)

This might seem like a hardcore take, but when it comes to going against the grain and selling high, I’m already forming The Bellinger Escape Plan. He’s coming off an impressive week in which he’s hitting .357 with just 2 Ks in 14 AB, but Statcast thinks it’s not anything special, and in fact has been quite mediocre for some time now. Although stolen bases carry his overall decent looking line of .260/.322/.452, his xBA of .235 and xSLG of .376 suggest very replaceable performance, since that looks bad even in comparison to guys like Zach McKinstry and Willi Castro. Yuck.

His barrel rate in particular has been in free fall and not enough people are talking about it, as it’s just 6% for the supposed slugger, with an average eV of 87 mph and a HardHit% of just 31%. That last number is just 9th percentile. NINTH! And yet, his roster rate in Yahoo is still sky high at 76%. Take advantage of the hopium and sell before people realize his hot start was just a flash in the pan, and sorry if I make Cubs fans Bellingerent.


Nolan Gorman (2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals)

Quick, who posted a .239 xBA and .476 xSLG? Trick question. The answer could be either: A: Nolan Gorman in 2022  B: Nolan Gorman as of June 29th, 2023. Seriously, they’re both the exact same now. Talk about regression to the mean. It’s nice to see he got a couple of hits this week, which means that maybe, just maybe, you can show off his still reasonably pretty Statcast sliders and flip him, because the redbirds are likely to put him on the backburner after hitting just .128/.212/.191 with 1 HR in 47 AB over the past 3 weeks. His future remains bright, but in redrafts, this is just batting average gore, man.


Nick Pratto (1B/OF, Kansas City Royals)

He took awhile while valiantly fighting off the much-deserved regression monster, but it seems like, much like the Ski-free monster, the inevitability of high strikeout rate leading to bad batting average came back to bite him and gobble him up. He’s stinking up the joint with his 36% strikeout rate, and his early surge hides the fact that over the past 3 weeks, he’s hitting just .180/.246/.295 with a homer in 61 AB, and an especially hideous 11 strikeouts (0 walks) in his last 18 AB this week.  Given his barrel rate isn’t even particularly high, there’s a whole lot more downside than upside here. I may be a harsh and unforgiving judge of talent, but when it comes to someone ruining your fantasy dreams while catching you unaware, the Devil Wears Pratto.

Deep Leagues

Samad Taylor (2B/OF, Kansas City Royals)

Putting up a .160 AVG and .160 slugging to start off your career will make people who spent FAAB on him Sadmad. While the sample is still too small to draw too much from, the early data suggests a player with a lower-than-expected contact rate (currently just 66%) as well as a lower-than-expected batted ball quality (a Tony Kemp-esque 18% HardHit% and 99 mph MaxEV). I’ll also add his competitor Dairon Blanco to this deep league sell list, who has better surface stats and hard contact, but in a larger sample size has a wholly unforgiveable 64% contact%. Basically, I just hate the entire Royals offense, I guess. And call me Elmer Fudd, because I hate wascally wabbits.


Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)

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 6/30 – Identifying Who to Add and Who to Drop”

  1. wes says:

    Was expecting to see Adames on here for 12’ers! What’s your read on him? Getting hard to hang on but the track record is tantalizing even if this year’s batted ball stats seem…bad.

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