Buy & Sell 7/27 – 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’s theme is “This should be the pre-trade deadline edition but it’s sure looking boring”! I hope that changes, but right now more playing time situation changes are caused by promotions and players returning from injuries than any multi-team transactions. Many managers are already starting to shift their attention to football so you can capitalize by catching some hot performers who’ve flown under the radar either due to their season stats or poor past track record. So let’s get on to the list!



Triston Casas (1B, Boston Red Sox)

Cartman must be behind this surge because right now everyone’s flocking to Casas Bonita. Casas has brought the full house on opposing pitchers, hitting .433 with five HR and 10 RBI in 30 AB over the past two weeks. He and Spencer Torkelson have both been popular adds as young first baseman with big upside, but Casas has some advantages that I consider to make him the better buy. Perhaps the biggest one is that he’s hotter lately, and in fact is the biggest rolling 50 PA xwOBA improver with a .448 xwOBA over that span, and a .418 mark over his last 100 PA. But what I love just as much is that he plays half his games in a hitter-friendly park, or at least it is when you’re a lefty and cheating with homers to the Pesky pole, which he’s already capitalized on.

He’s also in a good lineup that has been surging and may get hotter with the impending return of Trevor Story. The one downside is he really hasn’t been trusted against lefties, which makes him more viable in deeper or daily moves leagues that can compensate. But he’s at least worth streaming in 10-team and OBP formats, and I think that given that the rookie has only improved as time has gone on, you’ll want to hold.

Henry Davis (C/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)

One could argue that I shouldn’t write about him, since he’s one of the few players I actually already recommended as a 10-team buy coming up. However, with the massive flood of prospects, most of whom wash away into relative oblivion, it’s important to note that Henry is still standing. The catcher-turned-outfielder is hitting .325/.413/.635 with three dingers and a stolen base in 40 AB over the past week, which you may notice is a rather high total. That’s why a catcher-eligible player who doesn’t catch (and can also hit) is fantasy gold.

Statcast thinks his recent uptick in performance is no coincidence, as he’s the seventh-best 50 PA rolling xwOBA improver in the MLB with a mighty .429 mark. In just 111 AB, he’s hitting .270 with four HR and three SB, looking very J.T. Realmuto-ish and also with Realmuto-ish playing time. He doesn’t stand out in any one particular category, but he gives the kitchen sink with a moderately low K rate, a high walk rate, and a solid barrel rate. For a catcher, this is all excellent, and I stand by my previous statement that he can be a Top-5 catcher the rest of the way.

Honorable Mention: Riley Greene (OF, Detroit Tigers) – Green was red-hot before the injury and apparently hasn’t missed a beat, and is now hitting .325 with seven HR and six SB on the season.



Ryan O’Hearn (1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles)

I will admit this is not a popular opinion, but I’m still hurting for O’Hearn even in shallower formats. It’s true that he couldn’t keep up the torrid pace of his earlier surge, but he’s been quietly still great, hitting .348 with three homers in 46 AB over the past three weeks. It’s easy to compare this to another first base/outfield type who had a hot start and ultimately flamed out, Nick Pratto, but I think they’re two different cases.

O’Hearn has kept his K% relatively low at just 22%, but it’s his hard contact that really drives the profile. His HardHit% of 57% is among the best in the league, his Hard Contact% is 40% which ranks fourth in the MLB, and he’s ninth in Ideal Plate Appearance (IPA). Although Ryan Mountcastle’s back, even if they platoon, O’Hearn should be on the strong side, and can cycle through at both outfield and DH. While he won’t stay this hot, I like him a lot more than most other Orioles’ hitters who bat from the right side. Add in 12-team batting average leagues.

Will Benson (OF, Cincinnati Reds)

Whereas some hot performers sizzle and then fizzle, Will has been steadily on fire like a Benson burner. The power/speed double threat who was traded from Cleveland to Cincy has been quite the pleasant surprise this year, hitting .302 with four HR and four SB over 43 AB over the last three weeks and hitting .353 with two HR and two SB this week. On the season, the 25-year-old is now up to a cromulent .282/.385/.523 with seven HR and 10 SB in 149 AB (174 PA), which packs punch per at-bat, but also serves as a wince-inducing reminder that playing time is hard to come from, and the arrival of CES certainly isn’t making that easier.

Like pretty much every Cincy hitter, he’s outperforming what’s expected of him in terms of Statcast rates, with a .235 xBA and .419 xSLG, and although his contact has been improving over the course of the season, his K% is still 27%. But with a 15% walk rate, he’s definitely a sneaky asset in OBP leagues, and his performance has elevated him over fellow power/speed outfielders Jake Fraley and TJ Friedl. Although it may come with missed games here and there, Benson’s five-category contributions make him a must-start in 12-team OBP leagues.

Honorable Mention: Willi Castro (2B/3B/SS/OF, Minnesota Twins) – Much like Esteury Ruiz, aside from the stolen bases, the bat leaves a lot to be desired, but has with 10 SB in July alone and with quad-position eligibility, he deserves far more than his 15% Yahoo rostership rate.



Jon Berti (2B/3B, Miami Marlins)

I predicted a big season from Berti this year, but I wrongly expected it to be with the legs more than the bat. Despite near-regular playing time, he only has 11 SB after over 40 in 2022, but after his recent hot streak, he has been a batting average asset, hitting a positively scorching .524/.545/.667 in 21 AB over the past 14 days. Scratch that Berti and make it an Eagle!

Then again, you probably noticed that 21 AB (22 PA) isn’t a lot of at-bats over a two-week span, especially given the performance, but that could change if he keeps this up. He didn’t strike out once over those 21 AB, and his K rate this year has improved to 18%, with a near-career 27% CSW%. While his groundball rate has always limited his surprisingly decent raw pop, he has a career-low 49% GB% that has allowed for more line drives. He’s still mostly a batting-average streamer unless he decides to activate the wheels again, but his position eligibility makes him worth rolling with for teams looking for a poor man’s Merrifield.

Matt Wallner (OF, Minnesota Twins)

Some players play small ball, but Matt is only here to clear the Wall, nerds. Often compared to Joey Gallo, Wallner has demonstrated signs of hope that he can be a bit more well-rounded, as he’s kept his K% under 30% (28%) in his limited major league sample with a 10% BB%. While that’s encouraging on the surface, his improvements will likely regress some, given that he posted the same K% repeating the level in Triple-A, and his Contact% is a sub-par 68%.

Still, that’s at least workable, especially for a rookie, especially since the power part of his game also showed up. He’s already recorded a 113 mph ball for the second straight year, and has a burly 13% Barrel% and 45% HardHit% with a healthy 39% flyball rate. I believe power is the most important tool (I mean, just look at Luke Raley this year), and I think he could definitely be a sneaky play much like Raley with big power and some speed, especially now with a temporary opportunity to stake out a role (and my guess is one of Kirilloff or Buxton will get hurt and give him more). He can likely still be added in AL-only formats but I think he’s 15-team viable, especially in OBP formats.

Honorable Mention: Freddy Fermin (C, Kansas City Royals) – The playing time is still a bit iffy, but the diminutive 25-year-old keeps improving and is quietly hitting .300 with 5 dingers, and MJ Melendez and Sal Perez can’t match his defense.


Deep Leagues

David Fry (C, Cleveland Guardians)

Yes, I recommended his competitor Bo Naylor last week, and I stand by that (and his two-homer game reassures me). I’m playing both sides so that I always come out on top. David Fry is a complete surprise this year and not just because his name pairs great with Jake Burger and Tyler Sodastream. The 27-year-old journeyman is hitting .290/.347/.464 with three HR and two SB in just 69 AB and has been playing more and crushing it this week, hitting .357 with a dinger in 14 ABs. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even on anyone’s radar this year, and makes you wonder again why they stuck with Mike Zunino for so long.

Perhaps he deserved more attention given that he bopped 17 HR with a 19% K% last year in Triple-A, even if it did come with a ho-him .256 AVG. The power does seem pretty legit with a 110 mph MaxEV that is higher than battery-mate Bo Naylor’s (thus far, anyway), and his 13% Barrel% and .270 xBA and .452 xSLG suggest he’s not a total fluke. While I’d assume the Guardians called up Bo to play him, they’re also in contention and Fry can get a super-sized portion of playing time if he can keep it up. He’s worth adding in two-catcher and AL-only leagues for now, even though I expect him to become more of a role player and caddy to Naylor long-term.

Tom Murphy (C, Seattle Mariners)

Look, catcher has been pretty rough, and here the lesser catcher Murphy has been playing like a part-time Sean Murphy. He plays caddy to Cal Raleigh, who until this past week had been mired in a long slump, and meanwhile, Murphy has crushed. In fact, his .495 xwOBA over his last 50 PA is the second biggest improver in xwOBA in the majors over that span, and the number itself is among the league’s best.

This week he’s played more and has hit .308 with two HR, although the seven Ks in 13 AB clearly show the volatility in his profile. Still, although he benefits from favorable platoon matchups, he’s barreling the ball incredibly well with a 17% Barrel%, and he could be a catcher-eligible clone of Mike Ford with his high-barrel, high-strikeout all-or-nothing approach, and could go on a big heater with more at-bats (frankly, he should be taking them from defensive liability Ty France, given he already has as many homers as him in less than one-third of the at-bats. He’s worth rostering in AL-only and is a sneaky stud in DFS.

Honorable Mention: Stone Garrett (OF, Washington Nationals) – The playing time is still rather spotty, but his 50% HardHit% and improved walk rate can make up for his high K rate and other shortcomings in NL-only formats.




Daulton Varsho (C/OF, Toronto Blue Jays)

When I typed his name, it autocorrected to “fault on Varsho”. That’s accurate enough. He was a draft day darling despite some warnings but always carried risk with his volatile approach. Still, even with a decline in batting average, I think it’s safe to say, especially in this offensive environment, we were expecting him to do better than to hit just .213 with 12 HR and 12 SB in 350 AB. The odd thing is his strikeout rate (24%) and walk rate (7%) are roughly the same as last year, but he’s just apparently unable to hit the ball with authority. His 7% Barrel% is just 39th percentile, and his average exit velocity of 88 mph is just 24th percentile and below noted “slugger” Luis Arraez.

The weird thing is that aside from barrels, most of his stats, like his HardHit%, launch angle, are right in line with career norms, and he actually posted the best MaxEV of 113 mph this year. The problem is, Statcast always thought his 2022 “breakout” was a fraud, as it gave him a .213 xBA and .389 xSLG despite his real-life 27 dingers and 16 bags. I think it’s also a bit of a disappointment though that he hasn’t gotten the stolen base bump, and given the plethora of SB this year, he’s more unique than useful for shallow leagues. Given that he has just a .211 xwOBA over his last 100 PA (fifth biggest decline in MLB), he could be playing hurt, but it could just be he was all hype. I’d gladly drop him for Henry Davis, Keibert Ruiz, and perhaps also Yainer Diaz if any of those names are on your wire.

Byron Buxton (OF, Minnesota Twins)  

He’s hit a pathetic .045/.170.213 with two HR and one SB over the 47 AB the past three weeks and is re-teaching the Joey Gallo lesson of what happens when a player with terrible plate skills but elite batted ball quality starts to lose some barrels. In today’s game, his skills are replaceable in shallow leagues with better AVG floor. Yet he’s still 81% rostered on Yahoo… c’mon now.

He remains a great raw talent, and still has 95th percentile sprint speed (which is actually quite a decline given that he used to be #1), but it doesn’t matter if he’s not running, and he’s doing so quite sparingly, likely in an attempt to keep him healthy, which is one of the few positives to take away from this year. I really don’t get why Jack Suwinski, who is basically like Buxton but who can take walks, is less respected. The Twins are in contention and have a roster crunch incoming with Polanco’s arrival, and I’d expect him to get quite a few more “rest days” down the stretch. Cut in all 10-teams and I’d consider your alternatives in 12-team OBP.



Sal Frelick (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)

If you roster Frelick, congrats! This is the most exciting week to have him! It’s trading season, and you can get a pretty penny or even Sacajawea for him, so go do that. What? Yeah, trade him now, because his value can’t get much higher, and odds are it won’t. Despite his snazzy .556 AVG with a homer, I wouldn’t bet on many more given he only had two total in 183 PA in Triple-A with a .247 AVG. Given that, and the fact his scouted upside wasn’t very high, the fact he’s driven this much hype has me pretty confused.

His 86% Contact% is good (as should be expected) but because he swings so little, he actually has a pedestrian 29% CSW% thanks to too many called strikes. He may be fine, but somewhat like Luis Matos, it’s better to strike a trade while the iron is hot before it’s revealed that it’s not iron but just a gray pool noodle., and I’d be open to dropping him in 12-team AVG leagues if you can’t trade him, given there’s a more impactful option on the wire, but I’d recommend trying to trade in all formats if you can for what before the end of Sal’s frolicking.

Ryan Mountcastle (1B, Baltimore Orioles)

What irony that a guy named Mountcastle’s greatest enemy has been a high wall. He’s once again considered to be unlucky by Statcast, although his batted quality has declined from last year, and I’d use that as a selling point in trying to trade him. His surface stats since his return have been strong, as he’s hit .370/.414/.593 with a homer in 27 AB since his return two weeks ago.

However, while Statcast gives him an xBA of .267 and .351 xwOBA, Pitcher List’s expected batting average, which accounts for batted ball direction, gives him a more pedestrian .255 xBA and merely slightly above average .329 xwOBA. Given what we know about Mount Walltimore and Mounty’s tendency to seek homers there and in center, plus his 2022 results, I’d trust Pitcher List’s data here.

A .329 xwOBA really isn’t good for a first baseman, especially one who is now fighting for playing time with O’Hearn that profiles similarly but with better hard contact. Now might be your chance to “sell low” for a solid return (say, a mid-rotation starter). Try to trade in 12-teamers, but I’d straight drop him in OBP.



Mauricio Dubón (2B/OF, Houston Astros)

Dubón is Hebrew for “little bear”, and he’s as similarly bland and sleep-inducing as the Maurice Sendak-inspired kids TV show of the same name. I highlighted him earlier in the year as he was leading the league in CSW%, but he has long since fallen back into his old ways, hitting a putrid .174/.186/.217 with one HR and one SB in 69 AB over the past three weeks.

The slump is not just a fluke either, as his rolling xwOBA has cratered to a .216 xwOBA over his past 50 PA. The timing couldn’t be much worse as Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez are both due back, and a guy who’s hitting just .265 with five HR and six SB in 336 AB is simply not going to merit regular or even semi-regular playing time in the outfield with Chas McCormick and Corey Julks being much more interesting. Cut in 15-teamers and I’d consider even taking my chances on a wire option in AL-only OBP, and let little bear go hibernate.


Deep Leagues

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

I called him a sell high a while back as Statcast simply had no way of explaining how he could have a 30%+ K% and a terrible walk rate and not even a good barrel rate and still succeed, and much like justice, the regression monster’s gears can turn slowly but nevertheless, they turn. And Nick’s having so much trouble making contact now it’s almost comical, as his K% has nosedived to 36%. Cut in all leagues unless you enjoy being humiliated because in slapstick, this is what they call a Prattfall.


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.

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