Welcome back to Buy & Sell, and if you’re still here, congrats, it probably means that you’re still competing or you just really don’t care for football, both of which are commendable. This week led to some surprises due to the new minor league incentive structure, leading to some very aggressive call-ups, one of which borders on insanity, or perhaps I should say inSchan-ity. Buckle up, we’re down the homestretch and setting thrusters to Ludicrous Speed. On to the list!
Carpenter had the foundation of a good player, but now he’s simply bringing down the house. He’s been arguably baseball’s hottest hitter over the last month, hitting an improbable .397 with eight homers and 15 RBI (lol Tigers) over the past three weeks, with four of those homers coming just this week. He’s now hitting .288 with 19 homers as he cements himself as Detroit’s best hitter. sorry Riley Greene, you can still be Detroit’s best color.
The weird thing is that not so much has changed since a month in a half ago when he was scuttling along as a platoon player. His 11% Barrel% hasn’t gone up much and isn’t so great, and his 22% K%, while an improvement over last year, isn’t fantastic. Statcast thinks he’s been lucky and I agree, but still gives him an xBA of .273 and xSLG of .508, which are still excellent as it’s hard to find players who can hit for both average and power. Spring for Kerry in all formats.
Ozuna, with his wild swings in performance from year to year, is probably one of the top candidates deserving of a projection with Marcell. Although some lost the faith after a slump following a huge early-season surge, he’s once again on fire, hitting .396 with four dingers and 12 RBI over the past two weeks. Statcast supports his surge’s legitimacy, as he has an incredible .441 rolling xwOBA over his last 100 PA, which is the fifth biggest improvement in the majors. He’s already up to 28 homers and in one of the most loaded lineups of all time, so you shouldn’t have any doubts about starting him on any squad.
The teams were racing down the home stretch when in rolls Royce. He’s been excellent when on the field although mostly being off it, hitting an excellent .316 with four homers and two SB in just 117 AB. The biggest concern I’d have is his less-than-stellar 34/5 K/BB ratio, but especially now with Carlos Correa fighting through plantar fasciitis, I’d reason to bet Lewis will play regularly when healthy and should provide power with moderate speed. But perhaps you’re wondering why I have Royce away from the Ferraris and towards the Acuras.
Put simply, Royce has gotten quite lucky, something that is much easier to accomplish in a sample size as small as his. Thus far in 2023, he put up a middling 7% and 36% HardHit%, without last year’s signs of massive raw power. As far as his ability to put the bat on the ball, that’s also down with a 27% K% that will make hitting for average a challenge, especially with his low walk rate. So that’s why I think it’s too risky to scoop in 10-team, but the raw talent he showed last year is why I’m also giving him enough of a pass on the peripherals to make him 12-team viable, especially in batting average leagues.
Stay on track with him, get one homer, flip the switch and get four homers: a classic Raleigh problem. I stubbornly stuck by him this year and it’s finally paying off, as he has eight homers over the past three weeks, and is hitting .280 with four homers over the past week alone with 11 RBI. It’s good timing as the whole Seattle offense has suddenly come alive, meaning he’s been driving in runs at a higher clip than most of his catcher contemporaries, with 60 R and 62 RBI in 386 AB.
His batting average will continue to be a drain, less because of his strikeout rate (which is why I pushed back against Paul Sporer’s assertion that he’s “Zunino 2.0″ but more because of his heavy flyball tendency. Given how momentous his August-September surge was in 2022 (despite playing through a hand injury) I think he needs to be added in 12-team formats, and I’ve even added him at my UTIL slot in leagues in which I couldn’t drop my catcher. You might want to consider the same for Clobberin’ Cal.
Moore has become fast food because he’s turned into a speedy Jake Burger. He’s decided to go with the Max Power approach, giving him a ridiculous barrel rate of 25% with a career-high HardHit of 48%. Granted, it’s also come with an unsightly K% of 35%. Yet strangely, while he had a comical 75% FB% a few weeks ago, he’s been hitting for excellent average, hitting .341 with three HR and one SB in 41 AB over the past three weeks and a sizzling .500 with two of those homers in 14 AB (16 PA) this week.
What’s even more encouraging, unlike some of the streaks we’ve seen with the likes of Mickey Moniak, Mike Moustakas, and Cade Marlowe (I swear it’s a coincidence that they’re all M names) Moore seems to at least temporarily have reigned in the Ks, with just 13 Ks over his last 45 PA (29% K%) and a 2/2 BB/K over the past week. I wonder if, like Burger, this is a conscious approach to trade off the power for average, which might be smart given his raw power still isn’t huge. In fact, this year his 107 mph MaxEV would be his lowest since 2019. Still, with the dual eligibility, he’s worth adding, even though it’s disappointing he’s not racking up the stolen bases like usual.
Ty fighter is suddenly firing from all sides. This is one of those instances in which super in-depth analysis isn’t really needed, since he’s basically regressing into the same player he’s been for the past several years. The cold stretch was brutal and even saw his playing time get cut, but he now leads baseball with the greatest improvement in his rolling xwOBA over his last 100 PA, smashing a .436 100 PA xwOBA compared to just a .262 xwOBA in his previous 100 PA. With a lack of competition at the cold corner, he should compile a decent OBP and counting stats, even if he’s still mostly boring.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Belt (1B, Toronto Blue Jays) – After what looked like a final whimper of a season, Belt has cinched the ball up quite well, hitting .267 with three homers in 15 AB this week.
If you believe in nominative determinism, it’s no surprise that Nolan Ryan Schanuel became a major league baseball players, though it would’ve been better if he were a pitcher. He has a great eye at the plate, but he might seriously lack home run power. Could end up a Casey Kotchman type without improvement, but for now he’s in a great lineup situation with Cron down and often batting in the leadoff spot. Not bad for someone who was drafted literally like 6 weeks ago.
The reality is that given his recent acclaim as a first-round draft pick at 11th overall and called by many the best pure hitter of the draft, you may have needed to claim him in 15-teamers since the college surface power numbers were video game-esque, but the exit velocity data doesn’t lie. Still, he has a great Contact% of 82% and thanks to Schanuel’s crazy-high Z-Swing%, he has an even better 19% CSW%. That’s better than Luis Arraez. So he’ll put the ball in play and could manage a rather empty .300/.400/.350 line, which is certainly good enough for those in deeper leagues and even moreso in points leagues.
Last week we had Emerson, now this, I swear these prospect promotions will continue foreverson. He probably could have benefitted from some more seasoning in the minors, as his strikeout rate is still high, with a 28% rate in the minors, but the power will play. He entered the year as the Yankees’ #4 prospect, and the 22-year-old made steady improvements to his power/speed game, as he hit .300 with 18 homers and 11 SB across Double-A and Triple-A. He reminds me a bit of Tyler O’Neill as someone who could hit the ball hard enough (and on the ground enough) to manage decent batting averages even if it cuts into the power. I doubt he’ll do much running with the Yankees as his 50/55 speed grade isn’t great, but with them in last place in the division, maybe they’ll give him the green light. He might seem like just a temporary guy, but if it clicks he could be a solid stream for now who down the road can turn into a Pereirennial all-star candidate.
Look, this one is obviously not about performance, it’s about the legal reality that with the allegations against him, he’s likely not playing again this season. If your league has free IL/restricted spots there’s no harm in keeping him there, but in all other leagues you need to accept the bitter pill that unless something major changes, he’s no longer worth the roster spot. This stinks.
When I said last year that Stanton was morphing into a slow Joey Gallo, I swear I didn’t mean that to also include Gallo’s post-peak power decline. While Stanton still lights up Statcast quite well, with a 100th percentilE MaxEV, he’s still a big step down from the past two years when he had a 56% and 52% HardHit%, respectively, a notable gap from his current 48% HardHit%.
While Statcast says he deserves better than his current .193 AVG with 18 homers on the year, don’t forget part of him being a Statcast darling is that it overrates him and the fact he has waterlogged bricks for feet. While his 26% K% is actually the best he’s had in years, leading me to believe he’s not necessarily washed up for 2024, he’s hitting just .071 this week and I still have a bad taste in my mouth from how his 2022 ended, so I’d rather grab a hot bat than remain Giancarlo Stagnant.
It’s always hard to quit these guys with big raw power, but even strong surface numbers can’t keep me warm from the icy chill of Cool Bat Luke. He’s hitting just .200 with two homers and four RBI in 30 AB over the past two weeks, to go with a 13/2 K/BB, which is a 41% K% over that span. Even with Franco on leave, the Rays have demonstrated they’re quite willing to mix and match and with Josh Lowe and even Harold Ramírez heating up, Raley is at risk at seeing a smaller piece of the playing time pie. If you need power/speed in the worst way you might want to hold in 15-team leagues, but I think he’s too dangerous to keep holding in 15-team points or roto leagues where batting average matters.
Some people may have taken notice of Haase since he was traded to the Guardians, who have struggled manning backstop all year. That said, Haase’s once-potent bat seems to have been a mirage, and he actually has the lowest xwOBA of all qualified hitters. So even if you think it’s metal to play in AL-only, two-catcher leagues, Don’t do Haase. Don’t do Haase, mate.
You may see that he’s been hot lately and think he can help you win, but that’s just a bunch of elehubris. He’s still striking out at a 40% clip, meaning that no, I don’t think his current .300+ batting average over the last couple of weeks will last. Especially being in a platoon, I think there are much smarter high-upside power prospect types to gamble on instead.
Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)