Welcome back for another session of buy and sell. So far we’re doing pretty well with the recommendations and hope you’ve been able to capitalize. It’s definitely getting to be “do or die” time as well. Executing a good trade could potentially save your season or maybe even put you over the top. Let’s try to identify some guys that might be worth targeting or shipping away.
One of the great late bloomers. An oft-injured guy that somehow acquired the skill of health later in his career. One of the best and most consistent hitters of the last 3-4 years. He’s off to a pretty cool start with a .211 .313 & .437 slash line (average, OBP, and SLUG). So is the big guy finally done at the tender age of 37 years and 10 months? I’m not as confident as I normally am, but I don’t think so. I would buy.
An easy thing to point at is Cruz’s .233 BABIP, which is about 50 points off of his career average. His homer to fly ball rate is only about 2 points lower than his career, BUT it’s 9 points lower than his 3 year average in Seattle. He’s 4th in Statcast’s average exit velocity at 94.4 MPH. He’s behind only Aaron Judge, Joey Gallo, and J.D. Martinez. Fangraphs backs that up suggesting he hits the ball hard 36.9% of the time. All of this pretty much suggests that he’s been unlucky. Are there any scary factors? Well, he’s hitting 5% more grounders than he’s ever hit in the past (45.9%) and his line drive rate is down as a result. It is worth mentioning that this rate has improved over the last few weeks. He’s walking less than he did last year (6.3%)and less than you’d love for someone of his power, but he’s also striking out a bit less as well (19.4%). His plate discipline numbers also suggest that he’s the same guy he’s always been. He swings at about his career averages both in and out of the zone and he’s actually making more contact than he used to on pitches in the zone. His overall whiff rate is up very slightly, but it’s less than a full percent so I wouldn’t sweat it.
Overall, I would target Cruz. He has an impeccable track record over the last 5 years. There’s a chance he’s old and headed on the Jose Bautista trajectory. That said, he’s still killing the ball and the metrics make him look like he’s been unlucky. There’s a decent chance that he’s going to be underrated by his owner do to his age and DH status. The only leagues where the owner was willing to sell him cheap to me were very shallow points leagues where guys like his teammate, Kyle Seager were on waivers. I’m pretty sure you can turn a sexy waiver claim into Nelson Cruz at this point. Something like Reynaldo Lopez or Mike Soroka might legitimately get it done. I think I’d do either of those.
This one is more of an eye argument than anything. The “Duff Man” has been pretty darn bad this year. He burnt me last year when I thought he was going to make the leap to a legit ace rather than regressing to more of a top 50 type. This year, his performance has led him to now be owned in under 30% of ESPN leagues.
So why do I think Duffy is going to turn it around? Honestly, it’s not a statistical argument at all. Nothing in his statistics whether advanced or otherwise suggest that he’s been unlucky. I did see him pitch on Thursday. His slider looked how it did two years ago when he pitched like an ace. The radar gun was also popping like it did back then. His fastball was back up to 94 MPH, which is a vast improvement on the 91 he was grooving earlier in the season. His team is bad but the park and bullpen are good.
I would definitely pick Duffy up off waivers. I would also buy low on him and I think it will be really cheap. Some of his owners might have hoped for this big start for a chance to sell. Velocity gainers are great speculations in fantasy. This is what turned me onto Aaron Nola and Alex Wood last year. Hopefully we get just as lucky with Duffy. You might be able to trade spare parts for this guy and hopefully he can return to top 20 production but even last year’s level of production would be acceptable.
Scooter Gennett –
I like Scooter. I picked him up off waivers in one of my more shallow leagues for this past week. He has been absolutely enfuego. So much so that he is now a top 5 second baseman in many formats.
Gennett is solid and I definitely don’t mind rostering him, but there’s a chance you might be able to deal him if you happen to have him as a backup or middle infielder. Maybe the Cano, Gordon, LeMahieu, or DeJong owners need some help. I don’t think there will be a better time than now given his recent hot streak. He just finished up a nice week where he had 12 hits, 3 homers, 6 runs, and 10 RBI. That’s a monster week. He’s been on a bit of a tear for almost a month now but a lot of this is powered by his home park and a recent trip to Coors Field. The Fangraphs numbers look pretty good with a 39% hard hit rate, 25% line drive rate, and 37% fly ball rate. All of that is beautiful, but it’s worth pointing out that is xwOBA is almost .050 points lower than what he’s had so far. I also think he is going to be a streak machine much like his teammates Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler. I don’t think he’s actually a top 5-8 second baseman though he does have a decent shot at being top 12ish.
Given the fact that many owners have lost second basemen, I think it’s worth trying to sell high on Gennett. The hot finish last year and solid start might be enough to get a decent return. It’s impossible to predict the end of a hot streak as well, but I wouldn’t be shocked if heading into’ Arizona’s humidor slows him down. Conceivably, you might have other options if you have Gennett as he was not universally owned in many leagues due to a slow start. See what you can get. Depending on the league, it might be better than you think.
This is another guy I like and own in many leagues but could potentially be heading for disaster. He’s 100% worth picking up if he’s not owned but I think he’s worth shopping, particularly in deeper roto and category formats.
Smith is a strikeout whore’s dream with a 31.7% K rate. He was a former Yankee prospect, which also makes me want to be a homer, but the 12.2% walk rate makes me want to lose my lunch. This is what reminds me of Robbie Ray. Like Ray, he also gets hit pretty hard with a 37% clip. He’s pretty nasty if you watch him as well with a 93.2 MPH fastball and a pretty nice slider. The 11.8% whiff rate doesn’t really support the overall K rate either. The Ks are for real but seem a bit inflated to me. He’s also on the Marlins who have a great park but an awful lineup, so I wouldn’t expect too many wins. There’s a small amount of BABIP luck going on as it’s about 30 points below what we would expect.
Overall, I think Smith is pretty good. He could even get lucky and have the dream season that Robbie Ray had last year, but it would take a good bit of luck. I think there’s a chance that he will be overrated in deep leagues because of the strikeout potential and how young he is. Especially in dynasty leagues, I would throw out some feelers to see what might be possible I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get top 50 SP value for him and I’m not sold that he’s that valuable yet. If you can’t get what you want then I would hold, but it’s definitely worth seeing if the youth sheen and whiffs make him attractive to your league mates.
Best of luck buying and selling and thanks as always for reading!