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Fantasy baseball buy & sell: Martin Perez should be owned everywhere

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Heath explores some trends in fantasy baseball.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

My only criteria for this is that my guys on the upswing (buys) not be greater than 60% owned. Sometimes I get close to that mark, but sometimes it is necessary—as is the case today with Martin Perez. As for the guys on the downswing, I don’t really fret over percentages. If someone isn’t performing, you can ill afford to delay some form of action—a trade, a drop, etc. So let’s see who to buy and who to sell, eh?

BUYS

C James McCann, White Sox (32% owned)

I can’t recommend Jonathan Lucroy in good conscience, so here we are. Let’s get McCann’s .436 BABIP out of the way. Yes, it’s going to normalize. No, he won’t bat .350 this year. However, it appears the change of scenery (and ballpark upgrade) have done McCann a world of good. So far he has career-high marks with a 7.1% walk rate, 39.7% hard contact rate, and a minuscule 12.1% soft contact rate. His 24.1% line drive rate is healthy, too. As for his plate discipline, McCann is disturbingly close to the league average in nearly every measure. That may not sound great, but for a catcher in a hitter’s ballpark, it’s golden. Statcast backs up the production, too. McCann is above the 75th percentile in hard hit rate, exit velocity, xBA, and xSLG. Given the horrid state of the catcher position, I don’t see why McCann can’t be a top-10 option the rest of the way. He’s already wrestling the lion’s share of at-bats from Welington Castillo. I happily benched Francisco Mejia for McCann in TGFBI (I know, a no-brainer).

2B/3B/OF David Fletcher, Angels (10% owned)

He’s frequently leading off for the Angels, which means he’s hitting ahead of one Mike Trout. He won’t offer much in the way of power, but he doesn’t walk or strike out much—which means he’ll be on base plenty. In fact, Fletcher is in the 97th percentile for xBA in 2019, and his 27.9 ft/sec sprint speed is in the 74th percentile. If you want an idea of his bat-to-ball skills, the MLB average for contact outside of the strike zone is a rate of 61.6%. Fletcher has an absurd 91.8% rate! He also has an absurd 1.5% swinging strike rate (average in 2019 is 11.0%). I love his positional flexibility and his “floor.” Expect contributions in batting average, runs, and stolen bases.

SP Martin Perez, Twins (57% owned)

You’re likely late to this party in any league of consequence. Perez’s last turn was a gem, as he totaled seven innings of shutout ball against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium (with nine strikeouts). What I see from Perez is the move from the Rangers ballpark to Minnesota...and a willingness to allow more fly balls (from 29.0% to 37.7%). With that has come far less hard contact (33.0% this year compared to 41.4% last year) and an improved strikeout rate (22.8% compared to a 14.4% career rate). The new thing to hang our proverbial hat on is a cutter, a pitch Perez introduced this year that he is throwing 34.8% of the time. This has led to an above average chase rate (33.6%) and career-high swinging strike rate (11.0%). On this cutter, opposing hitters have managed zero home runs, a .017 ISO, a 26.6% strikeout rate, and a .100 batting average. I traded Perez and Vince Velasquez to Joe Gentile in our Fake Teams and Friends league for Shane Bieber...and I think I was fleeced!

Also up: Jorge Polanco, Frankie Montas, Mitch Garver, Jorge Soler, Pablo Lopez, Hansel Robles, Jerad Eickhoff, Chris Martin

SELLS

SP Joe Musgrove, Pirates (66% owned)

Musgrove had a pair of good turns to begin the season, but since then it’s been a rocky affair. Just yesterday he was rocked for eight runs in three-plus innings by the Cardinals. Walks have been an issue, as the 8.1% rate is well above last year’s 4.7% mark. And for as bad as he’s been recently, it actually could have been worse. Opposing hitters have managed a .289 BABIP (average is .300) and a 2.6% HR/FB rate (career mark is 12.0%) against Musgrove so far. A few more of those fly balls could have easily been home runs. There’s such a need at quality starting pitching right now, so I’m not advocating a clear drop. But if you had a short bench, I could see how you might have to cut bait with Musgrove.

SP Yu Darvish, Rangers (72% owned)

Now this one is just sad. Darvish currently has career-high marks in HR/9 (1.96) and walk rate (19.3%!). Yes, you read correctly. Yu Darvish has a 19.3% walk rate. Tyler Chatwood is extremely proud. Darvish is actually generating more ground balls than ever before, but he’s not finding the zone much. His 52.6% first strike rate is the fourth-worst mark in the MLB, for reference. I think it’s time for the therapeutic drop, ladies and gentlemen.

1B/2B/3B Travis Shaw, Brewers (55% owned)

Shaw was in this space two weeks ago, but this time I need to be more emphatic. In 12-team leagues he’s a clear cut. Drop him right now for any semblance of upside (or dependability). In 15-team leagues, he might be someone you hold onto given a lack of other available options. He’s definitely someone I’d be attempting to trade, if anyone was willing to bite on such an offer. Shaw’s 31.3% strikeout rate is intolerable, and it is supported by a career-high 14.3% swinging strike rate. Shaw simply isn’t making enough contact right now, and here’s this:

Shaw was my most common thread in 2019. I drafted him everywhere. I thought he was a free square. I’m holding on in TGFBI for now, but in shallower formats I am cutting bait.

What about you all? Who are you buying and selling?