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Fantasy Baseball Buy & Sell: Who can you trust in the second half?

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Heath, Mark, and Joe engage in some buy and sell fun with an eye towards the second half. Five buys, five sells.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

A couple of us talked up some of the guys we are into and not into for the rest of the fantasy baseball season. May your second halves be more fruitful than your first, especially if your pitching is as bad as all of mine...

BUY

2B/3B/OF Jeff McNeil, Mets (76% owned)

I’ll confess to mostly ignoring batting average on draft day, except to avoid the really massive sinkhole types. Of course, that strategy blows up in your face when Joey Gallo is hitting .275 at the break. Anyway, McNeil is one of five guys slashing at least .300/.400/.500 right now. He is joined by Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich, Mike Trout, and Juan Soto. Pretty flipping amazing company to be in, eh? McNeil is still a bit underrated and that infield eligibility sure is nice. He plays all over the diamond for my TGFBI squad. I’d be lost without him. (Heath Capps)

C James McCann, White Sox (64% owned)

McCann is saving my proverbial bacon at backstop in multiple leagues, TGFBI chief among them. I added him during his first hot streak, but I kept him around because of the improving skill set. McCann was an afterthought in drafts, mostly due to a perceived timeshare with Beef Castillo to begin the year. However, an altered approach at the plate has paid dividends. McCann is going to the opposite field 34.3% of the time, a marked change from his 28.7% career average and the highest mark of his career (excluding a nine-game sample in 2014). The result has been a .316 batting average and a healthy .316/.371/.502 slash line. His .408 BABIP will undoubtedly come down, but McCann has a solid .312 career BABIP and should be a plus in the BA department for the rest of the year. One last thing I will mention: McCann’s 70.1% zone swing rate is a large leap from last year’s 64.8% rate, which further illuminates a crystallization of his skill set. He may not crank 25 homers with this oppo approach, but he should be a 15+ sort of guy with a plus batting average. He is currently the No. 7 catcher in the fake game. I’d take him over Wilson Ramos, Yadier Molina, and Buster Posey—all of whom have higher ownership percentages. (Heath Capps)

C Danny Jansen, Blue Jays (50% owned)

Joe jotted Jansen’s name into our shared google doc, so I’m including him here. I don’t know Joe’s reasoning, but this is the same guy that pegged Jed Lowrie two years ago and who is contending in Fake Teams and Friends with his 100% sleeper draft (Austin Meadows was his Round 1 pick, for instance). Jansen is the No. 13 hitter in the fake game over the last two weeks, nestled between some guys named Mike Trout and Ronald Acuna Jr. Over that time he has a .353 average and five dingers. If you’re hurting at catcher, you can’t afford to wait. Jansen was likely dropped in your league after a rough start, but it appears the proverbial corner has been turned. (Joe Gentile)

2B Rougned Odor, Rangers (41% owned)

The last few years Rougned has “two seasons.” There is a terrible season and a great season. Two years ago he started strong and tanked after the All-Star break. Last year he did this, too. Before the All-Star Break: .239 BA, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 32 R. After the All-Star Break: .266 BA, 12 HR, 39 RBI, 44 R. This year he has a .193 BA, 13 HR, 47 RBI and 40 R. His home run total looks high, but so does everyone’s this year. Expect Odor to have a strong two-month stretch. (Mark Abell)

OF Jose Martinez, Cardinals (25% owned)

Each of the last two years, Jose Martinez has been in the top five in RBIs after the All-Star Break. Now is the time to trade for him and play him. I think he has 12 homers and 40 RBIs in the second half of 2019. (Mark Abell)

A few other names to consider “buying” are: Chance Sisco, Matt Olson, Paul Goldschmidt, Keston Hiura, Yandy Diaz, Dansby Swanson, Jorge Soler, Jackie Bradley Jr., Austin Meadows, Jon Gray, John Means, and Joe Jimenez.

SELL

Luis Castillo, Reds (89% owned)

I’m not saying he will bottom out, but his MLB ERA average before this year was 3.70 (2.29 this year), his BABIP was .260 (.224 this year), and his K/9 was 9.2 (10.53 this year). Most importantly, he is already 66% of the way towards a career-high in innings pitched. I see some second half regression coming his way, something likely in the low 4.00 ERA area. (Mark Abell)

1B/2B Daniel Murphy, Rockies (89% owned)

Murphy as been a gigantic bust this year, especially for those who drafted him expectantly in Rounds 5 or 6. It seems even the thin air of Colorado isn’t enough to keep the 34-year-old healthy and contributing. After making loads of hard contact in his uber-productive 2016-2017 seasons, Murphy is toting marks of 26.1% and 31.7% in 2018-2019. Baseball Savant isn’t kind either, as Murphy ranks 16th percentile or worse in exit velocity, hard hit rate, xwOBA, xBA, and xSLG. Blame injuries or older age all you want—but if I were a Murphy owner I’d be hopping off of this train if I still could. (Heath Capps)

2B/3B Yoan Moncada, White Sox (86% owned)

Potential injuries are a concern, plus a horrible second half stretch last year where he had five homers, 20 RBIs, and a .231 batting average. Oh and he has a .392 BABIP right now. That has me terrified. (Mark Abell)

1B/2B/3B Matt Carpenter, Cardinals (79% owned)

This may seem like low-hanging fruit to some, but I still have some faith in Matt Carpenter’s ability to rebound in the second half. Like Murphy, Carpenter is “all blue” if you travel to his Statcast page. I think this depends on where you are in your league. If Carpenter was cut and you need to take a chance on some upside, the guy who slugged 36 homers last year is a worthy add. If you’re like most of us though, Carp is relegated to bench fodder at the very least. I’m holding out hope, but it is bleak right now. (Heath Capps)

SP Nick Pivetta, Phillies (30% owned)

Unsure why this guy is still so owned. Pivetta is the fantasy incarnation of the guy who is long on potential that is gonna get you fired. I submit to you that his 2019 season is his worst on record. The glimmer of hope that we enjoyed following his demotion has completely waned. A career-low 19.1% strikeout rate is uninspiring, as is a career-high 43.7% hard contact rate allowed to opposing hitters. The low K-rate is backed by a below average 9.8% swinging strike rate. And Pivetta’s contact numbers allowed are right at the MLB average this year, but when he does allow contact he is getting hammered. His 11.1% barrel rate allowed is ranked inside the bottom 9% of the league, as are all other relevant marks (.291 xBA, .509 xSLG, .372 xwOBA, and .436 xWOBACON). We are watching his development play out at the MLB level, and so far it has been a mixed bag. I hope he figures it out, but until you see a more consistent stretch I don’t think you can start him. (Heath Capps)

A few other names to consider “selling” are: Buster Posey, Josh Phegley, Christian Vazquez, Joey Votto, Jose Ramirez, Corey Seager, Fernando Tatis Jr., Lorenzo Cain, Nicholas Castellanos, and all Red Sox closers (they should trade for one).

That’s it for buy and sell from us. Good luck in your second halves, ladies and gents!