Hitters Available Under 40%/Cuttable at 60%+ #2

One issue I’ve had with pick up articles in the past is that so few ever recommend anyone to cut so which is arguably tougher than recommending who to pick. Sure, a player in question should probably be on a roster, but should it be your roster? I have a group of interesting free agents but also a player at each of those positions who you can consider cutting as well.

This article is designed mostly for 10- and 12-team leagues as a lot of these guys aren’t available in 15+ teamers and the recommended cuts are likely worth giving a bit more time to in deeper formats as well. I’m using ESPN’s roster rate for guidance.

Here are the picks for volume 2:

Available Under 40% | Cuttable at 60%+

  • C Max Stassi – 23% | Will Smith – 78% (the cut recommendations at this position are for 1-C formats)

Stassi is looking like this year’s iteration of Christian Vázquez or Robert Pérez with 4 HR in 25 PA already. There was some prospect heat on Stassi many moons ago for the 29-year old. He’s now in a platoon with Jason Castro, though it’s starting to shape up as a 50/50 as opposed to being pitcher hand-based. This rate of power will obviously slow down, but it’s earning him some extra playing time and makes him worth a look if you need a catcher. Also consider Austin Nola (5%) as he’s now catcher-eligible and the starter in Seattle with Tom Murphy nursing a foot injury.

Smith had an excellent start to his MLB career last year with a 1.072 OPS through 37 games with 13 HR in 129 PA. He closed on a down note with a .582 OPS in September and those struggles have joined him in 2020 thus far with a .182/.345/.364 line and 1 HR in 29 PA this year. This was originally slated to be more of a 70/30 split, but it’s trending at a 55/45 right now with Austin Barnes starting six games to Smith’s seven.

Aguilar’s 2018 breakout (35 HR, 108 RBI, 134 wRC+) felt pretty legitimate and made him a relatively high pick in 2019 only to turn out to be one of the bigger disappointments of the season. He hit just 12 HR with an 88 wRC+ in 369 PA. There was a tinge of life in his bat after being dealt to Tampa Bay, but he was a draft afterthought (A drafterthought? No? OK… no.) despite securing a full-time role after signing with the Marlins. He’s not exactly tearing the cover off the ball just yet (they’ve only played seven games), but he does have 3 HR and a 117 wRC+ in 28 PA. He was very close to his 4th on Thursday night, too, but had to settle for a warning track sac fly.

Yes, I’m putting Encarnacion as the 1B drop again as he’s only fallen 7 points in roster rate since last week and is now dealing with a shoulder issue. He’s down to a 59 wRC+ with just 1 HR. The depth of the position makes him easier to let go of in shallower formats as there are other guys like Daniel Murphy (54%), Howie Kendrick (42%), and Mitch Moreland (8%) to consider if Aguilar doesn’t do it for you. Murphy and Kendrick don’t fit this article, as they’re north of 40%, but check your waiver wires to make sure they aren’t available in your league.

Second base wasn’t great for this exercise this week and I didn’t want to force it by recommending you cut someone I don’t truly believe is that cuttable. Wendle doesn’t play every day, but he’s regularly in the lineup against righties and they Rays have a 7-game slate with just one lefty on it next week. If you need to replace the batting average lost to the Ozzie Albies and Nick Madrigal injuries, he could be your guy, especially as David Fletcher (96%), Donovan Solano (74%), and Hanser Alberto (70%) have seen their roster rates surge.

I considered putting my guy Luis Arraez (70%) as the drop, but his poor .216/.286/.243 line feels entirely BABIP-related with just a .229 mark. He’s still not striking out (7%) and takes his fair share of walks (10%). He’s played all but two games for the Twins so they haven’t lost confidence in him and I don’t want to cut piece of this excellent lineup.

Frazier is playing every day for the Rangers, primarily at 1B with a couple games at 3B, too. He’s hitting a cool .289/.372/.553 with 2 HR and 1 SB in 43 PA. He quietly had a solid .251 AVG/21 HR season last year after back-to-back .213 AVGs in 2017-18. He’s striking out at a career-low 16% clip which is likely just early season noise, but if there’s any legitimacy to it some of the AVG gains could stick.

Castro has been fine at .333/.353/.455 after a 4-for-5 game on July 30th so he’s certainly not a must cut or anything, but if you’re in a situation where you need Frazier’s pop more than Castro’s AVG, this is a reasonable swap. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (97%) was my recommendation in this spot last week and I could still see myself cutting him in a shallow league in the right case.

Garcia is making tons of contact (career-best 9% K rate) and it’s paying early dividends with a .326/.383/.558 line that includes 3 HR, 8 RBI, and 6 R. His playing time is locked in, too. He started as the team’s 2B before shifting to SS to fill in for the injured Tim Anderson. Even when Anderson returns, Garcia will just be the 2B again after Nick Madrigal’s injury that will have him shelved for several weeks. Garcia quietly scored 93 runs last year as the team’s primary leadoff man and while he’s now in the bottom third of their lineup, it’s good enough to keep him scoring runs even down there, especially if he’s hitting anywhere near this well. He’s eligible at SS, 2B, and OF.

Rosario’s strong second half made him an interesting pick in drafts this year as a speed option with a little pop, but I think his 66% success rate on the bases was a bit overlooked. He’s off to a slow start at .244/.244/.366 with 0 SB attempts. His .257 BABIP will go up and his line will improve, but will it improve enough that you’ll really miss it instead of just rostering someone like Garcia who’s already producing in a really good lineup? I say no.

What am I missing here? Why is he at just 40% roster rate in shallower leagues? He’s off to a fantastic start (.297/.409/.622, 3 HR, 1 SB) and part of a strong lineup (114 wRC+ for CHC). I guess it’s his lineup spot (9th) and platoon situation (only 1 start v. the 4 lefties they’ve faced), but I’m betting on the talent here. He cut his strikeout rate to a manageable 25% last year and it’s down a little more this year at 23% while he’s always taken his walks with a 12% career mark that is sitting at 16% so far this year. I’m a bit of a Happ homer, but I still think he’s worthy of more than a 40% roster rate.

Benintendi was last week’s OF drop, but he’s only fallen seven points in roster rate. He’s in a clear platoon and thus has played just twice since last week’s recommended cut. His line has dipped to .069/.289/.103 with 1 RBI, 2 R, and 1 SB in 2 tries.

The D’Backs offense couldn’t get out of their own way until a series against Houston jumpstarted them. They were sitting dead last in the league with a 53 wRC+ on Monday, but 19 runs in the last two days have jumped them to 26th with an 82 wRC+. Peralta was instrumental in that Astros series, going 5-for-10 with 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R, and 3 BB in 13 PA. When healthy, he’s a remarkable hitter and one of the more underrated fantasy assets we’ve had in recent years.

This one stings as Mercado was one of my guys coming into the season, but he’s off to a brutal start and we have to make quicker moves this season. He’s hitting just .132/.175/.132 yielding a comical -16 wRC+ thanks in part to a 28% K rate and .185 BABIP. Cleveland is sticking by him as he’s still playing every day, but I understand that fantasy players can’t necessarily practice the same patience when a lot of shallow formats have several rosterable OF options on the wire. I’d keep him watch listed and consider re-acquiring him if and when things turns as I still see a 20 HR/20 SB-type bat (over a full season) and this feels like an ugly cold streak more than a degradation of skills.

We hoped you liked reading Hitters Available Under 40%/Cuttable at 60%+ #2 by Paul Sporer!

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Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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Jackie T.
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Member
Jackie T.

I have Happ and Lowe platooning at 2B in my Yahoo league after ignoring the position for most of the draft in a 10-team, shallower league. I felt like I needed to make a big move to address the position coming into the season, but I might just continue to platoon them there and ride it out. The fact they each have 3-position eligibility helps. Thoughts?

ksweber13
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ksweber13

I think you ride it out. Both are playing very well right now, hit the ball hard, and have cut down their K rates pretty substantially. We’re still in small sample sizes, but things look promising.

Jackie T.
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Member
Jackie T.

I think plate discipline metrics are some of the first to stabilize.