This week’s most added player, Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton (52.6% owned; +34.6% over the past week), needs no introduction to those of you familiar with the prospecting circles. Well, I guess I should clarify and say prospect circles since we can leave the prospecting to his agent(s) and entourage. The bottom line is that Buxton has been widely considered to be one of the best (if not the best) young talents in baseball for the last several years. While rising up the minor league ranks, he’s shown the abilities to hit for average and power, field his position well, consistently throw runners out when they attempt to take an extra base, and run really, really fast. That’s basically just a long-winded way of saying that he’s a five tool player. Unfortunately for Buxton and his fantasy owners, these tools haven’t led to much on-field production during his time in MLB thus far. At least early on, that is. From his MLB debut on June 14th of last season through August 5th of this season, Buxton managed just a .199/.248/.319 triple slash line through his first 109 MLB games (356 PA) with 3 homers and 11 steals along the way. His 34.8% K% over that span showed that the 22-year-old wasn’t quite able to adjust to big league pitching just yet. Since being sent down to the minors last month and reemerging in the majors on September 1st, Buxton has looked like a different player. In 10 games (40 PA), he’s produced a .405/.436/.919 line with 12 runs, 5 homers, and 13 RBI over that span. He’s managed to cut his K-rate down to 27.5% as well. A large part of this newfound success (especially the power) can most likely be attributed to a leg kick that he reintroduced into his plate approach after abandoning it last season. However, despite the recent surge in production, Buxton has actually been as undisciplined at the plate as ever, in some regards. His 41.7% O-Swing% and 17.3% SwStr% over the last 10 games are up significantly from his previous 31.6% and 14.2% marks in his MLB career. He’s clearly being much more aggressive at the plate during this recent stint, which is great when the ball is consistently flying out of the park, but could spell trouble when his 45.5% HR/FB and .476 BABIP come back down to Earth. Buxton reminds me quite a bit of another young, toolsy outfielder with a similar build, skillset, and approach by the name of B.J. (though you might know him as Melvin) Upton – fantastic speed, solid pop, and a few too many Ks. I’m referring to the Rays version of Upton, of course, who topped 30 steals five times (including 40+ three times) and smashed 20+ homers on three different occasions while in Tampa. His shaky plate discipline generally kept his batting average just south of .250, but his power/speed combination was very impressive. The back of Buxton’s baseball card could look very similar to that of the Tampa version of Upton over the next few years. Dynasty leaguers – giddy up! Oh yeah, he should be a solid asset in redraft leagues over the next few weeks too as pitchers attempt to adjust to Buxton’s new approach.
Now that that run-on paragraph is finished, here are a couple of quick takes on players who have been among the most added/dropped in fantasy leagues over the past week:
Clay Buchholz: 11.6% owned; +7.0%
Player-wise, Buchholz is like the bizarro version of the San Francisco Giants – he’s good in the odd years and terrible in the even ones. Over the last few weeks though, he must’ve lost track of the year. In six appearances (including 3 starts) between August 18th and September 6th, Buchholz allowed just 5 earned runs over 22.0 innings (2.05 ERA) while striking out 19 hitters to just 4 walks. His fastball/cutter/curve/change combo resulted in an impressive 11.3% SwStr% over that span as well. In his most recent start in Toronto this past Sunday, however, even year Buchholz reared his ugly head as he allowed 6 earned runs (including 2 homers and 4 walks) in just 3 innings of work. In the upcoming weeks, he’s scheduled to pitch at home against the Yankees followed by road outings against the Orioles and against those same Yankees once again. Tough lineups, hitters’ parks. Even year Buchholz is best left on the wire. TRASH.
Yasmany Tomas: 51.4% owned; -7.0%
Here’s a 25-year-old slugger who’s closing in on 30 homers, plays half of his games in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball, is 3B and OF eligible, plays everyday, and has improved on his walk and strikeout rates from his rookie season. So of course he’s being dropped. Well, you know what they say. A bird in the hand… means you’re probably on redtube. Wait, what? What I meant to say was grab Tomas if you’re fortunate enough to be in one of those leagues where he was inexplicably cut loose. TREASURE.