Nearly a month into the season and fantasy managers are starting to get a feel for their rosters. Where are their strengths? Where are their weaknesses? While we can ideally fill those gaps on the waiver wire, that’s not always possible. Trading is a big part of the game, and we obviously all want to find some bargains. Who are some buy low hitters that we can target, potentially at a discount? Here are five players worth considering.
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Five Buy Low Hitters
MJ Melendez – Kansas City Royals
Melendez’s catcher eligibility can’t be ignored, especially as he spends time at other positions. That means it’s going to be relatively hard to buy low on him. That said, if the opportunity presents itself it’s one that you should consider.
Entering Monday Melendez was hitting .178 with 2 HR over 85 PA. The big concern has to be the excessive swing and miss, with a 19.2% SwStr%. It’s interesting as it doesn’t appear like opposing pitchers have changed their approach against him. Instead, it’s likely that Melendez is simply just off to a slow start. Just look at the Whiff%, by pitch type, between 2022 and 2023:
Considering his 11.4% SwStr% in 460 AB a year ago, the numbers don’t seem believable. He’ll never be a .300 hitter, but is .250 impossible? Considering a 96.2 average Exit Velocity, if he was simply making more contact the numbers would explode. That will come, and likely soon, once he’s healthy.
Spencer Torkelson – Detroit Tigers
Once considered a top prospect, Torkelson continues to stumble in the Majors. In 82 PA entering Monday, he’s hitting .216 with 2 HR and 10 RBI. While it would be easy to simply write him off as a bust, the underlying metrics continue to show promise:
- SwStr% – 10.3%
- Average Exit Velocity – 90.6 mph
He’s not drawing enough walks (6.1%), but that’s a minor nitpick. The bigger issue has been his performance against four-seam fastballs. Entering Monday he was hitting .172 against the pitch. Does anyone believe that he made a name for himself, but is unable to hit a fastball?
As long as he continues to get an opportunity, it’s easy to envision him figuring things out. The fact that he struggled last season also may make it easier to pry him away, but at some point, things should click. When that happens you will reap the benefits. Buy low now, before it is too late.
Jurickson Profar – Colorado Rockies
Profar signed late in the offseason, so maybe it shouldn’t be a complete surprise that he’s gotten off to a slow start. Over 88 PA he was hitting .197 with 2 HR and 0 SB. With the move to Colorado, you would’ve expected much better numbers, but a .245 BABIP isn’t helping.
Thus far he hasn’t struggled with swinging for the fences (38.2% fly ball rate). He also hasn’t been popping the ball up (4.8% IFFB%). All the while he has continued to show a solid approach (9.8% SwStr%, 30.3% O-Swing%).
In other words, the unlucky BABIP and increased strikeout rate (25.0%) should correct themselves in time. While he’s never going to be a slugger, he had 53 extra-base hits in 2022 and that should indicate a little bit of a surge in his new home ballpark. A better average with some power? If someone is frustrated by the slow start see what you can do to buy low.
Josh Naylor – Cleveland Guardians
There were some high hopes for Naylor entering the season, but entering Monday the results haven’t been there. Over 75 PA he was hitting .185 with 2 HR and 9 RBI. Even worse, the 2 HR represented all of his extra-base hits.
It would be easy to grow frustrated. The problem appears to be that he’s grown a little too home-run happy. His fly ball rate has jumped from 33.7% in ’22 to 47.3% this season. It’s a very small sample size, so it’s too early to assume that the trend will continue.
As long as he can reverse that, the other numbers look strong. Naylor has shown his typical strong approach, with an 8.7% SwStr% and 37.6% O-Swing%. His two home runs have also averaged 418 feet, so when he hits them there is no question.
An adjustment will likely come, so if you can get Naylor on the cheap now is the time to buy.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – Arizona Diamondbacks
Gurriel was on many buy-low lists prior to the season. Should a slow start now dissuade us? He hasn’t been completely awful, though no one is going to get excited about .263 with 1 HR over 83 PA. The thing is, the skills that put him on preseason watch lists continue to be there:
- Average Exit Velocity – 90.7 mph
- SwStr% – 8.2%
- Extra Base Hits – 5 doubles + 1 triple
There’s an awful lot to like and we’d expect the power and average to continue to improve. If someone isn’t satisfied, kick the tires and see if you can get him on the cheap.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Savant