Well, here we go again.
It was around this time last year that I wrote about Byron Buxton and how he was showing his full potential for Fantasy owners finally. The former No. 1 prospect was recalled from Triple-A at the end of last August, and he put together a nice seven-game stretch that put the brakes on a lot of the Byron Bust-on talk.
Moreso, the four doubles, four homers and 10 RBIs over the course of those seven games when the piece was published had Fantasy owners excited, thinking that Buxton may have finally reached his other-worldly potential. Remember, there was talk about Buxton being the best hitter to come along since Mike Trout.
But so far, up to that point, it was all potential.
Buxton, of course, had a buzz about him going into draft season this year after his strong finish last year, as he was the 49th outfielder off the boards and the 165th player overall, according to Fantasy Pros ADP.
But, like so many times before, Buxton disappointed Fantasy owners, as he hit .216 with 87 strikeouts in the first half of the season. It was looking more and more like Buxton was a Quad-A player, and perhaps his ceiling was overhyped. Eno Sarris, of FanGraphs, has said that his ultimate ceiling might resemble someone like Cameron Maybin, which is fine, but it’s a total bust of a career for a two-time No. 1 prospect.
But once again, Buxton is tugging at the heart strings, as he’s once again putting together an eye-opening stretch of play. Since the All-Star Game, Buxton has put together his best stretch of baseball to date in his still young career.
In 22 games, Buxton has a .338 average, .270 ISO, .986 OPS, six steals, four homers, 16 runs and 13 RBIs in 85 plate appearances. Buxton also lowered his strikeout rate to 25.9 percent in the second half.
Do you hear that? There’s the Buxton hype (hope?) coming for us once again.
But is it believable? Buxton does have an unsustainable .405 wOBA and a .420 BABIP during that time, but with inflated numbers over a small period of time, you expect to see that. The most encouraging part of Buxton’s second-half surge is the contact he’s making. Not only has he upped his medium and hard contact rate, but he’s dramatically lowered his soft contact rate from the first half of the season. Buxton’s soft contact rate is at 8.8 percent, which to put into context, would lead all of baseball if it were his rate over the course of the season.
What’s more encouraging than the stretch that Buxton had last year, is that in September and October last season, while he was making better contact, Buxton wasn’t running. In fact, over the 29 games in September and October, Buxton had just one steal. This year, since the All-Star break, Buxton has six steals in as many attempts.
After the start of the season that he had, Buxton was on his way to being dropped in dynasty and keeper leagues. Now, he’s shown enough to give owners pause that he might finally be figuring things out at the major league level. Now’s a good buying opportunity in a long-term league if the owner isn’t buying it. He won’t be had for pennies anymore, but he won’t cost his price that he had two years ago, either.
In seasonal leagues, Buxton is a must-own option in Roto leagues in which you start five outfielders.
In 11 major league games so far, Rhys Hoskins as been pretty damn impressive. It’s not just the power, which we knew would translate over from Triple-A the same way that it did from Double-A. But what’s been even more impressive is that Hoskins has a higher walk rate than he does a strikeout rate with a 17 and 14.9 percent rate, respectively. Now, Hoskins feasted on some tasty matchups last week, but he’s looking like a player that’s going to be a major contributor not just the rest of the season, but next year and beyond, as well.
If you’re in an OBP league, Hoskins adds extra value in a Matt Carpenter way.
Quick, name that player:
Player A: .339/.421/.652, 34 homers, 92 RBIs, 30 steals
Player B: .325/.337/.538, 20 homers, 73 RBIs, 37 steals
Player A is Andruw Jones in his 19-year-old season in the minors in 1996. Player B is Ronald Acuna in his 19-year-old season in 2017. Acuna shot up the prospect boards this year, and he’s doing nothing to show that the hype around him isn’t real.
There’s talk that the Braves could call up Acuna this year after the torrid pace he’s on at Triple-A this year, but I’d bet against it. However, if you’re in any type of keeper league or dynasty league, Acuna is THE prospect to own. In my personal Top 5, it’s Acuna, Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers, Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Victor Robles.
If it takes an overpay, pay it. And, if by some miracle he does get called up this year, he’s an instant add.
Room For Rosario?
At the All-Star break, the big talk around baseball was whether or not the Mets would ever call up top prospect Amed Rosario. Perhaps we should have been focusing on another Rosario, as Eddie Rosario for the Twins has been a man possessed since the mid-summer classic.
Rosario has been hitting .328 with seven homers and 25 RBIs in the second half of the season. For his career, it’s come out of nowhere, but he was hitting .287 in the first half of the season, too. His .338 BABIP on the season isn’t unsustainable, so as the calendar prepares to turn to September, we have no choice but to buy in to what he’s doing. Rosario needs to be owned in Roto leagues in which you start five outfielders, and the case could be made in shallower leagues if you need help with batting average.