Selling the Stock on These Hot MLB Teams and Players

Brandon ScottJuly 7, 2022

Selling the Stock on These Hot MLB Teams and Players

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    David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Sometimes, you just can't trust your eyes.

    If they tell you the Marlins might be good or that Dansby Swanson could be a fringe-MVP candidate, then it's probably time to wipe them and take another look.

    That's the goal here.

    There are a handful of teams and players performing beyond their expectations.

    Similar to analyzing struggling MLB players expected to bounce back, here we sell stock on players and teams expected to regress.

Miami Marlins

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    The Marlins entered Wednesday night's action on a six-game winning streak, but the only good team they played in that span was the St. Louis Cardinals.

    It was June 29, the last of a three-game series in which St. Louis had won the previous two, when Avisail Garcia hit a go-ahead two-run homer with the Marlins down to their final out.

    Since then, Miami swept the Washington Nationals in a four-game series and won Tuesday against the lowly Los Angeles Angels before their win streak was snapped by Shohei Ohtani and Co. on Wednesday.

    The Marlins, who now hold a 39-41, are 12-1 against the Nationals this season.

    Let's see what happens this weekend after Miami's four-game series against the division-leading New York Mets, who hold a 5-2 record over the Marlins this season. With a combined 27 games to go vs. the Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta...Miami might have just hit the peak of its season.

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

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    Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    At 39 years old, Cabrera is making a solid All-Star case for himself this season. He's hitting .308 with a .719 OPS.

    More recently, Cabrera is slashing .391/.429/.391 over his past seven games. After a rough first month to the season, the future Hall of Famer is looking like one of the better hitters in baseball.

    He's doing it without that trademark power, though.

    MLB.com's Jason Beck appropriately characterized Cabrera at the plate recently as a "chess player surveying his board" rather than "a slugger staring down his opponent."

    Cabrera, who's hit 30 home runs or more in 10 of his 20 MLB seasons, has just three home runs this year. His slugging percentage over the past two seasons is the lowest it's ever been in his career.

    Count on Cabrera to continue putting up quality, professional at-bats, but nothing says "sell the stock" like a declining 39-year-old power hitter that is slugging .372.

Chicago Cubs

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    AP Photo/Morry Gash

    The Cubs have at least hit the ball well lately after struggling earlier in the season. They ranked 21st in OPS and 27th in batting average for the month of May.

    But in June, only the Toronto Blue Jays and crosstown Chicago White Sox had a better batting average. The Cubs' OPS was eighth in baseball last month.

    Then on Wednesday, they beat Brewers closer Josh Hader with two outs in the top of the ninth to steal a 2-1 victory.

    If you're buying stock on long term possibilities for the Cubs, whose farm system B/R ranked 10th at the season's quarter mark, then by all means.

    Just don't do it expecting their hot offense to mean much in the near future.

    This is still one of the five-worst teams in the NL by run-differential. Only the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals have worse records. Furthermore, star catcher Willson Contreras is nursing a hamstring injury.

    The expectation is that some combination of Contreras, Michael Givens and Ian Happ are dealt away as the Cubs become sellers toward the trade deadline.

    Kyle Hendricks was placed on the 15-day injured list Wednesday with a strained shoulder, joining Alec Mills, Wade Miley, Drew Smyly and Marcus Stroman.

    Their next opponents: four games at the Los Angeles Dodgers, two hosting the Baltimore Orioles, then four against the New York Mets.

    The injuries, schedule and upcoming trade deadline should slow the Cubs down.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Toronto Blue Jays

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    Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    Gurriel is a nice player, but he'd been unstoppable since June 1. In that time, Gurriel is slashing .374/.417/.551.

    As of Wednesday, Gurriel was on an eight-game hitting streak. And while he is getting hard contact, he rarely barrels the ball.

    While his hard contact and average exit velocity are in the 80th percentile, his barrel rate is in the 19th percentile. Furthermore, Gurriel ranks 20th in BABIP at .346. Last year, his .305 ranked 63rd, and for his career, his BABIP is .321.

    Maybe he's turned a corner as a hitter, or perhaps he's due for regression at some point. His career slash line is .285/.328/.482, so it's not far off that Gurriel would get hot.

    Gurriel was hitting just .240 and had struck out 29 times through the first two months of the season. He's definitely better than that, leaving him at a level somewhere between then and his most recent hot streak.

American League East

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    AP Photo/Mary Schwalm

    Something has to give in the AL East. The odds are this division gets four teams in the playoffs with the added Wild Card in this format.

    The New York Yankees are winning the division, while the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays fight for position among the three wild-card spots.

    Even their worst team, the Baltimore Orioles, are just five games under .500. The five teams were a combined 229-178 going into Wednesday's games.

    All of them just can't be great at the same time.

    The Red Sox have the toughest strength of schedule remaining. The Rays' schedule ranks fifth; the Orioles sixth; Blue Jays 10th and Yankees 11th.

    With some of the harder schedules (thanks to the competitive nature of the division) and roughly 80 more games left, all of these teams are due for a regression, even if it's clearly the top division in MLB this year.

Dansby Swanson, Atlanta

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    Justin Casterline/Getty Images

    Seemingly out of nowhere, Swanson is in fringe MVP territory ahead of his first trip to free agency. He is fifth in WAR and BABIP.

    His .302 batting average and .359 on-base percentage are Swanson's best since he played just 38 games in 2016, and the .502 slugging percentage would be a career high, as would the .388 BABIP.

    It's a noticeable improvement from his .248/.311/.449 slash line from last season. This is also the first time Swanson's wOBA (.372) and xwOBAcon (.499) rank toward the top of baseball. His .953 OPS last month was the highest in any month of his career when he played more than eight games.

    While he may be having an unlikely breakout in his seventh season, his career numbers suggest that his numbers are bound to come back to earth at some point.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    John Fisher/Getty Images

    Only two other National League teams had been as good as the Brewers over their last 10 games going into Wednesday—Atlanta and Los Angeles Dodgers, also the last two World Series champions, respectively.

    Milwaukee went 7-3 over that span and held a three-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL Central. The Brewers going into Wednesday had baseball's highest OPS over the last 15 days.

    But they've also been trading wins with the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates over the past week and boosted their offensive numbers with a 19-2 outburst against Pittsburgh on July 1.

    Even with a slight lead in the division, Milwaukee doesn't feel like its best team.

    St. Louis had a +56 run differential over Milwaukee's +35. And despite the Brewers' three-game lead, the difference in their expected win-loss records was two games in the Cardinals' favor.

Martín Pérez, Texas Rangers

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    Perez is having a career season at 31 years old, making just $4 million on a prove-it deal.

    Whether to trade Perez is a legitimate question for the Rangers, considering his expiring contract and that his production could entice a contending team to rent his services for half a season.

    It's more likely the Rangers re-sign Perez than trade him, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. It will be interesting to see how much they pay, considering Perez does not have a track record in line with his 2022 performance so far.

    Perez has a 2.34 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP this season. His career ERA is 4.51, and his career WHIP is 1.45.

Seattle Mariners

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    Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    The Mariners held the second-best 10-game stretch behind the Astros going into Wednesday. They went 7-3 in those games, winning the last four games over the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics.

    To the Mariners' credit, they outscored the Padres 14-4 in their two-game sweep. But most of their latest success has come against the A's, Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Angels.

    Seattle's 18-26 record against teams above .500, sitting 13.0 games behind the Astros for the AL West and 4.0 games out of the final wild-card spot say more about the team's stock than the streak.

Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox

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    Quinn Harris/Getty Images

    Cease was the AL Pitcher of the Month for June.

    The 26-year-old right-hander went 2-1 with a 0.33 ERA, 45 strikeouts and a .192 opponents batting average over five starts. He made five straight starts without allowing an earned run from May 29-June 26.

    His 2.51 ERA through 16 starts ranks 10th in baseball and leads baseball with 13.08 strikeouts per nine innings. At his best, Cease has ace-level stuff.

    However, his 4.19 walks per nine innings also leads baseball among qualified pitchers.

    For as talented as Cease is, it's worth wondering if giving away so many free passes will eventually catch up to him. He has carried the White Sox at times, and he'll need some help in the second half.

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