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6 Players to Buy Low/Sell High

by Brian Reiff | @briansreiff | Featured Writer
Aug 8, 2017

Mitch Moreland has generated a 1.222 OPS so far in August

Trade deadlines in fantasy leagues are fast approaching, meaning the time to improve your team through trades will soon come to an end. Players have shown enough of a sample size by now for us to have a good grasp on who’s good and who’s not, but there will always be extended hot and cold streaks that you can take advantage of in trades. Below are a few players currently caught in those streaks and the reasons you should trade for them or trade them away before the streak ends.

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Buy Lows

Mitch Moreland (1B – BOS)
Since the All-Star break, Moreland’s production has dropped off abruptly, He’s managed just a 49 wRC+ in the second half after enjoying a 105 mark through the first three and a half months of the season. Although his production has fallen off, his skills haven’t. He’s still hitting the ball well, but he’s just not seeing the results.

Since the break, Moreland has just a .213 BABIP, which is 10th lowest among players with at least 70 plate appearances. Consequently, his average has also suffered, as it’s at just .179 over that time.

However, according to Statcast, he’s been unlucky there. His expected batting average is .252, which is higher than his season line.

His xwOBA is nearly 100 points higher than his actual mark as well, leaving massive room for improvement. He’s not hitting near the top of the order, but that’s not an issue on the Red Sox as there’s plenty of talent in front of and behind him to give him a chance to pad his counting stats when his bad luck ends.

Keon Broxton (OF – MIL)
Last year, Keon Broxton enjoyed some moderate success in the majors. Over the course of 75 games, he hit nine home runs and stole 23 bases, numbers that prorate to 19 and 50 over a full season. Those are numbers that would make him an immensely valuable asset in the fantasy community even with his .242 average, as he was able to maintain a .354 OBP because of his high walk rate.

This season has been a little different, although his home run and stolen base numbers are still on a torrid pace (25 and 31, respectively). He’s hitting just .222 on the season, and he’s not doing anyone any favors with his 38.1 percent strikeout rate, but as of late he’s shown a little of what made him so dangerous last year.

His hard-hit rate since the All-Star break is 52.4 percent, seventh highest in the majors among players with at least 30 plate appearances. It’s been even higher since he got called back up to the majors (small sample size warning), with eight of his 10 batted balls falling in that category. He’s relatively assured of constant playing time going forward, so make sure that those stats are helping out your team and not someone else’s.

Jameson Taillon (SP – PIT)
Taillon’s made just 16 starts this season, but he’s been effective in them. His 4.60 ERA is unsightly, but he also carries a 22.1 percent strikeout rate along with a high BABIP that leads to a 3.36 FIP. Since the All-Star break, the difference has been even starker-his ERA is 9.64 in those five starts, while his FIP is 3.01.

It doesn’t appear like that much has changed, but rather than he’s just gotten even more unlucky than usual recently. A .457 BABIP and 46.3 percent strand rate have led to him allowing 25 runs over those five games, including 19 in his most recent three games.

Luck, though, wears off eventually, and Taillon’s results should soon closer represent his actual skill level. He has 25 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings over that time, compared to only six walks. Those numbers suggest Taillon will bounce back, and because of his injury earlier in the season, he may be allowed to pitch more down the stretch run.

Sell Highs

Rafael Devers (3B – BOS)
In honor of Mike Trout’s birthday yesterday, let me remind you of a simple fact: most rookies are not Mike Trout. Most have some adjustment period upon their callup-for those that succeed immediately, it’s likely a fluke.

Devers certainly has talent, but he’s not going to keep pace with the numbers he’s put up so far. He’s slashing .349/.429/.605, although those numbers are largely inflated from where they should be.

His expected batting average according to Statcast is just .279, likely in large part due to his .414 BABIP. It doesn’t help that he’s hitting ground balls over 50 percent of the time and line drives under 20 percent.

With an expected wOBA nearly 80 points below his actual, Devers is likely to come back to Earth any day now. Fortunately, because he’s a highly-touted rookie, he’ll be worth quite a lot, even in redraft leagues where he should be traded before the regression hits.

Tim Beckham (1B/2B/SS – BAL)
Beckham has been one of the hottest hitters since the All-Star break, as he’s currently carrying a 143 wRC+ over that time. He has many of the same problems that plague Devers though; he hits too many groundballs to be a real power threat and not enough line drives to sustain the high BABIP he’s been running. He’s hit 48 percent ground balls for the season and 50 percent since the break, and yet his BABIP is .380 and .386, respectively, over those timeframes.

He also has 15 home runs this season, a career-high for him that’s nearly double his previous career high. It helps that 23.4 percent of his fly balls go for home runs, a number that’s also gone up in the past few weeks.

Overall, his xwOBA since the break is .314, compared to his actual .384 mark. He’s been especially deadly since joining the Orioles, with three home runs and 15 hits in seven games.

Besides the fact that he’s due for regression, Beckham’s starting job isn’t even guaranteed beyond this week. J.J. Hardy will apparently resume shortstop duties upon his return to the active roster, leaving Beckham without a path to consistent at-bats. He should be traded before then, with now the opportune time to take advantage of his recent hot streak.

Collin McHugh (SP – HOU)
Since his return from injury, McHugh has looked pretty good. He owns a 3.24 ERA over those three games, his velocity is still where it used to be, and he looks to be right back in the swing of things as a fantasy-relevant pitcher.

At first, it’s hard to find the reason for his inflated FIP and xFIP (4.52 and 4.85, respectively). He’s striking out batters at a higher rate than in previous seasons, and while his walk rate is higher, it’s not by much. The low BABIP and high strand rate obviously contribute, but looking at the other numbers, it’s surprising not to see those metrics closer to what they’ve been in the past. That is until you look at his batted ball profile.

Just 20.5 percent of the batted balls against McHugh over these three games have been grounders, while for his career that number is 42.0 percent. This has led to an increase in his HR/9 from 1.22 last year to 1.62 this season, even though his HR/FB rate has barely budged.

McHugh has never had a three-game fly ball rate higher than right now, so it’s hard to completely wave it off as a fluke, but even so one would expect it to return at least part of the way toward career norms. It’s worth watching though, as in the long run, the line drives and fly balls will catch up to him.

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Brian Reiff is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Brian, check out his archive and follow him @briansreiff.

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