13 Players to Buy & Sell (Fantasy Baseball)

Apr 18, 2019

Anderson’s start doesn’t appear to be sustainable

Usually, the best thing that fantasy owners can do to start a new season is to not overreact to small sample sizes. Please don’t be the owner that drops Jose Ramirez for Alex Gordon. OK, that may be a bit extreme, but seriously, take a deep breath. Step away from the drop button. It’s only the middle of April. It’s a long season.

Now, despite that PSA, we all know that there are owners that will not follow this advice. Step 1 is to make sure you are not that owner. Step 2 is to check if that owner is in your fantasy league. If the answer is yes, Step 3 is to profit. To help with this process, we’ve asked our writers to provide players that they are targeting most in trades and others they are trying hardest to deal away.

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Which player are you targeting most in trades?

Luis Castillo (SP – CIN)
“Yes, I get it, this is not a buy low. Sure, Castillo’s stock has climbed since the draft, but I think his true value is far above his trade market value which is why I still consider him to be a buy low. This time last year, the Trevor Bauer and Blake Snell owners thought they could pull one over on some chump and were “selling high.” I can guarantee you that if you traded for Snell, it didn’t end up feeling like a buy-high. I’m imagining it will be the same with Castillo who seems to be a true ace and top 15 fantasy pitcher for the rest of the season.”
– Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

Hunter Dozier (1B/3B – KC)
“The largely undrafted Hunter Dozier is making some noise in Kansas City. He’s hit three home runs and barreled five balls in just 54 plate appearances. Per BaseballSavant, he’s been a bit unlucky and his expected wOBA currently sits at .414 with an expected SLG of .619! The batted ball metrics are great, but what has me really buying into Dozier is his improved strikeout rate. He’s cut his swings outside the zone by nearly 14% and cut his swinging strike rate in half. As a result, his strikeout rate is just 16.7%, down from 28.1% in 2018. That’s an incredible improvement. We are nearing the stabilization rate for strikeout rate and past the halfway point for contact rates. Even if Dozier doesn’t maintain these extreme improvements, he’s shown a change in approach and should provide fantasy-relevant numbers as long as he gets the playing time which he deserves.”
– Max Freeze (@FreezeStats)

Kenta Maeda (SP – LAD)
“Prior to his start early this week, Maeda’s line looked ugly: 4.76 ERA, 5.68 FIP, less than a strikeout per inning. Of course, that doesn’t tell the whole story. His swinging strike rate sits at a well above-average 13.4%, which should equate to more of a 25-27% K rate. His hard-hit rate also sits at an absurdly low 25%, meaning that he has gotten extremely unlucky with his 23.5% HR/FB rate. Finally, he is throwing first-pitch strikes more often, and is hitting the zone more overall. These are tremendous indicators that his current double-digit walk rate will come down quickly. While the numbers may not materialize after this two-start week against the Cardinals and Brewers, that presents a great time to buy low.”
– Carmen Maiorano (@cmaiorano3)

Christian Walker (1B – ARI)
“Christian Walker reminds me a lot of Luke Voit, a slugging righty first baseman who dominated the minor leagues but never could earn an opportunity due to a crowded infield roster on the big club. But with Goldschmidt traded and Lamb injured, Walker is receiving everyday at-bats in Arizona’s number five slot and running with it. The righty slugger owns a .596 SLG thus far in 2019, which is backed up by a .645 xSLG. Walker is a Statcast darling, with a 21% barrel rate amassed through 151 career plate appearances. Some have concerns that Walker has a platoon split, however, he never showed one in the minors and is off to a fast start against right-handing pitching. The big improvement that Walker has shown in 2019 is improved plate discipline, with a chase rate and SwStrk% well below his previous career average. As long as he keeps the strikeout rate below 30%, he will mash. Currently 13% owned in Yahoo leagues and 17% in ESPN, few widely-available players possess the 30-35 home run upside of Walker.”
– Nick Gerli (@nickgerliPL)

Matt Barnes (RP – BOS)
Ryan Brasier has picked up Boston’s last two saves, but the closer situation remains far from settled. On Sunday, he entered the eighth inning with a 1-0 lead over Baltimore. Barnes would have received the save opportunity if not for Xander Bogaerts extending the lead with a three-run blast. Besides, Barnes is better. He has already recorded 12 strikeouts in 6.1 scoreless frames. After issuing a 11.7% walk rate last season, he has yielded just one free pass to start 2019. By leaning more on a dominant curveball that has yet to allow a hit, the 28-year-old righty will contribute even without a majority of the defending champion’s saves. If he usurps Brasier — who holds a .410 wxOBA — for full control of the closer’s job, Barnes becomes a top-10 fantasy reliever.”
– Andrew Gould (@andrewgould4)

Dwight Smith Jr. (OF – BAL)
“Even though Baltimore’s offense currently ranks in the bottom half in terms of batting average (0.230), hits (132), and home runs (17), Smith has been one of the bright spots for the team. His stock has been rising a little lately but nothing crazy just yet, which is why it makes sense to go out and acquire him in a trade if possible. Over the last week of play Smith has contributed three home runs, eight RBIs, six runs, and a stolen base for good measure. It’s a gamble since Baltimore’s offense is not at all that stellar, but isn’t it a gamble with any player in fantasy? Attempt to stash him on your bench in the event that this type of production becomes a regular theme.”
– Matthew Catalano (@MatthewCatala16)

Adam Frazier (2B/OF – PIT)
“Frazier may quietly be having the beginning of a breakout season. With both 2B and OF eligibility, Frazier’s value extends far beyond his versatility. Once he was recalled in June last year, Frazier hit .306/.357/.533, and his slugging percentage was tops amongst all second basemen during the final four months of the season. This year? He’s been an on-base machine, showing elite plate discipline and contact skills. His ground ball rate sits under 35%, and he’s elevating the ball behind a 106.1 max exit velocity. He’s also stolen two bases already. Frazier is currently rocking a .403 expected wOBA and has the look of a .300 hitter with 15-15 potential. He’s currently under 50% owned on ESPN and only 16% owned in Yahoo leagues, which is basically free. The fantasy community appears to be still sleeping on him. If he is owned in your league, make an offer before his owner realizes how good Frazier could be.”
– Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs)

Which player are you trying hardest to sell?

Tim Anderson (SS – CWS)
“Anderson could not have started his season any better hitting a blistering .429 with three home runs and five steals in his first 12 games. Obviously, the .500 BABIP he’s carrying will come down, no surprise there but what about his poor plate discipline? Anderson has walked just once in 50 plate appearances and is swinging outside the zone over 40% of the time. As a result, pitchers are throwing him fewer strikes. I’d expect his strikeout rate to rise and foresee prolonged slumps in Anderson’s future. His owners should refer to 2018 as a blueprint for 2019 where Anderson hit 11 homers and stole 12 bases through the first two months. In the remaining four months, he hit just nine homers with 14 stolen bases with only two steals after the All-Star break. I’d ride this hot streak out and try to flip him.”
– Max Freeze (@FreezeStats)

Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS – SD)
“At the risk of sparking another heated argument within the fantasy industry, see if an overzealous competitor already can’t tell the difference between Tatis and Manny Machado. After skipping straight from Double-A to the majors, the 20-year-old has exceeded most early expectations by batting .283/.353/.583 with five homers in 17 games. He’s a future stud, and dynasty investors should hold on for dear life. As for re-draft owners, the neophyte will struggle to stay hot while strikng out at a 30.9% clip, hardly a surprising development given last year’s 27.7% K rate. Statcast’s .204 xBA also hints at growing pains ahead, so now’s the time to turn the hype into a more established stud.”
– Andrew Gould (@andrewgould4)

Mitch Haniger (OF – SEA)
“Haniger earned his draft price heading into 2019, posting a 138 wRC+. He is off to a fast start in 2019, hitting five homers and upping that wRC+ to 155. However, I expect that number to come down quite soon. His strike out rate is up five percent, which is supported by a drop in O-Contact% and swinging strike rate. He is also pulling the ball at an obscene, less than ideal, 50 percent. His fly ball rate, while not as obscene, is 13 percent higher than last year, and is supported by a five-degree increase in launch angle. It looks like Haniger is attempting to pull off what Jose Ramirez did. There’s just one problem — Ramirez is an elite contact hitter, rarely striking out and sporting a 15% walk rate in 2018. As a result of this approach, there’s a chance he could hit 30+ homers at the expense of a 25-35 point drop in batting average. My concern is that with Haniger selling out for power, it could easily lead to his oblique strain from 2017 getting reinjured. If you can find a suitable trade, do it.”
– Carmen Maiorano (@cmaiorano3)

Khris Davis (OF/DH – OAK)
“While Khris Davis owners are likely thrilled with his start to 2019, with 10 home runs in 18 games, they would be wise to consider dealing the A’s slugger while his value is at an all-time high. Davis is no different the player that he was in previous seasons — his underlying plate discipline metrics in terms of chase rate and SwStrk % are the same, while his Statcast numbers are actually worse in terms of exit velocity, hard-hit rate, and xBACON. His .382 xwOBA is right in line with 2018’s .378 reading and below 2017’s .395. This certainly isn’t an indictment on Davis as a player, since he is a near lock to eclipse 40 home runs once again while providing a heaping dose of a RBIs. But my guess is that there is someone in your league who is googly-eyed by Davis’ double-digit home run count and willing to pay an outsized price for a player that is only eligible at the utility or DH spot in most leagues.”
– Nick Gerli (@nickgerliPL)

Chris Paddack (SP – SD)
“For those of us who “reached” for Paddack, we’ve been doing victory laps as he has been tremendous in his first three starts. While I expect that to continue to an extent, it also seems likely that he will be capped at around 130 innings this season. Before all the media heads start talking about a potential innings limit for him, now is the time to capitalize and deal him while everyone realizes he is the best rookie pitcher in baseball. Perhaps you can snag a Josh Donaldson for him.”
– Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

Pete Alonso (1B – NYM)
“Alonso’s power is unreal. The recommendation to sell him has nothing to do with questioning whether his power is legit. It very much is. However, the rookie sensation is also sporting a .438 BABIP that is sure to come down dramatically, especially when he’s striking out 31.3% of the time. He likely hits closer to .240 than the .339 he’s hitting now. The value in Alonso is the possibility of a 30+ home run bat found late in drafts or perhaps even free off the wire in shallower leagues. However, if you can get a struggling top-50 player with promising peripherals from a frustrated owner willing to ride the Alonso hype train, it’s worth exploring offers. You could also consider flipping him for a top-40 starter with question marks like Kenta Maeda. Maeda is a pitcher with top-20 projections on many systems.”
– Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs)

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