Dynasty Players to Buy, Sell, and Hold (2019 Fantasy Baseball)
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Dynasty leagues are a completely different animal in the world of fantasy baseball. I prefer to play in them because of the constant action whether your team is in or out of the race. Stay patient if your dynasty team is off to a slow start, but keep your eyes open for opportunities. If someone higher in the standings wants to take an aging veteran off your hands for a future asset, don’t immediately decline because it’s early in the season. Always keep your short-term and long-term goals in mind when making a trade in a dynasty league. Below are some high-profile players to buy, sell, or hold in the dynasty market right now.
Noah Syndergaard (SP – NYM)
The start to Syndergaard’s 2019 hasn’t been what anyone was hoping for. As Collin McHugh showed us last week, one outing can cause a pitcher’s ERA to become unsightly in a heartbeat this early in the season. Unfortunately for Syndergaard, that’s not the case thus far. He has posted a 5.90 ERA through five games with just one quality start on the season, and he has given up four or more runs in each of his last three turns.
We can find some positive signs, though, when looking at the Statcast data on Baseball Savant. He’s scaled back the use of his sinker from 32.3% in 2018 to 23.5% this year. That’s good news, as his stated goal in the spring was to throw more four-seam fastballs up in the zone to get more strikeouts. He’s throwing his four-seamer nearly 15% more this year, but the problem is he’s not throwing it up in the zone. Syndergaard has improved the spin rate on that pitch significantly over last year, which makes it appear to rise more when thrown up.
I remain confident that he’s going to get the pitch up where he needs to in order to rack up more strikeouts. This Statcast data, along with his 2.93 FIP and 3.36 xFIP, point toward much brighter days ahead for the big righty. He’s still just 26 with the hardest fastball among starting pitchers. I’m buying in dynasty leagues if possible injury and performance fears lower the cost.
Nomar Mazara (OF – TEX)
While Mazara has been on the minds of dynasty league owners for at least five years, he’ll be celebrating just his 24th birthday on Friday. He put up nearly identical numbers in his first three full MLB seasons, hitting 20 homers each year, though last year he did it in far fewer games (128). He’s off to a slow start this season, and I’m getting a sense that people in the fantasy community are starting to sour on him.
If you dig a little deeper into his Statcast data, you’ll see him in a much better light than his .203 batting average and .362 slugging percentage would suggest. Mazara’s expected batting average is .282 while his xSLG is .451. In short, he’s hitting the hall hard and just finding some bad luck. He could certainly benefit by raising his launch angle to unlock his plus power. I’m still of the belief that we’re going to see a .300+ average with 30+ home runs from Mazara sooner rather than later. Check with his owner in your dynasty league, because they could be suffering from prospect fatigue in this situation. It’s important to remember that prospect growth isn’t linear; just because he’s about to turn 24 doesn’t mean this is the player he’ll always be.
David Dahl (OF – COL)
Dahl ended up only missing a few games earlier this season with an abdomen injury, but that’s become more of the exception than the rule with him. I understand that most people that have held onto Dahl through all the injuries aren’t going to want to sell as soon as he starts playing well, but I think it’s now the perfect time. Consider the fact that he’s averaged just 87 games per season across all levels since 2015. That’s just not going to cut it.
I understand that he plays half his games in Coors. I understand that he was a top prospect. I understand that he’s a potential power/speed threat. I don’t understand why he’s so coveted by fantasy owners when he can’t stay on the field. His numbers right now are slightly inflated by a high BABIP, but I won’t deny that he’s playing really well. That’s why this is the ideal time to see if you can turn him into a more stable young stud in your dynasty leagues.
Madison Bumgarner (SP – SF)
Bumgarner isn’t the elite pitcher that he once was from 2011-2016, but he can still be a stabilizing presence in a fantasy baseball rotation. Through 32 innings this season, he’s pitching to a 3.66 ERA with an 8.44 K/9, up almost a strikeout per inning from last year. Statcast data tells us that he’s outperforming his peripherals a little bit so far this year. His fastball velocity is about the same as it was last season when it dipped pretty heavily. Bumgarner is by no means done, but things aren’t trending well for him. Combine his name value with the fact that he still has a “2” as the first digit in his age for a few more months, and you might be able to get some future value for your dynasty league in return.
Josh Bell (1B – PIT)
Don’t look now, but Bell is arriving on the MLB stage like we thought he would a couple of years ago. He’s absolutely crushing the ball. According to Baseball Savant, his average exit velocity is in MLB’s top-five percent. Combine that with his elite plate discipline, and he’s on the verge of a massive breakout. His current slash line is .284/.368/.568, and all of those numbers are legit when compared to his peripherals. The 26-year-old switch hitter is back to pulling the ball more as he did when hitting 26 home runs in 2017. If you own Bell, make sure any suitors treat him as a top-100 dynasty asset moving forward. Conversely, feel out Bell’s owner if you weren’t lucky enough to grab him in the preseason. Maybe they aren’t buying his hot start.
Zack Wheeler (SP – NYM)
Wheeler threw seven scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts against a strong Phillies lineup in his last start. It’s certainly possible that the cream is starting to rise to the top with the right-hander. Before this start, things hadn’t looked very positive. The peripherals showed that he was getting slightly unlucky, but he still had a 4.73 FIP. I still believe that Wheeler’s big fastball and wicked slider are a big-time combination that can make him a top-20 starter.
There isn’t much you can do with a struggling pitcher this early in the season. You aren’t going to get equal value in a trade, and you can’t just drop him. Stay the course with Wheeler. You drafted him or kept him for a reason.