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If you’re in a dynasty baseball league, you always need to keep track of players’ stock from an immediate and long-term standpoint. Don’t be afraid to hold onto a player whether he’s off to a hot or cold start. Patience is even more important in dynasty than in season-long leagues.
Still, the beginning of the MLB season is a great time to capitalize on both buying and selling situations because of owner overreactions. It’s not as easy as selling the hot players and buying the struggling ones, though. You have to determine if there’s been a tangible change in a player’s profile. The underlying stats will tell you which direction to go.
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Franmil Reyes (SD – OF)
This may be one of the best buy-low situations I’ve ever seen. Reyes is off to a slow start in the batting average department (.224), which may distract an owner from what’s really happening. Through 18 games, he’s raised his walk rate over two percent from his 2018 debut season to an excellent 10.5%. At the same time, he’s significantly cut his strikeout rate to 17.5%. The K rate is likely not sustainable, but even a low-20s mark would be very impressive with his power. According to Statcast data on Baseball Savant, Reyes’ batting average is far lower than his .357 expected batting average. Additionally, his .533 slugging percentage isn’t in the same stratosphere as his .819 expected slugging percentage. He’s absolutely crushing baseballs. Stop what you’re doing right now and make the Reyes owner in your league a strong offer. This is your last chance to snatch up the 23-year-old slugger before the train leaves the station.
Walker Buehler (SP – LAD)
Buehler is off to a brutal start to his 2019 season. Drafted as a no-doubt top-20 pitcher, the 24-year-old has allowed 11 runs through his first 12 innings. Unlike Reyes, there aren’t a ton of obvious signs pointing toward an immediate bounce back from Buehler. The strikeouts are down and the walks are up; that’s never a good sign. He does have a more palatable 4.22 FIP that shows his ERA should settle, but it’s not at all what we expected from him this season. The bottom line is that 12 innings shouldn’t change your view of a pitcher. If these three bad starts came in July, we wouldn’t bat an eyelash. The Buehler owner in your league surely knows he’s not all of the sudden bad, but it doesn’t hurt to ask and see if his price has lowered since the start of the year.
Nolan Gorman (3B – STL)
The Cardinals felt they got a steal when the consensus top-10 draft prospect fell to them at pick number 19. He’s currently listed as the 45th best prospect in FantasyPros Expert Consensus Rankings. The big, left-handed hitting third baseman has already hit 21 professional homers before his 19th birthday. More importantly, Gorman is striking out far less in his second stint at Low-A Peoria. The Cardinals typically have their top bats skip the hitter’s graveyard in High-A Palm Beach, so the next stop for Gorman should be Double-A sometime this season. If he reaches that level before the end of the season, he’ll officially be on the fast track to the big leagues. Make sure he’s one of the prospects on your deep dynasty team before he really blows up.
German Marquez (SP – COL)
Marquez was masterful in his most recent start, pitching a complete game shutout and striking out nine Giants. In fact, he’ll carry a 2.00 ERA through 27 innings into his start against the Phillies at Coors Field this week. The last part of the sentence is the trouble with Marquez: Coors Field. He gave up five runs in his lone home start of the season, and he had a 4.74 ERA at home in his breakout 2018. I wasn’t sold on Marquez as a top-20 starting pitcher this year because of his home park. That situation won’t change anytime soon, as the 24-year-old signed a five-year extension earlier this month. He remains a great pitcher to start on the road, but a highly questionable one at home. That production just doesn’t match up with his current market value. Add his hot start to the draft helium Marquez had prior to the season, and you should be able to get a top-75 hitter in return.
Tim Anderson (SS – CWS)
Anderson is on fire to begin his 2019, slashing .421/.431/.632 with three homers and six stolen bases. Obviously, he can’t maintain numbers close to those, but digging into the peripheral stats show us that he’s in for sharp regression. While his expected average (.307) and slugging percentage (.485) on Baseball Savant are much lower than his actual stats, they are still very good. But walk rate is always a major issue with Anderson. He’s down to 1.7% (one walk in 58 plate appearances) to start 2019 after “spiking” to 5.0% last season. That’ll limit his base-stealing chances once his astronomical .500 BABIP comes back toward his .332 career mark. I wouldn’t dump Anderson for just anyone, though. He posted 20 homers and 26 steals last year and is still just 25. However, if someone in your dynasty league wants to buy him as a bonafide top-75 player, let them deal with the regression.
Michael Conforto (OF – NYM)
Conforto is one of my favorite young players in baseball. The 26-year old is off to an excellent start in 2019, slashing .313/.418/.597 with four homers. His statistical profile suggests the hot start is for real. The .370 BABIP is high, but his .299 expected batting average isn’t much lower than his current mark. I’d sign up for a Conforto that bats .280, let alone .300. You know he’s going to take his walks and hit for power, so this is a profile with little risk. While the biggest concern for Conforto is his ability to stay healthy, he played 153 games last year and seems to have put his shoulder injury past him.
Luis Castillo (SP – CIN)
Is this the Luis Castillo we were all expecting in 2018? There wasn’t much of a discount in the market going into 2019 even after a very disappointing season. Well, your chance to buy low may be gone, as it looks like Castillo is well on his way to a full breakout. It’s only been 24.2 innings, but I love what I’m seeing thus far. He’s currently running an 11.68 K/9 albeit with a 4.74 BB/9. It’s certainly worth watching those walks, as he’s in a ballpark that can be very unforgiving to pitchers who give free baserunners to the opposition. Much like Conforto, Castillo’s peripherals suggest that his start to 2019 has been for real. He leads all starting pitchers in both expected batting average (.133) and slugging percentage (.168) against. He’s only 26 and throws the ball as hard as almost any starter. Sit back and enjoy the ride unless you get a Godfather offer.
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