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10 Players to Buy Low/Sell High (Fantasy Baseball)

Jun 7, 2019

Once J.D. Davis gets regular playing time, he could show off his immense power

Ice cold slumps from highly-touted players and surprising hot streaks from those who are lesser known are a mainstay in fantasy sports, and America’s pastime is no exception to this. However, these stretches almost never last for a whole season in baseball. The “flashes in the pan” typically fall back to Earth and the big boys usually find their way back into high-level production.

With that in mind, you can gain a huge advantage over your leaguemates by buying low and selling high. Timing is the key to pulling this off, as you need to strike while the athlete you’re eyeing is at his lowest value, and likewise, it’s best to sell when you feel a less-talented player is at the height of his streak. Our featured pundits are here with some players you should try to snatch or jettison from your squad during their peak trade window.

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Q1. What one player are you trying to buy low and what type of player would you give up to get him?

J.D. Davis (1B/3B – NYM)
“This suggestion is going to require a bit of patience, but I am a big believer in Davis. His numbers (.257-19-6-17 in 144 AB) don’t necessarily pop out, but I think he is right on the cusp of tapping into his massive power potential. Of the 308 Major League hitters who have at least 100 plate appearances so far this season, Davis ranks in the top 50 in expected batting average (xBA), expected slugging percentage (xSLG), and expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA). He also ranks 26th in hard-hit percentage out of 226 hitters with at least 100 batted ball events. All of these metrics indicate that Davis is putting together good at-bats and making quality contact.

The problem is that for whatever reason, the Mets insist on playing crusty veterans like Todd Frazier and Carlos Gomez every night. If, and when, they realize they are out of the playoff hunt and begin to play their younger players, look out. Davis could be poised for a big second half. At this stage, you should still be able to acquire Davis on the cheap. Depending on your depth and roster construction, you can probably give up a fringe player or ancillary piece who lacks upside and may lose playing time as the season continues. A few players that come to mind are guys like Freddy Galvis, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner, and Asdrubal Cabrera.”
– Mick Ciallela (Fantrax)

Justin Smoak (1B/DH – TOR)
“Smoak has been one of the most unlucky hitters to date in 2019. He’s hitting just .235 with 12 home runs, but sports an elite 16.9% walk rate and a career-best 18.2% strikeout rate. It’s not a matter of poor contact either. His expected BABIP is .332, which is nearly 100 points over his actual .239 BABIP. In terms of xwOBA, he’s in the top three percent in the league among qualified hitters. This is a hitter who should be in the top 10% of the league in terms of production. He might even be available on your wire in your league. If he’s taken, I’d look to trade an overperformer like Derek Dietrich or Tommy La Stella for him.”
– Max Freeze (Freeze Stats)

Jose Ramirez (2B/3B – CLE)
“Ramirez has been downright awful this year, with a slash of .204/.301/.305 and a .102 ISO. I refuse to believe this is now the norm for him. After all, we’re talking about a guy who finished in the top three of the MVP voting last year with a .391 wOBA, .282 ISO, and a combined 73 homers and steals. He’s still running this year (15 SBs), and when the weather heats up, so should Ramirez. This is the window to strike in your leagues. I just poached him from a frustrated owner for a return of German Marquez, and would have been willing to give even more.”
– Jamie Calandro (Fantasy Team Advice)

Nelson Cruz (DH – MIN)
“The Cruz owner may be looking at his eight homers with a .261 BA and think he is having a lousy season or perhaps hit the inevitable wall at the end of someone’s career. That isn’t the case, however. Rather, Cruz has seen his average exit velocity improve this year. His launch angle is up too, and as you might guess, that has led to a much higher xwOBA. Cruz is on track for his sixth consecutive season with a .850 OPS and may still end up with 30+ homers once again. I’d try to move someone like Madison Bumgarner or Michael Brantley for him.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Gerrit Cole (SP – HOU)
“True fantasy aces are hard to find and usually just about impossible to acquire, but Cole may be an exception. His 3.94 ERA is uninspiring at first glance, but it should be at least a run lower — his 2.53 xFIP and 2.74 SIERA are both the lowest of any starting pitcher in baseball. Cole is leading the league in strikeout rate and should pick up tons of wins going forward with a loaded Astros lineup supporting him. I’d be willing to part with an early-season sensation like Hyun-Jin Ryu or Eddie Rosario to acquire his services.”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)

Q2. What one player are you trying to sell high right now and who would you want in return?

Zach Davies (SP – MIL)
“Selling high on certain players is increasingly tricky in this age of information and analytics. But if you can pick on an owner who is only looking at standard stats, try to unload Davies. Davies is third in the majors with a 2.20 ERA and has six wins under his belt. That may be enough to convince someone that the 26-year-old is hitting his stride. He is not. His 4.83 xFIP ranks 68th among 83 qualified pitchers. Davies has struck out just 5.81 batters per nine innings, placing him 81st in that category. His low ERA is the result of a fair amount of luck. He has a LOB% of 82.7, ninth-highest among qualifiers. I don’t know if anyone would trade an under-performing stud like Noah Syndergaard for Davies, but stranger things have happened. More realistically, you can probably acquire a pitcher like Zack Wheeler, Kyle Gibson, or Eduardo Rodriguez.”
– Mick Ciallela (Fantrax)

Chris Paddack (SP – SD)
“In redraft leagues, it’s Paddack for me. There’s no doubt that he’s extremely talented and has a bright future, but his innings limit has me concerned. Even after his last two poor starts, his ERA sits at 2.97 with an incredible 0.89 WHIP. He’s outperforming his expected metrics by a fair amount (.021 in expected batting average and .017 in expected wOBA). All of the ERA estimators have him pegged for an ERA closer to 3.50-3.75. If the Padres can stay in the division race, maybe he throws more than 140 innings. I just don’t see the Padres staying alive in the West. If Paddack does pitch closer to his metrics the rest of the way, he’s an SP2 or SP3. I’d look to flip him for someone like Rafael Devers, who has been en fuego.”
– Max Freeze (Freeze Stats)

Jake Odorizzi (SP – MIN)
“Everything the Twins touch seems to turn to gold this year, but that’s not enough of a reason to believe Odorizzi can keep this up. His batted ball fortune has been off the charts, including a .240 BABIP, 83.6 percent strand rate, and 5.3 percent HR/FB ratio that are all among the 10 most favorable marks for any qualified starter. Odorizzi is a decent pitcher, but his 3.82 career ERA is a realistic expectation of what he’ll provide for his fantasy owners over the rest of the season. If I could turn him into a better player off to a sluggish start — think Zack Wheeler or Corey Seager — I’d be very pleased.”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)

Austin Riley (3B – ATL)
“If you’re in a redraft league, I’d be actively looking to sell Riley right now (in keeper/dynasty leagues, you’re holding on to him). I get it — he looks like the next big thing as he’s ravaged Major League pitching with nine homers in 20 games on his way to a .367 ISO. There are red flags, Riley owners. He has a 32.1% K rate against only a 4.8% BB rate thus far (in line with his Triple-A numbers this year of a 29.3% K rate and 8% BB rate), which means regression is coming when Major League pitching adjusts to him. Depending on your need, you could get a real asset back at his current peak value. I’ve seen him traded for Anthony Rizzo, Blake Snell, and Xander Bogaerts in leagues I’m in.”
– Jamie Calandro (Fantasy Team Advice)

Javier Baez (2B/3B/SS – CHC)
“Last year, Baez broke out to hit 34 homers with 21 steals, 111 RBIs, and 101 runs. He even batted .290 despite a 25.9% K rate! This year, his K rate has soared to 31% and he is still batting .307. If you are wondering how, look no further than his .399 BABIP. So as you probably know, that is going to come tumbling down soon, and when it does, you’ll be stuck with a .270 power hitter on pace for just six steals. That is fine if you love 2018 Jesus Aguilar, but Baez is worth much much more on the trade market.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for naming their trade candidates. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for all the latest discussions this season.

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