6 Players to Buy/Sell (Fantasy Baseball)
Hi folks, and welcome to another edition of Buy/Sell! As the calendar rapidly moves towards July, we are fast-approaching peak trade season in both real life and our little fantasy game. Now is the time for keeper/dynasty owners to start to figure out whether they are buyers or sellers. And it’s time for those in redraft leagues to assess what positions and categories they need some help in — and seek out that season-altering trade that can spark a second-half run to the top of the standings.
It’s exciting times, my friends. I’ve got six hitters for your here, but if you’re curious about other potential offers, I am always open for business on Twitter @andrew_seifter. Let’s rock and roll.
Players to Buy
Aaron Judge (OF – NYY) (OF — NYY)
Judge missed two months with a strained oblique, and is 0-for-10 with four strikeouts since returning from the injured list. Needless to say it’s been a rough go for fantasy owners who used a second round pick on the Yankees slugger, and perhaps the Judge owner in your league is ready to move on. If so, you know what to do.
Judge’s 2019 batted ball data is admittedly quite limited, but it does point to a fair amount of misfortune. According to Statcast, he sports one of the largest negative differentials in the league between his expected and actual batting average, and the same holds true for his slugging percentage. His overall batted ball profile looks remarkably similar to 2017 and 2018, when he hit a combined .282 with 79 long balls across 267 games. He was a top-15 hitter in per game value in standard 5×5 leagues both seasons. If you can even get a slight discount based on his injury and/or slow start, it could pay big dividends for the second half.
Players To Offer For Judge: Jose Altuve, Rhys Hoskins, Mike Soroka, Zack Greinke
Justin Turner (3B – LAD)
At an even .300, Turner is once again delivering a strong batting average for his fantasy owners. But it is easy to make the case that his power is on a precipitous decline, from 27 home runs in 2016, to 21 in 2017, to 14 last season, to just seven through 72 games this year. But a closer look at the numbers suggests otherwise.
According to Statcast, Turner is producing his best hard hit rate and exit velocity since at least 2015, and he’s also among the hitters with the biggest differential between his slugging percentage (.432) and expected slugging percentage (.521). Turner isn’t suddenly going to transform into a 30-HR guy at age 34, but his peripherals suggest his power output should be as good — or better — than ever. And more extra base hits should also mean more runs and RBIs while hitting in the middle of a potent Dodgers lineup.
Players To Offer For Turner: Michael Brantley, Nomar Mazara, German Marquez, Dallas Keuchal
Howie Kendrick (1B, 2B, 3B, OF – WAS)
Kendrick is currently hitting .335, so I suppose this is more of a “buy high” recommendation than a “buy low.” In any event, the price should be reasonable for a 35-year old who has never been an elite fantasy asset before, but whose 2019 breakout is no fluke.
Kendrick’s Statcast numbers fully support his lofty batting average, and there’s every reason to believe he can be one of the biggest contributors in that category going forward. This is a player who has batted at least .293 in six of the last seven seasons, and now he’s making more contact and striking out less than ever before. Meanwhile Kendrick is also hitting the ball with much more authority than he has in the past — his increased barrel rate, hard hit rate, exit velocity, and launch angle are all indicative of the power breakthrough he’s experiencing.
It is worth noting that Kendrick isn’t playing every day, so his value is higher in leagues with daily lineups than weekly lineup formats. But the bet here is that he plays more frequently in the second half, whether it’s in Washington or via a trade if the Nationals fall out of contention.
Players To Offer For Kendrick: Brandon Lowe, Shin-soo Choo, Cole Hamels, Masahiro Tanaka
Players to Sell
Carlos Santana (1B – CLE)
With his typically high walk rate, Santana is a player who is always better in points leagues than standard 5×5 roto/categories formats. But he’s been pretty darn elite in all formats this season, thanks in large part to a career-best .291 batting average. Just how sustainable is that batting average, though?
At age 33, Santana is a career .249 hitter who has never hit higher than .268 in a full season. This year, his batting average has been fueled by a .306 BABIP that is nearly 40 points above his career average. Some of that improved BABIP can be explained by a career-best exit velocity and hard hit rate, and some of it can be explained by his reduced launch angle, which has led to many fewer fly outs. Still, Santana is striking out more often than he has since 2015, and Statcast data suggests he’ll give some of that batting average back even if he continues to make the kind of contact he’s been making. Plus, if he keeps hitting the ball on the ground, it’s highly unlikely he’ll continue on his current 35-HR pace, which has been predicated on an unsustainable 21.8 percent HR/FB ratio. Essentially, we’re either looking at a lot of batting average regression, or a little batting average regression alongside some power regression.
Players To Target For Santana: Starling Marte, Edwin Encarnacion, Blake Snell, Noah Syndergaard
Jorge Polanco (SS – MIN)
With a .326 batting average and 11 home runs in 73 games, Polanco has greatly exceeded expectations this season, much like the Twins as a whole. But his .355 BABIP is among the 15 highest in baseball, and while his .298 expected average is still quite good, fantasy owners should pencil in at least 25-30 points of batting average regression going forward. And while Polanco should soon cruise past his previous career high of 15 home runs, his current .542 slugging percentage is also a bit inflated, according to Statcast. Polanco has been caught stealing on three of his five attempts this season, so if the stolen bases don’t pick up, his fantasy value will take a fairly significant hit once his batting average and home run pace normalize.
Players To Target For Polanco: Justin Turner, Khris Davis, Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger
David Peralta (OF – ARI)
Peralta has hardly been incredible this season, but with a .289 batting average and big 2018 season on his resume, he could still have a bit of trade value. Peralta’s barrel rate, hard hit rate, and exit velocity are all down substantially from last season, according to Statcast, and the cold reality is that both his batting average and slugging percentage should probably be quite a bit lower than they currently are. When looking at his career as a whole, it’s clear that the 30 home runs he hit last season was a major outlier. It’s quite possible Peralta doesn’t even reach 20 home runs this season, which would make him a significant liability in that area given the rate at which balls are leaving the yard in today’s game. Perhaps his batting average won’t drop as much as the Statcast data would suggest, but an empty .290 batting average isn’t going to do a whole lot for fantasy owners.
Players To Target For Peralta: Justin Turner, Justin Upton, Kyle Gibson, Zack Wheeler