6 Players to Buy/Sell (Fantasy Baseball)
Welcome back to another round of Buy/Sell here at FantasyPros. We’ve got some big bats to discuss this week, including a consensus first round fantasy pick, one of the most enigmatic players in the game, a big slugger in a big market, and the two most highly-touted rookies of 2019. Plus: Hunter Dozier!
Let’s get to it.
Players to Buy
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B – TOR)
If you take a glance at Guerrero’s .248/14/7/16/0 fantasy line through the first third of the season, you may think he’s not quite living up to the hype. But the truth is he’s deserved much better results based on the quality contact that he’s making.
According to Statcast, Guerrero has one of the biggest differentials between his batting average (.248) and expected batting average (.294), and the same holds true for his slugging percentage, which is 76 points lower than it should be. His 18.7 percent strikeout rate is significantly higher than he had in the minors, but it is still better than average across MLB. Guerrero is a premier talent who should only get better with experience, but he’s already displaying the ability to hit close to .300 with 30-35 home runs.
J.D. Martinez (OF/DH – BOS)
Martinez certainly isn’t having an awful season, but his .301/36/12/33/1 line hasn’t really moved the needle for fantasy owners who spent a first round pick on him. Consider it a buying opportunity.
Martinez’s .530 slugging percentage isn’t bad, but his .647 expected slugging percentage is the sixth-highest in baseball, according to Statcast. Expect him to produce at a 40-45 HR pace going forward. And while fantasy owners won’t complain about a .301 batting average, the Statcast metrics indicate that Martinez should really be hitting .330. In fact, the only thing that has really changed about Martinez’s game since last season is that his strikeout rate is all the way down to 15.7 percent, which is an excellent number for a player who hits the ball as hard as he does.
Yasiel Puig (OF – CIN)
Puig’s first year in Cincinnati hasn’t exactly been stellar, but he is still showing the power-speed combo that fantasy owners crave — and he’s due for some positive regression. Puig’s .207 batting average has made him a fantasy liability, but Statcast data indicates his average should be a more palatable .242, and his slugging percentage should be quite a bit higher as well. Puig’s .230 BABIP is among the lowest in baseball, and if he can manage to get his 25.6 percent strikeout rate down closer to his 20.3 percent career average, his batting average will rise even further into the .260-.270 range. With clear upside for 25+ HRs and 20+ SBs, Puig just needs a respectable batting average to have a lot of fantasy value.
Players to Sell
Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS – SD)
Tatis has a bright future, and I wouldn’t be quick to part with him in a keeper league. But he is clearly performing over his head right now and could be worth selling high in redraft formats.
After missing a month with a strained hamstring, Tatis still has few enough at-bats that there is quite a bit of statistical noise in his season-long numbers. It’s clear that Tatis already possesses legit power and speed, but he’s been the polar opposite of Puig in terms of the batted ball results he’s been getting. According to Statcast, Tatis has the single-biggest differential in baseball between his batting average (.315) and expected batting average (.230), as well as the fourth-biggest differential between his slugging percentage (.577) and expected slugging percentage (.448). It’s not surprising that Tatis is striking out a lot at age 20, but it does mean that his batting average could plummet over the rest of 2019 as his batted ball results normalize.
Rhys Hoskins (1B – PHI)
Hoskins is a proven 35-HR bat, but he’s striking out a little more often this year, and his .271 batting average is being kept afloat by a .325 BABIP that is much higher than he’s ever produced before in the Majors or high minors. If he doesn’t start to make more contact, he could struggle to even match last year’s .246 average going forward. Statcast data similarly indicates that we can expect a fair amount of regression to both his batting average and slugging percentage. Hoskins should remain a major plus in terms of power and run production, but he’s best viewed as a three-category contributor in standard 5×5 leagues.
Hunter Dozier (1B/3B – KC)
Dozier is expected to return from the injured list any day now — and you’ll want to wait until he officially is activated before shopping him. It may have been tough to unload Dozier a month ago, considering he emerged from relative obscurity. But we are now in mid-June and the guy is still hitting well over .300, so there could be more potential buyers now.
Dozier’s .285 expected batting average is nearly 30 points lower than the .314 average he’s produced to date, and Statcast data also indicates that his slugging percentage is quite inflated. His .346 BABIP is among the 25-highest in baseball and unlikely to stay that way. Dozier doesn’t steal many bases and his run and RBI opportunities should be limited in Kansas City, so we may not be left with a whole lot once his average and HR pace tail off. His strong plate discipline should prevent him from completely falling apart, but it could still be wise to see what you can get for him right now.