12 Players to Buy/Sell + Week 2 Trade Advice (2020 Fantasy Baseball)
We’re only 10 games into the 2020 season, but that’s a full sixth of the entire year! It’s all going to be over before we know it, which is why there’s no time like the present to get some deals done.
I generally only make minor alterations to my pre-season rankings through the first couple weeks, unless it’s due to a tangible reason beyond in-game performance, such as an injury or shift in playing time opportunity. As such, it’s fair to say that the guys I’ll recommend buying here are players I was already high on, and those I’ll recommend selling are ones I already had my doubts about.
It’s simply too early to conclude much about from players’ performances to date — even in terms of their advanced stats — but there may be some managers in your league who are rapidly shifting their expectations based on small sample sizes. If so, take advantage.
Note: Stats are through Sunday’s action.
Hitters to Buy
Christian Yelich (OF – MIL)
Ok, look, if you play in a serious league, you probably aren’t going to be able to acquire Yelich at a major discount after just one week. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You should feel out the Yelich owner to get a sense of how much they are panicking on a scale of 1 to 10. Even a slight discount would be well worth it on a player who is as likely as anyone to be the best fantasy asset in the game from this point forward.
Sure, Yelich’s 12 strikeouts in 28 plate appearances through Sunday were more than you would have expected so far, but the sample size is incredibly small. We’re talking about the only qualified hitter in baseball who entered Monday’s games with a Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) of .000. It’s only a matter of time until he explodes, and it may well have happened by now if the Brewers hadn’t had their entire series with the Cardinals wiped out due to the coronavirus.
Adalberto Mondesi (SS – KC)
Mondesi is a player who firmly divides opinion in the fantasy community, and rightly so. On the one hand, his plate discipline is terrible, which does him no favors in terms of batting average and runs scored, and he is particularly detrimental in OBP leagues. It also increases the risk of the kind of prolonged slumps that have already resulted in him getting moved down the lineup and could theoretically put his starting job at risk. On the other hand, he’s not a total liability in any statistical category, he faces little competition for playing time in Kansas City, and he is one of only a handful of players who can steal 40+ bases while posting double-digit home runs over the course of a full season.
Given the extreme scarcity of stolen bases in today’s game, it is well worth trusting that Mondesi can get his act together as long as his quad injury proves to be minor. He’s proven in the past that he can put up league-altering numbers in roto/categories leagues a very short period.
Wilson Ramos (C – NYM)
I believed coming into the season that there was a sizable drop off after the first eight catchers selected in most fantasy leagues, and nothing that’s transpired in the first week of the season has changed my mind (other than perhaps Christian Vazquez convincing me he belongs in that group).
Ramos was one of the catchers toward the back of that top tier, and while he homered Monday, he is still off to a relatively slow start. That could have some fantasy managers willing to replace him with the flavor of the month. If so, it is a good opportunity to acquire a player who can provide some offensive upside at fantasy’s weakest position. Ramos has posted a batting average of .288 or better in three of the last four seasons — an extreme rarity at catcher — while also displaying the ability to hit at least 15-20 home runs over a full season.
Pitchers to Buy
Luis Castillo (SP – CIN)
Castillo hasn’t been bad over his first two turns through the rotation (both against Detroit), but the underlying data suggests he deserved much better. His .438 BABIP against is the second-highest among qualified starters, and his 0.71 FIP (fielding independent pitching) is a whopping 3.79 runs lower than his 4.50 ERA. Castillo’s numbers aren’t bad enough to induce panic among his fantasy owners, but they may be unimpressive enough to create a small buying window.
Matthew Boyd (SP – DET)
Boyd is another pitcher whose FIP (3.95) is far lower than his ERA (7.20) through two starts, thanks to an unfortunate .412 BABIP against him in the early going. Boyd’s 11.56 K/9 in 2019 was the sixth-best rate among qualified starters, and his walk rate has never been a major issue. Last year, the home run ball was his undoing, but if his home run rate normalizes even a little bit, he could take a big step forward this year. Maybe Boyd is the type of pitcher that will always underperform his peripherals a little, but he can still be a significant asset in mixed leagues. You should be able to buy him for a low price right now.
Hyun Jin Ryu (SP – TOR)
Ryu is not a player I was eagerly buying coming into the 2020 season, but after a couple of rough starts, it’s possible that the Ryu owner in your league is overrating how much his numbers will regress this year. Ryu was darn-near unhittable over his last few in Los Angeles, and a huge part of that was his minuscule walk rate, which was the best in baseball last season. Simply put, this is a player who knows how to avoid digging himself into a hole, and that trait should serve him well as he’s forced to acclimate to a much more hitter-friendly home ballpark. The designated hitter, which initially seemed like a further detriment to Ryu’s fantasy value, is no longer as big a concern now that the National League has one too.
Hitters to Sell
Fernando Tatis Jr (SS – SD)
Speaking of digging yourself a hole, I am probably doing it by continuing to doubt a player as supremely talented as Tatis, but here we are. I realize that Tatis is going to have plenty of fantasy value by virtue of his elite combination of power and speed, but I just can’t get past how often he strikes out. Through his first 374 Big League at-bats, Tatis has fanned 127 times, a 30.3 percent K rate that would have been the third-highest in baseball last year. Players that strikeout that often simply don’t hit .317, like Tatis did last year, or even .275, as he’s done so far this year. Tatis certainly has the look of a future star, but if someone in a non-keeper league is willing to pay full price for the numbers he’s put up to this point in his career, I’d sell.
Joey Gallo (1B – TEX)
With a .310 average, three homers and two steals through eight games, Gallo is off to a fantastic start. The question you have to ask yourself, though, is whether he is suddenly a different player. I’m not sold.
Gallo hit a career-best .253 last season, so perhaps there’s someone in your league who believes that his batting average will continue to trend upward this season. The reality is that his strikeout rate last year was 38.4 percent. That’s a massive number, and it was even higher than his K rate in 2017 and 2018, when he hit below .209 and .206, respectively. Even if his average doesn’t drop quite that low, he’s a poor bet to improve on last year’s mark, and there’s not much reason to believe he is suddenly going to steal more bases. The Rangers’ move to a less hitter-friendly ballpark also won’t make his life any easier. Gallo is one of the most consistent power hitters in the league, but he is still likely to be a major fantasy liability elsewhere.
Donovan Solano (2B – SF)
Solano can hit for average, but unfortunately, that’s just about all he can do offensively. The journeyman 32-year old second baseman is a nice story, but his fantasy upside is severely capped by a lack of power or speed. To put it in perspective, over the last three months of last season, Solano hit .347, but he still produced less 5×5 fantasy value than Joey Wendle, who hit .250 with three home runs and seven steals over that span. Once Solano’s .484 batting average drops into the .300 range, his mixed league viability will go out the window. You obviously won’t get much in return, but I’d swap him for a more sustainable producer if you can.
Pitchers to Sell
Dustin May (SP – LAD)
Don’t get me wrong, I’d be excited to own May in a dynasty league. But for redraft? The hype could be getting a little out of hand.
May is a very highly regarded prospect in one of the best possible situations for a pitcher: National League, friendly home ballpark, terrific offense supporting him. But the NL advantage isn’t there this season because of the universal DH, and there are some other pretty significant obstacles to May maintaining mixed-league value. For one, he isn’t going very deep into games. He’s yet to make it out of the fifth inning in either of his first two starts, and the Dodgers may avoid overworking him all season. Second, he has yet to show great bat-missing ability against Major League hitters, which indicates that he’ll be a liability in the strikeout department and perhaps in the ratio categories as well.
May’s future is bright, but as a high-end prospect on a World Series contender that plays in a major media market, he’s getting overvalued in a lot of redraft leagues.
German Marquez (SP – COL)
This one is pretty simple. We all know Marquez is a talented pitcher, but pitching at Coors Field has completely ruined his appeal in fantasy leagues. If you just took his career numbers on the road (3.64 ERA, 1.14 WHIP), he’d be a mid-rotation staple in fantasy. But his horrific home numbers (5.01 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) relegate him to streamer status.
That brings us to his 2020 numbers. He currently sports an impressive 1.54 ERA and 0.86 WHIP, but both of his starts so far have come on the road. There seems to be at least one fantasy manager in every league who fails to fully appreciate the Coors Field effect, so take advantage of Marquez’s early-season schedule and ship him out while you still can.
Jon Lester (SP – CHC)
Lester has a sparkling 0.81 ERA through his first two starts of 2020, but that doesn’t mean we’re witnessing the Lester of old reemerging at age 36. He’s struck out just five batters through 11 innings, and he’s instead relied upon unsustainably good batted ball results (namely a .091 BABIP and 6.3 percent HR/FB rate).
Lester has posted a mid-4.00s ERA in two of the last three seasons, and that’s where expectations should be for him this year as well. Even if he somehow manages to repeat his 3.32 ERA from 2018, he won’t be a huge fantasy help due to his subpar strikeout rate and WHIP. Lester was once was a bonafide SP1 in fantasy leagues, so it’s probably worth exploring whether any of your league-mates (wrongly) think that they’re getting the 2008-2016 version of the former ace.
Week 2 Trade Advice
If you want to get a deal done, one of the most important things to do is to open the lines of communication, whether it be via text, email, phone, or — since it’s 2020 — Zoom. Anything other than the little text box below the trade offer, really.
Rather than making a long-winded case for why your league-mate should accept an offer you’ve constructed, ask them who they value on your team. The more you talk to them, the better it will go. Eventually, you may come to realize that they value one or two of your players far more than you do, and vice versa. That’s when agreeing on a trade becomes easy, and both managers can walk away from it feeling happy with their return.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Lineup Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.