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

Aug 19, 2020

Rhys Hoskins’ production can go nowhere but up

Every player’s value is constantly changing. Stellar athletes who’ve had a rough go of it so far may not have the rosiest outlook for the rest of the season. In contrast, there are also guys who were unheralded coming into the year that are now putting up dominant fantasy performances.

With that being said, the primary thing we need to evaluate when assessing who the best trade candidates are is how sustainable each player’s performance is. Depending on the metrics, some of these upstarts may just be experiencing plenty of luck. Plus, a number of these slumping early and mid-round draft picks may be primed to turn things around. Our featured experts have scoured through the data to identify their favorite buy-low and sell-high options. Read on to see their recommendations.

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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?

Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF – PHI) 
“The correct answer is probably Cody Bellinger, but the fantasy manager who drafted him is not selling low, at least not in my leagues. Therefore, you will have to adjust your expectations. Hoskins has vastly underperformed so far in 2020, but the situation is not as dire as it may seem. He entered Tuesday with a .208 batting average and just five RBIs. He also had not yet hit a home run. That is problematic for fantasy managers, especially considering Hoskins hit 63 round-trippers over the past two years. He does have an on-base percentage north of .400, so he has not been a total bust in OBP leagues. But those playing in standard formats have not gotten their money’s worth to this point in the season. However, his expected batting average (.254), expected slugging percentage (.437), and expected weighted on-base average (.394) entering Tuesday’s action were better than the numbers he posted in those categories last year. Hoskins finally got off the home run schneid on Tuesday night, and hopefully, that will get him going. The Phillies also still have some games to make up, so he should get more plate appearances moving forward than most players. If you can afford the potential batting average hit, trading a player like Jorge Polanco or Justin Turner for Hoskins makes a lot of sense.”
– Mick Ciallela (Fantrax)

Rhys Hoskins has been off to an absolutely abysmal start at the dish, batting .214 with 13 runs, six RBIs, and just a single home run — not exactly the stat line you are looking for from a starting first baseman. Despite the power outage, he has actually shown improved plate discipline bumping his walk rate to 22.4% (career 15.5%) and slicing his K-rate to 19.7% (career 23.2%). This has all led Hoskins to an excellent .421 OBP over the season’s first few weeks. Still, we need the power … and it should come. His exit velos are right in line with his career norms, and despite some poor luck, he has been hitting the ball much better lately, including a double scorched off the wall in center on Saturday that would have been a homer if hit anywhere else in the park and his first long ball of the year Tuesday in Boston. Hoskins may not be the 40-homer bat he looked like when he first arrived in the big leagues, but he’s batting in a premium spot (and getting on base with regularity) in one of the best lineups in the NL. If you can flip an early-season streaker like Renato Nunez or Yuli Gurriel for Hoskins, go ahead and do it.”
– Wayne Bretsky (BretskyBall)

Adalberto Mondesi (SS – KC) 
“I have to imagine that any fantasy manager rostering Mondesi is getting pretty fed up with his .217/.244/.301 slash line, so I’d be trying to swoop in where I could. No, there’s nothing good about Mondesi’s Statcast data or underlying metrics, but he is making medium or hard contact on 87.5% of his batted ball events, the highest of his career. The fact that he is on a 162-game pace of 35 steals while sitting with a .244 OBP and a career-worst 39.6% fly-ball rate should tell you all you need to know. He’s been dropped to the bottom of the lineup but there’s going to be a week where he swipes five or six bags. With power aplenty this year, I’d be fine swapping someone like Marcell Ozuna or Eloy Jimenez.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Cody Bellinger (1B/OF – LAD)
“Bellinger’s wOBA of .246 (through Monday’s games) is significantly lower than his expected wOBA of .326. That .082 difference is one of the top-20 widest variances in the sport. We know that he is not hitting the ball as hard and walking less, but he is still striking out at the same low rate as last year. I expect him to go on a tear at some point to close the season. If you roster J.D. Martinez, it’s worth seeing if the Bellinger owner will do a like-for-like swap, seeing that Martinez seems to be in trouble with the humidor and lack of in-game video.”
– Carmen Maiorano (FantasyPros)

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

Kyle Lewis (OF – SEA) 
“The early season returns for Lewis have been phenomenal. The former top prospect is batting .345/.420/.529 with five home runs, 15 runs, and 17 RBIs. He’s been a fantasy stud for you and now it’s time to move on. Lewis showed a similar power pace in a small sample last year, but nothing in his minor league numbers point to him being a 30-homer bat in a 162-game season. It doesn’t even seem necessary to point out the eye-popping .439 BABIP as a sign that regression is in Lewis’ future. While he should continue to provide useful fantasy stats, it’s probably a good time to float Lewis’ name out there and see what you would get. In return for him, I’d target an up-and-coming stater such as Max Fried, Dylan Bundy, or Spencer Turnbull.”
– Wayne Bretsky (BretskyBall)

Robinson Cano (2B – NYM) 
“Cano is off to a preposterous start with a 1.152 OPS through 15 games. His Statcast data is fantastic, as he ranks inside the top-10 percent of the league in average exit velocity and the top-seven percent in hard-hit rate, and has a .471 wOBA and a .462 xWOBA. But … it’s Robinson Cano. He’s nearly 38 years old, hasn’t topped 23 home runs since 2016, and is coming off the worst season of his career. Buy the small sample if you want, but I’d be looking to ditch him for any notable hitter off to a slow start like Max Muncy, Keston Hiura, or Jose Altuve, but would gladly swap for someone of the Jose Abreu or Jorge Soler level.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Mike Yastrzemski (OF – SF) 
“Selling high can be tough because if you think a player’s hot start is fluky, chances are your leaguemates agree. With that said, I would try to sell high on Yastrzemski. His expected stats are not at all in line with his current level of production. Of 267 qualified hitters, Baby Yaz has the sixth-largest spread between his batting average and his xBA, the second-highest difference between his slugging percentage and his xSLG, and the third-highest difference between his wOBA and his xwOBA. He should continue to be serviceable as long as he is hitting at the top of the lineup. Just do not expect a .300-plus batting average or more than a handful of homers going forward. I would seek to trade Yastrzemski for someone like Garrett Hampson or Wil Myers. I believe both players have more upside and they both have multi-positional eligibility in most leagues as well. The flexibility those players provide has proven to be more helpful than ever this season.”
– Mick Ciallela (Fantrax)

Aaron Nola (SP – PHI) 
“I don’t expect Nola to fall off a cliff, but I don’t see him posting a 2.05 ERA for the rest of the year. The main reason why he is dominating is due to his command (his velocity is actually down) and we know that his command has been very streaky. I am expecting him to regress to his normal walk rate of two or three BB/9 for the rest of the year, driving his ERA and WHIP up in the process. I would try and do a two-for-one trade with Kenta Maeda and a bat in return for Nola.”
– Carmen Maiorano (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for giving us their buy/sell candidates. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter.