Buy Low, Sell High: Jose Ramirez, Jared Walsh, Walker Buehler (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
Each week in this column, we will continue to look at players through the lens of advanced metrics and various statistical trends to discover which players are underachieving or overachieving in the hopes of identifying potential trade targets or those worth selling at peak value.
Some of the data can be used to acquire a player at a lower price point because he has lost value or sell players when they peak in value for a larger return on your investment.
Find stats showing that a player’s value is actually on the upswing and acquire that player at a fair price, knowing his value is almost sure to keep increasing anyway. Conversely, sell players who hold widely held perceived value but for whom underlying stats show may be on the verge of seeing the floor collapse and get out now.
Thus far, the data sample is starting to stabilize, and while more time is still needed to truly gather which players look like premium buys or sunk costs, we have enough to guide our decisions.
This week features a star-studded cast of buy-low candidates, all hitting under .200, and perhaps quite a few surprising sell high ones as well.
Remember, every ball hit and thrown still tells a story, and if you want to review previous Buy Low, Sell High suggestions from prior weeks, you can view them here.
Walker Buehler hasn’t pitched poorly, but only one win has some of his managers tilting, and the 3.45 ERA might be a tad underwhelming for those expecting ace returns. The wins should start piling up once the Dodgers climb out of their funk, and Buehler’s xFIP 2.98 show that he’s been even better than perceived.
Walker Buehler said he was a little bit frustrated with his performance but it doesn't matter if the team comes back and wins. Good attitude you love to see.
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) May 12, 2021
Jose Ramirez is hitting only .261, but the 11 home runs and four steals probably do not have his managers too concerned. Now, however, might be the lowest his price will be given that Ramirez’s BABIP (.224) is the only reason he’s not hitting closer to .300. His wOBA (.386) is solid, but his xwOBA .422 is elite. If you can acquire Ramirez for even a slight discount right now, it can’t hurt to make the attempt.
I feel like the @Indians' José Ramírez is somehow still underrated.
His .983 OPS is the 4th highest among all MLB batters over their last 162 games (behind only Trout, Cruz, and Soto) and his 98 extra-base hits are tops among all players.
— High Heat Stats (@HighHeatStats) May 17, 2021
Kyle Tucker remains a premiere buy low, hitting just .239 with nine home runs and two stolen bases. The power has been a treat, ut the real reason for the relative lack of speed is that he’s not getting on base very often (.298 OBP), and much of the lackluster average can be attributed to a .219 BABIP. Tucker’s wOBA is just .326, but his xwOBA is .381. Consider him a prime target if you need an outfielder.
KYLE TUCKER TO THE DAMN MOON 🚀 pic.twitter.com/X7RQSOhCUa
— Ben Verlander (@Verly32) May 13, 2021
Michael Conforto continues to struggle out of the gate with a .232 AVG accompanied by a power outage. However, his BABIP (.289) can explain some of his struggles, and the differential between his.321 wOBA and .380 xwOBA indicates he’s been a player at the plate than the surface stats show. In fact, his xwOBA has been steadily inclining over his last 100 plate appearances. News of Conforto’s recent injury should make him even easier to acquire if you have a place to stash him on your IR.
Small sample, but he’s been much better during the first 10 games of May. His Statcast profile looks pretty good too. Not sure that answers your question. pic.twitter.com/DquwX85bOW
— Luke Arkins (@luke_arkins) May 13, 2021
In roto leagues, Niko Goodrum has provided sneaky value with 4 HRs and 6 SBs and a low but not entirely draining .239 AVG. Managers looking for some power and speed could use some of that. However, Goodrum is hitting just .239 despite a .400 BABIP, and he’s sporting a 40.7% K%.
Find a league mate who needs some power and speed, and flip Goodrum before the bottom falls out beneath him.
Jared Walsh appears to have carried over last season’s success, and managers who waited on first base or drafted him late for a corner infield spot are doing victory laps right now. Walsh has been excellent, but that .326 AVG is being propped up by a .393 BABIP. Those who play in OBP leagues probably don’t care. They’ll laugh at you and say, “Look at Walsh’s stellar .401 OBP. He’s a stud!”
Unfortunately, the high BABIP is a large reason for Walsh’s OBP luck since he currently sports just a 9.5% BB%. I expect he will continue to be a serviceable starting option, but if you can sell now before regression hits, you may be able to fetch a more valuable and sustainable return.
Here’s the good: Matthew Boyd has a 1.94 ERA. Here’s the bad: Matthew Boyd has a paltry 6.26 K/9, an likely unsustainable 1.9% HR/FB rate, and a 4.90 xFIP. Sell him now while he’s outperforming frontline starters like these:
Pitchers averaging fewer points than Matthew Boyd in my fantasy league:
(And these are just the ones I thought to check) https://t.co/GKZ9j8NvPt
— Gabby Cup Champion (@lowerbodyinjury) May 17, 2021
Cole Irvin has been a nice find off the waiver wire for those needing to shore up the back end of a fantasy rotation. However, Irvin’s pedestrian 7.36 K/9 isn’t helping much, and the 3.02 ERA is a mirage when you consider he has a 4.31 xFIP. Expect Irvin’s results to resemble a back-end rotation arm rather than a solid number two sooner rather than later. I’m fairly certain you can get more for Cole than the Phillies did:
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) January 30, 2021
Taijuan Walker continues to cruise, posting a terrific 2.20 ERA to help the Mets rattle off seven straight wins and ascend to the top of the NL East standings. However, a 4.12 xFIP under the hood shows all is not so pristine, and 3.95 BB/9 is a recipe for disaster. If the walk rate doesn’t come down, Walker’s tower of success could end up like this:
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.