Buy Low, Sell High: Kyle Tucker, Austin Meadows, Jose Abreu (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.
Kyle Tucker (OF – HOU)
Kyle Tucker managers were likely hoping for an MVP-caliber campaign in 2021, so watching him hit below .200 in May feels about as good as getting all worked up for months speculating over your favorite NFL team’s first-round draft pick only to watch them trade out of the first round entirely. However, Tucker is seeing the ball well and making quality contact. His Brls/PA% (8.3) is among the game’s best now, and he’s striking out less than 18% of the time. Best of all, for a player known for his speed and power, it’s unlikely that Tucker will keep posting a .159 BABIP. He looks poised for a big month as soon as balls start dropping in his favor.
The most unlucky player I have seen this year is Kyle Tucker, dude can't catch a break.
— RTG (@RTGJ1999) April 28, 2021
Freddie Freeman (1B – ATL)
I’ve mentioned Freeman in this space before, and the fact he continues to hit under .230 should only keep frustrating his managers. Just don’t mention his abysmally low .180 BABIP when you try to pry him loose. His 7.0 Brls/PA% puts him near the top of the league leaderboards, and Freeman is striking out less than 14% of the time. You won’t have a chance to acquire him once he starts hitting more than just home runs. In fact, you’ll be dismissed before you even finish the question.
Austin Meadows (OF – TB)
Most people bought the dip on Meadows after his poor 2020 caused his ADP to drop. Since then, those who faded him have been taking victory laps as they point to his atrocious .213 batting average. However, Meadows has a modest K% (24.5%), and his .241 BABIP is sure to climb. Moreover, his 7.1 Brls/PA% is among the best in baseball. It remains to be seen if 2019 will go down as a career year (it probably will, as far as SBs goes). However, Meadows is still far too young and talented to think 2020 is the new normal, especially not with underlying metrics pointing to a player about to hit his stride in the power department. He doesn’t have much interest in running, so know what you’re buying when you make an offer.
Austin Meadows 2019➡️2020➡️2021
Avg EV: 90.4➡️90.1➡️91.2
xwOBA & xwOBACON in line with 2019
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) May 1, 2021
We are still early enough in the season that a player’s draft season hype still lingers, regardless of how poorly he has been playing. Some of the names below have not been playing well, but they still carry value because they carried top-100 ADP. Now might be the time to sell before their value drops as low as their production has thus far.
Victor Robles (OF – WAS)
Robles has long been a promising player who continues to frustrate managers with his inconsistency. He’s barely batting .200, but his BABIP (.273) should be higher for someone with his speed. His Brls/PA% (1.4) reveals how infrequently he is squaring the ball up like he was during the spring. His K% (22.5) isn’t overly alarming nor a huge jump from career norms, but when Robles does get on base, he isn’t running much at all (just one SB on two attempts), and his sprint speed has dropped considerably, leading to some speculation that he may be playing hurt. Regardless, Robles tends to get lost in his own head, so it’s hard to envision sustaining success without more inconsistency. A manager starved for speed may be willing to pay a premium for Robles despite little evidence that he will remain an asset in that category moving forward.
So Victor Robles led off the #Nationals third with a single and came around to score. If that seemed rare to you, it's cuz it was. The last time Robles scored a run was April 12 — 13 games ago.
— Maria Torres (@maria_torres3) April 28, 2021
Keston Hiura (1B/2B – MIL)
Hiura will always be a tantalizing talent, but the swing and miss to his game continue to hold him back. A player with good, but not elite, power like Hiura cannot maintain a 36.6% K% and expect to have continued success. His BABIP (.256) isn’t low enough to excuse away the fact that he’s hitting under .170. The 1B eligibility made Hiura a value on draft day. Still, it’s hard to imagine him developing better plate discipline and improving his contact skills enough to make him a league-winner this year. Worst of all, Hiura has now been optioned to the Brewers’ Alternate Training Site. More than likely, he’s getting dropped in your league. This isn’t a “sell high,” but if you can sell now for anything of value to another manager who wants to stash Hiura under the belief he will get things fixed while away, it might not be a bad idea. There are believers.
0/30 Hiura here but you better believe I’ll bid on all the dropped shares in anticipation of the Red Hot June Reincarnation Tour.
— Vlad Sedler (@RotoGut) May 3, 2021
Jose Abreu (1B – CWS)
Jose Abreu continues to age gracefully, even if he’s almost certainly not going to repeat the success of 2020. However, hitting under .220 in May could suggest it’s time to bail. Looking deeper, his Brls/PA% looks rather pedestrian (5.2), and while the BABIP should improve a bit (.245), Abreu doesn’t have the speed to post an abnormally high one. He’s striking out nearly 29% of the time as well, so if the return is healthy, moving him now seems like a good idea.
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.