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Buy Low, Sell High: Luis Castillo, Francisco Lindor, John Means (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

by Paul Ghiglieri | @FantasyEvolves | Featured Writer
May 11, 2021

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.

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Buy Low

Luis Castillo (SP – CIN)
Nobody drafts a fantasy ace and feels happy to see him post an ERA over 6 through April and into May. However, the initial concern was that Castillo’s velocity was down during his first few starts. As the weather warmed, we expected his velocity to rise, and it has. Unfortunately, success hasn’t followed. In fact, success has been giving Castillo the silent treatment lately, much like his changeup.

This wouldn’t be the first time he endured a brutal stretch of poor pitching, so buy the dip now and hopefully enjoy a top-20 pitcher sooner rather than later. Consistency will come.

Francisco Lindor (SS – NYM)
Lindor has been named frequently in this space. His managers are most certainly frustrated by the lack of production, and the underlying metrics are not providing much solace or reason for hope.

So, why buy him then? Healthy, 27-year-old superstars who sign MVP-caliber contracts typically don’t turn to dust right away. Lindor is probably pushing himself too hard to justify his contract and carry a team that needs him just to be himself and nothing more. His 41.8% HardHit% is the highest of his career. He is barreling the ball at the same rate as in 2020, which is still lower than his MVP-esque performances from 2017-2019. Even if those years turn out to be his peak, his current .205 BABIP won’t remain this depressed much longer. When the most news surrounding Lindor involves rats in the clubhouse tunnel, the price may never be lower.

Alec Bohm (3B -PHI)
Bohm’s output has been downright pathetic if you’re just looking at box scores (.217/.245/.333), but Statcast reveals that his HardHit% ranks in the 87th percentile, while his average exit velocity sits in the 92nd percentile. The launch angle is down a full point, but the xBA (.273) suggests that better days are ahead, even while he’s mocked on the road.

Juan Soto (OF – WAS)
If you didn’t have a top-five pick during the draft, now is the time to try and pry away one of the game’s elite talents. Soto’s numbers are down across the board to begin 2020 (.262/.372/.431 with three home runs), but his K% sits at a career-low 12.8%. Unfortunately, the .264 BABIP is also a career-low. If you like the color red and percentile numbers in the upper 90s, you’ll love Soto’s Statcast page. Buy him now if he’s at all discounted.

Mookie Betts (OF – LAD)
The Dodgers have been on a skid, and the fact that Betts is batting .262 with four home runs and four stolen bases hasn’t helped. The slow start may help reduce the asking price, though. Betts hasn’t posted an ISO as low as this (.184) since his rookie year in 2014. It won’t last, so make your pitch now.

Sell High

John Means (SP – BAL)
Means has a 1.37 ERA and a 9.78 K/9. He is pitching very well. Look around, and you’ll hear analysts praise his control and ability to limit hard contact. While all of that is true, so is the fact that he’s enjoying an unsustainable .158 BABIP, 100% LOB%, and career-low 0.98 HR/9. No one is predicting that the sky will fall, but John doesn’t mean business this good. Cash out for a premium if you can, especially fresh off a no-no.

Aaron Civale (SP – CLE) and Zach Plesac (SP – CLE)
I’m lumping these two draft-day darlings together because regression is coming. Civale doesn’t miss bats (6.41 K/9), and his SIERA (4.42) suggests that his 2.91 ERA is a fluke.

Plesac’s velocity is up a few tics, and he is pitching fairly well, but the K/9 (6.98) is more in line with 2019, making 2020 (9.27 K/9) look more like an outlier that probably got him over-drafted this spring. Plesac’s saving grace is a stellar 55.4% GB%, which has mitigated the lack of swing and miss stuff so far. However, before 2020, he had never posted a GB% higher than 39.3%. Pitchers tweak and add to their repertoire, but Plesac isn’t taking a massive leap forward this year. His ERA and SIERA are nearly identical, so he might be a bit easier to move. Find a manager who wanted one or both on draft day and relieve his or her FOMO for a fine return.

Adolis Garcia (OF – TEX)
Garcia is off to a stellar start with nine home runs and a .399 wOBA, proving himself to be an early-season gem off the waiver wire. Garcia is also striking out over 30% of the time and walking just 5.5% of the time, which means that gem will soon lose its luster. Sell his blistering start now.

Randy Arozarena (OF – TB)
Managers who spent an early pick on Arozarena likely expected a 20/20 season with a .280 BA to be his floor. Would they have spent the same draft capital if his ceiling might be 15/15 with a .250 average? Arozarena could go bananas for a few weeks as he did in the playoffs, but it’s hard to see that happening with a player who strikes out nearly 33% of the time and is hitting a respectable but uninspiring .267 despite a .403 BABIP.

He is productive enough across the board that selling high is still an option this early — only if you can find a manager with visions of last October’s sugarplums still dancing in their head.

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Paul Ghiglieri is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Paul, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyEvolves.