Buy Low, Sell High: Corey Seager, George Springer, Michael Conforto (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.
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.
Eduardo Rodriguez (SP – BOS)
Eduardo Rodriguez continues to struggle to meet his expected statistics, but that may change here in the second half. Since the calendar turned to July, Rodriguez has pitched 16.2 innings and given up just four earned runs (all in one start) with 19 Ks. His 5.19 ERA remains an eyesore, but Statcast shows his xERA is closer to 3.65. Perhaps a small tweak and a good shave were all that was needed.
A clean-shaven Eduardo Rodriguez, hoping success from a tweak he made to one of his pitches late in the first half carries in the second half. On Friday, it looked like that was the case: https://t.co/fYCEHUX20Z
— Jen McCaffrey (@jcmccaffrey) July 17, 2021
Corey Seager (SS – LAD)
Corey Seager has been out since mid-May, and now he will be activated off this IL this week. His stat line before getting hurt was far from stellar (.265 average, 4 home runs), but his .343 wOBA masked a .381 xwOBA. Moreover, his 51.7% HardHit% slots in as the second-highest of his career. Projections have Seager hitting over .280 with 8-10 home runs the rest of the season, plus a bevy of counting stats in a loaded Dodgers lineup.
Corey Seager and Josiah Gray at Dodger Stadium pic.twitter.com/A1hDhJB98n
— Sam Scherer (@sam_scherer99) July 19, 2021
George Springer (OF – TOR)
Toronto signed Springer to a six-year, $150 million deal this offseason, but the veteran outfielder has spent most of his Blue Jays tenure on the IL. We only have 95 plate appearances so far, but Springer’s 13.7% BB% would count as the highest of his career, and so would the 116.4 Max EV and 14.3 Barrel%. So long as Springer can stay healthy, he could provide one of the biggest offensive boosts of any position player in the second half.
Michael Conforto (OF – NYM)
I recommended Michael Conforto as a buy-low last week despite a .207 average, and all he’s done since then is hit over .294 with three dingers, five RBIs, and four runs. His Barrel% sits at 9.5%, slightly lower than the 10+% rate he posted in 2019 and 2020’s shortened campaign, but Conforto also boasted an 8.5% Barrel% in 2018 when he mashed 28 home runs, and his BB/K rate is even better in 2021. Expect Conforto to mash the rest of the season.
Marcus Stroman (SP – NYM)
Stroman has a 2.78 ERA, but the 51.0% GB% is the lowest of his career, and he adds almost nothing in the strikeout department (7.47 K/9). Most alarmingly, his xERA is 4.69, so there has been some batted ball luck in his favor. Stroman’s .278 wOBA pales in comparison to his .331 xwOBA. Stroman may very likely never see his value higher than right now, and one brutal start could cause his value to implode. Sell him now while his actual ERA still remains under 3.00.
Cedric Mullins (OF – BAL)
You’ve probably enjoyed the best of Mullins by now (.313/.379/.538 with 16 home runs and 16 steals), and while most projections have Mullins finishing with a 25/25 campaign, they paint the portrait of something closer to a .255 hitter. Mullins has a .391 wOBA, but his xwOBA sits at .345. If your roster can spare the eight dingers and ten or so steals Mullins may have left in him, you can likely flip him for a haul. The first thing I would probably do is see the manager who had Ronald Acuña Jr. is interested.
Trent Grisham (OF – SD)
Trent Grisham is having a fine season (.270/.357/.476 with 11 home runs and nine steals). However, the Max EV and Barrel% are both down from last year, and his wOBA (.345) is higher than his xwOBA (.332). Grisham should continue to be a solid contributor, but projections have Grisham hitting closer to .250 with nine home runs and just six steals for the rest of the year. Given the likely dip in production, Grisham makes for a fine sell high so long as people believe things like this:
— Locked On Padres (@LO_Padres) July 16, 2021
D.J. LeMahieu (1B/2B/3B – NYY)
DJ LeMahieu has not been having a great season (.269 BA with seven HRs), but he’s been heating up (.293 BA with 16 RBIs over the last month). More and more, 2019 looks like it will go down as a career year (.327 BA with 26 dingers), but fantasy managers may be thinking the best of 2021 is yet to come. Here’s what we know for sure: LeMahieu’s Brls/PA% sits at 3.0, and that is the 14th lowest mark in all of baseball. He figures to be better in the second half, but if another manager is willing to pay up believing that a power outburst is coming, take advantage and flip LeMahieu.
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.