Buy Low, Sell High: Kyle Schwarber, Joey Gallo, Wander Franco (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.
Wander Franco (SS – TB)
The super prospect’s surface stats do not look all that impressive (.233/.313/.419), and his dynamic debut was quickly followed with an 0-for-15 slump. However, Franco has now hit safely in his last six games, and while most of those hits have been singles, he does have a double, home run, and stolen base over that stretch. Franco has consistently hit in the top third of the lineup, and projections still peg him for eight homers and half a dozen steals to go with a .290+ batting average in the second half.
Wander Franco through his first 48 PA:
88th percentile sprint speed
38% ground ball rate
45% hard-hit rate
This is a special, special talent. Expect immediate results, that BABIP won't be close to .242 ROS.
— Ryan Venancio (@ven_baseball) July 5, 2021
The window is likely closed, but if not, this is probably your last chance. After a brutal beginning to the season, Castillo has thrown a quality start in five of his last six appearances since the beginning of June. That stretch has also seen him rack up two wins while racking up an average of over six Ks per nine. His elite change-up and velocity are back, enough at least to trust him as a top-40 starter rest of the season.
The month of June was much better for Luis Castillo and let’s hope it’s a sign of things to come- #ATOBTTR
6 ER, 1.71 ERA, 2.77 FIP, 0.98 WHIP
25.6% K, 16% K-BB
2.5% Barrel, 37.5% HH
70.4% contact, 13.9% SwStr pic.twitter.com/bMNckv0Uk3
— KC Bubba (@bdentrek) June 28, 2021
Joey Gallo (OF – TEX)
Gallo’s value may balloon if he gets traded out of Texas, as expected. The .233 average has not helped, but Gallo has mashed 20 home runs, and he has a robust .389 OBP. The 31.3% K% might seem unsightly (it is), but it’s also the lowest of his career, while his 19.5% BB% is the highest of his career. If Gallo ends up hitting fly balls towards the short porch of Yankee Stadium or gets paired with the innovative coaching staff in San Francisco, we could see even more production. Acquiring him now in advance of MLB’s trade deadline seems prudent. Check out the thread below to see an even greater deep dive into just how good Gallo has been:
Joey Gallo has a 132 wRC+…which, simply put, is to suggest that his adjusted run creation has been 32% better than league average (same as Adolis).
His wOBA is .363 (20th in AL) and xwOBA is .376 (14th in AL).
2.4 fWAR and on track to be a 5-win player (T-12 in AL.)
— Jared Sandler (@JaredSandler) June 27, 2021
Steven Matz (SP – TOR)
Steven Matz has been productive and relatively healthy for Toronto, but most of his managers are likely waiting for the other shoe to drop. Matz has not been quite as consistent since his COVID-related IL stint, and his 4.60 ERA might make him an appealing target considering his xERA sits a full run lower at 3.67. Matz’ 9.71 K/9 is actually the second-highest of his career behind last year’s shortened-season (10.57), and it points to more sustained swing-and-miss stuff. Best of all, the 2.61 BB/9 is the lowest since 2017. Pitching in front of Toronto’s loaded offense should give Matz plenty of run support to potentially double his seven wins in the second half.
Kyle Schwarber (OF – WAS)
Kyle Schwarber has been on an absolute tear, tying Barry Bonds for the most HR (16) in MLB history over an 18-game span. His 15 HRs are also tied for the second-most in June in a single season, trailing only Sammy Sosa. Schwarber’s BABIP isn’t abnormally high (.273), and his xwOBA (.397) is actually higher than his wOBA (.383), so why sell now? First, the current rate of production is simply unsustainable. Secondly, power is easier to find on the waiver wire than other commodities. Most importantly, Schwarber’s BB% (10.2%) is lower than his career norm, while his K% (29.0%) remains as high as it was last year. Now, he’s hurt with a hamstring strain, which is the type of injury that tends to linger and recur. You might not get quite as much in return while he nurses the injury, but if regression is all that awaits upon his return, you might as well cash out now rather than let him clog up a roster spot.
This is NUTS. Absolutely NUTS.
-Seven leadoff homers in 18 games.
-16 homers in 18 games (with a whole 8 innings left)
-12 homers in 10 games
Kyle Schwarber is on another planet.
— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) June 29, 2021
Juan Soto (OF – WAS)
Juan Soto was a “Buy Low” target for a while here, but now might be the time to deal him if you have him. Soto still hasn’t unlocked his upside this season (.420 xwOBA vs. .362 wOBA), but there is one metric which portends disappointment in the power department for the second half. Soto’s launch angle (5.2) ranks in the bottom-10 in baseball. Most projections peg him for another 15-17 home runs rest of the season, and unless he can raise that launch angle, those projections will probably hold. That would mean a total of 25 dingers to go along with a near .300 average and half a dozen or so steals. That’s a perfectly fine player who contributed across the board, but those numbers fall short of the expectations managers had who drafted Soto with a top-6 pick.
Bo Bichette (SS – TOR)
Bo BuehlerBichette has 15 home runs on the season to go with a dozen steals, flirting with a 30/30 pace. Unfortunately, like with Soto, Bichette’s launch angle (4.7) ranks near the bottom of the league, well short of what he posted in 2019 (10.4) and 2020 (12.0). Most projections have him mashing more than a dozen more dingers to go along with double-digit steals, making him a lock for a 20/20 season. That said, if a manager thinks Bichette will go 30/30 this season, the return could be enticing enough to move him now.
Walker Buehler (SP – LAD)
First the All-Star snub, and now this? When will the outrageous blasphemy end?! Hear me out here, ok? Buehler has been outstanding (8-1, 2.35 ERA with 101 Ks so far). However, Buehler’s 8.80 K/9 is far lower than the K/9 rates over 10.0 that he posted in 2019 and 2020, and it’s hard to see that changing now that his spin rates are down after baseball’s crackdown on foreign substances. Buehler’s xERA (3.54) is more than a run higher than his ERA, so if you can get a first-rate return on Buehler, it’s not a bad idea to move him.
Hat tip to SI for this stat. Spin rate decline since MLB started cracking down on pitchers. Walker Buehler on the hill in 2 hours pic.twitter.com/kJNpj5ptUa
— Pennywise Capital (@PennywiseCap) June 30, 2021
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.