Buy Low, Sell High: Paul Goldschmidt, Frankie Montas, Nolan Arenado (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.
Paul Goldschmidt (1B – STL)
Let’s begin with a power-hitting first baseman who many let fall during draft season. Goldschmidt hit .260 in 2019, and his .304 average during 2020’s shortened season was bolstered by a precipitous drop in his K%. Well, Goldschmidt’s K% has risen to 21.2%, which is more in line with his career norms. More concerning is the fact his BB% (9.3%) is the lowest of his career. So why buy Goldschmidt now? For one, he has six steals already, which put him on pace for the most he’s had since 2017, the last time he posted double-digit steals. His other counting stats are pacing quite well also, as he should finish 2021 with over 30 bombs, 90+ runs, and 90+ RBIs. Even better is the fact that his 93 MPH average EV is the highest of his career, and his xwOBA (.384) dwarfs his wOBA (.345). Add in a career-high 53.5% Hard-Hit%, and Goldy looks primed for a massive second half.
— The Dude (@Turn2Dude) July 24, 2021
Luke Voit (1B – NYY)
Luke Voit has been a disappointment this season (.241/.328/.370) with just three home runs in an injury-plagued season. He’s also on the Il with a knee injury. So why in the blue hell would anyone want to trade for him now? Well, for starters, he could return to the active roster during the first week of August. Furthermore, despite the dismal output, Voit’s .376 xwOBA tells a slightly different story than his .369 wOBA. You can argue that isn’t much of a difference, but did you know that his 13.9% Barrel% is the highest of his career? If he can put his injury woes behind him in the second half, Voit has a chance to produce some helpful power numbers.
Frankie Montas (SP -OAK)
It’s been a while since we viewed Frankie Montas as a top-30 pitcher, and his performance has been somewhat inconsistent since getting popped for PEDs before last season. His ERA (4.34) isn’t great, and one could argue it would look even worse without his recent run of success. That run, however, is precisely what makes him a strong buy-low candidate. Montas’ FIP (3.12) indicates he’s pitched better than the surface stats would suggest. His 9.80 K/9 is solid, and he has gone at least six IP in each of his last three starts, two of which featured 10Ks apiece.
• Frankie Montas struck out double digit batters today against SEA for the 2nd time over his last 3 starts (6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 45% whiff, 38% CSW)
His FS had a season high 32% usage rate & he’s finally making the changes he needs to make to increase his K% & ceiling
— Fantasy Central (@FantasyCentral1) July 24, 2021
Andrew Heaney (SP – LAA)
Heaney was drafted as a late-round source of whiffs, but the 5.32 ERA has made him virtually unstartable. However, his 3.83 xFIP tells us he has been much better on the mound than the results would indicate. You can probably acquire Heaney for a song if he isn’t free already, and his 10.74 K/9 sits as the third-highest rate of his career. The 3.24 BABIP against is the highest of his career, so we should expect that to normalize some, making Heaney an ideal low-cost target for strikeouts. Rostering Heaney is a gamble, so…
Yimi Garcia (RP – MIA)
Yimi Garcia has been an excellent source of saves this year pitching for Miami. Garcia sports a palatable 3.47 ERA and 15 saves. However, any contender looking to acquire Garcia will almost certainly not use him as the regular closer. Moreover, Garcia’s 8.67 K/9 and 4.20 xFIP show he’s probably best used as a matchup play out of the bullpen, who can close out a game if needed. Expect the saves to dry up after the deadline and move him now.
Adam Frazier (2B – SD)
Adam Frazier was just traded to the Padres, and that move has the Eric Hosmer trade watch on red alert. Frazier and his .324 average made the All-Star team this year, but with only four bombs and five steals, he’s mostly been an empty, average asset, though he has been a good source of runs. More than anything, the move allows San Diego to reduce the plate appearances of Jurickson Profar and Ha-Seong Kim, neither of whom have been much help. With no power or speed to offer and an xwOBA (.336) that falls short of his wOBA (.365), Frazier might be the perfect MI to move to a team in need of average help.
Nolan Arenado (3B – STL)
Arenado has been on a tear over the last week, hitting three dingers with eight runs and five RBIs to go along with a .370 average. That makes now the best time to trade him. Arenado is only hitting .261 on the season with 20 home runs. The 11 steals have been a treat, and 60 runs are no joke. However, lest you think underlying metrics suggest Arenado’s on the verge of vintage domination (and many of them do), know that his SLG (.504) is likely a sign of overperformance based on expected stats (.430 xSLG), and he’s sporting the lowest walk rate of his career. Send some dinger highlights to your league mate to go along with your offer.
Kwang-Hyun Kim (SP – STL)
Kim has been outstanding this season, pitching to a 2.88 ERA. Unfortunately, the 4.53 xFIP reveals that the other shoe should drop soon. When you consider that Kim only sports a 7.15 K/9, he doesn’t flash the stuff necessary to strike out hitters at an above-average clip. Kim has averaged no less than six IP in his last four starts. However, before that, he had only pitched six IP in one of his 13 previous starts.
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.