Buy High/Sell Low: C.J. Cron, Spencer Torkelson, Akil Baddoo (2022 Fantasy Baseball)
We have made it through our first whole week of the season. Most teams have played ten or so games, so we are starting to get an idea of players worth buying high or selling low on.
It is still important not to overreact as it is only ten or so days into the season. A lot can still change with the players listed below, but they have shown some good or bad signs, leading to buying high or selling low. As the weeks go on, we may find some gems to add to the lists, but for now, let’s check out five to buy and five to sell.
C.J. Cron (1B – COL)
C.J. Cron has been mashing to start the season. He has hit safely in eight of ten games, suitable for a .317 average. Cron has eight extra-base hits, including five home runs, which has led to an impressive .463 ISO and 1.129 OPS. The early contact quality metrics check out with a 16.7% barrel rate and 50% hard-hit rate with a 113 mph maxEV. Even Cron’s xStats say his batting average should be slightly higher while his slugging and wOBA’s are slightly above expected.
Sure, Cron benefits from playing at Coors Field, but that is part of the appeal. Last season he hit 28 home runs and drove in 92 runs while hitting .281. Buy Cron wherever you can, as a repeat of 2021 should happen with a higher 2022 ceiling in play.
Seiya Suzuki (OF – CHC)
Seiya Suzuki was one of the big names in free agency this season as he was the latest big-name player coming from Japan. In recent seasons in Japan, Suzuki would hit over .300 with power and a bit of speed. He hit 38 home runs in 2021 and even stole 25 bases in 2019. Suzuki had all the offensive skills in Japan; the question would be how that would translate to the MLB.
Over the first 10 games, the answer to that question is a loud “YES.” Suzuki has hit safely in nine of ten games with a .429 average. He has shown power with four home runs but no speed yet. Suzuki sees the ball well with a 23% walk rate which may be the best part of the early start. With patience like that, a 30% barrel rate, and a 50% hard-hit rate, the offensive success will follow. Suzuki obviously will not hit over .400 all season, but .290-.300 is in play with power and counting stats. He appears to be the real deal and a fantasy buy.
Spencer Torkelson (1B/3B – DET)
Spencer Torkelson took a few games to get comfortable, but he has found that comfort. He has hit safely in four of his last five games with three extra-base hits and two home runs. The .400 BABIP and .467 ISO are likely unsustainable, but the other metrics have some staying power. One metric is an 11.1% walk rate, outstanding for a young bat. That allows him to feast in the zone, with a 92.9% Z-contact over the last five games and a measly 4.5% SwStr.
If Torkelson can keep the plate discipline he has showcased in the minors, he should be able to hit .255-.260 with power and solid run production. It is usually tough to buy young players, but Torkelson has shown a couple of great traits early that lead to a buy now before the price gets too high.
Alek Manoah (SP – TOR)
Most will be like, “no, duh, Bubba; we know Alex Manoah is a stud.” Yeah, but I am here to back up the buy-high claim with his early production. He has thrown six innings in both of his starts, allowing two runs and striking out 13. Manoah has a 15.6% SwStr rate, higher than the 12.6% in 2021. The SwStr increase increases O-swing to 35.5% and a decrease in O-contact to 56.4%.
Sure, it is only two starts, but a pitcher with Manoah’s skills that is now gaining more chase and swings and misses only makes him an even better fantasy target. He is the real deal, and while some may be focused on Burnes and Cole, look at buying Manoah for a bit less.
Joe Musgrove (SP – SD)
Joe Musgrove was a question mark for me entering the season. I could not see all the hype early on, but I did buy in a bit closer to the start of the season. So far, Musgrove has pitched at least six innings in both starts, with two total runs scored and 14 strikeouts.
The most impressive thing about the beginning of Musgrove’s season is ZERO walks, leading to a 31.1% K-BB. That is just ridiculous. His early 1.42 ERA is backed by a 1.86 xFIP, 1.94 SIERA, and 2.05 xERA. Musgrove appears to be the real deal, so buy now while many are still sleeping on just how good he has been this season.
Akil Baddoo (OF – DET)
Akil Baddoo is off to a horrible start to the season, and I am not optimistic it will get much better. He only has two hits this season, leading to a .087 batting average. It is not great when Baddoo makes contact, as he only has a 6.7% hard-hit rate. His contact rates are alarming, with a 50% O-contact and 64.7% overall contact rate. Pair the poor contact with a 17.8% SwStr right, and not much good will come from that. Baddoo is also hitting at the bottom of the batting order and could be platooning with Victor Reyes soon. Sell Baddoo while you can, as things are not looking great for him.
Trent Grisham (OF – SD)
It has been a brutal start to the season for Trent Grisham. He has played 12 games, starting 11, and only has five hits with a .146 batting average. He is striking out 28.6% of the time to go with a measly .271 OBP, which will not bode well for a lead-off hitter. Grisham is still walking 14.3% of the time, which is nice, but a 42% ground ball rate and limited hard contact will lead to poor production. Luckily for Grisham, the Padres’ offense is a mess that should buy him more time. Just keep an eye on the batting order, as Grisham loses a lot of value if he is not leading off. I am not overly optimistic a change is coming soon, so sell now.
Anthony Rizzo (1B – NYY)
Anthony Rizzo opened the season with back-to-back games with home runs, but since then has slowed down. He is only hitting .212 on the season with three home runs. He is swinging outside the zone at 31.2%, with an O-contact of 62.5%. Sure, Rizzo will get some cheap home runs in Yankee Stadium, but the overall hit skills and the batting average are more of a concern to me.
The fact he is a Yankee and has a decent track record, one could sell much higher than he is worth to me. Sell Rizzo while some are still in on him, as it may be a long season rostering the lefty first baseman. I would trade him from Cron straight up.
Adam Wainwright (SP – STL)
Adam Wainwright is coming off a great 2021 season where he threw over 206 innings, won 17 games, and had a 3.48 ERA to go with a 2.62 xFIP. Most expected some regression to set in, and we may be seeing that regression already. Wainwright was great in his first start versus the Pirates, but things went south when he saw a better offense in the Brewers. Wainwright allowed four runs over 4.1 innings with a home run. He is getting strikeouts early, which is a plus, but there should be many starts like the one we saw versus the Brewers. Sell Wainwright off the great 2021 while you still can.
Scott Barlow (RP – KC)
We all knew manager Mike Matheny would make things interesting when it came to closing for the Royals, but this has been fun. Scott Barlow was the “offseason favorite,” and he has yet to collect a save over four appearances. Barlow does have a win and six strikeouts over his 4.2 IP, but the saves are what you wanted.
Barlow pitching more than just the ninth in high-leverage spots is concerning. The role is not ideal, but a decrease in velocity for Barlow is even more concerning for me. I have always been team Josh Staumont, and things may be moving that way. Sell Barlow while some still see him as the closer he may not be.
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Brian Entrekin is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Brian, check out his Twitter @bdentrek.