Fantasy Baseball 2012: 15 Superstars to Trade for at a Discount

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIMarch 14, 2012

Fantasy Baseball 2012: 15 Superstars to Trade for at a Discount

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    Every year the fantasy draft comes and goes. And, no matter how well you prepare, chances are things aren't going to go 100 percent the way you hoped.

    Things like that are fine when you can fix them with free agency pickups or easy trades.

    But what about difficult trades? Such as those for superstars and fantasy studs?

    The following is a list of 15 stellar options for fantasy baseball trades. Each of these players has a factor that can be exploited to give you an easy trade, possibly even a trade at a premium.

Catcher: Buster Posey

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    2011 Stats: .284/.368/.389, 17 R, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 3 SB
    Exploitable Factor: 2011 Injury


    Posey's coming off an injury-shortened season, and that's a great thing to exploit in a trade. If you can convince someone he's not worth it in 2012, the trade is yours.

First Base: Eric Hosmer

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    2011 Stats: .293/.334/.465, 66 R, 19 HR, 78 RBI, 11 SB
    Exploitable Factor: Underrated


    There's always the chance that a great guy goes off the board to a fantasy player who has no idea what he's worth. Hosmer is in store for a huge year, and while he's being drafted in the mid-round, he's an early-round talent.

Second Base: Ben Zobrist

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    2011 Stats: .269/.353/.469, 99 R, 20 HR, 91 RBI, 19 SB
    Exploitable Factor: Underrated


    Zobrist remains one of the most underrated players in the game, as well as fantasy. If someone gets to him before you, there's a chance you have a steal on your hands.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez

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    2011 Stats: .243/.333/.379, 55 R, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 20 SB
    Exploitable Factor: 2011 slumps


    Hanley Ramirez is coming off the worst season of his career. In the right trade, you could easily exploit his struggles and land a top end talent. As one of the best young players in the game, he's bound for a bounce back.

Third Base: Evan Longoria

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    2011 Stats: .244/.355/.495, 78 R, 31 HR, 99 RBI, 3 SB
    Exploitable Factor: 2011 struggles


    Evan Longoria put together a pretty great 2011, but he didn't look like the 5-tool player we've come to love. Things should correct themselves in 2012, and working out a trade for this young player is worth it.

Outfield: Ryan Braun

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    2011 Stats: .332/.397/.597, 109 R, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 33 SB
    Exploitable Factor: Possible 2012 risk


    Braun is one of the best players in baseball, and he can bolster any lineup. However, looking at his numbers, he's seen major struggles without Prince Fielder hitting behind him.

    In the case that Braun starts the season in a slump, that's your chance to make a big trade.

Outfield: Carl Crawford

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    2011 Stats: .255/.289/.405, 65 R, 11 HR, 56 RBI, 18 SB
    Exploitable Factor: 2011 slumps, and injury risk


    Crawford had a rough first season in Boston, but we all know what he's capable of. If you trust in the dependency of his 5-tools, working out a trade should be a cinch.

Outfield: Alex Gordon

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    2011 Stats: .303/.376/.502, 101 R, 23 HR, 87 RBI, 17 SB
    Exploitable Factor: Underrated


    After years of under-performing, Alex Gordon used 2011 to breakout in a big way. If you lose him on draft, try to make a trade based on the fact that many owners will still find him unproven.

UT: Josh Hamilton

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    2011 Stats: .298/.346/.536, 80 R, 25 HR, 94 RBI, 8 SB
    Exploitable Factor: Injury risk


    Hamilton is one of the riskier players in baseball. Personally, I'd stay away. And people like me are the ones to exploit when you want to make a trade for this top hitter.

Starting Pitcher: Josh Johnson

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    2011 Stats: 3-1, 1.64 ERA, 60.1 IP, 56 SO, 0.978 WHIP
    Exploitable Factor: Injury history


    When he's on, he's one of the best pitchers in baseball. Unfortunately, Josh Johnson practically lives on the DL. If you're willing to take on the risk, for a lot of reward, a trade should be easy.

Starting Pitcher: Brandon Morrow

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    2011 Stats: 11-11, 4.72 ERA, 179.1 IP, 203 SO, 1.288 WHIP
    Exploitable Factor: Inconsistency


    Brandon Morrow continues to be a player seen as "under-performing," instead of "getting better." But the fact is that his peripherals continue to improve. The FIP-ERA disparity means if you can steal him through a trade, get it done.

Starting Pitcher: Felix Hernandez

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    2011 Stats: 14-14, 3.47 ERA, 233.2 IP, 222 SO, 1.220 WHIP
    Exploitable Factor: 2011 didn't meet standards


    It's weird to think of Felix Hernandez under-performing, but if you compare his 2010 to 2011 stats that's exactly what his last season entailed. 

    With his stock dropped, King Felix's trade availability has "steal" written all over it.

Starting Pitcher: Zack Greinke

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    2011 Stats: 16-6, 3.83 ERA, 171.2 IP, 201 SO, 1.200 WHIP
    Exploitable Factor: 2011 slow start


    Greinke got off to a slow start in 2011, but was unstoppable down the stretch. Just like teammate Ryan Braun—if Greinke's season starts slowly, then a trade could be easy.

Starting Pitcher: Michael Pineda

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    2011 Stats: 9-10, 3.74 ERA, 171 IP, 173 SO, 1.099 WHIP
    Exploitable Factor: Ballpark move


    Despite an ugly second half decline, Michael Pineda put together a fantastic 2011 rookie season. None the less, a lot has been made of his move to hitter friendly Yankee Stadium.

    He still has great stuff, and landing him through a trade could be easy.

Reliever: Andrew Bailey

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    2011 Stats: 3.24 ERA, 24 SV, 41.2 IP, 41 SO, 1.104 WHIP
    Exploitable Factor: 2011 struggles


    Not a lot of things went right for Bailey last season, but he's got a lot of upside. Not to mention he now plays for a save happy contender like the Boston Red Sox. Exploiting his past struggles to make a trade would solidify any fantasy pitching corps.