Fantasy baseball players are a lot like stray cats. The more attached you get to them, the harder they are to get rid of.
And nothing attaches you to a third baseman (or a catcher or a shortstop or anyone on the Pirates) more than a seven-homer month. (Except, maybe an eight-homer one.)
Still, it's a sad fantasy reality that the best time to trade your best performers is exactly when they're performing their best. The cruel odds of baseball are that what goes up will surely come down (even if slightly). Just because someone is deemed a sell-high candidate, it doesn't mean he'll be a disappointment. It only means his value could be at an all-time high.
And just like a cat, it might sting to see him go. But think of how much better your place will smell in the long run.
Look, nobody's saying Carlos Beltran can't actually still manage 30 home runs and 100 RBI. But 50 and 125 (where he would land if he keeps up the tempo) seems pretty improbable.
That's mostly because Beltran is a near-lock to lose at least a few weeks to his chronic knee problems. You actually would have had better luck trying to move him last week before the Cardinals interrupted his scalding start with some necessary downtime.
All of a sudden, Beltran is showing signs that he's the same fantasy tease he's almost always been—and the guy who hasn't actually mustered 30 home runs since two teams ago in 2007 with the Mets.
He probably won't remain the NL's pre-eminent slugger for much longer and each day you hang onto him brings you a day closer to his first inevitable trip to the DL.
Wait, haven't we been here before?
Josh Reddick jumped out to a blistering beginning last season, too. You just might not remember because he was wearing a Red Sox uniform and then essentially evaporated after the All-Star break before getting shipped out of Boston.
Although the average is only at .270, he's top 10 in the AL with 11 homers (more than Miguel Cabrera and David Ortiz). Granted, it's difficult to project Reddick's stats because he's never topped 100 games in three seasons worth of sporadic appearances. But he's for sure not the 40-homer machine he looks like now, and regardless of how spacious the Coliseum is, the outfield in Oakland is crowded.
Even on a veteran Dodgers staff full of pitchers playing over their heads (like Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang), Ted Lilly has a truly underwhelming air about him. Still, the 36-year-old is 5-0 with a 0.90 WHIP and 1.79 ERA—and that's got to count for something in the eyes of an owner left wanting for wins.
But Lilly hasn't finished above .500 since 2009 and is currently sporting splits that seem heavily weighted in luck. His batting average on balls in play hasn't been above .200 this season although his career average is .272, and he isn't seeing nearly as many hits to the outfield as he's used to. His home run/fly ball rate is only 3.9 so far. It's usually at more than 10.
Move him now and that decline can be someone else's problem.
One way or another, Bryce Harper won't remain on "sell high" lists for long.
Either his brand value will begin to drop due to the reality of reasonable rookie expectations or he'll actually deliver on the hype and nobody will want to sell him.
But for now, he's got to be the most coveted .244 hitter in fantasy. As exciting as it can be to watch him play schoolyard ball, he still isn't on pace for double digits in homers or steals. Of course, nobody knows how Harper's accelerated learning curve will stretch out over the course of the season, and therein lies his value.
In a keeper league, you're obviously keeping him in a vault not even Danny Ocean could get to. But if you're only renting him for the year, you might only have a little while longer to upgrade him to a surefire second-rounder.
But so far, Chooch has been both.
He's got seven homers and 29 RBI to go with a sparkling .358 average and he's essentially carried the Phils while Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and pretty much everyone else in a red uniform has been hurt. While, yes, he could remain a solid start for the rest of the year, he's never hit 10 home runs in a single season and the average is sure to regress towards his .275 median.
He was a late-round option or free-agent pickup, but he's the cream of the catching crop for now. If it scares you to move him, remember the current No. 2 catcher is A.J. Pierzynski.
Who could send David Wright packing?
Not only is he the front-runner for the NL MVP at the moment, he's hitting .412 (best in the bigs) and he's got the sort of old-school grit and non-threatening good looks that make him a consistent bromantic candidate. But all those things are exactly what will make him attractive to everyone else.
Clearly, he won't hit .400 all year and his power numbers (four homers) actually aren't all that impressive.
I'm not saying Wright will ruin your team. Nobody will blame you for wanting to retain his services. I'm just saying if there's any other player in the league you'd rather have, Wright might right now provide one of your only chances to get him.
Everything about the season Matt Joyce is having seems sustainable. Well, maybe not the .294 average.
But he hit 19 homers in 141 games last year, which makes his current projection of 30 look just about right. The question isn't so much that he'll hit them: it's when. And Joyce is one of the streakiest hitters on the East Coast.
You might remember he hit seven home runs and 21 RBI last May, and that's pretty close to his eight and 23 now. But you might not remember (due to blacking out) his horrible .173 and one-homer June. His numbers are up due to two big weeks (alternately wedged between two regular-sized ones) and Joyce is likely on the verge of a less impressive stretch.
Carlos Lee could be the least exciting yet safest bet to hit .300 with 30 home runs as there is. He's so unexciting, in fact, that a lot of owners might not even realize he's hasn't really been that player since 2009.
His numbers have actually been in steady decline since 2006, and his 18 homers last season were his fewest since the 20th century.
But Lee is coming off a hyper-productive mid-May patch with four consecutive multi-hit games that have him hovering right around the top of seven-day rankings. It was such a good week that if you were to make a bar graph of his weekly output this season, last week looks like the Chrysler Building in Kansas.
Chances are good that Lee will end up a DH for an AL team by the end of the year, but chances are also good he continues his statistical descent.
It all comes down to this: Do you think Brandon Beachy will really be the best pitcher in the majors this season? Because he has been so far.
He's 5-1 with an NL-best 1.33 ERA, and he's coming off a complete game shutout against the Marlins.
But this is not the Beachy that Braves fans fell for during his rookie season last year. That Beachy threw strikeouts at a preternatural pace with a 10.74 K/9 that led the majors. This Beachy is sitting around 6.5 and there are 60 guys in the league with more Ks.
Odds are high the converted reliever will wear down as the temperature rises, and although he still could creep into the top 25 by season's end, you could sell him now and get someone who will be in the top 10.
As a Pittsburgh native, this is a painful inclusion. Andrew McCutchen is among the few bright spots on an otherwise and unsurprisingly underwhelming Pirates team. But as a Pittsburgh native, I also know he has a tendency to hit in bunches then fade.
Case in point: He had two multi-home run games in three days last week followed by a three-K donut on Sunday. His current .346 is way out of line with his .286 career line, and although he's got seven home runs and stolen bases, he'll most certainly hit a month or two where he hits and swipes just two or three.
There's a lot of talk about McCutchen finally taking his game to the next level (which would make him a future fantasy first-rounder), and I'm sure he'll deliver at least what you were expecting (second or third-round value).
But he has that history of falling off the planet and does play for a Pirates team that's deathly allergic to runs. Neither of which inspires all that much confidence.