Fantasy Baseball: Sell High on Sluggers, Should We Trade Encarnacion or LaHair?

Eric StashinSenior Writer IMay 24, 2012

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 30: Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays walks to first after getting hit by a pitch against the Texas Rangers during MLB action at the Rogers Centre April 30, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

So, you have a player who got off to a hot start and now has started to cool down.  You are left facing the question: Do you sell high before the rest of the league fully catches on, or do you think this is just a lull in their domination? 

Let’s take a look at two players and try to draw a conclusion:


Edwin EncarnacionToronto Blue Jays

It has been quite the season for Edwin Encarnacion, hasn’t it?  I know he’s been talked about early and often, and rightfully so.  The question facing fantasy owners at this point, however, is if we should be selling high on him or sitting tight. 

When you look at the overall numbers, it would appear to be an easy decision.  After all, entering Wednesday’s game he was hitting .263 with 13 HR and 35 RBI over 167 AB.  Throw in a below-average .250 BABIP, and it would appear like the sky is the limit.

However, sometimes looks can be deceiving.  First of all, look at his splits by month:

  • April – .322, 8 HR, 21 RBI, 15 R over 90 AB
  • May – .195, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 9 R over 77 AB

Obviously, he had significantly more luck in April than May, posting a .313 BABIP in April vs. a .175 BABIP in May.  Before we declare it a lock that he bounces back, the truth of the matter is that his April mark could actually just be incredibly lucky for his approach. 

In April, he posted a 53.3 percent fly ball rate (to go along with a 24.0 percent HR/FB).  In May, the mark has actually increased to 58.1 percent (though the HR/FB has fallen to 8.7 percent).

Swinging for the fences much?  To make matter worse, his line-drive rate in May is a measly 4.8 percent.  If he is going to continue looking to hit home runs, the power may be there, but he is not likely going to be able to maintain a respectable BABIP.  

That is going to mean a reduced average and, if the HR/FB rate is going to continue to be around his May mark, the power isn’t going to be as impressive, either.

He’s been a great story, and most owners in your league may not have taken notice to the dramatic numbers he’s posted in May. 

They are going to catch up soon, however, so your time to cash in on his hot start could be quickly closing.  If you can get top dollar, I wouldn’t hesitate to part ways with him.


Bryan LaHairChicago Cubs

He was the toast of many fantasy leagues over the early part of the season.  However, his hot April continues to mask what is really going on:

  • April – .390, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 11 R over 59 AB
  • May – .246, 5 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R over 69 AB

Everyone was incredibly excited after April, not realizing that he posted a ridiculous .600 BABIP to go along with a 35.7 percent strikeout rate and 35.7 percent HR/FB

Yes, he’s maintained an elevated HR/FB (29.4 percent) and has reduced his strikeout rate (25.9 percent), but did anyone really expect him to come even close to the BABIP mark? 

Thus far in April, he’s posted a much more realistic .279 mark, meaning he could be a lot closer to his May line than his April.  I don’t think anyone is going to be particularly excited about that.

The bloom is going to continue to come off the rose, as his decline will likely continue.  Even if Anthony Rizzo wasn’t pushing hard at Triple-A (though the Cubs could easily shift him to the outfield), you would be nervous about LaHair.  If you can cash in on him, I wouldn’t hesitate.

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