Fantasy Baseball: 10 Latest 'Sell High' Fantasy Trade Options

Tim Karan@timkaranContributor IIJune 6, 2012

Fantasy Baseball: 10 Latest 'Sell High' Fantasy Trade Options

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    Just look at Johan Santana. He's on top of the world after throwing his first no-hitter at age 33. And it happened only a few months into his comeback season following serious shoulder surgery that some thought would cut short his storied career. It's really about as heartwarming a baseball story you'll witness that doesn't involve Kevin Costner.

    Now you're going to trade him.

    Why? It's not because you're heartless. I'm sure you're a lovely human being. It's because you're a savvy fantasy baseball manager.

    After all, a player's past stats can't help you now—even if they came just last weekend. Unless, of course, you can convince someone else to buy into those stats and flip them for better stats to come.

    Here are 10 guys who might be able to help you do just that. 

No. 10) Barry Zito

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    I know what's wrong with Tim Lincecum: Barry Zito stole all his good luck.

    Zito is pitching like someone told him it's 2002. He improved to 5-2 after coming within two hitters of a complete game shutout against the Cubs Sunday. Although his strikeout numbers won't blow anyone away (39 in 66.1 innings), his 2.98 ERA through 11 games is shocking (for him).

    Sure, he'll probably be a serviceable starter for the foreseeable future. But his exceedingly mediocre 39-to-28 K/BB ratio is tangible evidence that he's benefited from an unfair share of lucky bounces. 

No. 9) Dexter Fowler

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    Finally, it's showtime for Dexter.

    After a promising second half in 2011 during which he hit .288 with five homers and 10 steals, he's presently on fire. During his nine-game hitting streak these past two weeks, he's gone .531 with three homers, three bags and 15 runs—and there's nothing not to love there.

    There is however, one small snag: Anytime you see a guy who averages 15 fantasy points each week and then 55 in one, it's elementary physics that he's bound to eventually fall. Oh, and like so many Rockies before him, he's hitting .354 at Coors Field and .184 everywhere else.

    True, Fowler could continue to be a prototypically productive leadoff man, but you could use him to get a player who performs in a road uniform, too.

No. 8) R.A. Dickey

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    It can be tricky relying on a knuckleballer. Even they don't really know where their pitches will end up.

    But let's give R.A. Dickey credit. The guy has been playing out of his metropolitan mind with an 8-1 record and an unreal 70:17 K/BB rate—which is about twice as good as he's ever had. Still, he's been a starter off-and-on since 2003, and this is probably the first year you've ever even heard of him.

    Extrapolate his current stats over the course of a full season, and Dickey would end the year 24-3 with a .889 winning percentage. Remember the year Tim Wakefield (the gold standard in modern-day knuckleball pitchers) won the Cy Young? His winning percentage was .667. That means that in a best-case scenario, he ends up the best pitcher in the NL (unlikely).

    However, Dickey is still due for (at least a little) decline.

No. 7) Melky Cabrera

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    Ask yourself this: Is Melky Cabrera really the best hitter in baseball?

    If you believe he is, then by all means ignore everything else I say. But if you're rooted in reality, it's a great time to get rid of him.

    While Cabrera did have a surprising breakout with the Royals last season hitting .305 with 18 home runs, it's hard to forget this is the same guy who hit between .249 and .274 the previous three seasons. And his 50-hit May wasn't just ridiculous for him, it was downright historic (and better than Willie Mays ever did).

    Maybe he turned a career corner, but let's be serious. When is the next time you'll be able to get Justin Upton for him straight up?

No. 6) Alfonso Soriano

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    Maybe all he really needed was a lighter bat.

    After making the switch this season, Alfonso Soriano has hit eight homers with 31 RBI—good enough to make him a solid start in mixed leagues everywhere—and he's still a consistent 25-home-run threat.

    But a closer look at Soriano's performance reveals his predictably unpredictable performance. He had two great weeks wedged between run-of-the-mill ones, and you might never find a hitter more likely to go .300 one month and .030 the next.

    There's a pretty good chance Theo Epstein and the rebuilding Cubs send Soriano to another team at some point. Although you might have been enjoying his return to relevance, you'd do well to do as Theo does.

No. 5) Johnny Cueto

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    Ah, now that's more like it.

    After a blistering 4-0 start, Johnny Cueto is coming back to this planet by going 1-3 since. Although he might be the hardest sell on this list right now, Cueto is consistently considered a soon-to-be Cy Young winner in certain circles.  

    If that's not you, now is the time to cut him loose while he's still got a winning record and playing in games. But when you're pitching him to someone else, be sure not to bring up the fact that he's never thrown more than 185 innings in a year and his K/9 of 5.8 is pretty far down towards the bottom of the league.

No. 4) Bryce Harper

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    At some point, everyone else will catch on, but probably not just yet. 

    The greatest thing to happen to baseball since pretzeled bread might be on SportsCenter every night, and he was just named the NL Rookie of the Month for May. But Bryce Harper is still on pace to hit just 15 home runs and 50 RBI.

    I don't care about the fact that he's only 19 years old. He's managed to prove everyone wrong so far. All I'm saying is that there might never be a more inflated value fixed to an outfielder bound to put up mid-level numbers.

    Sure, it's an exciting adventure owning Harper. But adventure? Excitement? A champion fantasy baseball owner craves not these things.

No. 3) A.J. Burnett

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    How many times do you see a once-dominant pitcher reclaim his former form in a Pirates uniform? That's not to say it can't be done, and A.J. Burnett is definitely doing his best to do it now. But even the most optimistic Pirates fan has to be waiting for the bottom to drop out of Burnett's current campaign.

    In his last five starts, he's gone 3-0 with 25 Ks and eight walks in 34 innings. In his most recent effort against the Reds, he sat down 17 straight hitters.

    But even with his resurgence, Burnett is still on pace for just 140 Ks, and wins in black and gold haven't been easy to come by for, oh, two decades. I'd see whom I could get for him now that he's got big stats to match his bigger name. 

No. 2) Alex Rios

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    Don't look now, but Alex Rios has been a Top 10 hitter for the past two weeks. If you're lucky enough to find someone who buys into it, you should be working out the details right now.

    Rios has always been a contender to go 20-20, even though he's only done it once (in 2010) since 2004. He's currently riding high thanks to one week of mega-production and another of semi-production, but that's just about it.

    His .288 average looks decent enough for him, and he's got 28 RBI, both of which could make him attractive on the right market. But you'll need to act fast before the real Rios resurfaces.

No. 1) Johan Santana

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    Look, I'm not saying Johan Santana isn't an all-time great, and I'm not saying he won't be great the rest of the year. I'm just saying if you're looking for the best time to sell high on a pitcher, you won't ever do any better than after he's thrown the first no-hitter in Mets history. 

    The fact that Santana is the prior pre-eminent ace of fantasy baseball can only help, too.

    But without even bringing up Philip Humber (or did that count?), the buzz of a no-hitter only lasts until your next start—and Santana's was pushed back two more days due to his marathon effort against the Cardinals.

    He's been far better than most expected him to be coming off shoulder surgery that cost him all of 2011 (he's 3-2 with 68 Ks in 68 innings), but Santana was entrenched in descent before that.

    His K/9 rate has been dropping since 2007 (although it's back up so far this year), and the no-hitter did seem to come at a collective low point for the Cardinals—R.A. Dickey shut them out the next day.

    If his name lends legitimacy to your pitching staff and you're hoping he's back in 2008, feel free to keep Santana around. But if he gives up four runs in six innings next time (which is entirely possible against the Yankees), you might never get this kind of value in return.