What good is talent to a fantasy owner who lacks timing?
Fantasy baseball, just like the real thing, is a game of skill, luck and timing. That last trait, in particular, comes in handy in regard to trading.
Knowing which player to trade away and which to deal for—and knowing just the right time to do so—can make all the difference.
It doesn't get much better than making a move to unload a hot flavor-of-the-month type who's about to cool off in exchange for a slumping stud about to take off.
If you want to check out last week's suggestions, look no further.
Now, speaking of timing, let's get to a batch of players to sell high and a group to buy low.
Matt Moore, LHP, Rays
Fantasy Stats: 8 W, 2.29 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 8.8 K/9
It's hard to argue with Moore's success this season—just look at those numbers.
There's a lot to like here, too. He's a 23-year-old left-hander who sits in the mid-90s with a gnarly curveball that's a strikeout pitch.
Plus, Moore is coming off a start in which he joined none other than Babe Ruth as the first AL southpaw to begin a season 8-0 at 23 or younger.
Moore owners don't exactly need Don Draper to make the fantasy sales pitch.
But why would you want to move Moore if you own him? For one thing, he's still walking too many per nine this year (4.3). For another, Moore owns a .197 BABIP, the second lowest in baseball. For a third thing? His 91.8 LOB percentage is the highest.
Translation: Moore is putting guys on base but getting extremely lucky when it comes to surrendering hits and allowing baserunners to score.
Moore's going to remain effective and occasionally elite this year, but at the moment he's an extremely attractive asset. If you can get a top-30 caliber player for him based on his performance to date and his historic start, do it.
Carl Crawford, OF, Dodgers
Fantasy Stats: .302 BA, 28 R, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 9 SB
It's good to finally see Crawford healthy and playing well after he spent so much time doing neither the past couple years.
Crawford made for a worthwhile gamble on draft day, given his history prior to 2011 and the hope that he could return to something similar to that level again.
So far, so good—Crawford is hitting for a high average, scoring runs and swiping bases. Heck, he's even thrown in a handful of homers, to boot.
The underlying numbers aren't particularly foreboding, and yet, that still-very-recent injury history, as well as Crawford's advancing age—he turns 32 in August—make him a good candidate to cash in on by shipping him out sooner rather than later.
Unless you'd prefer to trust the health and performance of a guy who hasn't played a full season since 2010 will hold up the rest of the way.
Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP, Mariners
Fantasy Stats: 5 W, 2.37 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 8.5 K/9
As fantastic as Yu Darvish has been in 2013, his fellow countryman Iwakuma has been nearly as good.
Mariners' Hisashi Iwakuma 4 ER in 2nd inning today vs Indians, first time this season Iwakuma has allowed MORE THAN 3 ER in any start— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 20, 2013
While the 32-year-old right-hander doesn't have the name recognition of a Darvish or other hot-starting starters, which might make him a tricky sell-high guy in less competitive leagues. Will other owners value him properly? A mere glance at the stats, particularly that AL-best 0.87 WHIP, should entice aplenty.
Iwakuma hasn't been quite as fortunate as Moore, but his .220 BABIP and 85.6 LOB percentage are going to regress enough to cause his fantasy figures to decline some.
The bottom won't fall out or anything, thanks to his elite walk rate (1.5 BB/9) and the fact that he pitches half his games at Safeco, but Iwakuma's ERA from here on out will probably be closer to the 3.51 FIP than his current 2.37.
Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals
Fantasy Stats: .305 BA, 20 R, 10 HR, 29 RBI, 0 SB
Even at 36, Beltran keeps producing.
Which sell-high candidate would you look to trade?
The veteran switch-hitter's game has transitioned from a dynamic power and speed combo in his prime to primarily a power play as he's aged. But Beltran can still swing it, as he's on pace for 35 homers and 102 RBI. he also still has the name recognition to bring back a nice return via trade.
Given his age, injury history and declining overall skill set, Beltran is a risky Card to hold onto (get it?), especially after he started fast in 2012 (.304-20-63 through his first 77 games), only to peter out down the stretch. He hit .232 with 12 homers and 34 RBI over his final 74 games last season.
Moving Beltran now, while he's healthy and producing, is both a smart and safe strategy.
Justin Masterson, RHP, Indians
Fantasy Stats: 7 W, 2.83 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 9.1 K/9
Masterson has tricked many a fantasy owner, teasing with flashes, and even occasional stretches, of dominance, only to wind up being slightly less than hoped for.
To wit, here are Masterson's stats through his first 10 starts—the same number of outings as this year—back in his breakout 2011 campaign: 2.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 6.7 K/9.
Aside from the strikeout rate, which is 2.4 K/9 higher (admittedly, a major edge), the Masterson we saw in 2011 is the Masterson we're seeing now.
A reminder of Masterson's final stats in 2011: 3.21 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 6.6 K/9.
All of which means that from start No. 11 on, the 28-year-old did this: 3.53 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 6.5 K/9.
Of course, this doesn't guarantee that Masterson is going to be a mediocre starting pitcher from here on out, and the fact that he's throwing more sliders than in recent years, which could account for the uptick in whiffs, counts for something.
But it's unlikely a guy with a career 7.1 K/9 rate has suddenly morphed into a strikeout-an-inning type.
Plus, as a right-hander who slings it from below three-quarters, Masterson's bugaboo has always been getting out opposite side hitters, and while he's currently holding lefties to a .225/.319/.302 triple-slash line, it might be wiser to put more stock in his career .281/.363/.421 line against them.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins
Fantasy Stats: .227 BA, 8 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB
There were reasons to avoid picking Stanton on draft day, including rightful injury concerns. The pendulum has now swung in the opposite direction, as Stanton has missed the past month with a hamstring injury.
Not only that, but even when he was playing Stanton's awful start gave credence to all the worries over whether the Marlins' putrid lineup would water down his stats.
While the caliber of his teammates hasn't changed all that much, Stanton's become a player to inquire about while he's still out and his numbers still look so unappetizing to his current owner.
The righty slugger, we remind you, did hit his first three bombs of the season in the two games prior to getting hurt. He also took live batting practice this week, so he's slowly but surely making his way back.
Don't pay anywhere near what his preseason price was; now's the time to get him on the cheap.
David Price, LHP, Rays
Fantasy Stats: 1 W, 5.24 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 8.0 K/9
Right now, Price's owner is probably still freaking out over 1. his fantasy ace's horrific numbers, and 2. the fact that the Rays recently came out and said Price wouldn't be ready to go when eligible to come off the DL at the end of May.
Look, the strained left triceps that cut Price's last outing short and put him on the shelf is a concern, but the Rays also indicated that the lefty hasn't had any setbacks and might only need to miss two or three more turns.
Which buy-low player would you try to trade for?
If anything, the injury makes Price more available, and while his performance hasn't been anywhere near expectations, ask yourself this: Do you really think the reigning AL Cy Young winner, if healthy, is going to finish the year with an ERA in the 5s?
For what it's worth, Price's FIP is 4.03 and his xFIP is 3.52, meaning a few too many hits have fallen in (.345 BABIP), a few too many runners have scored (60.2 LOB percentage) and a few too many have left the yard (15.1 HR/FB).
This is the low point, and that's exactly when you swoop in.
Josh Hamilton, OF, Angels
Fantasy Stats: .220 BA, 21 R, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 1 SB
The Hamilton hate has gone a bit too far, no?
Sure, the lefty slugger hasn't done much of anything so far, and he's actually been healthy all year, but much like with Price, you have to put the numbers in perspective based on recent history.
Hamilton's swing-at-everything approach has gotten much worse the past two years and is clearly a problem, and the 32-year-old is quickly becoming useless against left-handers (.393 OPS). And yet, he's still capable of having a 10-homer month at the drop of a hat.
Hamilton's .270 BABIP is well below his .330 career number, so he can make up some ground in the batting average department, too.
The uptick in May from his brutal April (.204/.252/.296, .548 OPS) has been slight but noticeable, too, as he's slashing .243/.317/.486 (.804 OPS). Is it really so hard to believe he won't get better?
Again, there are very real issues here, so don't expect miracles—and certainly don't pay for them either. But the point is that with everything looking so bleak, you won't have to.
Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs
Fantasy Stats: .266 BA, 23 R, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 2 SB
Don't you love it when your third-round pick falls into the "blech" category?
Castro hasn't been that bad, but look at those numbers again. It's likely you were expecting more, right? After all Castro, still just 23, has been a breakout candidate a couple years running now.
The non-surface stats don't indicate that Castro has fallen victim to the luck gods or anything, so this is more of a recommendation based on the fact that Castro's owner has to be growing tired of waiting for him to do something. That and the fact that shortstop remains a supremely shallow fantasy position.
If you can alert Castro's owner to his minor ankle injury from Thursday night, perhaps that'll help grease the wheels, too. Paint the offer as a friendly let-me-take-him-off-your-hands, and there's not likely to be a lot of resistance at this point, especially if the owner has any other capable shortstop.
That last part is key, though, as Castro shouldn't be targeted as a guy about to blow up but rather as a quality player at a weak position who should still be able to post above-average fantasy stats for the spot across the board.
B.J. Upton, OF, Braves
Fantasy Stats: .155 BA, 12 R, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 3 SB
Has any active, non-injured player lost more fantasy value than Upton?
Among qualified players Upton's .155 average is the second-lowest in baseball (ahead of only Ike Davis), but then you didn't draft Upton expecting anything more than slightly below-average in that category. (Right?)
Upton's BABIP? .211. Career? .318. So we know the atrocious average will get...less atrocious.
The bigger concerns should be the power and speed, as the perennial 20-homer, 30-steal guy is on pace for just 14 and 11. But he's also one of the streakiest dudes around, as his 2012 season proves.
From July 1 on last year, Upton hit 23 homers and stole 17 bases.
Not saying he's going to do that again, but this is 28-year-old smack in the middle of his prime who appears to be mostly healthy. Would 15 and 15 with a .250 average from here on out be possible? You betcha.
Would it make you happy to get that production for a song? If so, check "yes" in the buy low box.
All statistics come from FanGraphs, unless otherwise indicated.