Fantasy Baseball 2013: Week 12's Buy-Low, Sell-High Trade Advice
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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.
Domonic Brown, OF, Phillies
Fantasy Stats: .282 BA, 33 R, 19 HR, 48 RBI, 6 SB
You either think this is an obvious sell-high pick...or the stupidest one ever.
With apologies to those who fall into the latter category, of course you sell high on the guy who just bashed 93 homers in a recent 12-game stretch across late May and early June.
(OK, so it was actually 10 homers, but still.)
Brown's made some legitimate improvements, so he's not going to fall on his face or anything. Still, he was so ridiculously hot that everyone noticed, meaning right now, you're going to be able to get more for him than you ever expected when you drafted him. Or more likely, when you picked him up off waivers a week before he went bonkers.
Realize, folks, that Brown's 29.2 percent HR/FB ratio is the highest in the sport (per FanGraphs), and once it starts dropping, so will his fantasy value.
Considering Brown is unlikely to be much better than average in anything other than RBI and homers—and he just had the best stretch in that category he'll have in 2013 (or you know, ever)—it's prime time to see what you can get while he's still leading the NL with 19 four-baggers.
Alex Gordon, OF, Royals
Fantasy Stats: .302 BA, 38 R, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 2 SB
When it comes to Gordon, you're selling consistency.
He's become a very viable third or fourth outfielder in fantasy, because he hits for a high average and scores 90-plus runs while also managing double digits in homers and thefts.
But it sorta feels like Gordon is turning into the so-underrated-he's-overrated type for fantasy purposes, no? He's been fine this year, doing his usual thing more or less, but he's also on pace for 15 homers and five steals, which isn't going to help you all that much in either area.
And yet, you don't hear his owners complaining about his production, either. He's become a player no one worries about because of what he does contribute, while simultaneously not realizing that what he doesn't do is put up big numbers.
Unless you're desperate for the batting average and/or runs scored help, you might want to consider shopping Gordon before others catch on that he's more fine than good.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP, Dodgers
Fantasy Stats: 6 W, 2.85 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 7.9 K/9
You're thrilled with what you've gotten out of Ryu so far, right?
You drafted him late. He's been very consistent, with only two non-quality starts out of his first 13 in the majors. And he's got the appeal of being a rookie, which always makes an owner proud.
But try not to get too attached.
It may be more of a gut call here, but Ryu is likely to help your team more via trade return than actual production over the rest of the season. He's in his prime at 26 and did throw 180-plus frames five times as a pro in Korea, but enduring the second half of a season in MLB is going to be a different animal.
If you're confident Ryu's up to the task, hang on to him. But if you can pitch others on his sub-3.00 ERA and solid peripherals now, you're likely to get something more reliable—and proven—in return.
Evan Gattis, C/OF, Braves
Fantasy Stats: .256 BA, 24 R, 14 HR, 37 RBI, 0 SB
You didn't draft Gattis as your starting catcher. Heck, you didn't draft Gattis at all—he was a free-agent add, and you know it.
Much like Brown and Ryu, then, Gattis is the kind of player whose owners feel an extra-special bond with because of the discovery factor.
Don't let that prevent you from letting him go to make your team better, especially if you don't have to rely on him as your starting catcher.
Gattis has been a top-five fantasy catcher, per ESPN Fantasy's Player Rater, but do you really think a rookie who's been streaky and who now sees less playing time because Brian McCann is back is going to remain that high all season long?
If you have another useable option in a format where you only need one catcher, Gattis' power—not to mention, the legend of Oso Blanco—is more than enough to lure another owner into trading something of major value that can help touch up your team elsewhere.
Jeff Locke, LHP, Pirates
Fantasy Stats: 5 W, 2.39 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 6.6 K/9
If you're in a shallower league (10 or 12 teams), this is how you came to own Locke: Back in late April or early May, you were searching for some pitching help, so you went to your free-agent pool, sorted by ERA and clicked "add."
You probably didn't even know who this Jeff Locke guy was, right?
Well, that's actually paid off for you to this point, as Locke has been under-the-radar great.
Now's the time to turn the profit, though. Locke's FIP is 3.98. His xFIP? That's 4.17.
The biggest pockmark in his underlying numbers is that .242 BABIP, but he's also walking 4.2 per nine.
Once the correction comes, Locke won't be worth owning in anything other than NL-only play, so if you're in a mixed format, package him and his sparkly ERA now.
Justin Upton, OF, Braves
Fantasy Stats: .254 BA, 44 R, 15 HR, 31 RBI, 5 SB
If you think Upton should be in the sell-high category, you haven't been paying attention lately.
In the marathon that is the baseball season, a player or team's first few weeks tend to get overblown, whether good or bad, and that's what happened with Upton, who mashed an MLB-high 12 homers and hit .298 in April.
Since then? Try three home runs and a .225 average. While you may not have noticed, Upton's owner sure as you-know-what has.
That makes J-Up a good target. We know what he's capable of (see: April), and right now, per ESPN Fantasy's Player Rater, his production for the season has him barely in the top 20. Not overall—among outfielders.
There's also the fact that 12 of his 15 long balls have been solo shots, so he's been very unlucky in the RBI department. Once he gets hot again, and he should, that's bound to even out.
Matt Cain, RHP, Giants
Fantasy Stats: 5 W, 4.70 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 8.0 K/9
Cain has been among the most perplexing players this year.
As consistent as they come entering 2013, the 28-year-old had an ERA north of 5.00 prior to Thursday's 6.2 shutout innings.
What's made Cain a fantasy culprit this year? First is his lower-than-usual LOB percentage (66.8). Second, and more noticeably, is his 13.1 HR/FB rate. Both are career worsts, which is obviously bad.
What's good, though, is those two metrics are likely to regress to Cain's norms, and everything else is more or less up to par, meaning there's a good chance he can be close to the fantasy No. 2 everyone expected.
From here on out, of course.
Yovani Gallardo, RHP, Brewers
Fantasy Stats: 5 W, 4.74 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 7.1 K/9
Speaking of consistency, Gallardo had struck out between 200 and 207 batter each of the past four seasons.
This year, though, has been a very rough go for his owners, as the 27-year-old's stats are down across the board. To top it off, he's on pace for just 160 whiffs.
Here's the rub with Gallardo: He's been a little unlucky in a lot of aspects. Like his .309 BABIP (versus .296 career). Or like his 68.4 percent LOB (compared to 74.7 percent career). Or like his 15.8 percent HR/FB (against 11.3 percent career).
Add it all up, and his FIP is 4.03 and his xFIP is 3.59, which look much nicer.
Alas, Gallardo's not going to reach the 200-K plateau again—his 18.3 strikeout percentage is a career low and his fastball velocity has dropped about two miles per hour since 2011 (per FanGraphs)—but he can be had for dirt cheap and should bounce back some.
Victor Martinez, C, Tigers
Fantasy Stats: .235 BA, 21 R, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 0 SB
A popular preseason sleeper following his lost 2012 due to injury, Martinez may even have been cut in shallow leagues. Looking at those stats, though, you can't really blame owners who've bailed.
The thing is, V-Mart's .246 BABIP is almost 70 points below his career number (.312), and while he's hitting a few more fly balls than he has in the past, he's also making contact as often as always, as his 12.2 K rate indicates.
And you may not have noticed, but Martinez has slowly started to come around with a .268 average, .838 OPS and three homers in June.
Small sample size, for sure, but that's already one more homer in 11 games this month than he had in his first 52 across April and May.
Detroit's lineup is still great, and Martinez continues to bat fifth—after Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder—so he has the skills, the situation and the time to make up for what's seemed like his second straight lost season so far in 2013.
Martinez should be worth starting at the hard-to-fill catcher spot.
Todd Frazier, 3B/1B, Reds
Fantasy Stats: .249 BA, 28 R, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 3 SB
The 27-year-old had a little bit of pub coming off a solid rookie campaign (.273-19-67) and then got off to a solid start this year, compiling six homers and 19 RBI to go with a .794 OPS through April.
May, though, was unkind to Frazier, who went homerless with 12 RBI and a .645 OPS. Yikes.
This month? He's triple-slashing .333/.435/.538 and already has gone deep twice.
What's more, Frazier bats in the 6-hole for the Reds, who have a few guys you may have heard of hitting ahead of him in Shin-Soo Choo (.430 OBP), Joey Votto (.437) and Brandon Phillips (.342), each of whom gets on base more than enough to give Frazier plenty of RBI opportunities.
The average might not come up much, but Frazier has the pop to reach 25 homers, especially in that ballpark, and drive in 80-plus runs, particularly in that lineup.
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