Nick Kappel's Fantasy Focus: Buy or Sell?

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Nick Kappel's Fantasy Focus: Buy or Sell?
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Nearly a month has passed since the 2009 fantasy baseball season began, and now’s the time to start making important moves. Turning a profit on a hot start can be vital to your team’s future success.

With that in mind, I’ve highlighted several players whose hot starts you should buy, and others you should sell—while you still can.

 

BUY

Brandon Inge

That’s right! I’m buying Inge’s hot start—to an extent. Inge has reached base in each of Detroit’s 21 games this season, boosting his OBP to .447. That number, I assure you, will go down. Judging by his .238 career BA, his .319 batting clip is sure to go down as well.

Inge’s power is the part of his game that I’m buying, based on his career-high 27 HR in 2006. While his numbers to this point put him on an MVP-like pace, I’m expecting his production to slow down. He should, however, provide good power numbers, and remains eligible at Catcher, 3B, and OF in Yahoo! Leagues.

PACE represents the player’s 162-game (32 starts for SP) pace based on their current stats. PROJ represents what I project the player’s stat line will be at the end of the season. These numbers are based on games played before Thursday, April 30.

 

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

PACE

131

54

138

8

.319

PROJ

80

21

80

8

.260

 

Aaron Hill

People often forget about Hill’s 2007 campaign, which saw him smash 17 HR and turn in a .291 BA. A concussion ended his 2008 season in late May, but judging by his hot start in ‘09, he’s back!

Hill’s .376 batting clip is sure to drop, but his .289 career mark suggests his BA won’t drop quite as far as the aforementioned Inge. Don’t forget, Hill was Toronto’s first round pick in 2003, so the talent is there. While his current power pace may be a bit far-fetched, expect the 27-year-old Hill to continue blossoming into a top five fantasy 2B.

 

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

PACE

112

35

140

7

.376

PROJ

95

22

85

4

.290

 

Josh Johnson

I don’t usually buy into young pitchers who have had as many shoulder problems as Johnson has, but in this case, I’m compelled to make an exception.

Johnson returned from Tommy John surgery in July of 2008 and finished 7-1 in 14 starts. His results in 2009 have been even better, posting a 2.60 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP, and a 32/6 K/BB ratio in 34.2 IP.

Don’t expect him to continue striking out a batter per inning, because he doesn’t have extremely overpowering stuff (7.2 K/9 in minors). You can, however, expect 2009 to be Johnson’s breakout season, as he places himself in the same breath as other young hurlers such as Chad Billingsley and Yovani Gallardo.

 

IP

W

K

ERA

WHIP

PACE

221

13

204

2.60

1.04

PROJ

180

13

155

3.40

1.27

 

Nelson Cruz

“Quadruple-A” has shed his nickname and is hammering major league pitching...finally!

Cruz’s raw power is well known throughout the minor leagues, and he now finds himself in a perfect situation with the best offense in baseball. With Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, and Josh Hamilton continuing to bat in front of him, expect the newest “Power Ranger” to continue his breakout season, just as I had predicted.

 

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

PACE

81

49

138

16

.278

PROJ

80

28

105

14

.280

 

SELL

Erik Bedard

I may be going out on a limb here, because Bedard’s totals through five starts (2-1, 31 IP, 32 K, 6 BB, 2.61 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) are hard to ignore. However, the 30-year-old pitcher has eclipsed 180 innings just twice in his big league career. Add that to the fact that his career WHIP is a whopping 1.33, and you too will begin to see that Bedard is NOT a fantasy ace.

Pitchers not named Johan are just too inconsistent to trust. Turn a profit on this southpaw before it's too late!

 

IP

W

K

ERA

WHIP

PACE

198

13

205

2.61

1.06

PROJ

140

10

125

3.70

1.30

 

Matt Cain

Don’t be fooled by Cain’s 2.08 ERA through four starts. If you read my article, “How To Predict a Down Year” you know that Cain’s 1.31 WHIP is a major red flag.

The 2002 first round pick has yet to reach his full potential, thanks in large part to his career 3.79 BB/9. Cain is still only 24, so he’s got plenty of time to get things figured out.

Until then, don’t let him bring your staff down. Find someone who sees the 2.08 ERA as an indication of a breakout season, and turn a profit on this young, inconsistent pitcher.

 

IP

W

K

ERA

WHIP

PACE

208

16

144

2.08

1.31

PROJ

208

13

175

3.60

1.32

 

Jarrod Washburn

I shouldn’t have to say this, but just in case...DO NOT, under any circumstances, add Jarrod Washburn to your roster! His 3-1, 3.42 ERA, and 1.10 WHIP stat line in four starts is a test. If you pick him up, you fail.

Washburn hasn’t been fantasy relevant since 2002. Here are his ERA and WHIP totals since 2004, to prove my point:

 

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

ERA

4.64

3.20

4.67

4.32

4.69

WHIP

1.33

1.33

1.35

1.38

1.46

Enough said.

 

IP

W

K

ERA

WHIP

PACE

210

24

136

3.42

1.10

PROJ

170

9

100

4.70

1.39

 

Hank Blalock

If you own Hank, you’re probably thinking, “I wonder if Blalock is over his torn hamstring/shoulder inflammation/stiff neck/carpal tunnel," or "Can he recapture his 2004 form which saw him hit 32 HR and drive in 110 RBI?”

My money is on the former, because Blalock has been waiver wire material for 201 out of 324 games over the past two seasons.

Even in 2006, his last full season, he hit just .266 with 16 HR. Those are decent numbers for your catcher, but not your 3B. Don’t expect Blalock to hit five HR every month. Actually, don’t even expect him to play in a game every month. If you can get anything of value for Blalock, pull the trigger.

 

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

PACE

104

47

123

0

.271

PROJ

50

17

60

1

.275

 

What do you guys think? Who’s on your buy/sell list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Original Story: Baseball Reflections

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