Obligatory Yasiel Puig photo aside, is the Dodgers outfielder a wise sell-high candidate?
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.
Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers
Fantasy Stats: .459 BA, 12 R, 6 HR, 12 RBI, 2 SB
This one's going to be divisive, but that's the point.
Half of you see Puig's name in the sell-high portion of our program and are yelling, "No way!"
The other half is screaming, "No duh!"
Puig has been downright beastly through his first 16 games in the majors—he hit homer No. 6 Thursday night—and his performance, you might've heard, has been noticed by a few folks.
"(Yasiel Puig) is not to be believed, because this game is not that easy." -Vin Scully— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 21, 2013
There's obviously oodles of talent here, but Puig is still raw in many ways (only one unintentional walk in 60 plate appearances), and once that average begins dropping—it will, right?—people will start jumping ship.
While your league may have its share of skeptics, you also shouldn't have trouble finding an owner who already has shaved "Puig" into the side of his head and is planning to get "66" tattooed on his back.
Propose something crazy to that dude, and when he bites, try not to feel too guilty about it.
Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Angels
Fantasy Stats: .264 BA, 41 R, 17 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB
Those 17 bombs and 50 RBI are pretty nice, and owners tend to fall for Trumbo because he has the kind of power that makes him capable of approaching double digits in homers in any given month.
But Trumbo's streakiness goes the other way too, as he is prone to enormous slumps because he still strikes out a lot (23.3 percent).
To wit, through the first half of 2012, Trumbo was hitting .306 with 22 homers, 57 RBI and 42 runs in 288 at-bats. In the second half, he went .227, 10, 38 and 24 in those categories over 256 at-bats.
His improving discipline (career-high 9.9 walk rate) indicates Trumbo probably won't fall on his face like he did last year, but if you want to avoid the possibility, you could shop him sooner than later and pick up something nice for yourself.
Francisco Liriano, LHP, Pirates
Fantasy Stats: 5 W, 2.44 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 10.3 K/9
If you own Liriano, you're playing with the house's money.
His strikeouts can be hypnotizing, and there is the whole he's-in-the-National-League-now "argument" that is probably causing some owners to shy away from dealing Liriano.
But you're a fool if you don't. Like, yesterday.
Fact is, because he's been one of the most maddening players in fantasy baseball over the past five or six years—thanks to injuries and seemingly random ineffectiveness—Liriano is going to lose any semblance of value with even one bad outing.
Oddly, that may make him a tough pitcher to "pitch" to other owners—"sell crazy someplace else, we're all stocked up here"—but it only takes one leaguemate to either buy in or be desperate enough to gamble on what you're shilling.
Josh Johnson, RHP, Blue Jays
Fantasy Stats: 0 W, 4.38 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 9.0 K/9
This one's only for the owner with impeccable timing.
Johnson has long been one of baseball's best hurlers—for about as long as he's been injury-prone, in fact.
While you may think it impossible to sell "high" on a pitcher who has nary a win, an ERA north of 4.00 and a WHIP above 1.50—not to mention one who's also coming off a six-week DL stint for triceps soreness—Johnson still has quite the cache because of what he's done and what he can do (caveat alert!) when he's healthy.
Witness his last outing, in which he twirled 7.1 scoreless frames with 10 strikeouts against the Colorado Rockies.
The trick with Johnson is that because of his injury history, he's unlikely to net a worthwhile return by himself. As soon as possible—or as soon as he has another studly outing—make him part of a package deal (i.e. 2-for-1) to entice an owner.
Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pirates
Of the many sell-high strategies, Cole qualifies for one that's among the easiest to employ: Big-name prospects have big-time trade value.
The 22-year-old has looked good-not-great in his inaugural two MLB starts, and he's come away with a tidy ERA and WHIP as well as a pair of W's.
Which of these sell-high candidates would you most want to unload?
That only adds to the demand for The Next Big Thing, which Cole may or may not be.
The fact that he's hardly striking anyone out so far despite his strikeout stuff is both perplexing (why hasn't he struck out more than three batters in his first two starts?) and promising (just wait until he starts striking out batters, too!).
Could you be trading away a potential Shelby Miller or Matt Harvey? Yeah, maybe. But also? Probably not—at least not yet.
That doesn't mean someone else won't jump at the chance the acquire a shiny new toy.
Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers
Fantasy Stats: .304 BA, 30 R, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 4 SB
This one's requires some intestinal fortitude, as a lot has gone wrong for Braun this year.
Let's see, there's the ongoing MLB investigation into—and potential suspension for—his reported link to Biogenesis and performance-enhancing drugs.
There's the recent thumb injury that put him on the disabled list for the first time in his career and could wind up costing him more time than originally thought, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.
And there's the simple fact that Braun wasn't performing up to his usual elite fantasy standards even when he was on the field.
If ever there was a time to play the high-risk/high-reward game, this is it.
This suggestion, though, applies only for the owner who is in the middle of the pack (or worse) in the standings and who can afford to throw caution to the wind in the hope that it pays off.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants
Fantasy Stats: .289 BA, 26 R, 8 HR, 37 RBI, 0 SB
Sometimes a player just wears his owner down.
In Sandoval's case, that's guaranteed to have happened, as the rotund raker has hit the DL for what seems like the 49th time in the past three seasons.
This stay on the shelf is due to a foot injury, which doesn't seem super serious—Sandoval is aiming to be back with the Giants by Monday, per MLB.com—and also shouldn't affect his offense as much as his hamate bone surgeries from previous years.
While the fact that Sandoval is close to returning may make his owner a bit more hesitant to move him, you shouldn't have to do more than simply point out the injury problems that have plagued Sandoval in order to get him at a bargain price.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs
Fantasy Stats: .243 BA, 35 R, 10 HR, 39 RBI, 5 SB
Rizzo has been one of the streakiest hitters on the planet this season.
Through his first 21 games, the lefty had slugged six homers and driven in 14...but was also hitting only .173.
Then over his next 21 contests, Rizzo batted .390 while tacking on four more homers and 16 more RBI through May 18.
In the 28 games since? The 23-year-old is batting just .181 and has nine RBI and not a single, solitary four-bagger.
Another hot streak is likely to come—and soon—as Rizzo's strikeout and walk rates are in good shape, and his power (.201 ISO, per FanGraphs) is up from last year, when he had his mini-breakout.
Get in before he gets going again.
Matt Wieters, C, Orioles
Fantasy Stats: .237 BA, 23 R, 9 HR, 37 RBI, 1 SB
Here's the annual spiel: Once again, Matt Wieters is not taking that next step everyone has been waiting for years by now.
That doesn't mean, though, that he's not a productive fantasy player, especially at a position as shallow as catcher is.
Consider: Among backstops, Wieters ranks in the top 10 in doubles (15), homers (nine) and RBI (37).
His problem, then, is that measly .237 average. But Wieters' .251 BABIP (per FanGraphs) is below his .288 career number, so we should see him jump up a tick or two in that department.
Realize that not only has Wieters not really gotten hot yet, he also hits in the middle of one of baseball's best lineups, meaning the best could still be yet to come.
Jarrod Parker, RHP, Athletics
Fantasy Stats: 6 W, 4.30 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 6.1 K/9
Hopefully, we're not too late.
There's still a good possibility that Parker's owner sees the less-than-good 4.30 ERA and 1.30 WHIP—not to mention that sub-par 6.1 per nine strikeout rate—and remembers un-fondly that brutal start.
Which of these buy-low players would you most want to target?
Parker, you'll remember, was wearing a 7.34 ERA through his first seven turns.
Ever since, though, the 24-year-old has reeled off eight consecutive quality starts, over which he's posted a 2.43 ERA.
The reason you may still be able to sneak him away from his owner is that Parker hasn't had a dominant outing all year, even lately. Rather, he's just been consistently good and dependable since early May.
Don't bank on dominance yourself, but if good and dependable sound like they're up your alley, sneak away.