Fantasy Baseball 2013: Week 18'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 regards 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 who is about to take off.
If you want to check out last week's suggestions, look no further than here.
Now, speaking of timing, let's get to a batch of players to sell high and a group to buy low.
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians
Fantasy Stats: .295 BA, 57 R, 15 HR, 62 RBI, 21 SB
Holy crap has Kipnis been great this year, especially lately.
After finishing April with a .555 OPS, the 26-year-old has triple-slashed .320/.403/.574—that's a .977 OPS—while homering 14 times, stealing 16 bases, scoring 51 runs and driving in 58 over 73 games.
Last year, Kipnis was pretty great through July, too, with a .270 average, 56 runs scored, 11 homers, 55 RBI and 21 steals. Add about 25 points to the batting average and, well, those digits look awfully similar to his current stat line.
Here's the "but."
From August 1 onward last season, Kipnis hit just .233 with only 30 runs scored, three homers, 21 RBI and 10 steals over his final 52 games.
Not saying it'll happen again, but if that at least made you think that Kipnis may not be a top-25 hitter for the remainder of 2013, you can use him to trade for someone who will be.
Mike Leake, RHP, Reds
Fantasy Stats: 10 W, 2.73 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 5.5 K/9
By looking at those stats above alone, you would never believe that Leake, whose ERA was 3.86 in 2011 and 4.58 in 2012, has actually been pitching worse this season than he did in either of the past two years.
Well, the 25-year-old's xFIP on the year is 4.01—almost a run-and-a-half above his ERA!
His xFIPs for 2011 and 2012? Try 3.68 and 3.82, respectively.
Leake still doesn't walk anybody (2.1 BB/9), but his whiff rate is also at a career low 5.5 per nine innings, which means he's a liability in that category.
The wins, ERA and WHIP are stellar enough to make him attractive to leaguemates, who may not realize those stats are propped up by a .271 BABIP and 82.4 LOB percentage.
Alex Rios, OF, White Sox
Fantasy Stats: .276 BA, 51 R, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 21 SB
Ever streaky, Rios has cooled off a ton after a hot start, hitting .248/.294/.335 since going .306/.369/.559 through May 21.
Then there's the fact that the 32-year-old is one of the bigger names being tossed around in trade rumors, which could alter his production—for better or worse—depending on where he lands.
Alex Rios 2-3 with an RBI in 4 innings today #JustSaying— Pirates (@Pirates_Playoff) July 25, 2013
Maybe another owner is hearing the chatter and getting excited about the possibility of Rios in Pittsburgh or Texas or a host of many other possible places. And maybe said owner also fancies Rios' pop-speed combo. And maybe you should trade Rios to this owner, even before the outfielder is traded in real life.
After all, his stats are eerily similar to what they were the last time he changed teams—he was claimed off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays in August 2009—and Rios finished that season as a complete dud, hitting .199 in his intro in Chicago.
Colby Rasmus, OF, Blue Jays
Fantasy Stats: .266 BA, 44 R, 16 HR, 49 RBI, 0 SB
Speaking of streaky fellas, Rasmus rivals Rios.
Every year it seems, Rasmus teases owners with some combination of a hot month or two and his younger-than-you-would-think age (still only 26).
That's just what he did last year, hitting .291 with eight homers and 25 RBI in June.
This season, Rasmus has managed to prolong his production a bit more, hitting .290 with nine homers and 29 RBI over the past two months, but it's almost certain not to last.
Oh, you mean you want a reason? Fine, be like that, Mr. Thomas.
How 'bout this: Rasmus' BABIP is perched at .351, one of the higher marks in baseball and well above his .295 career number.
And just because, here's another reason: Rasmus is still striking out a ton. In fact, he is striking out more than ever at 30.5 percent.
Now, stop doubting and start trading.
Marlon Byrd, OF, Mets
Fantasy Stats: .282 BA, 45 R, 17 HR, 57 RBI, 1 SB
Which of these sell-high candidates would you most look to trade?
Hey, remember when a left-for-dead veteran outfielder in his mid-30s surprised everyone with his remarkable production for New York...then fell on his face and became totally irrelevant in fantasy?
Yeah, Vernon Wells' April was fun.
But when 2013 is over and done, we're probably going to be saying the same exact thing about Marlon Byrd after what he's done across June and July (.314-11-33).
Victor Martinez, C, Tigers
Fantasy Stats: .267 BA, 42 R, 9 HR, 55 RBI, 0 SB
It's taken him long enough, but Victor Martinez has finally joined the 2013 fantasy season.
The 34-year-old occupied this spot six weeks ago, and while we generally like to avoid repeats, V-Mart's performance lately bears a re-mention.
Since June 1, the designated hitter is batting .309/.368/.481 with six homers, 29 RBI and 28 runs.
If he can keep that up—especially in that Tigers lineup—Martinez will finish 2013 as a top-five catcher.
Like we said all along, it was only a matter of time.
Jayson Werth, OF, Nationals
Fantasy Stats: .293 BA, 43 R, 15 HR, 41 RBI, 4 SB
The window to buy low on Werth may have shut already.
While his counting stats—particularly runs and RBI—still look a bit low because he missed action earlier in the year with a bum hamstring, Werth has been busy making up for lost time recently.
Over the 34-year-old's past 13 games, he's hitting .311 (14-for-45), has smacked seven home runs—including consecutive two-homer games earlier in the week—and added 12 RBI.
Even if his owner has noticed the onslaught, perhaps they're viewing it as an opportunity to sell high. If so, take them up on it, as nothing is noticeably out of line in Werth's underlying numbers overall.
Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees
Fantasy Stats: .250 BA, 5 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SB
Because he's a Yankee and a 40-homer slugger, Granderson is probably still owned in your league, despite playing in all of eight games this year due to two separate hit-by-pitch injuries.
Which of the following buy-low options would you target most in a trade?
Since the 32-year-old's owner hasn't gotten anything out of him this season, chances are Granderson is readily available, even as he embarks on a rehab assignment starting with High-A Tampa, per Adam Berry of MLB.com.
Don't expect much, as there's still no definitive timetable for his return (a week? two weeks?). And even once he's back, we're talking about a guy who suffered broken bones in both hands, so who knows if that will affect his power.
But Granderson is the type of Hail Mary that could pay off with a big month down the stretch once he gets his timing back.
Bud Norris, RHP, Astros
Fantasy Stats: 6 W, 3.93 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 6.4 K/9
This one's for deeper leagues.
Despite the ERA, which is only so-so itself, Norris hasn't been all that good this year. Heck, he might even be on the waiver wire—a 1.41 WHIP will do that.
Perhaps even more disappointing, the 28-year-old who used to excel at striking hitters out—he posted an 8.8 K/9 from 2009 through 2012—hasn't even done that this year.
So why would you want him? Well, for one, you'll get him dirt cheap.
And for another, there's talk that Norris, who's been on the trade block all year (hey, he's an Astro—whaddaya expect?), could wind up with the Atlanta Braves, who just lost Tim Hudson for the rest of the season after he suffered a scary-to-watch ankle injury.
Wherever Norris goes, though, his new destination is going to be better for fantasy purposes than being in Houston. And whether it's an observation, a guess or just plain old gut instinct, Norris seems like the type to thrive in a playoff race.
As an underrated starter on a rebuilding team who's capable of pitching really well after being dealt, Norris could be this year's version of Paul Maholm, who notched a 3.54 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, and a 7.7 K/9 after being moved to—that's right—the Braves at last season's trade deadline.
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