Fantasy Baseball 2014: Week 9's Buy-Low, Sell-High Trade Advice
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 getting value in the trading game.
Knowing which player(s) to trade away and which to deal for—and knowing just the right time to do so—can make all the difference.
After all, it doesn't get much better than making a move to unload a hot flavor-of-the-week type who's about to cool off in exchange for a slumping stud who's ready to take off.
Now, speaking of timing, let's get to some players to sell high and buy low.
Buy Low: Jose Reyes, SS, Toronto Blue Jays
Fantasy Stats: .252 BA, 29 R, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 11 SB (173 PA)
Jose Reyes is running again. A hamstring injury that cropped up during spring training knocked him out for nearly three weeks after his very first plate appearance of the 2014 regular season, so it wasn't a surprise that the 30-year-old finished out April with nary a steal attempt.
In May, though, Reyes has gone 11-for-12 on thefts, and he's also hitting much better, too, with a .273 average and 13 extra-base hits (including a pair of homers). Oh yeah, he's also entrenched in the leadoff spot for a Blue Jays lineup that enters play Friday having scored the most runs in the majors. Reyes will be circling the bases. A lot.
Sell High: Josh Beckett, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Fantasy Stats: 3 W, 2.43 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 52 K (55.2 IP)
What better time to peddle a pitcher than right after he throws a no-hitter, as Josh Beckett did last Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies—at Citizens Bank Park, no less. If you're a Beckett owner, you can enjoy rewatching highlights by clicking the video above. After you're finished, though, it's time to find out what that performance can get you in a trade.
While the no-no got the 34-year-old noticed, fact is, Beckett had been pitching rather well for most of the season already. Is he going to come crashing down in the near future? Doubtful, because the skill set is still there for Beckett to be a very useful fifth or sixth fantasy starter.
But certainly, you've already gotten the best out of the right-hander, who sports a 4.00 FIP and .211 BABIP and who is likely to tire as the season progresses after pitching less than 50 frames during an injury-wrecked 2013. If the no-hitter gains you a little extra currency in trade chatter, cash it in.
Buy Low: Gio Gonzalez, SP, Washington Nationals
Fantasy Stats: 3 W, 4.62 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 53 K (50.2 IP)
Maybe Gio Gonzalez's owner doesn't like the fact that the lefty's ERA and WHIP are pretty yucky so far. Or perhaps said owner already has two or three other players on his roster clogging up the disabled list and has nowhere to keep Gonzalez, who's been out with shoulder inflammation since mid-May.
Get your offer in now, because the 28-year-old threw a successful bullpen session Thursday and is expected to head out on a rehab assignment by the end of next week, provided there are no setbacks, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
Gonzalez's underlying numbers, including strikeout percentage (24.4) and walk percentage (9.2), are right in line with the past few years, so he could regain top-25 starting pitcher status in short order.
Sell High: Lance Lynn, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
Fantasy Stats: 6 W, 3.13 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 61 K (69.0 IP)
While Lance Lynn's complete game shutout isn't quite as milestone-y as Josh Beckett's no-no, it's not far off. Especially since the 27-year-old pulled off the feat for the first time in his career while dominating the New York Yankees on Tuesday.
Use that as your selling point and engage other owners in talks about Lynn, who's often underrated in fantasy. He's also, though, very much an early-season performer who tends to fall off.
In 2012, his first year as a starter, Lynn went 10-2 with a 2.42 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 9.5 K/9 through his first 13 starts. And last year, he had an 8-1 mark with a 2.76 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 9.1 K/9 after a dozen outings. Eerie, right? Lynn also finished those seasons with ERAs of 3.78 and 3.97 and WHIPs of 1.31 and 1.32.
Well, guess what? The big right-hander has made 11 starts so far in 2014. If his past two years are any indication, this is right about where the dip in digits begins.
Buy Low: Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado Rockies
Fantasy Stats: .228 BA, 12 R, 5 HR, 22 RBI, 0 SB (131 PA)
So explain this one: Not only is Wilin Rosario's .237 BABIP nearly 70 points below his career mark of .305, it's also one of the 25 lowest in the majors, and yet his ground-ball rate actually is up dramatically from the low- to mid-40 percent range the past few years to a whopping 55.9 percent.
That sort of combination—elevated ground-ball percentage and a low BABIP—don't often go together as much as, say, an elevated fly-ball rate and a low BABIP. Simply, grounders tend to turn into hits more often than fly balls do, which is proved by a league-wide .240 average on the former and a .166 mark on the latter.
The key in Rosario's case, then, is noticing that all those extra grounders have taken the place of line drives. The 25-year-old's line-drive percentage has dipped to 13.7 (career 19.4 percent). That's not good news, but remember that Rosario missed two weeks with a nasty viral infection, so his batted ball data is a smaller sample size than most (and he also might not have been at full strength for some time). Plus, nobody is scoffing at five homers and 22 RBI from a catcher.
Ultimately, the grounders should start finding holes more often, and Rosario's batting average will climb. If he starts hitting the ball in the air or on a line a bit more, then his numbers can't help but get better in that Rockies' one-through-nine.
Sell High: Huston Street, RP, San Diego Padres
Fantasy Stats: 1 W, 1.35 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 23 K, 15 SV (20.0 IP)
You'd swear that Huston Street was, what, 34 by now, right? Well, dude's still only 30 until Aug. 2, and he's pitching as well as he ever has. In fact, better than he ever has.
Of course, Street isn't quite this good. Those numbers above put him in the conversation for the top closer so far—he's No. 3 behind only Francisco Rodriguez and Sergio Romo, per ESPN's Player Rater. Beyond that, he's constantly an injury concern, having been on the disabled list at least once in each of the past four seasons (and five times total during that span).
Whenever a closer gets off to a hot start, he makes for a good sell-high candidate by virtue of boosting really only one category—saves—so don't get too attached to Street. He's been great, but he's only a couple of rough outings or that inevitable DL stint away from seeing his trade value drop.
Buy Low: Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
Fantasy Stats: .296 BA, 25 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB (214 PA)
Folks, Xander Bogaert's breakout in the fantasy-relevant numbers is coming. He's been frustrating to own so far, because the power numbers just aren't there (3 HR? 12 RBI?) and only recently, he was hitting in the .250-.260 range.
Over Bogaert's last dozen games, though, he's starting to click with 20 hits in his past 48 at-bats (.411) with seven extra-base hits, including two of his three homers. The 21-year-old's approach and patience at the plate (10.7 walk rate) have always been there, so it's simply been a matter of time before the rest of his work with the wood began catching up.
With a shift to third base in the offing once Stephen Drew returns, Bogaerts is going to have desirable SS/3B eligibility in fantasy, too, which will make his about-to-break-out bat even more enticing.
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