Fantasy Baseball 2014: Week 11'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: David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Fantasy Stats: 4 W, 3.97 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 111 K (99.2 IP)
Whether you can still get David Price as a buy-low option in your league depends almost entirely on how up on second-layer metrics his current owner is.
While the 28-year-old southpaw's WHIP (1.15) is strong and his strikeout rate (10.0 K/9) is a career best, Price's ERA sits at an elevated 3.97, and he has managed only four wins in 14 starts.
Blame those last two numbers on the Rays, whose defense has been uncharacteristically below-average (19th in defensive efficiency, per Baseball Prospectus) and who currently have the worst record in baseball (really!).
Price, though, has a FIP of 2.97, which is not only exactly one run south of his ERA but also would be a career low over a full season. His ERA is as high as it is because he's been unlucky in homers allowed (12.3 percent HR/FB), batting average on balls in play (.332) and left-on base percentage (67.5 percent).
Even if he isn't traded to a contender between now and the end of July (thus giving him a better shot to actually win a few games), Price still should see his ERA drop quite a bit over the rest of the season. Get him now, while his owner remains worried about the fact that Price has given up 21 runs (16 earned) over his past 37.0 innings.
Sell High: Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals
Fantasy Stats: .292 BA, 22 R, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 1 SB (248 PA)
This one is all about name value versus actual production. As the best all-around catcher in the game, Yadier Molina has the former, but the latter quietly has been lacking of late.
Over the past month (23 games), Molina is batting only .265 with but seven runs, six RBI and one homer. That tough stretch could be just that, or it could be the sign of all those innings donning the tools of ignorance finally starting to catch up to Molina as he hits the point in his career—he turns 32 a month from Friday—where a lot of backstops start wearing down. If you own him, wouldn't you rather not have to worry about which category Molina falls under?
Plus, catchers often make good sell-high candidates because they don't play quite as much as hitters at other positions for need of rest, and they're prone to wearing down over the long season as is.
Owners love having players considered the best at their position in fantasy, and Molina has that rep. That just means someone's liable to pay handsomely for an aging, perhaps-past-his-primer who derives an enormous percentage of his fantasy value from what has routinely been a high batting average.
Buy Low: Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Texas Rangers
Fantasy Stats: .261 BA, 34 R, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 3 SB (262 PA)
While Shin-Soo Choo's first season in Texas hasn't been all that exciting, a terrible recent slump has made it look worse than it actually is. Well, that and the fact that just about all of his teammates are on the disabled list.
In his past 12 games across the last two weeks, Choo's .103 batting average (4-for-39) ranks as the third-worst in the sport among qualifiers. Yikes.
The soon-to-be 32-year-old—like Molina, Choo's birthday is July 13—is better than that. But right now, he's at his lowest point in the season, which makes him more obtainable.
While he might not put up the extra-gaudy run total that was expected when he signed with the Rangers, Choo does have a very Choo-like .397 OBP and someone will drive him in. If you can get him at third or fourth fantasy outfielder pricing, he'll be worth it in the end.
Sell High: Yordano Ventura, SP, Kansas City Royals
Fantasy Stats: 4 W, 3.20 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 63 K (70.1 IP)
A much-hyped rookie who got off to a fantastic start to the season before an injury scare with his right elbow in late May put his campaign in flux, Yordano Ventura has looked pretty darn good again the last two times out.
Which is exactly why you should be trying to trade him now, while you still can.
Yes, the 23-year-old fireballer has given up only 15 baserunners and three runs in 13.0 innings this month, but that comes with an eyebrow-raising four strikeouts total. For a guy who may or may not be fully past elbow pain, that's not exactly a promising sign, is it?
Besides, as an untested rookie who was likely to have his innings capped, or at least closely monitored, later on in his first full season, Ventura was going to be a sell-high candidate anyway. It's just that the increased risk for an injury has pushed that timeline up several weeks.
Buy Low: Kenley Jansen, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Fantasy Stats: 0 W, 3.46 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 44 K, 17 SV (26.0 IP)
Typically, closers are on the other side of this column, because they're volatile and really only contribute to one category (saves).
In the case of Kenley Jansen, though, he's an elite closer whose surface stats—namely, that 3.46 ERA and 1.31 WHIP—are misleading enough to the point where he might be gettable on the cheap.
Yes, he got off to a rough beginning with two blown saves and a loss by April 15. But the 26-year-old is suffering almost entirely because of his .393 BABIP, which is fourth-highest in baseball among pitchers who have thrown at least 20.0 innings.
Trust in Jansen's strikeout rate (15.2 K/9!) and his 1.85 FIP. He's still a top-five closer and should wind up right around there by the end of the season.
Sell High: Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Cleveland Indians
Fantasy Stats: .393 BA, 30 R, 7 HR, 32 RBI, 2 SB (189 PA)
The beautiful thing about what Lonnie Chisenhall did this past Monday—and really, what he's done this month as a whole—is that it was so headline-grabbing that the formerly irrelevant fantasy option turned himself into a full-fledged name to know and player to own in all formats.
Monday, of course, was the day The Chiz Kid went bonkers with a 5-for-5 showing that included three homers and nine RBI, an effort that set all sorts of records.
In just 10 games over the first two weeks of June, Chisenhall is 18-for-38 (.474) with eight runs, four homers and 17 RBI. Wow, right?
When peddling Chisenhall, be sure to kindly offer up that this is a former top prospect who is still only 25 and appears to be coming into his own, thanks to a .393 batting average that is the best in baseball.
Of course, you'll want to leave out the part where his ridiculous .428 BABIP is the highest in MLB among hitters with at least 150 plate appearances. Or the part about how the lefty swinger still will be taking a seat against southpaws regularly, like he did Thursday against Boston's Jon Lester.
When a player is this hot, especially one who has next to no history of success, he's practically begging you to sell him high. Oblige.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11
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