Fantasy Baseball 2014: Week 12'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 with 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/Sell High: Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves
Fantasy Stats: .282 BA, 46 R, 11 HR, 36 RBI, 0 SB (319 PA)
Freddie Freeman was considered a regression candidate by yours truly prior to the season, mainly due to a very high .371 BABIP. Then, he went out and tore it up in April, making that prediction look silly. But maybe it wasn't?
Since batting .320 with 17 runs, six homers and 17 RBI over 114 plate appearances in the first month, the 24-year-old Freeman has been rather ordinary: .260 average, 29 runs, five homers, 19 RBI in 46 games (205 PA). Oh, and the lefty swinger's batting average on balls in play this year has dipped to a more realistic .322.
Thing is, Freeman tends to be divisive, and that makes him the rare player who is both a sell-high and buy-low candidate, depending on his reputation in your specific league.
Some folks think he's an MVP candidate, while others see him as merely good but not quite great. If Freeman's owner falls into the latter category because he's been only so-so for going on two months now, then buy. On the other hand, if you're the one with Freeman, it can't hurt to find the leaguemate who likes him most and peddle him at full price.
Sell High: Evan Gattis, C/OF, Atlanta Braves
Fantasy Stats: .294 BA, 27 R, 16 HR, 38 RBI, 0 SB (216 PA)
It's time to pick on our second Atlanta Braves hitter in a row, which is sure to bring some grief in the comments. In the case of Evan Gattis, the argument for selling him is pretty simple: He's in the running for the best fantasy catcher around at the moment—ESPN's Player Rater has him at No. 2 behind only Jonathan Lucroy—but Gattis is bound to fall from that lofty perch.
The 27-year-old might not tank, primarily because his power is very real, so he could push past 30 home runs in total. If you need those 10-15 homers from your catcher position, then Gattis is worth hanging on to.
But this just isn't the kind of hitter who can maintain an average of nearly .300. Gattis' 48.4 fly-ball percentage is among the 10 highest rates in the sport, lumping him in with other sub-.250-type hitters such as Chris Carter, Brandon Hicks, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss, Lucas Duda, Mike Moustakas, Adam Dunn and Jed Lowrie.
Beyond that, now that he's exclusively being played at catcher, Gattis is going to lose plate appearances for days off and defensive-replacement purposes. That means he'll also lose opportunities to hit baseballs really, really far.
Essentially, Gattis is a pure power play and only a power play. If a fellow owner sees him as more than that, take advantage.
Buy Low: Hanley Ramirez, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
Fantasy Stats: .261 BA, 36 R, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 9 SB (292 PA)
It's safe to say that 2014 Hanley Ramirez isn't exactly 2013 Hanley Ramirez, huh? The 30-year-old is fast approaching the same number of games (69 to 86) and plate appearances (292 to 336) he had during his monster season a year ago, but the other numbers are nowhere near the same.
Remember, this is a guy who hit .345 with 62 runs, 20 homers and 57 RBI despite missing half the season with injuries. The only fantasy category that looks similar this time around is stolen bases, as he finished with 10 in 2013.
That has to have more than a few Ramirez owners out there at least slightly frustrated. Plus, the injury issues haven't gone away, as practically never-ending dings and dents have cost Ramirez a game or three here and there. The video up top has evidence.
All that said, Ramirez is still displaying good plate discipline (11.3 walk percentage), making lots of contact (16.1 strikeout rate) and sporting promising batted ball numbers. Translation: While he might not have another half-season at 2013 levels in him going forward, Ramirez has yet to really get untracked.
Call it a gut feeling, but there's a good chance we haven't seen the best of Ramirez yet, and this is the type of dangerous hitter who can go on a team-carrying tear. The price won't be cheap, because Ramirez still has been a strong starter at shortstop, but landing him at even 80-90 cents on the dollar could pay off.
Sell High: Jon Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros
Fantasy Stats: .224 BA, 10 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB (66 PA)
This one isn't about Jon Singleton as much as it's about what he represents. That's because along with death and taxes, the third undeniable truth of life is that every fantasy owner loves a hot-shot prospect.
Sure, there are statistical reasons for selling Singleton high—namely, those 20 strikeouts through his first 66 plate appearances, which comes out to a troubling 30.3 percent K rate. The 22-year-old always had some swing and miss to his game, even when he was journeying to the majors as a top youngster.
Singleton also is sporting a home run to fly ball rate of 22.2 percent, meaning nearly one of every four balls he hits in the air is leaving the park. Reading too much into such a small sample size isn't recommended, and the lefty slugger does have power, but that figure will fall.
Beyond the numbers, though, is the undeniable fact that Singleton is a former top prospect who has been impressive and exciting since debuting nearly three weeks ago. In the trading game, that's like hitting the jackpot. It shouldn't take much to figure out which owners would love them some Singleton and relieve them of their more proven player(s) in exchange for him.
Buy Low: Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants
Fantasy Stats: .264 BA, 18 R, 9 HR, 18 RBI, 3 SB (139 PA)
While the Giants have been ripping through the National League over the first two-plus months, Brandon Belt has been the forgotten man.
That's been the case even though the 26-year-old's six home runs at April's end had him tied with Mike Morse for the team lead before Belt went down with a broken left thumb upon being hit by a pitch soon thereafter. (Click above to feel the lefty hitter's pain.) Belt has been out since May 9, and his owner very well may have him stashed in the "DL" slot without having given him a second thought.
The first baseman is slowly making his way back, however. He had the pins removed from his busted digit in early June and has since progressed to taking batting practice, according to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News. A rehab assignment is a given, but Belt could return at the very end of June or early July.
Because the injury is to the hands, Belt could struggle once active, but fire off a low-ball offer and see what happens. The Giants lineup has been pretty strong, courtesy of Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, Mike Morse, Pablo Sandoval and Angel Pagan. Adding Belt to that bunch could provide a boost to both their production and his.
Sell High: Alfredo Simon, SP/RP, Cincinnati Reds
Fantasy Stats: 10 W, 3.05 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 55 K (88.2IP)
At the outset of 2014, Alfredo Simon was more or less an unknown outside of Cincinnati. Now? Well, he's the National League's first 10-game winner. And this cannot be stressed enough: The 33-year-old is arguably the most sell-highest of all players in fantasy baseball at this very moment because of that.
But not only because of that. Simon also has a 4.45 FIP that is almost a full run-and-a-half worse than his ERA—and one of the 20 worst in the majors. His .243 BABIP is among the 10 lowest. Then, there's his muted strikeout rate of 5.6 per nine.
Tack on the fact that Simon has been a reliever for the majority of his big league career, including both the 2012 and 2013 seasons—his MLB career high for innings in a season is just 115.2 back in 2011—and we've got a performance that is all-around unsustainable.
Simon says sell.
Buy Low: Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Mets
Fantasy Stats: .228 BA, 31 R, 9 HR, 32 RBI, 5 SB (288 PA)
Back in his heyday, when he was crushing 40-plus home runs with the New York Yankees, Curtis Granderson was a fantasy star. These days with the New York Mets? Not so much.
That doesn't mean the 33-year-old can't be a trade target for owners in 12-team leagues or NL-only formats, especially because Granderson should come dirt cheap after the brutal beginning to his career in Flushing. He hit just .136 with a single home run through April.
Since then, however, the production actually hasn't been bad. Heck, it's been good: .282 batting average, 23 runs, eight home runs, 25 RBI and three stolen bases in 45 games.
Think of Granderson as an Alfonso Soriano type, a guy who can look downright lost and un-ownable for long periods, only to play up to—or even above—expectations for an extended amount of time to counteract the slumps.
Having to rely on Granderson isn't recommended, but snatching him from an unsuspecting owner in deep leagues or as a secondary piece in a trade in shallower play is.
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