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2011 Fantasy Baseball Roundtable: Who Are the Experts Buying Low?

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Roundtable: Who Are the Experts Buying Low?
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TheFantasyFix.com is proud to present you with the first celebrity roundtable event of the 2011 fantasy baseball season. 

We've trolled the internet to find some of the most interesting, knowledgeable and reliable figures in fantasy baseball today, and asked them to share their knowledge and expertise on the following topic:
Based on historical trends or statistics, identify one fantasy baseball hitter OR pitcher that you consider an excellent target to "Buy" (or "Buy Low" as some say) via trade as we approach June.

This is what they said...

Adam Dunn has always been an all-or-nothing type of player.  With a career strikeout rate well over 30 percent and at least 38 home runs in each of the last seven seasons, Dunn is the king of the all-or-nothing club, even over renowned members of the club like Mark Reynolds (38.3 career strikeout percentage, 104 HR 2008-2010) and Carlos Pena  (31.3 career strikeout percentage, 144 HR 2007-2010).

True to form, Dunn is striking out frequently this year.  In fact, he is striking out at the highest rate of his career, 38.8 percent of the time.  As a result, his batting average is a predictably low .216.  The bigger problem is that the home runs have not been there so far.  Were Dunn to continue on his current pace, he would end 2011 with around 20 home runs.  

But Dunn’s HR/FB rate is roughly half that of his career rate at this point, and that should come around because Dunn is still hitting the ball in the air (50.0 fly ball percentage) and hitting it hard (20.8 line drive percentage).  In other words, it seems that Dunn’s power outage is more a result of bad fortune rather than a declining skill set.

In the preseason many pointed out that the move to the White Sox and the hitter-friendly U.S Cellular would be beneficial, or, at the very least, not detrimental to Dunn’s power numbers.  It may not seem like that has been the case so far, but sooner or later (probably sooner) Dunn is going to start proving that logic right.  So if you are searching for power, Dunn is a good trade target.  You might be able to get him for less than full value and acquire 25-30 homers from here on out.

Written by TheFantasyFix.com's senior fantasy baseball analyst, Brett Talley. Check out Brett's column, The Rubber, where he breaks down the top 50 pitchers on a weekly basis. You can follow him and/or ask him for fantasy advice on Twitter @therealTAL

How many homers do you think Dunn will hit this year?

Submit Vote vote to see results

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After a disappointing 2010 season, Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler is off to a slow start once again. So what's wrong? The knock on Kinsler has been his durability, but that's not an issue so far; he's played in 37 of the Rangers' 38 games. It's not his contact rate. In fact, Kinsler is striking out at a career-low 10.7 percent of his at-bats. It's not his pitch selection. His 12.7 percent walk rate is a career high. And despite hitting just .229, Kinsler does have five home runs and an isolated slugging percentage of .200 —which is more in line with his best seasons (2007-09) than his injury-plagued 2010.

Perhaps the biggest reason to expect a rebound from Kinsler is a .223 average on balls in play that's 66 points below his career norm. As a result, his expected average (according to BaseballHQ.com) is a more palatable .291. Many owners see Kinsler's paltry RBI total (15) and chalk that up to not getting many opportunities at the top of the order.

Despite hitting in the leadoff spot, he's had runners on base in 40 percent of his at-bats. Yet he's hitting just .179 with runners on and .161 with them in scoring position. Just average luck on balls he puts in play will boost his average, help him to drive in more runs and allow his ability to hit for power to shine through.

In addition, the one bright spot for Kinsler owners this season—seven stolen bases —could turn into an even bigger advantage once he starts getting on base more frequently. With solid skills contradicting many of his surface stats, Kinsler makes a nice buy-low opportunity for savvy fantasy owners.

Written by Steve Gardner of USA Today. Check out Steve Gardner's Fantasy Windup blog online at fantasywindup.usatoday.com and follow him on Twitter@sgardnerUSAT.

Who do you have more faith in turning it around?

Submit Vote vote to see results

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Coming into 2011, I probably had higher expectations than most that Andrew McCutchen would become a $25 fantasy player. which is only achieved by 15-20 hitters a year. At 24 years old with 1150 at bats under his belt, McCutchen showed marked improvement in 2010. His K rate went from 19 percent to 15 percent and his BB rate was already solid around ten to 11 percent

Throw in a better lineup around him, moving down in the order to third meant the power would also increase. I projected McCutchen at .290-100 R-25 HR-80 RBI-30 SB. The only concern I had was—how would the change from leadoff to the three hole effect his approach at the plate?

McCutchen’s 2010 value was $18 in a standard 12 TM mixed, and I pegged him at $25-$28 for 2011. He is only at $13 so far this year, but if he was hitting .290 he would be right at $18 again. In April, he was dealing with some family issues plus a BABIP of .243, where his career BABIP is around .310-.320. All of McCutchen’s other metrics are in line, including an increase in FB to 50 percent.

The only exception is that his strikeout percentage was over 20, but he has already adjusted and it’s down to 15 in May. I contribute the strikeout percentage increase to the lineup change, and now that McCutchen is back in the leadoff spot, his 15 percent strikeout rate is a small sample size. Grady Sizemore was a Fantasy stud hitting .265/30 HR/100 RBI/30 SB and McCutchen can be that type of player with a higher batting average and a little less power.

Michael Rathburn is the resident Dynasty league guru at RotoExperts.com with two weekly columns – Farmer’s Market (Minor league baseball) and Burn Notice (Dynasty league football).
You can email him at mrathburn@rotoexperts.com or follow him on Twitter
@RotoExpertMRath

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Nick Swisher hit .288 last year. It was the highest single season AVG of his career, well above his career average of .251. Known for being an extremely patient hitter in the past, Swisher became more aggressive last year, swinging at pitches over 68 percent of the time. That was over a ten percent jump from the year before. 

A .335 BABIP helped as well, but the home runs, runs and RBI that came along with being a part of the stellar Yankee lineup were all part of the equation.

This season, Swisher is off to a horrible start, hitting only .221/.338/.311 with a mere two home runs in 148 plate appearances. However, Swisher's numbers suggest that an improvement is coming. 

His current .263 BABIP is extremely low considering his line-drive rate of almost 25 percent. While it's no lock that Swisher will hit much more than .265 the rest of the way, his power numbers should start to spike before long. 

In both 2009 and 2010, Swisher hit 29 home runs and held a HR/FB rate above 15 percent. His current HR/FB rate is only five percent. The lowest HR/FB rate of his career as a full-time regular was 11.6 percent back in 2007. There's just no way that Swisher's power doesn't show up again.

Given his complete lack of production so far in 2011, you can probably get Swisher for 10 cents on the dollar. He may have even been cut in some leagues. Now might be the best time to buy low and reap the rewards of the rest of his season.

Written by Charlie Saponara, 
Owner/Author Fantasy Baseball 365
Columnist, Fire Brand of the AL (Affiliate of ESPN's Sweet Spot Network) 
Columnist, Sons of RotoContributor, Project Prospect
Twitter.com/CharlieSaponara

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I actually think it is really hard to buy low on anybody these days, especially someone of merit whose statistical track record would be significant enough to support a bounce back (i.e. Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, etc…).  I did a two part series on the matter over at paulsporer.com, where I suggest that at the top tiers of underperformers, you can’t really buy low, but instead you buy at fair market value. Even, it is 1:1.

With that said, I would recommend buying in on John Danks.  The 0-6 W-L record makes him look much worse than he has been, but he is someone I would target without fear.  He has given up six runs in five innings and five runs in six innings in two of his last three starts.  In the other start, he didn’t strike anyone out. With those three outings his owner may be souring and it may be time to swoop in. 

He is being punished by an abnormal BABIP (.327 as opposed to the .267 and .274 which marks the last two years), but there is no discernible skill change to explain the difference, meaning there is reason to believe it will regress back to his norm.  He has also become one of the most reliable workhorses in the games (195, 200 and 213 IP the last three years), meaning you can just about guarantee another 24-25 starts of mid-3.00s ERA and mid-1.20s WHIP or better. Meanwhile, three-year bests in his strikeout and walk rates also suggest positive things for Danks in the near future.  Buy.

Written by Paul Sporer of paulsporer.com. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer

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Ryan Dempster: Did you listen to me when I told you to buy low on Dempster or to hold on if you were infuriated with his slow start? After finishing April 1-3 with a 9.58 ERA and 1.87 WHIP, Dempster was dropped as often as Lindsey Lohan has failed rehab, which translates to an awful lot. 

So what has happened in three starts in May? All Dempster has done is produced three quality starts with a combined 2.25 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. He's also averaged a strikeout per inning and has only walked three batters. 

On the year that leaves Dempster with a 6.71 ERA, which is twice than what it should be—literally. His xFIP, which records what a pitcher's ERA should be based upon the events that are in his control (it also normalized homer rates) says his mark should be 3.30. I don't doubt that he can get his ERA back into the threes this year.

Written by Ray Flowers of BaseballGuys.com. Follow Ray on Twitter @baseballguys. Ray is also the host of The Fantasy Drive on Monday-Friday from 5-8 PM EDT  on XM 87, Sirius 210.

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Well there you have it. The experts suggest buying Adam Dunn, Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Dempster, Nick Swisher, John Danks and Ian Kinsler.

Do you agree or disagree with these five choices? Why or why not?

Who are you buying on?

Leave us a comment, or tell us on twitter @TheFantasyFix!

 

Check out this weeks new articles:

2011 Fantasy Baseball Week 7 Waiver WIre: Cameron Maybin On The Rise In San Diego
The Fantasy Baseball Daily Fix: Jose Bautista Eats Baseballs For Breakfast
2011 Fantasy Baseball Week 7: Sit Em, Start Em - Rays' Matt Joyce Is Dishing Out Sunshine
2011 MiLB Farm Report: Shortstop Special Edition - Jurickson Profar the Next Starlin Castro?



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