2011 Fantasy Baseball: Weekly Wheelhouse Buy/Buy-Low Candidates by Position

Maxwell SalvatiContributor IIMay 20, 2011

2011 Fantasy Baseball: Weekly Wheelhouse Buy/Buy-Low Candidates by Position

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    Guys like last years breakout star Drew Stubbs are the ideal players to target when you're buying low.
    Guys like last years breakout star Drew Stubbs are the ideal players to target when you're buying low.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Players are selected based on their expected performance from this point forward and perceived value versus actual value in standard 5x5 redraft leagues, not necessarily for statistics that have already been accrued.

    In the meantime, if you're looking for updated (weekly) rankings check mine out at:

    SP/OF/SS/3B/2B/1B/C

    These rankings can also be used as a comparable way to determine trade value for redraft leagues.

    Also, keep an eye out for my "Sell/Sell-High" article in the next few days. If you become a "fan" (shameless self promotion: check) you shouldn't miss it.

Catcher (C): Carlos Santana, CLE

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    The switch hitting C-San-Tan-Man at work.
    The switch hitting C-San-Tan-Man at work.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The C-San-Tan-Man was largely drafted as the No. 4 or 5 catcher off the board, which is roughly where his production has been up until this point. So why buy-low? His perceived value is down because of his .222 AVG.

    Santana—in my humble opinion—is the best young hitting catcher in the game, above Posey, Wieters, Avila and many others. People seem to forget that he was widely considered a better hitting prospect than Buster Posey. He hits cleanup behind a healthy Sizemore, Brantley, and Choo, with guys like Hafner and Cabrera behind him—plus top prospects Chisenhall and Kipnis, who are both well on their way to The Show.

    Santana has legitimate 30 HR power, one of only a few catchers with that type of ability (my short list consists of Napoli, Soto, Santana and Arencibia). He's also the only catcher besides Joe Mauer with a 1:1 K:BB-rate, meaning he gets on base a lot, thus giving himself a better chance to score runs and steal bases—yes, he's even got a little bit of speed and he should steal close to half a dozen bases. Though he's only hitting .222 right now, he's also sporting a ridiculously low BABIP at .233 (should be somewhere around .280), which is more than partially responsible for the low batting average.

    Another thing Santana has going for himself is that the Indians love his bat so much so that they plug him in at 1B (in most leagues he's already eligible) and DH on his days off behind the dish, just to keep it in the lineup. What other catchers have the luxury of getting 550-plus ABs? Not many, if any. At this point in his career Santana is only a .260-.270 hitter when all is said and done, but over the next few years I truly believe he develops into a .280-.285 hitter.

    Realistic line to expect for Santana at the end of the season -- .260/80/26/80/5.


    Trade Talk Tactics

    In order to bag Santana, I would point out his low .222 AVG and the fact that Sizemore is always hurt, as well as the fact that Choo just doesn't seem to be getting on-base like he was last year or performing at an elite level (which is another misconception), or that Cabrera is clearly playing over his head (which might be true), so you are worried about Santana's RBI opportunities. If that doesn't work, you could even point to the fact that he's still very young (25) and that he may be in an adjustment period or a sophomore slump, but that you are willing to take the risk. It's always important to note the stakes somewhere in discussions, because putting the person you're trading with in your shoes makes them empathize more with what you're saying.

     

    Other Catchers I'm buying:

    Joe Mauer: A little worried, but not that much. He'll still be a top 5 catcher going forward.

    Geovany Soto: No Lou Piniella means more playing time. More playing time means more HRs. More HRs means top five potential for Soto. I also like him because he's one of a handful of catchers who can rock a .900 OPS, as long as he stays healthy, of course

    Yadier Molina: Seems like he's developing some power to supplement the high batting average.

    Matt Wieters: Finally developing albeit slowly. 

    Hank Conger: I believe he will have the full-time job—or whatever the equivalent is in Anaheim with Scioscia at the helm—by the All-Star break.

    Wilson Ramos: More and more playing time each week. One of the most promising young catchers in the game. His bat is as good as his defense, which is good, in case you were wondering.

    Chris Iannetta: 25 HR power if he can stay in the lineup. 

    J.P. Arencibia: 30 HR power if he can stay in the lineup...but with the potential to hit .200. Seriously.

    Jonathan Lucroy: High AVG guy with 10-15 HR pop.

     

    Other Catchers I'm not buying (at least in terms of where they are on the player rater right now):

    Russel Martin: He's getting lucky, injury prone, and gonna lose at-bats to Jesus.

    Alex Avila: I'm not saying he hasn't developed or isn't hitting well, I'm just saying I don't fully buy it. When he regresses—and he will regress—then we'll talk.

    Ramon Hernandez: I like his bat but he splits time.

    Ryan Doumit: Nope.

    Nick Hundley: Double nope.

First Base (1B): Paul Konerko, CWS

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    An oldie but a goodie.
    An oldie but a goodie.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Konerko was largely drafted as the No. 12 1B off the board, despite finishing behind only Pujols, Votto and Cabrera last season on the player rater. So why buy-low?

    His production up until this point has been nothing short of fantastic, as he's only behind Berkman, Votto and Gonzalez on the player rater. He's on pace for almost identical stats from last season, but because of his perceived value—even now—he's not widely considered a .300/35/100 hitter, which is mostly because of his age (35). Even though he's more or less considered a top 10 first baseman, he should be in the same tier as Fielder and Tex, yet for whatever reason he is perceived to be somewhere around the likes of Howard, Youk and Dunn—maybe even behind them, depending on who's list you're reading—which is certainly off-base.

    Admittedly, his BABIP is a little high at .308 (career .286), but even when that normalizes his batting average will come down to what? .300? .295? That's still better than Fielder, Tex, Howard, Dunn and Youk! Like Santana, he too hits cleanup sandwiched between a rather well-established bunch: Pierre, Alexei, Dunn, and Quentin, Rios, Beckham—with a HUGE bat on its way in prospect Dayan Viciedo. Though most of the supporting cast listed above has gotten off to a slow start, they are beginning to come around, yet even without their production he is on-pace for 36 HRs, 115 RBI and 76 Runs.

    Another thing Konerko has going for him is durability. Since 1999 he's played less than 140 games in a season a total of two times—of which he played 137 games in one and 122 games in the other—so missing time due to injuries are of very little concern. He may only have a year or two left in his tank, but he certainly has enough gas to grind out a top five 1B finish this season.

    Realistic line to expect for Konerko at the end of the season -- .295/80/37/105/2.


    Trade Talk Tactics

    In order to bag Konerko I would point out his high BABIP and the fact that he's due for some regression, as well as the fact that his supporting cast has been awful and has only showed small signs of improvement, so you're worried that he can't sustain his R/RBI totals. If that doesn't work, you could even point to the fact that he is, sadly, getting older (35) and that he will most certainly slow down in the second half.

     

    Other 1B I'm buying:

    Gaby Sanchez: .300-plus hitter with 25 HR pop in the mold of Billy Butler, but maybe better? Did I mention that I love BB?

    Adam Dunn: He can still reach 40 HRs this season, despite the slow start. Nuff' said.

    Eric Hosmer: In love. A 21-year old Joey Votto.

    Adam Lind: Just as he started to heat up, he went and got hurt. He might start slow when he returns, but expect him to find his power stroke sooner than later.

    Ike Davis: Same as Adam Lind. Though the Mets offense scares me.

    Kevin Youkilis: Finding his stroke. Your window is closing.

    Justin Smoak: Similar to Gaby Sanchez, but not as good... at least this year. He has a higher ceiling long-term though.

    Mitch Moreland: .280 hitter with 25 HR power.

    Matt LaPorta: Post-hype prospect finally producing. 30 HR power if he can put it all together.

    Albert Pujols: I still believe. If someone is willing to sell, buy. Though it's kind of taboo to talk about The Terminator right now, that doesn't change the fact that both of them "Will Be Back." Hide your daughters.

     

    Other 1B I am not buying (at least in terms of where they are on the player rater right now):

    Lance Berkman: He's gonna continue to hurt himself if he keeps running around in that outfield. Not to mention he's getting lucky and playing over his head. He's real to some extent, but he's not a top five 1B producer.

    Todd Helton: I believe the batting average but not the power.

    Alex Gordon: Like Berkman, he is real to some extent. I think Gordon ends the season with a line similar to .270/80/15/75/13. I know he was a "can't miss" first-round pick, but really he's just a little bit better version of Chase Headley.

    Brett Wallace: Great, he's hitting for a nice batting average, but with negative power. Wasn't he supposed to be a home run hitter? I need to see him put it all together at some point before I'm a believer.

Second Base (2B): Ian Kinsler, TEX

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    Runnin' wild this season.
    Runnin' wild this season.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Kinsler was largely drafted as the No. 4 2B off the board, despite playing more than 140 games only once since his ML debut in 2006. So why buy-low?

    His numbers up until this point are not stellar, but that's largely attributed to his incredibly low .236 BABIP (career .290). Otherwise, if he can stay healthy—and that's a big if—he's on-pace for 18 HRs, 30 SBs, 101 Runs, and 64 RBI. An increase in BABIP—which should happen, since it really is bad luck—means a better batting average, more Runs, RBI and even SBs. His perceived value, even with solid peripherals, is not as a top four second baseman. Pair a return to the mean in BABIP with a return to the lineup from both Hamilton and Cruz and I fully expect Kinsler to heat up with the summer in Texas.

    I am all-in on Kinsler as my No. 2 2B the rest of the way—barring injury, of course. I seriously begin to drool when I think about a completely healthy Texas lineup: Andrus, Kinsler, Hamilton, Cruz, Beltre, Young, Moreland, Napoli, Borbon—OHMIGAWD! If you are risk averse, buy Kinsler while his value is at the lowest it will be all season.

    Realistic line to expect for Kinsler at the end of the season -- .275/110/22/70/33.

     

    Trade Talk Tactics

    In order to bag Kinsler I would definitely hard-sell his low BABIP and the fact that he's so injury prone. That should honestly be enough.

     

    Other 2B I'm buying:

    Dustin Pedroia: He'll be fine. Top five 2B by seasons end.

    Mike Aviles: See 3B slide in like two seconds.

    Dan Uggla: Only 2B to hit 30-plus HRs in four seasons...ever. Not to mention the fact that he did that consecutively, four seasons in a row. The power is legit, it will return. He's just trying to do too much.

    Howard Kendrick: .300 15/15 typa-guy now. The power developed a bit.

    Dustin Ackley: Utley Jr.

    Kelly Johnson: Not gonna help your batting average at all, but he'll be a good source of home runs and stolen bases.

    Brian Roberts: AVG, HR, and SB have all fallen off a bit but not this much. He'll be fine.

    Jed Lowrie: Give him more AB for the love of god.

    Ryan Raburn: 25 HR power if he calms down and stops trying to do so much.

    Danny Espinosa: Won't help your AVG but I still see him as a 20/20 threat.

    Orlando Hudson: Running more this year.

    And with eyes-wide-shut...

    Michael Cuddyer, Aaron Hill and Chase Utley.

     

    Other 2B I am not buying (at least in terms of where they are on the player rater right now):

    Darwin Barney: Might hit .300 but wont help anything else except for maybe runs. 

    Maicer Izturis: Just flat out don't buy it. Amarista will get more playing time I think.

    Jonathan Herrera: Same goes for Herrera, but with EY2.

    Orlando Cabrera: Kipnis will be up at some point and Cabrera is old,  not to mention not good.

Shortstop (SS): Alexei Ramirez, CWS

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    Alexei Ramirez wont be knocked down...at least past the No. 4 SS spot.
    Alexei Ramirez wont be knocked down...at least past the No. 4 SS spot.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Three-year averages: .282/73/18/72/13, and that was mostly hitting eighth or ninth in the lineup. He's now hitting in the two-hole behind Pierre and in front of Dunn, Konerko, Quentin and Rios. I had him fixed as my No. 4 SS going into the season and nothing has changed my mind. So why buy-low?

    Though he may not have the upside as other guys like Castro, Andrus, or even Desmond (who is on a torrid SB pace), he is more proven and much safer, so to speak, and I don't think those guys will reach their ceilings for a few more seasons. Ramirez was largely drafted as the No. 7 SS off the board, despite having a career year at the plate and finishing only behind Hanley, Tulo, and Reyes on the player rater.

    His production up until this point in the year has not been terrific, but like Kinsler, that was mostly attributed to a low BABIP, which has begun to level out as of recently, bringing his AVG up to .270 in the last week. He's currently on-pace for 18 HR, 8 SB, 86 Runs, and 57 RBI, though I fully expect him to run more and for his peripherals to increase as Pierre, Dunn, Quentin, Rios and Beckham heat up.

    The best part is that despite the proven and sustained success from the day he landed in the Majors, his perceived value has never been as a top four shortstop, meaning you can give up less and to get him. Durability is also a huge plus at a shallow position, luckily Ramirez played played 156 games last season and averages 147 games for his career.

    Realistic line to expect for Ramirez at the end of the season -- .281/95/18/65/13, right in line with his career numbers.

     

    Trade Talk Tactics

    In order to bag Ramirez I would definitely point out that his numbers are down across the board, that he's pretty much reached his ceiling, and that his supporting cast has been awful, only showing marginal signs of improvement, so you're worried that he can't sustain even his low R/RBI totals.

     

    Other SS I am buying:

    Hanley Ramirez: Do I need to explain?

    Stephen Drew: If you're risk averse.

    Elvis Andrus: Developed a little bit more power and has improved on the base paths.

    Johnny Peralta: He'll have a decent AVG and 15-20 HR.

    Ian Desmond: If you're risk averse. Could hit 15 HR and steal 40 bases.

    Rafael Furcal: If you're really risk averse.

    Jed Lowrie: COME ON FRANCONA.

    Yunel Escobar: Quietly putting together a nice season.

    Ryan Theriot: If he runs a little more he'll be a nice source of AVG, R and SB.

    Jason Bartlett: Hitting atop a bad offense, but running.

    And maybe even Trevor Plouffe.

     

    Other SS I am not buying (at least in terms of where they are on the player rater right now):

    Asdrubal Cabrera -- HR/POWER/ISO not real. I don't care what you say or show me. I'd rather eat my words later.

    Erick Aybar: Running more but I think he slows down.

    Darwin Barney: See "not good."

    Maicer Izturis: See Darwin Barney.

    Jimmy Rollins: Ever heard the phrase "Wheels fell off the wagon?"

    Derek Jeter: Ever heard of the phrase "Derek Jeter has fallen off the wagon?" Wait, that doesn't make sense...

    Orlando Cabrera: See Maicer Izturis 

    Elliot Johnson: See irrelevant. Though nice start, I respect what you've done with minimal playing time.

Third Base (3B): Mike Aviles, KC

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    Really? Aviles a potential top five 3B? No...
    Really? Aviles a potential top five 3B? No...Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    There are a lot of names I could have gone with at 3B...Bautista, because even now he's widely not considered a top three player when he should be...Longoria and Youk because of their slow starts...Wright because of injury...same goes for Zimmerman, Sandoval and A-Rod...or even guys like Polanco and Peralta...yet instead I went with Mike Aviles.

    So why buy Aviles? Aviles was largely drafted as the No. 22 2B (not even at 3B) and number 225 overall. At first glance his numbers up until this point are not stellar, but if you look deeper you begin to see a different story. He's sporting an ugly .234 AVG, but that's largely attributed to his incredibly low .242 BABIP (career .320). AVG aside, he's on pace for 18 HR, 30 SB, 101 RBI and 41 Runs, a similar line to Ian Kinsler.

    But he's on the Royals, you may say with disdain in your voice. And to that I say with supreme confidence in my voice, with the emergence of Gordon and the arrival of Hosmer, paired with Mr. Consistency himself, Billy Butler and hot new acquisitions Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera, the Royals actually have a very potent lineup, at least in terms of hitters 1-6.

    Something else to keep in mind too is that Aviles is a career .294 hitter, so BABIP woes aside he's a pretty safe play in the AVG department. You can fully expect his AVG to head north as it regresses to the mean, thus pumping up his run totals and maybe even adding a few more SB.

    At this point, the best part is that his perceived value, even with solid HR/SB totals, is not even on the radar as a top ten third baseman, when he could realistically end the year in the top five. Even with the impending arrival of the Mouse, Mike Moustakas, sometime in June, I am not concerned about playing time, as I think the Royals will just make him more of a fixture at 2B.

    Realistic line to expect for Aviles at the end of the season -- .280/65/16/85/33.

     

    Trade Talk Tactics

    In order to bag Aviles I would definitely hard-sell his low BABIP and the fact that he's on the Royals—eww, how gross. That should be more than enough. If it's not, you can try and convince your trading partner that he will certainly lose time with the arrival of Moustakas and that he might be moved down in the order (which is a realistic possibility).

     

    Other 3B I'm buying:

    Jose Bautista: No. 1 hitter in baseball at not No. 1 hitter price?

    Evan Longoria: Slow start but he'll be fine.

    Ryan Zimmerman: I don't think his hitting will be a problem when he returns from injury. 

    Kevin Youkilis: See Greek God of Walks, i.e. good baseball player.

    Aramis Ramirez: When his power returns—which it should—all of his numbers will go up.

    Mark Reynolds: We know two things with Reynolds. One, he'll hit 30 HR. And two, he'll hit less than .222 (arbitrary number but I could have gone lower).

    Placido Polanco: Wont hit for much power or steal many bases but everything else will be good.

    Johnny Peralta: See past slides.

    Michael Young: See Johnny Peralta.

    Pedro Alvarez: See "gut call." I see him either being sent to AAA or hitting 30 HR. Nothing in between. In other news, I cannot see the color gray.

    Wilson Betemit: At least until he's traded.

    Jed Lowrie: Theo... come on... you've gotta have some pull in the dugout, right?

     

    Other 3B I am not buying (at least in terms of where they are on the player rater right now):

    David Wright: Like Ryan Zimmerman he is injured, but unlike Ryan Zimmerman he wont hit when he returns from injury.

    Pablo Sandoval: His AVG will be fine, but I think the hamate bone injury will suck up all his power.

    Casey McGehee: Not doin' it this year and it's not like he runs or anything. I dunno. Might be wrong on this one.

    Chipper Jones: I think the partial-tear in his MCL is the first of many injuries—or one big one—to come this season for good olde' Chipper. Love you man, but I am worried for ya.

Left Field (LF)

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    LoMoMarlins.
    LoMoMarlins.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Because there are so many outfielders, I'm just going to list 10 names at each of the three OF positions. If you'd like more in-depth analysis on my reasons for a specific player, just ask in the comments section and I will happily oblige you. This is in order of actual value above perceived value, i.e. the easiest guys to get who will offer the most production from this point forward. The higher the ranking doesn't necessarily mean greater expected performance, it just means that they are the most cost efficient ways to accumulate better statistics above replacement value.

    Left Fielders:

    1. Logan Morrison, FLA: .300-plus hitter with 15-30 HR power (before the season he was expected more so to be a 10-15 HR guy... then people started saying maybe he was more of a 15-20 HR guy when he began to show a little bit more pop than expected... now even Fangraphs.com is saying that he could be a 20-30 HR guy... so really, no one has a clue. All we know is that he hit his sixth home run yesterday, so we can officially cross out "1-5 HR guy."

    2. Rajai Davis, TOR

    3. Andres Torres, SF

    4. Jose Tabata, PIT

    5. Roger Bernadina, WAS

    6. Angel Pagan, NYM

    7. Aubrey Huff, SF

    8. Jason Kubel, MIN

    9. Jason Bay, NYM

    10. Howard Kendrick, ANA

Center Field (CF)

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    I predict Rajai leads the majors in SB by seasons end...by 10 SB.Yes, he's that good.
    I predict Rajai leads the majors in SB by seasons end...by 10 SB.Yes, he's that good.Nick Laham/Getty Images

    If you'd like more in-depth analysis on my reasons for a specific player just ask in the comments section and I will happily oblige you. This is in order of actual value above perceived value, i.e. the easiest guys to get who will offer the most production from this point forward. The higher the ranking doesn't mean more expected performance, it just means that they are the most cost efficient ways to accumulate better statistics above replacement value.

    Center Fielders:

    1. Rajai Davis, TOR: I'm calling it now... err, I said it somewhere yesterday, but... whatever... barring injury, Rajai Davis will be the stolen base king this season, by a large margin... he'll have at least 10 more stolen bases than the next guy.

    2. Andres Torres, SF

    3. Roger Bernadina, WAS

    4. Coco Crisp, OAK

    5. Adam Jones, BAL

    6. Michael Bourn, HOU

    7. Angel Pagan, NYM

    8. Denard Span, MIN

    9. Austin Jackson, DET

    10. Alex Rios CWS

Right Field (RF)

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    Will he have the type of fantasy impact we've waited on for almost two years now?
    Will he have the type of fantasy impact we've waited on for almost two years now?Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    If you'd like more in-depth analysis on my reasons for a specific player, just ask in the comments section and I will happily oblige you. This is in order of actual value above perceived value, i.e. the easiest guys to get who will offer the most production from this point forward. The higher the ranking doesn't necessarily mean greater expected performance, it just means that they are the most cost efficient ways to accumulate better statistics above replacement value.

    Right Fielders:

    1. Domonic Brown, PHI -- The time is now, D.B. Let's see some signs of those 20/20 season we've been hearing about for almost two years now.

    2. Rajai Davis, TOR

    3. Andres Torres, SF

    4. Roger Bernadina, WAS

    5. Angel Pagan, NYM

    6. Aubrey Huff, SF

    7. Michael Cuddyer, MIN

    8. Torii Hunter, ANA

    9. Nick Markakis, BAL

    10. Nick Swisher, NYY