Fantasy Baseball 2011: Sell High or Stash? Advice on 5 June Stud Hitters
One of the keys to winning in fantasy baseball is to catch players in the middle of a hot streak. This June, there were a number of players who crushed the playing field. Which of these players will come back to Earth and which are capable of sustaining their June dominance? In this article, I will identify who you should hang on to and who you should sell high on.
Obviously, players who normally produce well but happened to play even better in June (i.e Dustin Pedroia), will be omitted from this list as their values are already well-known. I will be evaluating whether these players have value for the second half in the context of a 10-team standard rotisserie league.
1. Carlos Pena, Chicago Cubs
2011 Statline: .225, 41 Runs, 18 HR, 46 RBI, 0 SB
2011 June Statline: .229, 17 Runs, 10 HR, 20 RBI, 0 SB
Since 2009, Carlos Pena has hit four or more home runs within a seven-game span, eight times now. On the other hand, he has also gone through some miserable slumps, most notably April this year (.159 average, zero home runs).
The point: Pena is just going through his natural crazy streak. Do not be shocked if he hits below .200 in July. In fact, after Pena hit 15 home runs between June and July last season, he managed just five between August and September—granted, had 57 fewer at-bats—and hit .150 during that span.
What this means is you should value Pena as you did in the beginning of the season. Expect a .210-.230 batting average with 13-17 home runs the rest of the way. If you can find someone buying Pena at a premium, sell him—if not, he's a decent option as a corner infielder.
2. Ty Wigginton, Colorado Rockies
2011 Statline: .252, 34 Runs, 13 HR, 36 RBI, 4 SB
2011 June Statline: .262, 15 Runs, 8 HR, 18 RBI, 1 SB
Wigginton's AB/HR ratio in June was 12.87. In 2011, less June, that same ratio has been miles away at 27.8. Over the course of the season, that difference is about 19 home runs depending on at-bat totals. In Wigginton's 10-year career, his AB/HR ratio is 22.4. Which ratio (12.87 or 27.8) do you think he is more likely to hit over the course of the next three months?
The point is, Wigginton is too old to transform so dramatically and cut his AB/HR ratio in half. Sure, his .262 average in June is maintainable, and even likely given his second-half splits between 2008 and 2010, but he is a classic sell-high case.
Expect a .260 average with 7-10 home runs and 2-5 stolen bases the rest of the way. He should be easy to trade as fantasy owners have gone crazy for him; in ESPN standard leagues, his ownership has shot up to 95 percent.
3. J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles
2011 Statline: .284, 34 Runs, 13 HR, 33 RBI, 0 SB
2011 June Statline: .362, 21 Runs, 9 HR, 18 RBI, 0 SB
We know that Hardy has legitimate power in his system, but it has been dormant for two years, so it is natural to be skeptical.
In June, Hardy's Fly Ball Rate (FB percentage) rose from 40.2 percent to 54.5 percent. However, in 2007 and 2008, his power hitting years, his FB percentage was right around 40 percent. Also, Hardy's 18.8 percent HR/FB rate is absurdly high; well above the 12.0 and 14.1 marks in 2007 and 2008, respectively. What this tells me is that Hardy is not the same hitter he was when he hit 26 home runs. Yes, some of his power is back, but don't expect more than nine home runs from this point on.
Another aspect of Hardy's June and 2011 season, in general that is flukey, is his batting average. In 2011, Hardy is hitting .306 on fly balls. His previous career high batting average on fly balls: .220 (2007). I don't mean to be the bearer of bad news, but expect Hardy to hit .270 here on out.
In conclusion, sell high!
4. Mark Reynolds, Baltimore Orioles
2011 Statline: .226, 46 Runs, 20 HR, 49 RBI, 5 SB
2011 June Statline: .299, 16 Runs, 8 HR, 16 RBI, 2 SB
Reynolds' June 2011 is to his 2011 season as his 2009 season is to his career. He is not a .299 hitter and he will never be one. For starters, Reynolds' BABIP soared .254 to .349 from May to June. His career BABIP of .314 indicates that his average will come down to Earth very soon. (In fact, he is hitting .241 in July so far.)
However, his eight home runs are legitimate; Reynolds is one of the more consistent power hitters in the league. In 2010, for example, he hit between five and eight home runs each month—in 2011, less April, the same can be said. While eight is around Reynolds' maximum, expect him to continue to hit six or seven home runs a month.
In conclusion, keep Reynolds for his power. He should hit .235 with 15-18 home runs the rest of the way.
5. Aramis Ramirez, Chicago Cubs
2011 Statline: .300, 43 Runs, 15 HR, 50 RBI, 0 SB
2011 June Statline: .296, 17 Runs, 8 HR, 21 RBI, 0 SB
Ramirez is an interesting case. Injuries and a bad 2010 season have kept Ramirez relatively low on fantasy players' radars. However, his power has been there without faltering for almost a decade now. Sure, April and May were rough, but he is certainly capable of hitting another 15-18 home runs this season.
His GB/FB ratio in June was .71, and for his career it is .76. His June HR/FB ratio was significantly higher than his career ratio (19.0 percent to 13.4 percent); his career number would have given him 2.4 fewer home runs in June. This 5-6 home runs per month is a more conservative attitude toward the rest of the season for Ramirez.
His average will stay around .290 as is his norm. In fact, Ramirez's June average brought down his 2011 total average. With that, my verdict is keep Ramirez.