Fantasy Baseball Edge: Buy Low, Sell High Options
By Matt Cott, Moe Koltun, and Matthew Schwimmer of Roto Analysis
With a month in the books, values are starting to straighten out around the league. However, now is also one of the best times to make trades and move your team up the standings while you still have time. We at RotoAnalysis are going to take the next two weeks to help you set those trade values of yours and help you set up your team to succeed as the summer drags along. This week we’ll be focusing on hitters, and next week taking on some pitchers.
Salvador Perez, Royals C
Seemingly every catcher question we receive on Twitter right now centers on whether or not to drop Salvador Perez. The answer is almost always to keep Perez or look to trade for him. Although Perez has only had limited experience in the majors over two seasons, he has shown he can truly hit. Perez has struggled this season because he’s striking out 20% of the time, walking 1% of the time, and hitting 12% of his fly balls to the infield. All of these figures are likely to change given his track record in the majors and minors. He’s still hitting an encouraging 25% of his balls for line drives, which help to encourage fantasy owners that he can still help. Perez either has completely forgotten how to hit or has just had a bad start out of the gate. It seems very unlikely that he’s forgotten how to hit and I expect him to turn it around any day now. Perez has two hits in each of his last two games so the window to buy low on Perez may quickly be closing.
Adrian Beltre, Rangers 3B
Ever since arriving in Texas Beltre has been a model of consistency. His power and average have been phenomenal for each of the past two seasons, but seem to have stalled to start 2013. Despite a rough April, Beltre is one player we’re not remotely worried about. He has begun to show some power with three homers in his last 10 games, but his average his lagging and his line drives are down. On the other hand, he’s also been striking out at the lowest rate of his career and walking at the highest rate since 2008. That plate discipline should help his power and average revert to what they’ve been in the past. While he’s been 15th best among third basemen so far, we’d still bet on him being top five at the end of the year.
Adam LaRoche, Nationals 1B
So far in the young season, Adam LaRoche is striking out a career high amount, his walk rate has dropped, and he is hitting .136 so far this year. If for no other reason, you could buy low on LaRoche right now solely because his current owner probably wants him off of his team. However, LaRoche hasn’t declined nearly as much as those base stats indicate, and he has mostly just suffered from some really bad luck. LaRoche’s Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) dropped from .298 last season to .163 this year, despite the fact that he’s hitting even more line drives, and way less infield fly balls. LaRoche is striking out more because of two things: his swinging strike rate is slightly elevated, and he is taking way more first pitch strikes. Both of those factors could just be the product of a small sample, and even if they’re not, both can be fixed with a little game tape and batting practice. I’m emailing the Adam LaRoche owner in every league I’m in this week; odds are you can probably get him at a fraction of his real value.
Chase Utley, Phillies 2B
Sorry Phillie fans, but as you know, Utley has a degenerative knee condition; his knees will continue to literally deteriorate as time goes on. So, while it’s really nice to have Chase Utley putting up good stats again, he hasn’t made it more than 115 games in the last three seasons, and I don’t see that trend changing. Statistically, Utley has also been favored with some good luck, posting a BABIP right around his career average despite having the lowest line drive rate of his career so far. Chase Utley still has an enormous amount of name cache in many leagues, and if you can flip him for a legitimate top five second baseman, I would be more than willing to.
Dexter Fowler, Rockies OF
While Fowler has had a nice skill set and some potential, nobody expects him to be a top five option. He’s actually been the fifth best overall player this year and while I’m not selling him as a top five layer, I’m selling him as a top 100 player. Fowler’s power is simply way over his head right now. He is still striking out just as much as ever but has been hitting home runs per fly ball at a ridiculous rate of 36.4%. His career rate before this season was just under 7%! A rate of 36% has only been matched once in the past decade, and really has to regress. Fowler’s speed his also nothing special and I would sell him for as much as you can get.
Mike Napoli, Red Sox 1B
While he’s coming off a two homer game yesterday, I still have faith that Napoli’s 2013 will be more like his 2012 than his studly 2011. He’s currently striking out in 35% of his at bats, which is an Adam Dunn-like pace. At the same time, he has also rushed out of the gate with a supremely lucky .400+ BABIP. While he definitely has legitimate power, 1B has turned out to be surprisingly deep and he is not a great option. His RBI total and high average are making his value a little inflated and now is the time to let him go.
Agree? Disagree? Questions? Tweet @RotoAnalysis and be sure to follow Moe @MoeProblems and Matt @KidCotti21. Check out their work on RotoAnalysis.com, as well as The RotoAnalysis Fantasy Sports Podcast.