Buy Low / Sell High Candidates for Fantasy Baseball
The season may still be young, but it's never too early to start scoping out your opponents' teams for a nice buy low candidate or shipping off one of your own over-performing players for a good return. I've found the early season to be the best time to execute these types of trades because short slumps can have an owner panicking long before it's time to do so. A slump in the middle of August can go largely unnoticed because the larger body of a player's work masks it, but in April all an owner has to look at is the slump. Capitalizing on this early panic can work to your advantage if you find the right trade partner. I'll take a look at some of my favorite buy low and sell high guys at this point in the season.
BUY: Allen Craig
You might balk at the idea of buying low on Allen Craig considering how poorly he has hit thus far in the season. After all, a player with a sub .200 batting average and just 1 home run in over 80 at bats sounds a lot like Dan Uggla minus the power rather than this MVP candidate of last year.
With Craig however there's a good argument to be made for flat out ignoring his production in April, at least as far as its predictive power is concerned. 2014 is now Craig's 5th year at the major league level and in those 5 years he's only hit a collective .227 during March and April, with only two home runs and a .276 OBP. Despite these regular poor starts, he's successfully hit over .300 in each of the last 3 seasons. Craig is the prototypical slow starter and yet everyone forgets this by August because of how well he begins to hit after establishing a consistent rhythm at the plate. If you need a 1st baseman or OF, or frankly if you just want to add a talented bat who'll give you an outstanding average along with decent power, I'd aggressively pursue Allen Craig.
I've lumped all these players together because the reason I'm interested in them is about the same. All of these guys are highly talented players who've struggled for 3 weeks. Three weeks doesn't make talent go away, or make their situation any different from what we all saw on draft day. My general policy at this point in the season is that unless I see a measurable difference in skill set, I have no reason to conclude a player is fundamentally different than during the offseason. Pence could still be a power/speed monster in the outfield. Wil Myers could still slug his way into our hearts. Carlos Santana could still be one of the premier fantasy catchers in the game. Eric Hosmer could hit a couple home runs tomorrow and end all the worrying over where his power went to. I'm always willing to inquire to see if a disappointing three weeks is enough to make the owners of these players forget this. If it is, then it's time to talk a trade.
SELL: Bartolo Colon
I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop and I don't want to be the one owning him when it does. Sell Colon if you can. Unlike with the A's last year, he won't even rack up the wins pitching for the Mets.
SELL: Devin Mesoraco
Chances are that if you've picked up Devin Mesoraco, you're pretty attached to him by now. As a fellow owner, I completely understand why. He's hit like Buster Posey for the price of two mouse clicks on the free agent market. Now's the time to sell however, assuming his injured hamstring is nothing significant and his owners are still giddy over Mesoraco. Does this mean I think Mesoraco is going to collapse in the next two months? Not at all. In fact I think there's a decent chance that he edges out a guy like Matt Wieters for a spot at the backend of the top 10 catchers by seasons end. He's just not going to hit .525, or even 300, with a 25-30 home run pace all season long. His value will never be greater than it is now, and I'm willing to bet you there’s a Wilson Ramos or Carlos Santana owner out there panicking a little at the state of their catching. I think what you can get in return for Mesoraco right now is much greater than the season long difference between him and whoever you replace him with. Who knows maybe you could even get Santana himself.
SELL: Johnny Cueto, Chase Utley
In terms of their skillset I love these guys. However, the fact of the matter is that you just can't trust either to be healthy for a full season. Utley has a degenerative knee condition that isn't going away and Cueto hit the DL 3 separate times last season alone for back troubles.
It's a long season and if I'm able to trade these players away for someone of comparable talent (i.e. Cueto for Homer Bailey), but who's much more likely to give me both at-bats/innings right now now as well as in July and August, it's a move I feel is worth exploring.
SELL: Aaron Harang, Alfredo Simon
Both of these pitchers are overachieving in a massive way. Their strand rates are astronomically high, and their BABIPs astronomically low. When those metrics regress, the wheels will fall off the Harang and Simon trains, as neither has the skill set to maintain anything close to this level of success. If you can find an owner who thinks the success of these pitchers is even moderately sustainable, you will undoubtedly get more value in a trade then you will from either of these arms for the rest of the year.