Hitter Trade Targets for Your Fantasy Baseball Team
Finally, some of the usual stars are making their way to the top of the fantasy totem pole. The Jose Reyes’s and Troy Tulowitzki’s are really starting to hit stride and pay off for fantasy owners who chose those valuable top picks. Even Adrian Beltre hit his first HR last week, and then again. After a long wait, the fantasy season is bouncing back.
Of course there are those super stars (sorry Mike Trout owners) that are still struggling to find their swing. These should be the final weeks that lead to monstrous breakouts that will leave your opponent shaking their head. But remember, the greatest asset to every fantasy owner is how long a season is. Starting off 1-5 is disastrous in fantasy football, but not in fantasy baseball. That’s why we play it. That’s why we love it.
Hitters to Buy
Alcides Escobar – SS, Royals
Consider this: at a shallow position like shortstop, Alcides Escobar is ranked fourth in fantasy baseball, using standard scoring statistics, and is owned in only 55.5% of ESPN leagues. In other words, only about half of all leagues own this guy. Escobar should continue to tear up the basepaths with the free running Royals, and he currently has 11 SB. Escobar is first out of SS in IFH% with an astounding 13.6%. If his IFH% holds, and with his speed it could, he could maintain a BA above .280. Not only does he have speed, he is smoking the ball with a 23.8% LD%. That is tied for second with Elvis Andrus and behind Troy Tulowitzki. He has been slotted in the 9-hole most nights, but if he gets inserted in a more prominent position in the lineup his LD% will result in more opportunities to score and drive in runs.
Joey Votto – 1B , Reds
My weekly “That Guy Everyone Knows Pick” is Joey Votto. The reason he is on this list is because he currently has a .258 AVG and only 12 RBI this year. Those 12 RBI rank him at a lowly 22nd among first basemen, which means owners are frustrated. There is some good news on the horizon for Votto. He owns a Zeus-like wRC+, 143. Meaning, he is producing 43% more runs than the rest of baseball. He can post that wRC+ but not produce in standard scoring stats by having a 1.04 BB/K and .203 ISO. So, he gets on base by walking more than he strikes out and he’s hitting the ball hard when he does get a hit.
Call Votto unlucky with a .284 BABIP, but he’s been terribly unlucky with the production of the teammates around him. That will change from a team who made it as far as the NL Wild Card Playoff last year. Votto’s 23.8% LD% will soon begin to tally more RBI when his teammates get on in front of him. If you can sucker some owner into trading him for a hot hitter, don’t hesitate.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – C, Marlins
There must be something in the water in Miami. Maybe it has something, or someone, to do with the sculpture in Center Field. Whatever it is, veteran Jarrod Saltalamacchia is having a great season. This most likely has everything to do with his .69 GB/FB ratio and his increased walk rate. When a power-hitting catcher is being more patient and hitting that many more fly balls than ground balls, you can expect them to be hitting for more power. Salty has .482 SLG, 6 HR and 12 RBI, and most importantly has hit a bit of a cold spell recently, giving you a nice buy low opportunity. Only owned in 57.5% of leagues and on a Marlins squad that has surprised this year, Salty has the opportunity to finish as a top 10 catcher this year.
Hitters to Sell
Joe Mauer – 1B/C, Twins
Joe Mauer has not been the same since the new ballpark in Minneapolis was built. His power has plummeted and he looks even farther from being an MVP than ever before. His move to 1B has helped him garner more at bats, but hasn’t resulted much in terms of fantasy.
Mauer only has two HR and 11 RBI this year while sporting an almost non-existent ISO of .074. He is striking out more than ever, and if that's not bad enough, his 54.9% GB% might be. Ground balls are the goal of almost every pitcher in baseball and result in little fantasy value for hitters, unless the hitter has great speed. Mauer does not have great speed. Sell Mauer for what you can. His MVP still carries some weight and so does his C and 1B eligibility.
David Wright – 3B, Mets
David Wright has a pathetic .26 BB/K ratio and a bloated .377 BABIP which is far above his .344 career average. That is another way of saying that Wright is striking out a lot and getting lucky when he hits the ball. On top of that, he plays for the Mets. Wright currently has a .096 ISO, and his fly balls are going shorter distances than last year by a wide margin. This means either something is hurting Wright and he can’t hit for power, or he’s getting old and can’t hit for power. Either is bad for Wright and terrible for fantasy owners. You can expect him to produce middle of the pack R, RBI, and AVG numbers, but not great HR or SB anymore. If you can sell Wright for a high-end pitcher or a younger up and coming bat, it could be a good move.
Eric Hosmer - 1B, Royals
Not much to say about Eric Hosmer. He has an extremely high BABIP at .362. When that comes down, so will his .320 AVG. He hasn’t produced much in terms of R, HR, RBI, or SB, especially for a first basemen, and has a 50.0% GB%. His GB% is in line with his career average, and will limit his HR upside in a huge way. For reference, Hosmer has a .280 career batting AVG including this year. Hosmer will snap out of this funk eventually but he might bring you more value as a trade chip, as he's a perennially overrated player.