Sleeper Hitters & Overachieving Hitters
Our fantasy baseball seasons are in full swing at this point and like most of you (except that guy who drafted Jose Abreu in the 12th round), my team needs some work. I have lived on the waiver wire to try and replace my draft picks that haven’t quite lived up to the hype or have gotten hurt.
Good news is that the season is far from over and there are still some diamonds in the rough on the waiver wire that can help your team bounce back into the win column. The trick at this point in the season is to not give up on those high draft picks that are destined to bounce back or to kick them to the curb if they are truly representing their poor value.
So, without further adieu, these are guys who I am buying and who I am selling. I’ll see you guys in the playoffs.
Three Hitters to Buy Now
Matt Joyce (OF, TB)
Matt Joyce is having a great start to the season and was left undrafted in most leagues. Is he starting to get picked up now? You bet he is. Joyce is enjoying success for a few reasons, but what sticks out to me is that he is walking more than he is striking out. His 18.8 BB% to 16.5 K% has led to an impressive .447 OBP.
Is he getting lucky? His .396 BABIP suggests that he is. However, if you consider that he is hitting in the 3-hole most nights in a decent Rays lineup (10th in R and 11th in RBI) and has a respectable .217 ISO, you can see how he is scoring and knocking in runs at an impressive rate. I would expect his .312 AVG to come down a little bit, but not enough to worry about.
So, he gets on base, has some good pop, and hits 3rd in a top 10 offense. If you need an OF and he is still available in your league (only 49.8% owned in ESPN leagues), you need to get him while the getting is good.
Jhonny Peralta (SS, STL)
Jhonny Peralta has been a conundrum so far this season. He is putting up solid RBI (12), R (11), and HR (6) stats from a shallow SS position, but is only hitting .193. I’m buying him because his BABIP is only .167, meaning he’s had unfortunate luck so far and his ISO is .261, meaning when he is getting hits, he is hitting for power. So you have a power hitting shortstop that, to this point, should be hitting for a much higher average.
His only downfall is his lack of speed, which we’ve all come to expect from the SS position. Regardless, Peralta has hit more than 20 HR four times already in his career and is well on track for his fifth.
Josmil Pinto (C, MIN)
This mostly applies to 14+ team leagues where Pinto is ownable. He's the most attainable guy on my buy list. Pinto is currently owned in only 4.3% of ESPN leagues and is showing incredible discipline at the plate with a 1.13 BB/K ratio that compliments his 154 wRC+. He has also showed impressive power with five HR and a .262 ISO, which is good for 1st amongst catchers. Expecting 20 HR from Pinto this season is being pessimistic.
The further we get into the season, the less reliable all catchers will get. If you are in a 10-team two-catcher league or a very deep 14+ team league, or currently have an injured catcher, look no further than Pinto.
Three Hitters To Sell Now
Justin Upton – (OF, ATL)
Before you jump all over me selling Justin Upton, let me remind you that he started last season on more of a tear than he is currently on. He has a nice GB/FB ratio of .72, meaning he's putting enough balls in the air to rack up the HR. And his ISO is a mammoth .295. However, he is only averaging 22 HR in full seasons. Based on his career average, he will only net ~15 HR the rest of the season.
Not only will his power decline the rest of the season, but his speed has decreased significantly since he left Arizona. Upton only has 11 SB since he’s been an Atlanta Brave.
His average should also take a hit in the coming months, unless he can somehow continue hitting a whopping .440 BABIP, which he would have to maintain since he has a ridiculous 31.7% K-rate. He has a career .277 AVG, and if he keeps striking out this much, I would expect him to finish the year with a mark closer to .260.
Let me clarify a little more, I am not saying Justin Upton will be useless after April. I am simply suggesting you trade him for equal value now, before he starts his post-April slump.
Christian Yelich – (OF, MIA)
The rookie Christian Yelich has made quite a contribution to a re-surging Marlins’ offense this year. However, I don’t expect it to last very long. Not only is Yelich striking out in 25% of his AB, he is sporting a .073 ISO. His contributions in fantasy baseball directly relate to how well Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton (remember when he was called Mike?) are hitting behind him.
He does have a little bit of speed, and when I say a little bit, I mean about 20 SB a year type speed. That is not bad, but if you consider he currently has a .406 BABIP, you can expect his average and OBP to come crashing down.
Brandon Phillips – (2B, CIN)
SELL, SELL, SELL! Brandon Phillips is hitting rock bottom everyone. Hitting for a decent .262 AVG, Phillips has lost any resemblance of power in his swing (.068 ISO) and is posting an ugly .12 BB/K ratio. Well, he must be hitting a low BABIP right? Wrong! In fact, he is proving to be a little lucky with a .338. He's not making contact, and is swinging at more pitches than ever, and that is a bad combo.
Advanced stats are all well and good, but in terms of fantasy production, his one HR, seven R, and four RBI are dreadful. Also, last season proved he has lost most, if not all, of his speed (five SB). If Phillips isn’t hitting for power, he is useless. If you can still get anything of value for him, pull the trigger
*All statistics were accurate as of 04/28/2014