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Buy Low(er) - Dynasty Baseball Players Due For A Rebound

Dynasty teams are great to own and develop; they are my favorite teams to manage actually. In real life and fantasy, there are managers who find happiness by having a finished organization that can run itself with very little decision-making on their part. There are other people who find pleasure building an organization up and making it better. I am the latter. I get bored if I ultimately have upper-tier players at every position. One of the keys to building a great team is to build with value. When doing that, get in the habit of trading up for more valuable players instead of trading for quantity.

Below I will cover a few players that missed the mark with their 2018 season and will bounce-back. It is not an exhaustive list. Of course, there are plenty of other candidates who will recover back to their norm, and even more. To start, Kris Bryant will likely have third-round value to start the year. The keyword with him is health. Is his shoulder fully healed? If you’re looking for another infielder with similar keywords, you will find it in Carlos Correa. He will also have a slightly deflated value due to his performance, which was likely affected by a back injury. Maybe you need another SS that can probably be found with even lower value; keep an eye out for Corey Seager. The closer we get to the regular season, the more attention that will be paid to his progress from taking a year to recover from his Tommy John surgery as well as recent hip surgery. Take advantage now before spring training play helps assuage these concerns.

In the analysis, I will give you a quick snippet of information on the player in a BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) format. If you have any question on the article, baseball in general or dynasty questions at all, shoot me a message on Twitter @EllisCan2.

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Buy-Low(er) Guys

Carlos Martinez (SP, STL)

BLUF: An SP2 that had a season derailed by injuries. Finishing the season as the team’s closer might worry fantasy owners and further lower his value.

Martinez had an ADP of 53 in 2018. He came into the season as the ace of the Cardinals’ staff. However, an 8-6 record with 117 strikeouts in 118 innings with a 3.11 ERA somehow has people shaken and running for the hills. It is unfortunate, but Martinez was beset with injuries and was unable to get into a rhythm. I would not say Martinez is injury prone, but he definitely had an injury-filled season. Martinez was literally a strain on your roster in 2018. He had strains of all kinds, lat, oblique, and shoulder. He even got nailed by a 109.8mph line drive in his first appearance back from an injury.

Martinez finished the year as the closer, but a guy with a four-pitch mix should not be in the bullpen. It is more likely he is put back in the rotation where he has excelled in the three years prior to 2018. In the years of 2015-2017, Martinez had a WAR of 3.4, 3.3, and a 3.3. His performance was impressive and should be treated more like someone to target rather than an afterthought. In 2019 drafts, most people will likely regard Martinez as someone that barely classifies as a top-40 starter; be overjoyed if you can get him as your SP3-4.

Michael Conforto (OF, NYM)

BLUF: A full season healthy will lead to career numbers. He can hit with power and excels at drawing a walk. With a little team help (Cano), he might push to be a top-20 OF in 2019.

How can we categorize a guy as a bounce-back if they’ve never been consistent? Well, he is a guy that had a very good year in 2017 but his 2018 season numbers will tamper expectations, unnecessarily. Another question, how valuable is a solid player on a terrible team? That is a good question. It is still early, and anything can happen in the offseason. Oh, I almost (didn’t) forgot that the Wilpons own the Metropolitans (no, not the ice cream; that’s Neopolitan, and the Mets would be Strawberry). Maybe the hiring of a former agent as the GM and bringing in an analytics expert to the front office will instill some vigor into the organization. Regardless, what can Conforto accomplish despite his surroundings?

Lest we forget, Conforto started his 2018 season somewhat prematurely in his return from shoulder surgery. It showed in his numbers as he hit 11 HR and .216 AVG in the 346 plate appearances of the first half. Contrarily, he turned it on and hit 17 HR with .273 AVG in the second half (292 plate appearances). He finished the year with 28 homers and .243 average with a .342 wOBA.

Conforto will come into the 2019 season fully healthy and the confidence of steady playing time. As such, he has the ability to duplicate his 2017 second half numbers for an entire season, which will allow him to shoot up the OF rankings. Do not let him slide.

Byron Buxton (OF, MIN)

BLUF: There is a risk, but there are few with his potential (power and speed) that will be valued so low. However, do not pay for can’t-miss, elite-prospect Buxton.

Fatigue. That is exactly what is going on with Byron Buxton. Owners have seen glimpses of his ability that reminds them of the promise he showed in the minors. However, it has been overshadowed by a tremendous amount of disappointing results. If you add in the Twins’ strange management of his playing time at the end of 2018 (ahem, service time, anyone), then you have a recipe for complete frustration by any fantasy manager.

Triple-A continues to be where he is most comfortable. Despite a miserable 2018, the one semi-bright spot was that he hit .271 with four homers and four stolen bases in 35 games at Rochester. Compare that to a .156 batting average and zero homers in the majors. At 25 years old (soon to be), the Twins will quit toying around with his playing time and allow him to get some consistency. With that, he should be able to get comfortable and perform better. So, how does this make him a bounce-back candidate? Well, he did have a myriad of injuries in 2018. Also, Buxton’s batting average was hampered by a .226 BABIP. With maturity, he should now be able to translate his Triple-A success to the big leagues.

With that said, now is as good of a time to reach out and acquire him. The Buxton owner cannot get any lower, hopefully. However, the buying opportunity will disappear just as quickly with any positive news in spring training, breathing new life into an ill-fated corpse of a fantasy owner.

Miguel Sano (3B, MIN)

BLUF: Power. Strikeouts. He is not as bad as 2018 unless weight management issues are the cause and persist.

The best shape of his career. That’s how everyone is feeling in spring training; evidently, that was not the case with Sano. Maybe his playing weight was elevated because of the offseason sexual assault allegation before the 2018 season. If an incident-free offseason is obtained, it is possible Sano comes into the 2019 season focused. Yes, I know he hit a police officer while driving his truck outside of a nightclub in the Dominican Republic. No charges were levied against Sano; he also offered to pay for the officer’s medical expenses (broken leg). So, with all that behind him, he can focus on an otherwise uneventful offseason and come into spring training fresh.

What can we expect in 2019? Let’s first look at 2018. In 71 games, he hit 13 homers with a .199/.281/.398 slash line. He also had a career-worst strikeout (38.5%) and ground ball rate (43.8%). Obviously, I am not highlighting his strengths from the season, or am I? The point is, Sano’s underlying stats will improve which should enable him to return performances more in line with 2016 and 2017. This included upper 20s homers and a batting average of roughly .250. While it isn’t the epitome of sexy, it is definitely a bounce-back, particularly for the meager price you will have to pay for him. This is a prime example of someone that can clearly play better, returning a tremendous value on your investment.

Chris Archer (SP, PIT)

BLUF: Big strikeouts without the inflated price. Even higher returns if he can reduce his hard hit and walk rate. Can still be a top-30 SP.

The discarded ace. Archer was once on the cusp of being an elite starter for quite a few years. He has always had premier level strikeouts but fell short of ace status because of his hard hit, fly ball, and walk rates.

Archer finished the year with a 6-8 record in 27 starts. Additionally, he only pitched 148 innings in 2018, whereas he exceeded 200 innings in years 2015 – 2017. In regards to strikeouts, he surpassed 230 in all three of the previously mentioned years but only had 162 last year. He has achieved all this while relying primarily on two pitches. Archer does have his shortcomings, primarily with hard contact as he allowed a 39.4% hard hit rate, which was equal to 2017 but nearly an 8% increase from the previous three seasons.

Signs exist for Archer to have a bounce-back year in 2019. Everyone has their interpretation of these signs. But, it is a positive outcome that he will have a full season pitching in the national league, which should further solidify his return to strikeout excellence. Also, Archer finished the year off strong with Pittsburgh. In September, he had a 2.70 ERA with 36 strikeouts and nine walks in 30 innings. This is enough to give hope that he can rekindle his old performance. If the Archer owner in your league truly believes he is not even a top-50 starting pitcher, make an offer equitable to a 50th-ranked starter and enjoy the profit throughout the year.

Gary Sanchez (C, NYY)

BLUF: One of the top-two options at catcher. Costs less than 2017, but still worth it with a limited quantity of choices available at the position.

Sanchez had a down year (understatement), especially considering where he was drafted by many last year. He finished with 18 homers and 53 RBI in 89 games. Sanchez’ batting average plummeted to .186. It suffered primarily from a .198 BABIP, which was negatively affected by a 43% fly ball rate, an increase from 36% in 2017.

While the numbers aren’t impressive, you must consider the circumstances they were achieved. Sanchez spent quite a bit of time off the field with injuries. Whether “loafing” or not, he was sidelined with a groin injury. Sanchez also dealt with an aggravated shoulder the last couple of years; he underwent shoulder surgery in November but should be ready for opening day.

The options at the catcher position are sparse. Even with a poor performance in 2018, Sanchez still carries a ton of value, likely that of the best option at the position. However, it might be possible that the down year provides an opportunity to acquire him at a discount from his (3rd round ADP) draft value in 2017. Rehabbing his groin and fixing a persistent shoulder injury might allow Sanchez to perform better in 2019 than we even expected following his 2017 season.


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