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The dust has finally settled on 2017 and many of us are fully immersed in winter, which means it’s the perfect time to re-evaluate our dynasty squads. Last season featured plenty of breakouts and many head-scratching performances, so where to go from here?

The old adage of buying low and selling high is just as important in dynasty leagues as in redraft or keeper leagues. It’s not always possible; sometimes you just need to cut bait on a guy or overpay slightly to get the player you want. In an ideal world you see something in a player that your opponents do not. This is the time to get creative.

Here are some hitters to consider buying and selling before the offseason comes to an end:

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Dynasty League Buy Candidates

Ozzie Albies (2B, ATL)

Ken Griffey Jr. Frank Robinson. Ted Williams. Ozzie Albies. What do these players have in common? All have posted a 110 wRC+ at age 20 or younger (minimum 240 plate appearances). That’s some select company, and while that certainly doesn’t guarantee a Hall of Fame career (see Hurdle, Clint on the same list) it’s a heck of a way to debut. Albies was highly regarded as a prospect heading into 2017, but not many expected this level of production this quickly. The speed certainly stands out right away - eight swipes in nine tries - but the power hints at even more upside. Albies made hard contact 33% of the time and his fly-ball rate of 40% showed that he knows how to get the ball in the air. Don’t count on the batting average just yet, but his approach and plate discipline (8.6% walk rate and 14.8% strikeout rate) are both excellent indicators going forward. Plus, his defense at 2B is top notch, which will keep him on the field even if he struggles. While comparisons can often be premature or lazy, there’s a certain Francisco Lindor way about him. Needless to say, it’s time to jump aboard this train.

Nicholas Castellanos (3B/OF, DET)

It seems like Nicholas Castellanos has been on the verge of a breakout for years according to many prognosticators, and this could finally be the year. While some may see 2017 as a breakout - his 26 home runs and 101 RBI were career highs by a long shot - he also set a career high in at-bats with 614. But, there are some continuing trends that bode well for the 26-year-old third baseman-turned right fielder. He dropped his strikeout rate for the third straight season to 21.4%, his isolated power continued to rise (.135 to .164 to .212 to .218) and he made the most hard contact of his career at 43.4%. While his fly-ball rate for the season dipped from 43% to 38%, he reversed that trend in the second half while increasing his contact rate above 80%. As a result he smashed 17 HRs with a .296/.328/.548 slash line in 314 AB. Castellanos is just entering his prime as a hitter; grab him now before the price becomes too steep.

Greg Bird (1B, NYY)

First, the bad: Greg Bird has earned the injury-prone tag before being able to complete a full season in the majors. Various ailments have shelved him for the better part of the last two seasons and he hasn’t exactly been lights out in his time on the field. However, there’s a lot to like about Bird’s power profile. The 25-year-old first baseman cranked 9 HRs in just 147 AB after returning to the lineup while maintaining an 11.2% walk rate and a whopping 52% fly-ball rate, which was in line with his 51% rate in 2015. Bird’s average batted ball distance in 2016 ranked 11th in the majors, tied with Aaron Judge and ahead of Freddie Freeman, J.D. Martinez and Nolan Arenado, albeit in a much smaller sample size. With no obvious obstacles to playing time heading into 2018, Bird will have every chance to contribute in a stacked Yankees lineup with that inviting short porch in right field.

 

Dynasty League Sell Candidates

Nick Williams (OF, PHI)

On the surface Nick Williams did a lot of things right in his first go-around with the Phillies in 2017. In 313 AB Williams hit .288 with 12 HR and 55 RBI but a look under the hood paints a different picture. Williams benefited from a .375 BABIP and while his quality of contact was good, he put bat to ball just 68% of the time. He’s also a heavy groundball hitter, with half of his batted balls exiting at a sub-optimal launch angle. The 24-year-old could definitely help in the steals department but he needs to get on base first. His plate approach leaves something to be desired at this stage, as he posted a 5.8% walk rate and a 28.3% strikeout rate. The raw tools are there, but at 24 he’s bordering on non-prospect territory. Owners could always hang on and see if his approach changes, but the time is now to sell before he likely disappoints in 2018.

Josh Bell (1B, PIT)

It was a solid major league debut for Josh Bell as he blasted 26 HR with 90 RBI, but don’t expect much growth without a change in approach. Bell pounded an Eric Hosmer-esque 51% of his batted balls into the ground and posted an above average 19% HR/FB rate. Without hitting more balls in the air, it’s tough to envision Bell ever turning into a perennial 30-homer threat, which is basically a necessity these days at his position. It’s not that Bell is a bad option; he’s only 25 with room to grow and there are signs of a good hitter here (11% walk rate and near 80% contact rate) but in an era where power is rising, he’ll set you back at a premium power position. If you’re a current owner, it may be wise to test the market and see if you can flip him for an asset at another position of need.

Marcell Ozuna (OF, STL)

The former Miami Marlins outfielder finally broke out after years of speculation to the tune of 93 runs, 37 HRs and a whopping 124 RBI. But a new year brings new surroundings, and Marcell Ozuna isn’t fully equipped to make 2017 his new baseline. A BABIP spike to .355 helped fuel a career-high .312 BA (his previous best was .269 in 2014) and his HR/FB ratio also reached new levels at 23.4% (compared to a career 15.1% average). All this despite a batted ball profile that stayed very consistent with his career norms (47.1% groundballs, 33.5% flyballs, 19.3% line drives). He makes a lot of loud contact and is still a strong option in the outfield, but to assume 2017 is his new baseline would be a dangerous proposition. His counting stats should be enough to fetch a decent return from someone looking for outfield help.

 

More 2018 Dynasty Baseball Strategy