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Early-Season Surprises - RotoBaller Staff Buy/Sell Advice


It's hard to believe we're nearly one month into the 2019 Major League Baseball season already. Some players have wasted no time making their mark, namely Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger, Jose Altuve, and Domingo Santana.

Does one of those names look out of place? It sure does, but Santana is far from the only player who has gotten off to a shocking start. We recently polled some of our fantasy baseball writers to get their take on which some of the biggest standouts, both positive and negative, and how to deal with them for the rest of the season.

Let's find out who our experts have pegged as buy-low or sell-high candidates based on their surprising early performances.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Which surprising hot hitter is most likely to keep it up in the coming months?

After a couple of middling seasons, Yoan Moncada appears to have figured out his game at the big league level. He's cut his K-rate down over 10% from last season, and he's upped his zone-contact percentage nearly 9% to a healthy 85.0%. Moncada has not only hit the baseball, but he's crushed it, barrelling up a tremendous 20.2% of balls in play. He also holds a top-15 Hard Hit% (53.1%) and a league-leading 96.8% Exit Velocity for good measure. Moncada's terrific start to 2019 has finally rewarded the scouts that have backed him for years and his early season breakout is here to stay.
-Riley Mrack

Peter Alonso's power has been the stuff of legends since his college days at Florida. With seven home runs and a .406 ISO through 80 PA, he's proving that last year's Triple-A numbers were more than a product of the PCL. While he won't maintain his current 60-homer pace, Alonso could still be one of the league's best power hitters in 2019.
-Elliott Baas

Pete Alonso. He has already shown he can overcome obstacles such as improving his defense and breaking camp with the team.
-Scott Engel

Michael Conforto is finally healthy and showing all his skills to the fullest. He will hit for power, average, and take plenty of walks. A few stolen bases are just icing on the cake. Honorable mentions: Austin Meadows, Domingo Santana.
-Ellis Canady

I've already officially declared Tim Beckham as a post-hype breakout, so it must come to fruition. Beckham didn't just have a great first week, he's mostly kept up his hot start and still holds a .293 average despite the Mariners crashing back to reality with a six-game losing streak. Their offense rebounded and Beckham is locked into an everyday job at shortstop, where he belongs. While I'd sell high on certain Seattle hitters, Beckham is one I'm holding onto.
-Pierre Camus

 

Whose hot start is unlikely to continue, making them a sell-high candidate?

Cody Bellinger has maintained a high K% and been wildly inconsistent in his first few years in the majors. He could come crashing back down to Earth soon despite the potentially massive HR ceiling.
-Kyle Ringstad

Dansby Swanson is an obvious candidate here. He's already hit more than 25% of his 2018 home run total. I need to see him sustain this success for several months before I believe in the change.
-Chris O'Reilly

Tim Anderson. While I believe in the power and speed combination, the batting average of .422 is not reliable and ready to drop off. If you can sell this young exciting bat as a complete package in exchange for a superior talent, he's gone.
-Ellis Canady

Trey Mancini is sure to see some negative regression come his way after a hot-start to his 2019. For a player who only hits a fly ball 20% of the time, his six home runs are a bit out of whack as a 30.0% HR/FB rate is rarely ever sustainable. Mancini's .338 average also won't endure as an inflated .367 BABIP is aiding this number. All of his underlying metrics are on par with his 2018 figures, so it's unlikely he'll wind up with much higher year-end stats than what we saw a year ago. The Orioles outfielder is undoubtedly a mixed-league asset but the time is now to try and sell high on Mancini's early season numbers.
-Riley Mrack

Clint Frazier. His value will never be higher than it is right now.
-Scott Engel

 

Which hitter offers the best buy-low opportunity due to a slow start?

Jose Ramirez. Some might say he hasn't hit well since last season. This is true but he still possesses the power/speed that few can match. Many will be surprised by the positive effect that the return of his double-play partner, Francisco Lindor, will have on him as a whole, including at the plate.
-Ellis Canady

Jose Ramirez is too good of a hitter to fall off a cliff for no apparent reason. He had a 15.2% walk rate in 2018, and he's nowhere near that to start 2019. A simple return to his old plate approach will get him back on track. It will also help to have Francisco Lindor back in the Indians lineup.
-Chris O'Reilly

Jesus Aguilar - Few hitters have gotten off to a more miserable start than Aguilar, who is hitting just .153 with a 22 wRC+ and no home runs through his first 70 PA. Aguilar has been so bad his owners probably have one finger over the drop button, but there is reason for hope here. His 27.3% line drive rate is about a 4% increase compared to last season. He's also cut his strikeout rate to 23% and upped his walk rate to 11.4%. He probably won't put up a full repeat of last season, but Aguilar costs nothing in a trade right now and should be a good run producer when he comes around.
-Elliott Baas

It's only a matter of time before we see Jesus Aguilar start mashing the baseball again. The slugger has a superb 34.1% line drive rate but only has a .160 AVG and .195 BABIP to show for it. His expected batting average of .242 is encouraging, and he is only just over a full MPH lower on his average Exit Velocity. Aguilar has also improved on his 25.3% K% and 10.2% BB% in 2018 to 16.4% and 13.1% respectively so far in 2019. Remember, Aguilar never hit a home run until April 21 last season and he still ended up as an All-Star with 35 HR and 108 RBI.
-Riley Mrack

I recently wrote an article explaining reasons to be optimistic about Ryan Braun (opportunity, potent lineup, low BABIP, impressive Statcast numbers). It's too early to be pessimistic about the former MVP.
-Kyle Ringstad

 

Which slumping hitter should you cut bait on now despite great expectations?

Get whatever you can for Joey Votto, if you still can get anything.
-Scott Engel

Jose Peraza was already walking a tight-rope in terms of his hit profile, with his low strikeout rate and speed helping him overcome his shortcomings at the plate. Well, his strikeout rate has more than doubled to 25%, his contact rate has fallen almost 10%, and he's swinging 12% more of the time. He also joined the launch angle revolution, with a 51.4% flyball rate and 18.4-degree average launch angle thus far, which is not what we want to see from a light-hitting speedster. Peraza's entire profile has changed for the worse, and either he's trying something different, pressing, or his swing is all kinds of messed up. Whatever his problem is, it's not worth riding out.
-Elliott Baas

I'm throwing in the towel on Brian Dozier. At least I would if I owned him anywhere. Dozier isn't just hitting well below the Mendoza line (.177 as of April 21), he's posting a 19/4 K/BB line and his .204 xBA is even lower than last year's .210 xBA, which placed him in the bottom 2% of all hitters. All of his six RBI this year have come via home run, three of them solo shots. Dozier's days as a fantasy asset seem to be over.
-Pierre Camus

I'm concerned about Charlie Blackmon. He's always been a much better hitter at Coors Field, and he only just hit his first home run of the season on April 19. That's certainly not what you signed up for if you drafted him in the first three or four rounds.
-Chris O'Reilly

It's sad to admit, but Francisco Mejia isn't finding enough at-bats to warrant a roster spot in single-catcher redraft leagues. The young backstop has only started seven of the Padres first 19 games and hasn't done anything with the bat to earn more playing time. Mejia's teammate Austin Hedges is surprisingly out hitting him so far and he is the clear superior defender on a team that needs to focus more on the handling of a pitching staff.
-Riley Mrack

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