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Hitter Sell-Highs? Second Half Fantasy Baseball Outlooks for Gunnar Henderson, Rafael Devers, Jurickson Profar, Others

The annual All-Star break offers fantasy baseball managers a great chance to assess and revamp their rosters for the stretch run. With both the fantasy and real-life trade deadlines looming, this stage of the season signifies one of the last key opportunities to make a potentially league-winning swap.

These sell-high picks consider a combination of statistical outliers on FanGraphs.com and some recent trends as we grind through the dog days of summer.

Is it time to sell an over-performing hitter before they face some regression during the stretch run of the fantasy baseball season?

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Top Fantasy Baseball Sell-High Candidates

Gunnar Henderson - 3B/SS, Baltimore Orioles

In just his second full season in the majors, Henderson has made a huge jump in the batting average department while putting on a spectacular home run display as the lead-off man and shortstop for the Orioles. Not to mention he's already stolen four more bases than in 2023. But is this crazy first half sustainable?

Just because we don't expect him to double his home run total and average 40 points higher doesn't necessarily mean it's time to sell Henderson to the first fantasy manager we talk to, but there may be some crazy-high trade value to be exploited here. The 23-year-old has increased his hard contact rate by over 6% after all, and there are some hitters out there who can maintain a .328 BABIP thanks to high hard contact rates.

While I do think this is a legitimate breakout for Henderson, I don't think we get 55 home runs from him. His flyball rate has actually dropped from 35.9% in 2023 to 32.4% this year. However, his HR/FB rate skyrocketed up to 32.1%. Especially considering the difficulty of hitting home runs in Baltimore's expanded home park, that rate can't be sustained all year, can it?

In the end, I project Henderson to fall back to the .280 mark in batting average, and I expect his home run total to finish somewhere around 44 or 45. The steals make him super valuable in fantasy, and we can chalk him up for at least 25 of those.

Even still, if someone is willing to package an under-performing hitter with strong regression numbers and a top-30 pitcher, I would be willing to consider selling Henderson, assuming I don't desperately need those extra 12-15 steals he should provide rest-of-season. That being said, he's the player on this list I feel least nervous about as we approach the All-Star Break, assuming the Home Run Derby doesn't ruin his swing.

Rafael Devers - 3B, Boston Red Sox

The powerful lefty in Boston is on pace to hit more home runs this year than any of his previous seven seasons, and he's hitting .292 in the middle of a potent Red Sox lineup. What's not to love?

For starters, Devers is striking out 23.4% of the time this year, which is his highest mark since 2020, and while he is walking more than he ever has, the data suggests that he's hitting the ball hard 41.2% of the time. That number is great, but it's the same as it's always been. Does that mean his .328 BABIP is bound to come down in the next three months? It's certainly possible.

On top of a possible drop in batting average, the 27-year-old could be facing some negative home run regression for the rest of 2024. Not only is Devers hitting fewer fly balls than last year, but he's pulling the ball far less than in 2023 as well. However, his HR/FB rate is somehow a sky-high 25.3%, which would be the highest of his career by more than three points.

Lastly, Devers is skipping this year's All-Star Game to tend to nagging injuries. While that's a responsible, professional move by the Red Sox leader to try and help his club as much as possible down the stretch, that doesn't bode well for him maintaining what could be a career year both in average and in power.

Much like Henderson, there's tons to love about Devers, and it feels wrong to trade such a perennial fantasy star. However, I project him more like a .280 hitter with 35 home runs... If he can stay healthy the rest of the way. If you are doing well in batting average and can trade Devers for someone like Josh Naylor or Anthony Santander plus a pitcher to make up for the average dip, I'd be all aboard that train.

Jurickson Profar - OF, San Diego Padres

Everyone saw the 31-year-old Profar hitting .315 in early June (good for third in the league) with 14 home runs and five stolen bases right? I sure did... not.

The Padres left fielder has been out of this world at the dish this season, and just when we thought he'd started to slow down, he ripped off seven hits including a double and three homers in his last five games. So what's the deal? Has the Curacao native finally figured it out?

One look at his hard-hit rate and we can all agree that this torrid stretch has to regress at some point. Profar has dropped 2.3% when it comes to hard-hit balls, and yet his BABIP sits at .345, one of the highest in the MLB. He's also pulling the ball nearly 6% less often compared to last year, yet his HR/FB rate has nearly tripled. Make it make sense!

The switch-hitter is collecting barrels at a more frequent rate this year, but that shouldn't automatically equate to more base hits and homers. Not to mention Profar has only eclipsed the .254 batting average mark once in his career, and it was during a shortened 2022 season where he ended up at .278 through just 56 games.

If we're generous, we can give Profar nine more homers the rest of the way, to set a career-high with 23. It's also likely he will set a career high in batting average at this point, but don't be surprised if he too ends up closer to the .280 mark when the dust settles.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled for Profar the person. This story is fantastic when you consider that he's been in the league for 12 years without an All-Star appearance (until now, of course), and he was released by the Rockies one year ago. Even still, this is fantasy baseball, and there's value to be exploited.

Most fantasy managers will be able to sniff this one out, but maybe the most recent stretch of homers gives you another chance to offload Profar. See if you can trade him for a legitimate 30-homer threat who hits more like .250 because you'll probably end up with a .250 bat in Profar for the next 2.5 months if history is any indication.

Carlos Correa - SS, Minnesota Twins

Lastly, we have the veteran shortstop for the Twins, who, as everyone predicted, is hitting .300 for just the second time in his 10-year career if the season ended today. The last time he hit .300 you ask? Well of course it was in 2017 when he logged a once-in-a-lifetime BABIP of .352.

This year, Correa is boasting another crazy-high BABIP of .333, but he's hitting the ball "hard" just 34.7% of the time, which is nearly two points lower than last year, and 4.8% less than his stellar 2017 campaign. The 29-year-old is hitting more fly balls than ever, which means fewer ground balls and line drives, which should mean a lower BABIP... You see where I'm going with this, right?

Correa is striking out less this year, which is great, but his age and injury history are clearly catching up with him, evidenced by just 18 home runs last year and now just 12 so far in 2024. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, the data suggests this batting average jump is a mirage. Fortunately for the Twins, the Gold Glover is still out there making plays like this...

Assuming he stays healthy, I'd feel comfortable giving Correa another eight home runs the rest of the way, while I imagine the regression monster forces his batting average to be more in the .270 range from this point forward. There are plenty of places to find production like that, and it can be in the form of a lesser-known player as part of a package deal.

See if you can use the veteran shortstop's well-known name, .300 average, and status as the Twins three-hole hitter to get you a similar bat with a high-upside pitcher thrown in. That's how you take advantage of teams in the bottom half of the standings who are getting desperate for what they think is a "big bat".



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