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As the MLB schedule has crossed the halfway mark for the season, we will look at our rosters to see who is trending upward and which players are due for falls.

With a look at the data from June and the first half, there are several names to target for profit and others to trade away in the second half.

Whether our teams are competing for a title or rebuilding, we will look to roster the players that best fit our plans. Here are some June movers and shakers to consider as trade commodities in your fantasy baseball leagues.

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Hot June Performances to Buy

Alex Bregman, Houston Astros

With a spot in a top-five offense, Alex Bregman (3B, HOU) was the fourth-best hitter in June with a 13.4 offensive-WAR. He finished June with a .306, 11 HR, 24 R, and 30 RBI line. He has hit more fly balls (44.0 FB%) in 2018, and he has increased his hard-contact rate to 41%. His strong performance reminded owners of his .320, 11 HR, 45 RBI, and 11 SB second-half performance in 2017.

Hitting consistent line drives has helped him in 2018, and hitting 61% fly balls in June with a 19% hr/f helped his efforts. His batting average wasn't BABIP-induced, as he has a .268 BABIP. He has increased his exit velocity on FB/LD from 91.8 MPH in 2017 to 93.7 MPH in 2018, which ranks 76th in MLB.

Bregman has had success against southpaws and right-handers in 2018. He has hit line drives 26% of the time against LHP, and his 48.9 FB% pairs nicely with his 41.3% hard-contact rate vs. LHP. Luckily, he hasn't sacrificed his plate discipline for power against southpaws, as he owns a 13.1 bb% and 10.7 K% vs. LHP. When looking at his slugging profile, Bregman covers most of the plate against southpaws. He thrives on pitches at the belt, and he hits well against pitches on the outer-third of the plate. His plate coverage has contributed to his 1.016 OPS and .288 ISO versus southpaws.

When facing RHP, he has hit fewer line drives, but he has posted a 41.8 FB% and 40.8 Hard%. Increasing his bb% from 8% in 2017 to 12.8% in 2018 has led to a .372 OBP vs. RHP, and his two hottest zones against RHP are on the inner-third of the plate.

Bregman supports his HR output with a number of metrics. While he probably won't post a repeat of June in one of the three months remaining, his 13% hr/f, FB%, and Hard% are enough to add another 12-14 HR in the second half with an above-average BA and a handful of steals.

Jesus Aguilar, Milwaukee Brewers

After hitting nine HR in 137 at-bats in April and May, Jesus Aguilar (1B, MIL) doubled his HR total with 10 HR in June. May. The first baseman added a .313 BA with 24 RBI and 15 R, which resulted in a 9.2 offensive-WAR for the month.

While he still swings and misses (26.4 K%) quite often, he has lowered his K% from 30.2 in 2017. Improving his contact rate to 72.1% is a start, and most of his contact gains have come against LHP.

Aguilar's power is real. Reducing his ground balls to 30.9%, and lowering his infield fly balls to from 7% in 2017 to 3.7% in 2018 has boosted his efforts. He averages 341 feet on fly balls, and his 47.2% hard-contact rate is one to roster. His 94.8 MPH exit velocity on FB/LD ranks 50th in MLB, and his 8.2 Brls/PA is good for 26th.

On a down note, his .300+ batting average may not last much longer. Even though he owns a .331 career-BABIP, losing some points off of his .340 BABIP and his contact issues could move him below .300. While Steamer's projections of a .246 BA with a .290 BABIP may be too low, we have to make sure that our rosters can handle the BA drop.

If looking to buy HR and RBI, Aguilar has enough power and loft to finish with 35-40 HR in 2018. With 63 RBI already, he could add another 45-50 RBI to a roster in the second half.

 

Hot June Performances to Sell

Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs

Winning five games in June with a 1.13 ERA and 0.84 WHIP won Jon Lester (LHP, CHC) NL Pitcher of the Month honors. The southpaw rode a wave of good fortune, as a .170 BABIP and 95.2 LOB% helped keep his ERA low while he posted a 4.59 xFIP in June.

Lester's strikeouts fell in June, as his 16.5 K% and his 5.6 K/9 were both below his career averages. His swinging-strike rates on four pitches have declined, as his curveball (12.9 SwStr%), change-up (13.2 SwStr%), and cutter (9.5 SwStr%) have missed fewer bats.

Inducing fewer ground balls and giving up harder contact in 18 GS does not bode well for the second half. His GB% on his four-seam fastball (33.1 GB%) and curveball (37.0 GB%) have fallen the most. His hard-contact rate allowed has climbed from 28.1% in 2017 to 33.1% in 2018, but his 10.5 HR/FB is in line with his 10% career-HR/FB. The lefty has allowed a 93.4 MPH exit velocity on FB/LD in 2018.

While he continues to create infield fly ball outs with his cutter (33.3 IFFB%), his 7.0 IFFB% is in line with his 7.3 IFFB% from 2017. Even though the Cubs defense have helped our their pitchers, (according to Sports Info Solutions, the Cubs' 40 Defensive Runs Saved entering July was tied for 2nd in MLB), Lester's .247 BABIP and 83.8 LOB% should move closer toward his .295 career-BABIP and 75.2 career-LOB%.

In two July starts, Lester has given up six ER in 11.1 IP so the window to move him is closing quickly. He draws a favorable matchup this weekend at San Diego so owners should act if they are looking to capitalize on the value he has remaining before his 2.45 ERA climbs closer to his 4.28 FIP and 4.57 xFIP.

Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays

Blake Snell has been great in 2018, as evidenced by his 10.2 K/9, 28.8 K%, and 2.09 ERA. Those owners that have the depth to trade Snell should charge ace prices.

Although his ERA is second in the majors through 19 GS and 116 IP, some metrics and his 3.35 FIP and 3.48 xFIP say his second-half performance won't be as stellar as his first half. His exit velocity allowed on FB/LD is at 90.9 MPH, and his 4.1 Brls/PA is encouraging. Increasing his four-seam fastball velocity to 95.6 MPH has boosted his 8.0 SwStr% with the pitch. He has increased his curveball usage from 10% in 2017 to 18% to right-handed hitters, and more hitters are swinging outside of the zone (44.4 O-Swing%) on his curveball.

The lefty only threw first-pitch strikes 53% of the time in June, and his 4.9 BB/9 was not encouraging. He did back his strikeouts with a 29.8 K% in June, and his slider (26.7 SwStr%), curveball (23.5 SwStr%), and change-up (13.3 SwStr%) continue to miss bats. While he is throwing his slider (36.1 Zone%) and curveball (35.9 Zone%) in the zone more often, other aspects of his profile have remained in similar territories.

His 43.0 GB% and 37.3 FB% have remained steady, and his 34.2 hard-contact rate remains close to his 32.9 career-Hard%. Even with improving his control to 2.3 BB/9 in home starts, a 99.0 LOB% and .221 BABIP have buoyed his 0.87 home ERA when compared to his 2.97 home FIP and 3.67 home xFIP. All have factored into his .234 BABIP and 88.2 LOB%, and his 76.2 career-LOB% and .286 career-BABIP say that he's due for some second-half correction.

Snell will still be good, but Steamer claims that some correction and walks (3.9 BB/9) will result in a 3.47 second-half ERA. Even with some improvements, redraft league owners should see what they can obtain for Snell's excellent first-half if they are in the chase for a championship.

Other June performances to sell: Danny Duffy (SP, KC) and Tyler Mahle (SP, CIN)

 

More 2018 MLB Advice and Analysis





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