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Superstar Buy-Low Trade Candidates - Fantasy Baseball Underperformers

Jose Ramirez - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

We're over two months into the season now, and the sample size for player performance is only getting larger by the day. It's time to check on some of the biggest stars in the game and see if their hitting woes will continue.

As I tend to do nearly every day, I was browsing my favorite stats sites and checking on my favorite players. I found myself diving into the players I roster on most of my fantasy baseball teams. It's always lovely to look up a player you like and see those bright red circles on Baseball Savant, but there's something I enjoy more. I like looking up batted ball and expected statistics for players that aren't doing well and seeing if I can figure out why. Those players are the ones I like studying.

This article will look at the four hitters who have underperformed this year. I'll be going into the various reasons why they're underperforming relative to the players we know they are and try to determine if they're likely to turn it around. I won't cover Michael Harris II, Teoscar Hernandez, and Carlos Correa in this article because I would not consider them top-tier superstars in the league. Those players are also underperforming relative to what we've grown accustomed to, but we'll likely discuss them in a different article.

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Jose Ramirez - 3B, Cleveland Guardians

Note: This article was written before Ramirez hit three home runs Friday night!

Let's start with the player who was drafted the highest in most fantasy leagues. Ramirez has not been a disaster this season but has yet to be himself. This year, he's slashing .267/.333/.474 with nine home runs, 36 RBI, and five stolen bases. All three of those numbers are noticeably lower than the stats we've expected from Ramirez, one of the best pure hitters in baseball.

Looking at his numbers, it took a second to pinpoint the root of his issues so far, but I have something I can point to. Before his three-homer game, his HR/FB% was only 5.9% this season. Since 2016, Ramirez's HR/FB% was consistently over 10%, even eclipsing 16% in 2018, 2020, and 2021. His HardHit%, xSLG, and Barrel% align with his regular averages, leading me to believe he will be okay over the season.

Ramirez has had his fair share of warning track flyouts to begin the season. It's possible that the balls are not carrying for him yet, and once the weather starts heating up, they will begin clearing the wall. If it's possible to trade for him, I recommend you do that.

Jose Ramirez


Trea Turner - SS, Philadelphia Phillies

Trea Turner has been one of baseball's best contact hitters for years. His ability to put the bat to the ball at such a high rate and his speed made him a huge threat to get on base, but the numbers could look better this year. When the majority of your value relies on the ability to make contact, it typically goes hand-in-hand with a great approach at the plate.

One of the most significant issues for Turner this year has been his lack of patience. His walk rate is only 5.6%, which is the lowest it has been since 2016. His strikeout rate is 24.2%, the highest since his rookie season in 2015. His Swing% is at an all-time high of 53.3% with an all-time low Contact% of 70.3%. Those combinations are typically not recipes for success.

His quality of contact numbers aligns with what they typically are, but he is making far less contact now. In 2022, his chase rate was the highest of his career at 33.1%, but this season he has a 36.4% chase rate.

Turner's track record makes me want to believe he will turn it around eventually, but it is tough to see it happening. This could be a side effect of him getting older and his hands not being as fast as they used to be. Weird things happen sometimes when players sign with new teams. If I were rostering him on any of my fantasy teams, I would be trying to trade him to someone who still believes in him.

Trea Turner


Kyle Tucker - OF, Houston Astros

Tucker has been underwhelming this season for a player typically drafted in the first or second round of drafts. He had a solid start to the year but cooled off quite a bit. One thing that fantasy managers never have to worry about with Tucker is the K:BB rate. In 2023, Tucker has improved those numbers by lowering his strikeout rate to 13.8%, the lowest of his career, and increasing his walk rate to 10.1%, the highest of his career.

He has been a bit more selective at the plate this season with a career-low Swing% of 50.3% and a career-high Called Strike%, or CStr%, of 12.9%. He's taking more pitches than usual and more strikes than expected, but that is okay because he still makes contact when he does swing. Tucker has the highest Contact% of his career at 85.3% and the best Z-Contact% of his career at 92.2%. He's seeing the ball better than he ever has. He's waiting for pitches he likes in the zone and hitting those pitches.

Tucker is making more contact than ever, and his quality of contact metrics are still as good as ever. His HardHit%, xSLG, Average Exit Velocity, xBA, and xwOBA are above average this season, but he's putting the ball on the ground too often. Tucker's ground ball rate is at 43.8%, which is the highest rate since his rookie season in 2018. If he can start putting the ball in the air more often, a significant turnaround is coming for Tucker.

I have Tucker on several fantasy teams and am not looking to unload him soon. I suggest buying low on him before the summer months come around and his value skyrockets.

Kyle Tucker


Manny Machado - 3B, San Diego Padres

Now is the time to talk about the guy I want to discuss the least because it hurts me to see such bad numbers for a good player. Manny Machado is having by far the worst season of his career. Across the board, everything looks terrible. He's striking out more and walking less. He's hitting more ground balls and making less hard contact. His average and max exit velocities are both down. He has his highest O-Swing%, up to 35.5%, and his lowest Contact%, down to 75.3%.

It's hard to pinpoint what has gone wrong for Machado because everything seems wrong this season. Not only has he played poorly, but he was also injured for some time. Rostering Machado this season has been a frustrating experience so far.

To be optimistic, Machado's swing stats are only slightly worse than they usually are, and his ground ball rate is not much higher than it usually is. His HR/FB% is down to half what it is usually, down to 8.5% this year compared to 17.2% last year. His HardHit% and exit velocities are down but not far from his career averages.

Everything has gone wrong this season for Machado, and the numbers look ugly. There is a possibility that he will make a change in his approach, and his hits will start leaving the yard in summer, but that requires blind trust in his track record. I would only consider buying low on Machado if the price was extremely low. I'd like him to turn it around, but I'll let someone else hold him.

Manny Machado

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