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In this column, I'll dive into the profile of a player who could be considered a valuable trade asset and give recommendations of how to approach a potential deal in fantasy baseball leagues.

After a strong first quarter of the season, Andrelton Simmons’ stock has skyrocketed as owners try to judge his value after articles such as Scott Pianowski’s “Andrelton Simmons, All Grown Up.”

For a player considered a defense-first shortstop, Simmons has made himself into a legitimate fantasy player. As Connor Mceleney and Kyle Bishop have written previously, Simmons emerged as top-12 fantasy shortstop in 2017, but often went undrafted this year because of his glove-first, no-bat reputation. So what is Andrelton Simmons worth on the trade market?

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Rest-of-Season Profile

For starters, both ZiPS and Steamer rank Simmons outside the top-12 shortstops for the rest-of-season performance. Meanwhile, both xStats and BaseballSavant show him as having been a top-6 SS with an expected wOBA of .365 and .376 respectively.

In 2017, Simmons saw a spike in his hard-hit percentage, but his evolution seems to have started midway through 2016 when he returned from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb, a 650-PA average since then gives us these results:

PA 2B 3B HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
650 37 3 11 78 71 18 7.3% 9.2% .130 .309 .294 .346 .423 .332 110

Those numbers aren’t as glitzy as his numbers to start this season, but they give a sense of the floor here. That version of Simmons won’t win a season, but it is good enough to help. It belongs to a player who should have been drafted in most leagues. Does it ignore too much of the growth from just this season? Maybe. Keep in mind that April results are poorly correlated with the rest of the season, but it’s now mid-May and we’re reaching the stabilization point for power.

More noticeably, Simmons' approach at the plate is different as well. His O-Swing (swings at pitches outside of the zone) and swinging-strike rates are both at career lows, so he’s picking better pitches to hit and achieving a career-high line-drive and hard-hit rates. His K-rate has plummeted to 5.3%, and his BB-rate has risen to an above-average 9.4%. Those changes will get him on base more frequently, ensure he sees better pitches to hit, and bump his run production.

The modest gains in power and the significant improvement in plate discipline and OBP clarify the change in performance. Let’s establish a ceiling based on the last year of work. In 158 games from May 17, 2017 to May 16, 2018, Andrelton Simmons has put up this line:

PA 2B 3B HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
651 44 4 14 91 79 20 7.7% 8.3% .159 .312 .303 .357 .463 .350 123

The wOBA of .350 is not that far from xStats predicted wOBA of .365 for 2018. If Simmons keeps up his current production, it would make him a top-50 hitter along the lines of the 2017 versions of players like Corey Seager, Brian Dozier, and Chris Taylor. Good company for a player drafted after spot 200.

To be conservative, I'll treat Simmons' performance for the last year as his ceiling value. There are noticeable improvements this season that mean he could outperform it, but we’re dealing with a player whose value has increased so dramatically that it’s best to be a bit conservative. One change I have made is to increase his RBI total to reflect his RBI rate for this year and the fact that he is batting 5th in an improved Angels’ lineup.

If you play in OBP or OPS leagues, Simmons is even more valuable because he is getting on base so frequently and hits so many doubles and triples.

So what is he worth?

According to Fangraphs.com, since the start of the 2017 season, Simmons has generated offensive value similar to Elvis Andrus, Didi Gregorius, and Jean Segura

Player G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off
Elvis Andrus 172 750 22 107 93 25 6.1% 13.7% .174 .299 .344 .473 .348 113 17.3
Andrelton Simmons 199 817 17 103 92 24 7.7% 9.3% .144 .291 .347 .436 .337 113 15.9
Didi Gregorius 176 745 35 103 118 6 6.2% 12.3% .211 .280 .324 .490 .342 112 15.3
Jean Segura 166 753 13 109 73 33 5.4% 14.9% .126 .303 .346 .429 .333 111 11.9

Simmons current value has dramatically increased since his ADP of 208. Let’s use the draft values of Gregorius (107) and Segura (78) to situate Simmons’ value. If I had to guess, the hype of a draft season would inflate Simmons value, and he’d be going around pick 75.

So you have Simmons as surplus and want to sell him. Who should you target? Or your shortstop situation is dire and you want to buy him. What’s the cost? I’m trying to identify players whose value, both real and perceived, has not dramatically changed since the start of the season. In selling a trade to another owner, perception is king, and you can often buy lower or sell higher if use that, especially if you can make Simmons part of a package. If you’re trying to buy, you want to pay the low-end player. If you’re selling, I’d target the high-end player, or better.

 

Trade Value Around the Diamond

1B - Low End: Justin Smoak or Eric Hosmer, High End: Wil Myers
Smoak and Hosmer have performed about as we expected. Hosmer has offered more power, but a lower batting average so far. Smoak has been a little worse than Steamer and ZiPS predicted, but not much. I wrote about Myers last week as part of a DL buy-low article. The upside is there. The Padres aren’t expecting Myers back until June, but if he can get healthy this season, I’d rather have him than Simmons if I can replace Simmons with someone like a Marcus Semien.

2B - Low End: Chris Taylor, High End: Whit Merrifield or Daniel Murphy
There aren’t many good low-end 2B candidates here. I would rather have Simmons than Taylor for the rest of the season because I don’t see the indicators that Taylor will manage to repeat what he did last year, but they’re comparable players. What I wrote about Myers applies to Murphy, and Simmons value nicely corresponds to Whit Merrifield, who was going just after Murphy in drafts, except that drafters knew Murphy was still at least a month out at that point.

3B - Low End: Kyle Seager, High End: Nick Castellanos or Travis Shaw
Seager represents above-average power, sub-par batting average, and relegation to an offense that just lost Robinson Cano. Castellanos has significantly improved his perceived value. Even within the Tigers lineup – now without Candelario, Cabrera, and Martin – Castellanos has produced. He’s due for regression, but he’s hitting the ball hard, and his expected stats support his improved performance. As for Travis Shaw, I am not a major proponent, but the last two years of data say that I’m wrong. Shaw’s batting average is likely to be around .255, but the power, runs, and RBIs are there.

C - Low End: J.T. Realmuto, High End: Buster Posey:
In two catcher leagues, I suppose this makes sense, but catcher is almost as fickle as pitching. Realmuto has been better than expected, but he’s still stuck in Miami, and I wouldn’t count on him maintaining that ISO of .242. You could also look at riser Yasmani Grandal, but his value has shifted so much, he’s tougher to pin down. Posey might be my favorite target on the list. Owners who drafted him probably overvalue him, but Posey’s value comes from his floor. All told, Posey should nicely approximate Simmons’ value relative to the position. Let’s be clear though, Simmons should outproduce all catchers other than Gary Sanchez. Frankly, I wouldn’t trade for a catcher unless you absolutely need to.

OF - Low End: Eddie Rosario, High End: Andrew Benintendi or Khris Davis
If you can sell Eddie Rosario for Andrelton Simmons, I would do it now. xStats, Rosario’s peripherals, and his history indicate that Rosario is due for some regression. Andrew Benintendi represents something of a buy-low in that owners were drafting him in hopes that he would have more than three HRs so far this season. Benintendi will probably outproduce Simmons by the end of the year, but they should end up as similar values. As for Khris Davis, he’s an undervalued asset. I was saying the other day that there are plenty of fantasy owners who don’t appreciate and don’t deserve Khris Davis in their lives. You do deserve him. His .214 BA is due for regression in the good direction, and he’s been one of the most consistent hitters for the last three years. Don’t look past his beauty because of one little wart.

SP - Low End: Lance McCullers, High End: James Paxton or Alex Wood
I don’t believe in Lance McCullers. His numbers look similar to last year when he was fine, but not good. And he’s never thrown more than 125 IP in the majors. James Paxton is a similar asset with more history of success. His perceived value will be quite high after 16 strikeout performance against Oakland. Alex Wood has been a bit better than promised, but he has yet to win a game and doesn’t seem to carry quite the same cachet as Paxton. Beyond those three, there are a number of other arms you could consider now or in the next few weeks (e.g., Berrios, Tanaka, or Bauer). Target guys who were drafted 120 or better and have only held or improved their status. That may mean needing to look past the W-L record, as in the case of Alex Wood.

RP - Low End: Brandon Morrow, High End: Sean Doolittle
Relief pitchers are volatile commodities, and if you can send Brandon Morrow or even a Wade Davis for Simmons, that’s a great deal. Sean Doolittle would be a nice return, but while I’d be happy to trade away a closer for Simmons, I’d rather acquire any other position than a closer. If you’re in a holds league, I would feel perfectly comfortable asking for Josh Hader in exchange for Simmons.

A Final Note: The projections in my first part suggest that Simmons is worth the high-end players. Andrus went ahead of most of those players on that list, and 40 games of baseball don’t change the calculus that much. Players get hot and have career years or phenomenal half seasons. Sellers will have a hard time getting opponents to pay what they should for Simmons. In that case, you have to decide if you’re better off holding onto the bonus value or selling at a loss to make your team better in the long run. Godspeed to you.

 

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