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Buy Low and Sell High Hitters for Fantasy Baseball (Week 21)


By Keith Allison on Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It is now the 21-week anniversary of this column. Each week, I've considered writing about Arizona's breakout star, A.J. Pollock. The problem is, I never have any idea where to put him. For the first few weeks and months of the season, he seemed like a clear 'sell high' option. Yet, there was something about his consistent, non-flashy style of play that lead me to believe that he was the real deal.

Well, here we are in late-August, and Pollock remains one of the hottest, if not the hottest, hitter in the league. His production, along with the prowess of guys like Paul Goldschmidt and Wellington Castillo, have aided the Diamondbacks to remain in contention for a playoff spot in the NL East, a division in which they were expected to scrape the bottom.

Soon, I expect, the D-backs will fall out of contention and prepare their squad for next season. As a result, the club's top players will likely be rested and preserved for another shot at October. Following that logic, Pollock could be considered a 'sell high' option at this point of the season as well, considering his top-tier level of play. But I just don't have the heart to do it. If you are in a keeper league, hang on to Pollock with all your might. Still, it is worth considering teams current standing in relation to a playoff spot. Cellar-dwelling teams are likely to rest their stars, while young players are likely to see much more time to prepare for future campaigns.

 

Sell High Hitters for Week 21

Miguel Sano (3B/DH, MIN)

Heading into the 2015 season, Sano was the 13th ranked prospect according to Baseball America. After finally receiving the call-up at the beginning of July, the linebacker-sized DH has surpassed the hype, immediately becoming the Twins most valuable hitter. In just 44 games, Sano boasts a .288/.397/.582 slash line with 11 HR and a staggering 34 RBI. The Dominican slugger is one of many young prospects this year to enter MLB competition guns blazing. Thanks to guys like Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Maikel Franco, top prospects entering the majors command a high value on the trade market.

At this point of the year, Sano's value is at a premium. As previously mentioned, young guys will receive the bulk of the playing time in the waning weeks of the regular season, while veterans receive some much-needed rest. Playoff-bound fantasy squads will be chomping at the bit for a legitimate power threat like Sano. Likewise, owners in keeper leagues will pay a steep price for such a promising young star. Name your price. With an asset like Sano, you can likely have your pick of the litter on the trade market. If, or when, Sano's unsustainable prowess diminishes, you will be able to hold your head high.

Dexter Fowler (OF, CHC)

The offense in Chicago has been white hot in the month of August, as their combined 36 homers leads the league and 117 runs scored ranks third. Particularly, the top third of the lineup, consisting of Fowler, Chris Coughlan and Kyle Schwarber has been the fuel to the offensive fire. It all comes down to Fowler's production in the leadoff spot. Since the All-Star break, Fowler is swatting an astonishing .333/.464/.583 with 18 XBH and 5 steals. For a guy who was on the waiver wire in most formats for, likely, most of the season, that's a very impressive line.

There's a reason most leagues didn't roster the outfielder for most of the season. In the first half, Fowler struggled with a .225/.303/.364 line, albeit with a palatable 8 HR and 12 SB. Still, for a leadoff man the OBP was unacceptable and for an outfielder, the production was overall lackluster. The Cubs are playing unsustainably good baseball right now. Expect one of the many players currently outperforming expectations to regress. Subsequently, expect the rest to fall like a house of cards. Don't get me wrong - the Cubs are heading to October and the offense is top notch. That doesn't mean you shouldn't exploit a good thing while it's too good to be true.

Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, BOS)

When you consider how impressive Jackie Bradley's bat has been recently, it's shocking to think he is still fighting for playing time in a mediocre Boston lineup. In the month of August, the young gun is sporting a .344/.431/.754 line with 4 HR and 20 RBI in just 18 games. That's pretty crazy for a platoon player. What's even more crazy, you ask? In the past 15 days he has played even better, with a league leading 1.023 slugging percentage and a staggering 1.513 OPS over that time frame. He's splitting time in a crowded Boston outfield with Rusney Castillo, who has also been sporting a flaming hot bat recently. With the amount of money the Red Sox are paying Castillo, it would take a lot to bench him at this point in an already lost season.

It's worth noting that Hanley Ramirez has been playing dreadfully as of late, with only 2 hits in his last 20 at bats. If the Sox opt to give the veteran a healthy portion of days off in the final month of the season, expect both Castillo and Bradley to shine in an everyday role. Either way, if Bradley continues to rack up the hits, the club will have no choice but to give him regular playing time. Play up all of these storylines and you can probably get a good deal for Bradley that will help an ailing aspect of your squad down the stretch.

 

Buy Low Hitters for Week 20

Byron Buxton (OF, MIN)

Buxton is back with the Twins for his second shot at the big leagues. This time, things are going a little better. The young hyped prospect struggled his first time around, batting a meager .189 in 11 games before going down with a thumb injury. Since his return on August 20, Buxton has gone 5-for-21 and recorded his first RBI.

Of course, this is nowhere near expectations for the rookie outfielder. Between Double-A and Triple-A this year, Buxton was slashing .305/.367/.500 with 7 HR and 22 SB. Some owners may hold a high price for Buxton due to the influx of hot-hitting rookies this year. However, many are probably becoming weary of Buxton's struggles at the Major League level, especially because he is not a traditional power-threat like Schwarber or Bryant. Buxton is a gamble. If you can find an owner willing to part with him for a modest price, he could find his stride very soon and be a legitimate speed threat for your team in the remaining games this season.

Carlos Gomez (OF, HOU)

Being traded to a legitimate contender should have been the ignition that Gomez needed to affirm his status as an elite MLB hitter. Unfortunately, it hasn't been so pretty. The longtime Brewer is just 15-for-80 thus far in Houston, as he has been more of a detriment to the club than a spark. The power just isn't there, although he has shown flashes of speed with 5 stolen bases in just 19 trips on base.

This one is pretty cut and dry. Gomez is a bonafide star. Sooner or later, he will put it together and his club has plenty to play for in the remaining weeks of the regular season. Still, fantasy owners tend to be impatient and Gomez has been a drag the past month. With Milwaukee in 2015, Gomez was slashing a respectable .262/.328/.423 with 29 XBH. Look for a regression to that level of production with an added potential of upside for the remainder of the year.

Lucas Duda (1B, NYM)

Duda landed himself on the 15-Day DL on Saturday with back issues. This is the time of year where any DL stint will cause fantasy owners to drop players from their team. What's the point in stashing an ailing hitter with only a few weeks remaining on the season?

Well, stashing Duda could very well be worth it. The diagnosis is a small thoracic disc herniation. We all know what that means, obviously. The Mets expect Duda to miss the minimum 15 required days and no more. The hard-hitting first baseman has shown flashes of brilliance in 2015. In less than a month, between July 10 and August 5, Duda slashed .278/.376/.747 and swatted 11 homers with 19 RBI. In total, he is slugging .472 on the year with 21 HR and 28 doubles to boot. If you can snag him for cheap right now, which you likely can, he could be a legitimate source of power in the closing weeks of the season. After all, the Mets will finally have something to play for in September.

 

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