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Week 3 Buy and Sell for Fantasy Baseball

This early in the season, most of my advice boils down to, “Be patient.” The fantasy baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Nobody wants to fall behind early, but overreacting to small samples is a good way to make sure you stay behind.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t moves to be made. Savvy owners know to look for any opportunity to turn the chaos of April to their advantage. Whether it’s selling high on an overperforming asset or targeting a player who’s off to a slow start, the right decisions in the opening month can pay dividends all year long. Each week in this space, we’ll identify one hitter and one pitcher on each side of the buy/sell equation.


Week 3 Buys

Zack Greinke, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Greinke’s tenure in Arizona hasn’t gotten off to the best start – through three turns, he’s 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. His HR/9 is also 1.56, nearly triple what it was a year ago. Anyone who drafted Greinke expecting anything close to a repeat of last season’s 1.66 ERA is going to be disappointed. That mark was supported by both an unsustainable BABIP (his .229 mark was the fifth-lowest in the last quarter century) and strand rate (second-highest in the same time frame).

The good news is that Greinke doesn’t have to come anywhere close to last year’s success to be a fantasy stud. Over the prior four seasons, he averaged 16 wins and a 3.16 ERA while striking out nearly a batter per inning and four batters for every walk issued. Most owners probably will give him the benefit of the doubt, as they should. But it’s worth checking in to see if your rival’s a little spooked by the early scuffles.


Domingo Santana, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

After being traded to Milwaukee at the deadline last season as part of the package for Carlos Gomez, Santana hit eight homers and stole four bases in just 187 plate appearances. That performance garnered him some buzz as a potential sleeper, particularly after news broke that he would tapped to lead off for the Brew Crew. While he hasn’t offered the same category juice in 2016, there’s a lot to like about his early performance. Santana has improved his already excellent walk rate and drastically cut down on strikeouts so far.

His batted ball data also portends good things – lots of line drives and other hard contact. Per StatCast, his average exit velocity is fifth-best in the majors, and he has more 100+ MPH batted balls than anyone in the game. Santana’s floating around on the wire in the majority of leagues, and represents a fantastic potential buy-low opportunity if he’s owned in your league. The power will come. Grab him before it does and reap the rewards.


Week 3 Sells

Carlos Gomez, OF, Houston Astros

Lots of owners looked at Gomez before the season and saw a prime bounceback candidate. It was certainly an understandable perspective. After all, before last year’s injury-marred campaign, Gomez had averaged 22 homers and 37 steals in the three seasons prior. He also only turned 30 in December. But through the season’s first two weeks, Gomez has looked awful. He’s striking out more often, and when he has made contact, it’s been much weaker.

There’s a lot of season left, but these early returns are troubling. When you consider that some of his peripherals had already been trending in the wrong direction, it’s little wonder that the projection systems are pessimistic. They’ve all got Gomez pegged for a 15/20 season with a batting average hovering below .260. That’s Brett Gardner territory. Useful, sure, but nowhere near the elite production Gomez used to boast. There’s bound to be at least one believer in your league. It might be time to talk deal.


Aaron Sanchez, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

Command has always been Sanchez’s big question mark, and it showed last season. He spent most of the year in the bullpen, but did make 11 starts. In those starts, he posted a 1.8 K/BB%. Only three starters (minimum 50 innings) were worse. He’s been much better in the early going of 2016, nearly doubling his K% and keeping the walks to a manageable level. But that 1.35 ERA has nowhere to go but up, because – and this may shock you – it’s built on an unsustainable foundation.

Maybe Sanchez has made some legitimate improvements. That’s not unreasonable to believe. He was well-regarded as a prospect, he’s just 23, and he was aggressively promoted through the minors. It’s too early to say for sure. What we do know is that he’s not going to maintain a .170 BABIP or 91.6% strand rate, and that he struggled with free passes at every stop in his minor league career. The potential reward is high if he’s finally put it together, but so is the risk that he hasn’t. Sanchez could be more valuable to you as a trade chip than as a presence on your roster.


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