As most hitters have accumulated over 100 plate appearances, many fantasy leaguers are beginning to see their players’ good and/or bad starts to the 2009 season as indicative of the 2009 full season performances. This is normally the point where all the patience exercised in the first 20 percent of the season will be spent, and it is the worst time to panic, no matter how bad Jhonny Peralta, David Ortiz, Troy Tulowitzki, Jimmy Rollins or Kevin Kouzmanoff look right now.
Of course, if you play in a mixed league, there is a lot less to worry about as you are likely (should be) sitting most of these players. Or have the option to do so thanks to a relatively deep pool of full-time players. Boo hoo, you have to start Christian Guzman until Jimmy Rollins begins to heat-up.
In AL- and NL-only leagues, want to sit Peralta? Assuming you even have the option to reserve an active player, who you sending in? Ronny Cedeno? Luis Hernandez? Good luck with that! This is why the option to sit any struggling player is close to nil, and the temptation to sell low is nearly impossible to resist.
Once a single league fantasy player capitulates on a Peralta, an even more detrimental situation persists. No matter how frequently the fantasy baseball punditry says you should “buy low,” no one wants to do it. As a matter of fact, those same people who won’t buy low and also won’t “selling high”. Are you dealing Michael Young for Jhonny Peralta?
Five weeks ago, you wouldn’t touch it thanks to the dearth of power amongst the American League shortstops. Now that Michael Young has hit eight home runs to Peralta’s one long ball, you’re terrified of acquiring Peralta despite his being younger and demonstrating 20 home run power more frequently over the past couple seasons than Young has.
So what happens? The panicking owner of Jhonny Peralta is compelled to settle for a sell-high player like Endy Chavez because Endy is likely to play every day, hit around .300, steal 30-plus bases and hit a handful of home runs, because that is what the 31-year-old career defensive replacement has done on a pro-rated basis this season and Peralta has caused too much agita for too long already.
Once the deal is consummated, it is quickly followed by Peralta hitting four homers in the next 10 games while Chavez justifies his career part-timer status with a 2-25 bender that ends in a couple days off from his manager “to clear his head.”
How can you avoid committing this too common mistake in an AL- or NL-only league? Look at the team willing to deal Endy Chavez (or any player who’s been hot for 100 at-bats) and ask yourself, “If Peralta had four home runs right now, who would I accept for him in a trade?” If the team doesn’t have enough to make you consider an offer, then hold Peralta and wait for the player the other team offered to cool. By then, you will have likely seen a flip in the standings.
Selling low in an AL/NL-only league means death especially if the player you acquired was sold high to you in the deal as you have locked in one players worst spell of the season while missing out on the other’s best.
Last Week Follow-up: I argued last week that mixed leaguers shouldn’t be rushing out and picking-up the hot prospect. While this is general advice, the Cleveland Indians’ recalled one of the top power prospects in the minor leagues in OF Matt LaPorta. He certainly fits the bill and went 2-for-13 with a home run.
Double follow-up: Two weeks ago, I identified RHP Jamey Wright as a speculative pick in AL-only leagues for saves . On Saturday, Royals manager Trey Hillman said Juan Cruz and Wright would lead a committee of closers while Joakim Soria deals with his recurrence of shoulder discomfort.