Players who should have been traded

Headley’s career BA on the road is 70 points higher than at home. He has hit a higher percentage of HRs at home, though. (Icon/SMI)

Chase Headley | Peak on: May 7 | Line at the time: .330 AVG, 2 HR, 8 SB—Despite his PETCO home, Headley was considered an undervalued hitter by more than a few people this offseason. That he started the season off lightning-quick only reaffirmed the genius of those who drafted him and made him a desired commodity to those who did not.

As it turns out though, the true geniuses were the ones who dumped Headley on another owner when his value was at its apex at the end of April, because since then he’s been a nobody. Since then he has batted .239 with four home runs and three steals in around twice the at-bats, transforming his owners from expecting multi-hit games to being happy with a 1-for-4 effort.

Over the rest of the season he may hit for a slightly better average—think .270s—but not even Alfred Borden could make his power game appear and it seems the steals binge in April was a one-month wonder. You had your chance to flip this guy for value in April; now that window is likely closed and while there are worse options at the hot corner than Headley, he is the definition of mediocre at the moment.

Ty Wigginton | Peak on: May 16 | Line at the time: .320 AVG, 12 HR, 0 SB—It took Brian Roberts all of four games to seriously injure himself and in his absence emerged Wigginton, who did a great impersonation of Roberts in April circa 2005. To the disgust of people who did not jump on his bandwagon everywhere, Wigginton continued his hot hitting ways all the way till mid-May, the one time at which one might have been able to net actual valuable players for him in a trade. Not too close to when you added him, and the production was certainly there.

Since that fateful day in May, Ty has batted a laughable .206 with just two more home runs to his two-lettered name—quick, someone notify Dan Brown.

Kelly Johnson | Peak on: April 29 | Line at the time: .320 AVG, 9 HR, 0 SB—A change of scenery was all Kelly needed it seemed, when at the end of April after his first month as a D-back he nearly led the league in OPS. Well, perhaps he needs a constant change of scenery because once the desert scene got more than a month old, Johnson started playing to the level one would expect from someone with his name.

I hope that if you owned him, you gave Johnson a virtual change of scenery since following April he has batted .261—a number that would be significantly lower were it not for a scorching start to July—with four home runs and a welcomed eight steals. The rest of the way he should bat for a solid .270s average with just mild pop and a handful more of stolen bases.

Over the final two weeks before the All-Star break Johnson devolved into a singles machine, but at any moment I can see him breaking out with a string of home runs and doubles. Even though I placed him in this article highlighting players you should have traded earlier, Johnson could be a solid producer the rest of the season.

Vernon Wells | Peak on: April 30 | Line at the time: .337 AVG, 8 HR, 1 SB—If you were to plot the monthly graph of Wells’ OPS onto a green background and place a black ballplayer silhouette in front, it would look a lot like the mirror image of the Fangraphs logo.

Wells started the season blasting home runs and doubles down the left field line and every month thereafter has done so less and less, culminating with his current July performance of zero home runs. Owning him is misery at the moment; trading him in April would have been pure bliss.

Austin Jackson | Peak on: May 9 | Line at the time: .371 AVG, 1 HR, 6 SB—The Rookie of the Year chants have all but subsided for this Jackson, whose anomalous BABIP propelled him into the position of the major league hit leader after his first month in the big leagues. Since then Jackson has cooled off, batting .249 yet curiously his BABIP hasn’t dropped below the .400 mark. Infield hits and his line drive-and-grounder based batted ball profile suggest he would have a high BABIP, but his current .415 mark is beyond reasonable.

With further regression to his BABIP, the future does not look bright for Jackson or his owners, who missed a golden opportunity to trade him back in early May.

Final thoughts

It is always difficult to trade away the hitters we own who begin the season on a tear because the ego inside us likes to think we “called” this breakout happening. Meanwhile, often it is simply the result of a lucky or unsustainable start to the season for those players and the most helpful course of action for your team is to trade the overperformers for players whose skill sets deem they should play better in the future.

Having said that, it is much harder to swallow trading away players you thought would regress but end up playing well throughout the whole season than to hang onto overperformers once they stop overperforming. I’d like to hear your thoughts on that.

And as always, the players I missed—since admittedly this list is far from comprehensive—I’d like to hear about in the comments as well.

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  1. Mitch Brannon said...

    Sticking a Blue Jay, Jose Bautista has lost about 70 points in OPS since the end of May (peak on June 4 with 1.007 OPS), although to be fair the homeruns keep coming.

  2. Frank Kim said...

    Pablo Sandoval would have been a good guy to have traded on April 28 when he had a 1.031 OPS.  That’s right around the time when I acquired him. :(

  3. chris said...

    From the get-go all the Fantasy “experts” were telling everyone within earshot Austin Jackson’s stats were unsustainable and his owners should aim to sell high. Because of this he was completely impossible to move.  Sometimes when you’ve got a mediocre guy who’s playing way over his head you’ve got to just enjoy the ride then cut him when he trends southward.

  4. Danny said...

    In principal it is hard not to agree with all that was said especially when it is applied to non-keeper leagues.  Selling high on a player with long term upside potential might be short sided.

  5. Andrew said...

    Wish you guys were the Wells owners in my league. The batted ball data suggests his AVG should be about 30 points higher. Also, his power is completely legit, as he currently has the most No Doubt HR this year. Buy high.

  6. Paul Singman said...

    @Mitch—Yeah, Jose did have a peak in early June, tumbled after but seems to have rediscovered his power stroke.

    @Frank—Wow, I wasn’t aware how hot Sandoval started the season. I’m sorry for your trade.

    @Nick—Not a bad idea, look for that either Thursday or Tuesday.

    @Dave—If good is defined as a .270 average with some steals, then yes. If you are expecting like a .300+ average and Jackson does it, consider myself publicly humiliated.

    @Danny—Keeper leagues add another dimension to this, correct. If you are referring specifically to Jackson, I’m fairly reserved on his long-term potential compared to most, but I’m no prospect maven either.

    @PJ—See Toffer above and Wells has continued to hit home runs…just not much else.

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