Trader’s corner: week four

Welcome to Trader’s Corner, your one-stop shop for bargains and busts. I’ve partnered with our good friend Oliver to look at the recent performances of a few players and why they could present a major profit opportunity for you. This won’t just be your typical buy high/sell low column, though. As much opportunity as those situations may present, we’ll also try to identify the hot streaks that figure to last and the cold spells that could spell doom.

Every two weeks, I’ll look at a pair of players in each of four categories: Buy High, Buy Low, Sell High, and Sell Low. The first player will be my own selection and the the second based strictly on the Oliver projections.

Each entry will include the player’s 2012 stat-line through April 23, plus their “Rest of Season” Oliver projection in the standard rotisserie categories (average, runs, RBIs, homers, steals for hitters; wins, saves, ERA, WHIP, strikeouts for pitchers).

Also provided will be the accompanying projected dollar values according to THT Forecasts’ Custom Price Guide for both the standard Yahoo! and ESPN formats. Dollar values are based on a $260 draft budget with $2 allocated to each bench spot and a 70/30 hitter/pitcher split.

Now, in week four, early performance trends are starting to weigh on our judgments. Though most should still be largely ignored, many won’t be, and there are even a few that shouldn’t be. With that in mind, this will be a transitional edition Trader’s Corner. We’ll begin to factor 2012 performances and discuss their potential relevance or lack thereof.

As always, I’ll keep a tally of all my recommendations, the date I made them, and the players’ performances from that point forward. From time to time, I’ll share the results in an attempt to evaluate how I’m faring and if there are trends to be found.

Buy High

Buying high is one of the most difficult and frequently overlooked strategies at a fantasy manager’s disposal. We all love to discuss player trends that look promising in the offseason, but somehow, once the season begins, every sample size becomes too small and every unexpected performance a matter of mere luck. The consensus bias shifts from heavily weighting recent performance and “upside” to nigh unshakable temperance and prudence. For the savvy, risk-seeking owner, this can present a great deal of profit opportunity.

This week we’ll look at a former superstar showing surprising signs of life on the basepaths and an overlooked slugger eligible at a couple positions he won’t often play.

My pick: Carlos Beltran
So far: .279-13-9-5-3
Oliver RoS: .299-68-69-18-6
Oliver Yahoo value: $12
Oliver ESPN value: $15

There are few players I’m kicking myself over ignoring in drafts this year. Carlos Beltran is one of them.

Beltran was a fantasy machine from 2002 through 2008. He was one of the few players in the game who could be relied upon for at least four category production, and more often than not the full five. Leg injuries always seemed to hold him back from becoming a 40-homer, 40-steal holy grail of a fantasy asset, and in 2009, they finally began taking a toll on his ability to stay on the field as well.

After missing much of 2009 and 2010 with knee problems and subsequent corrective surgery, Beltran returned to play a full season in 2011. He played quite well, producing solid numbers in a pair of difficult offensive environments. His .300-78-84-22-4 line was once again legitimate four-category production, though one of the staples of the earlier parts of his career was now gone—speed.

Most considered Beltran’s 2011 production to be instructive of what he’d be capable of as he settled into the twilight of his career. He had always been productive at the dish, even while only intermittently able to stay on the field. But we all assumed his days of stealing more than a handful of bases were over.

Beltran has come out of the gates in 2012 set to prove us wrong. It just 16 games he’s already attempted four steals, and succeeded three times. That’s after attempting only six steals all of last year, and only two in the first half.

Throughout his career, Beltran has been a historically efficient base stealer. He’s never been overly aggressive, never a gambler, but someone who combined situational intelligence with his raw athleticism for an incredible 87.5 percent success rate on the basepaths in 338 attempts. Few basestealers ever post single-season marks that high, let alone do it over a whole career.

This suggests that his early inclination toward running may be more than a mere aberration. Beltran likely wouldn’t be running if he didn’t think he could do so effectively, or if he was feeling lingering discomfort from a two-years-past knee operation. He still probably won’t approach the totals he reached in his heyday, but suddenly 15 or even 20 more steals this year seems plausible.

A base-stealing Beltran would be an incredibly valuable commodity. Add around 10 stolen bases onto his Oliver projection and you have more than a $20 player. While age and a history of leg ailments are certainly risks, the payoff is looking quite a bit higher than we assumed going into the season.

It would be wise to see what it would take to pry Beltran away from his owner before the price increases to match his projection.

Oliver’s pick: Edwin Encarnacion
So far: .303-9-13-4-3
Oliver RoS: .262-73-86-26-5
Oliver Yahoo value: $21
Oliver ESPN value: $18

The man not-so-affectionately known as E5 has quietly been a productive hitter for years. The problem has always been that his fielding has held him back from consistent playing time. He finally found a home in the DH slot last year, and the result for fantasy purposes is a dual first base, third base-eligible slugger who wasn’t on many radars heading into the year.

You might be surprised to at what you find with just a bit of basic arithmetic applied to Encarnacion’s career totals. He’s hit .262 with 121 home runs and 31 steals in his career spanning 3,141 plate appearances. That breaks down to roughly 23 home runs and six stolen bases per 600 plate appearances. The problem is that he’s never actually gotten 600 plate appearances.

The good news for fantasy owners is that the Blue Jays have gone from a team in transition to a potential fringe contender. Their roster, particularly around the corners, is much more settled than it’s been the last few years.

Juan Rivera has departed to the senior circuit. Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind have settled into either corner of the infield. Eric Thames is scuffling to keep Travis Snider in Triple-A. That leaves DH wide open for the defensively challenged Encarnacion. The coveted 600-plate appearance season may finally be within reach.

Encarnacion is already off to a rollicking start this year. He probably won’t hit .300 over a full season, but he’s actually a decent contact hitter. His strikeout rates have stayed between 16 and 19 percent over the last few years, very reasonable marks.

Since he relies a somewhat fly-ball heavy approach to produce his power, we can expect his BABIP to drop, but he’s not a traditional all-or-nothing slugger. A neutral to slightly positive batting average is well within reach.

Add to that around 25 home run power, a few stolen bases, and a boatload of RBIs batting in the middle of the potent Blue Jays lineup, and Encarnacion may be one of the best values from this year’s drafts.

If you need help at the hot corner or corner infield spot, E5 makes a fine target, even if you have to pay his owner more than draft-day price.

Buy Low

Everyone loves a buy low candidate. The problem is the owner who owns the buy low candidate usually loves him too, so you may not be able to buy as low as you wish you could. Still, it’s always helpful to identify guys who could see their performance improve in the not-too-distant future.

For today’s Buy Low we’ll look at a pair of scuffling former top prospects who should break out sooner than later.

My pick: Jesus Montero
So far: .241-3-8-4-0
Oliver RoS: .267-58-69-18-0
Oliver Yahoo value: $1*
Oliver ESPN value: N/A*

*assumes utility-only eligibility

Like Encarnacion, Montero is lousy defender freed by the DH. However, unlike Encarnacion, he doesn’t have positional eligibility yet. That will change soon, and when it does, Montero should instantly become a top 10 fantasy catcher, if not better.

Many owners who drafted Montero in the Yahoo! format were likely hoping he’d have picked up catcher eligibility by now. With both Miguel Olivo and John Jaso on the Mariners roster, those owners may be starting to get nervous about how long it’s taking.

What they may not realize is that Eric Wedge is following the deployment plan for Montero almost to the letter, but that the opening series in Japan disrupted the schedule in a way that gave him less incentive to put Montero behind the dish during the team’s first few games.

Since coming stateside and completing the disjointed first week of play, Montero has started four times at catcher. All four have been in the last 10 games.

In Yahoo!, where only five games started are required for positional eligibility, Montero should get there by the end of the weekend. In ESPN, where 10 games are required, it will take a bit longer, but he’ll still likely get there around the second week of May.

The other issue in play is that Montero is off to a slow start. He has hit a pair of home runs, but he’s also hitting just .241.

This is almost entirely a BABIP mirage. His strikeouts and swinging strikes are both down a touch, not just from the short sample with the Yankees last year but from his numbers in the high minors as well. He also has a history of consistent high BABIPs in the minors.

Then when you consider his line drive rate is a respectable 19 percent and he’s yet to hit an infield pop-up, it becomes clear that this is more an issue of well hit balls finding gloves than of anything Montero is doing wrong at the dish. It shouldn’t take long for that his BABIP to climb back toward .300.

There’s never been a better time to strike on Jesus Montero, and there may never be again. If you can get him for a reasonable price, you’ll soon have a catcher-eligible player who can give you a decent average, good power, and a 600-plate appearance season. Even playing half his games in Safeco Field with a meager supporting cast, that combination of rate production and volume at a position notorious for lacking it should yield quite a bit of value.

Oliver’s pick: Giancarlo Stanton
So far: .255-4-5-0-0
Oliver RoS: .265-73-88-30-5
Oliver Yahoo value: $24
Oliver ESPN value: $21

Like Montero, Giancarlo Stanton is off to a slow start. In fact, in the previous edition of Trader’s Corner, there was a comment asking if Stanton is a good Sell Low candidate. At least according to Oliver, it’s the opposite that’s true.

Stanton’s game is a bit one-dimensional, but that one dimension is pretty impressive. Few players in the game have Stanton’s prodigious power. According to ESPN Hit Tracker, only one player in the majors averaged longer home run distances last year—Justin Upton.

The problem is that Stanton’s yet to hit a home run this season. Some of this may be related to a sore knee that’s led to occasional days off for the struggling slugger. Ozzie Guillen and Co. have even experimented with dropping him out of the cleanup spot. Being that fantasy owners drafted Stanton for his power, it’s understandable that they may be growing concerned.

This article from the Florida Sun Sentinal well describes the problems Stanton and the Marlins are going through in the early season.

Take a close look at that article, though. There are a few inconsistencies, at least in how it relates to the current season. The first is that it names Edwin Rodriguez as the Marlins manager. The second is that it was written April 19, 2011.

Last year, it took Stanton 14 games to hit his first home run. Those 14 games occurred while Stanton was recovering from a hamstring injury. He ultimately hit just two April home runs before going on to average more than six home runs per month from May onward.

Stanton has played in only 14 games so far this year. Two instances do not a pattern make, but it’s also far too early to panic. At the very least we know that he’s capable of overcoming a slow start to post elite power numbers.

The one issue that Oliver can’t account for here is injury. While it does see that Stanton missed time last year and therefore deducts a few plate appearances from his projected total, this year’s knee injury sounds like it might be a bit more of a long term concern than the hamstring problem from a year ago.

There may be a bit more risk here than Oliver is seeing. I’d might shave a dollar or two from his expected value. But his ceiling is still so high and the evidence of his demise so weak that he still makes an excellent target if his owner is ready to hit the panic button and dump him on the cheap.

Sell High

There may be nothing more satisfying in fantasy baseball than selling a player at his peak value just to watch him crash and burn for another owner while you reap the benefits of that owner’s former studs. It happens every year—whether it was Michael Pineda‘s second half swoon in 2011 or that time that closer saved 20 games in the first half only to blow four in a row and lose his job. You remember that guy, right?

Let’s check in on a couple well-regarded pitchers off to fast starts who might be worth more in trade than in your lineup.

My pick: C.J. Wilson
So far: 2-2.37-1.05-15
Oliver RoS: 13-3.21-1.19-161
Oliver Yahoo value: $18
Oliver ESPN value: $18

One of the more polarizing figures among fantasy pundits going into the year, Wilson creates an excellent selling opportunity due to his fast start. The heat of the debate between supporters and detractors combined with strong surface numbers leave judgments on the Halos’ pitcher wide open for favorable bias.

Those who entered the 2012 draft season high on Wilson saw him as a left-hander leaving the pitcher’s nightmare that is the Ballpark at Arlington for much friendlier confines, and a starter who had established a track record of out-performing his peripheral statistics.

Those who weren’t so high on him argued that two years of data isn’t strong evidence of a trend and that beneath the apparent improvements he made to his strikeout and walk rates in 2011 there was little to be excited about. His swinging strike and first pitch strike rates were both merely average, and the trademark ground ball dominance of his relieving days had declined since he’d converted to starting.

Odds are someone in your league was in the former group. There’s a good chance that owner will look right at Wilson’s two wins and low ERA and feel vindication. What he’ll ignore is that his walks are up, his strikeouts are down, and he’s allowing more contact that ever before.

Wilson’s ERA is almost exclusively a product of his minuscule .189 BABIP. Even if you believe he’s one of baseball’s oddities who can outperform BABIP expectations, that number is clearly unsustainable.

Of course, we’re talking about only three starts so far, so there’s not a whole lot we can infer from what Wilson’s done thus far in 2012. If you thought his strikeout and walk rates would be better than they are coming into the year, there’s little reason to divert from that opinion and tremble at the thought of BABIP regression.

The point isn’t that you should be looking to exploit a divergence between Wilson’s 2012 ERA and xFIP, but the potential bias of those who were expecting him to have a career year. He’s a perfect example of a player for whom expectations may have increased disproportionately compared to his projection.

If anything, the fresh evidence is slightly negative in regard to Wilson’s 2012 projection, albeit nearly meaningless. But the combination of a charged preseason debate and quality ERA could well lead to quick judgments on the part of his supporters.

You shouldn’t sell Wilson for less than you paid for him, but now is a great time to shop him around and see if you can get more.

Oliver’s pick: James Shields
So far: 3-2.76-1.09-20
Oliver RoS: 12-3.72-1.22-170
Oliver Yahoo value: $9
Oliver ESPN value: $10

Shields is another pitcher who had a career year in 2011 and is again off to a fast start to 2012. But after putting these performances in the context of his career, Oliver remains skeptical.

Although there were fewer who doubted Shields’ stock increase for the 2012 draft season than Wilson’s, that may have been a bit of an oversight. The reason is a confirmation bias of a different kind.

Shields posted a brutal 2010 ERA over a strong xFIP, so we expected to see his performance increase dramatically in 2011. When it did, there was little reason to call for scrutiny, even though there were some signs that he also wasn’t as good as he appeared on the surface.

While 2011 was a career year for Shields, he substantially outperformed his xFIP. Most of the actual improvement can be credited to career-best strikeout and swinging strike rates. Most of the illusory improvement can be credited to a .264 BABIP.

Rather than assuming Shields would simply replicate the improvements in strikeout rate, it’s worth asking whether this was the beginning of a new trend, or simply a small outlier and the high water mark of an otherwise good-not-great career.

The early returns for 2012 are not as promising as they might seem upon first glance. Although Shields has once again started with a bang in terms of ERA and allowing baserunners, his strikeouts and swinging strikes are both down not only below his 2011 rates, but his career rates as well.

The lesson that follows from Wilson follows here as well. We shouldn’t necessarily treat anything about Shields’ early performance as strong evidence, but we also shouldn’t ignore the strength of Shields’ 2011 season compared to his career scope. Oliver is particularly cognizant of this issue, hence the very modest projection.

If someone in your league is looking at Shields ace-like 2011 and strong ERA and WHIP to start the year and willing to part with a high value piece to acquire him, it would be wise to oblige that owner. Shields could well post ace-like numbers again, but the better bet is that he’s a second or third-tier starter who you may be able to sell for top-tier value.

Sell Low

If selling high is one of the most enjoyable acts of a fantasy baseball season, selling low is one of the most painful. Admitting sunk cost is difficult, but there is opportunity in these situations when the admission is managed. Many times other owners will pay above a player’s projected value out of a misguided instinct to buy low or on name value alone. Even if the return price is below the price you paid, it may still be well more than the price you’d earn in keeping a broken player on your roster, and that’s really all that matters.

We’ll wrap this edition up with a look at the struggles of a couple of former top prospects for whom a rebound may not be on the horizon.

My pick: Alex Gordon
So far: .177-5-5-2-0
Oliver RoS: .273-68-65-16-8
Oliver Yahoo value: $5
Oliver ESPN value: $10

The once top prospect turned post-hype sleeper success was not only overrated in this year’s drafts, but is off to about as a bad a start as a hitter can be.

The temptation to select Gordon in the late single-digit rounds of drafts was understandable. He was one of the few players to put up positive value in all five categories last year. That alone made him an incredibly valuable asset, even without the lingering third base eligibility. However, there were some big warning signs that hinted at regression.

First, his 2011 BABIP was .356, a career high by a very wide margin. His strikeout and walk rates didn’t see appreciable change, meaning it was always much more likely he’d hit closer to his career .259 mark than his 2011 mark of .303.

Second, he’s a pretty poor base-stealer. He’s discussed as 20-steal threat, but that number’s well above his career pace. Even worse, smart money is on his attempt rate decreasing. He was successful on steal attempts less than 70 percent of the time in 2011, and had just one successful steal in six attempts in 2010 as well.

The good news is that the 20-home run power is much closer to his career pace, even while he was struggling prior to 2011. A .270-20-10 projection isn’t unreasonable, and as long as he remains in the leadoff spot of a quietly respectable Royals’ lineup, you could add a solid run total to those numbers as well.

That brings us to to this year’s early struggles. Thus far, Gordon’s strikeouts and whiffs are both way up, at 28.2 percent and 11.0 percent, respectively, and his BABIP all the way down to .225. The latter will surely improve, but for the moment is supported buy an unsightly 33 percent infield fly ball rate, so it’s not all a product of luck

Like all small sample size results, most of this is not objectively meaningful, but that won’t prevent others from reading too much into them. In this case, the potential culprit is Royals manager Ned Yost.

With Lorenzo Cain on the mend, the Royals soon may have another option for the leadoff position. If Gordon loses his spot atop the lineup, he loses not only potential in runs, but possibly the green light on the basepaths as well. A move to fifth or sixth would add a few RBIs to his projected total, but not nearly enough to offset the difference.

Even if Gordon retains his leadoff position, its worth seeing if anyone in your league is still willing to buy into the five-category potential he’s not likely to replicate. If Yost loses patience and moves Gordon down in the order, be ready to quickly enter full-on sell mode.

Oliver’s pick: Matt Moore
So Far: 0-5.12-1.66-11
Oliver RoS: 9-4.52-1.43-176
Oliver Yahoo value: N/A
Oliver ESPN value: N/A

One of the most hyped pitching prospects to reach the majors this side of Stephen Strasburg, Moore is having difficulty with command in his early major league career. While the sample size is small, Oliver simply isn’t surprised.

If Moore had a blemish in the minors, it was command. After posting walk rates north of 10 percent in full seasons at both Low-A and Hi-A in 2009 and 2010, he seemed to correct the issue in 2011 with an above average walk rate in Double-A and nominal one in Triple-A.

Considering his video game-like minor league strikeout totals, most drafters were willing to look past the command problems of the past and pay a hefty price on Moore’s gaudy potential.

Right now, Oliver’s giving us all a big “I told you so.” The system sees Moore striking out plenty of batters, but also walking 87 over 169 more innings this year. Strikeouts are great, but it will be nearly impossible for Moore to post positive marks in ERA and WHIP with that many walks.

Oliver has a strong reputation for handling players with limited major league experience. Considering his pure natural ability and the Rays’ strong history of handling young pitchers, I’m more optimistic than Oliver that Moore can make the necessary adjustments as he goes. But those of us who weren’t expecting any growing pains are probably in the midst of a very real wake-up call.

If other owners in your league are still drooling over Moore’s potential, transfer the cost of these growing pains to them while you reward yourself with what should be a more valuable fantasy asset.

THT Forecasts

If you’re curious about the projections and dollar values provided, make sure to check out the THT Forecasts section. For $14.95, you get full access to the Oliver projections for thousands of major and minor leaguers, including six year Major League Equivalency forecasts on every player card. And best of all for us fantasy junkies, you get full access to THT’s Custom Fantasy Price Guides, which allows you to create your own price guide based on your league settings and play-style preferences using the Oliver projections, with projections and dollar values updated throughout the season.

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Comments

  1. Rogue said...

    I just got offered Santiago Casilla for Matt Moore in a 16 team league where I am desperate for saves, and saves are tough to come by in general in this league.  Is this still too low of a sell low?  Other owner also has Papelbon…should I reject and try for Paps instead (doubt owner would go for it) or just be “happy” with Casilla?

  2. Mark Himmelstein said...

    @Rogue

    If you go solely on the projections, you’d be winning that deal, but I wouldn’t be in a rush to make it.

    Moore has a history of starting slowly at different levels before piecing it together, and the Rays are one of the better organizations at coaxing improvements out of young pitchers. Oliver does see him struggling mightily, but also being a bit of an oddity as an extreme high-k, high-BB guy (more than guys like Jonathan Sanchez and Oliver Perez were at their respective bests), so my guess is something gives sooner or later, and more likely in the positive direction.

    On the other hand, Casilla is merely a good reliever, not a typical dominant closer, and his leash won’t be super long. Sergio Romo is the better real-life pitcher and will always be a threat (as long as he’s healthy).

    If you really need saves, I’d definitely see if you could get Papelbon, and if not I’d see what I could get elsewhere. If Moore continues to struggle, and Casilla converts a few clean saves, I might return to it, but at the moment there should be better value in trying to extract more for Moore even if you assume he doesn’t piece it together quickly.

    Don’t forget that even if we assume the closer collapse of 2012 is already over, that doesn’t mean there won’t be new positions opening up. A lot of teams are struggling to put the 9th inning together after losing their best relievers to injury, and sooner or later teams like the Padres, Astros, and Mets, who have somewhat expensive hired-gun closers plus cheaper options waiting in the wings, will look to exploit that market, creating a new crop of replacement closers.

  3. Snarfdtd said...

    What do you think of Colby Lewis? Could be a good Buy High.

    24Ks in 26 innings w/an ERA of 2.06.  Granted his LOB %is much higher (92.7%) than his career average (70%), but he’s not walking anyone either (0.34 BB/9).

    I think he can keep this up, and end up with around a 3.30 ERA and 180Ks.

  4. Mark Himmelstein said...

    @Snarfdtd

    I do like him as a buy high, Oliver likes him too, particularly in WHIP.

    I’d be somewhat careful what you pay to acquire though. He’s a very extreme fly ball pitcher (37% career ground ball rate, anemic 22.5% so far this year), which combined with his 11.4% career HR/FB is a serious concern pitching in Texas. He’ll have a higher ERA than other ~8 K/9, ~2.5 BB/9 pitchers, which limits his upside and creates some extra risk. 3.30 is very opstimistic for his ERA, even if it’s only slightly optimistic for his xFIP.

    I can see an off-beat 3.75-1.15-180 as a conservative ceiling. That’s a nice, if somewhat unusual, mid-range value. He’s basically an Ian Kennedy clone pitching in a much more difficult situation for his skillset.

  5. Mark Himmelstein said...

    @ecp

    Ahh, my bad. I saw he’d spent a few games out of the leadoff spot but wasn’t sure it was all recent. Still, hitting second isn’t much worse, and might even be better since it adds RBIs without sacrificing much in runs or steals.

    I do see he also hit fifth a couple times. That would be more problematic, mostly because of his low success rate in steals. You can get pretty close to .270-20 type value from an outfield spot by matching up a couple strong platoon guys in most standard mixed leagues, or even potentially luck into it with a savvy wire pickup.

  6. Rogue said...

    So Mark, basically you are advising to hold tight (given the Papelbon owner doesnt go for it) and expect some level of improvement from Moore, and hence some increase in his value, and also to wait and see how the SFG bullpen situation pans out.

    I’m just a little anxious because I’m rapidly digging a hole in the SVs cat, and I’m quite certain I’ll have no chance of finishing in the money if I take a 1 in any category.

  7. Mark Himmelstein said...

    @Rogue

    I understand, and I’m not saying hold tight, but I’d at least shop Moore around to see what else you can get first, or ask for value on a second piece if its Casilla you’re getting.

    I’m not sure Moore will improve enough to benefit his perceived value in the short-term—he’ll be better than he’s been, but not as good as he was expected to be based on how he was being drafted. It may take time for his stock to rise over where it is now though.

    Just remember it’s early. If you add a couple closers over the next 4-6 weeks, you’ll quickly get right back in the hunt in the category. Take a look at the various totals for the teams in your league in the category. There just haven’t been enough saves yet this year for you to be more than a handful behind the middle of the pack.

  8. Snarfdtd said...

    @ Mark

    Seems like Oliver has Lewis back at his 2010 numbers ~12 wins, 3.72 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 196Ks – That made him a top 25 pitcher. I don’t think the GB rate (nor his IFB rate) will stay as extreme as they are now. 

    If that walk rate is for real, or even half of his career norm, then we could very well see an ERA in 3.30 to 3.50 range.

    I’m sure his owners, who probably acquired him for < $5, will be very happy with that.

  9. Mark Himmelstein said...

    @Snarfdtd

    Definitely, he’s looking like a great bargain, but you can’t regress the ground ball rate without regressing the walk rate. So I’d expect around a 7% walk rate and 35% ground ball rate.

    His Oliver RoS is 11-3.83-1.19-165 in 181. That ranks him around 27th (if I counted right in the price guide) among starters, and around a $10 value. That’s very solid, a good third starter in 12-team mixed.

    I just don’t see sub 3.50 upside in ERA unless his walk rate is 5% or lower, which is a stretch. He’s going to give up a ton of fly balls, and a too many of those fly balls are going to leave the yard. Whatever his xFIP is, tack on about around 0.40-0.50 and that’ll be his ERA. Stick him in San Francisco, San Diego, or Seattle, and he’d have Top 10 SP potential. But not as long as he’s in Texas. He’s one of the few pitchers where the ballpark IS going to take a significant toll.

    There’s definitely upside in WHIP, Ks, and Ws though, and solid value even in his nominal projection. If I could get him for less than $10 in trade value, I’d be all over it.

  10. Kyle said...

    Player wants my Heyward, Daniel Hudson, hector Santiago for motte and James shields…should I bite on it or is Heyward finally for real

  11. Mark Himmelstein said...

    @Kyle

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/fantasy/article/traders-corner-week-zero/

    Heyward was my first by low before the season started, so I’m buying the hot start. I wouldn’t do that deal, would only even consider it if you’re absolutely desperate to find an immediate replacement for Hudson, but even then I’d try to work something else out or add someone from the wire.

    Two things to watch with Heyward—his GB% is way down, a great sign, but his Ks, SwStrike% and BABIP are all up a bit. The BABIP is going to drop, so unless the Ks do too there might be some AVG liability, but if he can keep the GB% down he could be in for a big power year. The steals are gravy, but he’s always had the ability to contribute there.

  12. Kyle said...

    @mark
    Thanks man, it’s a keeper league too so if Heyward is turning his career around that could have been a clutch 12th round pick….now he’s dangling Cain with ackely for Heyward kipnis but I cant downgrade 2b to ackely/ infante….and I’m not really looking to replace Hudson..already moved lincecum and still have Hanson, gio, nova, ubaldo, norris.  Need to move some of that for the e.r.a. sake

  13. ecp said...

    One more thing about Gordon:  Cain has had a setback in his rehab, so he won’t be leading off for the Royals any time soon either.

  14. Mark Himmelstein said...

    @ecp

    Yup, saw that this morning after the last comment on him. That may give him a bit more leash. He’s not necessarily a great sell as long as he’s hitting first or second and attepting steals, since the slow start has probably hurts his perceived value to the point where he’s no longer overvalued, but I’d still see if someone’s willing to buy him at cost.

    Don’t for get, this was a guy going essentially undrafted in standard leagues for the last few years, and beneath the surface not a whole lot changed. The difference was he played every day, hit leadoff, and had a career BABIP year.

    If he does ultimately settle in lower than 2nd or 3rd in the order, the point about looking to move him ASAP still stands. He just doesn’t carry enough value on his own if he’s not a plus in steals and runs.

    FWIW, I do own him in one league, but its a 10 team keeper league where he cost me just a 20th round pick. Even with the low cost, I’ll probably look to sell him off if he moves down in the order.

  15. Mark Himmelstein said...

    @Kyle

    Probably a fair deal. Others would probably tell you it’s a win and to take it but I’m high on Heyward and not so much on your other outfielders, while I’m a bit more okay with your SP and RP situations as is. I still might take it, but I might not. I’d at least think it over for a while, don’t blame you for having trouble deciding on it.

  16. Charles said...

    Drop Hector Santiago for Reed or Thornton or Ogando? 10 team mixed have Motte, Frank Francisco, Casilla and Streetbas my other relievers

  17. Kyle said...

    @ Charles
    I’m in a highly competitive 12 team rotisserie. Ogando is the only one left available out of all those…I need the possible saves with Santiago, even though he just got tattooed

  18. Mark Himmelstein said...

    And boom goes the dynamite on Montero’s Yahoo! catcher eligibility. He’s also gone 5 for his last 10, raising his average to .281.

  19. Mark Himmelstein said...

    @Charles

    Only one I’d consider it for is Reed, though I think Thornton is second in line for saves, Reed should be in the mix and has been more dominant so far and has an awesome minor league track record. Otherwise I’d look for an upside SP.

    @Kyle

    FWIW, Ventura endorsed Santiago as the closer after the save, and he’s actually pitched okay, just has an absurd 30% HR/FB. That’ll come down. His xFIP before today is 2.68 and shouldn’t be hurt by today’s outing, which was a strikeout, homer, and a few weak singles. Plenty of strikeouts and whiffs so far though and not walking anyone, so if Ventura stays patient, doing so should also pay off for fantasy owners as well.

  20. Kyle said...

    @mark
    Now the offer has moved to Heyward/ Hudson for Cain/ motte. I still have granderson, kubel, bourn in the outfield and can hopefully get trumbo off waivers. My bullpen would end up kimbrel, motte, Santiago, chapman, aceves.  I’m usually real decisive with my teams but this one is giving me problems

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