Top 9 Fantasy Baseball Buy Low/Sell High Players
When perfected, trading in Fantasy Sports is a true art. In my illustrious fantasy sports career I have racked up over a dozen championships and taken a lot of money from my competing (and bitter) friends. I have enjoyed much of this success through countless hours of research, good drafting, scouting the waiver wire for the next hidden gem, and probably most importantly, pulling off great trades. One of my favorite strategies to use when wheeling and dealing is the extremely simple concept of Buying Low & Selling High. When looking to add talent to my squad, I always try to target underachieving stars who are off to slow starts whom I’m confident will turn their season around. When it comes to selling, I look to deal overachieving players who are bound to see a dip in their stats and I always try to move them at their highest peak in value. I’m also a big believer in quality over quantity. I always make sure to have plenty of depth on my teams and love packaging multiple middle-of-the-road players for one or two big name studs. Using these basic strategies can help you dominate your league and become a Fantasy Guru in no time. Without further adieu, here are my Top 9 Buy Low & Sell High Candidates for the 2012 Fantasy Baseball season.
Top 9 Buy Low Candidates
1. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B/OF – BOS
- After having a monster season last year with the Sawx, hitting .338 with 27 HRs and 117 RBIs, Gonzo has gotten of to an inexplicably slow start this year. He’s currently hitting just .267 with just 5 HRs and 35 RBIs, on pace for career lows in each category. His walk rate is down, which is a bit concerning, but I wouldn’t be too worried about Adrian. I think he will return to his old self very soon, so trade for him now before it’s too late.
2. Justin Upton, OF – ARI
- Along with Gonzo, Upton has been one of the most disappointing players this year in Fantasy. Both players were 1st round draft picks in most leagues but have been playing like 10th round picks. Upton is hitting just .245 with 5 HRs and 22 RBIs. Luckily he’s still managing to steal a decent number of bases with 8 on the year so far, but has greatly underachieved in every other category. Upton is simply too talented to continue to struggle like this. We need to remember he’s only 24 years old and young players often go through some slumps early on in their careers, so I wouldn’t be worried at all about this top tier slugger.
3. Adam Wainwright, SP – STL
- Coming off major surgery after missing the entire 2011 season, Wainwright has been a rollercoaster of a pitcher thus far. He has showed us all flashes of brilliance while at the same time giving us all reminders of just how hard it is to come back from Tommy John surgery. Judging by the recent examples of pitchers who have successfully returned from Tommy John surgery, (Chris Carpenter, Jordan Zimmerman, CJ Wilson, and Stephen Strausburg to name a few), there is great reason to have optimism for the rest of Wainwright’s season.
4. Eric Hosmer, 1B – KC
- Entering this season, Hosmer was a highly touted prospect looking to capitalize on his first full season in the Bigs. Amid all the hype, he got off to just about to worst possible start imaginable. In early May he sported a .172 batting average, well below the Mendoza Line, with only 5 round-trippers to go along with it. After being dropped to 8th in the lineup, Hosmer finally started to turn things around. He’s upped his average a full 60-points since he hit rock bottom and is showing everyone why he was regarded as a Top 10 Fantasy 1B going into the year. Look for Hosmer to continue improving on his current numbers and finally live up to all the hype.
5. Josh Johnson, SP – MIA
- Just like Adam Wainwright, Josh Johnson has endured some bumps and bruises as he returns from Tommy John surgery. Just as with Wainwright, I wouldn’t be too concerned with Johnson’s mediocre start to the year. JJ has some of the nastiest stuff in the game and is a flat out dominant pitcher when healthy, capable of racking up a plethora of Ks. Johnson hasn’t given up more then 3 ERs in his last 7 starts, winning 5 games. It might already be too late to buy-low on Johnson but if his owner is willing to deal him, pounce on him immediately.
6. Ian Kennedy, SP – ARI
- Once regarded as a dead prospect in the Yankees farm system, Ian Kennedy busted onto the scene last year winning 21 games for the Diamondbacks, sporting a 2.88 ERA to go along with 198 Ks and a 1.09 WHIP. Unlike Josh Johnson, Kennedy was actually pitching better earlier in the year and has been struggling of late, seeing his ERA balloon up to 4.32. His strikeout numbers are still right in line with last season and I believe he will right the ship very soon. Now is the best time to trade for the young Kennedy.
7. Carlos Santana, C/1B – CLE
- Last season superstar prospect Carlos Santana emerged as one of the premier catchers in the game, belting 27 HRs and knocking in 79 runs. The downside to Santana is he’s a career .240 hitter so don’t look to him to raise your teams batting average. However, he’s still a great buy low option. He’s only hit 5 long balls so far this year so look for his power numbers to spike soon. Make sure you make a deal for him before he goes on a home run hitting spree, not after the fact.
8. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS – CLE
- Similar to his Indians teammate mentioned above, Asdrubal Cabrera has struggled to produce the same power numbers he flashed last year. In 2011 he hit 25 HRs, 92 RBIs, to go along with 17 SBs. This year he’s hitting a very respectable .290 but with only 5 HRs, 25 RBIs, and 2 SBs. Aside from a slight tick upward in batting average, I think Cabrera will improve on all of his current numbers. He’s one of the best offensive shortstops in the game.
9. Emilio Bonifacio, 3B/SS/OF – MIA
- Bonifacio is the first player to make my Buy Low list who is currently injured. He’s been out since May 19th with a sprained left thumb, which required minor surgery. Prior to getting hurt, Bonifacio was the best base stealer in the league by a long shot. He had swiped 20 bases and that was while struggling to hit for most of the year. Last season he batted .296 and stole 40 bases. In the month of July, his expected date of return, Bonifacio hit .380 and had 16 SBs last season. This year, not only does he have the luxury of hitting in between Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, he also has a new manager Ozzie Guillen, who loves to let his speedsters swipe as many bases as they please. As soon as Bonifacio returns from injury right after the All-Star break, count on him to carry your team to SB victories week after week. If you can afford to wait a little, make the move for him now. Remember, patience is a virtue.
Top 9 Sell High Candidates
1. Chris Capuano, SP – LAD
- Only two times in Chris Capuano’s long career has he had seasons where he finished with a sub-4 ERA (3.99 in ’05 and 3.95 in ’10). This year Capuano’s been lights out winning 8 games for the Dodgers to go along with a 2.87 ERA. After posting a 2.73 ERA in April followed by a dominant 1.62 ERA in May, he’s showing us why he’s the same old Cap in June with a 5.87 ERA on the month. The time to sell high on Cap is NOW before other managers in your league catch on to his inevitable demise.
2. Derek Jeter, SS – NYY
- The time to sell high on Derek Jeter was about a month ago when he was hitting around .400. Since then Jeter’s come back down to Earth, batting .255 in his last 30 games. He still posts solid numbers on the season with a .320 average, but I cannot see the soon to be 38 year old Jeter maintaining this pace. It pains me to say this as a die-hard Yankee fan and having Jeter as my idol since I was 4 years old, but he is well past his prime and is merely just a big time name with small time fantasy production.
3. Jason Hammel, SP – BAL
- Hammel has been a pleasant surprise for many fantasy owners this season, sporting a 3.22 ERA while racking up 6 wins and 69 Ks in 72.2 IP. But don’t look for these numbers to continue. Hammel is the classic case of an early season overachiever, someone who is bound to see his numbers slip as the season progresses. I really don’t know how many more quality starts you will get out of this pitcher who has a career 4.83 ERA so I would get him off your team as soon as humanly possible. If you can get 70 cents on the dollar, take it with a smile on your face.
4. Jim Johnson, RP – BAL
- Not trying to pick on Orioles pitchers here, but I’ve never been a fan of paying for saves. Johnson has been arguably the best closer in the MLB so far this year with 19 saves and a 1.26 ERA. Just like Hammel and the Orioles as a team have overachieved to this point, their closer has too. I cannot see him eclipsing 40 saves this season or keeping a sub-3 ERA, so if you can land a good starting pitcher in return, take the deal and find a replacement closer on the waiver wire.
5. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/3B/DH – TOR
- Over the course of his 8-year big league career, Encarnacion has averaged 16.8 HRs and 54 RBIs. He’s only had two seasons in which he eclipsed 20 dingers (26 in ’08 and 21 in ’10). This year he’s already basically matched his 2011 season totals with 17 long balls and 44 RBIs. He’s having his breakout season at 29 years old and on pace for career highs in every stat imaginable. Could he be another case of a late bloomer like teammate Jose Bautista? Quite possibly, but I’m not buying it. It’s simply inconceivable that he continues to post such ridiculous numbers. Sell now while his value is at its highest point.
6. Joe Mauer, C – MIN
- Mauer is a bit of a stretch for this list because he hasn’t really been producing all that much aside from hitting .300. The only category he can actually help your team in is batting average. But Mr. Head and Shoulders Super Model is one of the biggest name catchers in baseball and I can almost guarantee someone in your league will be willing to overpay for his big name, overlooking his paltry 3 homeruns.
7. Carlos Ruiz, C – PHI
- Another catcher makes the list, except this catcher is absolutely tearing it up right now. Ruiz is leading all catchers in batting average hitting .361 with 8 HRs and 34 RBIs. The Phillies lineup is so pathetic and injury-depleted they have “Chooch” batting cleanup. Ruiz has only had one season where he hit over .300 in 2010, so I don’t expect his current batting average to sustain throughout the year. He is also already one shy of his career high home run total and 19 RBIs away, through only 56 games this year. Unless Ruiz is magically finding his inner Johnny Bench at age 33, don’t expect him to maintain this torrid pace and sell, sell, sell.
8. Matt Joyce, OF – TB
- Joyce seems to toy with us every season. He gets off to torrid starts only to fizzle out after the All-Star break. Last year, he went from hitting close to .300 up until July to .255 after All-Star Weekend. I’m a believer in history repeating itself and think Joyce’s stats will once again fall in due time.
9. Chris Sale, SP – CWS
- Sale has been arguably the most dominant pitcher in all of baseball so far this season. I do not doubt the kid’s talent for a second nor do I doubt his ability to maintain great numbers throughout the rest of the year. What scares me is the innings limit on him this season, which is set at around 170. Barring injury, he will most likely reach this limit sometime in mid-August, right when your squad is gearing up for the playoffs. If you wait too long to deal him, his innings cap will become public knowledge to everyone in your league and when you try to trade him, you will get nothing in return. His value could not be higher right now and if you can get a top-flight pitcher or big bat in return, I’d do it in a heartbeat.