In my previous article, I briefly mentioned a common condition that typically inflicts Fantasy Owners sometime between the last few weeks of March and the first week of April, PDD; Post Draft Depression. However, in last week’s article, I failed to mention the simple cure for PDD: as much baseball as you can possibly handle. Writing this piece midday Friday, baseball fans and Fantasy owners now have over a Week’s worth of games to thumb through and try to find any sources of value that could potentially set them apart from their league mates.
As ordered from up-on-high, this article is intended by MLFS to be a Buy-Low, Sell-High type of article, specifically focusing on Hitters. While this article will undoubtedly include that, as the first article of many like this for the Regular Season, it is important for me to wax a bit philosophically about these types of buying and selling maneuvers.
The Miner’s Code: #002
(Hey! Why not give it thematic title with the name and all?)
Most fantasy analysts look firmly towards Buying Low and Selling High as a means to generate fantasy success. And this is obviously, if successfully handled, one of the greatest profit opportunities involved in fantasy.
But what about Buying HIGH and Selling LOW?
The less discussed cousins of Buy Low and Sell High, the Buy High / Sell Low method, while maybe not as typical of a strategy, is a counter-strategy that I believe is a necessary tool for a Fantasy Owner. The reason Buy Low, Sell High works is that the majority of player’s careers work as relatively consistent ebbs and flows. A player– especially an established player– who is struggling is likely to turn it around. But not every stock rebounds, and not every stock returns to its former perceived normal. As I said on an MLFS radio show earlier during the Off-Season, some stocks are Blockbuster. That isn’t to say that if you’re paying pennies they aren’t worth a try just to see if you can catch magic in a bottle, but sometimes a failing player becomes a failed player, and a hot player becomes a really good baseball player. Don’t avoid that angle just because it is the less traditional method.
To build that into relevant trade strategy, I mentioned it as a “counter-strategy” above, and in that sense I do believe that it can be used to counter the savviness of owners who believe in a more traditional Buy Low/Sell High method. Take an anecdote for instance: during Verlander’s last year on the Tigers (where he was snubbed of a Cy Young,) I traded for Verlander not before, but during his hot streak. The owner saw Verlander succeeding and had one thought: “Let me get rid of this stock while it’s high and while I can.” I had a different though: “The owner of Verlander is probably trying to sell him off of this, and I think the stock goes even higher.”
I’m sure if I tried I could remember situations where I made a similar move and bought some hot air, but my point here ultimately is that, when we discuss “Buy Low / Sell High,” the High/Low is obviously in reference to a trend in their value, but what’s really important for profit is not the trend in the value compared to where you expect the value to go, but rather how much you’re paying against what you’re getting back. Ultimately, if you’re starting to believe that Patrick Corbin (to cheat and throw out a pitcher) is going to take that next step like I am, you may want to see if the Owner is trying to dish him out like a Hot Potato.
Buying and Selling After Week 1, 2018
(One last quick note, the biggest problem with specifically Buy Lows is determining how likely owners are to panic throughout a variety of league types. Because of this, I’m determining trends in value directly from trends in Ownership%.)
Buying Low: Kevin Kiermaier, Justin Bour, Ryon Healy, Kendrys Morales, Logan Morrison
Kiermaier is the closest thing to a highly ranked player on this list. While Kiermaier has struggled early on, he’s a hitter who’s had relatively consistent success now for a number of years, and on top of that, his fantasy value actually derives primarily from his speed, which I’m not too concerned about provided he stays healthy. Bour was another tout of mine from the preseason who is off to a bit of a slow start. However, I still believe in the talent, and haven’t found any real reason to be concerned yet.
Healy/Morales/Morrison all represent players who are struggling and probably weren’t drafted too high, but all three I still believe have a fair chance to return value, and all three could find themselves even on the Waiver Wire in the midst of Cold Streaks. Healy and Morrison have gotten consistent playing time for their teams this year, which would be the one thing that would scare me off. And while Morales hasn’t gotten the Playing Time, that’s the result of Donaldson’s injury forcing him to DH. I don’t expect that to continue and the Jays probably need to get Morales’ bat in the Line-Up, so I’m definitely willing to buy low on a player who could potentially be had for cheap as a DH-only who is not getting Playing Time early on in the season.
Buying High: Jose Martinez, Joe Panik, Zack Cozart, Mitch Haniger
Obviously “High” value point being relative, I’m probably not willing to break the bank for any of these hitters, save maybe Jose Martinez, but these are hitters who are all off to hot starts with sustainable potential. Jose Martinez was not supposed to be the everyday First Baseman for the Cardinals, but they’ve made it very clear that he is. Carpenter hasn’t played the position yet this season. This could legitimately be the next JD Martinez, which only sounds like a cheap comparison because of name similarities. Joe Panik’s HR binge probably won’t continue, but this is a very talented contact hitter with a virtually 1:1 BB:K rate throughout most of his MLB career, and he’s been batting Lead-Off or 2nd for the Giants all year. Panik doesn’t have Jose Ramirez’s speed, but realistically Panik could be a similar .300-.310 hitter, and in the current MLB climate we will see if Panik, who did hit 10 HRs in 573 PAs last year, can threaten 15-20 if he can stay healthy and get closer to 700+ PAs.
I’m not exactly sure what the asking price would be for Zack Cozart right now, but Cozart was a player I had ranked highly in my Pre-Season rankings and, with the injury to Ian Kinsler, has found himself as the Angels Lead-Off hitter on an everyday basis. Kinsler won’t take too long to return, but Cozart is following up his breakout 2017 with success, and I could see him taking the Lead-Off job from Kinsler. Another short time injury benefactor, what I’ve liked about Haniger is just the fact that the Mariners essentially slotted him right in the Clean-Up spot and said “It’s you.” The Mariners slipping him in the shoes of a 40+ HR hitter for three straight years should not be taken lightly. While Haniger won’t keep that spot with Cruz’s return, the Mariner’s line-up is stacked and I think the confidence speaks louder than the performance thus far from Mitch Haniger.
Selling High: Matt Davidson, Preston Tucker
This was the toughest segment for me to fill and I do think the criteria is the hardest early in the season. I need to find players who are having a TON of success, who weren’t expected to really have success, and who I also don’t expect to be very good. The two names I came up with were Davidson of the White Sox and Tucker of the Braves, and the latter is a player I could even like quite a bit in different circumstances. In terms of Davidson, this is a true league-specific Sell-High. I’m not going to just sell Davidson for literally anything I can get; Davidson was a former top 100 Prospect and someone who has had talent in the past. But, if I am in a league where someone is willing to view Matt Davidson as being in a similar situation to, say, Jose Martinez who is also having a hot start, I’d be trying to move Davidson to that owner.
In terms of Tucker, this has more to do with Playing Time Displacement with the inevitable call-up of Ronald Acuna. I expect Ender Inciarte, who has been the Braves everyday Lead-Off hitter and is a Gold Glove caliber defender in Center, to retain his everyday role and Acuna is certainly a player we don’t expect to sit much. That leaves ultimately one spot between Nick Markakis and Tucker. While Markakis may not seem like as much of a roadblock, Markakis has probably an underrated legacy with 2000 Hits already, and he will be a hard person to displace from the line-up on a regular basis. Even if Tucker gets more time, if he and Markakis are splitting one spot it will not be enough time.
Selling Low: Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco
(AKA: ABANDON SHIP!)
Two Phillies that are getting less playing time than we expected coming into 2018, Herrera and Franco are two potential bounceback candidates who, frankly, aren’t worth the roster spot if they aren’t even getting the opportunity to bounceback. Aaron Altherr so far has gotten more playing time than Odubel Herrera, Scott Kingery seems to play 3B about as much as any position with 2B blocked by an everyday Cesar Hernandez, and you still have Kingery moving to the Outfield, JP Crawford, and other outfielders like Nick Williams to consider as well. The Phillies pieces worth owning are the ones who are playing: Hernandez, Santana, Hoskins, Kingery. Out of the rest, I think any player, if you really believe in the talent, is worth buying to see if they can swallow up a bigger part of the role. The problem is I don’t really love the talent in Franco and Odubel, or at the least I don’t see them playing so well that they banish players like Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr entirely, and so to me this looks like something that will stay a sloppy platoon mess for the time being.
Final Hitter Notes
Last week I made a big deal about Brandon Nimmo even after his first game, and then he managed to miss out on about 40% of his playing time opportunity by getting the flu. So what to do now?
I’m doubling down on Brandon Nimmo.
Look– this is not for beggars, i.e. anyone who needs immediate production or can’t afford a bench spot. But I really believe the Mets are going to wise up on this one. If Brandon Nimmo were a good glove in Center, I think it would be easy, but he is more naturally a Corner Outfielder. I think he’s going to be better than Michael Conforto (defensively), and more than just being better than Conforto, if he replaces Conforto in Centerfield and Conforto shifts over to Right Field, the overall defensive quality of a Cespedes–Nimmo–Conforto outfield seems far superior to me than a Cespedes–Conforto–Bruce outfield. And while this seems like we are displacing Jay Bruce, the player we’re really displacing here is Adrian Gonzalez, and having Bruce shift to First Base. Gonzalez is a veteran but hasn’t even been on the team long, he represents a skill-set that is, essentially, a lighter version of both Bruce and Conforto, and the investment on behalf the Mets is minimal. I also like the line-up a lot better with Nimmo, who had a .379 OBP in 2017 (215 PAs) and 3 BBs in 13 PAs (23+%) thus far in 2018.
You can’t play him now, but if you can afford the bench spot, I personally believe Brandon Nimmo is the Lead-Off hitter for the Mets before the ASG. (And now, for his inevitable untimely demotion).
Also Jose Pirela, owned in just 7.2% of leagues, is worth a look in even 12-Team Mixed formats. He’s been solidified as an everyday player in San Diego, and while he has moved around the batting order has only hit 1st, 2nd, and 4th thus far in the season. Pirela has all kinds of shades of Mitch Haniger (the not-prospect prospect), with 23 HRs and 12 SBs between AAA and the MLB as a 27 Year-Old, including 10 HRs and 4 SBs in about a half a season last year. San Diego’s line-up may not be good, but a premium line-up position will continuously give Pirela opportunities, and right now he seems like a pretty safe bet to be a 20/10 player.
And if you’re adding this week, Pirela gets to travel to Colorado for his first series of the week.
Speaking of players who may be good adds for the week, the Cincinnati Reds play all 7 Days this week and split time between Citizens Bank park and their own Great American Launchpad. They are likely to face at least Aaron Nola this week, but will avoid Arrieta, so long as he makes his Scheduled Sunday Start. I’d start my Reds where applicable.
This week’s article was a bit of a doozy. Next week’s will be a lot shorter as I’ll be able to just build off of some of the established concepts here. Keep an eye out for my independently released Week 1 Fantasy Baseball Review, which should be coming out soon. Until next week!
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday April 5th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #112 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week Bilal Chaudry. Bilal is a long time veteran of Major League Fantasy Sports Leagues. He is the defending MLFBC champion, has also done some commissioner work, and is a frequent radio guest.