A frequent critique you hear when producing a “Buying” and “Selling” piece concerns the difference between when its time to “Buy Low” and when “Buying Low” simply means you’re inheriting someone else’s problems. The most simple critique exists because many writers go by the most simple format: a buy low is a struggling hitter, a sell high is a hitter succeeding above previous expectation. Many apply logic simply, rinse, and repeat. I do not.
I try to never look at players with “blanket” logic. To me every single situation is individual, so every situation needs to be looked at individually. Everyone has their own methodology to determine a player’s ability, which ranges from the use of metrics to the watching of film. For me it is all about establishing a scouting report.
What that scouting report might entail fluctuates from player to player, but the point is that my goal is to try and determine what makes each player successful and what has the potential to make any player fail. I believe if I can establish these factors at the very least I will be able to know when it is time to, as we are about to get into, change my tune.
Changing Tune (Kinda)
Before I got into tracking pitch specifics, I always liked Soler as a potential breakout bat, who had flashed talent at a young age for the Cubs in the past. Theo Epstein always spoke incredibly highly of him, even after the Wade Davis trade. My Sell High argument still holds a large amount of weight: his career numbers against breaking balls are dreadful. He has started to show specific improvements in those areas however over the last couple weeks. They aren’t substantial enough or a large enough sample for me to start believing, so I’d still sell Jorge Soler, but I’m closely tracking, and am more willing to hold on and hope for the breakout than I was previously.
Key statistic: Prior to 2018, Soler has had a .280 career SLG v. Sliders and a .292 career SLG v. Curveballs
Buying and Selling After Week 6, 2018
There’s a lot to like here about Adams, his situation, and his potential future as a member of the Washington Nationals. We saw him hit successfully at the end of 2017 with the Braves, and if it wasn’t for the stacked CI position both throughout the league and on the Nationals, probably would’ve gotten more consideration as a fantasy sleeper. The thing I like the most about Adams is that the route to playing time isn’t that hard, particularly as a strong side platoon bat. There’s no reason that the Nationals should fight having Matt Adams play over Ryan Zimmerman, particularly v. RHP, and that’s the only guy he has to beat out to be relevant. And that’s not even considering Outfield playing time. I don’t know how good he actually is, so I’m not going to fully “buy high,” or give up a pretty strong piece for Matt Adams, but I’m buying into the combination of upside/risk that I believe Adams currently has.
Key statistic: Despite getting a day of rest today, Adams has 9 straight starts.
There’s a few guys you just have to file on the “I’m not giving up” category every year. I’m not saying that I’ll be sticking to that if circumstances haven’t changed by July, but right now it is still May 11th, and I believe Ian Kinsler has enough in the tank to be a solid five-category contributor hitting in front of Trout and a reigning AL-Silver Slugger in Justin Upton.
Mancini hasn’t played that bad, and recently broke his HR-less streak. Despite this, he’s been dropped in just over 8% of leagues, making him one of the more-dropped players in ESPN leagues. Mancini doesn’t do a lot that screams “fantasy spectacular” but I believe strongly in his ability to his for a solid average, as well as collect Runs despite his line-up hitting at the top. The power is a bit trickier, but in the modern baseball environment you don’t have to be the best power hitter to hit 25. I was a fan of Mancini‘s profile in the preseason, and the lead-off spot would have been a nice cherry on top to push him up my rankings in the preseason.
Michael Conforto (particularly in long-term)
I was low on Conforto coming into the season, but that was mostly relative to price with his combination of returning from a shoulder injury and having a history of struggling with Lefties. While Conforto still has plenty of issues, he’s a highly talented hitter with a lot of upside. In redraft, I’d be more willing to buy off the Wire than through trade, but in long-term formats, especially if I were looking for some buy-lows for rebuilds, Michael Conforto still has long term-upside to me.
This one is a pretty strong stance from me. Franco‘s off to a hot start and with his past performances and prospect pedigree, many will believe. I still do not. The problems in his game are still very much prevalent in his 2018 returns. His LD% is low. His Pull% is higher than his career normal, which was already very high to begin with. His Hard Contact% via Fangraphs is actually lower than both league and his own career average. Franco doesn’t use the opposite field, doesn’t hit the ball particularly hard, and doesn’t have a particularly good angle. I have not been and still am not interested in Maikel Franco.
Jackie Bradley Jr.
He’s a good defensive piece, but the Boston Red Sox have a ton of players and a ton of flexibility and he’s just not cutting it right now. If he was confirmed to stay on the field, I would be more willing to buy into a bounce back. As is, Bradley Jr. is slipping off my radar.
A player that really shouldn’t have ever returned to Colorado, CarGo is being pushed out by much younger and much more talented (respecting that Gonzalez was at one point a much different player) hitters. Between his history of injuries and no longer having a guaranteed spot on the team, I’m going to stick with the younger/talented Dahl and other potential fill-ins for the Rockies over the former Rockies star Carlos Gonzalez.
Christian Villanueva (see “Struggling Third Baseman” below)
Final Hitter Notes
Check on Delino Deshields Jr.
Delino Deshields isn’t exactly a household name, but he’s a player who was gaining quite a bit of steam before an injury derailed his early season. Delino is back now, and while he’s probably owned in the vast majority of reader’s leagues, he is still available statistically in 50% of leagues, and as a potential stolen base threat, Delino Deshields deserves to be owned even in 10-Team Mixed Roto formats.
Still Shopping Around on the Young Guns
It is an unpopular opinion because you want to have them on your team so much, but young prospect players off to hot starts, particularly Gleyber Torres and Ronald Acuna in this case, often find their hot starts cooling just a bit. That doesn’t meant that I don’t believe they can be strong assets or even top 50 players, but personally when a variable stock shoots up as high as Torres and Acuna might for some owners, I think you have to cash in the chips. That said, make sure they pay you to enjoy the ride, because as a fantasy owner it would be a lot of fun to enjoy the ride.
Struggling Third Baseman
Two third baseman that got off to incredibly hot starts, Oakland’s Matt Chapman and San Diego’s Christian Villanueva, have since cooled off considerably. Each of these hitters seems to have a particular weakness when it comes to specific pitch variants, and if they adjust or how well they adjust will most likely determine their future both for this year and the future.
Firstly, I like Chapman the most out of the two, and that’s just with the bat, not even factoring in that Chapman‘s situation both as a piece of the organization’s future and as a strong defender will help him continue to get PAs. But, Chapman struggles mightily against heat, particularly of the 4-Seam variety. Chapman has struck out on 54 of his 136 ABs against 4-Seamers in his career, and has Popped-Up on 20% of the balls he put in play according to Brooksbaseball. 4-Seam Fastballs, baseball most common pitch, generate free outs on 50% of PAs for Chapman to this point in his career. I think Chapman can turn it around and the sample on him isn’t as large, so perhaps he just needs to speed up the game a tad, but this is undeniably concerning.
Villanueva has essentially the opposite problem. He does not struggle against 4-Seamers as much as Chapman does, but when it comes to breaking balls Villanueva is almost completely lost. Even this year, when Villanueva has had a good amount of success as a hitter, he has managed to have a poor .133/.200 BA and SLG against Sliders, and a similarly miserable .177/.235 BA/SLG against Curveballs. This was my concern with Villanueva stretching back to the first time he was mentioned as a Sell High, and I think his problems are undoubtedly being manipulated by pitchers and causing him to have this icicle-cold streak.
Until next week…
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday May 6th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #119 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 discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is Kyle Klinker. Kyle has been an owner in MLFS baseball, and basketball leagues for over 5 years. He also has a couple of championships under his belt over that span in some tough leagues. We loving refer to him as “The Red Rocket.”