Fantasy Baseball 2014: Buy And Sell Candidates
Fantasy baseball and the stock market.
The two are one and the same.
Finding players at their peak, and selling them for profit. Or, finding players who are playing far worse than they should be and grabbing them at a discounted price. And who said playing fantasy sports can’t help you in real life?
So, with the fantasy baseball season nearly three weeks in the books, fantasy owners have a bit of a larger sample size of which players are legit and which aren’t. You cannot expect to win your league without trying to buy and sell players, so always look to contact your league mates.
Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates - Fantasy baseball players are so infatuated with the big numbers. Home runs, steals, you name it. They look at those numbers and often make a quick judgment regarding that certain player. If you do that with the likes of Andrew McCutchen, just stop it. McCutchen launched his first home run of the season on Thursday night, and is now batting just .262 with one home run and eight RBI on the year. However, if you look deeper into the stats, you will realize that Cutch has been doing the little things. For instance, his 12 walks ranks second in the National League, which is boosting his .378 OBP. And as a result, he’s swiped three bags. If a guy like McCutchen continues to walk and get on base this much, he’ll easily steal 20 bases. It may be hard to acquire a top-five fantasy player, but I’ve gotten questions regarding McCutchen, so impatient owners could very well be panicking.
Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians - Kipnis is one of the best second baseman in fantasy, sure. But owners have to remember that he is streaky, and showcases his cold streaks in the beginning of the year. For his career, Kipnis is batting a lowly .225 with 51 strikeouts during the months of March and April, his lowest average during any month (s) of his career. So far this year, he is batting just .212 with two home runs and seven RBI, but like McCutchen, Kipnis is still at least getting on base, posting 11 walks, the seventh-most in the American League. He is going to heat up in May and June, sporting batting averages of .279 and .338 during those months, and he has these stretches where he is one of the most productive players in all of fantasy. His plate discipline is fine, too, sporting the lowest chase percentage of his career (20.6). This is still a 20/20 guy in my book.
Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds - One of the biggest buy-low candidates in fantasy, Bailey has had a very unfortunate start to the 2014 season. He has an ERA over eight with a 2.02 WHIP and 17 strikeouts in three starts, but believe me, he is not this bad. Last season, Bailey won 11 games and was one strikeout shy away from 200 K’s. His K/9 was a strong 8.57, and at age 27, he continues to show growth, improving on his strikeout-to-walk ratio in every season in the majors, as well as increasing his strikeout rate in each of the last five years. Meanwhile, his ground ball rate has gone up in each of the last two seasons, so what’s not to like about a guy who normally keeps the ball on the ground and whiffs batters? Sure, he’s already surrendered six home runs, but the guy is barely allowing a HR/9 for his career, while sporting a fly-ball percentage of 35.5, compared to a ground ball percentage of 43.7. He’s still a top-25 starting pitcher, so use this slow start to your advantage.
Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds - Look, Johnny Cueto has always been good. The only time he can’t be good is when he can’t get on the mound, as he dealt with lingering lat issues last season, which hindered him to just 11 starts last year. If you couldn’t land him at a discount on draft day, look to acquire him now, even if you have to pay up due to his terrific start. Cueto is coming off the best outing of his career, tossing a complete game shutout with a career-high 12 strikeouts. His 35 k’s rank 1st in the National League, as well as his 30 innings pitched in three starts. It’s good to see Cueto going so far into games after coming off an injury-plagued season. His ERA is under 1.75, and while that won’t be sustainable, I would not at all be shocked if Cueto finished the season as a top-12 fantasy arm. The guy plays in homer-friendly Cincy, but doesn’t give up a ton of home runs, and is actually better in Great American Ballpark than he is on the road over the last three seasons, sporting a 2.16 ERA and .218 opposing BA at home, compared to 2.98 ERA and .248 opposing BA on the road. Meanwhile, the Reds offense is finally starting to get it together, which can only help him. And if he has a bad start in his next outing, all the more reason to try to grab him off someone’s hands.
Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies - I am a Phillies fan, and trust me, I love Utley. He’s been one of the best second basemen in fantasy on a per-game basis over the years, and is off to a scorching start this year, sporting the highest batting average (.462), OBP (.517) and slugging percentage (.769) in the National League. Now, these numbers are obviously not sustainable, and he will come back down, but I wouldn’t sell him because of his skill, He’s still a very good hitter, but a 35-year old middle infielder that hasn’t played more than 131 games since 2009 doesn’t provide a ton of assurance for fantasy owners.
Other notable sell-high candidates: Alexei Ramirez, Dee Gordon, Masahiro Tanaka (to an extent).
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