Fred Zinkie

Trading Tips

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Trading Tips: June 10

Sunday, June 10, 2018


This week’s 10-pack is largely bereft of star-caliber players. However, there some smaller deals sitting out there for those who are willing to make extremely low acquisitions on the likes of Adam Duvall, Jon Gray and Byron Buxton. Further, owners who have the guts to sell high on short-term studs such as Javier Baez and Michael Wacha could make the type of bold moves that pave the way to a championship run.
 

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Buy Low
 
Adam Duvall, Outfielder (Reds): Many Duvall owners have likely grown tired of his low batting average (.184) and are willing to deal him a way at an extremely low cost. However, the 29-year-old remains a 30-homer candidate who should own his typical .240’s batting mark. Duvall has been plagued by a .206 BABIP this season, despite logging a career-high 40.4 percent hard-contact rate and a typically strong fly-ball rate of 47.8 percent. Additionally, his in-season 0.34 BB:K ratio represents a personal best. With a little better luck on base knocks, he could soon be everything owners thought him to be on draft day.
 
Alex Wood, Starter (Dodgers): In short, Wood is pitching much better than is indicated by his 4.48 ERA. The left-hander has posted a stellar 4.6 K:BB ratio, but his efforts to limit scoring have been held back by logging the worst strand rate (62.1 percent) of any qualified pitcher. Overall, his 3.52 FIP and 1.13 WHIP paint a more accurate picture of a starter who should be a mixed-league asset rather than a streaming option.  Wise owners will take advantage of competitors who are unaware that Wood’s strand rate is likely to eventually rise towards his lifetime 74.9 percent mark.
 
Jon Gray, Starter (Rockies): Gray has been as unlucky as just about any pitcher this season. His 64.2 percent strand rate is the second lowest of any qualified hurler, and his .379 BABIP ranks an eye-popping 31 points higher than any of his qualified peers. His bad luck has not been caused by batted-ball irregularities, as Gray has surrendered normal rates of hard contact (35.7 percent) and ground balls (45.6 percent). With a solid 3.7 K:BB ratio and a 3.13 FIP, Gray could be the best buy-low target in the pitching pool right now.
 
Brad Brach, Reliever (Orioles): Brach has hardly been a fantasy stud this season (3.43 ERA, 1.62 WHIP), but he has mostly given owners what they wanted by collecting some early season saves while Orioles closer Zach Britton recovers from right Achilles tendon surgery. However, with Britton just days from returning to the active roster, the clock seems to be striking midnight on Brach’s ninth-inning run. Wise owners will see this as an opportunity to pick up Brach as a minimal cost, as many of his owners assume that he will be waiver-wire fodder by the second half of this month. Brach may be done closing games in Baltimore, but he also could quickly resume his stopper’s role if Britton – who has pitched 37 1/3 innings since the outset of 2017 – experiences additional injury woes. Also, the last-place O’s could trade Britton to a contender this summer.
 
Byron Buxton, Outfielder (Twins): To be honest, I’m not sure that I believe in Buxton. Nevertheless at this point, his acquisition cost in many leagues is so low that he is worth the small expenditure. The 24-year-old has been downright awful this season, slashing .156/.183/.200 and showing abysmal plate discipline (0.11 BB:K ratio). However, his batted-ball luck has also been bad (.226 BABIP) despite being arguably the fastest player in baseball and producing a career-best 30.2 percent hard-contact rate. Further, Buxton remains a former top prospect who hit .300 with 11 homers and 13 steals during the second half of last season. Owners who make a small investment and stash him in a DL slot could get a major return when he returns from a fractured toe.
 
 
Sell High
 
Javier Baez, Second baseman (Cubs): Baez has been a fantasy stud this season, ranking among the National League leaders in homers (14), RBIs (46) and steals (nine). However, a closer look at his batted-ball profile shows someone who is likely more a mixed-league asset than a long-term stud. Baez has benefited from a 25.5 percent HR/FB rate despite posting an unremarkable 33.1 percent fly-ball rate. With an inability to generate many fly balls, the 25-year-old will likely cease to become an impactful power source when his luck changes. Moreover, his batting average (.254) should remain mediocre due to terrible plate control (0.12 BB:K ratio) that includes Major League-worst marks in chase rate (48.2 percent) and swinging-strike rate (18.3 percent). This is a great time for Baez owners to cash out and acquire a more proven star.
 
Matt Boyd, Starter (Tigers): With a 3.20 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP, Boyd could be the best sell-high pitcher right now. The southpaw has enjoyed outstanding batted-ball luck, highlighted by a .234 BABIP and a 6.4 percent HR/FB rate. Once his luck normalizes, Boyd could become especially homer prone by virtue of his bloated 47.5 percent fly-ball rate. And with a low ceiling (6.9 K/9 rate), he may not be worth the trouble once he starts allowing runs at a greater rate. Boyd owners who can trade him for someone such as Gray or Wood would be wise to make the switch.
 
Michael Wacha, Starter (Cardinals): Sitting at 7-1 with a 2.41 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP, Wacha has been a borderline ace so far in 2018. However, owners who plunge below the surface will see that he has logged a career-worst 2.3 K:BB ratio and has benefited from a .246 BABIP despite allowed hard contact at a dangerous rate (40.9 percent). Additionally, even Wacha’s biggest supporters would have to acknowledge that winning seven games across 12 starts is a tough pace to maintain for anyone other than baseball’s best aces. Owners of the 26-year-old who understand advanced stats will be happy to market him as a potential savior to a league-mate who is struggling in the pitching categories.
 
Austin Meadows, Outfielder (Pirates): Meadows fits one of the classic sell-high profiles, as he is a coveted prospect who arrived to the Majors with a bang. The 23-year-old has been nothing short of a stud (five homers, three steals across 69 plate appearances) since debuting with the Bucs on May 18, but he will likely struggle to remain a mixed-league stalwart in the coming weeks. The cat-and-mouse nature of the batter-pitcher matchup means that Major League starters will soon start putting in extra work to figure out holes in Meadows’ game. Further, as part of a crowded Pirates outfield, Meadows is continually in peril of losing playing time to Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Corey Dickerson. Meadows owners shouldn’t give him away but exploring the trade market is a worthwhile idea.
 
Albert Almora Jr., Outfielder (Cubs): With just two homers and one steal, Almora is rightfully sitting on waivers in shallow leagues. However, some owners in deep formats likely believe that they have found a batting-average source in the form of the 24-year-old. However, on the way to hitting .315 this season, Almora has logged an unsustainable .375 BABIP despite producing a lowly 29.9 percent hard-contact rate and a mediocre 21.1 percent line-drive rate. With his batted-ball profile, the outfielder is highly unlikely to maintain his current spot among the BABIP leaders. Moreover, a reduction of base knocks will hurt his ability to continue to score runs at a solid rate (35 runs scored across 196 plate appearances).



Fred Zinkie is a baseball writer for Rotoworld and BaseballHQ. You can find him on Twitter @FredZinkieMLB.
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