On Saturday, I identified a couple of players who fantasy owners might consider buying high on. I purposely ignored players who were expected to be top guys to begin with, but were having even better season than projected (David Wright, Adam Jones), as I preferred to look at more of the cheaper players with surprising performances. Similarly, the sell low guys will be players that were expected to generate high dollar values. I think it’s tougher to recommend selling low on a player than buying high, because we always preach patience and believe that a player will bounce back to his established level of performance, rather than weight the first 3 months of the season so heavily. At the risk of being very wrong…
With the trade to the White Sox and the promise of full-time at-bats again, some owners might feel that this move will jump start his bat. I, on the other hand, think that injuries have taken their toll and he’s now just a lower tier option at the corner positions in mixed leagues. He’s striking out at a career worst pace, which combined with his career worst walk rate (and the first time it has been below 10%), means that for the first time he is striking out more than two times for every free pass he takes. So his plate discipline has eroded, and so has his power. But his ISO isn’t down because of his HR/FB ratio, which sits where it always has. It’s down because he his hitting a ton of ground balls. Previous to the 2011 season, Youk was always a fly ball hitter, hitting more of them than grounders. Then last year that was reversed, and he was close to the league average. This year, however, his GB% is suddenly above 50%, which is not the level you want to see from a power hitter. Without the home runs and limited speed to leg out infield hits, it will be difficult for him to contribute in batting average.
Young’s fantasy value was always predicated on a great BABIP and prime spot in the batting order of a scary offense. At age 35, it may finally be the beginning of a steep decline. Never a big walker to begin with, his BB% is now at a career low, while his power has disappeared. He is hitting a higher percentage of ground balls than ever before, which should be good for his BABIP, but really limits his home run power, which wasn’t never that great anyway. If he’s not hitting for much power or hitting over .300, his RBI and runs scored will obviously suffer and suddenly he is no longer the all-around contributor we have been accustomed to. The upside simply isn’t here to worry about being wrong selling low on him either, so he’s a pretty safe bet not to completely make his current owners look foolish if they do decide to trade him away.
I was not a fan of Romero heading into the season. Of course, that was more a reaction to how he was being valued by the fantasy community, rather than what I thought of him as a pitcher. I did like his skill set, but he has disappointed even me. His control has regressed, supported by a dive in his F-Strike% and his strikeout rate has dipped, backed by a decline in SwStk% that now sits below the league average. He is still getting a ton of ground balls, which is a good sign, but it doesn’t really matter when he is allowing so many base runners. His SIERA suggests he is wholly deserving of his 4.34 ERA right now and since he was extremely lucky last year in posting a sub-3.00 ERA, we shouldn’t necessarily expect his ERA to plummet even if his skills do improve a bit. Someone in your league needs pitching and might think he’s buying low. He’s your trading partner.
**A note on Tim Lincecum: I’m torn here. His F-Strike% suggests that his control should improve dramatically in the future, and his SwStk% is as high as always. His problems almost solely stem from pitching from the stretch, which seems correctable to me. Yet, with his velocity so down sitting between just 90.0 and 91.0 miles per hour, I just don’t know if all the rules still apply.