Here are seven players for your consideration to either acquire or send packing.
Shin-Soo Choo – The current owner may look at Choo’s .392 BABIP and figure this is as good as it’s going to get, especially since Updated ZiPS projects him to finish with 17 HR and 16 SB. But Choo has always posted ultra-high BABIPs so he may not drop off as far as some might predict. The current ZiPS forecast seems especially pessimistic, considering that he went 20-20 last year and is on a current pace for 22-32.
Chipper Jones – He is very brittle and currently carries an uninspiring .230-2-7-13-2 fantasy line. But Jones is not one to look at things through rose-colored glasses and he considers himself to be seeing the ball good and just experiencing bad luck. “When I’m drawing walks you know I’m seeing the ball good,” Jones told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Everybody points to the RBI, but when there’s not a lot of opportunities you can’t help that.” Jones is 6-for-19 with two doubles, seven walks and one strikeout in his past six games. Health is always a factor but Jones feels good about himself and he has been on a mini hot streak. It could all add up to a nice pickup for a low price, especially if his current owner is concerned about Jones’ current groin injury.
Johan Santana – This marks the sixth straight season that Santana has seen a rise in his xFIP and his K/9 continues to fall, down to 7.56, his worst mark since he was a reliever in 2001. Santana’s average fastball velocity has dipped below 90 for the first time in his career. But so much of Santana’s poor overall numbers this year (velocity excepted) is the result of the horrific outing against the Phillies in which he allowed 4 HR and gave up 10 ER in 3.2 IP. In his other six games, Santana has a 2.61 ERA with 9 BB and 34 Ks in 38 IP. Now, you cannot just throw out starts that you do not like, but you should not panic about one bad outing, either. Check to see if his current owner is doing the latter.
Tim Hudson – While never a big strikeout pitcher, Hudson generally gave fantasy owners good numbers in the other three categories for SP. But this year his K/9 is down to a dismal 3.45 or nearly half of his lifetime mark. His ERA sits at a nifty 2.64 but both his FIP and xFIP are around two runs per game worse than that. Right now it seems on the surface to be a typical Hudson year where he is good in three categories. But it is unlikely that either his ERA or WHIP will remain this low going forward.
Jeff Niemann – Like Hudson, xFIP paints a much bleaker picture of Niemann’s early-season results than his ERA. Both his FIP and xFIP are nearly identical to 2009, when his ERA was 1.67 higher than his current 2.27 mark. Niemann is throwing his splitter twice as often as last year, and with good results, too. But it seems unlikely that his fine pitching early in 2010 has more to do with the change in his repertoire than Niemann simply being the recipient of good fortune.
Justin Upton – One of the first outfielders off the board in fantasy and likely gone by the second round in most leagues, Upton is off to a poor start. Whenever I recommend to sell a high draft pick not performing well, people comment that now is the worst time to trade him. Obviously, Upton will not be this bad the rest of the season. The key is to get more in return than he will produce the rest of the way. It seems to me his trade value is greater than the .274-20-70 that RoS ZiPS projects for him. In one recent CBS Sports league, he was dealt straight up for Matt Holliday, who seems likely to outperform Upton in AVG, R and RBIs going forward while it should be relatively close in the other two categories.
Nick Swisher – His BABIP is 56 points higher than his career average and his 17.5 HR/FB rate is 0.4 away from his career-best mark. But I predict that Swisher will keep up his strong performance throughout the season and exceed the Updated ZiPS marks of .264-28-94-92-1 at the end of the year.