Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Buy low or sell high (hitters)?

Playing the stock market perfectly is fairly impossible. Same could be said of trading players in fantasy baseball.

Or could it?

A lot can be learned over the years. Knowing which guys are historically slow and fast starters helps, but common sense can yield helpful tips.

Here's a list of under/overachieving hitters and what you should do, whether you own the player or not.

Albert Pujols: Can we really complain about Pujols' production this year? Yes. And as a Cubs fan, I urge you to do so at every possible moment. 15 HR, 50 RBI and .311 for most any player is a career year. For Pujols, it's run-of-the-mill. The RBI will probably be in the 110-120 range by year's end, but the long balls are on a much slower pace this year, unless you factor in 2007, when Pujols only hit 32. And Pujols is a career .333 hitter. Verdict: Buy-low. Matt Holiday is heating up and that will give Pujols more protection and some extra fastballs moving forward.

Chase Utley/Ryan Howard: Both players are underperforming with regards to expectations. Utley quite a bit worse (11 HR, 33 RBI, .265) Howard, until last week, would have been a prime buy-low candidate, but has woken up the past 5-6 games and is now up to 14 HR, 52 RBI, .297. Of course, Howard is a perennial slow starter, so a savvy league would not have discounted him much. Verdict: Surprisingly, I'm going to say sell-high on both. Sell high? My gut feeling is something isn't right in that Phillies clubhouse. Almost to the day of MLB busting Philly for stealing signs, their run production has been cut in half. Coincidence? Can't all be. But both Utley and Howard have perceived bargain-bin numbers, they might actually be overhyped in the end, if an owner is factoring their big second halves that will bring them back to their normal numbers. If you can still get late-first-round/early-second-round value, by perhaps the diehard Phanatic in your league, I'd definitely sell.

Mark Teixeira:
Always, always, always a slow starter. Always. His career April average is 40 points less than any other month and the April home run numbers are half what Aug. and Sept. are. Verdict: Time to go shopping on the clearance rack. And if you have time, get your inseam measured for this Teix. That window, however, may have gotten a little snugger with the Grand Salami.

Prince Fielder: Stat of the year. In the last month, Fielder has actually hit for decent power (6 HRs), but the RBI (8) are on the back of a milk carton. It's nearly impossible to accomplish this feat from a cleanup hitter, but alas, the doubles just don't seem to be coming this year. For the season, Prince has 13 HR and 27 RBI, hitting a pedestrian .257. Verdict: Early in the season, there where whispers that Prince had a wrist thing. Makes sense. Nothing concrete on that injury, but something clearly is affecting his swing. Not playing like $20 guy, let alone a $40 guy. The looming contract might be playing with his mind. If you can get third round value or better, I'd sell now. Something not right.

Ian Kinsler: Possibly the granddaddy of all fantasy disappointments. I'd make Kinsler a buy-low. His value, other than playing in Arlington, has really dropped off the shelf. Just 1 HR 19 RBI, 6 SB from a guy who has hit mostly 3rd in the Rangers lineup. If it wasn't for the speed, Kinsler would be unownable right now in most mixed leagues. Verdict: Kinsler could still hit 25, but I'm not expecting more than 15 this year. If you know the Kinsler owner is beside himself, making him pull out his hear, this is the perfect opportunity to offer him Uggla, Weeks or Stewart and see what happens.

Jose Lopez: Raiser your hand if you've taken a flyer on Lopez in your league. His 25 HR and 96 RBI in 2008 has pretty much flown the coup. But a 2008 return to form is possible (17/89/.303) would keep the locals happy. Verdict: Buy low off the 25 percent off shelf, but don't give up too much. Lopez doesn't swing like the same player from last season and he's being yanked all over that lineup, which can't help his cause either.

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