10 Fantasy Baseball Players to Buy and Sell for Week 11
As we enter week 11, we're nearing the midpoint of the MLB season. By now, most owners are reaching decisions regarding their teams.
Maybe your team has been plagued by injuries and it is time to cut bait on guys you would have preferred to hold on to because you're in win-now mode. Perhaps you find yourself with a comfortable lead in the standings and can afford to take a chance on some buy-low players in hopes of a bounce back heading into the later stages of the season.
Regardless of where your team sits right now, you should always be looking to take advantage of market inefficiencies on players.
Perhaps a slow start is just a product of bad luck and a small sample size. Maybe the reason you're in first place is due to the stellar but possibly unsustainable play of some players you can sell high on. If you're not sure whether you should hold or fold on a player, don't sweat it. That's why we're here.
The following 10 players have seen a perceived change in their fantasy stock, and we'll attempt to decipher which warrant taking action.
Buy Matt Carpenter
Despite a career-high 43.3% hard-hit rate and a healthy 80% contact rate through the first 10 weeks of the season, Matt Carpenter's batting average is down from a career .280 mark to .223 this season. That could be thanks in large part to a career-worst .245 BABIP. Traditionally a high BABIP player (.324 career average), Carpenter ranks in the bottom-20 among qualified hitters in BABIP this season and is one of just five players with a BABIP that low and a hard-hit rate above 40%, which would suggest he has experienced some bad luck.
He also has a xwOBA, or expected wOBA, of .385, as opposed to his actual wOBA of .341, which gives him the 11th-largest discrepancy between the two and is another indicator of bad luck thus far.
On pace for a career-high 29 homers and 85 RBI, all that is really missing for Carpenter is the batting average. When his luck on balls put in play begins to normalize, he'll likely become the elite fantasy asset his peripherals suggest he should be.
Buy Sean Manaea
Sean Manaea's season-long numbers have been thrown off a bit by two bad starts to begin the year, but in eight starts since, he has been lights-out. During that stretch, he has maintained a sparkling 2.88 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. His first two starts have left him with an unspectacular 3.67 ERA on the year, though, which might leave him a bit undervalued at this point.
In addition to limiting base runners, Manaea's bat-missing abilities have been on full display thus far. If not for just missing the innings limit to qualify, Manaea would rank 15th in strikeout rate (26.4%), third in swinging-strike rate (15.1%), and have the lowest in contact rate against (67.8%). There have been few pitchers who have been as nasty as Manaea when he has been healthy.
With a somewhat limited track record and a good-but-not-great 3.67 ERA, Manaea might still be appreciated for what he is by some owners. Take the opportunity to buy him at an affordable price while you still can.
Sell Eric Hosmer
After a cold start to the season, Eric Hosmer has his average up to .314, thanks to hitting .363 since May 1. His recent hot stretch is thanks in part to him being more locked in at the plate, but his bloated .417 BABIP during that time is definitely contributing as well. On the year, Hosmer's BABIP of .354 is the 20th-highest in the league and is up from a career .313 mark.
While his batting average is nice, a look at his peripherals suggests that not only is it unsustainable, but he isn't likely to contribute much in the power department either. In addition to his inflated BABIP, Hosmer, a traditional ground-ball hitter, has seen his ground-ball rate spike to 55.1% this season, which ranks seventh among qualified hitters. Combine that with a 29.6% hard-hit rate that would be his lowest since his rookie season, and you are not looking at a hitter who is going to help you out in the power department.
When his luck on balls put in play begins to run out, Hosmer will be nothing more than a high .200's hitter with limited power, which is not a useful fantasy first baseman. If you can get someone in your league to overpay based on his high batting average or six hits and two homers in this weekend's series, do so now.
Add Jordan Montgomery
If the New York Yankees didn't already have the league's filthiest pitching staff, the emergence of Jordan Montgomery certainly puts them in serious consideration. He (73.9%) joins fellow bat-missers Michael Pineda (73.1%) and Luis Severino (74.4%) atop the league leaderboard for contact rate, as all three rank inside the top-10. Montgomery also ranks inside the top-10 in both swinging-strike-rate (12.7%) and outside of the zone swing rate (36.4%). In fact, only two pitchers in the league can beat Montgomery in both categories -- Pineda and Zack Greinke.
Montgomery has been especially effective over his past four starts, posting a 1.50 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and nine strikeouts per nine innings (K/9), which brings the young left-hander's K/9 to a quite useful 8.67 on the year.
Montgomery's 3.27 walks per nine innings and 43.3% fly-ball rate allowed suggest that there might be bumps along the road for the talented rookie, but he has shown that he has enough skill to overcome them an offer long-term value for his fantasy owners. He is still available in over 75% of ESPN leagues at this point, a number that is sure to go up after posting back-to-back career best performances.
Buy Logan Morrison
Logan Morrison's career season came way back in 2011, in which he posted 23 homers and 72 RBI, so his 17 long balls and 38 RBI thus far has to be a fluke, right? Well, a deeper look at his numbers suggests that, not only is his current production sustainable, but Morrison might actually have experienced some bad luck this season.
We'll start with his batting average. While a look at his career .244 average might not make his .234 mark this season seem out of line, a look at his .239 BABIP suggests that there could certainly be some positive regression coming for his batting average. That .239 mark comes in as the 14th-lowest mark among qualified hitters, and no other hitter in the bottom-15 in BABIP has a hard-hit rate as high as Morrison's career-high 42.4%.
He has paired that with a 45.6% fly-ball rate to make him one of just six other players with a hard-hit rate above 40% and fly-ball rate above 45%. He probably isn't going to hit the 42 home runs he is on pace for, but the numbers do suggest that his power is legit. If he starts to see some better luck on batted balls in play and is able to maintain his power stroke, the lefty could be a useful fantasy asset.
If you're in one of the somehow 50-plus percent of leagues in which he is still available, be sure to put in a waiver claim. If he is owned in your league, see if his owner would be willing to part ways for him at a reasonable price based on his limited track record prior to this breakout season.
Buy Jeff Samardzija
Jeff Samardzija's numbers are finally beginning to come around after a couple extremely frustrating months of underperforming his peripherals. After a rocky start, he has his season ERA down to 4.31 thanks to a 2.76 ERA over his past five outings. While that is much improved from his 5.26 ERA through his first eight starts, it still is a long way from matching his xFIP of 2.88.
Speaking of xFIP, only four starting pitchers have a better xFIP than Samardzija this season, all four of whom have sub-3.00 ERA's and an average record of 31-5, as opposed to Samardzija's 2-8 record.
Why does Samardzija stand out so much from that list?
Well, his .326 BABIP and 67.3% strand rate certainly aren't doing him any favors. The BABIP is the 13th-highest among qualified starting pitchers, while the strand rate is the ninth-worst. Both are clear indicators of bad luck and should normalize as the year progresses.
When Samardzija's peripherals begin to progress to the mean -- and is combined with the league's eighth-ranked K/9 (10.51) -- owners will be left with one of the most effective pitchers in the game. The window to buy-low on him based on his season-long numbers is closing quickly, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out completely. Make an offer now!
Sell Miguel Sano
Miguel Sano has been absolutely abusing baseballs through the season's first 10 weeks, posting an absurd 51.3% hard-hit rate and average exit velocity of 98.4 miles per hour -- both of which lead the league. It should come as no surprise, then, that he has powered 15 balls over the fence already this season.
The home run power is legit. What doesn't seem legit is his batting average (.292), which is way up from the .236 mark he put up in his first full big-league season last year. So, let's take a look and see if Sano has turned the corner as a hitter or if his batting average is indeed a fluke.
Sano has posted just a 63.6% contact rate thus far, which is actually down from his career average and is the third-worst in the league. He's also put up a 36% strikeout rate, which is up from his career rate and is the fourth-worst mark in the Majors. Both are huge red flags for hitters' batting averages and make it seem very unlikely that Sano can maintain his near-.300 average.
A look at Sano's league-leading .431 BABIP helps go a long way in understanding how there can be such a stark difference in his batting average and contact rate. If nearly half of the balls you put in play find holes and drop in for hits, it doesn't really matter if you only make contact on around 60% of your swings. Here's the thing, though: Nobody can maintain a BABIP that high, so unless Sano makes huge improvements in his contact rate, his batting average is guaranteed to take a steep decline over the course of the season.
Even with some worse luck on balls in play, Sano is talented enough to remain a decent fantasy contributor, so don't just accept the first offer you get for him. If you can get somebody to overpay for him, though, you have to at least consider it.
Hold Jacob deGrom
Perhaps no pitcher has had worse luck than Jacob deGrom, a career 2.99 ERA pitcher who has seen his ERA this season balloon to 4.75 after getting bombed in consecutive starts. While the results have certainly been frustrating for owners, the numbers suggest that there is reason for optimism.
Only Chris Sale and Max Scherzer have higher K/9 than deGrom's 11.75 mark, while deGrom also still ranks ninth in xFIP (3.22) even with his recent struggles. No other player in the top-10 has an ERA as high as deGrom's. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, no pitcher in the top-10 has a BABIP as high as deGrom's .350 mark, either. In fact, only four pitchers in the entire league have a BABIP that high.
It isn't going to be easy to hold tight on deGrom, especially if he continues to struggle. However, he is one of the league's most talented pitchers and has seen an increase in velocity and strikeouts this season. The only thing not matching up is his luck on balls in play. He should bounce-back soon, and when he does, you'll be glad you didn't sell-low on the ace.
Add Lewis Brinson
Top Milwaukee Brewers prospect, center fielder Lewis Brinson, finally got the call to the Majors, and with Jonathan Villar and Ryan Braun both on the Disabled List, he should be a regular in the lineup going forward.
Brinson boasts plus-speed and power and hit leadoff for Milwaukee in his first game with the big league club. His skills and role should translate to an effective fantasy asset immediately, with his propensity for the swing-and-miss being the only thing that could slow him down.
He's still available in over 90% of ESPN leagues, a number that is sure to shrink quickly throughout the week.
Buy Todd Frazier
Todd Frazier has been one of fantasy's biggest underachievers through the first few months of the season. After launching 40 homers last season and being a mid-round pick in most league's it is safe to say that owners are disappointed with his pedestrian .765 OPS this season.
However, both Frazier's BABIP and xwOBA scream that positive regression should be in store for the slugger, as does his recent hot streak. His .237 BABIP is the sixth-lowest in the league, while his wOBA of .328 is down 35 points from his xwOBA, which is the 20th-largest discrepancy.
Frazier also has posted a career-best contact rate (77.9%) and walk rate (13.4%), so his approach at the plate has improved, if anything. Combine that with an eight-game stretch that has seen him post a .448 batting average supplemented by eight RBI, three doubles and two homers, and things are certainly beginning to look up for Frazier. See if you can buy-low while his value is still down.