10 Fantasy Baseball Players to Buy and Sell for Week 16
Hopefully you enjoyed that incredible All-Star break action, because we are entering the 16th week of the fantasy baseball season, or the stretch run for teams with playoff aspirations.
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. Maybe you have 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.
Add/Buy Trevor Cahill
Somehow Trevor Cahill is still available in over 65% of ESPN leagues, despite a 3.14 ERA and an even better 3.08 xFIP. If he had enough innings to qualify, his xFIP would rank fourth-best in the league, while his 11.15 strikeouts-per-nine-innings (K/9) would rank fifth.
No matter how far you dig into his numbers to try to prove that he's a fluke, everything checks out. His contact rate (69.3%) would rank fifth, his swinging-strike-rate (13.4%) would rank ninth, both further proving his filthiness. When hitters do make contact, they are pounding the ball into the ground, with a 56.8% ground-ball-rate.
His cause hasn't been aided by BABIP either, as opponents have actually posted a fairly high BABIP (.319) against him.
Nobody seems to believe in Cahill, so if he is owned in your league, you might not have to give up much to get him. If you're in one of the 65% of leagues in which he is available on the waiver wire, be sure to add him. You should be able to find someone on the bottom of your bench worth dropping for a pitcher ranked in the top-10 in nearly every category.
Hold Manny Machado
There have been few fantasy players that have been more disappointing than Manny Machado. There also have been fewer players that have been more unlucky than Machado.
Machado's .242 BABIP is bottom-10 in the league and down from a career .302 mark, despite a 39.6% hard-hit rate that would easily be a career-best for the hard-hitting third baseman. That goes a long way in explaining why Machado, who posted a .290 batting average in the two seasons prior to this one, has just a .232 mark this year.
Another good indicator of luck is examining expected wOBA (xwOBA) compared to actual wOBA. Just 10 players have a bigger difference between their wOBA and xwOBA than Machado, whose xwOBA is 44 points higher than his wOBA.
July has been Machado's best month thus far, as he has a .320 batting average, .368 wOBA, and .560 slugging percentage this month, so it's possible that he is turning his unlucky season around. His disappointing season-long numbers are low enough that you still are going to get buy-low offers for him, but the wise move is to hold Machado and hope for a hot second half.
Sell Jacob Faria
In a season somewhat devoid of rookie pitching talent, Jacob Faria has been easy to get excited about. The rook has been unbelievable in his time in the Majors, posting a 2.00 ERA and a perfect 4-0 record in seven starts. However, a deeper look at the numbers suggests that winter is coming for the youngster. Err, regression is coming, that is. Sorry, the Game of Thrones return is on the mind.
Faria's 4.26 xFIP tells a much different tale than his sparkling ERA -- one involving just a .242 BABIP against and an unsustainably high 87.3% strand rate.
Faria's stuff does appear to check out thus far, with a contact rate (75.9%) and swinging-strike-rate (11.4%) that both rank inside the top-25 of starting pitchers.
All in all, the numbers don't suggest Faria is a bad pitcher, but rather that he is not an ace-level pitcher like he has performed. If you can get an owner in your league to buy-high on the hype surrounding the rookie, it would probably be the best move for your team, because regression is coming.
Buy Miguel Cabrera
Machado owners and Miguel Cabrera owners should know each other quite well by now, as the two have formed a support group with Jeff Samardzija owners and have had weekly meetings for the past two months. If you are an owner and haven't been able to make a meeting yet this season, I believe they're getting together to scream about regression and BABIP at the TV in Ervin Santana's next start.
According to xwOBA, no player has seen worse luck than Cabrera this season, whose .342 wOBA comes nowhere near matching his .420 xwOBA. In fact, xwOBA suggests Cabrera has been one of the league's strongest hitters this season, as his xwOBA ranks seventh in the league.
That shouldn't come as that much of a surprise, considering Cabrera's ludicrous 49.6% hard-hit rate this season -- the league's top mark. Even with the illustrious career he has had, that would easily be a career-high.
He's appeared even more locked in at the plate recently, with a league-leading 51.4% hard-hit rate over the past 30 days. However, a pesky .227 BABIP during that time has done a sufficient job of keeping his dominance during that time under the radar.
Cabrera owners have to be fed up with his production by this point, so see if you can get the slugger for less than he's worth. The numbers suggest that a big second half could be in store.
Buy/Add Patrick Corbin
Patrick Corbin's mid-season slump was so horrific that his season-long ERA sits at 4.66, despite some excellent recent outings. That's good news for savvy owners, because he is available in nearly 80% of ESPN leagues and can likely be had for cheap in the leagues he is owned in.
It doesn't take much digging to find that Corbin's near-five ERA is clearly an aberration, just look at his 3.82 xFIP and .348 BABIP (the fourth-highest mark in the league). While those numbers show that he is, in fact, a rosterable player, his recent numbers point to something much more valuable.
Over the past 30 days, only seven pitchers have a better xFIP than Corbin (2.66), who has also posted an elite 10.8 K/9. Despite this, Corbin is 0-3 in that time, with a 3.18 ERA. Why don't those numbers match up? Well, the BABIP gods refuse to show mercy on Corbin, whose BABIP has actually risen during this hot stretch, to .388. It's really incredible that he's been able to still post a respectable 3.18 ERA during that time.
Maybe this is just a hot streak and Corbin's ERA will eventually normalize to something resembling his 3.82 xFIP, making him a usable fantasy asset. Or, maybe he'll see better luck on BABIP in the future and be able to put his dominant stuff of late on full display. Either way, he is worth taking a shot on at his current ownership.
Sell Marwin Gonzalez
Marwin Gonzalez has turned himself into a useful fantasy asset this season, carrying eligibility in the outfield and every infield position in most formats, while also posting a .315 batting average and launching an already career-high 17 home runs.
While Gonzalez has certainly made significant strides forward this season, namely in his plate discipline, there are some warning signs that his numbers have been a bit inflated by good fortune thus far.
For starters, Gonzalez's .346 BABIP certainly has some room for regression, as does his bloated 25.4% home-run-to-fly-ball-rate. Perhaps the most alarming number is Gonzalez's xwOBA of .315. A look at his exit velocity and launch angles this season suggests that Gonzalez's wOBA of .411 should be 96 points lower, giving him the largest discrepancy of any qualified hitter.
This isn't to say to just give Gonzalez away -- he clearly has established himself as a versatile and useful fantasy player at this point. However, if you can find someone who thinks he's a .300-plus hitter who can launch 30 long balls like he is on pace for, see what you can get for him in a trade.
Buy Rougned Odor
Rougned Odor owners have been petitioning to be included in the regression support group, but Cabrera owners reportedly denied them entry, citing his strong finish to the first half in which he hit .344 and crushed five home runs in his final nine games.
Odor owners certainly have a case though, as his .235 BABIP on the season ranks eighth-worst among qualified hitters and goes a long way in explaining his putrid .213 batting average. However, his hard-hit rate is up to what would be a career-best 37.3% mark this year, which goes a long way in explaining his 30 homer pace.
Odor's 23.9% strikeout rate is concerning, and his low contact rate (76.2%) and high swinging-strike-rate (13%) are not encouraging for improvement there. Odor showed last season that even with a decent BABIP (.297), he can be an extremely useful middle infield fantasy asset, even with a high strikeout rate (21.4%), posting a .271 batting average and launching 33 home runs. He is a terrific buy-low target.
Sell Alex Cobb
Alex Cobb joins teammate Jacob Faria as one of the league's luckiest pitchers of late, as only two pitchers have seen their opponents post a lower BABIP (.191) against them over the past 30 days. Thanks to that, he has a 2.21 ERA during that time, that is not matched by his xFIP (4.74).
Cobb's season-long numbers don't match up either, as he has been able to maintain a 3.59 ERA in spite of a 4.64 xFIP.
Cobb's strikeouts are also way down this season, from an already middling 7.3 career K/9 mark to what would be a career-worst 5.85.
Essentially, all of Cobb's numbers point towards him being little more than a replacement level player...all except his ERA, that is, which is the number to which many casual fantasy owners pay the most attention. With the way he has been limiting runs, especially as of late, you might be able to sell him for more than he is worth.
Buy Kyle Schwarber
Kyle Schwarber has had arguably the worst luck of any hitter this season, as he rode a sub-.200 BABIP all the way to the Minors early in the year and still carries a league-worst .203 BABIP on the year. His xwOBA is 39 points higher than his wOBA, giving him the fifth-largest discrepancy in that regard, just another indicator of his numbers not matching up with the way he has actually hit the ball.
Schwarber has looked better since returning to the Majors, albeit in just six games, with a .424 wOBA and .682 slugging percentage, although he still has struck out 28% of the time.
You shouldn't have to give much at all to get Schwarber's owner to part ways with the disappointing outfielder. Buy-low now and hope that the time in the minors and the All-Star break helped Schwarber clear his head.
Hold Yu Darvish
Yu Darvish owners haven't gotten the return they expected from the ace-level talent, as he has posted a solid, but unspectacular 3.45 ERA. He has just one win in his past 10 starts and has a 4.46 ERA and 0-4 record over his past six starts.
During that time period, only seven other starting pitchers have seen their opponents post a higher BABIP than Darvish (.356). That makes the difference between his 4.46 ERA and 3.48 xFIP during that time a lot easier to understand.
Darvish's strikeout numbers are a bit down, but he still ranks in the top-20 in swinging-strike-rate (11%), contact rate (76.2%), and strikeout rate (25.6%). Given the way he has pitched recently, you're likely not going to get any trade offers that justify parting ways with someone with the proven upside that Darvish has. The best option now is to hold and hope he begins to see better luck on balls in play.