10 Fantasy Baseball Players to Buy and Sell for Week 17
With Week 16 in the books and the playoffs on the horizon, it is officially decision-making time regarding your fantasy baseball team.
Maybe your squad 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.
Buy Kevin Gausman
Kevin Gausman has been one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy baseball after starting Opening Day for the Baltimore Orioles and being drafted as the 33rd starting pitcher, according to National Fantasy Baseball Championship average draft position (ADP) data. His 6.11 ERA and 1.75 WHIP certainly aren't what owners were expecting when they invested a mid-round pick on him.
While his season-long numbers certainly are disgusting, Gausman has appeared to turn the corner recently. Could he finally be over his early-season struggles?
Over the past 30 days, only 13 starting pitchers have a better xFIP than him (3.11), and he's done that despite a .339 BABIP against and a two-start disaster in which he allowed 13 earned runs falling smack in the middle of this stretch. He also has posted 11.72 strikeouts-per-nine-innings (K/9) over his past 30 days, up from 8.15 on the year.
While hoping Gausman's 3.11 xFIP over the past 30 days turns him into a 3.11 ERA pitcher over the rest of the season is likely asking for too much, it is encouraging to see his strikeouts up and his peripherals starting to resemble the talented pitcher we thought we were drafting. While those numbers are probably unrealistic, they might be closer to the real Gausman than his season-long numbers are.
His .367 BABIP against is the highest mark among qualified starting pitchers, while his 70.6% strand rate ranks in the bottom 20. Both are clear indicators of incredibly bad luck.
Sell Lance Lynn
On the other end of the spectrum, we find Lance Lynn, who has a respectable 3.30 ERA in spite of an ugly 4.54 xFIP. He's really been impressive over his past five starts, posting a 1.76 ERA, which might make this the perfect time to sell high on him -- especially with starting pitchers dropping like flies around the league. However, even during that span, he has a pedestrian 4.26 xFIP.
The only thing keeping him afloat is a .225 BABIP (second-lowest among qualified starting pitchers) and a strand rate of 82.4% (seventh-highest), both of which seem quite unsustainable.
Lynn's peripherals suggest that if he stops seeing such good luck on balls put in play, he might be nothing but a mid-four ERA pitcher with an uninspiring strikeout rate (7.93 K/9). That is not a useful fantasy asset, so see what you can get for Lynn on the trade market.
Add Yoan Moncada
Oh my God! Okay! It's happening ! Everybody stay calm! After year of waiting on Yoan Moncada to arrive at the Major League level and justify his top-prospect status, the superstar prospect is finally here.
While he has just one hit in his first four games, it is encouraging that the Chicago White Sox have started him in every game while letting him bat sixth. With some better production, it wouldn't be surprising to see him move up to an even more productive lineup spot.
As far as his early returns, there is no reason to be concerned. Moncada's .083 BABIP is suppressing his batting average, and he has several encouraging stats to point to, such as his 33.3% hard-hit rate and the fact that he has an 82.1% contact rate with two walks and just one strikeout through his first 15 plate appearances.
Somehow, Moncada is still available in over 50% of ESPN leagues. If you are in one of them, be sure to put in a waiver claim now.
Add/Buy Danny Salazar
Danny Salazar returned from an extended absence to toss seven innings of one-hit ball, in which he punched out eight Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday. While he wasn't overly productive prior to that start, his peripherals always pointed towards him having the ability to be a dominant fantasy asset.
His 3.38 xFIP would rank 11th among starting pitchers if he had enough innings to qualify, while his 12.34 K/9 would rank seventh. The only problem? His .340 BABIP against, which would rank as the eighth-highest.
Salazar is still available in over 35% of ESPN leagues, so there's a chance you might be able to add the high-upside hurler to your team for free. If Salazar is owned in your league, his season-long numbers likely won't make him too difficult to acquire, even with his recent one-hitter. Buy low and hope that he starts to see some better luck over the second half.
Add Sean Doolittle
Sean Doolittle has posted quality peripherals this season, with a 33-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24.1 innings.
He should have plenty of opportunities for saves going forward for a Washington Nationals team with the second-best record (59-38) in the National League. Doolittle is still owned in just 30.5% of ESPN leagues, so check yours now, because it isn't often that you can add an effective closer for one of the best teams in the league mid-season.
Buy Zack Godley
After an elite start to his season, Zack Godley has stumbled a bit recently, allowing a combined 11 runs in his last two starts. While he has probably caught a bit too much of the plate, his .393 BABIP against and 42.3% strand rate are clear indicators of bad luck, while his 2.14 xFIP during that time backs up the idea that he has just been the victim of bad luck.
His overall 3.20 xFIP would rank eighth-best among starting pitchers, while his 9.30 K/9 would make him one of just two starting pitchers with a ground-ball rate above 55% and a K/9 above 8.00.
Godley has shown enough in his 13 starts to be confident in his abilities, so don't let his extraordinarily bad luck in his two most recent outings change your opinion. He is a terrific buy-low option.
Sell Jacob Faria
Jacob Faria headlined our article last week, and despite his worst outing of the year (four earned runs in five innings), his season-long numbers still are a far contrast from his peripherals.
He finally lost his first game of the season, but the rookie still owns a pristine 2.52 ERA. A look at his xFIP (4.45) quickly shows why Faria is a clear regression candidate, but it doesn't stop there.
He's actually been one of the league's worst pitchers over the last 30 days, with a 5.47 xFIP that ranks seventh-worst among starting pitchers. A .238 BABIP during that time has helped him mask his xFIP, but it seems foolish to hope for his luck to continue.
Faria still will likely be a usable fantasy asset over the remainder of the season, but it is unlikely that he is the dominant force he was through his first seven starts. See if you can still sell high on the hyped-up rookie.
Buy Lance McCullers
Lance McCullers was one of the most popular preseason sleepers, and rewarded those who took the chance on him by posting a 2.53 ERA through his first 14 starts. However, recent struggles have his ERA all the way up to 3.67 while failing to make it out of the fifth inning in five straight starts. So, this is the optimal time to buy low on the ace.
McCullers has been inexcusably bad for someone we came to know as a set-and-forget fantasy ace, but he still has a respectable 3.53 xFIP over the past 30 days. His 7.13 ERA can be traced back largely to his bloated .436 BABIP, which is the second-highest among starting pitchers during that time.
The right-hander still has the league's fourth-best xFIP (2.93) on the year and is the only pitcher with a ground-ball rate above 55% and a K/9 above 10.00. Assuming there isn't any type of injury issues that McCullers and the Houston Astros are keeping from the public, it would appear that he's just going through a funk. With some better luck on balls in play, it wouldn't be surprising to see him return to the dominant form we saw early on this season.
Sell Trevor Story
Trevor Story has been a massive disappointment, watching his batting average drop from .272 last season to .236 this year. However, he has opened the second half hot with a .344 batting average and .688 slugging percentage. That mini-surge might be enough for some fantasy owners to buy Story based on his name value and the hype surrounding him last season.
While those numbers are encouraging, Story also boasts a .450 BABIP in the second half, which is the 17th-highest mark in the league. As hard as it might be to believe, Story has actually benefited from BABIP this season, posting a bloated .340 mark, which is extremely troubling for those who expect his batting average to ever return to anywhere near last year's .272 mark.
The shortstop's 34.4% strikeout rate is the fourth-worst among qualified hitters, while his 69% contact rate is the 10th-worst. With just a 19-homer pace, it is fair to wonder if Story is really worth the trouble he brings to your team in the batting average department. If you can get an owner to buy based on his recent hot stretch, do so quickly!
Add Rafael Devers
While Rafael Devers' arrival to the big leagues hasn't been as long-awaited as Moncada, it might have been met with almost equal excitement. Devers has crushed at every level thus far, posting a .400 batting average and .600 slugging percentage in nine games at Triple-A after posting a .300 batting average and .575 slugging percentage in 77 games at Double-A.
Devers should find himself with the opportunity for everyday at-bats at third base as part of a loaded Boston Red Sox lineup. He's still available in almost 80% of ESPN leagues, so go check your waiver wire now, because the talented youngster could be a difference maker over the remainder of the year.