10 Fantasy Baseball Players to Buy and Sell for Week 10
There was a time when Matt Kemp seemed destined to win a couple MVP awards during the course of what was a very bright future laid out in front of him.
In 2011, he led the National League in homers (39), RBIs (126), total bases (353) and runs scored (115), and he came within one homer of reaching the prestigious 40-40 club (40 homers and 40 stolen bases) -- all on his way to finishing second in that year's MVP race. He was a 26-year-old All-Star just entering the prime of his career, and it seemed as if baseball had its next young superstar.
Then came the injuries. He played in just 106 games the following year and 73 games in 2013. After signing a huge contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers a few years prior, he was shipped to the San Diego Padres and then to the Atlanta Braves before winding back up with the Dodgers this off-season as part of a salary-dump trade. Reportedly, the Dodgers tried to trade him against, but they found no takers.
Sometimes, the best trades are the ones you don't make, because Kemp, after losing 50 pounds this off-season, has been raking since the moment the curtain opened on the 2018 campaign. He's second in the NL in wRC+ (160), with only Brandon Belt's 161 ahead of him, and he's fourth in wOBA (.401). In 57 games (194 plate appearances), he's batting .344/.376/.572 with 9 home runs, 33 RBIs and 22 runs scored. He doesn't steal bases anymore (none so far this year), and his defense still leaves a bit to be desired, but from a fantasy standpoint, the dude is valuable.
With the arm. With the bat.@TheRealMattKemp is doing it ALL for the @Dodgers! pic.twitter.com/WyAKbC4W0o
— MLB (@MLB) June 3, 2018
But here's the secret. Despite the perception that Kemp's skills had waned in recent years, he'd never stopped hitting.
I really don’t understand all this surprise that Matt Kemp is hitting. Dude has hit every year. He averaged .270, 31 2B, 26 HR, 91 RBI, .780 OPS the last three years in his “down” years. The bat was not the problem
— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) June 3, 2018
And with slow starts by Cody Bellinger (more on him later) and the season-ending injury to Corey Seager, Kemp's presence in the Dodgers lineup has straight-up saved Los Angeles' season. He was named the NL Player of the Week last week, and the narrative around Kemp, that he's a bad player and should be shunned from society, has never really been true from a fantasy standpoint.
So buy Matt Kemp without fear or reservation. Here are nine other players to buy or sell in Week 10 of the fantasy baseball season.
Sell Patrick Corbin
The Arizona Diamondbacks' Patrick Corbin got off to a hot start this year with a 2.25 ERA in 40 innings pitched in April, striking out 36.7% of batters while walking just 4.7%. In May, those numbers slipped, with an ERA last month of 3.82, a strikeout rate of 29.5% and a walk rate of 8.9% -- all though all of those numbers are still very good. But perhaps most troubling thing is a decrease in his fastball velocity.
In April, his fastball averaged between 91.7 and 92.6 miles per hour, whereas in May, it ranged from 88.9 to 90.2 miles per hour. While that certainly could be a monthly blip on the radar, now might be a nice time to sell Corbin if you can find someone willing to pay up for his April surge.
Buy Blake Snell
When you think of some of the best pitchers in the game, the name Blake Snell rarely springs to mind, but it probably should. The Tampa Bay Rays' ace (you read that right, Snell, not Chris Archer, is Tampa's best pitcher) is having a career year in his third MLB season. The lefty is 7-3 in 13 starts with a 2.36 ERA, 3.06 FIP, and 3.21 xFIP, with a strikeout rate that has gone up from 21.8% last year to 29.5% this season and a walk rate that has dropped from 10.8% in 2017 to 7.7% this year.
Opponents are hitting just .178 against him, fourth-lowest in baseball, and he's got a 0.94 WHIP. He's an improving young pitcher who is earning an All-Star birth for Tampa, but he doesn't have the name recognition yet as one of the best starters in the game. Snell is one of the rare cases where it looks like it's worth buying high on a breakout.
Sell Aaron Altherr
Given the state of the Philadelphia Phillies' offense, it would be easy to pick any member of the Phillies to sell right now. There's not a single hitter doing anything right in that lineup at the moment. However, one of the most disappointing players this year has been Aaron Altherr.
The young outfielder was expected to provide some pop in the middle of the lineup, but in 52 games (172 plate appearances), he is hitting .181/.308/.326 with 5 homers and 24 RBIs this season. The lack of power is very disappointing after he hit 19 dingers in 412 plate appearances last year, posting an ISO of .245. While he's increased his walk rate dramatically (7.8% to 15.1%), his isolated power has taken a nosedive, down from .245 a year ago. He's also whiffing more (25.2% to 30.8%).
This is his fourth season in the bigs and despite missing chunks of previous seasons to injury, he's been healthy this year and simply isn't producing.
Buy Mike Foltynewicz
Mike Foltynewicz has been one of the biggest reasons why the Atlanta Braves entered June sitting on top of the NL East. In 12 starts (69 innings), he's put up a 2.22 ERA and 3.09 FIP, and he hurled a complete game shutout in his last outing against the Washington Nationals.
Mike Foltynewicz is just the 3rd Braves player since 2000 to pitch a shutout while also striking out at least 10, joining Tim Hudson in 2008 and Greg Maddux in 2001. pic.twitter.com/vjUXUMKmCw
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 2, 2018
Foltynewicz appears to have taken that proverbial next step in his development. He's striking out more batters this year (28.2%) compared to last year (20.7%), and his opponents are hitting just .198 against him, down from .271 a year ago. He's increased his fastball velocity this season, with an average of 96.6 miles per hour, according to Fangraphs, up from 95.3 miles per hour a year ago. That's allowed him to throw that pitch more than ever, a whopping 44.2% of the time, a drastic increase from 33.7% a year ago.
It's time to believe that Folty is for real.
Sell Michael Fulmer
Michael Fulmer has always been an interesting test case in today's baseball. Can a pitcher who doesn't get a lot of strikeouts still be successful? In his first two seasons, he was, with an ERA of 3.06 in 2016 and 3.83 in 2017. He only struck out 20.4% of hitters in his rookie year, and he fanned just 16.9% last year, but he held opponents to a batting average of .228 and .239 in those two seasons.
This year, the punchouts are still down (19.4%), but the walk rate has shot up to 9.5%, and opponents are batting .250. The big problem is his home-run-per-fly-ball rate, which has jumped to a career high of 14.8%, resulting in career-worsts in ERA (4.73) and FIP (4.62).
In 2018, Fulmer is simply not the pitcher he was during his first two seasons in the Majors, and if you can get someone to pay for the previous version of him, it's a great time to get out.
Buy Edwin Encarnacion
There's a reason you don't give up on established big league players after one big month. After an April struggle in which he had an OPS of .593 and wOBA of .258, Edwin Encarnacion owned big league pitchers in May, posting an OPS of .985 and wOBA of .417. He was named AL Player of the Week last week, boasting a slash line of .407/.488/1.037 for the week. He's now hit 16 dingers this season, adding 40 RBIs and 30 runs scored.
It's probably too late to buy Encarnacion on the cheap, but he's back to being a force in the middle of the Cleveland Indians' lineup.
Sell Jackie Bradley Jr.
There was a time when Jackie Bradley Jr. looked like he was going to be one of the next great young players. And while he's still an elite-level defender in centerfield, he's essentially become fantasy irrelevant due to a lack of offense. His .262 wOBA this season ranks 152nd out of 158 qualified players, with a .194/.284/.293 slash line that is significantly worse than last season's .245/.323/.402 mark. His walk rate is exactly what it was last year (8.9%), but his strikeout rate has jumped from 22.9% to 27.4%.
However, Bradley is on a bit of a hot streak right now, batting .279/.354/.442 in his last 14 games (48 plate appearances), which you can at least use as your opening salvo in trade discussions with prospective owners in your league.
Buy Seranthony Dominguez
The Phillies' bullpen situation has been among the most frustrating for fantasy owners to figure out. Hector Neris entered the season as the closer, and although he may not pitch in the team's most high-leverage situations, he will likely still get save opportunities when the team has more than a one-run lead. Edubray Ramos will got some shots, too, as will Luis Garcia. But it's Seranthony Dominguez who is the Philly reliever to own right now.
In the Phils' victory over the Dodgers last Friday, Dominguez notched a two-inning, six-out save, and here's what he's done so far this season out of the bullpen, spearheaded by a sinker that is around 98 to 99 miles per hour.
Seranthony Dominguez's big-league career so far:
43 batters faced
It's not that easy
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) June 1, 2018
He is the Phillies' best reliever and while he may not get every save opportunity moving forward, he's going to get his fair share, and he will pile up strikeouts in whatever role he's utilized in.
Sell Cody Bellinger
Dodgers outfielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger is having massive struggles at the plate this season and has been virtually unusable in fantasy. However, he's one of those players whose talent is real, as we saw a year ago, so he is capable of breaking out at any time.
Or at least that is the pitch you should use when trying to sell Bellinger to another owner, because he's been fantasy death thus far in 2018.
Today is the first time Cody Bellinger hasn't started against a right-handed pitcher this season. He is 5 for his last 54 and hitting .226/.300/.415 overall
— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) June 3, 2018
Bellinger had a terrific rookie season last year when he slugged 39 home runs, setting an NL-rookie record, and racked up a .933 OPS. But this season, he's hit just 8 bombs with a .711 OPS, and he's been killing fantasy offenses everywhere. There has been talk of sending him down to the minors to figure out things, which would be all the more reason to sell Bellinger, who is obviously suffering from a sophomore slump.