We’re approaching the halfway point of the MLB season and the always exciting trade deadline. For many Fantasy Baseball players, it’s time to make one last acquisition that could shape the rest of your season. Of course, it’s hard to get someone to trade a superstar they drafted in the first few rounds. Therefore, my list focuses on identifying players who have a more reasonable chance of getting moved. Also, this advice is based on a one year league, not a keeper league.
I won’t spend much time on Kemp after including a section on him in my Padres post last week. While he is definitely a risk factor considering the Padres’ current struggles and his injury history, keep in mind that his contact rate is consistent with career numbers. Heck, he’s hit three Home Runs in the last nine games. A batting average that is bound to rise and a lineup with Wil Meyers coming back could make Matt Kemp a big factor in your late season push.
Full disclosure: Last week, Eaton For One (my fantasy team) completed a trade for Latos. I have skin in the game on this one. However, look at this from an unbiased standpoint: his strikeouts per 9 innings are back up and, despite a higher ERA, he is giving up long balls at a rate consistent to that of his career. True, he is giving up a higher number of extra base hits and line drives. However, this can be attributed to opposing hitters have a significantly higher batting average on balls in play and fly balls going into the outfield. I’m betting that these numbers drop back down as the season goes on, bringing big success as a number three pitcher on your staff. With the Marlins offense still a possibility to catch fire behind Giancarlo Stanton’s hot bat, a few extra wins could be coming as well.
Holy trade value, Batman! Yes, this could be the dumbest recommendation I make. After all, who would get rid of the so called Dark Knight of New York?! Well, he has been solid since coming back – averaging just under a strikeout per inning, an ERA of 3.18, and a number of other stats right in line with his fantastic 2014 numbers. However, he has started fading as of late – lowered strikeout totals, higher hits allowed, and fewer innings. To be honest, these things don’t bother me too much. If he wasn’t coming off Tommy John surgery, I wouldn’t care. But guess what? He is. These drops may be more a result of fatigue than just a bump in the road. The Mets have acknowledged that they would like to limit his innings, going as far as implementing a six man rotation instead of trading their extra starters. Let’s say his production levels don’t drop – Harvey’s time on the field will. This, combined with the Mets injured and impotent lineup, equates to fewer wins, fewer K’s and fewer fantasy points. Pair that with a strong chance of reinjuring himself, and suddenly trading a guy everyone thinks is a no-brainer hold makes sense. Work this trade right, and the haul you bring in could greatly outperform Harvey’s second half numbers.
It’s true that people fear things they can’t understand –after all, that’s how I feel about Valbuena. Everyone knows I’m not on the Astros’ bandwagon, but this is different. I have a hard time even saying he is doing well, though those who love power would disagree. Objectively, Valbuena has never done much offensively. He has a career batting average of .226 and his batting average this year is not only below that, but below the Mendoza line. In his “breakout” year, only three stats have improved: Home Runs, Home Runs per plate appearance, and Home Runs per fly ball. That’s right: his strikeout rate, walk rate, line drive rate, etc. are all the same as his career numbers or worse. Even his contact rate has declined. I can’t apologize for not believing in a guy who, though he hits Home Runs once every 13 at bats, does nothing else. Oh, and his career Home Run per plate appearance number? 32. Get me off this crazy ride as fast as possible.
Going to Cardinals’ Spring Training games every year, I’ve heard the upside this guy for years. You know what? He deserves it. Wong has improved every year and is currently a top producer at a shallow fantasy position. Both his batting average and his batting average on balls in play have jumped nearly 40 points this year. The key indicators that this success is sustainable: an improved walk rate, higher line drive rate, and higher extra base hit percentage all based off a consistent contact rate. Basically, he’s maturing and showing a smarter approach. Wong is a hold primarily because if you are undervaluing him, it feels like my civic duty to make sure you don’t. So quit. We’re done here. Hang on to him.
Any players you are targeting? Let me know in the comment section below!