Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fantasy Pickup, Musings, and Trade Ideas Heading into Week Four

It's Easter Sunday as I write this, and Week Four starts on Monday in most leagues, so this column is essentially my reaction to what we know from the first three weeks.  I'm going to talk about guys who are hot and who are cold, and end the column with pickups for those of you in weekly leagues.  Anything I say in terms of cutting or picking up guys is in ten-team mixed leagues....Adjust accordingly for your deeper or AL/NL-Only leagues.

The Crawford Situation

Carl Crawford 's ADP was 4.2 in ESPN standard leagues. Crawford is currently the 108th ranked outfielder according to ESPN's player rater.  Obviously owners are panicking, and if he wasn't undroppable in ESPN leagues, I'm sure his ownership would be lower than 100%.  I own him in one of my leagues so I'm well researched, so I'm telling all owners to calm down.  There is no reason to believe he won't bounce back here.  He's a career .294 hitter over 5400 plate appearances in his nine plus year major league career and won't turn thirty until August, so he should be in the prime of his career.  It's not a physical thing, he's still got the talent.  His BABIP is down to just .188 from his career .329 mark, and that points to it being at least in part due to bad luck.
Crawford just got off to a slow start and is slumping, but he's going to come around.  If you read this and you are an owner, hang onto him.  If you don't own him, he's the ultimate buy low candidate.  If the player who owns him in your league is willing to shop him, put together and offer.  The average is going to get back up to at least around .280, and that means some higher than .280 numbers from here on out.  He only has twelve hits and four walks on the year, but has already turned that into four stolen bases.  When he starts hitting, he's going to keep running up the stolen base totals, and that's where his value is supposed to be.  He's gone 2/4 in the each of the last two days, and hit his first homer of the season on Sunday.  If he's turning it around now, you might want to get an offer in for him now before it's too late.

Buying Low On...

Jason Heyward - ADP 43.3 - Position Rank (PRK) 49 - Young Heyward's value is down right now due to his average, but his numbers say that should come back up.  His BABIP is .218, down from .335 last year and from his ZiPS projected .300.  His isolated power is actually higher than both last year what was projected of him and his strikeout rate is lower than projected.  The balls are going to start dropping, and when they do he'll get the average up.  I also expect him to end the season outpacing both his ZiPS and ESPN projections in terms of home runs.  Get him while his owner is worried.

Brett Gardner - ADP 109.8 - PRK 89 - Gardner has been hitting just .154 to start the season and that is definitely due to some bad hitting.  However, Gardner's defense is too good for the Yankees to take him out of the lineup, so he's going to have plenty of at bats to turn it around.  Kevin Long is a really good hitting coach for the Yankees, and their players don't end up staying down too long.  He'll start hitting for a passable average, and when he does he'll start swiping more bases, and he has elite speed.  Make an offer if your team needs speed.

Dan Uggla - ADP 34.4 - PRK 26 - I made a trade for Uggla in one of my leagues the other day, because I got good value buying low from another owner.  He's hitting just .176 on the year, but his BABIP is at .177... 121 points off of his career .298 BABIP.  His isolated power is still there, and he's only a .237 hitter in March/April on his career anyways.  The calender is about to turn to May, Uggla's best month where is a .294 career hitter.  Uggla hit another homer on Sunday, so he might be turning it around early.  Get him now while he's still cheap, and enjoy the production later in the year.

Selling High On...

Lance Berkman - ADP 204.1 - PRK 2 (1B) - Berkman hit all of his six home runs over a five game burst two weeks ago, and has fallen back down to earth since.  Berkman is 35 years old, and isn't going to keep up any sort of pace over a full season.  His BABIP is 40 points higher than his career mark, and his average is currently near 70 points higher than his career mark.  The steroid era is over, so guys don't start raking again at 35 anymore.  His value is still sort of high with that outburst in everyone's memory, so take whatever you can get for him right now.  Remember that he was a twentieth round pick, so if you even get tenth round value for him, it's a great trade up.

Placido Polanco - ADP 203.3 - PRK 2 (3B) - While I believe that Polanco can keep up the runs scored and RBIs in the Philly lineup, he's not going to keep up a .370 BABIP and .367 AVG.  He's 35 just like Berkman, and isn't going to have any sort of late career resurgence for the same reasons.  Move him while his value is up, and take anything you can get.  Even at a weak third base this year,  Polanco won't finish in the top ten.

Jeff Francoeur - ADP 260 (Undrafted) - PRK 6 (OF) - Francoeur is a decent hitter and has a rocket arm that makes up for some sub-par range on defense, but he isn't going to end the year as a top fifty outfielder.  He's hitting .325, 56 points above his .269 career average.  The average is going to fall off and when it does, he's not going to get on base enough via walks to give you too many runs.  The power is also a mirage, and the Royals shouldn't keep scoring at a rate to keep the RBIs up.  Francoeur cost you nothing, so flip him for anything.

Cutting Ties With...

Carlos Pena - ADP 145.4 - PRK 39 (1B) - Pena's power might come back at some point this year, but there is no reason to hold onto him until it does.  He's currently murdering your average for no power exchange, and there are replacements available for you.  Cut him, and pick him up in May if the power comes back.

Chone Figgins - ADP 127.6 - PRK 33 (2B) - Figgins isn't hitting for average, and isn't part of a lineup that is going to make him a candidate for lots of runs and RBIs.  He's only going to contribute in stolen bases, but there are other options available for you at middle infield that aren't going to be killing your average right now. Get rid of him.

Delmon Young - ADP 87.5 - PRK 102 (OF) - While a look at his BABIP and AVG makes you think Young might turn it around, his isolated power (Slugging-average) is down to just .031.  If he's not going to give you much power and the Minnesota lineup keeps looking as bad as it does, then Young really doesn't have any fantasy value.  Cut him and call it a day.

Hitters I Wanna Pickup....

Alex Avila - 28.3% Owned - PRK 3 (C) - Avila has been hot to start off the year, and i know the BABIP is high, but even when it falls he should still have plenty of value.  Avila is a source of solid power from the Catcher position, and it's always better to have the young player on the upside of his career.  If Mauer is out for you, Avila will make a fine fill in.

Freddie Freeman - 47.5% Owned - PRK 17 (1B) - Freeman started off the year a little cold, but seems to have been swinging his way into what was expected of him this year over the last two weeks.  The Braves lineup is good and Freeman will be a solid option as a Corner Infielder this year.

Mike Aviles - 11.6% Owned - PRK 25 (2B) - I've been touting Aviles since before the season started, and while he started off slow which hurt his playing time, he was 3/5 Sunday with a pair of home runs.  He's a solid infielder with pop and speed and could be as much as close to a 15/30 guy if the playing time picks up after his pair of home runs.  Wilson Betemit is the guy keeping him from playing right now, so it shouldn't be too hard for Aviles to win back the majority share of the platoon.

Johnny Damon - 44.3% Owned - PRK 18 (OF) - While Damon is on the wrong side of his career at this point, he's currently one of the best hitters available to the Rays.  With Manny gone, it means that Damon will play most days because they can DH him comfortably.  Take Damon and ride him until he cools off.

Pitchers That Must Be Owned....

These are guys that are owned in between 50 and 99% of ESPN leagues that should be owned in all of them.  I offer up streaming starters everyday right here on the blog from the pool of guys available in 50% or more of leagues.  The guys I'm going to list here are some of the guys you need to get on your roster before they are owned in every league.

Michael Pineda - 91.8% Owned - The main thing that was dragging down Pineda's value on draft day was his expected innings cap for the year.  Now that it's free, he should be owned in every league, because he's going to give you three quarters of the season of amazing numbers.  If you happen to be in the 8.2% of leagues where he is not owned, get him now.

Justin Masterson - 82.6% Owned - Masterson has been great through four starts this year, with a 1.71 ERA and 1.14 WHIP while getting a win in each game.  The Indians offense is going to have him in a position for a lot of wins this year, and Masterson should start striking out more guys than he already has been so far.  Grab him if he's available.

Kyle Lohse - 70.5% Owned - Lohse has been great so far this year, and while I doubt he'll keep it up for the full year, he should be owned until he eventually gets beat up.  Grab him and ride him until the wheels fall off.

Zach Britton - 57.7% Owned - Britton is an early candidate for AL Rookie of the Year, and should be owned in your league.  He's going to keep striking guys out at a solid rate all year, and has the tools to give you good numbers all year.  The next two starts aren't the most appealing, but he has smooth schedule after that all the way to the end of June.

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