June 26, 2022, 11:58 am
Spending this last week in the Dominican Republic, I’ve been thinking about some of the great baseball players that have originated from this country, arguably the greatest per capita producer of talent in our sport. Adrian Beltre, Vladimir Guerrero Sr., David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, and Albert Pujols (to name just a few) are all among the greatest players in history and all have been (or will be) enshrined in Cooperstown.
To bring this back to fantasy, they were all perennial first round draft choices in both redraft and dynasty leagues, and I wanted to start this piece off by tipping my hat to the aforementioned greats, and all of the wonderful former, current, and future players that hail from this beautiful country.
The story of baseball simply wouldn’t be what it is without the Dominican.
This week, I’m going to be looking at three players to be buying and three to be selling. Some of these guys have been red hot lately, and you can turn a profit on them, while other slumping players (or players flying under the radar) can be bought at a discount in the hopes of bringing home a championship this season.
Let’s get to it!
It’s been a tough season for Ted Willi… I mean Juan Soto.
He’s had a career-low .214 average and his OBP is under .400 for the first time in his young career (.363), and there are a couple of reasons why. He’s got the 4th worst BABIP (batting average on balls in play for the uninitiated) in the majors at .209, and his walks have fallen from 22.2% to 18.3% (still an absolutely ridiculous number, and in the 100th percentile in the bigs, but a drop nonetheless).
It’s just hard to worry about someone with his talent, and his statcast page is a good way to settle bad feelings in your stomach. Soto’s a strong buy for me considering that he was a consensus top-5 pick this year, and he’s currently ranked outside of the top 120. He’ll still be expensive, no question, but he certainly wont cost you as much as he did to begin the season.
It’ll likely set you back a couple of top-100 guys, but consider going for him if you have one of the players I’ll mention below in the sell-high section, or if you have some other over-performing players that you could package together (I’m looking at you, Martin Perez).
It could be a perfect storm that lands you the best hitter in baseball (Sorry, Yordan).
Donovan is the ultimate fantasy utility guy, having eligibility literally everywhere except the catcher position, and he makes for a great buy right now. He’s not going to blow you away in any particular category, but Donovan makes for a great guy to have on your bench and provide backend value that you can plug in anywhere. He’s hit .310 with 47 R+RBI to this point, granted while only hitting one home run and stealing two bases.
That’s ok though. He’s in the middle (and sometimes at the top) of one of the best lineups in baseball, and recently he’s been fifth in the lineup behind Nolan Arenado and NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt, a pretty safe place to be particularly for RBI production.
He’s not the sexiest name, but he can be acquired for next to nothing and can be inserted in the lineup when one of your regulars guys has a day off. Donovan’s only rostered in 63% of Yahoo leagues and 42% on ESPN, so add him if you can, but I’d say he’s a great target to buy if someone already snagged him up.
Odds are Jesse’s gone virtually sleepless during his time in Seattle (Ha!) after his very rough start to the year. He hasn’t had much BABIP help, with a .262 number on the year, the 31st worst mark in baseball, which has dragged his average down from his career-high .305 last year to .230 this year. There are, however, some positive signs.
He’s increased his walk rate from 10.9% to 15.8%, and has been able to maintain a high OBP (.347) because of it. Lower than what he’s done over that past five years (.378) but still very good, even more so when looking at his low AVG.
We’ve seen a turnaround lately, as he is 13 for his last 37 (.351) with a couple of bombs over the last two weeks, a span which has included five multi-hit games. In that span, he’s walking a league high 27.5% of the time, while his BABIP has been .455, a number that obviously wont sustain but the start of a correction we should see more of going forward.
Winker appears to be settling into his surroundings, but there still isn’t much buzz around him as he still ranks outside the top 500 for the year. I love him a a buy candidate and he, like Donovan, can be acquired for next to nothing. Hell, some people have already moved on and you can get him for free, as he’s only 62% rostered in Yahoo leagues.
I’m going to catch some flack for this one, but I want you guys to hear me out. Yes, Berti’s had a magical run recently, but to expect it to continue at this rate is shortsighted. Stealing 19 bases in a month is exceedingly rare, and when it happens, you can’t expect a repeat performance, especially from a 32 year old.
Berti only has two categories going for him this year: SB and AVG. He doesn’t hit any home runs and he wont have many RBI opportunities batting leadoff. He’s always been a good BABIP guy, with a career .334, but his career average is .255, and this year those numbers are .388 and .292, respectively. This will normalize more over time, which will lead to a lower average, which means less time on base, which means fewer opportunities to steal. See what I’m getting at?
Especially in roto formats, I would bank the production he’s given you and move on. People are always looking for steals, and considering he’s constantly being talked about, you will almost certainly be able to get more for him than he’s worth. Odds are, you can pry a top-75 ROS talent away for Berti, or maybe even better.
Swanson has been the wind beneath the sails for a lot of teams this year. He’s returned top-tier value (1st round total value, 2nd round on a per game basis), and he’s done it from an ADP of about 120 (averaging out the major fantasy sites). While it has indeed been lovely, there’s almost no chance that Swanson can maintain this pace throughout the remainder of the season.
His BABIP for the season is an absurd .392, the 5th highest mark among qualified hitters. The league average is about .300 and Swanson’s career mark is .313 . He simply will not keep up the pace he is on. He’s also hit his career-high in steals already (11) while maintaining about the same sprint speed as years past. Maybe he’s just more aggressive now, but I’m inclined to believe that his steals will taper off as the year drags on and attrition sets into the body.
His value is through the roof right now, so I wouldn’t just be giving him away. I’d be demanding a surefire top-50 player with a bit more consistency in their past or perhaps a young stud pitcher, as it’s easier to trade across positions. Value tends to be harder to line up. I would target a Trevor Story, Joe Musgrove, CJ Cron or another player in that production range.
I really like Happ, and I don’t have any problems with keeping him, but I think you can milk some value out of his play so far this season. He’s produced at a top-90 rate on the backing of 8 HR, 69 R+RBI, 5 SB and a .288 average. For starters, Happ’s never before hit over .264 and is at .247 for his career. Lucky year or an actual improvement?
Well, he’s got his best BABIP since 2018 (.339), and he’s usually around .317, not a massive discrepancy but something that will likely trend downwards as the season goes on. He has lowered his strikeouts from 29.3% down to 19.4%. Good, yes, but also very random. He’s actually swinging at more pitches outside of the zone (28.8% this year to 26.3% last year) but the difference is that his O-Contact% (how often a batter makes contact when a pitch is thrown outside the zone) has gone up to 61.7% as opposed to his 51.7% career number. Now, he could have just improved at hitting outside pitches, but it’s a big red flag for me when combined with the K%.
Like I said, Happ is still solid and I don’t mind keeping him, but you can capitalize on some of his good luck and get yourself someone who is even better in return. Aim for a top-100 player, someone with more certainty in their value, such as Giancarlo Stanton, Randy Arozarena or Marcus Semien, among others.
Thanks for taking the time to read! I know everyone leads busy lives, so you (Yes, you!) are appreciated for carving out a few minutes to take a look.
See you next week, or maybe even before if you hit me up on Twitter. I’ll answer any questions, comments, or concerns that you have with this article or with other analyses that I’ve put out on the bird app or my podcast. Check out the latest episode.