As we are rapidly getting closer to the midseason point of the major league baseball season, many fantasy leagues are busier than ever in the trades department. You probably have a pretty good idea at this point of what you think your team needs to get to the top, or stay at the top, of your league standings, and as the sample size gets larger, it gets more and more tempting to trust some of the gaudy "on pace" numbers that players who have gotten off to a prolonged hot start are projected to end the season with. No one, of course, wants to be the owner who buys high on the players who have been over-performing since April, only to make a trade and watch their new players make an ugly -- and perhaps predictable -- fade between now and the end of September.
I'm going to take a look at three hitters who have seriously outperformed expectations so far this season. Going into the season each of them was ranked outside of the top 100, using composite ADP from the top five fantasy websites. Meanwhile, while looking at fantasy value provided so far in 2016, all three of them can be found in the top 20 or 25, and sometimes the top 10, in most fantasy websites/formats. These are the exact type of guys who I'd normally scoff at the thought of acquiring since I don't think anyone believes they can keep up their current pace. But at this point in the season, most fantasy owners probably have at least a few major holes to fill. I don't want to be in the position to avoid a trade that could help my team just because I know that a player may put up numbers in July through September that are somewhat disappointing compared to a flashy April through June. Just because those stats drop off somewhat doesn't mean that what stats they do put up can't still be extremely useful to my team. And if you can take advantage of an owner who feels a huge drop-off in production is imminent and is anxious to sell high, you may be able to get a better deal than you think.
Daniel Murphy. Murphy seems like one of those guys who is always overvalued, but somehow I think his ridiculous 2015 postseason actually served to overcorrect his value to the point that he looked like he might be a bargain as the season began; his ADP going in to the year was 156. So far, I am obviously glad I targeted him in several leagues, but I don't have any plans to sell. While part of me fears an epic Murphy slump must be coming to offset what to this point has been a major league leading .356 batting average, I am going to trust ZIPS and Steamer projections that the rest of his season will continue to be incredibly productive. With a current BABIP only nine points higher than his average, he is certainly due for some of the balls that have been finding holes to suddenly be finding gloves, but I don't think there is any way that he's just going to stop hitting. Yes, they both predict a home run drop off (ZIPS thinks he'll hit nine more, Steamer, seven), but both are otherwise optimistic, predicting 45/41 Runs, and 46/44 RBI. ZIPS projects a .303 batting average for the rest of the season, and Steamer is even more optimistic at .312, numbers that are clearly enough to make him valuable in just about any league. The Nationals lineup should only get better this summer -- Trea Turner should be added into the mix at some point, Bryce Harper will emerge from his current slump -- and this can only help Murphy's value. You may find an owner who wants to unload him before he stops hitting homers, who may not even realize how much Murphy could help a team in batting average alone if he puts up the second-half numbers he is predicted to.
Ian Desmond. It's always difficult for me to discuss Desmond rationally, as he is one of those guys whom I have NEVER seemed to own at the right time. Given how long it took him to find a job this spring, it appeared that real-life baseball teams were as terrified of owning him as most fantasy owners were. But congratulations to both the Rangers, and to the fantasy owners who drafted him in 2016, as he has outperformed his #118 fantasy ADP by leaps and bounds. With 11 home runs and 14 stolen bases, he is on pace to go 25/29... the kind of numbers that those of us who wasted an early-round pick on him last year were drooling over. He is another example of a player who, while it would be excruciatingly hard to give up the kind of value in a trade that he would merit at this point, could prove worth the investment. ZIPS thinks he'll hit 13 more home runs and steal 11 more bases this season, and those numbers might make enough different in your league that they'd be worth paying for. My biggest worry with Desmond would be the batting average, as he is hitting .312, a full 45 points above his career average. Be aware that this is where he could really hurt you as the year goes on -- while a player like Murphy can provide sneaky help in average (a category that I've found can be dangerously easy to ignore), a prolonged slump from Desmond that would bring him closer to his career numbers could hurt more than owners realize.
Wil Myers. His ADP coming into the season was 239. I was offered Myers in an NL-only league about six weeks ago... I can't even remember who the other owner asked for in return, but I know that, A) I rejected the deal immediately, and B) If it were offered to me again today, I'd probably accept as quickly as possible. I'm looking at his numbers thinking about how extra impressive it is that he's put them up as a member of the 2016 San Diego Padres -- one of the worst offensive teams, in one of the worst ballparks, in the major leagues. Also, if you'd asked me to guess how old Wil Myers is, I'd probably have said 33 or 34. He's 25! I barely had him on my radar coming in to the season, having honestly believed that he'd never fully overcome his nightmarish 2014, when he broke both of his wrists within a couple months of each other. If anyone has been wondering how long it takes to fully recover from two broken wrists, I think we now know that the answer is about two years. He is the kind of player who, when healthy as he now appears to be, does not seem to have any glaring weaknesses. He hits the ball all over the field as well as anyone, and even though he is not incredibly speedy, he is a very smart runner who has been caught stealing only once this year while stealing nine bases. Once again, he is a player who will not live up to his "on pace" numbers -- he is on pace for 106 runs, 101 RBI, 37 home runs, and 20 stolen bases -- but should still provide great value this season based on his projections. Steamer thinks he'll hit 15 more home runs, steal 8 bases, with 46 runs scored and 43 RBI for the rest of the season. Even though these numbers don't quite match up to what he's on pace for, I'd be pretty happy to add them to any fantasy team in any league as we get ready to hit the mid point of 2016.