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Fantasy baseball buy & sell: Week 3

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Should you buy into these hot starts?

Getty Images/USA TODAY Sports/Pete Rogers Illustrations

We are about two weeks into a long season. There have been several players that are just going bonkers. When looking to trade, or even pick up off waivers, you must consider whether or not this player has sustainable value. Has the stock peaked or is this going to be a new market high for this player? These are the difficult decisions when navigating small sample sizes. Should you curb your enthusiasm or be an early adapter to a permanent change in value?

Tim Anderson

He’s a perfect 4-for-4 on the basepaths right now, which is good but not far out of line from expectations. He has a BABIP of .607 and is hitting .514 which is pretty decent if you are playing men’s softball. His line drive rate, hard hit percentage and home run to fly ball rates do not signal a breakout. He has only walked once so far, which is consistent with his historical futility in the OBP department. He won’t be a free agent anywhere, but I’m not going to pay his current price in trade.

Verdict: Sell

Domingo Santana

Santana is one year removed from a monster season in Milwaukee. He went 30/15 with a .371 OBP and I expect a repeat performance, as he’s reduced his strikeout rate while keeping a walk rate of over 10% (consistent with his track record). So far, he’s substantially improved his Z-Contact% to 89.2% (career mark was 80.5%). However, we are dealing with a small sample still. He’s nearly cut his swinging strike percentage in half. His line drive rate is 39.5% so far and his hard hit is 48.8%. I think you are looking at a league winning pick in Santana. I would not sell high as he could easily end as a top-50 player. He’s already stolen three bases to boot!

Verdict: Buy

Pete Alonso

My most owned hitter, Peter has been swinging so hard that the “R” has fallen off his name. I’ve written about Alonso quite a bit this year, starting from when he was being drafted with an ADP of close to 300. All he has done is rake for over a year. Double-A, Triple-A, and Spring Training were all a joke for Alonso. Would he win a starting job? Yup! He hasn’t stopped. He leads baseball in barrels per plate appearance and is top-15 in average and maximum exit velocity. Pete hit ball hard! So far he’s done his home run damage off high leverage relief pitchers but also has torched Strasburg, Corbin, and Scherzer with doubles with exit velocities ranging from 106 to 112 mph. The peripherals aren’t sparkling as he has a high BABIP, a 14.6% swinging strike rate, and a 80.5% Z-Contact rate. I’ve comped him to Rhys Hoskins in terms of his upside, and I think he’s approaching it already. I would be surprised if he is not a top-50 player by the end of the season at this point.

Verdict: Buy RIGHT now

Tim Beckham

Another Mariners player makes this list because of a hot start. This guy was the first overall pick 11 years ago, and he is still only 29 years old. He has improved his walk rate in this small sample size, but we’ve seen Beckham go off for short periods of time before. Like Santana, his swinging strike percentage has dipped from 14.4% for his career to 8.2% this season. However, the Mariners brought in J.P. Crawford for a reason and Beckham has been known to be streaky. I’m taking a flier where I have the roster space.

Verdict: Buy

Enrique Hernandez

Hernandez has started hot and is playing almost everyday. He’s batting .359 with a .379 BABIP. There are some playing time concerns and place in the batting order concerns. He’s batted leadoff for most games but also fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth so far. Moreover, the Dodgers aren’t exactly the healthiest squad. He does not contribute to stolen bases and his power is likely limited to 25 homers as a ceiling. That said, his barrels, exit velocity, and hard hit data appear average to slightly above average. His line drive rate is below average this year and he is a career .279 BABIP player. This year, the only notable pitchers he has made hard contact against are Bumgarner and Greinke. Both of these pitchers I’m not too sure on anymore. I would like to see what Hernandez does across a full season and off of higher caliber pitching. I believe he is able to trend up as he was left on waivers for most of last season. Don’t forget that Gavin Lux is raking in the minors and could debut this season.

Verdict: Sell, but he should retain value in deeper formats

Tyler Glasnow

My most owned pitcher. We saw Glasnow transform after the trade to the Rays last season. For someone with control issues, an increase of 10% in first pitch strikes is a nice sign. Also there is an uptick in velocity and he was said to have altered his delivery with a pause. The percentage of contact to the opposite field has skyrocketed this year, indicating batters are not nearly as comfortable. Has this translated to results? 32.8% K%, 4.7% BB% (by far the lowest of his career), a 1.59 ERA and 0.53 WHIP. This guy is breaking out. He was my pick to be this year’s Snell and he is proving me right.

Verdict: Buy

Luis Castillo

He is the pitching version of Domingo Santana – one year removed from a breakout. Perhaps Santana is an outlier on this list because his poor 2018 was a mix of opportunity and performance. Castillo was purely a performance issue. A 16.7% swinging strike rate is a big reason for his success which has also translated into a 57.4% contact rate (down from a 72.0% career mark). This is significant. Batters are also swinging 39.3% of the time (vs. 48.1% career mark). This tells me that hitters do not know what to expect and when they do swing, they are missing. Despite the fact he is throwing less in the zone, his Z-Contact% and O-Contact% are down. This leads me to believe he is breaking out again.

Verdict: Buy to value him closer to his upside

Shane Greene

Well, he’s a closer with a firm hold on his job. Eight innings, seven strikeouts, eight saves, no runs, barely any hits or walks. I was not buying Greene going into the season. The Tigers have played the Blue Jays, Royals, Yankees, and Indians. With the exception of the Yankees, those are horrific lineups. Tigers are pacing to win 108 games and collect 108 saves. He does play in an awful division, but I will go out on the limb to say that this will not persist, and neither will Greene’s emergence as a top-10 overall fantasy option.

Verdict: Sell

Austin Meadows

Another Ray makes the list who was brought over in the Chris Archer deal. He’s hit .341 with four homers and two steals so far. He’s always had the pedigree and now has the playing time. I’ll defer to anything Joe Gentile has written over the past three months on this one as he drafted him in the first round of our Fake Teams and Friends draft.

Verdict: Buy, but it’s too late if you play in a league with Joe

Dan Vogelbach

Another Mariner. Weren’t they supposed to be bad this year? He is now 13th in barrels per plate appearance and has five homers in 26 at bats so far. He looks like he’s earning an opportunity in Seattle with an average exit velocity of an absurd 99.7 mph in the small sample size. He’s lit up Glenn Sparkman, Homer Bailey, Reynaldo Lopez (and his 12.00+ ERA), Trevor Cahill, Ivan Nova, and, well, you get the point. Even though he is still faster than Mike Moustakas, he still has to prove himself against legitimate opponents.

Verdict: Sell for now, but I’m watching and ready to buy

Max Fried

I’m so high on Max Fried that when I go out for steak, I don’t order it well done. I order it Max Fried. I’ll pause for you to recover from the hilarity and say that Fried was one of a number of pitchers that could break out early this year. I like him along with Kyle Wright, Matt Strahm, Tyler Mahle, Corbin Burnes, and others for their prices. The difference is Fried has performed and one of his starts was in Coors. He is a hard throwing lefty and has strikeout ability. He has not given up a run over two starts but hasn’t displayed his swing and miss ability yet. To buy in over the other pitchers I mentioned, I think is short-sighted. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve added him wherever I could because I know that a couple of these pitchers will break out and he might be one. I still cannot even marginally value him much higher than those others I listed.

Verdict: Sell