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Fantasy Baseball Q1 Report: Updated rankings, buy low candidates, prospects worth stashing & more

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Is Mike Trout a Buy Low?

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Q1 is in the books for the fantasy season if you are playing in a roto league. As the season is 25% complete, I reflected and projected over the weekend with the following agenda:

  1. Cut candidates
  2. Buy low candidates
  3. MLB ready prospects and bench stashes
  4. Major ranking adjustments
  5. Sell High
  6. Re-drafting the first 100 picks

Cut Candidates

Yu Darvish – He’s still getting strikeouts but he looks washed. Tyler Mahle can get you K’s and probably has more upside at this stage.

Travis Shaw – The last player I recall that got an “entire weekend off” was Chris Davis on the Orioles. Keston Hiura is lurking. This is great news for Moustakas too. Travis Shaw also has options remaining while Aguilar does not. So when it comes time for Hiura, Shaw has a much higher probability to lose his job.

Rick Porcello – He has not been consistent enough to hold onto for players with more upside. I won’t own players like Porcello because they will block me from owning players like Soroka, Domingo German, Caleb Smith, and Max Fried. It’s too late for these players now but owning Porcello will limit your ability to take a shot on Mahle, Giolito or Corbin Martin.

Buy Low Candidates

In my last buy and sell piece I told you to buy the following players:

  • Jack Flaherty
  • Michael Conforto
  • Clint Frazier
  • Yandy Diaz
  • Craig Kimbrel
  • Jose Leclerc
  • Caleb Smith

I do believe in all of these players still. Flaherty has underachieved but has faced the Brewers three times, the Cubs and the Phillies. In his other three starts, he’s given up one run total. I think better days are ahead. When are the Braves signing Kimbrel? Caleb Smith has continued to be dominant. I’m not dropping Leclerc but I’m not starting him either.

New Names to Monitor

Mike Trout – Yes, Mike Trout is a buy low. I’ve been getting offers to receive Mike Trout and they are not completely outrageous like in past seasons. With the emergence of Yelich and Bellinger, Mike Trout’s relative immortality is not overwhelming. I believe it is evident to the clear majority that Trout is the most valuable asset in fantasy due to his consistently elite production. However, he’s not having a career year and thanks to Yelich and Bellinger, his perceived “immortality” is dwindling. I believe you may be able to get Trout with Acuna or Arenado plus, say Michael Brantley or Zack Wheeler. Those are trades I’d make.

Jose Ramirez – He’s been awful since late last season so people may be jumping ship. He’s still stealing bases and his recent walk off dong may help him turn the corner. See if someone will bite on Manny Machado.

Trea Turner – He’s going to be back soon. There will be a report coming out very soon that will erase any discount you get. I’d be offering a Carrasco type for him and see if I get a bite. With stolen bases this scarce, I may offer Nola.

Vlad Guerrero Jr. – He’s been useless so far. He’s just too good to be this bad. This is a lay-up if someone is impatient. I’ll throw out Jeff McNeil, Charlie Morton, or someone in that range and see if it sticks. I wonder if I could get Vlad for Eloy right now? Probably not, but you can’t blame me for trying.

MLB Ready Prospects and Stashes

I wrote an article three weeks ago outlining some of my stash candidates and here they are with Yahoo ownership percentages at the time and ownership percentages as of today:

  • Mike Soroka – 21% owned (74% owned as of May 12)
  • Tyler Mahle – 9% owned (shockingly only 21% owned as of May 12, up from 10% yesterday).
  • J.D. Davis – 4% owned (2% owned as of May 12 due to playing time)
  • Cavan Biggio – 1% owned (3% owned as of May 12)
  • Yordan Alvarez – 2% owned (32% owned as of May 12). You are probably too late in competitive leagues at this point. I hope you listened to me when he was 2% owned.
  • Carter Kieboom – 4% owned (7% owned as of May 12 after his call-up and subsequent demotion).
  • Alex Reyes – 22% owned (18% owned as of May 12)
  • Michael Chavis – 7% owned (64% owned as of May 12)
  • Darwinzon Hernandez – 0% owned (0% owned as of May 12)

J.D. Davis and Kieboom were short term plays, but players like Soroka, Biggio, Alvarez and Chavis have all at least tripled in ownership and I’ve made sure they are owned in all of my leagues. I’m still buying in on Darwinzon because David Price is ailing, Eovaldi is on the IL, and E-Rod has struggled. The Red Sox have started Hector Velazquez and Josh Smith lately. I am wondering if it was just a case of Darwinzon not lining up in the rotation.

New Names to Monitor

Keston Hiura – 6% owned in Yahoo leagues. As we mentioned before, Shaw has options. The last three MVPs of the Arizona Fall League have been Gleyber Torres, Ronald Acuna, and Keston Hiura. He’s killing Triple-A and ready to go. Brendan Rodgers is owned in 9% of Yahoo leagues and he should be less owned than Hiura.

Matt Manning – 1% owned. 50 strikeouts in 35.2 innings and a 2.27 ERA. He has arguably been better than Mize and has more experience. The Tigers have nothing to lose.

Will Craig – 0% owned. Most people looking at prospect lists will turn to Ke’Bryan Hayes. Not I. Craig found his power stroke in 2018, hitting 20 homers and leading the Arizona Fall League in homers. He has sold out a bit in batting average but has shown the power he was drafted in the first round for. He has nine homers already in Triple-A while hitting .256 with a .262 BABIP. His strikeout rate is reasonable at 21.6%. I was all in on Hoskins before he was promoted. I was all in on Pete Alonso before he was promoted. This is the same profile. Sign me up.

Major Rankings Adjustments

Personally, I feel most significant ranking adjustments don’t set in until the next season. Take Walker Buehler, for example. At the end of last season, you were still able to buy him for about $10 of value. Coming into this season, he was a $20 player minimum. You can say a similar thing for Mondesi. Conversely, it took an offseason for managers to realize the decline in value of certain stars like Miggy, Braun, and Cano. You can gain a significant advantage getting ahead of the curve and realizing these players are not sell high players, rather buy high.

Josh Bell Josh Bell is hammering the ball. He had prospect pedigree and is now the meat of the Pirates lineup and arguably their best player. He came into the year as a $2-3 auction player. He’s more likely a $10-15 player at this point and easily a top-10 option at first base.

Austin Meadows – Again a $2-5 player entering the season. Meadows is proving to be a stud and I would not be surprised at all to see him going for Benintendi cost next season. He is a top-20 outfielder.

Pete Alonso – Pete is basically Rhys Hoskins as I’ve been saying since the preseason. He’s a $20 player and I would trade Jose Abreu straight up for him. He is a top seven first baseman.

Luis Castillo – Luis Castillo is a $20 pitcher right now. If Glasnow did not get injured, I’d say the same for him. He is a top-15 starting pitcher.

Sell High Candidates

Without getting into much detail, this is a list of players I would sell high on:

  1. Tim Anderson
  2. Michael Brantley
  3. Jeff McNeil
  4. Hunter Dozier
  5. George Springer
  6. Hyun-Jin Ryu
  7. Paul DeJong
  8. Kole Calhoun
  9. Mike Minor
  10. Zach Eflin

Updated Top 100

A few things to note here: these are rest of season rankings assuming no injuries and no innings limits. These are essentially your early 2020 rankings presuming players do not age.

  1. Mike Trout
  2. Christian Yelich
  3. Mookie Betts
  4. Cody Bellinger
  5. Alex Bregman
  6. Jose Ramirez
  7. Ronald Acuna
  8. Jose Altuve
  9. Francisco Lindor
  10. Trea Turner
  11. Nolan Arenado
  12. Jacob deGrom
  13. Max Scherzer
  14. Justin Verlander
  15. Trevor Story
  16. Trevor Bauer
  17. Javier Baez
  18. Aaron Judge
  19. Paul Goldschmidt
  20. Gerrit Cole
  21. Whit Merrifield
  22. Andrew Benintendi
  23. J.D. Martinez
  24. Freddie Freeman
  25. Manny Machado
  26. Juan Soto
  27. Charlie Blackmon
  28. George Springer
  29. Bryce Harper
  30. Anthony Rizzo
  31. Carlos Correa
  32. Anthony Rendon
  33. Luis Severino
  34. Rhys Hoskins
  35. Tyler Glasnow
  36. Luis Castillo
  37. Jose Berrios
  38. Chris Sale
  39. Kris Bryant
  40. Giancarlo Stanton
  41. Aaron Nola
  42. Pete Alonso
  43. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
  44. Daniel Murphy
  45. Xander Bogaerts
  46. Adalberto Mondesi
  47. Patrick Corbin
  48. Corey Kluber
  49. Mike Clevinger
  50. Chris Paddack
  51. Walker Buehler
  52. Victor Robles
  53. Carlos Carrasco
  54. Noah Syndergaard
  55. Fernando Tatis Jr.
  56. Jack Flaherty
  57. Austin Meadows
  58. Stephen Strasburg
  59. Matt Chapman
  60. Michael Conforto
  61. Starling Marte
  62. Ozzie Albies
  63. Tommy Pham
  64. Edwin Diaz
  65. Craig Kimbrel
  66. Khris Davis
  67. James Paxton
  68. German Marquez
  69. Josh Bell
  70. Caleb Smith
  71. Blake Treinen
  72. Kirby Yates
  73. Matt Boyd
  74. Kenley Jansen
  75. Aroldis Chapman
  76. Eugenio Suarez
  77. Gleyber Torres
  78. Josh Hader
  79. Justin Turner
  80. Clayton Kershaw
  81. Corey Seager
  82. Brad Hand
  83. Michael Brantley
  84. Jean Segura
  85. Felipe Vazquez
  86. Lorenzo Cain
  87. Shane Bieber
  88. Aaron Hicks
  89. J.T. Realmuto
  90. Gary Sanchez
  91. Nick Senzel
  92. Zack Greinke
  93. Mitch Haniger
  94. Michael Chavis
  95. Marcel Ozuna
  96. Yandy Diaz
  97. Yoan Moncada
  98. Eloy Jimenez
  99. David Dahl
  100. Yordan Alvarez

Just missed: Mike Soroka, Matt Olson, Keston Hiura, Kyle Tucker, Michael Kopech, Willson Contreras, Yasmani Grandal, Domingo Santana, Jesus Luzardo, Forrest Whitley, Nick Castellanos, Zack Wheeler, Mike Foltynewicz, Jesse Winker