After a long and unexpected delay, another column of “Fantasy in Five” is finally here! Obviously, you know I haven’t written a fantasy advice column in a few weeks. But while I was gone, we’ve seen the season expand into lots of surprises and upsets. Some players have lived up to expectations, while others have slumped so late to this point you don’t know if it’s a blip or trend. Here are five players you should either buy low on or trade for their value now.
Buy low: Ike Davis- While Davis has struggled majority of the season, there are good reasons why he’ll get better as the season comes along. One example is his line drive rate. During his shortened season in 2011, Davis had a 17 percent line drive percentage. He’s currently at 18.8 percent.
Another statistic to look at when examining Davis is his BABIP. BABIP is merely a luck stat that bases itself off either an opposite field or pulled hit. Usually, Davis’ BABIP averages around .330, and it currently is .187. If a BABIP is either really high or low, it signalizes a hitter’s luck. Clearly Davis isn’t lucky as of now, but with his line drive rate increasing, the hits will follow.
The only concern you should have about Davis is him hitting the curveball. Pitchers have adjusted to Davis knowing he can’t hit the curve and have thrown it more this season (19.7 of Davis’ pitches faced have been curveballs compared to 7.5 last season.) Although he’s seen the curve more, he should be able to manage more hits as the season comes along.
I recommend you try and trade for Davis right now, as this is as low Davis will play all season. Coming off a season-ending injury last year, he did hit .302 with seven home runs and 25 RBI’s in 2011. The potential and talent is there, so take advantage now before he heats up.
Sell high: R.A. Dickey- Well who saw this coming? A 37-year-old knuckleballer is the best pitcher in the National League? The dream has become a reality, and that’s exactly why you should sell high while you can.
Dickey has been on an absolute tear the past four starts. He’s only allowed two earned runs his past five starts (all winning decisions) along with 50 strikeouts. He’s even had at least ten or more strikeouts in three of these outings.
A reason why you should sell now on Dickey is his history. June has always been his best month (3.62 career ERA), but July (4.07) and August (4.67) haven’t been so friendly to him. Plus, Dickey’s career ERA is 4.13, so his current 2.20 isn’t going to stay.
As much as a good story he’s been all year, his stats are not going to keep par. Knuckleballers aren’t known to have low ERA’s or high amounts of strikeouts. Ride him a few more starts, but try and find someone who is in dire need of some pitching. His historic run is about to come to an end.
Buy low: Tim Lincecum- It might sound crazy at first, but this will be the lowest you’ll ever buy an ace of Lincecum’s caliber. Nobody knows what’s going on with him or why his team has lost his past eight starts. The velocity has been down, his pitches aren’t moving like they used to, and he hasn’t gotten many strikeouts.
What should convince you to buy on him now is a few sabermetrics. xFIP is an upcoming statistic that looks at a pitchers strikeouts, walks, home runs, and pitching in neutral ballparks. His xFIP is around the mid three’s, which is good for a pitcher. Along with xFIP, most power pitchers like Lincecum start off the season with a slower fastball and high walk rate, but they progress throughout the year.
Many owners who have drafted him so high are angry enough to give up on him, and this should be your chance to strike. Lincecum might not become the pitcher he was for the past few years now, but he should be able to rebound at any point. It shouldn’t get any worse.
Sell high: Alfonso Soriano- Knowing how Soriano has played the past few seasons, this wasn’t a shock that he was this good to start off the year. Soriano has become a streaky hitter; usually starting off a season hot, but regressing as the season progresses. And now that he’s 36, his regression should be a long one.
Don’t expect him to continue hitting .280 or even have a high on-base percentage. Soriano has struck out in over 21 percent of plate appearances, and with an increased amount of strikeouts, the average will soon fall. His BABIP is .302, which has been part of his success. Expect the BABIP to fall into the mid 200′s.
Since Soriano is putting up these numbers at the twilight of his career, this is why I’m recommending you sell. Not even that, but he’s been wearing knee braces and having problems running. You need to run in order to be an outfielder, so I expect his legs to give out as well. Sell now before you regret keeping him to waste a roster spot.
Buy low: Justin Upton- At this point, every fantasy owner who drafted Upton very high are annoyed with his lacking performance. It’s understandable, knowing that he’s hitting .250 with only five home runs and 22 RBI’s so far.
But why you should buy Upton now is because he’s a very streaky hitter. In his MVP-like 2011, he hit .250 in the months of May and June yet ended up with a .289 average. Of course he’s got the speed to steal another 20 bases and hit another 30 home runs. This year, he’s striking out less than he usually does. With less strikeouts, Upton’s average will increase eventually.
He’s well worth the risk trading for. Let’s not forget he’s only 24-years-old and has a lot of room to grow. Even manager Kirk Gibson has acknowledged he might switch Upton to an infield position, making him more valuable. It’s all about patience with him, and if you have that virtue, he’s your diamond in the rough.