Hello loyal Blankards, it’s time to once again talk fantasy baseball.  If you watch as much baseball as I do, get help you’ve become accustomed to some wacky statistical anomalies in the early going of the season.  You’ll notice that players like Nyjer Morgan are hitting .474 while players like Kevin Youkilis are hitting .125.  Needless to say there’s still some baseball to be played.

The important thing at this stage of the season when considering fantasy baseball is to not panic.  Those players you spent a lot of money on are probably going to come through eventually and the baseball world will all but right itself soon enough.  Don’t go trading away that player you’re convinced is going to have a breakout just because he’s gone 2 for 25 to start the year.  Stay calm.

Recognize, however, that some owners in your pool may not be as patient as you and are ready to pull the trigger on a deal that could shift the balance of power in your direction.  Also, get scoping that waiver wire for players that owners have given up on after a slow first ten days.

Here are a couple to watch out for:

BUY LOW: Josh Willingham

There’s a reason A’s GM Billy Beane acquired Willingham from Washington this offseason; the dude is one of the most patient hitters in baseball.  He also possesses just enough of a hit tool and a power tool to be very valuable in a fantasy pool if he gets the playing time; which it seems like he will.

His slash line to open the year is a less-than-impressive .241/.281/.483 but part of the reason for that is his very low walk rate of just 3.1% in the early going.  His career mark is 11.5% and last year he posted a mark just under 15% so you know that he’ll take his walks eventually and his numbers will bounce up as a result of a more selective approach.

There’s a good chance that Willingham is sitting in the free agent pool and if you need some depth in your outfield, pick him up and thank me sometime in July.

SELL HIGH: Alberto Callaspo

The Angels third baseman is off to a flying start with the bat and if you happened to have picked him up (maybe when Longoria hit the DL), now may be the time to turn him into something before he reverts back to a pumpkin at midnight.

Callaspo has a couple homeruns so far, but is not a guy who’ll hit them consistently; his .667 SLG is nearly 300 points higher than his career mark and his walk rate currently sits at 12.9% despite a career mark of just seven percent.

Another red flag for Callaspo lies in the fact that he has been torching fastballs so far this year despite the fact that FanGraphs’ pitch value statistics suggest that he hasn’t handled the heater well in his career.  Eventually he’ll start missing those pitches and his numbers will come back down to earth.  If you have him, trading him for some slightly more consistent talent is a good idea.

SELL HIGH: Alexi Ogando

If you picked up Ogando to be a reliever, you were probably pleasantly surprised by his six shut-out innings in his first major league start last week.  If you picked him up after that start, then good for you; now trade him while other owners still think it’s sustainable.

Ogando relies very heavily on an extremely effective fastball, a middling slider, and a bad changeup.  Pitchers with that repertoire are not typically good starters, even if they are effective relievers.

The Rangers’ stubbornness in moving Neftali Feliz to the rotation is mind-numbingly stupid has resulted in Ogando’s move to the rotation because of injury.  When the Rangers figure out that he’s much better in the bullpen, they’ll move him back and his value will tank.  Move him before Texas figures that out and turn him in to something useful.

SELL HIGH: Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz is a decent mid-rotation pitcher, but in my extremely biased opinion he’s nothing more than that.  Yes he won a lot of games last year and had a very low ERA, but his FIP was a good (but not spectacular) 3.61 and his xFIP (adjusted for parks) was 4.07.

This year, Buchholz has looked pretty bad in his first two starts and although it’s a small sample size, it could be a sign of things to come.  He’ll be good, but he won’t be that good.  If you can convince another owner in your league to give up the following pitcher in return for Buchholz, you should run away before she or he figures out that they’ve been duped.

BUY LOW: Cole Hamels

Hamels, like Buchholz, has started off the season in a rather bleak way and also like Buchholz, he’ll get much better.  The difference is that Hamels is a far better pitcher with a higher ceiling and he doesn’t pitch in the AL East.

Last season Hamels posted a similar FIP to Buchholz at 3.67, but had a much better xFIP at 3.28 and considering he only won 12 games, other owners in your league may be undervaluing him.  A straight up Buchholz for Hamels trade is one that I just pulled off in a league and I can’t wait for it to pay immediate dividends.

Until next week, happy baseball!

Comments (5)

  1. On Buckholz – “He’ll be good, but he won’t be that good.”

    Did you see him pitch last year?
    This guy can pitch.. He has the stuff to be awesome.. I realize that it’s easy for Red Sox and Yankees players to get overhyped, given the media and size of their fan bases, but in my opinon Bucholz is the best arm in that rotation.

    On another note, Beckett looked good last night, not good for us Jays fans…

    My fantasy sleeper:
    Charlie Morton – Heard them talking about him on Fantasy Focus podcast, and took the time to watch a few innings of his last start. This guy has a sinker that looks dangerous, and as we saw with Accardo, if a sinker is filthy enough, its all a guy needs… Unfortunately, hes pitching for Pittsburgh, so if he is the real deal, he likely won’t get too many wins, but he has the stuff to strike out some more…

    • I dunno Steve. Clay Buchholz doesn’t strike anybody and lives on fly balls that die at the warning track. That is a risky business.

      Doubly so for Charlie Morton, who strikes NOBODY out. Not a single swing and miss this year, if I recall correctly.

  2. Yeah Morton has always had the stuff, but at some point you need to actually get people out with that stuff.

    And I don’t hate Buchholz, I just don’t think he’s a top-of-the-rotation talent. I’ve never thought that. He came up and threw a no-hitter in his second start in the big leagues and he plays for Boston. That’s the recipe for an over-valued player. And to say he’s the best arm in that rotation is ignoring just how good Jon Lester is.

  3. I also am not sure Buchholz is a sell candidate. He’s still only 26, so he may not have even peaked yet, it is possible he could post better numbers in the peripherals this year than last year.

    Also, for those who care about Baseball Reference (which I do), Buchholz had an insane 187 ERA+ last year, which beat Felix Hernandez by more than 10 points.

    xFIP didn’t like his home run to fly ball ratio, which is understandable, though we’ve learned recently that HR/FB may be more controllable than previously thought. (Of course, that doesn’t mean Buchholz can control it.)

    In conclusion, I’d hold onto Buchholz as a high ceiling guy, who theoretically could put up numbers similar to last year. Certainly wouldn’t give him up for Cole hamels.

  4. I look at the stuff of Bucholz and Morton, and like it..

    I know for fantasy purposes, the sexy pickups are strikeouts and wins..

    But I think Buchholz will provide wins, ERA, WHIP, and resonable K’s…

    Call me crazy but I think Morton has turned the corner and hes gonna have a big year.. Probably not huge K’s or wins, but will bring ERA and WHIP(I realize he has 10 bb/ 3 k’s in two starts), which is solid in a keeper league as a cheap pickup.. Give him a few more starts with this current split finger and hes gonna be putting up better stats…

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