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FANTASY BASEBALL – Buy-Low Options for the Second Half


There are few things in Fantasy Baseball more difficult and more rewarding than sending the perfect trade proposal. You never want to lowball an opposing owner and abruptly end the trade discussion, however; you also don’t want to include that unnecessary extra piece when they would’ve accepted a lesser offer. Here are some players that are due for a bout of good luck after subpar first halves that you can buy-low and reap the rewards in the second half of the Fantasy Baseball season:

1. Brian McCann: NYY, C

After signing a five year, 85-million dollar contract in the offseason, expectations were high for McCann. Not only from the Yankees, but also in the Fantasy Baseball world as the left-handed hitter was expected to absolutely mash with that shallow right field porch in the Bronx. Thus far in 2014, that hasn’t been the case. Last year, in his final year as a Brave, he hit a home run every 20.1 at-bats. In his first half year in New York he’s going yard just once every 33 at bats. While he’s on pace for his most games played, and plate appearances of his career (as a 30-year-old), he’s on pace for just 19 homers – his lowest total since 2007 in Atlanta.

All this is what should make him attractive as a buy-low option. Current owners are left feeling disappointed with his first half and second half projections, while quite a bit of his poor performance can be chalked up to bad luck. His BABIP is 37 points below career average, and his ISO is a whopping 54 points below par. Counterintuitive to all this, is the fact that his LD% is actually up two points from last season and four points higher than the career mark and at 0.82, his ground ball to fly ball ratio is the best it’s been since 2006. If in need at the catcher position, McCann appears due to breakthrough in pinstripes.

Recent Fantasy Baseball trades:

Brian McCann for Alex Wood (ATL, SP/RP)

Brian McCann for Marcus Stroman (TOR, SP) + Josh Collmenter (ARI, SP)

2. J.J. Hardy: BAL, SS

This is surely not the contract year Hardy had in mind. In the final year of a three year, 22.5-million dollar contract, he didn’t hit his first home run until June 21st and has just three (3) on the season in 350 plate appearances. This, after years of 25, 22 and 30 homers in the three previous seasons. His walk rate is down and he’s striking out more frequently, resulting in a lower than normal on-base percentage despite a BABIP of .327. The prominent issue is his ISO which is down nearly 50% (80 points) from his career average. He’s always hit a lot of ground balls, but that percentage is actually down from last year, while his line drive rate is up.

For a guy coming off of three consecutive 20+ home run seasons, there’s no apparent reason for the power outage. He may not approach the 20 mark, but he’s almost guaranteed to see a drastic rise in the power numbers. At his going rate he’s even more appealing:

Recent Fantasy Baseball trades:

J.J. Hardy for Steve Pearce (BAL, 1B/OF)

J.J. Hardy for Jonathan Villar (HOU, SS)

3. Brandon McCarthy: NYY, SP

For the most recent addition to the Yankees on the list, the lack of success experienced so far in 2014 is bordering on unfair. While we all know pitcher wins are mostly random in baseball, McCarthy compiled just a 3-10 record for the lowly Diamondbacks before being acquired by the Yanks in exchange for starter Vidal Nuno. The poor luck continued in his first start in New York as he allowed just one earned run but also three unearned in a 6.2 IP no decision in Cleveland.

His 7.43 K/9 is his highest ever in the MLB, and his 1.62 BB/9 are well below his career average. What’s really hurting him is his 18.8% home run to fly ball ratio despite knocking 14% off of his career fly ball percentage. A dramatic difference that can be seen in a 2.96 xFIP while his ERA is at 4.80. The news gets even better for aspiring McCarthy owners as his former home at Chase field in Arizona ranks as the fifth worst pitchers park so far in 2014, while Yankee stadium has been the 11th best. Additionally, the Yankees won seven more games than the D-Backs in the first half, so those random pitcher wins could line up with McCarthy starts a little more frequently; especially with the Yankees being tied for the easiest strength of remaining schedule in the AL.

Recent Fantasy Baseball trades:

Brandon McCarthy for David Peralta (ARI, OF)

Brandon McCarthy for Kevin Gausman (BAL, SP)

Starting with Strasburg these next three “buy-low” options have to be taken with a grain of salt. It’s going to take a fairly big name to land the likelihoods of the Nationals ace, but you’re going to be able to pull it off at below the standard market price. Consider trading the likes of Chris Davis or Joey Votto, players unlikely to turnaround their poor seasons, or players like Charlie BlackmonJosh Beckett or Jason Hammel who have over-performed thus far in 2014.

4. Stephen Strasburg: WSH, SP

Strasburg was only able to muster a 7-6 record in 20 first half starts despite a higher K/9 than his career average, and his lowest BB/9 of his career (except his five starts in 2011). He’s being abused by a .347 BABIP despite having induced a 1.58 GB/FB ratio. He’s been stranding just 70.6% of base runners which is below average for him, but when walking under two batters per nine innings, he’s certainly not allowing that many men on the bases in the first place.

While his 3.46 ERA ranks him as the 46th qualified starter from the first half, his 2.48 xFIP is second only to Felix Hernandez. With that sort of projection, he’s a must-get at his current going rate.

Recent Fantasy Baseball trades:

Stephen Strasburg for Evan Longoria (TB, 3B)

Stephen Strasburg for Matt Kemp (LAD, OF)

5. Carlos Gonzalez: COL, OF

As a CarGo owner, I can speak on behalf of the rest and tell you we don’t want anymore to do with him.  After playing in just 110 games last season and appearing in 55 in the first half of 2014, we’re fed up. While owners will try to wait until he plays his value up, it won’t hurt to send any semblance of a valuable player as an offer.

If you can look past the injuries though, he’s the same person who was drafted as a first round bat, and has been perennially since he broke out in 2010. If healthy (LOL) he could be enough to turn a middle of the pack team into a playoff one, or be the extra piece a team near the top of their league standings needs to bring home a championship.

Recent Fantasy Baseball trades:

Carlos Gonzalez for Dallas Keuchel (HOU, SP) + Khris Davis (MIL, OF)

Carlos Gonzalez for Homer Bailey (CIN, SP)

6. Wil Myers: TB, OF

Myers is a good target for those already sitting pretty in their league standings. The Rays sophomore outfielder isn’t expected back until mid-August and his current owners are likely growing impatient. After a tremendous Rookie of the Year campaign in 2013, he was drafted by owners to be a key piece of their offense, yet those owners likely now find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture and looking for immediate help. You could likely swindle opposing owners into giving up the far better player long-term while giving them the help they need right now.

Recent Fantasy Baseball trades:

Wil Myers for Trevor Rosenthal (STL, RP)

Wil Myers for Mark Trumbo (ARI, OF)



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