This column is a bit different than your weekly waiver wire piece. Here we’ll examine widely owned players who are hot and cold, with the goal of identifying sell high/buy low opportunities. Your comments, contributions, and criticisms are welcome, both in the comments and in the forums. Let’s do this!
BULLS (Players whose stock is trending up)
Would you believe Coco Crisp is #1 on the player rater for 2013 so far? After hitting 11 total HR’s last season, he’s opened 2013 by punching up 4 homers, 4 steals, and 14 runs scored while batting over .300 through these first two weeks. He’s been on a crazy tear, only halted by his sustaining a groin injury the other night. His ownership is way up, and if you own him I’d advise selling high while his ranking is ridiculous. He’ll be good, but his career numbers suggest he won’t be this good.
Recommendation: Sell high – Crisp can’t and won’t continue at this pace.
After demolishing Minnesota on Saturday, Harvey’s ERA stands at 0.82, and his WHIP at 0.50. He has 25 K’s in 22 innings. You cannot start any hotter than this. If you were fortunate enough to select him as a value in round 11 or so, congrats! Now it’s time to decide what to do with Harvey. There isn’t any chance he continues at this rate, but it appears he has the tools, barring injury, to settle in the top 25 starting pitchers by year’s end. Considering his age, inexperience, and the fact that the Mets might be inclined to limit his innings, I’d sell Harvey to the highest bidder while you can. Let’s face it, if you can’t, he’s a top 25 SP! You win either way!
Recommendation: Sell very high – Harvey will go through some ups and downs as the league adjusts to him.
Are there any more words to describe how hot Chris Davis is right now? The formerly over-hyped top prospect has finally bloomed, thus far proving 2012 was no fluke. Davis was known as a high-strikeout, low-batting-average guy with incredible power until last year. In 2013, he’s batting .412, with 6 HR and 19 RBI. While he’s clearly not going to continue at a .400 clip, I’m buying this breakout. He’s just 27 this year and entrenched in a powerful, run-scoring lineup that scores a ton of runs. If you get the right offer that makes your team unstoppable, go for it, but don’t sell Davis for anything less.
Recommendation: Hold – unless the offer is overwhelming.
A slow start, a broken wrist in 2012, and a hefty contract had many in Washington crying “Werthless” in 2012. However, the bearded one has silenced many of his doubters with his start to 2013. Hitting second behind Denard Span and right in front of Bryce Harper, Werth has raked to the tune of 3 HR, 2 SB, 8 R, and 8 RBI through the first two weeks, making him a top 30 player so far. If you drafted Werth, you did so very late, and you’ve probably already made a profit. It certainly looks like he could do this all year long and should be a decent 20/20 candidate, if not more. I recommend holding Werth unless you can find a trade partner that will truly compensate you for your late round steal.
Recommendation: Hold – unless the offer is overwhelming.
Morse is another late round OF draft pick that has made his owners look like geniuses so far. Nationals fans were sorry to see the Beast leave, because we knew he was capable of these kinds of streaks. Morse has crushed opposing pitching in 2013: 6 HR, 9 RBI, and a .293 average. Sure, the fences in Seattle have come in and the lineup has improved, but this pace is clearly unsustainable. Morse has a penchant for getting hurt and can go into prolonged slumps. Regression will catch up to him, likely sooner rather than later. If you own him you probably nabbed him in the later rounds. I’d suggest pairing him up with another overachiever to try to land an underperforming stud (BJ Upton, for example).
Recommendation: Sell high – Morse has 30 HR power, but is slump and injury prone.
Through 41 at-bats, Buck has tallied 6 HR, 19 RBI, a .317 average, and a top 5 overall rank. If you picked him up early and rode this unprecedented hot streak, double down on your luck and make a Buck – trade, that is. Here’s why: He’s a lifetime .236 hitter with a career OBP just over .300, he’s never hit over 20 bombs in a season, and he’ll be 33 in a month or so – this isn’t a breakout season from a youngster we can project forward. Package him with another upstart or underperformer to upgrade your squad while you can.
Recommendation: Sell high – The Buck will be stopping here, and soon.
BEARS (Players whose stock is trending down)
In 2013, the Doctor certainly has not been in. Halladay is currently sporting a 7.63 ERA and 1.57 WHIP through three starts. At 36 and with over 2600 innings on his arm, could he just simply be done? Nay, I say. Many pitchers experience a decline in velocity later in their careers (see Petitte, Andy) but are still effective regardless. If Halladay is healthy, he’ll figure this out. Take one of your overachieving players and make the Halladay owner an offer. Before long you’ll be handsomely rewarded for buying low.
Recommendation: Buy low – Halladay has a superior track record and work ethic, and will find his command.
The Elder Upton has started 2013 (including Saturday’s action) 4 for his first 38. That would be a .105 average to go with 1 HR and 3 SB, the latter two being the only factors saving his value. We know BJ isn’t likely to hit for a high average, but this is ridiculous, and unsustainable. His batting average will move upward toward the mean, and with this increase will come more runs, steals, and homers. He’s on a new team, in a new league, and an adjustment period is to be expected. If you didn’t want to pay the price for BJ of draft day, now is your chance to acquire his services on the cheap. I expect him to find his stroke in a dangerous and dynamic Braves lineup in short order. Make an intriguing offer to the disgruntled Upton owned in your league, and do it quickly.
Recommendation: Buy low – BJ went 3-5 on Saturday against the Nationals, and will dig his way out of this prolonged slump soon.
Another Atlanta OF off to a slow start presents another opportunity for an even bigger buy low. Unfathomably, he’s actually been worse than Upton, batting a very weak 3 for 35, equating to a .085 average. I can’t see this as anything more than a gigantic cold streak – Tim Hudson, the starting pitcher for the Braves on Saturday, had 2 hits off of Stephen Strasburg. Point being, sometimes the bounce goes your way, and sometimes it doesn’t. Heyward owners have to be panicking already based on the performance of their third round (or higher in deeper leagues) pick. The iron is hot, and it’s time to strike. Heyward won’t be 24 until August, and is coming off a 27/24 campaign. He’s an elite talent, and the time is ripe for you to acquire him for 50-75 cents on the dollar.
Recommendation: Buy low – Heyward is only 23 and is still getting better. This early slump opens the window for you to make huge profits.
Cole has been, in a word, terrible. He’s given up 13 runs in 10.2 innings, including 4 home runs and 5 walks. He’s currently on pace to give up 100 home runs and 80+ walks. This isn’t going to happen. Hamels has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers over the past three years. He’s a 200+ inning, 15+ win, 200+K workhorse. He’s also on an improved Phillies team this year. While Hamels has undoubtedly disappointed his owners so far, I’m holding, not selling. If you can use this cold start to buy Hamels low, definitely do so without hesitation. Consider his start to 2013 a mere bump in the road. I’d bet all the money in my wallet that he’ll end up a top 30 starter by year’s end.
Recommendation: Buy low – Like Halladay, Hamels has a strong track record and will figure it out in short order.
Salvy Perez was a fantasy writers darling during the preseason, but has started 2013 as anything but. He batted .301 with 11 homers in 76 games after returning from a knee injury last year, and projections were bullish as to what he might do with a full 550 AB complement. Instead, Perez started out batting .154 with no homers through his first 6 games. His ownership sank considerably as owners dropped Perez to grab onto hot commodities like John Buck and J.P. Arencibia. Since that 6 game slide, all he’s done is go 7 for his last 15 (including Saturday’s action) to raise his average to .283. He still has yet to go deep, and the Royals lineup looks punchless so far, but I still see bright things in Salvador’s future. If you can add him for free in your league, definitely do so, and if not, dangle a hot prospect in front of his owner and see if you can land this young, talented backstop on the rise.
Recommendation: Buy low – Perez will emerge from his early season slump soon and finish as a top 10 catcher.