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)
I’m not sure anyone really knows whether Nate McClouth is as good, or as bad, as he’s shown the ability to be. I’m don’t think Nate McClouth even knows. But I do know this: Nate is ranked as a top 15 play right now. He has absolutely raked atop the Orioles high-octane offense, including 5 steals, 11 runs scored, and a .343 average over the past two weeks. If you own him at this time, well done. Now it’s time to cash in even further. McClouth’s lifetime batting average against lefties is .222, and only .259 against righties. He’s a platoon player, albeit with a little pop and speed, but nothing more. Move him for good value while he’s hot.
Recommendation: Sell high – McClouth can’t and won’t remain this hot
Buchholz has been absolutely lights-out-silly good so far. He’s 5 for 5 in quality starts, with 5 wins, 39 K’s in 37.2 innings, and a WHIP of 1.01. Not to mention his ERA of 1.19. If you snagged him in the later rounds, you have to be feeling pretty smug about the pick. I’ve loved this guy for years and he’s always let me down, and he’s going to do it to you as well if you expect him to continue like this. His career ERA is 3.77 and last year it was 4.56. He’s only given up one home run in 37 innings, which is unsustainable and way under his career average. Finally, 4 of his 5 opponents have been the following: Houston, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, and a very undermanned Yankees team – not exactly a murderers row. Sell Buchholz now, and sell him high.
Recommendation: Sell very high – Buchholz pitches in the AL East, in a hitters park, and he’s not going to win 25 games
Anibal had the outing of his life on April 26th – 8 IP, 17 K, 0 ER against the powerful Atlanta Braves. He’s shown potential before, but he’s been simply crushing this year. Anyone would want a starter ranked in the top 25 overall, with 41 K in 33 IP, a 1.34 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, and that is why you need to sell. Animal Sanchez isn’t a staff ace, but if you can use his strong overall stats and recent stellar start to sell him as one, you definitely should do so.
Recommendation: Sell high – Sanchez has a lifetime ERA of 3.66 and WHIP of 1.33. This isn’t going to last.
His name may be Fowler, but he’s been very fair for his owners so far. Dexter has been a top 25 play in all formats, and this could very well be his year to finally break out. Trouble is, he’s on a completely unsustainable pace – 40+ HR, 20 + SB, and a .400 OBP. We’ve always known he can steal bases, but this power explosion looks like an aberration. If you can sell him high based on his crazy value so far, definitely do so, but don’t move him for anything less than very strong players in return.
Recommendation: Hold – unless the offer is overwhelming
We’re going to go with Buck here for one more week in the hopes that those of you that still own him can find a trade partner and improve your team. He’s now up to 8 HR and 23 RBI on the season, but the batting average has been coming down, as predicted. Instead of riding this out until he regresses to his career mean, Buck the trend, and sell now. Find a trading partner who is weak at the C spot and package another up-and-comer to get solid value in return. You need to do this now, before the bloom comes off this rose.
Recommendation: Sell high – The Buck will be stopping here, and soon.
BEARS (Players whose stock is trending down)
Anyone who owns Strasburg would agree: he has been terrible so far. Except that for Stras, terrible is a 3.16 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 4 quality starts in 5 chances. He’s ranked outside the top 200, and this opens a buy low window for his services. There isn’t anything wrong with the Strasburger. The Nationals have started out sluggish, and Strasburg has been affected. This buy window may only last 1-2 more starts, so get your offers out there right away.
Recommendation: Buy low – Strasburg is off his innings limit and will be a top 10, if not top 5, SP by years end.
For those who invested a second or third round pick in David at the draft table, the Price has been all kinds of wrong in the early going. Going into his start on Sunday, Price has registered an ERA of 5.52 and a WHIP of 1.42 over his first 31 innings pitched. Here’s why you buy him low: He had an awful outing where he gave up 8 ER in 5 IP against Cleveland earlier this month. If you remove that outing from his slate, his ERA, WHIP, walks allowed, and K/IP are all at or around his career averages. He’s had good starts against NYY, BAL, and BOS already. Fleece an impatient Price owner, win your league, and get the girl.
Recommendation: Buy low – Price is a top 15 SP in the majors for a reason.
Here’s another top-notch starting pitcher off to a very slow start. Cain was generally off the board before round 4 on draft day, and for those counting on him to be their ace, he has been a major disappointment. A look under the hood suggests that brighter days are in the offing. In Cain’s 5 starts, he’s had 3 good ones where he’s given up a total of 5 ER in 19 IP, which is vintage Cain. He’s also had 2 very, very bad ones where he’s allowed 16 ER in 9.2 innings. Use these numbers to buy Cain low, but throw them out for internal use. It’s a long season – buy Cain now and you’ll be Abel to dominate later.
Recommendation: Buy low – Cain has a strong track record of proven success, pitches in a good park, and isn’t injured.
Zimmerman is off to his usual slow start, which during the last two years has featured a trip to the DL. If you’re a Zimmerman owner, you were clearly hoping for much more when you paid the 4th or 5th round price tag. If you’re not, now is the time to pounce. Between his dreadful start and having to commit 15 DL days to the Z-man, owners will be ready to sell. Here’s why you buy: Zimmerman always starts out slow. He’s a career .182 batter in March, .259 in April, and he heats up from there. By June, he’s generally red hot. You can see the trend and the date – now is the time to acquire Zimmerman.
Recommendation: Buy low – The best of Zimmerman, and the Nationals, is yet to come.
Freese has been his namesake thusfar, which is to say, frozen. Ice cold. Borderline un-ownable. And thus he is possibly the buy-low with the most profit potential, because it will cost virtually nothing to acquire his services. He’s batting below .200 with 0 HR, and is 4 for his last 28. He’s also already had a DL stint on his resume this year. His owners are pulling their collective hair out (I’m one) trying to figure out what to do with his dead roster spot. Make it easy for them – throw a decent bone their way, and Freese will be yours. He has 25+ HR upside, hits in a strong lineup in a great park, and is coming off an excellent season. Buy low before Mr. Freese starts to thaw.
Recommendation: Buy very low – Freese will emerge from his early season slump soon and provide sharp owners with a strong return.