This column is a bit different than your weekly waiver wire piece. Here we’ll examine widely owned fantasy baseball players who are hot and cold, with the goal of identifying sell high/buy low trading opportunities heading into Week 9 of the MLB season. 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)

Dee Gordon LAD | SS

Through 46 games, Dee Gordon has 28 steals. That puts him roughly on pace for about 85 total SB’s, which I think is doable for him. That’s assuming he can keep hitting at this pace, and the hitting is where my doubts begin. I own him in multiple leagues, and I’ve loved the experience, but it really seems like it’s high time to get off the train with profits in hand. Dee’s BABIP is .344, which is 50 points higher than his mark in 2013, and 60 points higher than his mark in 2012. His BABIP wouldn’t bother me too much if he was walking, but he’s getting free passes at just a 5.9% clip and striking out almost 15% of the time – not great numbers for a contact / speed guy. I think he’ll continue to be an elite source of steals, but the average and runs are going to come down. He’s ranked #19 on the year among ALL players right now. Time to sell high while patting yourself on the back.
Recommendation: Sell high – Gordon is more like a .250 hitting who is playing way over his head. Get out now, and make a huge profit.

Charlie Blackmon COL | OF

This one’s almost too easy. Kinda sorta. Here’s the rub with Blackmon – nobody expects him to keep this pace up, so it’s been more difficult than usual to execute the sell high move. He’s a virtually nobody putting up elite numbers, which won’t command the Adam Wainwright’s of the world on the open market. To this point, he’s been more valuable to my teams than the trade value I could get back. That should change soon though – the Rockies are on the road for another week or so, and then come home on June 3rd for a 9 game home stand. Blackmon, and the rest of the Rockies offense, dominate at home. Therefore, enjoy the huge stats to come from the home cooking, and towards the end of it, start sending out offers that include Blackmon.
Recommendation: Sell very high – Use the favorable home stretch coming up to finally move Blackmon for a kings ransom.

Michael Brantley CLE | OF

Brantley has been completely ridiculous so far. He’s totaled 9 HR, 7 SB, 30 Runs, and 35 RBI in ¼ of a season This is definitely his breakout year for a guy who was widely considered a great 4th outfielder before the 2014 season. I’m not here to tell you he’s about to fall off a cliff, because I don’t believe that. But he’s ranked #10 out of all players right now, and I don’t believe that can continue. His isolated power is 100 points above his career numbers, which is also driving his Slugging percentage through the roof (.519 compared to lifetime .393). The most HR he’s ever his in a full season was in 2013 when he totaled 10 – he has 9 already. I do buy that he’s getting better and better as a player, but I don’t believe he’s blossomed into Trout 2.0 despite the strong start. Use his crazy high ranking and elite numbers to sell him at the height of Brantley-mania.
Recommendation: Sell high – I think he’ll potentially be a top 50 player at the end of the year, not a top 10 player.

Jimmy Rollins PHI | SS

Rollins looked completely cooked in 2013. He totaled 6 HR and 22 SB to go with 39 RBI and a .252 BA over 666 at bats. Which is to say, for fantasy purposes, useless. He was drafted very late in most leagues (if at all) this season, so folks that own him at this point probably took a waiver wire flier that hit. I believe it’s time to cash this particular chip in, if you can. Rollins already has 6 HR in only 190 AB, leading to both a totally unsustainable Slugging and Isolated power percentage. Not only unsustainable, but nowhere close to his career averages. He’s also mysteriously drawing walks at a rate almost double his career average (13.2% vs 7.9%) and hitting for average despite a non-crazy BABIP. I’m not buying it – this is a guy in the twilight of his career who has come out of the gates like a Yearling racehorse. Sell the hot start, and address team needs elsewhere.
Recommendation: Sell – He’s never been a power, walk, or average guy, and he’s doing all three right now. This ship is going to sink, hard.

Johnny Cueto CIN | SP

Dude. Cueto. Wow. What an amazing draft pick he was. I traded him before the season. Fortunately, it was for Nelson Cruz. Whew! Actually the reasoning I moved him before the season is the same reason I’m writing about him today. He’s one of these guys that is crazy good, then always seems to get injured and just go completely off the rails. His ERA right now is an insane 1.86, his WHIP is 0.74, and he’s averaging more than 9K / 9. Opponents are collectively batting .146 against him. Those are all absolutely elite, dominant numbers and you’ve been more than fortunate to have them on your side so far. If you put all his career numbers together, including his recent dominance, you’re looking at a guy with a career 3.40 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and .242 batting average against. None of those are shabby by any means, but anyone can see the clear differences between those numbers and his 2014 performance. He’s only hit the 200 IP barrier once, and has had numerous appearances on the DL. Great job grabbing Cueto, but now you really need to take the profits.
Recommendation: Sell super high – He’s really good, but not this good, and the injury bug has bitten him too many times to be ignored on a player that carries this much value right now.

BEARS (Players whose stock is trending down)

Carlos Santana CLE | C

By most standards, Santana has been awful. He’s currently batting .160, and has been dropped to 7th in the Indians order. As a Santana owner in multiple leagues, it’s very frustrating to watch his parade of 0-4’s play out. That’s why the time is now to execute a buy on him. His career BABIP is .272, and right now he’s hitting a monstrously unlucky .177 on ball in play. There’s now way that continues, and when it corrects, it will bring his average with it. Despite the low average, his OBP remains at .319, which means he’s seeing the ball well and walking a ton. Finally, he’s at 6 HR, 17 RBI, and 22 Runs so far, which is far from worthless despite his struggles. Buy him now – the correction is coming very soon.
Recommendation: Buy low – As the weather heats up, so will Santana.

David Price TAM | SP

Price is coming off two consecutive outings where he’s allowed 5 earned runs, once against the Angels in Anaheim, and the other against Boston at home. The timing is perfect for you to add an ace to your staff on the cheap. Although his 4.42 ERA isn’t pretty, he’s striking out a sick 9.78 batters per 9 innings (elite) and walking 0.93 batters per 9 (also elite). His strand rate and HR/FB percentages are both completely out of whack with his career numbers, suggesting he’s been getting unlucky, and his xFIP and FIP support this as they’re both significantly lower than his ERA (3.29 and 2.66, respectively). Act quickly – if he puts together a 12 K performance against Boston the next time out, the buy-low window will snap shut.
Recommendation: Buy low – Price is a top 15 SP in the majors for a reason.

Mike Napoli BOS | 1B

Napoli came out of the gates red-hot, but has been dealing with an injured finger for the better part of a month now. He’s missed a bunch of games for various reasons, including the flu, and has generally been a nuisance to own. I love his value for the rest of the year, and I’m calling a buy on him right now, since he was just put on the DL. Especially if his owner’s roster is littered with hurt players, make him an offer he can’t refuse. Dirt Napoli hits in the hear of the Red Sox order (in theory, a great spot for run production) and despite his struggles at the plate lately (.186 in May, 0 HR) his OBP still sits at an elite .390. Snap him up at a bargain, wait out the DL stint, and you’ll definitely improve your team.
Recommendation: Recommendation: Buy low – Napoli has battled a finger injury and will come back strong in 15 days.

Curtis Granderson NYM | OF

This guy has been so bad, you might not even have to buy him low. You might be able to literally pick him up for free off the scrap heap. Grandmasterson made the Mets look all kinds of foolish out of the gate by batting .136 (that’s 12 for 103….total awful) with 1 HR and 8 RBI in March and April. Most dropped him then and forgot about him, but not this guy. Guess what he’s batting in May? A healthy .324 with 5 HR, 12 Runs, and 15 RBI. This puts his solidly inside the top 100 overall for the period, and it mean’s hes vastly outperformed much greater owned bums like Austin Jackson, Pablo Sandoval, Billy Butler, etc. Either grab him now, or put together an offer where he’s the ‘throw in’ that makes the deal work. You won’t regret it.
Recommendation: Buy low – Granderson still has 40 HR power, even hitting at MetCo. He should be owned in all leagues.

Wilin Rosario COL | C

Yep, we’re going to talk about another Catcher I think you should buy. This time, it’s Mr. Rosario of the Rockies. He started out the season super cold, and then was put on the 15 day DL for some kind of virus. His contributions to date, therefore, have been meager at best. I own him in a ton of leagues, and I’ve tried to trade him for a month to upgrade in the OF, without success. His value is basically zero. That’s why you need to buy him super low now. His BABIP in limited action is .250, and he’s a career .307 guy. He’s also been a guy who strikes out 23% of the time during his career, and he’s trimmed that to 14.9% so far this year. His isolated power is also down a good 60 points from his averages. And if all that doesn’t work for you, have you seen what the Rockies are doing to opposing teams in their home park? They are absolutely pummeling opposing pitching at home, and I’d love to have a C that hits right in the middle of all that bombing away. Grab this guy now and you’ll end up smelling like a Rosario.
Recommendation: Buy very low – I’m predicting that Rosario will rebound and finish the year as a top 7 C option.