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We’ve reached that point in the Fantasy Baseball season that makes or breaks many Fantasy teams. Once mid-July comes around, many Fantasy Baseball managers start to turn their attention towards Fantasy Football. They start to do their research, engage in mock drafts and often neglect their Fantasy Baseball team. Some managers might not be watching the waiver wire as closely as they should, and sometimes they might forget to update their lineup on a timely basis. Take advantage of their negligence. If you have a team that is underperforming, this is your time to shine. Keep working the waiver wire. Keep putting those trade offers out there. Remember, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. If the most experienced Fantasy manager doesn’t pay attention to his or her team, then they can be defeated. Take some time to reevaluate your strategy. Rid yourselves of those players who are dragging down your team, and do your best to buy low and sell high. As in previous weeks I’ve identified four players who you can trade for and buy at a discount. They have historically finished their seasons on a high note. On the other hand, I’ll reveal two players who have put together strong first half statistics but are due to regress as the season progresses. Happy trading everyone!!
All stats are current as per the morning of 7/17/15
Carlos Santana, C, 1B, 3B, Indians
With an ADP of 71 in preseason drafts Fantasy baseball managers were betting that they were getting the services of the Carlos Santana who batted .260, with a .385 OBP and .475 slugging percentage in the second half of last season. Instead, Santana has provided his Fantasy owners with another terrible first half performance in which he has batted .221 and compiled a disappointing .382 slugging percentage. Now, Santana is never going to bat .300 for you, but with his eligibility at three positions in Yahoo! Sports leagues and the fact that he historically finishes strong in the second half, he is someone that you should consider buying low. Over his career Santana’s batting average, slugging percentage and OPS all increase significantly after the All-Star break. Santana’s power numbers and the fact that you can slide him into your lineup as either a catcher or a third baseman, two positions that are lacking in Fantasy talent, protects you against the injury bug, which all too often rears its ugly head during the dog days of summer.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, White Sox
The White Sox made a bunch of moves in the preseason and were expected to contend for the AL Central title, or at least a wild card spot in 2015. They added some big names like Jeff Samardzija and David Robertson, but they also acquired players like Adam LaRoche, who has consistently put up solid numbers over the course of his career and can usually be counted on for 20 to 25 home runs and a batting average in the .260 range. So far this season, LaRoche is batting just .222 and has a slugging percentage that is nearly 100 points below his career average, but based on his past performance better days should be ahead. Throughout his career, LaRoche’s stats have risen along with the mercury during the summer months. His career batting average jumps from .248 in the first half to .281 during the second half of the season. Similarly, after the All-Star break his OPS and slugging percentage rise to .860 and .511, respectively, up from their .767 and .436 first half averages.
Nathan Eovaldi, SP, Yankees
Back in the day, Mennen Skin Bracer after shave lotion used to run a series of commercials in which an actor would physically get slapped in the face with the lotion, and it would wake him up and snap him out of a funk. The actor would appreciate the wakeup call and exclaim, “Thanks, I needed that!”
The pummeling the Marlins bestowed upon their former hurler, Nathan Eovaldi, in his first start against his old team, seems to have had the same effect as using Mennen Skin Bracer. He pitched just two thirds of an inning against his old team and was shellacked for eight runs during that start. He has great talent but it needs to be harnessed and refined. If you eliminate that woeful performance against Miami, Eovaldi has given up three runs or less in his last nine starts. He has a fastball that routinely hits the upper 90s on the radar gun, and his stuff is so good that it even caught the attention of all-time great Nolan Ryan during a recent Yankees-Astros game. Eovaldi added a splitter to his arsenal of pitches this season and it has helped to significantly raise his groundball rate. In addition, batters are swinging at his pitches out of the strike zone at the highest rate of his career. Eovaldi still has a way to go in his career development but if you are going to buy in on him, now is the time to do it. If he ends up helping your team, make sure to drop me a line and tell me, “Thanks, I needed that!”
Taijuan Walker, SP, Mariners
Much was expected from Taijuan Walker at the beginning of the season but uneven performances, including an Opening Day start in which he gave up nine runs and four other starts in which he gave up more than five runs, has shaken the faith of many of the Fantasy managers who own shares in him. His ownership rate has dropped to 70 percent in Yahoo! Sports leagues and he entered the All-Star break on a sour note, giving up five and six runs in his last two starts of the first half. His recent poor outings made many forget that Walker had been on a hot streak for several weeks. Between May 29 and July 1 Walker had won six of seven starts and had a 1.68 cumulative ERA during that time. Walker is another Fantasy player who seems to heat up along with the summer weather. His overall first half ERA (4.73) and WHIP (1.29) drop to 2.72 and 1.16 after the All-Star break and he hasn’t given up a home run in the second half over his major league career. Despite a few rough starts, Walker has managed to increase his strikeout rate and decrease his walk rate this season, and his SIERA and xFIP stats indicate that he has pitched much better than his 4.84 ERA would indicate.
Yovani Gallardo, SP, Rangers
Simply put, Yovani Gallardo is pitching way over his head right now. Based on his average draft position of 290, you probably picked him up off of the waiver wire. If you were able to include him in a deal, you should be able to trade him for a much higher value than you initially paid for him. Since May 19 when his ERA stood at 4.26, which is close to what I predict his ERA will be at the end of the season, Gallardo has been one of the better pitchers in baseball. Since that date he has collected four of his seven wins and he has pitched to a 1.30 ERA, which are great selling points. One stat that indicates Gallardo owners should expect him to regress a bit is his BABIP of .267, which is almost 30 points lower than his career BABIP. Once it normalizes, Gallardo might end up performing like the pitcher with the four plus ERA that his SIERA and xFIP expect him to be.
Mitch Moreland, 1B, Rangers
With a .286 batting average, 16 home runs and 46 RBIs, Mitch Moreland has gotten the attention of many Fantasy baseball managers and put up some very good numbers during the first half of the season. With a recent power surge in which he has hit two home runs in a game three times in the past two weeks, Moreland is enjoying even more notoriety of late. If you own shares in him, you need to take advantage of his latest hot streak and trade him while his value is high. In fact, you need to do it soon because Moreland has a history of slow finishes. His career first half .270 batting average falls to .237 during the second half. Moreland’s bat feels heavier in the hot Texas sun during the second half, as evidenced by his first half career slugging percentage of .471 dropping down to .402 during the period after the All-Star break. Put him on the trading block now while his value is still at its highest.