Sell Dodgers Matt Kemp, Buy Blue Jays Josh Donaldson
The Advanced Stats Help You Make Fantasy Baseball Trade Decisions
Who is overperforming and underperforming? Diving into key statistics points us to great opportunities to buy low or sell high. Some hitters like Rhys Hoskins and Josh Donaldson are suffering through tough slumps, and others like Matt Kemp are exceeding expectations. Here is how you should view some key Fantasy players going forward based on advanced stats.
Olson is a player that should turn it around in the power categories. In 2017, he was insanely productive with 24 home runs in 59 games, but so far has only eight through 53 games. It is not like he isn’t getting good contact on the ball either, as 50.8 percent of his batted balls have been hard hit. That currently ranks second in MLB behind home run slugger J.D. Martinez. He won’t be able to replicate his home run pace from last year, but he has the power to reach 30 home runs. The consistent hard contact from Olson will start to lead to good results. Similarly, Martinez had a slow start to this season, but the power started clicking this month. With Olson disappointing, I would try to trade for him before the home runs start piling up.
Kemp has exceeded expectations so far this season and is due for major regression. He currently owns a career high .333 batting average, and a career high BABIP of .402. When those numbers start to come down, he will not offer much Fantasy upside. He is in familiar territory to 2017 when he came screaming out of the gates for the Braves. Through May 31 last season, he was hitting .345 with 10 home runs and 15 doubles in 181 plate appearances. In his start with the Dodgers this year, he is hitting .333 with six home runs and 12 doubles in 170 plate appearances. After the hot start in 2017, the final four months were not pretty for Kemp, as he hit just .232. The regression will not be quite as harsh on him this year, but it is a perfect time to sell high on Kemp.
Candelario is an exciting prospect that could be used as trade bait. Being stuck in a bad lineup with the Tigers, and not having much power upside and has no base-stealing ability makes him a player I would gladly part ways with. His power has been better than what his career projects. He has seven home runs in 40 games, after just hitting three in 38 games last season. His Isolated Power is up to .247, which ranks 24th among hitters. The power trends should draw excitement out of owners, but I am not buying it quite yet, as he has not shown consistent power in his career. His HR/FB rate has nearly doubled from 8.6 percent last year to 16.3 percent this year. The home run ability will slow down, leaving Candelario as a limited Fantasy contributor.
Jeimer Candelario's walk extends his streak to 21 consecutive games reaching base safely, longest active streak in MLB.
— Jason Beck (@beckjason) May 27, 2018
Similar to Olson, Hoskins had a blistering home run pace in 2017. With 18 home runs in 50 games, the hype on Hoskins entering the 2018 season was extremely high. However, in 2018 he has not lived up to the billing and has been extremely disappointing. The batted balls haven’t been the issue, as he currently has a 51.3 percent fly ball rate. The problem is that the fly balls are not resulting in home runs. The HR/FB rate has decreased to 21.4 from 31.6 percent last season. With that big of a drop-off, I expect Hoskins to see positive regression in that area. The start of the season for Hoskins was good, but his bat has gone very cold in May. In the month, he has struck out 30 percent of the time, and his batting average is just .159. Leading to more strikeouts has been his O-Swing% going up 8.7 percent in May. It is evident pitchers have made adjustments against him, and he has not been able to see the ball as well. Hoskins is still a young player with little experience under his belt, and a slump was bound to happen eventually. However, I believe he will break out of it soon, and get his confidence back at the plate. Hoskins stands as a perfect buy low candidate.
Donaldson’s start to this year seems all too familiar to last season. In 2017, he started the year out dealing with a calf injury and took a little while to get back into his true form. When he settled in though, he was a monster, hitting 22 home runs and racking up 47 RBI in his final 50 games. Similarly, he suffered a shoulder injury to start this year, and has disappointed when he has been in the lineup. On top of that, he just recently experienced tightness in his calf during a game, but he said he does not believe it to be serious. With the injuries to Donaldson and another slow start, it gives you a good opportunity to try and get him at a low Fantasy value. His numbers aren’t up to par with his career numbers which leads me to believe he will turn it around. Particularly, he is striking out a career high 27.7 percent of the time, but has a career strikeout rate of 19 percent. The injuries likely have Donaldson pressing at the plate. Trade for him before he gets into his groove.
Lopez has pitched over his head in 2018. After two poor seasons, his numbers are aligning with what he has done over his career. This year, he is still not striking out many batters, and is allowing a lot of fly balls. He has benefited is from stranding a lot of runners on base. His left on base rate is up 10 percent from his first two seasons, and with the 14th lowest ground ball rate among qualified pitchers, he will not continue the same run prevention success. The 2.93 ERA looks good on the surface, but has not been indictive of how he has been pitching. Comparing his ERA to his 5.37 xFIP, and 5.19 SIERA is a sign of serious regression. I would sell high on Lopez before hitters start capitalizing in RBI spots against him.
The 25-year-old Velasquez is starting to show off his potential in 2018. After a disappointing season last year, it seems like he has turned to corner. A big part of it has been rediscovering his strikeout ability. Currently, his 28.5 percent K rate is a career high, and up seven percent from last season. Also, he is allowing a lot less hard contact with a 29 percent rate against him. That is down nine percent from last year. He has had better command as well, with his walks per nine innings being down nearly one from last year. Beyond the numbers, a lot of this success can be pinned to the evolved mental aspect of his game. In the past, his emotions have been able to get the better of him. When talking about his improved poise on the mound he said, “I feel more controlled and composed — just having a different mentality going into the game” (NBC Sports). A more mature Velasquez is a great sign for the Phillies and Fantasy owners. I am buying into a breakthrough year for him, and he is a Fantasy asset to get if possible.
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