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With the MLB draft commencing today, dreams of young men across the world will be realized, but a long road is ahead of them in the minor leagues. The same works for fantasy baseball when you buy or sell players. If you buy low, the player you trade for has a long ride to get back to his value, and if you sell high you have to hope the players you got in return pan out.
Buying high and selling low are two things you want to avoid, even if you are in dire need. Be sure to check the waiver wire as well.
Each week, XN Sports will have a Buys and Sells column, describing a few players to go after, or to get rid of. We all know to buy low and sell high, but what players should we trade, or who should we go after?
This week’s edition of Buys and Sells:
Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds
This is probably the umpteenth time you have heard about “buying low” on Bailey. You’ve heard the “he’s not this bad” and the “he’ll come around”, but if you take a deeper look into the numbers, he is trending towards some massive progression. Bailey currently boasts an ERA of 4.99 and a WHIP of 1.46, which are both among the worst for players that are on most fantasy teams. So why should you buy low? Besides the “he’s not that bad” argument.
It sounds cliché, but he really is not that bad, and his numbers indicate a bit of bad luck. Bailey has a ground ball rate of 51.6 percent, which ranks 23rd in baseball. Pitchers with high ground ball rates usually have success (the top three in ground ball rate in 2014 are Dallas Keuchel, Tyson Ross and Tim Hudson) so Bailey has that going for him.
He also has a low line drive rate of 18 percent, which is 26th among pitchers. A LD% (line drive rate/percentage) of 18 is very good, because that means less than one-fifth of balls are hit hard off of Bailey. Combining that with a high ground ball rate and he should be getting outs. The other pitchers that have a ground ball rate of 51.6 or more and a line drive rate of 18 percent or less are: Zack Wheeler, Tim Hudson, Tyson Ross, Johnny Cueto, Yovani Gallardo (until recently), C.J. Wilson, Dallas Keuchel, and Jorge De La Rosa. All of them have pitched well this season. So, why is Bailey’s ERA (and WHIP for that matter) so high?
BABIP. The infamous batting average on balls in play explains what has been happening to Bailey so far this year. Of the pitchers listed above that have similar splits, Bailey has the highest BABIP, by far. What does that mean? It indicates that of the balls put in play, 33.5 percent of them result in hits against Bailey. Everyone else who has a low line drive percentage and high ground ball rate? They are normally around 30 percent, and a lot of those on the list above are lower than .300.
When combining all three of these numbers, it is rather indicative that Bailey will progress, so if you can buy him, be sure to add him to your team. The progression seems to have already begun, as Bailey has won his last three starts against three very good offensive teams in the Cardinals, Dodgers and Giants. In these three starts, he has allowed just eight earned runs and 18 hits in 19 innings of work. Trade for him before everyone realizes that he is “back”, although, he really has not left.
Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Altuve currently leads all of baseball with 80 hits, and is third with 20 stolen bases. He is hitting .315 which is second among second baseman, only to Robinson Cano who is hitting .330. So why sell him? As the leading hitter in the MLB, and one of the top stolen base guys, Altuve’s value will never be higher. Someone will overpay for him, simply because he is a leader in a category, and is close to the lead in another.
Why is he worth trading? Yes, Altuve is good in batting average and stolen bases, but what else can he contribute? He does not hit a lot of home runs (2) or drive in a lot of runs (17) or even score a lot of runs (30). Other players can fill in at second base and contribute in more than two categories. What if you’re in a points league? In most points leagues, total bases and fantasy points is usually a correlation, and since Altuve has 21 extra-base hits this season, he is worth having on your roster. But again, his value is through the roof. Altuve is a career .289 hitter, and his BABIP is at a career-high .335 which is bound to decrease. If you can get good value for the second baseman, do not be afraid to trade him.
Statistics from ESPN.com and Fangraphs.com
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