Fantasy Baseball: 5 Players To Buy-low
With most trade deadlines quickly approaching as we all gear up for playoff runs, now is a good time to see if you can pry away some studs at the last minute. I'd like to highlight a few known fantasy commodities that you should target while their value is lower than normal. You most likely won't get them for a bag of Doritos, but you should be able to get them for a lower price than you normally would.
Bad Luck Cliff Lee, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
Wins are seemingly hard to come by for Lee these days. To be fair, that's an understatement. Let's just say, with the way Lee's season has gone so far, I have as good of a chance of dating Kate Upton as Lee has in winning five games. Talk about having no luck at all if it weren't for bad luck. It hasn't entirely been bad luck. Lee hasn't helped himself in quite a few outings. A 3.92 ERA and 1.22 WHIP isn't exactly juicy on the surface, but at the end of the day, an ERA below 4.00 is good enough to register more than one measly win. The wins are probably irking many owners and this is exactly why you should buy-low if you can.
Lee's peripherals don't suggest a substantial improvement, but he will indeed improve. An xFIP of 3.10 is pretty darn promising. His K/9 is about where it should be. His HR/FB ratio is higher than his career norm so there should be an improvement there. Don't expect a 2nd half similar to last season from Lee when he was absolutely outstanding with an 8-2 record, a 1.79 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP, and a 9.5 K/9 in 13 games. But you can expect an ERA just below 3.00, a WHIP around 1.00, a K/9 around 9.0, and oh yeah, some freaking wins. He has to start winning some ball games at some point, right? A pitcher can't possibly only win two games in a season, right? Lee is already showing with two strong 2nd half performances that he could be turning it around, so the time to buy-low could be shrinking. On the bright side, he won neither game. Go figure.
José Reyes, SS, Florida Marlins
If you told me that Jose Reyes would play nearly every game for the first three and half months of the season, and only steal 20 bases, I would also expect you to tell me that Skip Bayless made a rational argument in favor of LeBron James. 20 is not exactly chopped liver, but that is not Reyes. This is not what fantasy owners were expecting when they took him with their 2nd or 3rd round pick. Maybe this is the chance to pounce on Reyes if the owner in your league is having his doubts about him.
You would expect someone like him to have 30 and some change at this point given he has been fully healthy all season. He probably would if he weren't hitting .264 with a .285 BABIP. You would think somebody as fast as Reyes would have a BABIP higher than that. We're talking about a career BABIP of .312. We're almost talking 30 pts lower than his career average here. His line drive rate is similar to 2008 when he nearly hit .300, so he's getting a little cheated. Reyes isn't gonna hit anywhere near .337 like he did last season, but you can expect him to hit just under .300. Reyes' numbers suggest he's due for some luck in his favor. With more luck, the base knocks should follow, and more importantly, the steals will come in droves.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox
Frankly, you can make the case that Dustin Pedroia is having the worst season of his career. ISO is low, BABIP is low, average is low, OBP is low, stolen base total leaves a lot to be desired. Just not Peddy Bear's year. He's played through or been sidelined by thumb injury for most of the year. Kind of reminiscent of his 2010 season, except in that season, he was himself, until he broke his foot. This season, he hasn't been Pedroia-like. Which is even more reason why you might be able to pry him away from a disgruntled owner. Oh and by the way, he's coming off the DL as soon as tomorrow. His value couldn't possibly be any lower following his horrible June and the DL stint. You know what he brings to the table. I don't think I have to tell you that Pedroia goes on these long torrid stretches. Like last July for instance? He batted a ridiculous .411 with 8 long balls, 22 RBIs, 6 stolen bases, and a whopping 46 hits in 26 games. If Pedroia's thumb is fully healed, expect him to stabilize your batting average, give you steals, some solid power numbers, and a ton of runs. Especially with the return of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford. Pedroia looks primed for a huge 2nd half.
Justin Upton, RF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Of all the players on the list, this one will be the toughest one to get. But with the right offer, you should be able to get him, and probably cheaper than what you would have had to pay for him at the beginning of the season. Upton's peripherals suggest that he should be lighting up the fantasy scene, yet he isn't. It won't be long before he goes on a ridiculous tear. His ISO and HR/FB ratio are way too low. His slugging percentage is nearly 150 points lower than last season. He plays in a cavernous ballpark. There is absolutely no reason why he can't power teams to fantasy championships. Look for a large uptick in his power numbers. If you have any chance at all to get J. Up for a reasonable price, get him, and his former owner will surely regret it.
José Bautista, RF, Toronto Blue Jays
If you are wondering why Joey Bats cracked this list, it's simple. Somebody somewhere just lost Joey Bats in the midst of fighting for a playoff spot. If you just so happen to be an owner who has pretty much locked up a playoff spot or if you have a bad team in a keeper league, and the owner of Bats just so happens to lose him while fighting for a spot, here's your chance. If you are the former, you can probably throw that owner a bone and give him someone like Melky Cabrera, Adam Jones, Austin Jackson, or even Alex Rios. Someone you can afford to lose as you wait for JB to come back and power you to a deep playoff run. If you are the latter, you can just give the Bats' owner a few good players that you really won't keep, so you can upgrade to an elite player for next year.
Believe it or not, situations like these occur quite often. You just may be able to catch a panicking owner fighting for his/her playoff lives who just lost Joey Bats. You would get him much cheaper than you would if he were fully healthy and swatting everything out of the park.