Trading in fantasy sports can be simplified to a four-word common denominator: Sell high, buy low.
The key is knowing which players will bounce back from a slow start and which ones will crash and burn after lighting the fantasy world early on.
It should be noted that at the moment, not even a full week into the Major League regular season, you won’t find too many owners panicking enough about Mark Teixeira’s slow start or overzealous about Vernon Wells’ astronomical stats thus far.
However, it is still good to get into the rhythm of what will be a regular feature as the season matures, so here are my current very, very early sell high, buy low candidates:
Alex Rodriguez. If you find anyone panicking enough to move A-Rod after his .133 batting average and measly one run scored and one RBI through 15 at-bats, than go ahead and take the guy to the cleaner. However, in more realistic scenarios, you still won’t be able to touch A-Rod with even the most well-constructed trade. However, if he continues to struggle through April and into May … well, you still probably won’t be able to touch him. But you get the point. I hope.
Mark Teixeira. See A-Rod above. No one is going to deal Teixeira just yet despite his 0-for-12 slump at the plate so far this young season. Those who look closely at Teixeira’s career numbers can see a definite pattern of under-performing to start a season and then coming on like pop rocks in a wildfire as the weather warms. If Teixeira continues to struggle over the month of April, you could do worse than to throw a few offers at owners in your respective leagues, and you may be able to convert an Adrian Gonzalez or Joey Votto into Teixeira as part of a deal. It doesn’t hurt to at least try.
Grady Sizemore. Perhaps a little more interesting for this list, Grady’s 1-for-9 plate performance so far shouldn’t even be an afterthought for his respective owners at this early part of the season. However, coming off such a train wreck of a 2009 campaign, a few owners are already getting a little squeamish about Sizemore. In fact, in one fairly reputable league just yesterday, someone dealt away Sizemore for a red-hot Curtis Granderson and some scrub players. Patience, young grasshopper. If you own Sizemore, you should not be dealing him at the moment. If you don’t own him and he continues to struggle, make some offers and see what happens.
Aaron Hill. A favorite target in drafts for both ep and myself, Hill has stumbled out of the gate this season to a tune of 1-for-8 at the plate. He’ll still hit more than ample home runs for a second baseman, and while the guy who drafted him likely won’t be quick to ditch him just yet, he’s another buy low candidate to watch closely.
Hunter Pence. Another guy I was targeting in drafts this spring, Pence has yet to notch a single hit in 12 at-bats. He’ll be fine. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Jay Bruce. The Cincinnati outfielder has twice as many strikeouts as hits (two to one) and no home runs despite plenty of power potential. This will change soon, but keep a close eye on him as a buy-low candidate as we work our way into April games.
Justin Verlander. Five innings pitched, and a 7.20 ERA to show for it. Not exactly what you’d expect from the guy I boldly predicted would win the AL Cy Young. However, it was just one start. He will still be dominant this season, and he’s still my Cy Young pick for the AL.
Scott Baker. Only lasted 4.2 innings against the Dodgers earlier this week, giving up four earned runs and striking out as many batters as he walked (three). He’ll still be a solid fantasy pitcher.
Jose Valverde. Blew a save against the lowly Royals on Wednesday. But Valverde still closes on a team that is ripe for saves, and you can rest assured he will produce accordingly. He’ll still save more games than Mariano Rivera in 2010.
Chris Young (SP). He flashed the potential to be a solid fantasy pitcher in the past, but I’d bet a buffalo nickel that he’ll come back to earth after pitching six innings of scoreless, one-hit baseball against the Diamondbacks. He could produce better overall than in years past, but not at this elite of a level.
Vernon Wells. Quick … name the top fantasy producing offensive player in baseball. Yes, it’s Wells. The guy who was expected to take the league by storm back in 1999 when he first entered the big leagues. Call me a pessimist, but somehow I doubt that in year 11, he’s somehow found a massive power swing … unless he’s juicing. He could have a decent year, but he’s not going to break the single-season home run record.
Plocido Polanco. Who would have thunk that Polanco would be leading the league in RBI at any part of the season? His six notch him with Wells and Garrett Jones atop the league. There’s no chance he continues at this pace, even surrounded like he is with talent.
Garrett Jones. I love what he could do for a season, but remember that he spent numerous seasons in the minors before finally getting the call for a Pirates team typically devoid of great talent. He’s a guy I’d love to have on my roster, but at the moment with his massive fireworks display, he’s also demanding a much higher price tag than I’d be willing to pay in most league formats. If you can deal him in a redraft league for elite talent based on potential and his current offensive tear, go for it. Don’t move him in dynasty leagues.
Mark Buehrle. Currently ranked by Yahoo as the third best fantasy pitcher in baseball. This comes off a seven-inning one-hitter against the Cleveland Indians. Yes, those Indians. Buehrle can produce quietly consistent numbers during the season, but not to this level week in and week out.
Who are your buy low and sell high candidates? We’d love to hear in the comments section below.