We’re five weeks into the season, and it’s the perfect time to start working some trades. Every year there are big name guys that have dud seasons and hot starters that fizzle out. It’s crucial to sell these guys early. The big name guys can still be sold at a premium because of the pedigree, but a lot of owners can be tricked into thinking the hot starters are for real.
Fantasy Baseball, more than any other fantasy sport, is all about the long haul. It’s key to identify players that will add value to your team for as long as possible. There is a tendency among the fantasy community to hop on the trendy guys, but as with the allegorical hare and tortoise, slow and steady often wins the race. In weekly head-to-head leagues, a streaky player can lose you a week just as easy as they can win you one, and in rotisserie, patience is the name of the game.
Here are some guys I would try and get my hands on, and guys I would be offering up.
Chase Headley, 3B, SD
Headley came into the season with a lot of hype after his breakout 95/31/115 season. This is a guy that a lot of people are doubting, especially after a hand injury stalled his season. Since returning from the DL, he’s been swinging a hot bat, recording a slash line of .280/.373/.540. He’s already racked up 7 H and 8 BB against 15 K in 50 AB. So far he is looking like the same guy from last year. Chase is currently hitting for a ridiculous .260 ISO, after setting a career high last year of .212. He already has 3 HR in 12 games, and it looks like he could be on track for another 30 HR season. With power so hard to come by this year, that’s production you need to be buying.
Jeff Samardzija, SP, CHC
Samardzija has had a rough start to the season, record-wise, that is — he’s currently 1-4 with a 3.35 ERA. His control has just not been there and he is leading the majors in wild pitches (6) and is averaging 3.35 BB/9 — he has also walked seven batters in his last 11 IP. He has however, struck out 47 in 37.2 IP, and has 8 Ks in two consecutive starts. His xFIP is predicting some positive regression at 2.83 versus his ERA of 3.35. All you have to do is watch this guy once to know that he has filthy stuff. With the elite strikeout numbers, this is a guy I would be targeting. After five somewhat erratic outings, there’s a good chance the owner in your league is open to dealing him.
Matt Carpenter, 1B/2B/3B/OF, STL
Early in the season, Carpenter has well exceeded expectations. He’s currently hitting everything in sight, slashing .283/.349/.475, but is it sustainable? His career ISO is a paltry .171, a number that he is slightly outperforming at .192. His 9.4 HR/FB is below the league average, so he’s definitely not going to help you out in the homerun category any time soon, and even the extra base hits should be few and far between. For the type of hitter he is, a .349 BABIP is also likely to regress — he’s not known for his overwhelming speed and, surprise, he has no stolen bases this year. Just for reference, Headley swiped 17 bags last year. In the Cardinals lineup, he is in a good position to rack up runs and RBI, but if the average regresses, so will the counting stats. He’s someone who you could get very good value for before it’s too late.
Hisashi Iwakuma, SP, SEA
Iwakuma has turned a lot of heads in the opening weeks of the season as he’s currently leading the world in WHIP (0.69), and is 7th overall in ERA (1.67). There is no doubt that is elite production, but the other shoe is bound to drop sometime. His xFIP is 3.06 and his BABIP is .178 — both are foretelling some considerable regression. I’m not saying that he isn’t going to be valuable for the whole year, but this might be your only opportunity to package him in a deal to get top-20 or even top-10 SP value for him. It’s worth a shot.
Do you agree with my thoughts? Disagree? Lonely and want to talk? Leave your thoughts in the comments or hit me up on twitter @tony_barone.