Buy Low and Sell High Performers as the All-Star break approaches
Heading into the All-Star break, it is a perfect time to see who is primed to turn it around in the second half, and who will slow down. Looking at numbers that signal positive trends or negative regression, a few hitters’ statistics really stand out to me. Here are my favorite buy low and sell high candidates:
Jose Abreu’s Down Season
Through 88 games this season, Abreu is having his worst season statistically. However, his numbers point to him turning it around. His BABIP is currently a career low of .291, which is down a good amount from his career average of .330. I expect him to see better luck with his batted balls. Another area where I expect some positive regression is his HR/FB rate of 12.4 percent. That is another career low for him, and down from his average of 18.5 percent. As those numbers return back to the mean, the home runs will become more frequent and his .259 batting average should creep back up to .280. I would buy low on him.
Jesus Aguilar’s Power Surge
Aguilar has been on a torrid pace so far in 2018, and I don’t see it continuing. He is currently sixth in MLB with 23 home runs. That is seven more than he had last year in 53 less games. He has benefited from a really high HR/FB rate of 28.4 percent, and is also striking out 3.5 percent less of the time. The elite HR/FB is fourth in baseball among the likes of Aaron Judge, J.D. Martinez, and Giancarlo Stanton. That is elite company, and the outlier in that group is definitely Aguilar. His .305 batting average is also too high for a hitter that is a very free swinger, and he and could easily go through a slump in that category. In the second half of last season his batting average was .220. That shows how he can be a hot and cold hitter. I do not think Aguilar will be able to keep up this insane power pace, and it is a great time to sell him at a high value.
George Springer World Series Hangover?
The leadoff batter for one the best offenses in baseball is great target in Fantasy trades. In June he had a stretch of 0-for-20, and opted to keep the baseball after getting a hit. This hopefully signals Springer turning the page. A lot of baseball players can go through these rough patches, and Springer is too good of a hitter to not turn it around. He is coming off a career season with a .283 batting average and 34 home runs. Springer figures to be in the prime of his career at age 28, and in his fourth season. There should be positive regression for him with a career low BABIP and career low HR/FB rate. Trade for Springer before he settles into his groove in the leadoff spot for the World Champs.
Brandon Nimmo’s Attractive Upside
A young shiny trade piece in Fantasy Baseball is Brandon Nimmo. He has flashed power in 2018, but the issue is he is not pegged to be a great power hitter. In his 79 games played, he has 12 home runs, which is good for a .246 Isolated Power mark. That number is around guys like Manny Machado, Trevor Story, and Edwin Encarnacion, who are proven home run hitters. Nimmo did not show much power in the minors and only hit five home runs in 69 games last season. I expect his power numbers to decrease a good amount. He is also in one of the worst lineups in baseball, so it is tough to expect run-producing opportunities often. Nimmo’s production and ability can be attractive in Fantasy trades, but he’s due for regression. He is a good sell-high option.
Joc Pederson’s Improved Numbers
Pederson is one of the many players that have stepped up for the Dodgers this season. He has a .273 Isolated Power, which is 10th highest in MLB, and up a lot from his .194 mark last season. A big part of his increased power is how often he is hitting fly balls. 47 percent of his batted balls have been fly balls, up from 12.5 percent in 2017. That rate is high compared to the league average of 35 percent, and it’s tough to see him keeping it up. Also, Pederson has a career low strikeout rate of 15.6 percent. That was one of Pederson’s biggest issues in his past seasons, and I expect him to see some regression to his career strikeout rate of 25 percent. Sell high on Pederson.
Miles Mikolas’ All-Star Season
By the numbers, it appears Mikolas has been a completely different pitcher this year than he was before leaving the U.S. a few years ago. His ERA is down to 2.65 after returning from Japan. He was just voted into the All-Star game, but I see Mikolas slowing down the rest of the way. He does not generate many strikeouts or swinging strikes, making him rely heavily on ground ball outs. So far in 2018, it has worked, as he produced a 50.1 percent ground ball rate. Among the 16 pitchers with under a 3.00 ERA, he and Jon Lester are the only pitchers with an under 8.7 K/9 rate. Mikolas is not too close to that either with 6.17 K/9. That shows how difficult it can be to maintain a low ERA with not too many strikeouts. I would trade Mikolas with his value being at its highest point.
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