We’re coming to you a day later than the past couple weeks, but the read will still be the same! Today’s article touches on the outfield position. In case you missed it, catch up on the past weeks articles which focused on Middle Infield and Corner Infield. With the vast number of outfielders in baseball I thought perhaps it would be easy to come up with three sell-high candidates that fit the “prime age” range. That couldn’t have been farther from the truth! After some back and forth I settled on the following.
Nelson Cruz is some kind of freak human being. How else can you explain Cruz averaging 43 home runs a year from his age 33 through his age 36 season? That’s ridiculous? Not to mention he’s played half of his games at the pitcher friendly Safeco Field each of the past three seasons.
Nelson Cruz’s home run numbers over the past four seasons would be enough to make me want to sell high and reap a handsome reward, but there are other reasons to sell high as well. One of the more obvious reasons would be his age. Cruz will be 37 years old at the start of the 2018 campaign, turning 38 at the beginning of July. Similar to what I mentioned with Votto last week, you have to get out in front of the decline. Don’t be bitten by the sudden collapse of a player’s abilities due to age.
Cruz has seen an increase in his hard-hit rate each of the past three seasons, rising from 35.6% in 2015 to 40.7% in 2017. That is a stat to hang your hat on when putting Cruz on the market. He has also seen his walk rate increase each season dating back to 2011, rising from a measly 6.4% to 10.9% this past season. Use his incredible four-season run, plus these advanced stats, to try and wheel and deal Cruz while you can.
Not only does he turn 38 during the middle of the season, but 2018 is also the last year he’s under contract. Cruz could very well retire at the completion of 2018, and nobody wants to be the one stuck with a retired player when they could have gotten a haul for him!
- Potential targets: Don’t worry about getting back another OF; there are always plenty of those around. Nab yourself a 2nd-tier SP. (Carlos Carrasco, Zack Greinke, Carlos Martinez)
Justin Upton was having a great season while he was in Detroit. The change of scenery seemed to shock him a bit, hitting 30 points lower with the Angels. Perhaps it was more than the change of scenery that caused the bit of a decline in numbers, but the numbers shown in LA were more on pace with his career numbers than the numbers he was putting up in Detroit during the 2017 season.
Upton played 125 games in Detroit this past season and totaled 28 homers, 94 RBI, and a .279 average. His career average season numbers are 28/88/.269. That seems to be reason enough to unload Upton now. He is displaying exactly what we’ve been talking about since the first article posted, the “prime age” is late 20’s (Upton turned 30 in late August)! As mentioned above, after the jersey switch Upton went back to his career pace, hitting 7 homers, knocking in 15, and compiling a .245 average in 25 games with the Angels.
It may be a bit late to truly get the full sell-high value on Upton, due to his small decrease towards the end of the season, but there is still a lot of value to be had with him. He’s under contract through the 2021 season, so there’s a lot of stability there. Yeah, stability can be a bad thing in professional sports as players get “comfortable” with their situation, but Upton is a grinder. He’s not one that simply goes through the motions out on the diamond. Also, the Angels seem to be back on the upswing, and being in a lineup with Mike Trout never hurt anyone!
Upton could still have plenty of 25+ homer seasons in his future, and where he is likely to land in the Angels batting order (likely 4th) should help him sustain value for a couple more years.
- Potential targets: Use Upton to secure some young talent; Add an arm to bolster your staff & some depth in your lineup. (Luis Severino, Chris Archer, Jimmy Nelson-Adam Duvall, Ender Inciarte, Chris Taylor)
One of our other writers here at Fantasy Assembly, Kevin Jebens, touched on JD Martinez a bit in his Fantasy Stock Watch segment in early October, so I’m not going to go into too much on him here.
Martinez put together some kind of season last year! As with Upton, Martinez was shipped out of town as Detroit began the rebuild process. They don’t appear to be doing it quite the same as some other teams have done, but that’s a story for an entirely different day and segment.
After he landed in Arizona, Martinez seemed as if he’d found his long-lost love from high school. In a mere 62 games he put up 29 homers and 65 RBI! There’s no doubt Martinez is a talented individual as he is a career .285 hitter, but some of the success in Arizona could be chalked up to him being unfamiliar to opposing pitching, not to mention the hitter-friendly Chase Field. With the advanced stats and all the stuff you can do with an Apple watch these days, that shouldn’t be an excuse, but the players still have to execute.
A lot of Martinez’s success in 2018 may firmly depend on where he lands. Ride the wave of his white-hot finish to the 2017 season and deal him at max value. Things will not get any better than what they are right now for Martinez. Plus, it’s tough to ride a player consistently dealing with injuries to a title. Go get yourself a franchise player!
- Potential targets: Go get a 2-for-1 deal here. You can never have enough pitching and you’ll need a bat to replace that power. (Mookie Betts, Khris Davis, Jonathan Schoop / James Paxton, Jake Arrieta, Sonny Gray)
Honorable Mention: Charlie Blackmon (can’t sell a Coor’s guy, but he’s in a contract year), Melky Cabrera, Jay Bruce.
Next week we’ll get into the list of pitchers to sell high on. If you’re in the twitter world shoot me your questions on there as well or give me a follow, @KennyGarvey.
We’ll catch you next week!
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