April is coming to a close and many players are doing exactly what we hoped, but some are dinged up or off to a slow start. Fantasy teams in your league that fancied themselves contenders may have started 1-3 or may be really behind the eight ball in the roto rankings. It’s still very early, but some owners will be overreacting to small sample sizes – and shiny new prospects. Do your best to take advantage of this to methodically and drastically improve your team.
Cueto has been awesome so far. I personally got a lot of shares of Cueto as he dropped much further than he should have. He has also been pretty lucky, and there are some troubling stats. Cueto has a lot of brand value in most leagues so it’s worth figuring out if your league is one where you can capitalize on that.
Cueto has a 0.84 ERA, which is awesome. His K rate is 22% and his K/9 is 7.31. That’s not as good. Hitters have had a minuscule .185 BABIP against Cueto and his strand rate is an absurd 93.2%. Cueto has generally outpitched his peripherals, but his career norms in those two respective stats are .280 and 76.8%, so we can definitely expect some correction there. The revamped Giants lineup has also been worse than we expected to this point so maybe the wins potential isn’t quite as high as we thought coming into the season. Finally, Cueto is averaging 90.3 MPH on his fastball, which is 1.2 ticks lower than back in 2016 when he was last an ace. It’s 3MPH lower than when he was a mainstay with the Reds.
As always, don’t trade a guy just to trade him. We’re trying to gain value. Cueto has performed like an ace to this point and he has brand value to support that kind of valuation even though he’s unlikely to perform at that level all season. I don’t think Cueto will be bad; he’s a solid SP3 and could even be an SP2 type in that park with a bit of luck. I would be looking for ace return or to put him in a multi-player deal to help create a blockbuster.
Just to give you a bit of insight, I was able to turn Cueto, A Wood, and Eaton into Blackmon and Paxton in a 10-team points league. In my mind, I got the best two players in the deal and was able to pull it off because the other owner needs pitching and is assuming Cueto is back to being an ace.
Acuna is the number one prospect in baseball. He’s also come out of the gate red-hot. If you stashed him you should see what he’s worth in your league (even just for fun).
There’s basically no statistical analysis behind this recommendation. It’s purely based on the fact that the fantasy community severely overrates young players. Acuna isn’t even old enough to drink a beer legally. Does he have insane potential? Of course he does. But the trade offers I’ve seen for Acuna are absolutely nutty, though. I’ve seen offers of Rizzo, Bryant, DeGrom, Lindor, Correa, Abreu, and Hoskins for Acuna. I get that Acuna is very exciting, but if you can get a top 30-40 player for Acuna you should take it.
Acuna will likely never be as shiny and exciting as he is right now. It’s also worth remembering that Buxton and Joc Pederson once drew Mike Trout comparisons like Acuna does today – wish I traded them for a top 30-40 player when I could have. Heck, even Mike Trout wasn’t Mike Trout the first time he came up. And most time those players that do start hot hit the wall at some point as pitchers adjust. See if your league will give you a king’s ransom and pull the trigger if they do.
Here’s my first buy-high of the year. Buying high and selling low is the dream scenario and is always what we aim for. That said, sometimes you need to pay full freight for studs, especially if there’s been a development that makes you think the player in question might be even better than many believe. I think Starling Marte is just that.
Marte was generally drafted between the 3rd and 6th rounds of roto and category drafts – it really was league dependent. In leagues where owners chased steals and average Marte went where he was supposed to. In leagues that witch hunt PED users his draft stock was deflated. There are also points leagues where Marte wasn’t even drafted (and that wasn’t a mistake) coming into the season.
So what’s changed? It’s a really simple 2-point argument. First, his walk rate has nearly doubled. Marte has an 11.6% walk rate, up from 5.9% last year and a career 5.1%. This means that he will have many more opportunities to steal and score runs. He is ranked as the 19th fastest guy in the league according to Statcast’s sprint speed. If this walk rate holds I think Marte’s stolen base expectation can get bumped up a good bit. At this point in his career, 30-35 steals was the expectation. He’s currently on a 46 steal pace, which is one off his career high. Getting on base at a high clip is also going to enable him to score more runs. The Pirates offense has been performing at a top-10 level so far. Trading McCutchen hasn’t hurt them with Marte, Polanco, Bell, and Dickerson picking up the slack.
It’s going to be difficult to buy Marte in roto, but I would still try. I currently view him as a top 12 outfielder with this new development in roto – I’d pay full price there. Where there might be more opportunity, though, is in points leagues. Marte has generally been overrated in points leagues as his fantasy points per game was generally lackluster due to his lack of walks. With the enhance walk rate, more steals, and more runs, Marte could be awesome. I view him as a top-20 outfielder in points and there will be a number of leagues where you don’t have to pay that much.
It’s usually pretty easy to buy waiver adds from other owners. If Hernandez is still on waivers then you need to pick him up. You can also try to pry him away from his owner as he was likely a recent waiver add. Hernandez was a respectable prospect but not an extremely high-end one. Take a stab as I think this guy is going to have some staying power.
Hernandez has been absolutely ridiculous and he may even have been unlucky so far. He has a 27.5% line drive rate and has hit the ball hard 50% of the time according to Fangraphs. He’s 4th in average exit velocity He has a .497 xwOBA, which is 5th best in the league. Along with smoking the ball all over the field, he also seems to have a good approach. He has a 10% walk rate with a reasonable 23.3% K rate. This is profile of an absolute stud. It’s also nice that he plays in the AL East where most of the parks are hitter friendly including his home park.
I’m kicking myself for not picking him up anywhere. There’s a chance that the league adjusts to him as it does to many young players. I think you need to take a chance on him given his current profile. Outfield is generally one of the easiest positions to replace, especially in shallow leagues. It makes sense to gamble on the potential young stud. I know that goes against what I said with Acuna, but this time you can do it for free with little risk. I would trade names like Conforto, Puig, A Jones, and C Taylor for him.
We’re starting to get to the point in the season where owners really start to panic. This is prime time to make some trades to vastly improve your team from where it was on draft day. Send some offers and see where it gets you.
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