Now that the sprinters are out of the gate, which of them will be able to sustain their current pace? Which of the mudders should you be targeting in a trade or via the waiver wire? We’re almost a quarter of the way through the season and you should be starting to get a feel for what your team’s strength and weaknesses are in each category of roto style leagues. A close look at your standings will let you see what you need to target via a trade or FAAB/Waivers. It’s a long season, but you now need to start the grind of trying to climb up the standings if you’re lagging behind. At this point you want to acquire the mudders and think about trading those fast starters. If your pitcher is on pace for 30 wins, you know that he’ll be coming back to earth in regards of wins. Hitters who have 12-15 homers at the quarter pole will most likely not hit another 36-45 over the next three quarters, although the juiced ball may change the odds of that.
Cody Bellinger has swatted 14 HRs as of May 5th. He has played in 34 of the Dodgers 36 games and if you project out that pace, he would play in another 118 games. If he continued his production at the current rate he would hit another 48 HRs. Over the last 10 years there have only been FOUR fifty homer seasons. Yes, the ball certainly appears to be playing a major role in the increased homer rates we are seeing this year. Further proof the ball is a large part of it is the dramatic rise we have seen in the minors where, for the first time, they are using the same ball as they use in the majors. The question is can Bellinger keep up this pace? He has dramatically reduced his K%, thus putting the ball in play almost 10% more. His BABIP is at an extremely high .398 resulting in an absurd .412 batting average. We see a FB/HR% that has more than doubled from 2018. So what do you expect from Bellinger the rest of the season? You can look at FanGraphs and see what his Steamer, The BAT, etc projections are, but history tells you there is likely less than 36 homers left in the tank. Now would you be upset if he hits 35 the rest of the way? Of course not, but when deciding how to make your team better, don’t discount trading him at his peak if you think you can gain points overall with who you get in return. You can think of Christian Yelich in the same way. Historic seasons are just that, historic. If one of them hits 50 homers, it’ll only be the 5th time in the last 10 years and if both do it, it’ll be the 2nd time in that same time frame.
Joey Gallo’s start to the season has been very impressive. He is tied for 3rd in the majors with 11 HRs but, like Bellinger, has seen a dramatic increase in his HR/FB %. Last year’s rate of 27.6% has risen to 47.8%. Interestingly, Gallo has seen his percentage of fly balls hit drop from 50% last season to 38% this year. If he was hitting HRs at last year’s HR/FB rate, he’d only have 6 and if was hitting 50% fly balls at this year’s HR/FB rate, he’d have 30!! His hard hit rate has also risen from 48% to 61%. Has Gallo become that much of a better hitter? He is striking out at a similar rate to last year, but his batting average is .270 and BABIP .327. Trying to piece this all together, you can expect Gallo to regress towards his normal low batting average and a lower HR/FB rate. If you need batting average and can afford to give up a few HRs, trading Gallo now, when his numbers look much better than his usual ones, can get you a good return.
Who are laggards that you may want to target in a trade? Matt Carpenter is showing signs of coming out of his slump so the window to acquire him may be closing. The following is the opening of Carpenter’s player profile on FanGraphs: If you thought that the rise of The Shift would spell doom for Matt Carpenter’s career, his start to 2018 certainly gave you cause to worry, as the Cardinals infielder went .140/.286/.272 in his first 35 games. Once the switch flipped, though, Carpenter turned into the best hitter in Major League Baseball; from May 16th to August 13th (a 79-game stretch), Carpenter hit 30 home runs.. May 16th is fast approaching and as I said he is seemingly starting to heat up. Looking at his peripherals, there is very little difference from this year to last. The only number that is significantly different is his hard hit rate which is down to 39% from 49%. His BABIP, FB%, K% and BB% are all similar to his totals from the 2018 season. Since he only has 4 HRs, his ISO is obviously down, but I don’t expect that to stay there. Start to ask what it would take to get him…..you don’t have much time left.
Someone who appears to be having a down season because his team is currently slumping is Michael Conforto. Conforto was touted as someone who could break out this season as he had a great second half last year after returning from late 2017 shoulder surgery. He has 6 HRs and 20 RBI and he is still projected to finish with about 28 and 80, which is in line with his preseason projections. The Mets have scored only 7 runs in their prior 6 games through Monday. The whole team isn’t hitting. They have just finished a stretch where they played a lot of games within their division which has some pretty good starting pitching. Most Mets hitters are having down years and the perception is probably that Conforto is too, so now may be the time to pounce. Conforto is hitting more line drives and fly balls this year while striking out less. With his current stats on pace for his projected totals, the increase in fly balls, the upcoming warmer weather and six games against the Marlins in the next 9 days, the Mets left fielder is someone you may want to try to obtain soon.
Those who panic in April and trade away players who haven’t hit their stride yet usually regret trading them away later in the season. We are now out of April and instead of panicking, carefully monitoring and evaluating your team in May will help you make the right decisions in regards of whom to trade and whom to acquire. Sometimes it’s best to trade away someone having a good year for players who can help you climb in the standings the rest of the year. If you have Bellinger, Gallo, and/or Yelich, your team is probably doing well, but is the rest of your team ready to carry the load when they come back to earth?
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