Fantasy Baseball

Getting Ready for the Stretch Run

Last week I gave you tips on how to complete a successful trade.  For some of you the trading deadline has passed; for some of you though you still have another day, possibly another week to complete a trade in your league.  Regardless of whether you are in the hunt for a playoff spot or sitting pretty at the top of your league, this is your last chance to improve your team with a big player and set your team up for that playoff run.  Kai Peterson already gave those of you in keeper/dynasty leagues players to target, today I’m going to do the same for those of you in redraft leagues.  Just like Kai, I’m not going to list the obvious targets.  Players like Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gomez and Jose Abreu are guys everyone wants to own.  Unfortunately their asking price will be higher than you can afford to pay and you’re trying to shore up your team, not weaken it.  There is a slight chance that a few of these players may even be available to you on waivers; in competitive leagues though, they are long gone.

Matt Holliday:  He’s been frustrating to own; I know, I own him in two leagues.  There have been times that I have wanted to drop him.  I even traded him early on in one league only to get him back weeks later in another deal.  When Holliday was drafted, you took him under the assumption he would hit close to .300, give you 20 or so home runs and 90+ in the runs and RBI categories.  We’re in August and Holliday is batting .264 with only 12 home runs and I’m sure his owners are not too happy with him.  This is all the casual owner sees, but Holliday has been doing much more as of late.  Over the past 30 days he’s hit .282 with 7 home runs, 15 RBI and has 18 runs scored.  Those numbers get lost in his bottom line.  The player we see now is the one everyone expected to see when he was drafted between rounds 5 & 6, and could be available at a discount.  Offering someone like Marcell Ozuna along with a low-end pitcher or spare bench guy could get the deal done.  You may have to deal with an occasional (we’re trying to keep him healthy) day off, but Holliday should be all systems go from here on out and someone you want for your playoff run.

Carlos Beltran:  At 37 years old, Beltran was a risky pick even with the move to the Bronx.  Prior to the all-star break, Beltran was batting only .216.  After the break, he’s batting .351.  This mini hot streak is nice, but it doesn’t lessen the sting of what he delivered in the previous 3 months.  While I don’t expect him to hit over .300 for the final 2 months, he should deliver a respectable average.  Runs and RBIs should increase as the Yankees make a push for the playoffs and you could get another 7 to 8 homers as well.  Beltran may be old, but he’s not done.  His current owner may not feel the same way which could lead to a bargain for you.  Value wise for the rest of the season, think of Beltran as a low-end number 2 or number 3 outfielder.  While you shouldn’t have to give up anything close to this value, don’t go over it.  I’ve seen Beltran traded for players such as Stephen Vogt, Andrew Cashner, Shin-Soo Choo, Lucas Duda and Alex Gordon.  With the exception of Gordon, I’d feel comfortable trading any one of those players for Beltran.

Addison Reed:  It’s not to often that a closer with a 3.77 ERA makes a good target, but Reed is the exception.  All season he has struggled, be it home runs, control, location, and yet Kirk Gibson has stuck with him.  His patience is paying off as Reed has been the 6th best closer in the league for the past 30 days.  Over that span he has a 1.04 ERA (7th among closers), an 0.69 WHIP (4th) and 7 saves (tied for 4th).  His 13 strikeouts rank him outside the top 10, but that is mostly due to lack of innings and opportunity (he holds a 10.92 K/9 for the season).  Reed’s 27 saves may lower his availability, but his ERA should lower the asking price.  Offering a low or mid tier closer such as Steve Cishek and bench player might be enough, or you could sell high on Huston Street and maybe get Reed and another player in return.  Don’t worry about the team he plays for, even losing teams get saves.

Jason Heyward:  We forget that while Heyward is in the middle of his 5th full season, he is only 25 years old.  He has flashed his potential at times, but other times he looks no better than a replacement player.  He’s still learning, still growing and still developing, something frustrated owners may overlook.  During his (relatively) healthy seasons (2010 & 2012), Heyward has hit 18 or more homers with double-digit steals.  If you look at his injury seasons (2011 & 2013) he didn’t quite meet those standards, but if you extrapolate his number over a full season he would have.  Heyward is only batting .271, but that’s a far cry better than the .245 he was at coming into July.  Since the all-star break, Heyward is hitting .391.  The power may not be there, but the runs, RBIs and stolen bases are.  If he can continue to hit for average you’re looking at a 4 category contributor.  Last year Heyward batted just .227 before the break but turned in a .305 performance after that.  His name no longer demands a high return and his upside means nothing this late in the season so don’t pay for either of these.  I would trade a number 3 or 4 starting pitcher for Heyward, a hitter with similar stats whom I may not need or even a slumping Carlos Gonzalez or injured Joey Votto.  If the price is right, it’s worth the risk.

Matt Kemp:  He has come alive lately so your opportunity to buy low may be gone, but you still may be able to acquire Kemp at a reasonable price.  He slumped for the first two months of the season and looked no better than the player we saw in 2013.  Somewhere along the line something clicked as Kemp hit above .300 for the months of June and July.  He has also shown a little power, but more importantly, the speed has made a return as he’s stolen 2 bases this month after zero steals and only 3 attempts the previous 2 months.  Kemp’s RBI totals have also doubled from the first two months, combined with his run scoring ability and you have that 5 category player we’ve been waiting to emerge.  If his current owner puts his value in the second to third round range, move on.  Players like Corey Dickerson or Charlie Blackmon would make prime trade candidates as they’ve given you most of their numbers already.  Plus once the cold days of September settle in, the ball will be traveling less in Colorado.  It could be a win-win scenario for you.

Pablo Sandoval:  Here’s someone who almost everyone thought would break out considering he lost weight and was playing for a new contract.  A horrid April masks the fact that while his batting average says .283, he’s been hitting .300 or higher since May.  The power hasn’t exactly been there, but the few homers he has given us combined with his average, run and RBI totals makes for a nice package.  In fact, if you sort third baseman by scoring categories and take out the top 5 in each one, Sandoval’s name is one of the first to appear on each one.  Sandoval makes a great target for those in need of an upgrade at third, but he can also help those that have a solid option at third.  Trading your Evan Longoria or Adrian Beltre for Sandoval and a second useful player could be to your benefit considering his numbers aren’t that far off of either man.  You might have to include in a second player yourself depending on who they offer you with Sandoval, but if it’s someone you don’t need or can replace and it improves your team, do it.  Longoria & Beltre are great players to own, but they are only names, you’re buying stats.

Kolten Wong:  Depending on what site you play for, Wong could be a trade target or free agent acquisition.  Currently he ranks just outside the top 20 at second base, but over the past 30 days Wong is the second rated.  Over this time spanning 83 at bats, Wong has 6 home runs, 8 stolen bases, 11 RBIs and has scored 15 runs.  Those numbers make him a must own even in 10 team leagues.  The batting average isn’t close to the .300 he put up in the minors (.247), but it has shown improvement slowly.  The power surge seems a little off, but just like Jean Segura last year, there is no need to question these things in yearly formats.  The speed is for real and Wong has the ability to steal 25 or more bases a year, so another 10 before the end of the season isn’t out of the question.  If he’s owned in your league, odds are he’s on your opposing managers bench.  Offering someone like Chase Utley, Neil Walker or Howie Kendrick might be an overpay but not out of the question.  If you’re a Dustin Pedroia or Martin Prado owner, you could easily get Wong and another useful player in return.  Just like I said when discussing Sandoval above, owning guys like Dustin Pedroia are nice but he’s only a name, you’re buying numbers.

Bryce Harper:  This one is just a shot in the dark, but with so many owners down on him right now, his value is at an all time low.  Harper and Mike Trout were compared highly to each other when they first came into the league.  One has become the master of his domain while the other has become the master of the DL.  Much of Harper’s troubles this year can be attributed to a torn thumb ligament suffered at the end of April.  He’s had a little over a month to work through things and there are only one of two ways things will go.  Either the injury will continue to hamper him and he will continue to be worthless or he will come around very soon and be a productive outfielder for the final month of the season.  That’s a big risk given you only have a 50% chance of getting a useful player, so the price has to be right.  Looking at some recent 1-1 trades, players like Matt Kemp, Troy Tulowitzki, George Springer, Cole Hamels and Gregory Polanco would be an overpay.  Guys like Tim Hudson, Jered Weaver, Oscar Taveras and J.D. Martinez would be perfect value if the owner is willing to deal numbers and not get stuck on the name.  Don’t do this if you’re not a believer in Harper, if he disappoints you’ll have zero faith in him next year.

By Jim Finch

The self proclaimed Grand High Exhausted Mystic Ruler of Fantasy Baseball. While I am not related to Jennie or Sidd Finch, I will attempt to uphold the integrity of the Finch family name as it relates to baseball.