Buy Low Bats

Another week gone by and another opportunity to buy low and sell high.  Teams might be starting to get really desperate and may even be in flat-out sell mode if it’s a keeper or dynasty format.  Below are some guys that I think are worth targeting

Cesar Hernandez

I regret not writing about Hernandez more coming into the year.  Ended up with a lot of shares as he was one of the late round second basemen that appeared to be not much different from the top 5 or so.  He’s been pretty good so far so it may not be possible to buy truly low on him, but I am buying his production and think there’s room for upside.

So far this year Hernandez already has 6 bombs along with 9 swipes and some decent counting stats.  Considering he only went 9 and 15 last year, this is pretty exciting. This is also why some people might not think it’s legit.  The K rate is up incrementally to a still very respectable 21.6% but his walk rate is also up to an excellent 15.5%. This is improving on what was already a nice skill from a guy who had put up a 370+ OBP season in ‘16 and ‘17.  What about the pop? So Hernandez’ homer to fly ball right is a bit high. It’s double his career rate and 6 points higher than last year at 15%. There is some reason to believe that some of this is legit though considering he’s hitting the ball harder and in the air more often.  His hard hit rate is up 8 points (30.3%) from last year as is his fly ball rate (34.2%). Hernandez has also already touched home plate 34 times. He’s done this in spite of the fact that Hoskins and Santana are off to slow starts. So even if he gives a bit of the homer potential back, I think it’s likely that Hernandez scores 90-100 runs.

Hernandez has been good so he won’t be free like he basically was in the offseason.  He’s still not a name brand yet. Others might not believe that he can continue the pace he’s on or that the Phillies in general are going to fade.  I actually expect Hernandez to be a solid top 7 or 8 second basemen moving forward in all formats. He has more upside than that in points and OBP leagues given the run scoring and walk potential.  I prefer him to guys like Merriefield and Schoop, but can of course understand if team construction might make you value those guys more.

Rhys Hoskins

Sticking with the Phillies, I’ve heard some complaints about Hoskins lately.  He no doubt helped win some leagues last year and was full of helium coming into the season.  Hoskins was generally picked anywhere between the 3rd and 5th round so a mere 5 bombs from an assumed power source is awfully disappointing.  There are even some numbers that are a bit concerning when it comes to Hoskins.

There are definitely some things not working for Hoskins.  His K rate spiked up to an ugly 29.3%. His swinging strike rate went up to 9.1% as well, but an extra 2% swing rate doesn’t really support an almost 10 point jump in overall K rate in my mind.  He’s also hitting the ball less hard at 36.6%, which is 10 points off of his rookie year. 37ish percent is nothing to scoff at but it is definitely a downgrade from the lasers he was sending all over the yard last year.  His line drive rate is virtually identical to last year at 23.7% and he’s hitting even more fly balls at a robust 49.5%.

People are upset with Hoskins.  Even savvy owners might outsmart themselves here given the raise in K rate.  His swing rates are basically the same though. He was always a 20ish percent K rate guy with power in the minors.  Expectations were probably set too high after the incendiary start to his career last year. Hoskins is still hitting the ball hard and in the air.  Citizens Bank Park is still a bit of a band box and the lineup around him is pretty solid. The league has adjusted a bit to Hoskins and I expect him to adjust back.  There’s crazy upside to be had here and I wouldn’t be afraid to buy. My advice would not be a low ball offer but something more along the lines of 75 cents on the dollar.

Matt Olson

Olson was a bit like Hoskins’ underrated bash brother from 2017.  He was drafted much lower than Hoskins. That said, folks were probably hoping for more than the 18th ranked first baseman on the ESPN player rater.  He’s starting to come alive but considering he’s only even owned in 60% of ESPN leagues, I think there’s a buying opportunity here.

Matt Olson destroys baseballs.  He is hitting the ball an obscene 50.9% of the time. He ranks 13th in all of baseball in average exit velocity. His fly balls dropped ever so slightly, but they haven’t turned into grounders.  They’ve turned into line drives as his line drive percentage now sits at 23.1%. His K rate is up to 29.7%, which is bad for Olson but is not much different than the 27.8% he put up last year.  The biggest difference this year vs. last year is his homer to fly ball rate. Last year was an unsustainable 41.4% whereas this year is 15.6%. He plays in a cavernous stadium and 41% is unrealistic.  That said, he hits the ball extremely hard and in the air. I think there’s at least 5 points of improvement potential here. I would bet even more.

Maybe you need power in a roto league and the Hoskins owner isn’t spooked enough to give you the deal you want- Olson is a great place to go.  Olson was the off brand version of Hoskins coming into the season. He had similar power, or maybe even more, but a much worse contact percentage.  Olson doesn’t really have much batting average upside, but I think a lot of homers will be popping off his bat before the year is over. He was more of a top 120-150 guy as opposed to top 30-50 guy like Hoskins.  If Olson was dropped in a roto or cats league- it’s a no brainer to pick him up. Points leagues are a bit different because of the Ks. I’m more inclined to just stream him there when he has good matchups. Given his lower ownership percentage and slow start I think you can grab Olson for not very much.  I was able to get him for Julio Teheran in a roto league. That kind of trade was easy to pull the trigger for me.

Hopefully you can target these promising young guys.  I think there’s a good bit of upside and think that they’re not properly valued in most leagues.  Worth giving a check to see if any of these guys aren’t given the proper amount of love in your league.

Mike Sheehan

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Comedian, Powerlifter, and most importantly a Cum Laude graduate of the fantasy baseball school of hard knocks. Double major in points and categories with a minor in roto. Happy to be doing my Postgraduate work here at the Fantasy Assembly.

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