A Real Buy Low Team

One of my least favorite things in fantasy baseball is lame buy low recommendations. You know the ones. It’s when everything is damn near picture perfect under the hood, there’s no real reason to be worried about the player, but their batting average is lagging because of a tiny BABIP so cosmetically they look like they’re struggling.

Sure, Marcell Ozuna is hitting .230, but he has 14 HR, 4 SB, a 92.4 mph exit velo, and 16% Barrel rate meaning he’s completely fine. No one is selling him on the cheap. He’s not a buy low just because his .226 BABIP is dragging down his average. These buy lows are truly stinky. We are primarily betting on track record over anything else as most of their numbers through two months are brutal. Let’s take a look:

C: Tucker Barnhart

Barnhart’s had a weird season with his strikeout rate jumping eight points to 26%, but it’s been in favor of a power surge. His five homers are already halfway to his 2018 total with his flyball and pull rates both up. The .197 AVG is the ugly part that’s going to earn you a discount if you go shopping for Barnhart. His .238 BABIP is well below his career .292 so if he can maintain some of the power gains while also getting his batting average back on track, you could get 10 HR and a .250 AVG rest of season.

1B: Yonder Alonso

Alonso broke out with 28 HR two years ago. He wasn’t too bad in his follow up season with 23 HR but saw his wRC+ dip from 133 to 97. This year he’s at just 64 through 198 PA, but there is reason for hope. His strikeout and walk rates are both back at 2017 levels, but a .205 BABIP is smothering his output. Alonso’s work against righties has been the culprit, with just a .156/.265/.244 line in 155 PA (.188 BABIP). The BAT has him for 18 HR and a .773 OPS the rest of the way, on par with Hunter Dozier and Rowdy Tellez though Alonso would certainly be the cheapest of the three in the market.

3B: Travis Shaw

Jose Ramirez might’ve been the obvious choice here, but I’m not even sure he’s cheap enough yet, so let’s go super stinky with Shaw. He’s on rehab assignment from a wrist strain and doesn’t even have a guaranteed spot upon return, but that’s what will make him soooooo cheap. This isn’t a 10- or even really a 12-team buy, but I think you’re still getting a sharp discount in 15-team mixers and NL-Only leagues.

The best case is that the injury played a role in his hideous 45 wRC+ before finally shelving him and time to get healthy will give him a chance to play up to his projections the rest of way. The BAT is most aggressive at .831 while the rest are in the .760s and if he landed somewhere in between, he’d be a really useful bat. He could find time at 1B, 2B, and 3B. Mike Moustakas should have a lock on one spot, but then we’ll see how it plays out between Shaw, Keston Hiura, Eric Thames, and Jesus Aguilar.

2B: Rougned Odor

I’m really not a huge Odor fan, but it’s almost like he loves to hit these crazy depths just to see if he can get out of it. On May 28th of last year he had a .579 OPS, just nine points higher than his current mark. From that point forward, he had a .792 OPS with 17 HR and 11 SB in 432 PA. He strikes out too much, doesn’t walk enough, and is pretty brutal on the bases (4-for-9 this year; 55-for-99 career), and yet he averages 18 HR/9 SB per 400 PA over the last three years and reaching those levels, even with a poor AVG, would make him pretty useful, especially at a bargain basement price.

SS: Corey Seager

OK, this one is tough because I’m sure there are still people who would ask for a premium price on Seager in trade. He now has 329 PA of a meager 100 wRC+ since the start of 2018. He has just an 8% HR/FB rate, essentially half his 15% career mark which could mean some power improvements ahead. His flyball rate is way up at 42%, his exit velo is at its lowest since Statcast came out (87.4 mph), and his health profile is worrisome. However, it’s hard to ignore his 2016-17 when he put up a .302/.370/.497 with 48 HR, 149 RBI, and 190 R in 1300 PA.

He’s still just 25 years old and part of a great lineup so if you can get a real discount, he’s worth a gamble. He was about 50 picks cheaper on average from the Main Event leagues to the 2nd Chance Leagues that were just drafted this past weekend.

OF: Nicholas Castellanos

Casty’s power has lagged this year with just 5 HR so far, but his exit velocity and barrel rates aren’t that far off 2018. His exit velo is down less than a mile per hour at 88.8 (-0.8) while his barrel rate is down two clicks at 9%. Statcast has his hard-hit rate down just over one point to 39%. His HR/FB has tanked from 14% to 8%, though, eating into his home run total. I think being on a poor Tigers offense will keep his price down, too, but part of why I’d be open to buying him is that he should be dealt to a better team this summer.

If you’re looking for some buy-low pitchers, I wrote up some of the biggest pitching stragglers just last week.

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Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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Anon
Member
Anon

I think Alonso is cooked. He’s a lumbering, dead pull LH slugger – an archetype that is being phased out of baseball by the shift. Per Baseball Savant he has under-performed his xwOBA by 3, 18, 67, and 56 points from 2015-2018 and then 37 points this year. In very much related news, shifting against him has gone from 29.6% in 2016 to 77.8% this year and while he actually hit better against the shift last year, he has hit quite a bit worse against it every other year including this year.

Another Alonso stat – since his huge 2 month start to 2017 that peaked 6/10/17 with a 7 for 10 in a doubleheader, he has gone .234/.320/.397 in 1,100 PA since 6/11/17. If he was a SS with those numbers, you’d be looking to upgrade, let alone a 1B.

Also, while he was relatively locked into the cleanup spot to start the year (at least against righties), he has now ceded that spot to the McCann/Castillo combo and Eloy JImenez and has hit 6th or 7th in 4 of the last 6 games even though they’ve faced RH pitchers in each of those games.

No, he parlayed a nice 2 months in 2017 into 2 years/$16M over the winter 2017-2018 and kudos to him for that, but I think the “Yonder is a slugger” ship has sailed myself.

Brad Lipton
Member
Brad Lipton

This is a strong response and while I do think he should be performing a little better than his final numbers indicate, his time at 1B seems to be hanging by a thread. In related news, Palka hit his 10th minor league HR last night. If/when he gets a recall, I believe Alonso is the one that will lose playing time.