Selling high is generally a misnomer these days. Most of us are in competitive leagues, the kind where all the owners read or write for a reputable site. We learn how to use sites like FanGraphs to do statistical analysis. As a result, it’s really hard to find people to snooker with 15 days of fluky data. However, certain types of players can remain marketable even though everyone is looking for the pitfalls.
I pulled together a list of all the qualified BABIP leaders. I figure this is as good a place as any to look for the players who have outperformed expectations. Sure enough, we find fodder like Juan Uribe and Jason Kubel near the top of the BABIP board. These are not the guys you’re going to sell high. Go ahead and try, you’ll get a refusal message in return quoting their BABIP.
We do find several players who might be salable at a profit. Generally, I’m looking for a player profile that is young, has breakout potential, or has come out of nowhere in a noisy way. Here are a few:
Christian Yelich: Yelich was one of my favorite sleepers heading into draft season. Unfortunately, I learned that he was not so sleepy once draft day came around. He’s batting at the top of a Marlins lineup that’s just good enough to drive him in 90 times. He can also swipe a few bases. The reason why you might be able to sell high stems from his .432 BABIP. A sky high line drive rate over 30 percent means he hasn’t been ridiculously lucky from a BABIP perspective. Obviously we should expect regression on his batted ball distribution.
He’s not hitting any fly balls – just two all season – which means he has no power numbers. If he doesn’t start hitting a lot more fly balls, he’ll continue to hurt his fantasy value with middling power. If he does hit those flies, his BABIP should crater back towards league average. If he wasn’t on the Marlins you could sell Yelich very high, but I suspect you’ll end up holding him. Shop around.
Dee Gordon: He has 10 stolen bases. Ten! And a .450 BABIP. Rivals who find themselves deficient in steals might look at his numbers, call them lucky, and still expect a batting average around .300. Our projection systems indicate that somewhere in the range of .250-.260 is a more responsible projection. I bet Gordon owners could get something very attractive for their flash in the pan. Perhaps your mid-tier first baseman plus Gordon could net someone like Prince Fielder. Probably not, but you should still scan for an opportunity.
Yangervis Solarte: Here’s a guy who’s gone from “Who?” to the middle of the Yankees lineup in the last 10 days. Solarte doesn’t really have power or speed. If he plays every day, he should settle in near the bottom of the Yankees order. His game is entirely about putting balls in play, which has worked for guys like Michael Young. Solarte isn’t Young, and he won’t be a fantasy asset throughout the entire season. Now is the time to cash in.
Chris Colabello: Minnesota’s new power bat is liable to dry up at any time. Colabello has a .400 BABIP and 25 percent strikeout rate. I actually think his strikeout rate will get worse. Even if it doesn’t, we’re talking about a .250 hitter with maybe enough power to pop 20 home runs. Probably fewer.
He’s currently getting regular action in the middle of the lineup. Once his BABIP dragons die, expect to see him play much less regularly. The Twins lineup is bad enough that he’ll probably still bat in the middle of the order.
Mike Zunino: Here’s the only player on our list without a crazy BABIP. He has three home runs to date, but he also bats near the bottom of the order most days. He currently sports a ridiculous 18.9 percent whiff rate, which explains why his strikeout rate is up at 27.7 percent. He is a good prospect who can make an adjustment, but his current approach is going to result in a low .200’s average with no RBI, run, or stolen base opportunities. His prospect pedigree and home runs might be enough for someone to say “Oooh shiny.” You probably don’t have much time to offload him.
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