The title of the article is an allusion to Schott’s Miscellany, which you should definitely check out if you never have and feel compelled to know that a group of larks is called an exaltation or that a member of the 32nd degree of Freemasonry is known as a Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret.
— Home Run Calls and Puts —
A lot can happen between now and July 31, but a lot will need to happen to flood the market with available players. The second Wild Cards have accomplished their goals of keeping more teams in the race, and even if they hadn’t, the AL has been so upside down this season that few teams will be confident that they should be sellers. Add to that the pressure that teams like the Red Sox, White Sox, and Padres face because of offseason win-now moves, and we may approach the deadline with as few as five or six teams willing to trade away players.
There are a few teams it is probably safe to forecast as deadline sellers. They are the Athletics, Rockies, Brewers, Reds, Phillies, and Marlins. Those teams have something else in common: they all play in extreme parks for home runs. Of the five homer-friendliest parks in baseball based on 2014 indices, three are clear sellers and one, the White Sox, could become one.
|Team||Home Run Index|
The Phillies are not too far behind with a 107 home run index.
Meanwhile, the five most difficult parks for home runs feature the other two likely sellers, the Athletics and Marlins.
|Team||Home Run Index|
Because real-life trades could lead to dramatic changes in park favorability for players on those teams, now is the time to play the fantasy trade market in an attempt to capitalize on those possibilities.
Power to Buy:
Josh Reddick – Last week, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reported that the Angels were interested in trading for Reddick before Jerry Dipoto’s resignation. Even if that deal fell apart with the Angels’ front office, Reddick still makes a lot of sense for the cost-conscious Athletics to deal. Reddick will enter the 2016 season as an Arb 3 player, and he will be a free agent after the season. Meanwhile, 7 of Reddick’s 11 home runs this season are on the road and 45 of his 77 career home runs are on the road. Reddick has lost his reputation as a power hitter with 12 home runs total in each of 2013 and 2014, but a 12-homer second half is possible if Reddick finds the right landing spot.
Francisco Rodriguez – Since 2013, Francisco Rodriguez has maintained an 18.3 percent home run to flyball rate. It is the highest among qualified relievers, and it isn’t particularly close (Brad Boxberger is second at 16.3 percent). Other than that, Rodriguez has been pretty outstanding. This year, he is again striking out more than 10 batters per nine and walking fewer than three per nine. It’s tricky to identify potential landing spots for Rodriguez where he would still be the closer, but most spots would help him keep the home runs in check.
Power to Sell:
Carlos Gomez – A hip injury has sapped Gomez’s production, power included, this season, but he seems like the only star hitter with better than small odds to change teams this deadline. In his career, Gomez has 57 home runs at home versus 42 on the road, but any potential power loss for him will be mitigated by his contributions in the other categories.
Scott Kazmir – Kazmir has been a perfect fit for the Athletics. After supporting an 11.6 percent home run to flyball rate in the first year of his resurrection in Cleveland, he has 7.8 percent and 7.9 percent home run to flyball rates in his last two seasons in spacious Oakland. With solid but not gaudy strikeout totals and a penchant for flyballs, Kazmir would likely be hurt by a venue change more than most starters.
Adam Lind – Miller Park is actually even more favorable for left-handed power (111 index) than right-handed power (109 index), so a departure would likely hurt Lind, whose 15 home runs have him at the back of the top 10 among first basemen. Meanwhile, Lind might best fit a contender as a platoon partner—he and C.J. Cron would make sense as a pair for the Angels—which could further dampen his home run potential.
Marlon Byrd – Byrd’s late-career power Renaissance has continued in 2015. After setting career highs of 24 and 25 home runs the past two seasons, Byrd has 14 so far this season despite missing time with a wrist injury. Four of those home runs have come in the two-plus weeks since he returned from the DL, so you should be able to downplay the power concerns due to the wrist while moving him for fear of a trade.
Ryan Howard – The Phillies could likely entice a team to take Howard if they picked up practically all of his contact, and Howard does have 15 home runs this season and a 111 wRC+ versus right-handed pitchers. Meanwhile, any move would likely hurt his playing time and his power potential—Citizens Bank Park has a 109 HR index for left-handed hitters.
Aramis Ramirez – Ramirez has a 131 wRC+ so far in July, so perhaps his early-season slump is finally behind him. It’s unclear if a hot month will be enough to entice another team to bite on even a fraction of his $14 million remaining. Still, for all of his struggles, Ramirez has hit 10 home runs this year, which makes him relevant in deeper leagues at power-thin third base.
Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez – It’s unclear if the Rockies would be willing to trade either or both of their veteran stars, but both Tulowitzki and Gonzalez would lose a lot of value away from Coors Field.
Scott Spratt is a fantasy sports writer for FanGraphs and Pro Football Focus. He is a Sloan Sports Conference Research Paper Competition and FSWA award winner. Feel free to ask him questions on Twitter – @Scott_Spratt