Follow Brendan Tuma on Twitter @toomuchtuma and read his blog Too Much Tuma
Buy low. Sell high. It’s fantasy baseball 101. When done correctly it’s a trading strategy that can have an enormous impact on your fantasy team. Bring on players destined for a breakout while ridding yourself of those doomed for negative regression. However, as the fantasy landscape becomes smarter and smarter there’s another untapped trade strategy you should consider: buy high.
While this idea seemingly goes against the buy low/sell high tactic, it’s something savvy fantasy players should experiment with. The logic is that you want to get in on a player before he really takes off. For example, imagine “buying high” on Aaron Judge last April or May. You would’ve had to pay a pretty penny, but you’d be doing so under the thought that Judge would either keep getting better or at least continue close to his current pace. Below are four guys who fit this description right now.
Blake Snell (SP - TB)Sometimes you can just tell when a young player has put it all together. That’s what we have here with Snell, a former top prospect who struggled mightily with walks upon getting to the big leagues. He’s always had “the stuff”, as evidenced by his career 9.3 K/9 rate, but in his 2016 rookie season Snell was walking 5.5 batters per nine innings. The high walk totals meant high pitch counts early in starts, which meant Snell never went deep into games for his first calendar year in the majors. Not a great formula.
2017 started slowly as well, but Snell quietly had a great second half. Many people inside the Tampa Bay organization admitted that Snell has really matured over the past year. Whether it’s maturity or just making an adjustment to big league hitters, Snell has taken another step forward in 2018, posting a 2.36 ERA in 13 starts this season. The ERA is backed up by a 3.07 FIP to go along with 88 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings. The 25-year-old southpaw has become the best player on the Rays, and his early career struggles may mean fantasy owners are ready to “sell high”. Go get him.
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Mitch Moreland (1B - BOS)We all know Hanley Ramirez isn’t in Boston anymore, but it doesn’t feel as if the fantasy community has grasped what that means. Since Ramirez was DFA’d, Moreland has hit either third or fourth in every game he has started for the Red Sox. That’s a good spot to be hitting in a loaded lineup. What’s more, Moreland is also taking advantage of the increased playing time. The slugging first baseman is hitting .289 with a 159 wRC+, three homers, two doubles, and two triples since Ramirez was let go on May 25th. There may be a fantasy owner out there who wants to cash in on Moreland, but his new role as an everyday, middle of the order bat makes him an attractive buy high option. He won’t stay this hot forever, but Moreland should produce as a starting first baseman in fantasy from here on out.
Austin Meadows (OF - PIT)Meadows is making things really hard on the Pirates right now. He was originally called up back on May 18th to fill in for an injured Starling Marte. Then Meadows played exceptionally well and Pittsburgh couldn’t send him back to the minors. They’re currently trying to juggle four outfielders at the moment, and it led to Meadows sitting on back-to-back days over the weekend. Incredibly, he then homered in his return to the lineup on Saturday. The 23-year-old former top prospect is now hitting .392/.418/.794 for the year with five homers and three steals in 55 plate appearances. There may be a nervous fantasy owner out there who doesn’t want to deal with the logjam of outfielders in Pittsburgh. Ultimately Meadows’ talent should win out, and he should be getting close to everyday at bats over the summer.
Gleyber Torres (2B - NYY)Torres figures to be pretty difficult to trade for. Any fantasy owner who picked him up off waivers in early April and has watched him develop is sure to have an emotional attachment to the 21-year-old. And if you’re dealing with a Yankee fan forget it. For the rest of us Torres presents an interesting buy high opportunity. The infielder has been nothing short of amazing since being called up, hitting .317 with nine homers, 27 RBI, and a .959 OPS through his first 35 games. He hasn’t really gone through a slump yet as most rookies do, which means the Torres owner in your league could be looking to sell high.
The things is even if Torres slips a bit with his rate stats, he still has room to grow in runs scored and RBI chances if/when he moves up in the lineup. After batting fifth or sixth for a couple of games last week, Torres is still primarily hitting ninth. He’s playing well though. He was considered an elite, can’t miss prospect for a reason, and his opportunities should only grow as the summer moves along.
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In September 2017 I partnered with Frank "The Tank" Fleming of Barstool Sports to create the podcast Allow Me 2 Be Frank. iTunes link can be found here.