Selling High on Sluggers Before Power Drop-Off Lessens Value
Trading baseball players on your fantasy team is somewhat similar to trading stock on the open exchange. If you feel that a player is going to perform better in the future you should try and buy low on that player and acquire him. If a players has peaked and should drop off, you want to sell him for the highest asking price that you can get.
Here's a list of four hitters who you may want to think about selling right now.
Adrian Gonzalez, Padres - After hitting nine home runs in April and 11 in May, Gonzalez has only parked two in June. In fact, he hasn't hit a home run since June 2nd when he capped off four straight days with a dinger. Since June 2nd Gonzalez has been walked 16 times and only has six base hits. That seems to be the new way to pitch to the Padres slugger, you walk him. Include also the fact that his HR/F ratio for 2009 is 30.1% and you get the makings of a home run decline for the rest of the season. With his HR/F ratio sure to normalize back down to the high teens (his three-year average) and his walk rate to continue on this pace, Gonzalez won't be as valuable in the second half as he's been thus far. Sell now.
Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks - Reynolds is going to strike out, and he's going to do it a lot. He's never hidden the fact that strikeouts and Mark Reynolds go together like peas and carrots. What's unusual about Reynolds this season is his speed on the base paths and his home run stroke. Sure, Reynolds hit 28 home runs last season. But right now he's on pace to hit 44. 28.1% of Reynolds' fly balls are going over the fence this season. That numbers is way out of line compared to the 18.2% he enjoyed last year and the 16.2% from 2007. You can expect his HR/F ratio to come back down to earth soon. And with it will come the decline in his home runs.
Ben Zobrist, Rays - Zobrist hit 12 home runs last year. That was his career high. Sure it only took him 198 at-bats to do so, but the fact that he already has 14 home runs in 174 at-bats this season leads to a big question. Where is this extra power coming from? The easy answer is his home run to fly ball ratio. His HR/F ratio for 2008 was 17.4%. This season is 25.0%. That's a huge uptick in fly balls sailing out of the park. You have to imagine that his HR/F ratio will normalize soon and zap some of these home runs away.
Justin Upton, Diamondbacks - No, I'm not purposely picking on the Diamondbacks. It just worked out this way. At 12 home runs, Upton is almost at his 2008 total of 15 home runs in only 224 at-bats. He's also enjoying a nice .308 batting average. A welcome enhancement from his .250 from 2008. But, both his batting average and home run pace should come back to earth soon. His HR/F ratio is 19.4%. That's much higher than his 15.3% from last season. Upton's hit rate is also high at 38.0%. When he batted .250 in 2008 his hit rate was 33.6%. You can imagine that his batting average is really going to suffer when that hit rate normalizes. His power will also drop off, just not to the extent of his batting average. I can see Upton finishing 2009 with 23 home runs and a .270 batting average. That's not bad, but he's worth more in trade value now. Do it.