Fantasy baseball Trade Tips: Buy Heyward, Sell Harvey, Hold Upton
Bob Feller captured the beauty of baseball in one quote: "Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is."
That's also the way fantasy baseball is. Every day affords owners a chance to alter a roster -- and playoff fortunes along with it. With the trade deadline looming in most fantasy leagues, the window of opportunity to make a deal and fortify a team is closing. It's time to act.
• OF Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves: On the surface, Heyward's unimpressive .227/.329/.379 slash line isn't what most managers were paying for when they spent a high pick on him on draft day. While Heyward's value is low as a result of those struggles, underlying statistics suggest a possible second-half resurgence. He's currently striking out less than at any point in his career (16.5-percent strikeout rate), he's hitting more line drives than ever (21.9-percent line drive rate) and he's posting a career-low average on balls in play (.251). Combine his poor luck with his immense talent, and Heyward becomes a savvy acquisition for an owner who can afford to gamble.
• SP Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers: Another classic buy-low candidate, Verlander sports a surprisingly mediocre 3.99 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. While Verlander's drop in velocity from 94.7 mph to 93.7 could be the result of heavy mileage on his right arm, his .330 BABIP in 2013 surpasses his career .288 mark. That means Verlander's suffered from some bad luck. His real downfall this season has been his inconsistency in the strike zone, as he's walking 3.3 batters per nine innings. If he can make some corrections to improve his control, Verlander should return to form, making his relatively low price a bargain.
• SP Matt Harvey, New York Mets: Harvey has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season. His circumstances are about to suffer, however. The Mets are going with a six-man rotation, while Harvey will likely near his innings cap soon. Those who own Harvey in head-to-head leagues should ship him off for a pitcher of comparable value who will definitely be around during the fantasy playoffs and taking the ball every fifth day.
• OF Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers: Puig has been a sparkplug and a dynamic fantasy player since arriving in Los Angeles, and he's currently sporting a cool .372/.417/.590 line with 10 home runs and seven steals. Puig's over-aggressiveness at the plate makes him a liability as opponents adjust, however. Puig is currently striking out 24.5 percent of the time, a rate that's never a good sign for a hitter. The hype generated by Puig's success should garner a haul that can surpass Puig's likely production for the rest of the season. Sell high.
• OF B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves: Upton is currently scheduled to begin a rehab assignment this week after straining an abductor muscle on July 12. This has been the worst season of Upton's career, and his value couldn't be any lower. So while his owners are surely motivated to ditch him, they'd have to settle for 25 cents on the dollar compared to his draft slot. Owners who hold on a bit longer may be rewarded with some useful counting stats in home runs and stolen bases once Upton returns. While his stats haven't added up this season, Upton boasts skills that don't simply disappear in a player's prime.
• SP David Price, Tampa Bay Rays: When David Price hit the disabled list after his May 15 start against the Boston Red Sox, his ERA peaked at an abysmal 5.24. It's taken the reigning AL Cy Young winner six dominant starts to lower that ERA to a 3.57. Expect that number to continue to deflate each time the Rays' ace takes the hill. Owners can't justify moving Price now that he's regained his form, and those looking to acquire him probably can't afford him now that he's again elite.