Every week from now until September, you can come here to find an in-depth look at fantasy baseball's buy-low and sell-high candidates. It's early, but it's never too early to fleece some poor saps in your league ...
Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox
This is getting a little bit ridiculous. Quentin hasn't been tearing the cover off the ball since his breakout year in 2008, but he generally makes solid contact. Last year, he posted an absurdly unlucky .221 batting average on balls in play en route to a .236 batting average. So far this year, his BABIP sits at .159, and his average at .176. Considering he doesn't strike out that much, there's no reason Quentin shouldn't be a .270 hitter from here on in.
Injuries will continue to make him a risk, and he's not a candidate for 100 RBIs as long as Ozzie Guillen has him hitting in the lineup's bottom third. But you could probably get a very good outfielder for next to nothing from a frustrated owner right now.
Aaron Harang, SP, Reds
There's little doubt that Harang needs to do a better job once runners are on base. And he's clearly not going to get a ton of help from his defense. But for the second straight year, he's pitching much better than his numbers would indicate.
Harang is sporting a strong 27-to-7 K-to-BB ratio through 33.2 innings, but he's also sitting on an ugly 6.68 ERA. Two things have victimized him, and both are a bit fluky. First, there's the fact that opponents are hitting .370 against him with runners on base (with a .422 batting average on balls in play) and .441 with runners in scoring position (with a .483 BABIP). On a not-very-related note, hitters are 0-for-23 against Livan Hernandez with RISP, despite only one strikeout in those 23 at-bats.
Harang is going to be homer-prone, especially in home games. But not to the point where nearly one in every five fly balls goes out of the park, which has been the case so far.
Once it all levels out, expect Harang's ERA to hover somewhere in the low 4's. With a little bit of run support (also an issue the past two seasons), he could win 8-to-10 games from here on in. If you can get him on the cheap, now's the time.
Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers
I've never been a big Austin Jackson guy, and despite a nice little power surge to start this season, I'm not ready to change my tune yet.
Obviously, he's not going to finish the season hitting .370. Considering his obscene strike out rate, I'd be surprised if he hit .270 from here on in. Through Wednesday, Jackson was striking out at a rate of once every 3.76 plate appearances. Forty-four times in MLB history has a hitter struck out more frequently than once every four plate appearances (standard minimum 502 PAs in a season), and only one of them hit .300 (Ryan Howard, who hits the ball really hard when he does make contact, .313 in '06). The combined batting average of those 44 seasons: .253. So no, Jackson isn't going to hit for average.
Considering his recent minor league track record, his power seems almost as fluky as that batting average. No doubt, he can run. And when he does get on base, he stands a good chance at scoring runs while hitting leadoff. But I don't see much separation between him and the Juan Pierre's of the world. You can probably pick up a reliable veteran for Jackson right now, so go ahead and do it.
Clay Buchholz, SP, Red Sox
There's been a lot of talk about Buchholz's breakout season so far. Through Wednesday, the 25-year-old once-top prospect was sporting a shiny 2.97 ERA to go along with three wins. His decent K-to-BB ratio (24-to-12) and groundball rate (62.7%) are indicators of a quality pitcher. But Buchholz has been middling at best so far.
He's had a pretty easy schedule so far, missing the Yankees and Twins and picking on feeble offenses like Kansas City (5 IP, 2 ER) and Toronto (8 IP, 1 ER while allowing 9 base runners). The "0" in the earned runs column he had against Tampa Bay is misleading considering he gave up four unearned runs and walked four in five innings.
And considering 37-year-old centerfielder Mike Cameron, the man brought in to solidify an awful defensive outfield of a year ago, is already having health issues, run prevention may not be Boston's strength after all.
Considering the big market and the top prospect shine on Buchholz, you could get an awfully nice return for a guy who will more than likely regress to the middle of the pack over the next few months.