“Bruno’s Gold”: Under the Radar Players to Add and Hot Start Players to Sell
Last week I wrote that successful fantasy managers are aggressive and proactive, rather than those who prefer to sit on their hands. Sticking with that same idea, this week I’m offering two players I suggest trying to acquire now, and two players I suggest trading away, or avoiding if they are on the trading block in your league. Let’s start with those players I suggest acquiring and I’ll caveat this by saying these players aren’t obvious names and generally are more “under the radar” type players.
First up is Eric Campbell. He’s been a career minor leaguer but finally made it to the Big Show this season for the Mets. He only has 19 at-bats on the season, but he’s been in the starting lineup in three out of the last five games for the Mets, including the last two. He’s seen action at both first base and left field, so the potential for dual-position eligibility is there as well. In his 19 at-bats, Campbell has put up a line of .368/.364/.632, with three extra-base hits and 6 RBI. It’s a tiny sample size, but he’s posted solid numbers in the minors the past two seasons and shown he has the ability to get on base at every level he’s played in. He doesn’t have great power numbers, but he rarely strikes out and his high OBP should make up for the lack of home runs. With the way that Chris Young has been playing this season for the Mets (.206/.283/.363) and their anemic offense in general, there’s no reason Campbell shouldn’t be in the starting lineup from here on out. Grab him while you can.
Next up is Nick Franklin. Adding Franklin to your lineup is a very low risk move that could potentially pay off big time. He was called up from AAA after Corey Hart injured his hamstring, and Hart is reported to be out for at least the next month. If Franklin shows that he can hit in the majors like he has in AAA this season (.376/.481/.633), he will stick around even after Hart is healthy. Franklin has seen time at second, short, DH, and the outfield in his big league career, but likely will see his time at short with Hart out. Fantasy-wise, the talent level at the shortstop position is very weak, making Franklin all the more valuable. He’s still very young (only 23) and may need more time to develop in the minors, but he has a high ceiling and could be on his way to reaching it with this opportunity. I’d rather jump on a player with high potential early and when his cost is low or nothing, instead of paying big once he starts hitting. Don’t hesitate to add him.
Now let’s move onto the players I suggest selling or avoiding altogether. Let’s start with Alfredo Simon. Simon has seen a resurgence in his career with the Reds after being moved into the starting rotation. He’s got some nice numbers, 6-2 with a 2.31 ERA in 9 starts, but don’t buy it. His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is 4.54, which is good for 19th worst among qualified pitchers, meaning his ERA isn’t truly reflective of how he’s been pitching. It’s not a steadfast rule, but generally a FIP of over 4.00 is considered below average. Another disconcerting stat is that Simon has the second highest percentage of runners left on base at 90.7%. He’s playing with fire and this is unsustainable. It’s only a matter of time before this percentage comes closer to his career mark of 76%. His BABIP is just .216 (6th best in baseball), meaning batters are getting a bit unlucky when they put the ball in play against him. Simon is also giving up 1.23 home runs per game, only better than 23 other pitchers. Long story short, sell Simon ASAP, before all these negative signs start catching up with him.
My next “sell” is Seth Smith and he’s much harder to argue against than Simon is. He has a line of .338/.439/.615, to go along with 21 extra-base hits, and an almost one-to-one walk to strikeout ratio. They guy is doing it all right now, even with being in baseball’s worst offense in the Padres. My argument is that he’s never hit this well in his career and judging on his past numbers, it doesn’t seem sustainable, so sell him now while his value is high. His best season was in 2009 playing for the Rockies where he posted a line of .293/.378/.510. Looking closer at this season, his home/road splits seem heavily influenced by playing at Coors Field (.345/.427/.624 at home, .241/.330/.400 on the road). Smith doesn’t have any protection in the lineup either, hitting between the likes of Everth Cabrera (.238/.265/.326) and Chase Headley (.198/.292/.349). It’s only a matter of time before Smith no longer gets any decent pitches to hit, or his numbers start to come back to earth on their own. His value can’t get much higher than it is, so if you are short on pitching or another area, flip Smith now while he’s still worth something.
Follow me on Twitter @BenBBruno and check out my latest post on the Nationals here.