“Bruno’s Gold:” Big Names to Sell and Small Names to Buy
The second half of the season is upon us and with that, it’s time to give up on some big name guys. Luckily for you, the name of a player can often incite more interest than his actual stats, which is a good thing once you see the players below I suggest selling. You might feel reluctant to throw in the towel on these guys if you invested a high draft pick on them, but there’s no place for sentiment here. This is business. (People say that, right?) On the flip side, there are two players I suggest buying, whose names you may not know, but you should, as they can help your fantasy team win. People often get caught up with “big name” players, but it’s important not to overlook the ones that aren’t. Without further ado, here are my big name players to sell and small name players to buy.
Joey Votto: Votto is a great hitter and his career splits of .311/.418/.533 over 950 career games show just that. He’s the unique type of player who is able to hit for both average and power, while also getting on base at a high clip. Basically, he’s an ideal fantasy player. However, much of the success he’s had at the plate came when he was (I’m assuming) healthy. Votto injured his quad and was placed on the disabled list on May 16th, returned June 10th and has missed just one game since. However it’s likely that he’s not fully healthy – and may not be the rest of the season – and his numbers show it. Votto is hitting just .259/.398/.415. His on base percentage is still up there, but his average and slugging percentage have drastically dropped off from his career totals. He’s not hitting for power either as his isolated power (ISO) is just .156, a far cry from his career average of .223. While Votto has shown the ability to get on base despite his injury, that’s about all he’s doing. Considering he was a pre-season top-20 player and that he’s still ranked as basically a top-50 player (51 according to ESPN) by fantasy analysts, this shows that you should be able to get something decent in return for him. Sell now before he’s put on the DL again, or before his numbers get worse. Otherwise, it will be too late.
Joe Mauer: Mauer will be a tougher sell than Votto, especially since he landed on the DL four days ago. It helps that some of his missed time will be during the All-Star break, but selling players on the DL is no easy task. Regardless, it’s time to move on from Mauer and take whatever you can get for him at this point. Hopefully you can find someone who thinks highly of him just based on his name alone, since it’s hard to find any positives in his numbers this season. His current .271/.342/.353 line is WAY down from his career splits of .320/.401/.461 or even what he posted last season (.324/.404/.476). Mauer has never been an elite power hitter, but his current ISO of .083 is dead last among qualified (by at-bats) first basemen. He’s also striking out much more, as his strikeout percentage (K%) has jumped 7.3% this season when compared to his career average (18.9% to 11.6%). Rankings at other sites aren’t as high on Mauer as they are on Votto, so again it will be a difficult sell, but he too looks like a player who might not be healthy again this season, so walk away now when there is still (some) value left.
C.J. Cron: Cron is a 24 year-old rookie who saw his first at-bat on May 3rd and has more or less been a starter (at first base or DH) since. Since the Angels released Raul Ibanez on June 21st, Cron has been out of the lineup only twice. In his 45 games played, Cron is hitting .286/.320/.529, with eight home runs and 24 runs batted in, which equates to roughly 30 home runs and 86 runs batted over a full season. His .243 ISO would be 9th best in baseball and his 28.2 line drive percentage (LD%) would be 3rd best, if he had enough at-bats to qualify for both. He strikes out too much (20.4 K%) and rarely walks (4.1 BB%), but you’re not adding him for his on base percentage, you’re adding him for his power. Cron has been hitting 7th in the Angels’ lineup, and while hitting this low would usually be of some concern, it’s not with Cron. The Angels are top-5 in most team batting statistics and are 3rd in runs scored, meaning there will be plenty of opportunities for Cron to hit with runners on base and drive in runs. You also may have the luxury of being able to add him for free, thus making him even more valuable. (For reference, his percent owned on Yahoo! is under 25%.) If you’re looking for power, grab Cron now.
Steve Pearce: The ship may have already sailed on adding Pearce as he has been on fire as of late. His splits for the season (48 games played) are .338/.397/.618, not much worse than what he hit in the month of June (.361/.432/.667). His .280 ISO would be 5th best in baseball and his .618 slugging percentage, .437 weighted on base percentage (wOBA) and 179 runs created plus (wRC+) would all be 2nd best in baseball if, like Cron, he had enough at-bats to qualify. He even has four stolen bases to boot. His 2.5 fWAR (FanGraphs’ version of wins above replacement) in only 48 games puts him on a pace for a fWAR of 8.4 over a full season, which would have been bested only by Mike Trout last season. Pearce’s teammate, Nelson Cruz, who is currently tied for the league lead in home runs, has a worse fWAR (2.0) in 38 more games played. Pearce is killing the ball now, but as he’s never played more than 61 games in a MLB season, I’d understand if you’re skeptical. Seeing as how his Yahoo! ownership is under 40%, adding him for free is a zero-risk move, but I recommend trading for him if he’s not on the waiver wire. He bats 2nd in a top-10 offensive lineup that has Adam Jones and the aforementioned HR leader Nelson Cruz hitting behind him, meaning even if the power drops off, he’ll still have plenty of opportunities to score runs. Scoop him up before his current tear gets any hotter (.417/.444/.958 the last seven days).