Making the right trades can be crucial to championship success in fantasy baseball, almost as much as the draft, if not more. While most trades can have a significant impact on your fantasy team, it’s the deals where you acquire undervalued players and then see their production improve that can really tip the scales in your favor where the standings are concerned.
The same can certainly be said about trading away players at the right time when they have the most fantasy trade value. Those deals could happen in the second week of April or the last week of August, but they’re impactful all the same.
Here are some undervalued candidates to pursue in trades and some overvalued ones who you should consider dealing if they presently occupy a spot on your roster.
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Undervalued Players To Trade For
Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros
Ok, so Tucker is undervalued in a relative sense. He’s an elite player, both in real life and in fantasy, so while his fantasy stock hasn’t exactly plummeted after close to two weeks, it still may have taken a small hit. In short, Tucker has gotten off to a slow start.
Entering play Wednesday, he was hitting just .103 with a .218 wOBA. The good news is that the expected numbers tell a much different story. Tucker’s xBA is staggeringly higher (.289) and much more in line with the sort of actual batting average we’re used to seeing from the Houston outfielder. Elsewhere, his xwOBA is a blistering .422, almost more than twice his actual wOBA.
What’s more, the outfielder’s barrel rate (it’s currently an even 10%) is right in line with his 2021 metric (11.6%) and his 2020 and 2019 metrics (12.8% and 9.1%). In short, he’s just fine. You should not be worried about him, but if one of your league mates is, now might be the time to make an offer.
Tucker’s ADP the day before Opening Day, per NFBC, was at 12.16, so trading for him is easier said than done. However, if you can swing a deal for Tucker by giving up a position player drafted somewhere in the second or third round (someone like Starling Marte, Tim Anderson, or Aaron Judge), it could pay off handsomely for you.
Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers
How can a player with so much bright red on his Statcast page be undervalued? It might be more of a case of Lux being perceived as undervalued by some.
Long a highly-regarded prospect, Lux annihilated Triple-A pitching in 2019, batting .392 with a .478 on-base percentage, 13 home runs and a .327 ISO in 232 plate appearances. Since then, and prior to this season, he hadn’t exactly established himself at the Major League level.
Gavin Lux from 2019 to 2021:
- 532 plate appearances
- 16 barrels
- 12 home runs
- .233 average
- .314 on-base percentage
That stat line and sample size may be giving your league mate who has Lux rostered pause as to whether the infielder’s current production is sustainable. Or perhaps they’re worried Lux won’t continue to start consistently in a crowded Dodger lineup.
Those things certainly should not give you pause. The former first-round pick is hitting .276 with a .405 on-base percentage, a home run, and two stolen bases in 37 plate appearances this season. The script has decidedly flipped in 2022 for Lux thanks in large part to an improvement in the quality of contact he’s making.
After finishing in the 43rd percentile in hard-hit rate last year, the 24-year-old is currently in the 99th percentile to begin the year. Furthermore, its average exit velocity has spiked significantly. It never reached 90 MPH in his previous three seasons, but it’s at 94.2 MPH right now. He’s also already collected four barrels on just 24 batted balls this year. It’s a small sample size for sure, but based on the consistent hard contact, Lux’s start looks entirely sustainable.
Plus, with AJ Pollock now in Chicago, playing time shouldn’t be much of a problem for Lux. He’s split his time between second base and left field this season and should continue to do so unless Los Angeles makes another marquee acquisition at the trade deadline. Lux was very much a post-hype sleeper heading into the season. Now, the breakout is finally here.
What’s more, there’s stolen base potential here as well. Lux already has two stolen bases this season and currently sits in the 97th percentile league-wide in Statcast’s sprint speed metric, which isn’t anything new. Lux finished in the 90th percentile ranking or better in two of his last three Major League seasons (he finished in the 90th percentile in 2019 and the 94th percentile in 2021).
Franmil Reyes, Cleveland Guardians
Sometimes in fantasy, it’s all about opportunity. That is entirely the case with Reyes here. Unlike Tucker and Lux, none of his underlying metrics are stellar. In fact, they’re rather terrible.
Entering play on Wednesday, the slugger was batting just .150 with a .171 on-base percentage and a pair of RBI through his first 41 plate appearances. He’s also yet to record a barrel or a home run. Reyes is still a home run threat (92 since the start of the 2018 season) in a Guardians lineup devoid of them and is entrenched as the clean cleanup hitter. As long as that’s the case, he’s someone to consider trading for.
Because for now, that means hitting behind Myles Straw (.455 on-base percentage, four stolen bases), Steven Kwan (.385 average, .541 on-base percentage), and Jose Ramirez (.457 average, .500 on- base percentage). Those exceptional on-base percentage won’t stay quite that high all season, but the reality is that there aren’t many RBI situations for hitters as ideal as that, and Reyes has a history of tallying high RBI totals. He’s topped 80 RBI in each of his last two full seasons, reaching the 30-home run mark in each of those instances as well.
Overvalued Players To Trade Away
Eric Hosmer, San Diego Padres
Hosmer is off to a strong start at the plate for San Diego this season, hitting .390 with a .419 on-base percentage in 43 plate appearances. He’s also logged five runs batted in. While those metrics, along with a sparkling .323 xBA, are plenty impressive, regression is likely coming where the veteran’s stat line is concerned.
The most glaring and obvious metric here is a .516 BABIP which is incredibly high, but there’s more to it than just that once you take a deeper dive into the veteran’s metrics. Hosmer, who has only reached the 20 home run mark once since joining the Padres prior to the 2018 season, has yet to register a barrel in 2022. While the batting average has been good, that’s not a particularly promising development considering Hosmer has just a 6.6% barrel rate since 2015 and saw his barrel rate dip to 4.2% last season.
The first baseman’s walk rate is also down to 4.7% this year (it’s 8.0% for his career) and his strikeout rate is up over 20% (23.3%) for the first time since 2019. Elsewhere, there’s a near .080-point gap between Hosmer’s wOBA (.413) and his xwOBA (.330). We’re dealing with a small sample size here, but those trends are hard to ignore at this point, especially when many of them are at or below Hosmer’s usual metrics in those categories.
Regression is coming, and while the first baseman isn’t rostered everywhere, he’s currently rostered in just 25% of Yahoo leagues as of Wednesday evening, you should consider trading him if you have him on your team. I’d look to deal him for a useful streaming option in the rotation like Drew Rasmussen or a late-inning reliever with save upside who isn’t a closer like Michael Fulmer or Diego Castillo.
Jurickson Profar, San Diego Padres
Profar has been more productive – and valuable – so far in leagues where on-base percentage is part of the scoring. The 29-year-old is hitting .229 but thanks to a sterling 17.8% walk rate, is sporting a .378 on-base percentage through his first 45 plate appearances. He’s also connected on three home runs after hitting just 11 in his first 614 plate appearances as a member of the Padres from 2020 to 2021.
If you’re in a league that uses on-base percentage instead of average, it’s probably time to look into trading Profar. Some of his production, the power for one, looks sustainable. Profar has three barrels on the season and has increased his hard-hit rate by nearly 10% from 29.5% last year to 39.3% as of the beginning of play on Wednesday. He’s also eligible at first base, second base, and in the outfield in Yahoo leagues, which should open up plenty of possibilities in terms of you finding a trade partner for Profar.
There is reason to believe the walks might continue too. The veteran has logged a walk rate of at least 9.0% in each of his last four full seasons. However, he’s also hit above .240 just twice in his career, once in 2018 and once again in 2020. That certainly diminishes his quality walk rates to a degree. Despite said walk rates, the only two times Profar has logged an on-base percentage above .340 in a season came during the 2018 and 2020 campaigns.
A useful starter seems like the right kind of return for Profar in a deal in an on-base percentage league. I’d try trading him for the likes of Jordan Montgomery or Dylan Bundy.
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