The Trade Deadline and Fantasy Baseball: Part 2
by Eno Sarris //
We started looking at what the trade deadline means to fantasy baseball last week by first focusing on the pitchers that might change hands this trading season (you can now scratch Cliff Lee off the list of available hurlers). Now it’s time to look at the position players who might be wearing new laundry soon, and what it would mean to their fantasy value.
The man with a pop idol’s name is having a good year from a fantasy perspective. But a look at his underlying skills shows many of his skills remaining unchanged. He’s walking at about the same frequency (8.7% this year, 9.1% last year) and striking out at around the same rate (21.8% this year, 22.0% last year). The biggest difference is his power: a massive .274 ISO (isolated slugging percentage, i.e. slugging percentage minus batting average) this year, .158 ISO last year.
Now Hart looks like a speedy, powerful outfielder on a bad team that’s ripe for the picking – just look at his spider graphs from Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools. He’s only under team control for another year, too, so the Brewers could be inclined to trade him. The good news for his owners in NL-only leagues is that he’s been most often linked to National League teams like the Giants and the Braves. The bad news is that both of those possible new parks suppress home runs compared to his current home park. AT&T suppresses home runs by 14.6% and Turner Field by 4.3%. Meanwhile, Miller Park increases home runs by 19.3%; so a move, especially to San Francisco, would be a big deal for his power potential for the second half. If owners weren’t trying to sell high already, this news should spur some movement.
Ty Wigginton/Miguel Tejada
The Baltimore Orioles lost one of their biggest trade pieces (and second-most likely mover in this week’s first trade piece) when Kevin Millwood went on the DL this week. But that shouldn’t stop the O’s from looking to move their infielders. Wigginton is actually having a good year, as he’s walking at a career-high rate (9.4%) and showing his usual good power (.190 ISO, .182 career ISO). If and when his BABIP recovers (.259 this year, .294 career), his batting average could normalize as well (he’s currently at .253/.336/.443). Because he’s eligible at so many positions, he’s a valuable bench player in head-to-head fantasy leagues, and a great backup in most leagues.
AL-only owners might be worried about the rumors concerning Philadelphia and San Diego, but it’s unclear how much trade value the up-and-down Wigginton has. He might be more of a free-agent acquisition for National League owners looking for a little power on the infield. Much of the same could be said about Miguel Tejada since the team has called up possible third baseman of the future Josh Bell. There haven’t been many rumors, but Tejada isn’t very useful to the Orioles right now, and probably won’t be a Type A free agent, so they could probably get their best value from the former shortstop in a trade. Tejada is most useful for managers writing him in the lineup at shortstop in deeper leagues. So like Wigginton, he won’t have much fantasy trade value.
Adam LaRoche/Kelly Johnson
This Arizona Diamondbacks pair is much like the Orioles’ duo: two decent veterans who don’t fit a rebuilding team’s future and can easily bring back more value in a trade than as free agents. Johnson has been a revelation in the desert, though, and is under team control for another year, so it would take a little more to pry him loose than it would to get the free-agent-to-be LaRoche. Johnson is walking at a career-high rate (13.5%) and his BABIP is close to neutral (.318 this year, .312 career), so some parts of his game will play anywhere. It is worth wondering if the career-high ISO (.227) would play the same in another park. His home park, Chase Field, currently augments home runs by 27.6%. While there have been general rumors that Johnson could leave town, no specific teams have been mentioned. For now, his fantasy owners should consider shopping him on both a sell-high basis, and to hedge against a trade to the AL. Don’t settle for a middling return, though: Johnson is an elite performer at second base for the moment.
LaRoche is having another of his patented seasons, with a mediocre batting average and 25-home run power. But as a free-agent-to-be, he could easily be acquired by a contending team looking to add power at first base, DH, or even off the bench. No rumors are out there right now, and the fact that he’s got little-to-no fantasy trade value in standard 12-team leagues means he’s a hold if he’s on your roster.
Cody Ross/Dan Uggla
Florida is only five games under .500, but the Marlins are already 10 games out of first, and more importantly, with many strong teams in front of them in both the NL East and Wild Card races. Both Ross and Uggla are under team control for next year. But Ross ($4.45 million in 2010) and Uggla ($7.8 million) are already expensive, and could become too pricey in arbitration for a Marlins team known for its penny-pinching ways. Ross is having a strange year, as he finally has a nice batting average for once (.288), but it’s propped up by an unsustainable BABIP (.348). Unfortunately, his power has suffered (.138 ISO, .205 career); still, a move out of Florida (which suppresses home runs by 19.9%) would help in that category. Uggla is doing what he always does, but his home slugging percentage (.485) is virtually identical to his away number in that category (.480), so a move out of town might not affect his power as much. The only specific rumor on either player is Uggla to the Rockies, which would have to be seen as a win for Uggla owners.
David DeJesus/Jose Guillen
Another duo from a terrible team here, but rumors are still just of a general nature. Honestly, Guillen owners have to feel happy that they got anything from the aging slugger. They have already put those 14 home runs in the bank, and they got them for a bargain price. Anyway, Guillen is best suited to DH and should move within his league, if at all. With his griping to the press, he’s not making himself more marketable, though. DeJesus, on the other hand, is a good all-around hitter and a strong defender, and the team has an option for next year. He’s also not a great fantasy player. Because of his poor power (.136 ISO, .150 is average), mediocre base-stealing ability (47 career stolen bases in 867 games), and position (outfield), he just doesn’t do enough to be a strong fantasy player. Check out his spider graphs from Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools. Meh.
None of these factors will change with a change of venue, either, so if you’re playing DeJesus in a five-outfielder deep league, you’ll just have to find another high-batting average/low-power and low-speed bat to replace him should he go to the National League.
The First Basemen
We’ll lump these guys together because the aging first baseman/designated hitter is not one of the most valuable commodities in real or fantasy baseball. They’re a bit too fungible. With that said, Adam Dunn is the prize of the group, a legitimate 40-home run man whose legendarily poor defense would play a lot better as a designated hitter in the American League. His NL-only owners should be nervous around this time of the year, and there is a White Sox rumor about Dunn making the rounds presently. Of course, the Nationals have also said they want to sign him to an extension, so Dunn might stay put.
Then there’s the case of Lance Berkman and Lyle Overbay, whose teams would love to move them, if just to save a little money. Berkman’s power has been declining for three straight years now, and his knee may be arthritic. That makes him hard to trade, despite the chance that he goes to the Angels, for example. Overbay is pretty much a bench bat in both fantasy and real-life baseball, so the impact of a possible trade would be low.
For more on Corey Hart and other possible trade-deadline movers, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tools.