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MLB Fantasy Baseball – Week 15 Buy/Sell

Michael Fulmer - Buy or Sell Week 15

The buying and selling aspect of fantasy baseball is, in my opinion, the second best way to build a successful fantasy team after the waiver wire.

Last week, I suggested to sell veteran Shin-Soo Choo and Nick Markakis for owners looking to capitalize on big years from veterans who I believe are unlikely to produce at these levels again in their big league careers.

I also suggested buying Elvis Andrus who I believe will turn things around at the plate thanks to some background numbers that should come to light in time. Another buying suggestion was Mets outfielder Michael Conforto who I believe is a nice long-term power asset, even if he doesn’t bring the OBP figures along with him.

Now that Week 15 is here, let’s take a look at a couple of players who I believe can provide some nice upside while their value is low and also a couple of big leaguers who can bring a nice haul in a trade as part of a sell-high scenario.

Buy

OF – Steven Souza Jr. (ARI)

Souza has logged just 18 at-bats since returning from the Disabled List, and he’s already delivering on his cross-category upside with a homer, four RBI and a stolen base in four games.

There’s no doubt Souza scuffled prior to his DL stint, but to me this is a complete reset for the high-upside outfielder. Let’s keep in mind this is a guy who busted out with 30 homers and 16 steals in 2017 for the Rays. In no way do I think that season is a fluke as Souza hit 96 homers and stole 161 bases in 734 career minor league games and regularly posted an ISO over the .200 mark.

He even hit 16 and 17 homers in 2015 and 2016 respectively, despite receiving under 470 plate appearances in each of those campaigns.
Another encouraging fact is that Souza hit three home runs and stole two bases in just four games and 18 plate appearances at Triple-A prior to his activation. The power is back to be sure and it appears his legs are going to come with it.

The only slight issue here is playing time. The Diamondbacks acquired outfielder Jon Jay while Souza was on the shelf, and with A.J. Pollock also back from the DL there is a logjam in the D-backs outfield. That said, Souza has rattled off four consecutive starts since his activation and should see at least five starts a week with pinch-hitting opportunities mixed in on his off days.

At 9.2% ownership in ESPN leagues, be sure to offer a buy-low trade or even more to acquire the 29-year-old.

SP – Michael Fulmer (DET)

Here we have the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year and a pitcher who has pitched to a career 3.61 ERA and a 3.79 FIP by the age of 25. Yes, he pitches for a poor Tigers team in a rebuild, but it’s also possible that the right-hander won’t see that rebuild through as he appears to be a hot commodity on the trade market, which poses the question: would you like Fulmer more if he was pitching for the Yankees or Dodgers? The answer is yes, he becomes much more valuable in that scenario.

Still, Fulmer prevents run at an above-average clip, doesn’t pitch in much traffic with a solid 6.7% walk rate and while his 20.4% strikeout rate isn’t great, he’s still only 25 years old.

The truth is, it would have cost you a lot to trade for Fulmer during that sensational 2016 rookie season. However, he had the exact same 20.4% strikeout rate that year and won just 11 games. Now, you can get essentially the same pitcher for much less, and for that I believe you should target Fulmer in a trade before something happens (real life trade) that rockets his value up.

Sell

OF – Andrew McCutchen (SF)

Unlike with Choo and Markakis from last week, the reason for McCutchen falling to the sell category doesn’t entirely derive from the age factor as he’s just 31 years old.

Rather, it is name recognition than anything.

McCutchen currently sits at 93.4% owned in ESPN leagues, yet he has nine homers and seven steals on the season, numbers that are high-end waiver wire numbers. For comparison, Leonys Martin of the Detroit Tigers has nine homers and seven steals, yet he sits at 13.7% owned. In fact, Martin’s 44 runs scored are just four shy of McCutchen’s 48 runs scored. So, what’s the difference? Name recognition.

At just 31, it’s possible McCutchen can still produce a bounce back campaign like Markakis and Choo are doing, but I’d rather try my hand at dealing the veteran for something of nice value while that ownership is artificially above 90% and therefore passes the eye test.

He’s hitting just .256 with a .744 OPS against right-handed pitching and aside from a big June, he’s mostly been a mediocre player this season.

If you own the longtime Pirate, throw him on the block and sell while he still passes the name recognition test.

OF – Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)

Cespedes is injured right now which certainly doesn’t help his trade value, however, he like McCutchen has that name recognition that could net a nice return in a trade.

Cespedes can be a beast when he’s healthy, but his injury history and the current state of the New York Mets are just drags on his production. I wouldn’t mind a young player on the Mets, like Michael Conforto from last week, but by the time New York is competitive again, Cespedes won’t be nearly as productive as he has been in recent years.

Even before his injury this year, Cespedes had produced just a .316 OBP and while he stole three bases early, he had zero last season and I doubt he will be running a whole lot given he’s been out since May 13th with a hip injury. He has a history of quad injuries as well, so I think it’s fair to say he won’t provide much of anything in the stolen bases category.

In a weak Mets lineup, his runs and RBI totals will both take big hits moving forward. The only stat where he should maintain star fantasy status should be home runs, but I’m not big on one-dimensional players who boast big-time name recognition and ownership levels. I would try and deal the veteran outfielder, but don’t be afraid to be patient if the right trade doesn’t come along as a hot streak upon his return could increase his trade value.

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