Wednesday, August 8, 2012

10 Fantasy Baseball Trade Targets for Stretch Run

With trade deadlines approaching in most leagues, a good trade could be just the thing to push you over the top in your fantasy baseball leagues.

These players are some of the best trade targets that will pay big dividends down the stretch.
(Fantasy batter statlines are listed as AVG/RUN/HR/RBI/SB)

Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS

Drafted as a top 2-3 pick at 2B, Pedroia entered the all-break with a .266/41/6/33/6 stat line. Not very impressive for a guy with an average statline the past 4 years (including an injury plagued 2010) of .307/97/16/72/19. He spent some time on the DL after injuring his thumb and didn't look like the same caliber player that was a MVP. In the 19 games since the all-star break, Pedroia has started to turn things around (.275/11/3/7/2), looking again like the spark plug you've come to love. He has also been unlucky so far, his Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) stands at .280 well below his career BABIP of .310. Expect a big last two months as the Red Sox push for a playoff spot.

Shane Victorino, OF, LAD

Shane Victorino is one of those players that doesn't wow you in any category but provides above average production in all. Playing with trade distractions all year, has produced to the tune of  .257/47/9/40/25. Leading off for the Dodgers, Victorino will score a ton of runs batting in front of Kemp, Ethier and Hanley Ramirez. A career .276 hitter, Victorino's average should come up over the next 2 months. Great targets for owners needing a push in R/SB without sacrificing a lot of production elsewhere. Should be able to acquire him for less than top 50 value and will produce as a top 50 player the rest of the year.

Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC

Eric Hosmer has gotten a lot of press for his struggles this year (.231/49/10/45/10). But he has actually improved his walk rate this year and is hitting less flyballs. Now owned in only 87% of ESPN leagues, he could be acquired on the cheap especially in redraft leagues. His BABIP this year is at .254 (last year was at .293 and he has the speed to sustain that) which illustrates how unlucky he has been. His HR/flyball rate (HR/FB) has also declined. One of the most talented young players in the game, if in a keeper league, he would be one of my top targets. This year screams fluke and he should turn it around.

Pablo Sandoval, 3B, SF

Kung Fu Panda has had a terrible year dealing with multiple injuries (broken hand, hamstring). The latest hamstring injury doesn't appear to be a huge concern and he could be returning to action over the weekend. As a result, his buy low window should remain open for a few more days. A safe source of batting average with decent pop, on a Giants offense that has improved drastically this year, Sandoval will easily be a top 10 3B the rest of the way and could even push his way into the top 5.

J.J. Hardy, SS, BAL

J.J. Hardy has struggled to the tune of .227/53/15/43/0. A closer look at his stats illustrates a guy that has been unlucky so far. His BABIP is currently at .239 well below his career average of .274. Additionally, his HR/FB rate currently sit at 9.7% significantly less than his 15.7% last year, and much more reminiscent of his performance in 2009 and 2010 when he battled injuries. Expect his power to improve over the rest of the season.

Alex Gordon, OF, KC

Gordon is the poster boy for unlucky HR/FB rate. Even when compared to his career rate of 9.6% (and not his 2009-2011 average of 12.0%) his putrid 5.4% HR/FB rate represents extremely bad luck. As a result, he has only 6 HRs so far in 107 games. There is a good chance that he equals that the rest of the season.

Rickie Weeks, 2B, MIL

Weeks was disgustingly bad the first half this year, and was unstartable in fantasy leagues (.199/34/8/29/6). However, the all-star break has seems to rejuvenate him (.266/12/4/10/1 in only 23 games). Based on his season statline, he can be acquired super cheap while most owners are unaware of how much better he has been.

Adam Wainwright, STL, SP

From 2008-2010, Wainwright was one MLB's best pitchers. But after needing Tommy John surgery in 2011, he wasn't the same pitcher to start the year. As with many pitchers recovering from TJ surgery, the velocity returns quickest, but the control takes a little longer. As a result, Waino entered the all-star break an ERA of 4.56, WHIP of 1.35 with 7 wins and 98 Ks in 102.2 innings. His command clearly wasn't completely back yet, even thoguh he was still able to strike guys out. Now almost 1.5 years removed from the surgery, he is looking like the Waino of old. In his last 4 starts, he boasts a 1.84 ERA, 0.82 WHIP (only 2 walks) with 28 Ks in 29.1 innings. Buy now before the window fully closes.

Ian Kennedy, ARI, SP

After getting shelled by the Cubs on July 18th, Kennedy sported an ugly 6-8 record with a 4.55 ERA. Owners that had paid a steep price to get him based on last years 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 8 K/9 were starting to jump ship. But the last 4 starts have been encouraging (2.37 ERA, 0.99 WHIP). Kennedy has actually walked less batters this year and strikeout rate hasn't changed much. But his opponents BABIP stands at .316, much higher than his career mark of .280. Don't expect numbers like last season down the stretch, but Kennedy should post top 30 SP numbers.

Jaime Garcia, STL, SP

Garcia, who has been sidelined since the beginning of June with a shoulder injury, has been extremely disappointing this year. Even when healthy, he was ineffective (4.48 ERA, 1.46 WHIP). For those 11 starts, his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) and xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching) were 2.79 and 3.69. This means that Garcia was pitching much better than the numbers would suggest. Now healthy again, he has pitched well in his rehab starts (only 6 hits and 1 ER in 6.2 innings, 7 Ks). I expect Garcia to be a top 40 starting pitcher down the stretch. Trade for him before he gets back to the majors or pick him up if unowned.

By the way, Matt Wieters was almost included in this article as well, but after two HRs tonight, the price likely has skyrocketed.

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