StrategyMay 23, 2010

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Buy Low, Sell High: Less Yes’s, Morneaus - 9 comments

By André Walker

Buy Low

New York Mets Reyes celebrates his double off of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Arroyo during MLB National League baseball game in Cincinnati

Jose Reyes: In a year where Alex Gonzalez and Elvis Andrus are the only shortstops in Yahoo’s top 90 players, you’ll find a lot of people frustrated with whoever they drafted. Possibly the worst offender is Jose Reyes. As a Reyes owner, I can attest to this: .221 AVG and 9 SB through seven weeks from alleged speed demon/second round draft pick is really, really annoying. But Reyes is a guy whose streakiness is really understated; he often posts 60-70 point swings in batting average and 100+ point swings in OPS from month to month. In 2006, he had four months with an OPS in the .700s, two in the 1.000s, and none in the .800-1.000 range. The summer months ahead have brought the best performance of Reyes’ career so far (followed by the mandatory September swoon that comes with being a Met), so brighter days are ahead (for now). He struck out once in his last 40 AB after notching 21 K’s in the first 131 AB of the season, so he’s putting more contact on the ball, even though the hits are still finding infielders (.241 BABIP). His peripherals look like 2006 minus power, which is still very good production. I swear I’m not rationalizing.

Perceived value: 3rd-4th round

Lance Berkman: He just wasn’t feeling it in April coming off his injury. Worms in Houston feared for their lives when Berkman and his fearsome 58.3% GB rate stepped to the plate. Obviously, power hitters coming off knee issues aren’t going to find much success with pounding baseballs into the ground. After his terrible April hiccup, he’s posted a 1.14 GB/FB rate, which is more in line with his career numbers (1.12 in ’07-’09). He’s been able to consistently put up .300+ BABIPs despite LD rates below 20% from 2006 forward, so we can’t point to his 16.5% LD rate as the cause of his .250 BABIP in May. Perhaps it was the knee nagging at him in April, but as he gets more comfortable at the plate and luck factors regress to the number the peripherals dictate, expect his BABIP to rise closer to his career numbers. As for the power, he’s had few problems with that, hitting 18.5% of fly balls over the fence.

Perceived value: 11th round

Sell High

David Price: The top pitching prospect of ’09 turned in a disappointing rookie season, placing him in the 14th/15th rounds on average in drafts this year. Seven weeks in, he’s taken center stage again, having what appears to be a breakout season. I say “appears” because his scintillating 1.81 ERA and 1.08 WHIP is driven largely by a lot of luck. Now, here’s some key stats from this year and last:

2009: 7.15 K/9, 3.79 BB/9, 41.5% GB rate
2010: 7.24 K/9, 3.29 BB/9, 46.7% GB rate

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Toronto Blue Jays

The strikeout rate change is negligible (one more inning or one less strikeout and the rate is lower than last year’s), while the incremental improvements in walk rate and ground ball rate are encouraging. However, they do not substantiate a 2.61 decrease in ERA. The impetuses behind the low ERA/WHIP are his low BABIP (.251) and an even lower HR/FB (3.6%). His xFIP stands at 4.01, and while a pitcher who can turn in a high-3/low-4 ERA and throw in about 7 strikeouts per nine will be useful, that value is right in between Floydtown and Correiaville.

Perceived value: 8th round

Justin Morneau: I can’t figure out the xBABIP calculator myself, but I can safely eyeball Morneau’s stats and see that there is no possible way that anyone in the non-Fowler universe could sustain a .434 BABIP. It’s a bit of a shame, too, since I’d really like to know what Morneau’s BABIP should be, given his 50.9% FB rate. Fly balls this year have a .142 BABIP, and his LD% (.717 BABIP) is only a couple points higher than league average. So either he keeps hitting fly balls (and thus, home runs) but loses about 100-110 points in AVG, or he loses 50-70 points in AVG but hits fewer fly balls. Either way, he’s at peak value right now. Sell, sell, sell.

Perceived value: 2nd round

Fowler Watch 2010

Dexter has only started two games this week and pinch hit in three. He’s 0 for his last 21 with nine walks, five strikeouts, and a stolen base. Smith, Gonzalez, and (ugh) Hawpe are hitting well, so there’s no place for Fowler at the moment. Dark days, my friends.

André Walker is Ubaldo's Smirking Revenge. His alter ego Neato Torpedo is Hawpe's Well Below Average Glove.
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9 Responses to “Buy Low, Sell High: Less Yes’s, Morneaus”

  1. User avatar j24jags says:

    Good stuff as usual Neato

  2. User avatar AussieDodger says:

    Carlos Gonzalez has some sort of wrist injury, dark days may be over soon.

  3. JohnnnyD says:

    you think Hammels is a possible snag for price right now?

  4. JohnnnyD says:


  5. uncfan1986 says:

    Just curious, what is the BABIP for the entire TB staff? Their defense is markedly improved and I don’t necessarily consider this a low number unless it is compared to Price’s numbers from last year. Though his HR/FB rate figures to normalize as the season goes along, this stat can be severely misleading for a pitcher with his kind of stuff. Many of the best SPs in the game feature better HR/FB rates simply because it is more difficult to put a full bat on their pitches. Though I agree that there is no way he can sustain his ERA or WHIP numbers over the full season, I would not consider him a sell high candidate. First, I believe that his ERA will average out in the mid 3s so his value there with his K rate and potential for wins still ranks him as high quality option in almost any league. Still, if his ERA does eclipse 4, his K rate and win potential keep his value above Floyd and Correia for now. Just not sure what you could get for him now in a yearly league (no chance he is a sell high in almost any keeper/dynasty league) that would be a definite upgrade given the results and his potential at this point in the season.

  6. radmitchell says:

    i need some quick advice… i just received a trade proposal > i trade away billy butler for james sheilds? I have morneau and butler at my two UTL spots and Miggy at 1B and my SP consist of Greinke, Josh Johnson, Zito, Beckett, Liriano, Oswalt, and i just dropped Penny and picked up Peavy? So should i do the deal? and i have weiters catching and Bartlett at SS, do you see those 2 guys turning it around? Thanks for the advice

  7. radmitchell says:

    sorry and i have Rickie Weeks at 2B and Jose Lopez on the Bench, what do i do with these two guys?

  8. I traded Price for Hanson. Fair deal?

  9. uncfan1986:

    The Rays’ team BABIP is .279 now, and though their team UZR is a solid 11.9, that BABIP is due for a correction. The D’Backs have a UZR of 15.9 and their team BABIP is .323. Last year, the Mariners put up a historic 85.3 UZR and their team BABIP was .280. The Rays are on course to pretty much duplicate their defensive results of least year when they allowed a .299 BABIP.

    As for K’s, I picked Floyd and Correia as comparisons because they have very similar K and BB rates. Wins are variable, and you should never evaluate a pitcher’s value on them.

    Price will indeed be a good pitcher, but with his peripherals, I’d still rather have Hamels, Hanson, Nolasco, Kershaw, etc. I used him as the centerpiece of a deal to get VMart in one league. Like I said in a previous article, “sell high” doesn’t mean “he actually sucks”, it means “he’s not an elite player”.


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