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RotoAuthority League Update: One Man's Midseason Trade Advice (Part 1)

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 4 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he’s not one of them.

It's around this time each season that many fantasy writers across the Interwebs write articles about their midseason trade targets. I know this column is intended to update you, the reader, on the goings-on of the RotoAuthority League. Given that the standings in that league have stagnated over the past couple weeks, though, please allow me to endulge myself this week with my own personal trade advice as we approach the All-Star Break.

When you break it down, fantasy baseball really comes down to two variables. On the one hand, there's a generally accepted market value for a player at any given time. Sure, this can vary widely across leagues, but there usually exists some relatively established value for a player across the countless fantasy websites. On the other hand, there's the expected fantasy worth of a player going forward. Once again, this can vary dramatically among fantasy players. Some fantasy owners place far greater emphasis on the in-season statistics while others care more about the rest-of-season projections. The tricky part, of course, is that this involves forecasting the future.

Ultimately, this hobby that we play really comes down to the variance between market value and actual value. Naturally, we seek to acquire players whom the market is undervaluing and trade away the ones the market is overvaluing. For as long as I've played this game, I've always been among the most active owners in my leagues, and it's precisely this gap between market value and actual value that makes this game so fascinating to me.

Now through the years, sabermetrics have become so mainstream that you can't simply rely on the secondary statistics alone anymore. Still, that just makes this game even more appealing to me. Similar to poker, there are pure numbers guys in every fantasy baseball league, there are owners who make decisions strictly based on gut feelings, and there are other fantasy owners who fit somewhere along the spectrum between these two extremes.

With that in mind, players really fall within one of four quadrants at any given time. There are Buy High, Buy Low, Sell High, and Sell Low candidates. Let's take a look at a hitter and a pitcher who fit each of these descriptions based on what I expect going forward. This week we'll examine the Buy High and Sell High candidates, and next week we'll take a look at some Buy Low and Sell Low options.

Buy High

Jose Abreu

I actually really liked Abreu in the preseason, but I somehow only ended up with him on one team. At this point, I think we can all agree that this is one of the top power hitters in the game. Even so, I still think there's a buying opportunity here. After all, for me personally, there are only six hitters I'd prefer going forward: Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Troy Tulowitzki, Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen, and Paul Goldschmidt. That's it. Rotoworld, on the other hand, recently ranked Abreu just 27th overall for the rest of the season. With the continued decline in power in today's game, Abreu is truly a fantasy monster. He hits the ball hard, and he hits the ball incredibly far. If you can acquire him for anything short of the equivalent of a superstar, get the deal done before your league's trade deadline.

David Price

Ideally you would have already dealt for Price a couple of weeks ago. After all, the Rays ace has been dominant lately with at least nine strikeouts in each of his past six outings. Still, there's an argument to be made that things will only get better for Price down the stretch. As we all know by now, the Rays southpaw is clearly on the trade block. While some may argue that the environment around him is likely to worsen if he leaves Tampa Bay, I'm willing to gamble that the Rays deal him to a team in the NL. If that proves to be the case, this is a top-five starting pitcher going forward. It seems that K-BB% is the new pitching sabermetric du jour, and Price just happens to rank first in all of baseball in the category. With a move to the NL, one would only expect even better results. Given the pristine peripherals he's currently posting in the AL East, it's downright scary to contemplate what he might do in the NL West, for instance.

Sell High

Alex Rios

Like the Rays, the Rangers are in the midst of a miserable season and likely to be sellers at the deadline. From a fantasy perspective, Rios is having a decent campaign, thanks in large part to his SB total. A move out of Texas, though, could be potentially damaging to his fantasy value. More importantly, though, it's worth noting that the Rangers outfielder simply isn't hitting the ball with the same kind of force anymore. In fact, he ranks in the bottom third in the game in hard contact. Meanwhile, the low HR output isn't a fluke, either. Rios is currently outside the top 200 in batted ball distance. The Rangers right fielder does have a good line drive rate, but I'd still expect some regression in his high BABIP. Overall then, I'd cash in on Rios to a team looking for a reliable source of speed.

LaTroy Hawkins

I have to give some credit to Hawkins; I sure didn't think he'd last this long in the closer role. Remarkably, the forty-one-year-old journeyman has only one blown save all season, so he should have a relatively long leash at this point. From a real baseball perspective, I guess it's possible that Hawkins could be sufficiently adequate in the second half that he maintains the closer job, although I doubt it. From a fantasy viewpoint, however, I can just about guarantee that he won't be helpful to his owners in the standings. Let's start with the fact that the Colorado closer ranks dead last in all of baseball in K%. In fact, Hawkins is on pace for just 24 strikeouts this season; that's downright laughable in today's game. Even with good surface statistics, the veteran ranks outside the top 40 among relievers on the ESPN Player Rater. With an ERA two runs below his SIERA, a correction is likely to come at some point for Hawkins. At that point, he'll only contribute in the saves category. In short, I'd take just about anything of value for this closer.

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