2017 Fantasy Baseball: Buy-High Candidates
Everyone loves to buy-low and sell-high because it feels good. Nobody wants to be the owner that is caught left holding the bag at the top when the music stops. However, there are instances when a player breaks out and becomes a buy-high target.
The one thing you have to remember is that not all breakouts are created equally. Sometimes good fortune is involved and the process is likely not repeatable.
The key to determining if a player is a buy-high candidate is to look at all of the underlying statistics and see if the increase in production can be confirmed. It is no surprise that a player’s ADP will jump higher after a breakout campaign, but the hard part is separating the wheat from the chaff.
Today, we will provide you a list of four buy-high players that have the supporting statistics to justify their ADP climb. All of these players have a current 2017 ADP within the Top 100. In addition, their ADPs were outside the Top 150 in 2016 and they have all had at least a 100-point jump from last year to this year.
Let’s now find out this year’s buy-high candidates.
2017 Fantasy Baseball: Buy-High Candidates
Jonathan Villar, 3B/SS, Milwaukee Brewers
Villar showed the baseball world what he is capable of after landing an everyday role with the Brew Crew. The Fantasy potential has always been there, especially when you take a look at his minor league career. Over his Double-A career, which spanned 650 at-bats, Villar produced 21 home runs and 53 stolen bases. His Triple-A career covered 809 at-bats and he produced 16 home runs and 90 stolen bases. In fact, prior to last year his MLB stat line was basically one full season’s worth of at-bat. He recorded a line of 589 at-bats, which resulted in 10 home runs and 42 stolen bases.
Last year, Villar showed marked improvement in a number of areas. He posted a career high walk rate and his strikeout rate was below his career mark. These should both help support his batting average going forward. The more he can get on base, the more Villar will be able to pad his runs and stolen base total. Villar also achieved a new career best in hard hit rate with a mark of 35.1-percent. He had never previously recorded a mark north of 30-percent prior to last year.
As we head in 2017, Villar not only possesses the speed component that all Fantasy owners are in dire need of, but he also provides a little pop. Villar’s position flexibility is also an added bonus as he already qualifies at shortstop and third base. Now this year, he looks to the starting second baseman for the Brewers thanks to the offseason acquisition of Travis Shaw.
Villar has been climbing up the draft charts (current ADP is 20) and he looks to have found a new home among Fantasy’s best. Even with some across the board regression, Villar should still be a buy-high Fantasy stud.
Daniel Murphy, 2B, Washington Nationals
Murphy has also been a useful Fantasy player, but last year he became a Fantasy stud. Maybe all he needed was a change of scenery as he notched new career highs in home runs, RBIs, and batting average with the Nats. Prior to last year, Murphy was a basically a .285 hitter that could chip in with double-digit home runs and RBIs. Now he looks to be a middle of the order slugger that can still hit .300.
Murphy’s power transformation in 2016 is fully supported by his underlying numbers. His new career high in home runs was accompanied by career bests in his hard hit rate, pull rate, and fly ball rate. Impressively, Murphy was also able to increase his power figures while maintaining his discipline at the plate. His strikeout rate in 2016 was less than his career mark and came in under 10-percent. In fact, he was the only player in baseball to hit 25 or more home runs with a sub-10-percent strikeout rate.
Murphy’s current ADP is 38 and he should once again be a four-category monster in 2017 and still chip in with a handful of stolen bases. A repeat of 2016 will be tough; however, a floor of 20 home runs, 85-plus runs and RBIs, and an average north of .300 feels pretty good for a buy high middle infielder.
Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland Indians
Ramirez is another player that just needed an everyday role to showcase his five category abilities. Heading into 2016, over three partial seasons spanning 564 at-bats, Ramirez hit eight home runs, scored 77 runs, drove in 44 runners, swiped 20 bags, and hit .239. Last year, Ramirez exceeded all of those marks in a breakout campaign.
When you look at Ramirez’s minor league career, you start to gain confidence in his breakout. Over 1,383 minor league at-bats, Ramirez posted a line of 230 runs, 13 home runs, 126 RBIs, 101 stolen bases, and a .304 average. He also showed incredible discipline at the plate as he struck out only 123 times and walked 113 times.
As we look towards 2017, I think for Ramirez (ADP of 95) it is safe to assume a near repeat of his runs and stolen base totals, along with his batting average. I have some doubts on a RBI repeat as he hit .355 with a .392 BABIP with runners in scoring position in 2016. Either way, Ramirez should provide Fantasy owners with playable numbers in all five major roto statistics. Add in the fact that Ramirez will qualify at the hot corner and outfield making him a great buy-high candidate.
Kyle Hendricks, SP, Chicago Cubs
By nearly all measures, Hendricks’ 2016 season is basically a carbon copy of his 2015 year. Whether it was his strikeout rate, walk rate, or even his batted ball profile, the majority of his secondary numbers were very similar year on year.
There were, however, two main differences in 2016 when compared to 2015. His BABIP fell from .296 to .250 and his LOB% rose from 69.9-percent up to 81.5-percent. This allowed Hendricks’ ERA to plummet from 3.95 down to 2.13 and his WHIP fell from 1.16 to 0.98. Given the consistency in his underlying numbers, I think it is safe to assume his 2017 season will likely fall somewhere in between his 2015 and 2016 numbers. That means something like an ERA around 3.00 and a WHIP around 1.10, still stellar numbers.
With a 2017 ADP of 65, Hendricks is finally getting the recognition that he deserves. Hendricks is currently the 16th starting pitcher going off the board. He is there due to his incredibly useful ability to limit hard contact. Last year, Hendricks allowed the fourth lowest hard hit rate and allowed the highest soft contact among qualified pitchers. He won’t overpower you or lead the league strikeouts, but he’s still a great buy-high candidate.
Buy-high players are ones who have experienced a breakout and their corresponding ADP jump is justified. Sometimes it takes a little while for the market to reprice certain players correctly. All four of the mentioned buy-high candidates are ready to prove to the Fantasy Baseball world that their new ADP trend is the correct one.
As Opening Day nears, make sure you stay up-to-date with all of SCFE’s great preseason content.
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