Week two is underway and there are plenty of big and plenty of small numbers being put up around the league. As the season goes on and sample sizes grow, the numbers will nurmalize. So who is the real deal? Let’s look at Yahoo!’s top 25 rankings as of Tuesday and see who to buy and who to sell.
1. Albert Pujols - Hold – Obviously.
2. Nelson Cruz – Medium Sell- Two reason’s here. One, Cruz does not make very good contact. His contact rate was an extremely low 68 percent last season and is still only 76 percent this season, even with his hot first week. Eventually that will lead to more strikeouts and an AVG of around .275 tops. Second, Cruz has yet to play over 130 games in a Major League season. Injuries are a part of his profile and could very well creep up once again this season. Only sell for if you can get full price value in return.
3. Tim Lincecum – Hold – Obviously
4. Roy Halladay - Hold
5. Placido Polanco - Medium Sell- I’m not sure what type of return Polanco could bring at this point. He wasn’t highly touted coming into the season, but his red hot hitting in front of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard may have some owners thinking this will be a career year. In the end he should be a valuable second base/third base option with the potential for 100 runs scored and 10-plus home runs. Only sell if you get an above market return.
6. Vernon Wells – Medium Sell- Wells is tied with Albert Pujols and Nelson Cruz for the league lead in home runs, but he has the least likely chance out of the three to hit 30-plus home runs over the long haul of the season. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t hit 30 home runs. Right now Wells’ fly ball rate is at 60 percent and his HR/FB rate is at 41.7 percent. Both rates are sure to fall off soon. Still, it seems like Wells is finally healthy again and should be a valuable outfield option this season. If you can sell him at full price, I would, but don’t simply get rid of him by any means.
7. Adam Wainwright – Hold
8. Matt Garza – Medium Sell- Garza is a very good pitcher, but I’d see what I could get for him after his first two starts of the season. There is some breakout season buzz surrounding Garza right now and while I think that is a good possibility, I’d still deal him for a big hitter or more consistent pitcher. Before long Garza’s .224 BABIP against and 89 percent strand rate are going to regress. If someone is willing to buy for a super breakout season, I’d sell. If the only offers you are getting look more like a lateral move, I’d just hold.
9. Matt Holliday – Hold
10. Ryan Howard - Hold
11. Rajai Davis - Buy - Though he may not hit .300 this season, there is a chance he provides numbers similar to what Jacoby Ellsbury did last season.
12. Miguel Cabrera – Hold
13. Scott Podsednik – Sell- Podsednik has as many steals as Rajai Davis (5) and has stolen 70 bases in the past, but that was back in 2004. Pods is 34 -years-old, not an age in which players typically get faster. Last season he played in 136 games, his highest total since 2006. Also, his .444 AVG comes with a .522 BABIP. Use his five steals to your advantage and target owners who may be looking for steals.
14. Carl Pavano – Medium Sell – I mentioned this in the preseason, but Carl Pavano could really be a surprise pitcher this season. That means two things. One, the likely-hood of someone actually buying high on him seem slim. Two, you may just be better off riding his early success rather than selling him for his perceived value.
15. Jorge De La Rosa - Buy - It’s unlikely that anyone would be willing to buy De La Rosa at full price right now, so just enjoy his strikeouts and hope that he can hold down his walk rate enough to keep his ERA in check. If you’re someone looking to buy be sure to cite De la Rosa’s inconsistency.
16. Alex Gonzalez - Sell - Alex Gonzalez is a career .248/.294/.399 hitter. Much like the case with teammate Vernon Wells, his fly ball and HR/FB rates are sure to regress. Though I wouldn’t put 18-20 home runs past Gonzalez, he chases way too many pitches outside the strike-zone (33.3 percent for his career) to maintain a high enough AVG to warrant starting in a 12-team mixed league.
17. Dustin Pedroia – Hold- So far this season Pedroia is once again being aggressive on first pitch strikes, something he didn’t do as much last season as he had in the past.
18. Jon Rauch – Medium Sell- This is a tricky one. In leagues where it may be harder to add closers off the waiver wire, I’d hang onto Rauch, but if he’s your third or fourth closer, I’d sell to the team that is in need of such a player. Rauch should get plenty of saves this season, but he is not without risk. He only has three strikeouts in his five innings of work and his strikeout rate dropped significantly last season. Rauch has also been a big time fly ball pitcher over his career, which has led to some problems with the long ball. There is a good chance that his ERA ends up somewhere close to his career mark of 3.76, so if you have depth at closer sell now while his stats look sterling.
18. Francisco Cordero – Hold
19. Will Venable – Sell- Think of him as the Alex Gonzalez of the outfield in the sense that he shouldn’t hit for a high AVG over the course of a long season. Vaneble hasn’t hit over .300 at any level since 2006 at single-A. He has power, yes, but has shown issues hitting left handed-pitching so far in his career. The Padres have only faced one lefty on the season, in which case Scott Hairston got the start over Venable.
19. Jimmy Rollins – Hold
20. Carl crawford – Hold
22. Curtis Granderson – Hold
24. Chris B. Young – Sell - This could be a make or break season for Young, who is off to a fine start. Young has been making good contact on the young season (84 percent contact rate and only three strikeouts in 24 at-bats). However, he is still swinging at bad pitches and has yet to draw a walk. His current 30 percent line drive rate is sure to regress before long. when it does and his AVG falls, it is all about how Young responds mentally. So far in his career that hasn’t gone so well.
25. Magglio Ordonez – Hold - While Ordonez may never be the player of old, he still has the skills to his for a high AVG and could pop out a few more home runs this season. Given where he was had on draft day, he should easily surpass that value.