Fantasy baseball: Buy-low, sell-high targets in May

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Fantasy baseball: Buy-low, sell-high targets in May
May 27, 2013, 4:00 pm
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Never take April too seriously.

If you did this year, early disappointment may have led you to sell low on Mike Trout or Joey Votto. It may have convinced you that Justin Upton is a 40-home run hitter.

We’ve seen plenty of turnarounds take place in May. If you don’t have Trout or Votto, you won’t be able to acquire them for anything less than an exorbitant price, so let’s focus instead on the mid-tier guys who are heating up after slow starts:

Asdrubal Cabrera

He was hitting .162 through 18 games with 19 strikeouts, just four extra-base hits and no net steals.

Since April 24, he’s hit .324 with a .912 OPS, 18 extra-base hits (including 14 doubles), 17 RBIs, 17 runs and four steals.

Shortstop is a thin position and Cabrera is one of few players who can give you power and steals. Batting third in a potent Indians lineup, he’s also a candidate to score and drive in plenty of runs moving forward.

In shallow, mixed leagues, Cabrera might still be on the waiver wire because of the slow start. In deeper leagues, he’s worth trading for, but only if it comes from a position of depth.

I’d trade for him if I was starting: J.J. Hardy, Brandon Crawford, Alcides Escobar, Martin Prado

Brandon McCarthy

He’s allowed one run in his last 24 innings to lower his ERA from 6.75 to 4.36.

Beware of fool’s gold, though. All three of those starts came against offensively challenged teams in the Phillies, Marlins and Padres.

McCarthy is the kind of guy you should pick up and start if he’s available, or try to deal if you can find an interested suitor lacking pitching who is willing to give up a solid outfielder.

Jason Vargas

A very similar pitcher to McCarthy in that he throws a lot of strikes, doesn’t punch many guys out, gives up a lot of hits and is at his best when he’s getting calls from the home plate umpire.

Vargas has three wins, three quality starts, a 1.69 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP over the last two weeks.

He’s a boom-bust starter who can either get lit up or pitch a complete game on any given day. In fantasy, where we seek reliability, that isn’t usually the pitcher you look for. But with starting pitching so scary thin right now, Vargas is worth a look. His owner will probably think he’s selling high on him, when in reality whatever value you give up in a trade will likely be equal because of the positional scarcity at SP this year.

I’d trade for him if I was starting: Mike Leake, Kevin Slowey, Bartolo Colon

Bobby Parnell

Because the Mets are so bad, Parnell got very few save opportunities the first few weeks and blew two of them.

But in May, the Mets’ closer has avoided a run in 10 of 11 outings and notched five saves and three wins.

With so many closers struggling (Jim Johnson, Brandon League, Fernando Rodney, Huston Street) and a few more hurt (Jim Henderson, Chris Perez), Parnell is an appealing option. When the Mets are winning, it won’t be by much. And Terry Collins has already shown he’s willing to use him in tie games, which adds to his potential for wins.

Players to consider selling high on:

Carlos Gomez – BABIP over .400, lots of strikeouts, will likely finish around .280, not .320

Justin Upton – He still has plenty of fantasy appeal because of the hot start, but he just isn’t that great a fantasy player. He’ll give you a .280 batting average with decent power going forward, but what you can get in return for him outweighs the production he’ll give you.

Mark Reynolds – He’s due for a major regression, even if this does turn out to be a rebound year.

Jhonny Peralta – Another guy who may ultimately finish with very good numbers, but right now he’s hitting .340 in a dynamic lineup. That’s the kind of player who gets noticed, and at SS he’s the kind of player owners often target. If Peralta can land you an upper echelon starting pitcher -- aim for a No. 2 starter -- and you have another shortstop you feel comfortable with, go for it.

Torii Hunter – Same exact reasons as with Peralta, just at CF instead of SS. Hunter’s journey back to earth has long since commenced, but he still has the appeal because of his team and spot in the batting order.

Justin Masterson – He tends to struggle against the better offenses, and every year has at least one horrid stretch. Masterson has never been able to piece together a dominant season, so why believe in him now if you could instead trade him for a top bat?

Anibal Sanchez – He’s a 2.90-3.00 ERA pitcher on a great team. But he is not the 2.38 guy he’s been so far in 2013. If you can get an ace-like return for Sanchez, pull the trigger immediately. We’re not advocating trading him to avoid the regression, we’re saying that you should be able to convince another owner to give you a top-25 hitter for him.

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