As the All-Star break nears, fantasy baseball owners are hunkering down for the final handful or more of weeks to play.
The final 5-10 weeks before the playoffs are really the do-or-die portion of the fantasy season.
Contenders need to solidify their standing in the league, the wild card teams need to find improvements to have a chance and the bottom rungs of the league, especially in keeper leagues, should be looking toward next year.
If you’re stuck in the midst of the playoff race, below will offer some helpful advice with buy-low and sell-high players to keep tabs and offers out on.
Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers – Puig is a really interesting player and current owners are probably ecstatic about his .442 start with seven home runs. He’s a good cheap keeper option if you’re team is cellar dwelling, but playoff teams might want to look at selling this piece of the puzzle.
Puig is good, but not this good. He’s still going to hit for power, but pitchers will find his weakness and expose it. Between the minors and majors, through Monday, he’s appeared in only 83 total games, just over half a season. That’s still a minuscule sample size without a real suggestion with the direction he’ll go.
As mentioned, his power is here to stay (25-30 home run range) and average will fall maybe below .300 for his average. At some point his regression will start, and I’d see what I could get out of him before any sort of slump comes.
Carlos Gomez, OF, Milwaukee Brewers – Here’s a guy that finally found his groove. Gomez just missed 20 home runs last year and looks to be on pace for a 20/20, 20/30 season, while hitting around .300 in the process.
Gomez turned into a late bloomer and his ceiling is likely what he posted last year if not a tad better. The reason I say sell high on Gomez is that you might be able to get someone to overpay on him in a categories league, selling him on the basis of his speed, decent average and rare power for a steals player.
As with Puig, it has to be the right deal for me to pull the trigger on it. Gomez banged up his shoulder over the weekend and there’s hopes it isn’t separated. Seems, so far, to be a day-to-day thing and he’ll be OK.
Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs – What an awful season this has been for Castro. Scouts prior to the season said he looked ready to hit 30 home runs while continuing his .300 pace.
Instead he stands at .228 with just three homers.
While it isn’t the start Castro, the Cubs and his fantasy owners hoped for, there’s still a lot of baseball left. Shortstop is still a very weak position in the fantasy world and Castro deserves a second chance this year.
It could be after the break, but expect some good adjustments and hopefully a different approach to drag himself back to a respectable average. He’s highly unlikely to go on the needed tear to hit .300 again, but hopefully some time off will clear his head come July.
Josh Hamilton, OF, Los Angeles Angels – Speaking of awful seasons, the newest $100 million dollar man is off to a worse start than Castro. Hamilton is hitting just .207 with 10 home runs and 25 RBI (one more than Castro).
Hey, why not find a frustrated Hamilton owner and make a deal?
Hamilton has the reputation of being one of the streakiest hitters in the league and he could still go on one of his patented streaks of hitting .500 with 10 home runs in a span of a week.
If you ask me, it’s worth trading for him and stashing him on the bench until signs of life start to show.
Don’t move at all
Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets – I debated Harvey as a sell-high candidate but here’s the thing, I like him too much. He’s probably reached his peak for the season but at 24 might still have some room for improvement. Scouts like him better than Stephen Strasburg at this point and it’s hard to argue.
In keeper leagues, he’s the best pitcher to hang on to because it is highly unlikely he was taken early or with an expensive auction pick in the draft. Consider the draft placement and current value and you have a bargain heading into 2014 and a dominating ace to close out the season.
Burnes is news editor for the Williston Herald. He can be reached at 572-2165.