Early Season Trade Talk: Buy low on Mad Max?

Fred ZinkieYahoo Fantasy Contributor
Yahoo Sports
Gotta try and make a move on <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/8193/" data-ylk="slk:Max Scherzer">Max Scherzer</a> while you still can. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Gotta try and make a move on Max Scherzer while you still can. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

While most players have seen their luck even out by late April, there are still some fantasy commodities who have dealt with extreme fortune throughout this young season.

This week’s 10-pack is highlighted by two aces who should soon turn things around, and a pair of Nats who may soon see their production dry up.

Buy Low

Max Scherzer, SP, Nationals

Scherzer hasn’t been awful this season (4.45 ERA, 1.24 WHIP), but he has been far worse than his owners expected. However, the veteran has been plagued by some of the worst luck of any starter (.395 BABIP, 63.5 percent strand rate) despite his continued success at dominating opposing hitters (8.8 K:BB ratio). His radar gun reading remains stellar, and Scherzer is likely to soon go on a sustained hot streak.

Aaron Nola, SP, Phillies

Although his surface stats didn’t show it (5.2 IP, 3 ER), Nola may have turned a corner when he produced a 9:1 K:BB ratio in an April 20 start at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Overcoming such a tough venue is a major step forward for a struggling hurler, and the righty has the potential for ace-caliber results when he is on top of his game. Nola is working with his typical fastball velocity, his control is back and he is rarely giving up hard contact. His buy-low window could be closed in a week.

Justin Turner, 3B, Dodgers

Turner has been one of the most frustrating fantasy assets thus far, as his .260 average is a disappointing mark and he has produced zero homers and steals. An elevated whiff rate is part of the problem, but he has also been unlucky while logging his typically high rates of line drives (27.1 percent) and hard contact (50.8 percent). Once his luck evens out, Turner should be able to take better advantage of his spot in the heart of a talented Dodgers lineup.

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Nicholas Castellanos, 3B/OF, Tigers

Castellanos owners will surely be frustrated that he has four RBIs and nary a homer as we head into the final days of April. And those who want to add the 27 year old at a reduced cost can certainly opine that his lackluster lineup mates are going to add to an unproductive season. But the truth is that Castellanos is producing plenty of fly balls (42.0 percent) and hard contact (42.0 percent), which should soon result in some round-trippers and RBIs.

Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals

Molina appears in this space for a second time this season, as he remains a prime catcher trade target. The veteran has been unimpressive on the surface (.244 average, one homer), but his rates of hard contact (47.4 percent) and line drives (28.9 percent) are not being reflected in his BABIP (.253) and HR/FB rate (4.2 percent). Owners should try to float the idea that the 36 year old is washed up before adding him at a reduced cost.

Sell High

Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox

Anderson may be the most fortunate hitter in baseball to this point in the season. His .463 BABIP leads the Majors, and his 22.2 percent HR/FB rate is also an unsustainable mark for someone who struggles to square up the baseball (25.9 percent hard-contact rate). The 25 year old has successfully cut his whiff rate but continues to draw few free passes. Although he has already collected nine steals, Anderson will have far fewer swipe chances once his luck runs out.

Victor Robles, OF, Nationals

Robles is the latest in a long line of talented prospects who are over-valued on the trade market when they get off to a good start. A potential five-category contributor who is batting .270 with a trio of homers and steals, the youngster looks susceptible to slumps when we pull back the curtain. His plate discipline has been abysmal (0.15 BB:K ratio), and he isn’t making great contact when he connects (20.4 percent hard-contact rate). Trading him for a high-floor veteran could be the right move.

Adam Eaton, OF, Nationals

Eaton seems to be off to a solid start, batting .314 with a quartet of steals and 15 runs scored in 20 games. But his lofty average has been boosted by a .388 BABIP despite producing few line drives (18.5 percent) and little hard contact (25.0 percent). When factoring in his inflated stats and lengthy injury history, the case is obvious to deal him now.

Joe Musgrove, SP, Pirates

Although Musgrove should be a useful shallow-league starter all season and has earned some of his initial success with a 5.3 K:BB ratio, he has been extremely fortunate thus far. The right-hander is one of four qualified pitchers who have not allowed a home run, and his .232 BABIP is an extremely favorable mark. This might be the time to float him on the trade market as an emerging ace.

Trevor Richards, SP, Marlins

Although the trade return for Richards may not be great, owners may want to swap him for an underachieving player who had much higher stock a month ago. Richards owns solid surface stats (3.72 ERA, 1.24 WHIP), but his 1.8 K:BB ratio is an unimpressive mark. His success is mostly the product of a .230 BABIP and a 7.9 percent HR/FB rate in spite of allowing hard contact at a rate of 42.9 percent. And as a starter on arguably the worst team in baseball, Richards’ margin for error is razor thin.

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