Fantasy Baseball: Resist urge to cut or trade away these unlucky players

With more than a full month of regular-season fantasy action in the books, most players now own a realistic stat line. However, there are still a few players who have been especially lucky or unlucky so far, and as a result, their surface stats do not line up with their advanced metrics. This week, we are going to look at some big-name players who have been especially unfortunate.

These are the players who fantasy managers should resist trading away, and they may also make good trade targets. And in extreme cases, these players should get a longer look before they are sent to the waiver wire.

Luis Robert (OF, Chicago White Sox)

Robert has been good, but he might be much better in the coming months. The outfielder’s advanced stats are eye-popping, including a 13.3 percent strikeout rate and a 15.1 percent barrel rate. Statcast believes that his .282 average should be .362 and that his .346 xOBA should be .453. Teams that need an all-around offensive player should put in a competitive offer for Robert right now.

Whit Merrifield (2B/OF, Kansas City Royals)

I covered Merrifield in yesterday’s Trade Tips article, so I won’t go into too much detail here. The veteran has the worst OPS of any qualified player, but his strikeout rate, average exit velocity and barrel rate are all nearly identical to the marks posted in his productive 2021 season. As frustrating as Merrifield has been, he has rare speed and deserves more time.

Jesse Winker (OF, Seattle Mariners)

I’ve never been high on Winker, but I have to admit that his value right now might be low enough to make him a value play on the trade market or waiver wire. The slugger has been awful with the Mariners (1 HR, .204 BA), and without looking at the advanced stats, it’s easy to make a case that he can’t survive without help from hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park. But Winker has identical walk and strikeout rates (13.6 percent), and he owns a healthy .302 xBA. I’m not sure that his power numbers will surge in the coming months, but he should soon return to being an on-base machine.

Gleyber Torres (2B/SS, New York Yankees)

Torres can be placed in the same bucket at Winker — players whom I am not high on but may have fallen off to the point where they are now ranked too low by some managers. The middle infielder is hitting just .222 with five homers, despite having produced outstanding numbers in both strikeout rate (16.3 percent) and hard-hit rate (50.6 percent). His .314 xBA and .402 xwOBA are excellent signs that he could have a strong surge in the coming weeks.

Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees has been unlucky in fantasy
Gleyber Torres should see his fantasy fortunes turn in the coming weeks. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Abraham Toro (2B/3B, Seattle Mariners)

Toro has been unplayable in mixed leagues this year, hitting .150 with four homers in 100 at-bats. But a deeper dive shows that he has cut his strikeout rate all the way down to 11.9 percent and has been limited by a .131 BABIP. His 9.1 percent barrel rate is a healthy mark, and his .255 xBA and .330 xwOBA are accurate indicators that Toro should soon be someone who can be serviceable in deep-mixed leagues.

Alex Cobb (SP, San Francisco Giants)

One of my most actionable pieces of advice in this article is to put in a trade offer on Cobb. The right-hander has held his velocity improvements from Spring Training, including an average fastball velocity of 94.4 mph. And he is inducing ground balls at a staggering rate of 69.2 percent. His 31.5 percent strikeout rate is an elite mark, and he has been held back by two metrics — a .365 BABIP and a 52.6 percent strand rate. Cobb (1.40 xERA) has the potential to be a fantasy ace from this point forward.

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Tyler Mahle (SP, Cincinnati Reds)

Managers should have an easy time making a buy-low offer for Mahle on the premise that nothing of fantasy value is going to come from an awful Reds team this year. I’ll start by getting the obvious out of the way — the right-hander needs to cut down on his 12.2 percent walk rate. But he has also been undone by a .330 BABIP and 53.1 percent strand rate, and according to Statcast, his 6.46 ERA should be 3.65. I would be happy to take a significant discount on Mahle and stash him on my bench for a week or two.

Aaron Civale (SP, Cleveland Guardians)

Sporting a 9.45 ERA, Civale has been sent to waivers in most mixed leagues. However, his xERA is 4.52, although admittedly that mark is not going to help a fantasy roster in a 2022 landscape that is full of effective starters. Still, Civale should be kept on the radar as a possible streamer, especially since he struck out eight batters against a tough Blue Jays lineup last time out.

Collin McHugh (RP, Atlanta Braves)

McHugh should be one of the most valuable middle relievers in fantasy baseball but is instead saddled with a 5.25 ERA. The right-hander has been striking batters out at a 34.0 percent rate and will have a dominant stretch as soon as he enjoys better luck than a BABIP that is currently .400. He’s someone to roster in Yahoo! leagues with daily transactions.