With June upon us, some owners will get overly decisive and make trades that they ultimately regret. This is a good time for those who are in decent shape in the standings to make moves that could set them back this month, yet provide some big gains in the second half.
Jorge Polanco, SS, Twins
Although Polanco has been good so far, there is reason to believe that he could soon become even more productive. The shortstop has greatly improved his plate discipline (0.68 BB:K ratio) while also basically eliminating ground balls from his batting diet (24.7 percent). His combination of a 40.8 percent hard contact rate and a 48.9 percent fly ball rate should have resulted in more than nine home runs. The Twins’ improved lineup is the icing on the cake for someone who could be a top-five shortstop by the end of the season.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays
Wise owners will take advantage of any leaguemates who have changed their opinion on Guerrero after witnessing his slow start. The rookie is regularly crushing the baseball (45.2% hard contact rate), and although his legendary plate discipline hasn’t yet transferred to the Majors, he has not been overwhelmed either. Owners can take advantage of Guerrero’s poor initial fortune (.264 BABIP) to acquire him prior to an eventual hot streak.
Jose Ramirez, 2B/3B, Indians
Ramirez made small improvements in May, but not the kind of change that made fantasy owners take notice. The multi-position stud remains hampered by bad luck (.231 BABIP, 4.8% HR/FB rate) despite producing his share of hard contact (37.3%) and plenty of fly balls (47.2%). And Ramirez is quietly maximizing his speed, as his 14 steals rank third in the Majors. There remains potential for the 26 year old to perform like a first round pick the rest of the way.
Frankie Montas, SP, A’s
Montas has performed well but likely still lacks the name recognition needed to fetch a major return on the trade market. The 26 year old is controlling the strike zone (3.7 K:BB ratio) while also collecting oodles of ground balls (51.7%) and doing a decent job of limiting hard contact (35.4%). With a pitcher-friendly home venue by his side, Montas could maintain an ERA that is similar to his 2.88 FIP.
Noah Syndergaard, SP, Mets
While novice owners will look at Syndergaard’s 4.90 ERA, those who win leagues will search for the reason why his ERA varies greatly from his 3.63 FIP. In short, the imposing righty has been slightly unlucky overall (.333 BABIP) and extremely unfortunate with runners on base (64.7% strand rate). His plate dominance remains outstanding (4.5 K:BB ratio), and he remains one of the best at limiting hard contact (31.8%).
Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Dodgers
Ryu has been excellent this season, and readers will find no knock on his skill set in this paragraph. But the southpaw has an injury history that will keep owners up at night, and he has thrown less than 300 innings since the outset of 2015. As part of a Dodgers organization that seemingly builds in IL time to pace their starters during the season, Ryu is almost certainly set for one or two short absences. Of course, the greater fear is that the 32 year old eventually comes down with a problem that requires him to miss a lot of time.
Austin Riley, 3B/OF, Braves
We all know that owners go gaga about overhyped rookies who get off to a hot start. And hot starts rarely come hotter than that of Riley, who has hit .328 with eight homers across his initial 67 at-bats. While I have no doubt that this freshman can have sustained success, his 35.2% whiff rate is a solid indicator that some valleys will accompany his peaks. This could be a good time for owners to float the concept of dealing Riley for an established producer.
Robinson Chirinos, C, Astros
With few catchers making a significant fantasy impact, owners are no doubt loving the fact that Chirinos is on pace to produce roughly 20 homers, 65 RBIs and 70 runs scored. But according to Statcast, he is 63 points over his skis in batting average and .133 points too high in slugging percentage. Chirinos owners would be wise to pair him with a second player in order to upgrade to one of the true studs at the catcher position.
Javier Baez, 2B/3B/SS, Cubs
Baez is one of the best players to watch in baseball, and he has been pure profit for those who rode his skill set since the outset of last season. Still, he has been one of the luckiest players in baseball this year (.399 BABIP, 28.6% HR/FB rate), although I will acknowledge that his batted-ball tendencies are trending in the right direction. Coming off a month of May in which he ranked second among qualified hitters with a .467 BABIP, Baez is a definitely sell-high candidate.
Mike Soroka, SP, Braves
Soroka has sparkling surface stats (1.41 ERA, 0.91 WHIP), but Statcast believes that he has been about 50 points lucky on his opponents’ batting average and nearly 100 points fortunate on opponents slugging percentage. Additionally, owners can have long-term volume concerns about someone who tossed fewer than 60 innings in 2018. Soroka is definitely a set-and-forget pitcher in shallow leagues, but there could be a window to get an ace-level return.