Note: Don't whiff on this special FanDuel offer. Win your first contest or get your money back (up to $10) to keep playing. Try FanDuel now!
There's nothing like a little trade talk to get you to rethink your perceptions about players.
I recently received an offer for a deal that involved sending Leonys Martin and two other players for a package of three players, one of whom was Melvin Upton. I had associated these players with each other since early in the season, as both were previously disappointing players who were providing the coveted power/speed combination in Rotisserie. It felt natural to start breaking down the trade offer by comparing these two outfielders.
I had Upton slightly ahead of Martin in my rankings, but in looking deeper into their performances, I realized they needed to be flipped. Then I wondered if I had been alone in having preferred Upton, and it turns out I wasn't. Upton was -- and continues to be -- owned in more CBSSports.com leagues than Martin, though the gap in ownership percentages was a mere two percentage points.
In looking through ownership rates at other positions, I saw that I was at odds with the consensus over several players. Specifically, I found another five players who I would start over players at the same position who were owned in far more leagues. Even upon closer inspection, I determined that I could feel comfortable with standing by these under-appreciated talents. Just to double-check my pulse reading on player perception, I ran Twitter polls on each of these pairings to see which players were more popular. In nearly every case, the polls were in line with the players' ownership rates.
Here's what I found, starting with my Martin vs. Upton dilemma.
Start Leonys Martin (44 percent owned) over Melvin Upton (46 percent owned)
Which outfielder would you rather start: Leonys Martin (once off the DL) or Melvin Upton?— Al Melchior (@almelccbs) June 7, 2016
This was the one pairing where my preferences were in line with the Twitter voters. Few respondents seemed to be concerned about Martin's strained hamstring, though reports of him being activated by this weekend probably worked in his favor. I am still somewhat skeptical of Martin's home run pace (nine homers in 167 plate appearances), but even with some regression, he could be Upton's equal as a home run source.
Not much may separate Martin from Upton in terms of homers, steals and batting average, but the Mariners' center fielder has the clear advantage when it comes to run production. Martin's run and RBI totals lag just behind Upton's, even though he has 66 fewer plate appearances. Given that the Mariners are scoring just over one run per game more than the Padres, it shouldn't take Martin long to overtake Upton in both categories, eventually leaving him in the dust.
Start Tommy Joseph (40 percent owned) over Yan Gomes (74 percent owned)
Which catcher would you rather start: Yan Gomes or Tommy Joseph?— Al Melchior (@almelccbs) June 7, 2016
Joseph and Gomes are actually similar hitters, in that both can help with home runs, but neither is known for good plate discipline. While Gomes should improve upon his .176 batting average, Joseph will likely be less of a liability for batting average, and he is a better bet to have the lower strikeout rate. While the Phillies have yet to sort out their first base situation, should Joseph take over the role full-time (which seems likely), he will get more playing time than Gomes. Neither player should be a No. 1 catcher, but in two-catcher leagues, I'd much rather use Joseph in my second catcher slot.
Start Logan Morrison (36 percent owned) over Ryan Zimmerman (74 percent owned)
Which first baseman would you rather start: Logan Morrison or Ryan Zimmerman?— Al Melchior (@almelccbs) June 7, 2016
Morrison has started to cool off from the torrid pace he's been on, ever since he notched his first RBI of the season on May 17. Even so, I'd rather take a chance that there is something to his recent hot streak than throw in my lot with Zimmerman. The Nationals' first baseman ranks 22nd in Fantasy points at his position, and while he could leapfrog players like Joe Mauer and Mike Napoli in the rankings, he's no better than a fringe player in 12-team mixed Rotisserie leagues. Zimmerman's .250/.314/.447 slash line is similar to last season, so while he can be streaky, in the end, he isn't likely to be much better than he has been so far.
Meanwhile, Morrison will almost certainly draw more walks, and he has cut back dramatically on his strikeouts over the past three weeks. He won't continue to homer in every third game as he has during that period, but it's not outrageous to think Morrison could outproduce Zimmerman.
Start Steve Pearce (55 percent owned) over Jonathan Schoop (70 percent owned)
Which second baseman would you rather start: Steve Pearce or Jonathan Schoop?— Al Melchior (@almelccbs) June 7, 2016
Pearce has missed time lately with elbow tendinitis, and though he is expected back this weekend, that could be a legitimate reason to have qualms about starting him. However, that's the only reason I can see to prefer Schoop to him. Granted, Schoop's status as the Orioles' starter at second base is uncontested, but Pearce should have a place to play -- probably at DH -- even when Logan Forsythe returns from the DL. With regular play, Pearce should finish with between 25 and 30 homers, which is a level Schoop may not reach. He also has far superior strikeout and walk rates to Schoop. Pearce also hits higher in the order than Schoop typically does, so Schoop may not have an advantage in run production, despite hitting in a potent lineup.
Start Jake Lamb (81 percent owned) over Nick Castellanos (94 percent owned)
Which third baseman would you rather start: Nick Castellanos or Jake Lamb?— Al Melchior (@almelccbs) June 7, 2016
The only format in which I might start Castellanos over Lamb is a points league, simply because Castellanos doesn't have the platoon issues that Lamb does. In those typically shallow formats, I'd likely have a better option to start than either of these third basemen. So in reality, there is no league where I'd start Castellanos where Lamb was also a reasonable option.
Other than being a better hitter against lefties, there isn't anything that Castellanos does better than Lamb. So far this season, Lamb has the advantage over Castellanos in home runs, RBI, runs, stolen bases, strikeout rate and walk rate, and the difference in the latter two stats is substantial. Castellanos' .311 batting average is 43 points higher than Lamb, but he is still living off the .452 BABIP he compiled over his first 28 games. In 27 games since then, Castellanos' is batting .248 overall and .296 on balls in play. His performance over the past month is more in line with what you can expect going forward, and that's a level that Lamb should easily surpass.
Start Chris Owings (32 percent owned) over Alcides Escobar (49 percent owned)
Which shortstop would you rather start: Alcides Escobar or Chris Owings?— Al Melchior (@almelccbs) June 7, 2016
Fantasy owners roster Escobar for one reason, and one reason alone. The 20-to-30 steals that he is likely to provide do have value, but Owings can provide those as well. Owings has been playing regularly, and he provides the bonus of having a little more pop than Escobar and the flexibility that comes with his eligibility at second base and outfield.
However, my preference for Owings is conditional. He has been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his heels, and it's been bad enough that he has missed the last two games and was not in the starting lineup for Wednesday's contest against the Rays. Owings may have to be put on the disabled list, but if he is healthy enough to play, I'd rather put him in a MI slot for his steals prowess than Escobar.