As we now get ready to close out the second month of the 2021 Fantasy Baseball season, we're getting closer -- or at least we should be getting closer to figuring some things out. At this point, we now know Luis Castillo might not be rounding into form at any point. We also know that no matter what you throw Fernando Tatis' way, he's going to overcome that obstacle. Things haven't gone perfectly for every roster and there are a lot of Fantasy managers right now who feel hopeless when it comes to finding help at a specific category -- power, speed, etc. In this week's panel, we'll tackle ways to help you improve your rosters in that regard.
To kick off each week of the season, I'll be reaching out to Fantasy Baseball Today's Scott White and Frank Stampfl to ask them a few big questions that can hopefully help lead to actionable advice.
1. What player would you be targeting via trade if you're desperate for speed?
- Scott: I mean, if you're truly desperate, then the ultimate fix would be Adalberto Mondesi. He's been out all year with an oblique injury, so the person who drafted him has gotten used to life without him. Offering him someone whose benefits are plainer to see, just by virtue of him having stats already, might get the job done. Of course, you're taking on the risk of Mondesi suffering a setback on his rehab assignment. Other steals targets who I think might be underappreciated right now are Jazz Chisholm, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Wil Myers.
- Chris: That's a tough question to answer because there just aren't that many players running right now. If it wasn't for the ankle injury that landed him on the IL Sunday, I would've said Victor Robles, who recently moved to the No. 9 spot in the lineup and is on a 42-attempt pace from there. Maybe you can get him for super cheap (or on waivers, frankly). Otherwise, I think I would buy high-ish on either Tommy Edman or Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who have run quite a bit in the early going but may not be valued as much as they should be, or someone like Cavan Biggio, who figures to run a lot more than his two steals to date would make you think.
- Frank: Adalberto Mondesi is the prime target for steals but still might cost you a pretty penny in category leagues. If you look further down the rankings, you'll find Nick Solak and Andrew Benintendi. Neither is flashy but both play on a team that loves to run. With Solak, he had seven steals in 58 games. So far this season he only has two. I think more are on the way. With Benintendi, he's not a burner but the Royals like to run and he likely won't cost you much.
- We talk waivers, Luis Castillo (again) and much more on the Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 podcast. You can follow us to get the latest episodes on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
2. What player would you be targeting via trade if you're desperate for average?
- Scott: It's more difficult to make up ground in a ratio category than a counting category, and I'm especially skeptical any one player is going to make a substantive difference here. But one who isn't even universally rostered who I think is a good bet to bat .300 without being a total slouch for power is Bryan Reynolds, who hit .314 as a rookie two years ago and has an even better line-drive rate now. I also think Gio Urshela is an affordable batting average target as his numbers currently stand. You could also try for a knockout with Freddie Freeman or DJ LeMahieu.
- Chris: If you're talking about buy-low candidates, both Kyle Tucker and Freddie Freeman project to be much better sources of batting average than they have been so far, as do Marcell Ozuna and Charlie Blackmon.
- Frank: Neither is a buy-low situation. I just think Michael Brantley and Alex Verdugo are two of the safest bets in that category. In fact, Brantley is batting .305 with a .343 expected batting average, according to Statcast. If you want traditional buy-low options for average, DJ LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon both stand out.
3. What player would you be targeting via trade if you're desperate for power?
- Scott: Home runs may be down this year, but you can still find them everywhere you look. I'd hate to narrow it down to one target. Pete Alonso going on the IL with a hand sprain should make him pretty affordable, but he'll be of no immediate help, of course. Miguel Sano has shown signs of coming around and should be pretty close to free. I still think Joey Gallo will finish closer to 40 homers than not. If you want home runs without getting crushed in other categories, you could aim for any underachieving early-rounder -- Trevor Story, let's say, or even Christian Yelich.
- Chris: Some buy-low candidates: Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, and Ozuna, again, all of whom figure to be much better sources of home runs than they have been so far. And I would be looking at the likes of Josh Donaldson, Rafael Devers, or Teoscar Hernandez as buy-highs. And the likes of Jorge Soler, C.J. Cron or Tyler O'Neill may come quite cheap too, if they aren't on waivers.
- Frank: Marcell Ozuna stands out the most for me. While his quality of contact is down this year, his HR/FB ratio is just 12%. That was up over 22% each of the past two seasons. I have a feeling more balls will leave the yard for Ozuna as the weather continues to heat up. If you want to climb higher for your target, you could look at Cody Bellinger before he's back from his rehab assignment.
4. What player would you be targeting via trade if you're desperate for saves?
- Scott: James Karinchak having just stepped into the role, abruptly, without any real failure on Emmanuel Clase's part, I think makes people skeptical of how firmly he has it. But he may well be the best reliever in baseball, so if Terry Francona is at all open to the idea of Karinchak closing, I think he takes it in the long run. If that price is too high, I'd target a recently shaky closer who nonetheless has good job security, like Brad Hand or Will Smith, hoping that the person who has him has grown skittish.
- Chris: I think trying to trade for saves is probably not the best path, because the few closers worth trading for are going to cost a lot. However, if I needed to, I would be looking for the established guys with a few blemishes on their track record so far -- Edwin Diaz and Will Smith look like two obvious options. I would also consider putting in a buy-low offer for Emmanuel Clase, who might be viewed as having lost the closer job this week after James Karinchak got two straight saves, but still seems likely to factor in moving forward.
- Frank: I remain a huge Raisel Iglesias fan, and while the overall numbers don't look great due to a few early-season outings, Iglesias is undoubtedly the guy for the Angels. On the lower end, it's been a while since Hector Neris picked up a save but manager Joe Girardi is pretty loyal to him.
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5. What's your best piece of advice for turning around a struggling roster after May?
- Scott: Just be proactive. There's still so far to go, and some of the teams ahead of you will grow less attentive in the weeks ahead. If your problem is not having a strong enough talent base, try consolidating two pretty good players for a great one. If your problem is too many holes, try dealing a great one for two pretty good ones. Look to other teams' needs and excesses when tailoring your offers instead of focusing on your own. So many high-end players have such skewed stat lines still that you could go on a buy-low spree and completely remake your roster. What do you have to lose?
- Chris: I wrote about this Thursday, looking at a bunch of our reader/listener's roster issues so far, so go check it out for some specifics. The best general advice I can give is to try to take advantage of others' overreactions. "Sell high, buy low" is the most obvious advice possible, but when you need to make up ground, your best bet is to identify those players whose perceived value has fallen too far based on the first couple of months. In my eyes, that's the likes of Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger, Francisco Lindor, Anthony Rendon, and Marcell Ozuna on the hitting side and Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Blake Snell and Luis Castillo, among others. They may not turn their seasons around or help you do the same for yours, but they are all potential impact players who can be acquired for a lot less than it would've taken coming into the season. You've gotta take some chances.
- Frank: Keep churning away. Regardless of the format, it's still way too early to throw in the towel. If you play in a points league, target two-start pitchers or buy-low starting pitchers like Kyle Hendricks, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Paddack who each have decent outlook if they reach their potential. In a Roto format, look to trade from a position of strength to acquire a position of weakness. If you don't have many strengths at all, ride the hot hand for hitters and get relievers with strong ratios in your pitching spots.