One month into the Major League Baseball season and Fantasy Baseball owners are starting to formulate a concrete opinion about the state of their teams, with trade options being considered and panic buttons being pressed.
So, where’s the first place that most owners search for relief? The bargain bin, of course, especially if playing in a 12-team league where free agency is as thin as a Victoria Secret model.
Which talented stars are underperforming and could be solid buy-low options, likely pushing managers closer and closer to Fantasy insanity?
Here are some potential candidates, one for every team in the National League. Keep in mind that for a few teams, the options are limited (or a stretch). The best bets are highlighted in GREEN.
Go and get ‘em if you can, but don’t give up too much!
Fantasy Baseball: Buy-Low Options – Part 2: The National League
Note: Stats via MLB.com or ESPN Fantasy, and as of Saturday, May 3, 2014
Atlanta Braves – Jason Heyward (OF)
Fantasy owners still think highly of Heyward, as he’s owned in 100% of ESPN leagues. Statistically, he’s been a bit streaky over the last few seasons. He may finally be figuring it out though, that is, if his .346 average over the last week is any indication. He’s definitely a solid buy low option.
Miami Marlins – Christian Yelich (OF)
Both the offense and pitching staff has been fairly productive for the Marlins, leaving it tough to find a good buy low option. The 22 year-old Yelich might be the best bet, especially if you are in a keeper league. Three triples, four steals and a .284 average are all positive signs.
New York Mets – David Wright (3B)
Wright hasn’t put up gaudy numbers in a few years, but he’s still a solid option in Fantasy. He’s off to a slower start, with his average (.275) 26 points below his career average, and his OBP currently 55 points below.
Philadelphia Phillies – Ryan Howard (1B)
The key to Howard’s season is to stay healthy. Currently, Howard (6 HR, 17 RBI) is on pace to eclipse the 30 home run mark, which would be the first time doing so since 2011. Fantasy owners are likely still undervaluing him, and therefore, he could be a solid buy low option, especially with this kind of power, while hitting in a home run friendly ballpark.
Washington Nationals – Bryce Harper (OF)
If you have a DL spot open, Harper could be a solid buy low option. Keep in mind that he’s likely out ‘til around the All-Star break, which is one reason why he’s likely available. The other is obviously his 2014 offensive mediocrity (1 HR, 9 RBI) prior to getting hurt.
Chicago Cubs – Jeff Samardzija (SP)
Samardzija’s 1.98 ERA might make this one a tough sell, but some owners could still be frustrated, considering his zero victories. He also plays for a Cubs team that will likely struggle to get wins for him all season long. Don’t forget that Samardzija has been entrenched in trade rumors for months now, so it’s possible a contender could snag him later in the season. That would lead to a major value bump.
Cincinnati Reds – Homer Bailey (SP)
Bailey’s 5.50 ERA and 1.63 WHIP have to be concerning to most Fantasy owners, but don’t expect these numbers to continue throughout the season. Perhaps he’s pressing after signing a big extension. No one can know for sure, but you can note his ERA during the previous two years (3.49 in 2013 and 3.68 in 2012).
Milwaukee Brewers – Matt Garza (SP)
Garza (1-3, 5.00 ERA) is off to a rough start, but this is a starter that has posted an ERA below 4.00 in every season dating back to 2007.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Francisco Liriano (SP)
Last season, Liriano was outstanding for the Pirates, posting a 16-8 record, with a 3.02 ERA over 26 starts. In seven starts this season, he’s 0-3, with a 4.54 ERA, but don’t expect that to continue.
St. Louis Cardinals – Matt Carpenter (2B, 3B)
Last season, Carpenter finished with 55 doubles, 7 triples, 11 HR, a .318 average and .392 OBP. To start 2014, he’s batting just .256 with only four extra base hits, which has to be frustrating for Fantasy owners. In ESPN leagues, he qualifies at both 2B and 3B, so he’s a very solid buy low candidate.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Martin Prado (2B, 3B, OF)
Prado will never blow up in Fantasy numbers, but he’s steady and consistent. Currently, his average and OBP are thirty points below his career average. The key with him is his versatility, being eligible at three different positions, including the weak position of second base.
Colorado Rockies – Carlos Gonzalez (OF)
CarGo has the reputation offensively, and likely will still be highly valued by the majority of his owners. Still, his .243 average to start the season is more than 50 points below his career average, so if you have any chance to trade for him, it would be now.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Hanley Ramirez (SS)
Many owners may not consider Ramirez a buy low option, but his .256 average and 24 strikeouts in 117 AB’s may be frustrating some managers. Hanley will eventually hit and in 2013, he hit .345 over 86 games, while in 2012, he had 29 doubles, 24 HR and 21 steals. Try to trade for him and see what happens.
San Diego Padres – Jedd Gyorko (2B)
During his rookie season, Gyorko smacked 26 doubles and 23 home runs, and this year, he’s off to a terrible start, posting just 2 HR and a .158 average in 101 AB’s. His wife was expecting early in the season, which had to be a distraction. He signed a new deal with the Padres, and San Diego will continue to send him out there. Second base is a weak position, and he should pick up his game soon enough. However, at this point, you may be able to get him as a free agent.
San Francisco Giants – Hunter Pence (OF)
Pence (.252 average, 2 HR, 9 RBI) is off to a slow start. He’s never mentioned amongst the top Fantasy outfielders, but last season, it must be noted that Pence posted 35 doubles, 27 HR, 99 RBI and 22 steals. That’s a quality Fantasy season right there, and he therefore, deserves buy low attention.
What about American League Buy-Low Options in Fantasy Baseball?