Fantasy Baseball: Is it time to sell high on Anthony Rizzo, Jazz Chisholm, other fast starters?

There are so few players right now who are hitting well that the idea of ​​upselling any of them seems foolish. The league as a whole is currently batting just .232/.306/.370, with only 18 qualifying players having an OPS over .9000 in the first month of the season, so moving any of them would feel like an unnecessary and unforced error.

But as with all things at this time of the season, you have to remember that just because someone is doing well doesn’t mean they will do well in the future. Sure, last season’s big April was a sign of Vladimir Guerrero’s breakthrough, and he remained one of baseball’s best players after hitting .350/.490/.663 in April, the third-best mark in the game. But you also had Yermin Mercedes hitting .415/.455/.659 last April before eventually losing his job.

Mercedes is of course the outlier, but he wasn’t the only one. JD Martinez appeared to be on the verge of a significant recovery this past April, finishing second among qualifiers in OPS; he would rank at No. 61 as of May 1. Kris Bryant found himself in a similar situation, hitting .322/.412/.667 in April to finish seventh in the majors, only to be wriggling with a .254/.341/.444 line from that point on, good for just 77 .

In fact, of the OPS top 20 last April, only seven were even in the OPS top 40 as of May 1 – five didn’t have enough at-bats to qualify, while Bryant, Nelson Cruz and Justin Turner, Jazz Chisholm and JT Realmuto all ranked in the bottom half of qualifying. While it’s nice to see a hot start, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee a good rest of the season.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that every unexpectedly hot starter is a sell candidate. And “sell high” doesn’t mean “just trade it now.” Some of the hot starts are surprising, but not so out of the realm of possibility that they can’t be sustained to some degree. And some are worth so little that there’s probably no reason to sell them anyway — sure, Yandy Diaz may have the 16th-highest OPS in baseball, but even with that knowledge, nobody’s going to give you much for him.

But here are five hitters I think you should at least consider moving on to if you find the right offer.

  • Mike Trout – I think Trout is still the best batter in baseball and has been so I’m not skeptical about what he’s doing now. The numbers behind it back it up too – his expected wOBA of .490 is the best in baseball. He deserves it. Trout no longer steals bases, but when he’s healthy he’s as good as anyone, so this is definitely not one of those situations where you’re just trying to get away from under him. That “if sane” part is obviously huge, though; The 30-year-old missed most of last season with a calf injury and injuries remain a concern at this point. I would have to be overwhelmed to trade trout, but I’m also generally less concerned about injury than most people. However, if you’re worried about Trout’s chances of staying healthy, it’s not a bad idea to move him when he’s productive and available. But in return you need a first-round player – maybe try someone like Bo Bichette and another struggling player like Robbie Ray.
  • Nolan Arenado – Arenado is a difficult player to judge right now because in many ways he defies a lot of analysis that we typically rely on these days. He doesn’t hit the ball particularly hard for a power hitter – he ranks in the 37th percentile for average exit velocity and 36th percentile for hard hit rate, just a slight improvement from last season. However, because he makes so much contact and has such a strong pulling approach (especially when he’s punching the ball in the air), he can get away with mediocre (or worse) brute force – you don’t have to hit the ball that far if you hit him on the pull side. This approach can work, but it will result in Arenado becoming quite the all-or-nothing power hitter he was last season. This player has value, but Arenado looks like a lot more right now – he looks like the Rockies version of himself. He’ll be back on Earth soon, so see if you can find someone named him Start buying as a return to form.
  • Eric Hosmer – I don’t know if Hosmer is one of those players who actually have commercial value. He’s a big name, but he’s been so mediocre the past few seasons that I’m not sure anyone appreciates him. But I would do anything I can to try and move him now because I just don’t believe it. Hosmer has never been short on talent – he usually hits the ball hard and has had an HR/FB ratio of over 19.4% in seven of the last eight seasons, which bodes well when he gets the ball in the air , good things happen . The problem is that he doesn’t get the ball in the air enough and that still holds true; His groundball rate of 59.4% is the second highest of his career. Hosmer has solid expected stats, but he still doesn’t manage to align the ball well enough (6.8% barrel rate vs. 5.8% last season) or hit a ton of line drives (23, 4 vs. 23.2), so I don’t see much reason to think he’s a suddenly changed player. Hosmer is the only name on this list I would try to trade before the bottom falls out.
  • Jazz Chisholm – Chisholm is such a talented player that it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he had a big break, but if you predicted a break for him in the season it would have looked a little different than it has far. Chisholm hasn’t really lowered his strikeout rate that much, and he’s still swinging and missing a ton — although he’s chasing fewer pitches out of the zone for what it’s worth. No, Chisholm is mainly just getting better results from largely the same approach as last season. That’s not to say it’s a stroke of luck – his contact quality metrics are up there, so he deserves that hot start – but I’m not sure I’ll buy an entirely new player from him. I think Chisholm is just hot, in the traditional sense of him being locked down, and I want to see how things look when the inevitable cold spell hits and he has to adjust. That was around the time last season when things went sideways for Chisholm and I still think that could happen this season. I’ve moved him up a few spots in the rankings, but I still view Chisholm much the same way I did when he first joined. You won’t have any trouble finding someone to buy the breakout.
  • Anthony Rizzo – This is what we envisioned when Rizzo was traded to the Yankees last season. His heavy-handed approach to hitting flyballs suited the short porch at Yankee Stadium perfectly, and we got a superb show of that with Rizzo’s three-homer game — which averaged less than 360 feet. Rizzo’s homers were hit almost exclusively on the pull side and Yankee Stadium will help him get the most of his power, but even at Yankee Stadium you can’t count on him hitting homers at such a pace. Rizzo should be a solid starting first baseman but has already started to slow down a little lately – two hits in his last five games – and his value is unlikely to ever be higher. Rizzo and Chisholm are probably the two biggest examples of players where the underlying numbers validate what they’re doing, but I just don’t believe it yet – I think we’re seeing both of them stuck and getting the best results possible, though that’s something I don’t want to bet on just yet.

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