Points League Pros: Fantasy Baseball Trade Targets

Points League Pros: Fantasy Baseball Trade Targets

Really taking the time to dive into which players make good trade targets can seem daunting at times. Thankfully I have the time to do the dirty work for you. When it comes to points leagues, there’s some excellent guys to make a move for. Especially right now.

If you’ve followed my writing at all, you’d know I’m a sucker for a good trade. Often overlooked as a way to improve your team, trading can be tricky but fun. Don’t get it twisted, though. As much as I’m sure everyone would love it to be as simple as “Man I really want Mike Trout, I’m gonna get him” but it never is.

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There is a ton of factors that go into really making the best trade possible. Buying low, selling high, who’s analytics point towards a breakout, who’s kinda just who they are at this point. You’ve gotta cut through the extra stuff to see exactly who will benefit you without overly depleting your team in the process.

One thing to keep in mind with this list is that not everyone you trade for is a hidden gem. Some guys are just flat out gems. What makes them worth trading for is their value now vs what you perceive their end of the season value to be. Sometimes players are having a solid year with peripherals that point to a bigger jump in production. Maybe it’s highly touted guys off to a bit of a slow start. It can even be guys going through a rough few weeks. Either way, it’s a discount and who doesn’t love a good discount.

Robbie Ray – SP / Seattle Mariners

I don’t think it’s any big secret that overall, Ray hasn’t been his 2021 Cy Young winner self in 2022. What people don’t realize, though, is Ray has put up some excellent underlying numbers.

First of all, for all the “His velocity has dropped!” people out there, it’s starting to look more like the bump in velocity last year was an outlier. His velocity numbers are almost spot on with every year before 2021. In those seasons prior to 2021, Ray was still an elite strikeout pitcher. Those strikeouts are what draw me to Ray the most. As he sits currently, his 9.55 K/9 is the lowest since 2015. Although his 13.75 K/9 across his last three games point to that changing in a major way. Overall for the season, Ray currently ranks in the 85th percentile in whiff rate and 69th percentile in K rate.

Ray has been hit with a bit of bad luck as well. While he’s always someone who’s struggled with giving up the long ball (eight so far this year), his HR/9 (1.32) and walk rate (3.39 BB/9) are actually better than his average. What’s been killing him is his low LOB rate at only 68.1%. Thats been a major cause of his 4.77 ERA despite his xERA (4.02) and xFIP (3.76) being among the better numbers of his career. Some may point to the fact he’s become more of a two pitch guy (fastball and slider) than he has in the past. That may be the cause of part of his dip in production, but he still has an impressive 31.8% whiff rate so I don’t put too much value into that idea.

Over his next seven starts, Ray is projected to make two starts each against Oakland and Baltimore. Look for the righting of the ship to begin. Especially if the current Ray owner is frustrated with his current production and willing to move him. The current price will more then likely be considered a discount compared to his end of the year production.

Wander Franco – SS / Tampa Bay Rays

I fully understand nobody needs to tell you to trade for a young superstar like Franco. He belongs on this list for a reason, though. As I mentioned before, it’s about current value vs end of year value. Over the last 30 days Franco is only averaging 1.6 points per game in ESPN standard points leagues. That puts him as the 32nd best points league shortstop over that span. And you know who’s feeling that pain? Current Wander Franco owners.

Over the last month of games, Franco has two doubles, three home runs, eight RBI, three stolen bases and a batting average of .198. Despite all of that, one of the biggest pluses for Franco in points leagues is the fact he’s so hard to strike out. For the season he has an incredible 4.3% strikeout rate. Easy math says less strikeouts means more points.

Now, there are other reasons to trade for him as well. For one, despite the last 30 days of downtrend, he’s still hitting the cover off the ball. His hard hit rate is an impressive 41%, he’s hitting the sweet spot a well above average 36.7% of the time and his 112.4 max exit velo is in the 88th percentile. He also has double digit steal speed being in the 71st percentile.

There’s plenty of Franco owners that may refuse to trade him, but everyone is available for the right price. And as it sits right now, that price seems to be less than the value you’ll get from him by the end of the season.

Adley Rutschman – C / Baltimore Orioles

If you’re reading this part of the write up after seeing his name, I assume you are one of the people who missed out on picking him up. Catcher is a premium position in fantasy baseball, especially in points leagues. With only a handful of guys you’d even consider “good”, someone with elite potential like Rutschman is worth the price of adding him.

In 123 minor league games in 2021, Rutschman hit 25 doubles, 23 home runs and had 77 RBI. Fast forward to 2022 and in his limited minor league run, Rustschman hit .300 with a 13.4% walk rate and impressive 8.5% strike out rate. At only 24 years old he has the plate approach of an MLB vet.

With him only being in the majors for three games so far it’s hard to really dig much into his batted ball profile. One thing that does stand out to me though is his 91.7% zone contact rate which is well above league average. That contact is going to help put up numbers in bunches for Rutschman. The triple in his first major league AB proved that.

Christian Yelich – OF / Milwaukee Brewers

I’m officially putting it out to the world that MVP Yelich is back. Granted, I’m not the first person to declare him back by any means, but I think it needs to be said for those who forgot. After a 2021 season that was just flat out ugly (9 home runs 51 RBI in 117 games), Yelich is playing like a man possessed.

According to statcast Yelich is currently in the 85th percentile or higher in average exit velo, max exit velo, hard hit rate, xBA, xwOBA, xSLG, barrel rate and chase rate. There’s only a handful of guys this year that can say that. Difference is, Yelich is batting a very “meh” .243 at the moment. He’s also only got five home runs. This is what may help you get him at a notch below his end of the year value. With the way Yelich is hitting and running the bases (six steals currently), he has a legitimate chance at being a 30/25 player once again. Getting someone capable of that type of offensive season who also carries an 11.4% walk rate makes for a potential top 10 overall fantasy baseball outfielder.

The cycle is far enough in the past that you have a legitimate shot at getting Yelich at good value. It’s best to make a move sooner rather than later because Yelich can put up stats in a hurry and once that happens it’s already too late.

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