This week’s redraft buy and sell article comes with a couple of heavy hitters. This early in the season, teams are more likely to look at the stats in front of them and make moves you won’t be able to get away with later in the year. You have to pounce on opportunities now and follow the trends and underlying metrics of the players in front of you. Sure, it may hurt to sell high on some players that you spent draft capital on and are currently performing. But, in the long run, if you follow a system and get the most out of your early unsustainable production. You will have success in the end. We aren’t trying to win titles in April, we have to have sustained success over the course of the long six-month season.
As bad as it looks for Kyle Tucker, there are definitely better days ahead. Just last season, the month of April wasn’t kind to him either. He ended up slashing .181/.238/.372 during the first month of the season in 2021. His current numbers aren’t too far behind.
Sometimes during April, the coldest month, a bunch of should be doubles and home runs turn into outs. Looking under the hood, there is nothing to suggest Tucker should be struggling. Starting with plate discipline metrics, his zone contact and chase rates are virtually the same as last season. With his chase rate being slightly improved, though that has yet to reflect in the walk rate.
The statcast data isn’t quite as great as it usually is but it’s far from a downgrade. Tucker’s barrel rate is a little over one percent worse than 2021, which is really nothing. His fly-ball rate is up four percent and the max exit velocity and launch angle are nearly identical to last season. Basically, all of his underlying metrics are exactly the same except for a less-than-stellar hard-hit rate that should climb back up as we get deeper into the season.
Trading for Tucker will likely still require you to give up a good player or multiple players in return. But, it will all be worth it if you get even the slightest discount for someone who was a universal first-round pick in fantasy just three weeks ago.
This case is a lot more complicated than Tucker’s. Ketel Marte looks like he is really struggling at the plate. Not just in the numbers, you can see it by watching him at the plate. Swinging at pitches you would never see him swing at normally while making lots of weak contact.
The reason you would want to buy-low on Marte would be that he is simply too good of a hitter to be this bad. Combining elite exit velocities with very good swing-and-miss numbers.
Even though the barrel rate is much lower than normal and the swinging strike rate is up three percent. It’s simply too early to worry about a veteran bat that has strung together the type of production Marte has posted since breaking out in 2019. Since then, he has slashed .310/.367/.528 (895 OPS) with a per-162 average of 26 home runs, 90 RBI, 94 runs, and eight stolen bases. A top-tier second baseman when healthy.
Unlike Tucker who is an outfielder, second base is much more important to fill because there are only so many good ones. You may have to trade your second baseman, if it is someone who got drafted later than Marte but may have gotten off to a better start. Along with another player to get a deal done. Though it should be easier to get a deal done for Marte opposed to Tucker due to the draft capital spent on each player.
This may sound crazy to some people but Byron Buxton may be the biggest sell high of all time. The amount you could get for him would be enough to fill every single hole on your team and then some. Yes, it is going to pain you every single home run he hits. Even if he wins American League MVP, you can still win the trade by getting a king’s ransom for the Twins star outfielder.
So, after going over it several times in my head. There is a compelling argument to be made for getting rid of Buxton. Yes, his first 10 games have been out of this world. We have to remember though, it’s just 10 games. It is April 27th and Buxton has already gotten injured, simply sliding into second base. While we would love nothing more as a baseball community than to just watch a full Buxton season, it has never even come close to happening.
Since becoming a full-time regular in September of 2016, Buxton has played a possible 395 of 754 games. That is good for 52-percent of games played in that span of time. Not only that, since his near full-season in 2017. If you count 2018, 2019, and 2021 as full seasons worth of games. Then the 2020 season was only two months and so far 2021 has been just three weeks. So, Buxton has been injured 13 different times in the span of three seasons and three months worth of games. That is basically incomprehensible that someone could be injured that often.
Not only is his injury history a ridiculous concern. His plate discipline metrics are also hideous looking. Sure, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Shohei Ohtani get away with swinging and missing a ton. But, Buxton may have the most volatile batting profile we have ever seen.
Currently, he is hitting 67 percent of balls in the air while also pulling 67 percent of batted balls. Granted it’s a small sample of 10 games but this is horrible for his batting average. Not to mention he is currently sporting a 37-percent home run to fly ball rate, which seems unsustainable. Though last year Ohtani and Tatis each had a 32 percent rate. Since Buxton has become a formidable power bat, his home run to fly ball rate has hovered around 27 percent.
In addition to this, Buxton currently has an 18-percent swinging-strike rate and a 62-percent contact rate. Sure, that’s so horrible for a power bat of his caliber but it is going to make him incredibly streaky. Pairing tons of fly balls with tons of swings and misses is almost entering Joey Gallo territory. Not only that, Buxton is only walking four percent of the time.
If he keeps this up, the batting average is going to suffer greatly. Obviously, once he isn’t hitting six home runs every ten games anymore. The stolen bases are going to suffer, there is no way Minnesota will allow him to run like he normally does if he got injured on his only stolen base attempt of the season. There are just so many possible ways this could go wrong. It’s not worth taking the ten-percent chance that Buxton so happens to stay healthy and have a Fernando Tatis-esque season. Even if that does happen, you could still get equal value if you trade Buxton for the right players.
Ty France was a popular breakout candidate, though there wasn’t really a good reason why. Even if he had some mind-blowing numbers in Triple-A one season, it was the year of the “rabbit ball” in 2019 and almost everyone was hitting home runs in the Pacific Coast League. Where, even without the juiced ball, is an extremely hitter-friendly league.
Taking a step back and looking at France’s numbers, they are certainly good but nothing really stands out. He has a well-above-average strikeout rate but that comes with mediocre barrel rates and below league average power to back it up. He doesn’t hit the ball in the air often and the 13.9-percent home run to fly ball rate for his career is far from special.
The swinging strike rate is the exact same as last season. Chase rate is the same, his in-zone contact is up a few ticks but it was already really high. France still doesn’t put the ball in the air nearly enough to show above-average power. Additionally, his max exit velocity, barrel rate, hard-hit rate, and average exit velocity are all basically the same as last season.
On top of that, France plays in one of the worst hitters’ parks in Seattle. Though, with the humidor being added to all of the parks, we may need more data to find out if it actually improved the hitting environment for the Mariners in relation.
So, as much as we would like France to be a big breakout bat. There is no logical reason for him to sustain this current level of production, it is likely just a hot start. You may be able to get a lot for him in a trade right now.