Affectionately known as "Trader Fred" in the fantasy industry, I am someone who is consistently pushing managers to think outside the box when it comes to finding the right trade fit. And one of my most common themes in April is to put together a package of players who are off to a good start for one ice-cold superstar.
Some readers tell me that these deals don’t actually happen, but a quick look at the Yahoo! Trade Market page shows that they do.
Three players fit the criteria of enduring an awful start after being selected among the top-15 picks in most drafts. Let’s determine which of Bo Bichette, Kyle Tucker and Mookie Betts are best fit for a buy-low offer.
Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
The fantasy stats: 1 HR, 1 RBI, 5 R, 0 SB, .204 AVG
A top-5 pick in many leagues, Bichette has been a dud thus far. He isn’t getting on base, isn’t hitting for power and has yet to attempt a steal. He hits in between two players (George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) who are off to good starts and has wasted an opportunity to collect counting stats.
The advanced stats: 44.7 percent hard-hit rate, 7.9 percent barrel rate, .285 xBA, .243 BABIP, 22.4 percent K rate, 0.0 percent BB rate
Looking at Bichette’s .285 xBA should alleviate some stress, as he should have more hits and stolen base opportunities. The fact that he isn’t drawing walks isn’t unusual for the 24-year-old and is likely a sign that he is trying to hit his way out of his slump. With a premium spot in such a talented lineup, Bichette could rise the fantasy ranks in a hurry once his bat heats up.
Verdict: Go out and get Bichette. Make a big offer and don’t hold back.
Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros
The fantasy stats: 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 1 SB, .103 AVG
Tucker picked up two homers and a steal in his initial three games but has since hit the skids with one hit across his past eight contests. Being buried in the sixth spot in the lineup isn’t helping things.
The advanced stats: 40.0 percent hard-hit rate, 10.0 percent barrel rate, .304 xBA, .071 BABIP, 20.0 percent K rate, 13.3 percent BB rate
Tucker is playing well, even if his efforts haven’t been reflected in his results. The 25-year-old has strikeout and walk rates that are similar to his career norms, and his .304 xBA shows that he has been victimized by bad luck. Tucker’s .450 xwOBA would be the highest mark of his career by a wide margin.
Verdict: Tucker is my top target on his list because I believe that his fantasy asking price will be slightly less than that of Bichette.
Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
The fantasy stats: 0 HR, 3 RBI, 6 R, 1 SB, .171 AVG
Betts collected some walks in recent games but has had just two multi-hit contests and a pair of extra-base hits this season. Fantasy managers who gambled on a Betts bounceback year were surely hoping that the star outfielder would get off to a better start.
The advanced stats: 26.7 percent hard-hit rate, 0.0 percent barrel rate, .192 xBA, .233 BABIP, 23.4 percent K rate, 10.6 percent BB rate
Looking at Betts’ advanced stats doesn’t make his managers feel any better. He has yet to barrel a ball, and his strikeout rate has gone up. I wouldn’t describe Betts as lost at the plate, but he isn’t making the level of contact that is produced by fantasy stars. Luckily, he is well-supported in a stacked Dodgers lineup and could score 100 runs by accident.