Buying low is more of an art than a science. You have to figure out the precise moment when a fellow GM is frustrated enough and when a player is done being bad and prepared to be good again. It’s a difficult balance to strike and only seasoned GMs should attempt to prey on his fellow GMs and pluck a player at a rock bottom price.
First, find a good player who is struggling to produce. This happens often in real life and shouldn’t be that hard to find. Then you have to decide whether a player’s season is salvageable. Is the player struggling because baseball is wacky or are there deeper issues? Is there an injury concern? Is it possible that a good player is playing through an injury (think Roger Clemens in any of his bad seasons)? Research matters at this stage.
Next, the GM with the struggling player on his roster has to reach the frustration point. The “eff-it-I’ll-take-25-cents-on-the-dollar-and-I-don’t-care” point. The first step is to play close attention to the league message boards. If you start seeing messages like “I can’t believe Chris Carter is hitting .198! 0-5 again!” or “Another tough outing for R.A. Dickey. Six earned runs. Wow.” it might be a solid indication that Chris Carter or R.A. Dickey can be had for the fantasy baseball equivalent of a bag of balls. Make sure to follow your fellow GMs on any and all social media accounts they might have. People don’t filter themselves as much as they should on social media and it can be a goldmine for frustration.
Sending an email can be a good idea, but it can also push another GM to ask for more because they know you’re trying to acquire one of their guys. Sending an offer is always a better idea than responding to an offer because you get to control what’s going and coming from your team. Send an offer to a frustrated GM instead of sending an email asking the GM to think about it. They probably will think about it and they probably will get over their frustration.
If you’ve stuck with this column this far, you deserve a few players to target as buy-low candidates. Yours truly was a huge Homer Bailey fan heading into 2014. He’s on the majority of my teams and he would likely be one of my targets if he wasn’t already on my rosters.
All the peripheral stats are pointed in the right direction for Bailey. He’s maintained a K/9 over 8.00 and a BB/9 under 3.00. His .319 BABIP allowed is almost 20 points higher than his career average. His 3.41 xFIP indicates that he’s been a victim of his defense and the home run. His 14.1% HR:FB ratio is over 3% higher than his career average. Simply but, Bailey is still the same guy he was in 2013. The problem is that a couple extra balls have found holes in the infield and the cheap seats in the outfield. Bailey is absolutely poised for a second half turnaround and smart GMs will target him in the next few weeks.
Other targets with similar issues include Ian Kennedy, Zack Wheeler, Wade Miley, Marco Estrada and Ervin Santana.
Chris Davis was predicted by many to struggle in 2014, but not for the reasons that he has struggled. Most fantasy pundits pointed to his issues in 2009 and 2010 as reasons to stay away. Davis has been basically the same guy he’s always been this year. He’s walking a ton (12.9% BB %) and whiffing a ton (30.9% K %). His 0.87 GB:FB ratio is virtually identical to his 0.88 career GB:FB ratio.
The difference in Davis’ 2014 campaign have been twofold. First, he’s posting a .259 BABIP. That’s almost 70 points lower than his career average, but his GB:FB profile is nearly identical to his career average. He also suffered an oblique injury and went on paternity leave. The paternity leave likely had an impact on his timing, but the oblique injury is the concern. Joey Votto has needed two stints on the DL to get over a muscle strain. Davis’ oblique could still be hampering him and he’ll likely benefit from the All-Star break. Send a message to the GM with Davis on their roster after the weekend and try to hammer out a deal while Davis is at home with his new baby.
Jean Segura, Jason Heyward, Jay Bruce and Domonic Brown are other buy-low candidates that can likely be pried away at a discount.