What do Cliff Lee and Edinson Volquez have in common? First they are ranked one and two currently in ERA for qualifying major leaguers, second neither was rated in the top fifty starting pitchers for the ’08 fantasy season. Lastly, both could probably bring you a king’s ransom right now. There are numerous factors to consider when attempting to deal for a player. From simplicities such as keeper league verses one year league, to more intricate ones like lucky starts versus unlucky starts. I will break down a few things to look for in terms of you selling a player high, as well as buying the player high and how to avoid it.


  • Identity what position you need the biggest upgrade for, then look for teams that you feel are still relatively in it and may think they are one piece away.
  • Once you have identified your target make the initial offer for more then you expect in return. For example, let’s say I have the pitching depth and I am looking to move the fast starting Cliff Lee. I have a need at 1b. I noticed one team who has Conor Jackson and Albert Pujols. My target will be Pujols, first this team is a good target because I am not leaving them bare at the position I am asking for. Now all I am really after is Pujols. I have identified my target as well as a team that has a suitable back up to slide in. Now I do not simply send over Lee for Pujols straight up, why? Because then the other owner is aware that I am willing to simply swap and he now has the leverage. Instead I scour his roster for a suitable player that needs to meet a simply criteria. That criteria being, if the deal is accepted that player would be useable on my staff and also it would not put my demands for my initial target way out of range( EX: Do not ask for his best SP back as well).
  • Make sure you are dealing from a position of strength. What I mean by that is you want to be selling an over achiever high to get maximum value. You do not want to be selling someone high who will truly maintain there great play all year. Now this is not an exact science, but baseball gives us enough research and numbers to know when someone is truly getting lucky. Some of these stats for pitchers are K/9, K/BB, H/9, BABIP, HR/FB and GB/FB rate. If you see substantial increases and fluctuation in these numbers verse career trends chances are the pitcher of note has been very lucky early in the year. Now keep in mind this is not always the case. Sometimes pitchers do improve or add a new pitch that is outstanding. A perfect example is Cliff Lee. Now on one hand he has made adjustments to become a more ground ball heavy pitcher. He has also made strides to throw more strikes with his off speed pitches. However he has seen his BABIP drop to .224. The average starting pitcher has a BABIP of .299. Is that really sustainable? Also his K/BB walk has gone from 1.83 to 9, again is that sustainable? These are some numbers you can use to your advantage when contemplating a trade.    

Most owners would simply look on the surface and see a ridiculously low ERA and WHIP and click accept and laugh as they think they got one over on you.

These are key things to both identify and use to your advantage when deciding to sell high on a player. In part two of this article I will be looking at it from the other side of the equation. How to avoid buying high on an overachiever.



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