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Friday, April 20, 2012

Drop it Like it's Hot

It occurred to me today that acquiring players off to a hot start is a really bad idea.  I realize it is counter-intuitive, but I think we should be trying to acquire players who are off to a reasonable start who are healthy and in their prime.

Let's say, for example, that there is a guy hitting .400 with 14 home runs through the first 32 games of the schedule.  He's on pace to hit .400 with 70 home runs.  Even if he has a career year, what is the absolute best that can happen?

Maybe for this particular player a career year would look like .310 with 35 home runs.  So, if he has that monster career year he will hit .288 with 21 home runs the rest of the way.  The person dealing this sort of player away has already gotten the most nutrient-packed meal out of him in the first month of the season.

He's not going to hit .400 with another 56 home runs.  But that is what you would be paying for.

I know it hurts, but you should instead be trying to trade away players like this.  Look, the other person will be getting a good player.  They might get .288 with another 21 home runs, even.  But you will be getting much greater value in return.

Who are the players that just haven't caught fire yet?  Look for them...  They will be hovering around the .230-ish mark with a couple of home runs or maybe a smattering of stolen bases.  No injury threat.  27-ish years old.

Let's say there is a player whose average season would be about .280 with 22 home runs.  32 games in he's batting .234 with 2 home runs.  No real injury risk or any other red flags... He just hasn't gotten into a groove yet.  This is a great target since he is likely to hit about .292 the rest of the way.  That, and really 2 home runs is about 10% of his targeted home run total and you're 20% of the way through the season.  He isn't all that far behind.  He could hit two tomorrow and be right back on track.

That look at percentages with regard to how far into the season you are is a great trick to see who are good trade targets.  Seeing just 2 home runs in that last example really messes with people...  They're thinking, "This guy is supposed to easily hit over 20 dingers and here we are around mid-May and he's got 2?!?  Something must be wrong." 

They are magnifying something that isn't there, and that is a time for you to act.