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The Wheelhouse: Market Watch

Derek VanRiper

Derek VanRiper

Derek is the Senior Baseball Editor for RotoWire.com, where he's been a two-time finalist for the FSWA's Baseball Writer of the Year award, and winner of the Best Football Article on the Web (2009) and Best Baseball Article on the Web (2010) awards. Derek also co-hosts RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (XM 87, Sirius 210) from 11a-2p ET on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Be honest. How many of your underperforming players are you nervous about?

Count me among the many Brandon Belt owners wondering if he will ever hit another home run. How about Ike Davis shareholders who invested $12-15 thinking he might deliver something close to $20-25 in value? Now that the calendar has flipped to June, his mark in the red at -$10 has to make even the most patient owner uneasy.

Three months ago, there was an established market for player values thanks in large part to the multitude of projection systems and Average Draft Position data available to serve as a guide. For industry drafts, if a player slipped 8-10 picks further than expected, the "nice value" chatter would percolate accordingly. For the most part, surprises were few and far between and the groupthink mentality led to predictable outcomes in most mocks, drafts and auctions throughout March and early April.

While trades in April seem to be somewhat rare in the leagues that I play in, it's easy to have a concept of fair value when you can quickly look back at the draft or auction results and use the pick position or price tags as a Beckett for the exchange. This is due in large part to the fact that a limited sample size hardly changes the value of healthy players in the majority of circumstances.

As my colleague Jason Collette has pointed out on multiple occasions, there are many metrics that take at least a half season's worth of plate appearances to fully normalize. Progressing into the one-third point of the season during Interleague play this weekend, the league leaders in plate appearances still haven't cracked the 300 mark. Thus, the following metrics still have not stablized in 2012 for any hitter:

300 PA: Home Run Rate, HR/FB
500 PA: OBP, SLG, OPS, 1B Rate, Popup Rate
550 PA: ISO

It's reasonable to use data from the current season in conjunction with previous ones when evaluating players to get a baseline for performance in key areas, as there are often adjustments made in season that carry over to the next year (i.e. Jose Bautista's September of 2009 or Mike Morse in the second half of 2010).

For Belt, who has received the yank chain treatment from Giants manager Bruce Bochy again this season (135 plate appearances), there are even more metrics that are unstable thus far:

150 PA: Strikeout Rate, Line Drive Rate, Pitches/PA
200 PA: Walk Rate, Groundball Rate, GB/FB
250 PA: Flyball Rate

Even if you combine his first two seasons, 344 plate appearances hardly paint a complete picture of Belt, but at least you see a young player that has shown moderate power thanks to the nine homers he hit over 63 games as a rookie.

Back to the player market.

To answer the question: "What is Giancarlo Stanton worth from this point forward?" I organized a 23-round, 12-team mock draft during our XM show for June 1. (Click here to view the full results)

Comparing the results of that draft against ADP data from two months ago, it is easy to pick out a number of players that have significantly increased or decreased in value since the start of the season.

The biggest risers making a leap into the top-100 overall included (preseason Expert ADP in parenthesis):

22. Gio Gonzalez, SP, WAS (121.4)
31. Mike Trout, OF, LAA (179.9)
36. Jason Kipnis, 2B, CLE (150.9)
46. Jake Peavy, SP, CHW (355.3)
49. Yoenis Cespedes, OF, OAK (287.9)
52. Melky Cabrera, OF, SFG (190.0)
64. Yu Darvish, SP, TEX (153.9)
66. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, TOR (205.2)
68. Carlos Beltran, OF, STL (141.8)
69. Mark Trumbo, 1B, LAA (194.2)
70. Chris Sale, SP, CHW (266.5)
72. Brandon Beachy, SP, ATL (129.2)
73. Adam Dunn, 1B, CHW (213.4)
81. Aroldis Chapman, RP, CIN (325.4)
90. Brandon Morrow, SP, TOR (155.9)
96. Lance Lynn, SP, STL (N/A)

Other noticable risers include:

1. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, COL (12.7)
21. Adam Jones, OF, BAL (81.8)
120. Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU (418.7)
129. Alejandro De Aza, OF, CHW (N/A)
133. Johan Santana, SP, NYM (N/A)
142. Josh Reddick, OF, OAK (N/A)
144. Mike Aviles, SS, BOS (N/A)
151. Jeff Samardzija, SP, CHC (N/A)
154. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, BOS (308.4)
177. James McDonald, SP, PIT (N/A)
186. Jed Lowrie, SS, HOU (374.1)
195. R.A. Dickey SP, NYM (445.5) **still a tremendous value
203. Adam LaRoche, 1B, WAS (443.6)

Conversely, the biggest healthy fallers include:

88. Tim Lincecum, SP, SFG (36.5)
101. Dan Haren, SP, LAA (60.3)
103. Jon Lester, SP, BOS (66.1)
136. Jason Heyward, OF, ATL (87.4)
156. Howie Kendrick, 2B, LAA (94.9)
160. Cameron Maybin, OF, SD (99.3)
164. Rickie Weeks, 2B, MIL (62.7)
167. Ichiro Suzuki, OF, SEA (98.4)
188. Ian Kennedy, SP, ARI (86.8)
215. Josh Beckett, SP, BOS (123.6)
217. Heath Bell, RP, MIA (141.0)
233. Logan Morrison, OF, MIA (123.4)
239. Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, CLE (158.6)
269. Peter Bourjos, OF, LAA (138.6)
Undrafted Ike Davis, 1B, NYM (133.2), Erick Aybar, SS, LAA (119.2), Gaby Sanchez, 1B, MIA (179.6)

What does it mean? The results of our in-season mock suggest that you could reasonably offer an owner in your league Josh Reddick for Jason Heyward and actually have a chance of getting a simple 1-for-1 deal done. Not fully buying in on Jason Kipnis just yet? Try flipping him straight up for Evan Longoria.

The players that have fallen down the draft board since March will likely present intriguing buy-low opportunities. If the Tim Linecum owner in your league is looking for a power bat, Aramis Ramirez could actually get that deal done now, whereas two months ago it was unlikely to be an accepted offer. Every league will provide a unique market, but properly estimating the value of players on your roster against the ones you are looking to aquire is half the battle in making a good trade.

Roster Thoughts

* Giancarlo Stanton's knee injury presented too much risk in the middle of Round 2 back in March. At that time, waiting a round and targeting Jay Bruce seemed like the better play. Now that we've seen Stanton get back on the field and rebound from a disappointing start to the season (which essentially was his spring training), he's an elite talent. Need proof? Stanton is hitting .319/.405/.710 with 14 homers, 36 RBI and three steals over his last 37 games. As a season pace, that's 62 homers and 158 RBI over 162 games. Passing him up at five would have been a big mistake.

* Eric Hosmer is walking more often (8.0%) and striking out less (12.5%) than he did as a rookie. His batted ball profile shows a 3.5% increase in groundballs (that were flyballs), but he is still squaring the ball up with a nearly identical 18.6% line drive rate. Getting him 35 picks later than his Expert ADP mark in March is a coup.

* Aramis Ramirez (drafted 92nd overall last week) is hitting .249/.325/.438 with five homers and 30 RBI through his first 50 games. Have we seen this movie before?

First 50 in 2011: .289/.346/.395 with two homers and 19 RBI.
First 50 in 2010: .168/.237/.300 with six homers and 23 RBI.

ROS in 2011: .318/.370/.574 with 25 homers and 76 RBI in 99 games.
ROS in 2010: .291/.334/.556 with 19 homers and 60 RBI in 74 games.

* Ian Kennedy's price tag has dropped considerably, but he's carrying a career-high 8.44 K/9IP and BB/9IP almost identical to last season (2.26). An ERA in 3.60-3.90 range could be a reasonable bet going forward as his xFIP this season (3.83) is on the same level as 2011 (3.50). The D-Backs are loaded with young talent and could definitely add pieces between now and the trade deadline if their offense continues to struggle. If Chris Young and Justin Upton are healthy, there's reason to believe Arizona will make a push into the wild card race and generate more offense anyway.

Follow me on Twitter @DerekVanRiper.