I’m usually optimistic with these fantasy trading articles, but today I am going to trend in the opposite direction. Because as much as fantasy managers benefit from acquiring players who are on the way up, their biggest moves are often when they sell high on someone who is about to let them down.
Here are a handful of players who played over their heads in the first half and could see their trade value plummet in the coming weeks.
Xander Bogaerts (SS, Boston Red Sox)
Among full-time players, only Paul Goldschmidt has a larger gap than Bogaerts between his batting average and xBA (via Statcast). There is no doubt that Bogaerts is a reliable fantasy option who has been a mainstay on shallow-league rosters for many years. But he has thus far collected more base knocks than he deserves, and a change in that pace during the second half would also slow down his rate of RBIs and runs scored. With just seven homers and five steals, Bogaerts needs a high batting mark to make a significant mixed-league impact.
Manny Machado (3B, San Diego Padres)
Machado is a similar case to Bogaerts. There is no doubt that Machado is a great player who will have plenty of fantasy value during the second half. But like Bogaerts, Machado has a large gap between his batting average and xBA. There are also concerns about his ability to steal bases going forward, as a result of the significant ankle sprain that he suffered near the end of June (his last steal came on May 20). Machado will fetch a large trade return, which could be better than the production he will provide from this point forward.
Jeff McNeil (2B/OF, New York Mets)
McNeil is another player with a big gap between his .300 batting average and xBA. And in the case of the 30-year-old, the difference between an elite batting mark and a good one will decide whether or not he belongs on mixed-league rosters. McNeil has shown little power (four homers) or speed (two steals), which makes him a worse option than some players on waivers if his batting average regresses.
C.J. Cron (1B, Colorado Rockies)
Cron has been one of the luckiest hitters in baseball so far this season, having enjoyed a .358 BABIP and a 20.6 percent HR/FB rate despite producing a mediocre 88.0 mph average exit velocity. Cron will experience regression to some degree in the second half, and his problems could be even bigger if he is traded by the retooling Rockies and no longer has Coors Field as his regular backdrop.
Taylor Ward (OF, Los Angeles Angels)
Ward’s 2022 season has been in a free-fall for several weeks. His terrific success at the outset of the campaign is hiding his recent lack of production. Wise managers should be able to get a solid return from the outfielder by highlighting his solid overall marks in batting average (.286), homers (12) and runs (43) while also mentioning that he consistently bats near Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in an otherwise unimpressive Angels lineup. All while leaving out the fact that Ward has logged a lowly .605 OPS since the beginning of June, which is concerning for someone who started off the year as an afterthought for fantasy contributions.
Logan Gilbert (SP, Seattle Mariners)
Overall, I am a big fan of Gilbert, and I would want a major return for his services on the trade market. But I can’t overlook that Statcast has him pegged for a 4.24 xERA that is significantly higher than his actual 2.76 mark. In fact, among pitchers who have thrown a similar number of innings to Gilbert, only Cole Irvin and Zach Plesac have a similar gap between their ERA and xERA. Those who have Gilbert and need to deal for a stud hitter may opt to dangle the right-hander in trade talks.
Daniel Bard (RP, Colorado Rockies)
I have encouraged managers to trade Bard throughout this season, and so far I have been wrong. But I’m sticking to my guns on this one, as the right-hander has been fortunate on batted balls this year (.185 BABIP), which is unusual for someone who makes half of their appearances at Coors Field. Bard has not shown strong control skills (12.3 percent walk rate) and those free passes are going to cause trouble as soon as he starts allowing more base knocks. This remains a bus that I would like to exit from at the next stop.
Scott Barlow (RP, Kansas City Royals), Geovany Soto (RP, Detroit Tigers), Jorge Lopez (RP, Baltimore Orioles), David Bednar (RP, Pittsburgh Pirates), David Robertson (RP, Chicago Cubs)
Most of the pitchers in this large group will be fine, but a couple of them will go from useful closers today to waiver wire fodder by August 1. Rebuilding teams such as theirs often trade their closers at the deadline, and the pitchers in this group do not have a level of stature that would automatically make them ninth-inning men on a contending team. Each manager will need to decide how much they need to take a chance on these players, and in some scenarios, it will make sense to get as much as possible for them right now.