Fantasy Baseball

Takeaways/A World Without Mike Trout

The Angels, fantasy owners and baseball at-large have lost Mike Trout for the next 6-8 weeks due to a torn UCL in his left thumb.  Optimistically, this would have Trout returning for somewhere between mid-July and the beginning of August.  If you own him, should you trade him?  If you do not have him, should you make a play to acquire him?  Suddenly, there is ample volatility surrounding the most consistent, elite fantasy asset over the last half-decade.

Before we can legitimately discuss what is fair return for Trout, we first need to properly value Trout.  If the timetable is accurate then we are looking at approximately 225-275 PA of Mike Trout plus approximately 175-225 replacement level appearances.  Let’s take the mid-range of both figures – so we have 250 PA of Mike Trout plus 200 of a replacement level OF.  Trout’s current statline over 206 PA, includes 16 HRs, 10 SB, 36 R, 36 RBI and a .337/.461/.742 triple-slash.  Based on career norms (and the injury), it is fair to regress those numbers down when coming up with a stat-line for his remaining, projected 250 PA.

Although it is fair to quibble on the statline, let’s provide Trout with 90% productivity of his first 206 PA sample to account for negative variables like potential slumps, prolonged injury, worsening support, etc.:

Player PA R HR RBI SB AVG OPS
Mike Trout 250 39 17 39 10 .303 1.082

Of course, the quality of your replacement will depend upon the depth of your league, I have provided below three players at or near the 50%, 25% and 10% ownership marks and what we can expect from them through 200 PA.

Player Own% PA R HR RBI SB AVG OPS
David Peralta 44% 200 30 5 14 5 .295 .820

 

Josh Reddick 22% 200 31 6 23 2 .270 .780
Shin-soo Choo 11% 200 25 6 24 3 .260 .770

These three players present very similar issues – they have platoon problems and they have their own injury bugaboos to worry about.  There is the ever-present sample size issue, too.  Just because a player performs at a certain pace over 200 ABs or over a career does not mean that any 200 AB sample will be an exact repeat.  However, those concerns aside, each player will provide you with the opportunity to plug in for Mike Trout and remain afloat (provided that you are not already buried). For instance, if you plug in Trout’s 250 PA projection with the 200 PA projection for each player, you get:

Player PA R HR RBI SB
Mike Trout + David Peralta 450 69 22 53 15
Mike Trout + Josh Reddick 450 70 23 62 12
Mike Trout + Shin-soo Choo 450 64 23 63 13

Without factoring in batting average or OPS, some players with pace numbers at this level include: Kris Bryant, Wil Myers,  Justin Upton, Brett Gardner, Domingo Santana, Yasiel Puig, Mookie Betts and Aaron Hicks.  Although, the names vary in value, you can tell that the power-speed production of Trout + replacement will be difficult to duplicate on the open market.  Further, that is without factoring 250 PA of approximately .300 batting average to go with 200 PA of somewhere between .290 and .250.

As I am not a big fan of Myers or Upton, I do not think I would deal Trout in most circumstances for either player, but I believe it is a reasonable offer and that’s the line for most Trout owners.   Personally, I would try to target a buy low candidate – Carlos Gonzalez, Yoenis Cespedes, or a cooled off Eric Thames, plus another piece – preferably, a pitcher.

With respect to circumstances, those play a very important role in the analysis.  Is the Trout team off to a good start and can it float while he is out?  Has the Trout team gotten off to a mediocre or bad start?  Without question, the ideal suitor for Trout is a team that has banked category wins or production, has adequate depth and can afford to wait for his turn.  As strange as it sounds, there is a team like this in most leagues.

In summation, in most instances, I do not think that Trout is a must sell because there are adequate replacements on the wire. However, if you are the Trout owner and are barely treading water, then I would advise you to explore the market for a buy low outfield candidate plus another piece in an effort to solve two problems at once.

Other takeaways…

-The Dodgers’ starting pitcher DL carousel continued this week with Alex Wood going on the DL.  Wood is apparently suffering from SC joint inflammation, but is only expected to miss one turn.  I did not notice any ill effects during his five shutout innings against the Cubs and given the Dodgers’ willingness to use the DL with their pitchers, I am not overly concerned.  I own multiple shares of Alex Wood and am trying to acquire him with this news wherever I do not have him.

-Danny Duffy is the latest in the parade of arms to get hit with a major injury.  Duffy suffered an oblique strain, which will keep him out for 6-8 weeks.  Having lost their ace and off to a slow start, I wonder if this causes Kansas City to start its firesale.  I would not mind buying a Royals offensive piece – Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas or even Eric Hosmer, in hopes that they find their way to greener offensive pastures.

-Danny Salazar was removed from the rotation.  If at all possible, I would recommend that you buy him low.  Salazar has elite strikeout skills and is a much better rotation option than Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin or Mike Clevinger.  Of course, Salazar has struggled this year, but I think this is a temporary move that is done with hope of getting his mechanics straightened out before a return to the rotation.

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