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In ESPN standard leagues, the trade deadline is only a few days away. Any deals you might be considering need to be accepted before Friday, Aug. 10, at noon ET in order to take effect. With that in mind, let's pose a little question to the fantasy baseball players out there. Would you consider trading the No. 4 hitter on the ESPN Player Rater in exchange for the No. 84 hitter on that list?
Stop laughing. It's not the worst idea in the world, under certain conditions.
If you're in a league where categories come into play and you're pretty solid in home runs and RBIs but could easily rise a few spots in the standings in the stolen base department, then exchanging Miguel Cabrera for Ben Revere might be the move that wins your league for you. (This is assuming that your league-mates don't decide to nix the deal as being completely one-sided, which is why I never play in leagues with a veto vote. But that's a discussion for another day.)
Of course, this is a points league column and I don't have to tell you that even considering such a deal in a weekly head-to-head league where you "reset to zero" every Monday is absolute lunacy. That said, there are situations where it does make sense to make a deadline deal where you perhaps give up more than you're getting back in return.
Let's take a look at Ben Zobrist. He's the No. 9 second baseman on the player rater for the season and has a power/speed combination that allows him to earn fantasy points in more than just one way. For the season, he's earned 278 total points in ESPN standard scoring, and over the past month, he ranks 14th overall at his primary position.
Who would you rather have on your roster the rest of the way: Zobrist or the No. 41 second baseman, Daniel Descalso? Don't simply dismiss the question. Over the past 15 days, Descalso has averaged 2.7 points per game. That's more than Zobrist, Dustin Pedroia and even Robinson Cano have been doing of late. Plus, he appears to be starting on a regular basis right now, which gives his recent performance a little bit more legitimacy.
Nobody is saying that we would trade Descalso straight up for Cano simply because his per-game average is better for the past two weeks. But if you had Cano as your everyday second baseman, and Zobrist was on your bench as a backup option and you were using him only once or twice a week, then doesn't it make sense to roll with a player who has been posting better per-game numbers?
Though Jarrod Dyson has been earning 3.7 points per game while platooning in the outfield for the Kansas City Royals, he's not by any stretch of the imagination better than Ryan Braun, who has scored just 3.3 points per game over the past two weeks. But if we're talking about a spot-start option for your fantasy team, then Dyson may be more valuable to you than a Yoenis Cespedes might be, even if, over the course of a full week of games, Cespedes earns more overall points.
We're looking at "extreme cases" here, but the argument still has merit if you're willing to take the perception of the full-season value out of the equation. The fact is that you can easily improve your team and get the better end of any deal by throwing in a "more valuable" hitter you don't really need in exchange for a "lesser one" who might actually help you more in the long run.
If adding a Martin Prado to a deal in exchange for Jeff Keppinger or being willing to give up Paul Konerko for Garrett Jones is going to end up netting you a Jered Weaver or a David Price, then you'd be foolish not to pull the trigger, even if for the rest of the season Prado and Konerko are more likely to have more points or should finish higher up on the Player Rater.
Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres: On a team that ranks 14th in the National League in runs scored, it's hard for a hitter to consistently produce, but Headley has defied the odds of late. He's driven in nine runs over the past six games with an OPS of 1.102. Even when the opposition is afraid to pitch to him, the points still come, with 11 walks in the past 13 games.
Greg Holland, RP, Kansas City Royals: Now that Jonathan Broxton has been shipped off to Cincinnati, the closer's job in Kansas City belongs to Holland. Since the start of July, Holland has a .213 batting average against, so the only difference now is that he has a chance for an extra five fantasy points each time he takes the mound. So far, so good. In his past five appearances, he is 1-0 with a save, and more importantly, no runs allowed in six innings of work.
A.J. Pierzynski, C, Chicago White Sox: With a home run in five straight games, it's not a surprise to find the Chicago catcher on the list of "hot" players. Pierzynski has a .309 batting average and a .500 slugging percentage for his career against the current Kansas City Royals staff, so expect the good times to keep on rolling into the next week, as well.
Neil Walker, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates: Walker enjoyed his team's 10-game road trip, as he posted a .643 slugging percentage and drove in 11 runs in Houston, Chicago and Cincinnati. Although he has struggled a bit at home this season, since July, he is batting .356 and he starts this upcoming homestand against the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team he has hit .304 against for his career.
Blake Beavan, SP, Seattle Mariners: He's won four straight starts and exhibited incredible control with a K/BB rate of 18.00 in those 28⅓ innings of work. He does still serve up too many gopher balls -- 14 in all for the season -- but at least the two he's allowed in his recent run of success were both solo shots. As long as he keeps that damage to a minimum, he should continue to be a fantasy asset.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, Washington Nationals: He's had a hit every single day since July 22 and hit .442 in that 14-game stretch with an unbelievable seven home runs and 16 RBIs, 10 of which have come since the start of August. He's putting the ball in play more often -- only three strikeouts in his past 39 plate appearances -- which is why the points should continue to add up.
Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies: Since July 24, Howard has earned positive fantasy points only three times, as the slugger has been quite sluggish at the plate. Hitting just .179 over that 11-game stretch (with a whopping 21 strikeouts in 43 plate appearances) is not helping his overall value. Plus, with the lineup gutted (Carlos Ruiz hurt, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence traded) what's left for him to drive in should he get his swing back in gear?
Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Milwaukee Brewers: Confidence in a reliever can disappear quickly, and after two blown saves that turned into losses against the Philadelphia Phillies, it was clear that K-Rod had none of Ron Roenicke's trust. Sure, he's thrown two perfect innings in his past two appearances, but when you're only seeing action when there's at least a five-run differential on the scoreboard, it's hard to build up fantasy momentum.
Michael Bourn, OF, Atlanta Braves: It's getting a bit ridiculous that Bourn, who earns the majority of his fantasy points with his legs, has stolen just one base since July 21. With a K/BB rate of 3.6 and an on-base percentage of .231 over his past 15 games, Bourn barely averaged a point per game over Atlanta's latest homestand.
Bryan LaHair, 1B/OF, Chicago Cubs: Since July 23, LaHair has actually cost you fantasy points by being in your lineup thanks to a 3-for-27 (.111) run at the plate with only a single run scored and no RBIs to his name. He also got caught stealing in his only attempt to steal a base. With Brett Jackson now called up, we're not so sure LaHair will even get a chance to get out of this slump going forward.
Chris Capuano, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers: He was once 9-2 on the year, but since July 8, Capuano has had a .315 batting average against and an ERA of 5.90. Sure, the run support has been hard to come by for Los Angeles pitchers, and Capuano has only seen his bats put 29 runs on the scoreboard in his past 10 starts. However, that doesn't explain why the 33-year-old appears to be running on empty with only 12 fantasy points since July 8.
Ivan Nova, SP, New York Yankees: Nova was also 9-2 at one point this season, but since the start of July has gone 1-3 with a 5.97 ERA and a .297 batting average against. Run support isn't an excuse for Nova, though, as the New York Yankees continue to average 5.29 runs per start for Nova. He's lasted longer than six innings only once in this string of games, and those extra few outs that he's no longer giving you are eating into his value in a big way.