Fantasy Baseball: Top Buy-Low Candidates

A list of top stars who are off to slow starts that you should be trading for.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

Every avid fantasy baseball manager knows that one of the keys to winning your league is having the ability to complete at least one or two ground-breaking trades throughout the season. We’re already a few weeks into the 2012 season, and with some perennial all-stars off to slow starts, now may be the time to jump early towards making that first big block-buster trade of the year.

If you have other managers in your league that tend to panic early and they own any of these guys, try to send over an offer they can’t refuse; doing so may just help you win your league.

Here’s a list of guys that you need to buy-low on as soon as possible.

Rankings per Yahoo Sports.

Tim Lincecum, Giants, SP – rank #1229 –  0 Wins, 10.54 ERA, 1.90 WHIP, 16 K – He’s been possibly the worst pitcher in baseball; his current fantasy rank proves it. Downside: his velocity is a tad lower than usual. Upside: He’s still striking out guys while having an incredibly low walk rate. He’s also been unlucky against hitters with a BAPIP over .400. Sure, there is reason for some worry here. He isn’t called ‘the freak’ for no reason. People have said that his non-traditional mechanics would catch up to him eventually; but Timmy Jim is a two-time Cy Young award winner that has had a few poor streaks before in his career, including one last summer. I just traded for him in my league and I’m confident that if he’s healthy, he’ll be just fine this summer.

Adam Wainwright, Cardinals, SP – rank #1221 – 0 Wins, 9.88 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 14 K – Probably the second worst pitcher in baseball behind Lincecum right now, and now is the perfect time to buy low on this former all-star. He’s coming off Tommy John surgery, so there’s going to be some rust here. You have to be patient with him. Cards catcher Yadier Molina has said that his stuff looks great, just like the Wainwright of old. Once he gets comfortable on the mound again, he could have an amazing summer. The Cardinals are counting on him and so should you.

Jon Lester, Red Sox, SP – #1203 – 0 Wins, 5.82 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 12 K – I remember last year when John Smoltz said that Lester may be the best pitcher in baseball. While that now looks like a little bit of a stretch, we all know that Lester is for real. If he were in the National League he would be putting up sub 3.00 ERAs easily. However, he’s in the AL East; the toughest division in baseball. Still, this will be the only time to buy low on this guy. His numbers are inflated because of his awful outing against the Rangers earlier this week. The Sox lost 18-3 in the contest and Lester was responsible for seven of those runs. Expect his ERA to return to what it’s been the past two years; around 3.36.

Dan Haren, Angels, SP – #912 – 0 W, 4.76 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 14 K – He’s off to slow start; but here’s a guy that would be an ace on most NL teams. He looked good against the A’s in his last start, only giving up one run in 6 2/3 innings.

Alex Gordon, OF – #864 – .149, 1 HR, 4 RBI – He’s striking out a lot more than he did last year, but he’s also had to go up against guys like Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver. You have to believe in a guy that had his breakout year last season at age 27, hitting over .300 with 23 home runs and over 100 runs scored. He’ll be out of this slump soon enough.

Brandon Philips, 2B, Reds – #763 – .235, 1 HR, 2 RBI – No question he’ll heat up soon. His career averages hang around .270/20/80 with 20 stolen bags.

Kevin Youkilis, 3B, Red Sox – #367 – .184, 1 HR, 5 RBI – Ignore the comments made by Sox manager Bobby Valentine. We all know the only question is whether or not he can stay healthy. There is no question whether he will hit .184 all year. If he’s in the lineup, his stock will rise.

Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels – #371 – .296, 0 HR, 4 RBI – That’s right, I’m throwin’ ‘Pooey’ out there. Some fans in southern California are already freaking out because he hasn’t hit his first home run yet. If there is a manager in your league doing the same, pounce now. I predicted before the season he would get off to a slow start while being in the midst of all the adjustments that correspond with joining a new team, then come summer time…he’ll go on an absolute tear.

Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Josh Helmuth is the sports editor and lead baseball writer at CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JHelmuth or subscribe at Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.