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June 30, 2015

Expert FAAB Review

Week 13

by Mike Gianella

Depending on how long you have been a Baseball Prospectus subscriber, welcome or welcome back to the Expert FAAB Review. Every week, I’m going to take a look at the players and the process behind the expert bidding in LABR mixed, Tout Wars NL, and Tout Wars AL. Bret Sayre and I participate in LABR mixed while I have a team in Tout Wars NL, so I will provide insights behind the reasoning on some the bids. Budgets in all three leagues start at $100 at the beginning of the season.

Tout Wars uses a Vickrey Auction system. A basic description of the Vickrey bidding system can be found here.

LABR Mixed


Steven Matz $18. Other bids: $11, $11, $10, $6, $6, $5, $3. Player released: Tsuyoshi Wada.
Matz already would have been a big target in LABR prior to his strong performance on Sunday, but the strong outing likely added a few dollars to his final bid price. Bret Sayre and I put in one of the $11 bids; to be quite honest, I was surprised the market wasn’t a little more aggressive in pursuing Matz. There are likely two factors that tie into the relatively tepid bidding:

  1. Since we can’t stash minor leaguers in LABR, there are still plenty of minor leaguers who could find their way into the majors who aren’t on a team’s reserve list. Of the top 10 players on last week’s Stash List, five of them are free agents in LABR. Matz could be great, but it is likely that more than a few minor league impact players are going to weave their way through the transom of our fantasies and into the lineups of our realities.
  2. Based on LABR’s more restrictive FAAB rules, teams have much less money than they do in either Tout Wars mixed league.

Table 1: Remaining FAAB, LABR Mixed 2015 (with Tout Wars Comparison)

Team

FAAB Left

Tout Mixed Auction

Tout Mixed Draft

Razzball

$54

$51

$90

Fangraphs

$45

$50

$86

BSports

$40

$47

$86

ESPN.com

$39

$46

$76

Baseball Prospectus

$32

$42

$75

USA Today Sports

$32

$41

$72

Rotowire – Colton

$29

$36

$70

Baseball HQ

$27

$34

$60

FantasyScore

$18

$21

$59

MLB.com

$16

$19

$59

Mastersball

$14

$11

$57

Rotowire – Erickson

$4

$11

$50

FNTSY

$3

$4

$42

Fangraphs2

$0

$3

$22

RotoExperts

$0

$0

$19

Totals

$353

$416

$923


Huh. I assumed that both Tout Wars leagues would have more FAAB left to spend than LABR, but only the draft league has considerably more. The auction league has $63 more to spend. This isn’t nothing, but at a little more than four dollars per team, it isn’t a considerable difference.

However, the different rules in each league do dictate different behavior. Zero dollar bids and the Vickrey Rule in Tout Wars do permit more liberal spending patterns than they do in LABR. The second Fangraphs entry and RotoExperts are going to have to sleep in the beds that they have made for the next three months. Necessity dictated this aggressive path in both cases, but having some FAAB left for the second half of the season is optimal.

This is less about the ability to make a big splash on the next Matz and more about having the ability to stream favorable starting pitchers or play stronger hitting matchups at the back-end of the roster. This is a vicious cycle in redraft leagues. Teams in the second division try to swing for the fences with their FAAB early based on early injuries and wind up mired deep in the second division anyway. The inability to improve one’s team with FAAB as the season goes on increases the chasm even more. Ultimately, leagues like LABR take on a Darwinian feel, as the stronger teams get stronger while the weaker teams get weaker.

If you were eagerly awaiting a Matz pun or a Mets/Matz pun in this space, then you will be sorely disappointed. What kind of monster do you think I am? The FAAB Review likes to make jokes—and LOVES elaborate, absurdist constructs—but we are above inane puns that don’t belong in this space. So sorry, no “meet the Matz” jokes here. No “he pitched a Matz-erpiece” one-liners in this space. No “you could drag your opponents down to the Matz with a big FAAB bid” quips. We are The FAAB Review. We are better than that. Frankly, I am ashamed of you, Dear Reader, if you opened this article expecting jokes of this nature. Hang your head in shame.

Oh, no, wait. Don’t cry, Dear Reader! I’m sorry. No! Wipe those tears away! I’ll do something creative for you. I’ll put a smile on that sad little face, turn that frown upside down, and make it all better buddy. All right (clears throat, leaves to get glass of water, runs quickly back into the room). You ready? All right… hmmm, let me think…

That’s it! A snazzy tune to the classic Meet The Mets theme song. That’s a GREAT idea!

Meet the Matz
Stephen Matz
Great with his arm and with the, um, batz
Lots of plus pitches, a fantasy owners dream
His grandfather quickly became an Internet meme!

There, Dear Reader, is that better? A little bit, right? Aw, I see that smile! There it is! There it is!

(goes up to sad reader, pulls quarter out of ear, tickles reader until he starts coughing with laughter, concludes incredibly creepy and vaguely inappropriate FAAB Report bit)

Roberto Osuna $13. Other bids: $6, $6, $5, $4, $4, $3. Player released: None.
As noted in earlier columns, Steve Gardner of USA Today Sports lost all of his closers due to either ineffectiveness or injury and was running zero closers out there. He plunked down the big bid on Osuna this week. He has to hope that Lloyd McClendon fulfills his absurd fantasy (McClendon’s, not Gardner’s) to reinstall Fernando Rodney back in the ninth inning and that Andrew Miller recovers quickly. Gardner also has Giancarlo Stanton on his team, so despite the fact that he was only one point behind me and Bret in LABR entering yesterday’s action, he had a soul-crushing week. Bret and I had one of the $6 bids on Osuna. We have four closers, but wanted to make the sure that someone didn’t simply sneak Osuna in for a nominal bid.

Marco Estrada $8. Other bids: $4, $4, $2, $1, $1. Player released: C.J. Cron
After a disastrous 2014 that saw Estrada give up home runs at record-breaking pace before the Brewers mercifully moved him to the bullpen, the embattled pitcher has found new life in the Blue Jays rotation. I’m not a big believer in xFIP, but it does seem that Estrada’s HR/FB has normalized this year after a ridiculous spike last year. There is probably still some collapse built into this profile (a fancy way of saying don’t buy too much into Estrada’s strong start), but he is playable now in deep mixed. Estrada is a strong streamer this week, with a home start against the Red Sox followed by a road start against the Tigers.

Bret and I bid two dollars as a contingent bid under Matz. We were attempting to purely add Estrada as a streamer; more on this strategy below.

Kennys Vargas $5. Other bid: $1. Player released: Miguel Castro
Depending on whether you like or dislike Vargas’ long-term chances, there is a lot of fun to be had with small sample size numbers. Over the last two weeks he has a .300/.300/.553 slash line, but if you go back to his call-up on June 8th, he has a .245/.245/.388 slash. Vargas certainly has a good deal of power potential, but even in today’s high-strikeout culture, his free-swinging ways are going to eventually leave him exposed against major-league pitching. He is borderline in deeper mixed formats, and isn’t quite playing full-time for the Twins. Vargas could go on a strong power streak but he could also go into a 1-for-25 tailspin and disappear entirely.

Cody Asche $3. Player released: Delino DeShields Jr.
Ivan Nova $3.
Other bids: $2, $1, $1. Player released: Yimi Garcia
Nova’s final line in his 2015 big league debut looked great, but he danced through the raindrops, striking out only one batter in six and two-thirds innings. The good news is that Nova’s velocity was back at its pre-2014 levels, so it’s possible that the lack of whiffs was merely an anomaly. Nova is a decent back-end play due to the wins possibilities as a Yankee, and if the strikeouts come back, he will be a strong option going forward.

Chris Parmelee $3. Other bid: $2. Player released: LaTroy Hawkins
He is obviously not going to continue putting up a .419 ISO, but as long as Parmelee is swinging a hot bat, the Orioles have to play him and so do you. His ceiling is 15 home runs or so, but one well-timed hot streak could lead to more than that if Parmelee sticks. This is the rub, of course; Parmelee is a 27-year-old journeyman, not a former top prospect. But stranger things have happened, and it was worth the nominal $3 bid by Gardner to find out if the hot streak parlays into a full-time job the rest of the way.

Josh Phegley $2. Other bid: $2. Player released: Carlos Perez.
Like Parmelee, Phegley is swinging a hot bat—with three home runs in the last two weeks—but unlike Parmelee, it is unlikely that Phegley is going to claim a full-time job based off of a hot streak. In two-catcher leagues, Phegley is certainly a better gamble than a handful of weak-hitting catchers who are playing every day, but he is still a marginal option and could still disappear entirely. He is obviously a better choice than Perez at this point.

Jonathan Singleton $2. Player released: Delmon Young
Ryan Vogelsong $2. Player released: None
Scooter Gennett $2. Player released: None
Cesar Hernandez $1. Player released: Freddy Galvis.
Danny Duffy $1. Player released: Christopher Rusin.
Will Harris $1. Player released: None
Matt Boyd $1. Player released: Shaun Marcum.


Bret and I discussed taking a stab on Singleton, but we already have a part-timer in Aaron Hill manning our utility spot and don’t see where full-time at bats are coming in Houston for Singleton. Instead, we put a $2 bid on Gennett and nabbed him. He has hit well since returning from the minors, and if he keeps the second base job in Milwaukee the rest of the season, will provide decent value in our last offensive slot while we wait for Wil Myers’ return.

Vogelsong was also our buy. Entering the week, we were first in ERA by 0.27 and in WHIP by 0.008. Running four closers out there has been great for our saves points but we don’t want to lose too much ground in wins or strikeouts. Jake Arrieta, Gerrit Cole, and Jacob deGrom are auto-starts at this point, but we have the ability to use the bottom of our rotation for some streaming opportunities going forward. Estrada was our first choice, but Vogelsong’s road starts at Miami and Washington are fine. We’re also running C.J. Wilson out there for his two-start week and benching Noah Syndergaard on the road against the Dodgers (L.A. chews righties up at Dodger Stadium). Unless Syndergaard strikes out 10 or more against a strong Dodger lineup, I don’t think we’ll regret the move.

Tout Wars NL


Cesar Hernandez $9 ($25). Other bids: $8, $7, $4, $3, $1, $0. Player reserved: Kris Negron.
Hernandez is doing what Freddy Galvis did in April: taking a starting job opportunity and running with it in Philadelphia. The upside is extremely limited – and Hernandez is likely to fade quickly the way Galvis did—but everyday at-bats are a big deal in -only formats, and Gardner had four black holes on offense at the end of the transaction week. 20-25 blah at-bats per week doesn’t sound like much, but in NL-only, it can mean a good deal.

I bid a conservative dollar on Hernandez. I have no faith, but I am in the opposite position of Gardner. 12 of my 14 offensive regulars are garnering regular at bats, and even though Peter Bourjos isn’t playing much, when he does play the limited stolen base/runs potential doesn’t separate him very much from Hernandez. Unless an unlikely closer emerges and is sitting on the free agent pool, my FAAB hoarder strategy shall remain intact.

Xaiver Scruggs $3. Other bids: $2, $2, $0. Player reserved: Corey Hart
With Matt Adams gone for the year, Scruggs has settled in on the wrong side of the first base platoon with Mark Reynolds in St. Louis. Scruggs is a career minor leaguer but could definitely stick on a major league bench or as a platoon bat (though he’d admittedly be a better fit on an American League team in this role). The most interesting play on Scruggs wasn’t Gene McCaffrey of Wise Guy Baseball’s winning $3, but rather Gardner’s $18 contingent bid on Scruggs behind Hernandez. Gardner really wanted to inject some at bats into his offense this week.

Manny Banuelos $3 ($19). Other bids: $2, $2, $2. Player reserved: Tyler Lyons
The aggressive $19 belonged to Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN. He continues along with his strategy of pushing for arms despite the fact that he is dominating the non-win pitching categories. He has been trying to trade his surfeit of starting pitching for the last week or two, or at least this is the impression I get reading between the lines of this oblique, nuanced communiqué he sent to me via Twitter dot com.

A problem I have is that while my offense has been humming along nearly all season long (with 49 out of a possible 60 points), I don’t have a surplus in any offensive category. My Carlos Gonzalez for Cockcroft’s Hammel might be fair, but it is the kind of trade where I would wind up robbing Peter to pay Paul. If I am going to trade from “excess” the best play would be to move one of my two closers for something else. I have seven points but unless one of the teams in front of me loses a closer, I am in no man’s land in both directions in the category.

As far as Banuelos goes, I thought about placing a bid but passed. I don’t like his K:BB ratios, and while he could be solid, he won’t be much better than the back-end guys I already have on my staff. If I had bid, I probably would have bid $3-4, and only would have pushed Cockcroft up a dollar or two with Vickrey anyway.

Cameron Rupp $2 ($4). Other bids: $1, $0. Player released: David Ross.
I bid zero on Rupp, but Scott Wilderman of On Roto got him for two dollars. I should have bid on Rupp a week or two ago, when it was evident here in Philadelphia that Rupp was going to start pushing Carlos Ruiz out of more and more playing time as the summer progressed. The batting average is a concern, but adding a 13th starter to my roster (over part-timer Jose Lobaton) would have been a marginal win. Oh well, but starting catchers or even job-sharing catchers are hard to find in NL-only.

Jonathan Broxton $1 ($12). Player reserved: Williams Perez
Mike Baxter $1 ($3). Player reserved: Nori Aoki
Andres Blanco $0. Player reserved: Ship Schumaker
Jeanmar Gomez $0. Player reserved: Hector Gomez
Matt DenDekker $0. Player reserved: Carlos Torres
Joe Terdoslavich $0. Player reserved: Javier Baez
Brett Wallace $0: Player reserved: Jedd Gyorko

I thought about placing a $2-3 bid on Broxton based on the possibility that Francisco Rodriguez gets traded, but Broxton’s poor performance of late doesn’t make me believe that he will be the guy if that happens. Brett Wallace has fallen so far from when he was considered a top prospect and was traded around constantly as a minor leaguer.

Tout AL


Drew Pomeranz $5 ($6). Other bid: $4. Player reserved: Zack McAllister.
With Sean Doolittle on the 60-day DL and Tyler Clippard linked to multiple trade rumors, Pomeranz is a possible candidate to close in Oakland after the trade deadline. The fact that he’s a lefthander would be held against him more in other organizations. Chris Liss of Mastersball made the potentially shrewd pickup. Liss entered the week in first place in Tout Wars—AL and has had the gambler’s touch of late with his pickups.

Matt Boyd $4 ($16). Other bid: $3. Player reserved: Justin Wilson.
Boyd is a serviceable arm but his future is probably in someone’s bullpen. None of his pitches profiles as above average, and he was older than his competition at every level in the minors. Boyd is a wins play if you don’t care what happens to your ERA/WHIP on a day where he doesn’t have it at all. In AL-only, I’d stream Boyd in non-AL East starts and against lineups that profile in the bottom half against left-handed pitchers. That isn’t useless in mono-league fantasy, but it isn’t helpful if your league has limited reserve lists either.

Shane Robinson $1 ($5). Player reserved: Ramon Flores.
Bruce Rondon $1 ($4). Player reserved: Steven Wright
Richie Shaffer $1 ($3). Player reserved: David Lough
Jose Ramirez $1. Player reserved: Ryan Rua
Gregorio Petit $0. Player reserved: Dustin Pedroia
Taylor Featherston $0. Player reserved: Marwin Gonzalez
Roberto Perez $0. Player released: Chris Herrmann
Martin Perez $0. Player reserved: Adam Warren

Shaffer has been tearing it up at Triple-A for the Rays, and while he is blocked by Evan Longoria, it is possible that the Rays try him at first base to get his bat into the lineup. The plethora of middle infield buys in Tout-AL makes me believe it’s ugly out there at middle infield in the American League and (peers at the free agent list) yeah, it is. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go scrape my insides out now with a long and abrasive brush.

Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mike's other articles. You can contact Mike by clicking here

Related Content:  LABR,  Fantasy,  Tout Wars,  FAAB,  Expert Leagues

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Expert FAAB Review: We... (06/23)
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Expert FAAB Review: We... (07/07)
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Eyewitness Accounts: J... (06/30)

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