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September 29, 2015

Expert FAAB Review

Week 26

by Mike Gianella

Depending on how long you have been a Baseball Prospectus reader, 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.

Random Quote of the Week – “It’s like practicing pole vaulting your entire life, and then getting to The Olympics and saying, “What the hell did I want to jump over this stupid bar for?” –Stephen King, The Long Walk

LABR Mixed


Matt Moore $2. Other bid: $1. Player released: Randall Delgado
Brandon Finnegan $2.
Other bid: $1. Player released: Ubaldo Jimenez
Robbie Ross $2. Player released: Alex Wood
Jerad Eickhoff $1.
Other bid: $1. Player released: Jimmy Nelson.
Erik Johnson $1. Player released: Huston Street.

With one week to go as I’m writing this and six days left as you’re leading this, it is more worthwhile to go right to the race.

Table 1: LABR Mixed 2015, Through Games of Sunday, September 27

Team

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

W

ERA

SV

K

WHIP

Total

+/-

Baseball Prospectus

15

15

12

13.5

3

15

15

8.5

14

15

126.0

0

MLB.com

14

13

15

15

12

9

8

13.5

11

12

122.5

-0.5

Bold = points gained
Italics = points lost

Table 1 gives the impression that Week 25 in LABR Mixed was a stable week where little if anything changed. Table 1 is a liar. For at least two or three days last week, Fred Zinkie of MLB.com had a lead that ranged from anywhere to 0.5 points to two points overall in the standings. Where MLB has magic numbers that eventually do count down to zero, fantasy baseball points can fluctuate all the way to the final day. Depending on how the categories shake out, a 10-point lead can be a molehill or a mountain to climb for the second-place team. In LABR Mixed, our lead could evaporate on any given day.

Here is how it shakes out on both sides of the ball.

Table 2: LABR Mixed Offense, Rosters for Teams That Can Impact Race

Baseball Prospectus

MLB.com

Fantasy Score

FNTSY

Razzball

Fangraphs

USA Today

Castillo

Lucroy

Molina

d'Arnaud

Conger

Grandal

M Montero

Schwarber

McCann

Posey

Navarro

Garneau

Wieters

W Ramos

Pujols

V Martinez

Fielder

Goldschmidt

J Abreu

Rizzo

Votto

Lawrie

D Gordon

Wong

Russell

Duffy

Kinsler

Kipnis

Desmond

Correa

Crawford

Hardy

Owings

A Escobar

J Peralta

Sano

Donaldson

C Santana

Arenado

Seager

Longoria

Frazier

Duda

K Marte

Reyes

Gyorko

H Kendrick

Pedroia

Segura

A Hill

D Ortiz

Moreland

C Davis

Hosmer

Moustakas

Shaw

J Upton

Pagan

D Santana

As Cabrera

Bour

J Montero

C Seager

Blackmon

Brantley

A Garcia

Aoki

Bruce

Betts

Bradley

Fowler

Choo

Inciarte

JD Martinez

K Davis

B Hamilton

Harrison

Granderson

Pillar

Markakis

McCutchen

Ellsbury

Rasmus

Heyward

Hicks

Pollock

G Parra

Revere

A Gordon

Soler

Maybin

Headley

Freese

Rios

Trumbo

D Peralta

Tomas

Werth


There are 15 teams in LABR Mixed but only five teams have a realistic chance to have an impact on MLB.com or Baseball Prospectus in an offensive category. Above are the lineups that were locked in for Week 26 by our teams and the “spoiler” teams. Below is a look at each offensive category.

Runs: Locked for both contenders. Baseball Prospectus entered the week with a 61-run lead on MLB.com, who has a 51-run lead on Jeff Erickson of Rotowire.

Home Runs: BP has a 12 home run lead on Doug Anderson of FNTSY. The category could shift if Anderson’s team has a monster week, but it unlikely to move. Zinkie is 13 home runs behind FNTSY and in a similar position.

RBI: Here is the first category where there could be some movement.

Fantasy Score 920
FNTSY 916
Baseball Prospectus 904
Razzball 897

Our realistic hope is to maintain in the category and not lose ground to Razzball. We shuttled Aaron Hill and Aaron Hicks into our lineup for Scooter Gennett and Will Myers. Razzball moved Howie Kendrick into their lineup for Yangervis Solarte, while Fantasy Score and FNTSY stood pat on offense.

Stolen Bases
Zinkie has blown away the field, with 169 stolen bases and a 28-steal lead on the next two teams. BP is one of those teams, and is fighting for at least half a point in the category.

Baseball Prospectus 141
Fangraphs 141
USA Today Sports 136


With Billy Hamilton out for the year for Fangraphs, we thought that Mike Podhorzer’s team would fall behind us easily. However, major league teams often stop running in September, and with Dexter Fowler running less and Justin Upton in a terrible slump, steals have been difficult to come by outside of Charlie Blackmon. It is only half a point, but every little bit would help.

Batting Average
We are dead in the category, with a meager three points out of 15 and zero mobility. However, Zinkie keeps charging and could gain a point:

Fantasy Score .27059
MLB.com .27025

Zinkie didn’t make any FAAB bids on offense but did shuttle Victor Martinez and Angel Pagan for Josh Reddick and Mark Canha. With every other offensive category clinched, swapping out the potential low batting averages of Reddick and Canha is a logical move.

Most of the potential movement, though, is on the pitching side. With the exception of Jake Ciely’s Roto Experts, every team has the potential to play spoiler.

Wins
Here is where there is the greatest potential for movement. To start, Baseball Prospectus can lose a point in wins.

Baseball Prospectus. Wins: 97. Starts left (6): Anthony DeSclafani (CHC), Gerrit Cole (STL), Andrew Heaney (@TEX), Noah Syndergaard (WAS), Jake Arrieta (@MIL), Jacob deGrom (WAS).

Baseball HQ. Wins: 95. Starts left (10): Josh Tomlin (MIN), Roenis Elias (HOU, OAK), Brandon Finnegan (@WAS, @PIT), Jeff Samardzija (KC, DET), Matt Moore (MIA), Martin Perez (LAA), Dallas Keuchel (@ARI).

Ray Murphy of Baseball HQ is doing what non-contenders should do in expert leagues: trying to steal points from a contender and play a role in who wins. Murphy picked up Finnegan and Moore this week and has a four-start advantage over our squad. Keuchel could get pushed back to pitch the Wild Card game on Tuesday, but we have the greater disadvantage, with Syndergaard, deGrom, Arrieta, and Cole all facing modified pitch counts. By the time this article is published, we will have a better idea how this will play out.

B Sports. Wins: 87. Starts left (8): Masahiro Tanaka (BOS), Lance McCullers (@SEA, @ARI), Zack Greinke (@SF, SD), Daniel Norris (@TEX), Patrick Corbin (COL), John Lackey (@ATL).

ESPN.com. Wins: 87. Starts left (6): Jose Quintana (KC), David Price (@BAL), Henry Owens (@CLE), Luis Severino (@BAL), Jose Fernandez (@PHI), Francisco Liriano (CIN).

Fangraphs. Wins 86. Starts left (8): Cole Hamels (DET, LAA), Justin Verlander (@TEX), CC Sabathia (BOS), Scott Kazmir (@SEA), Jaime Garcia (@ATL), Rubby De La Rosa (HOU), Hisashi Iwakuma (OAK).

MLB.com. Wins 85. Starts left (6): Rich Hill (@NYY), Bartolo Colon (@PHI), Chris Sale (KC), Kris Medlen (@CHW), Jake Odorizzi (TOR), Erik Johnson (DET)

FNTSY. Wins 84. Starts left (7): Marco Estrada (@BAL, @TB), Yordano Ventura (@CHC, @MIN), Carlos Carrasco (MIN), Garrett Richards (OAK), Stephen Strasburg (@ATL)

Rotowire – Erickson. Wins 83. Starts left (12): J.A. Happ (STL, CIN), Michael Pineda (BOS, @BAL), Kyle Gibson (@CLE, KC), Michael Wacha (@PIT), Madison Bumgarner (LAD, COL), Charlie Morton (STL), Steven Matz (@PHI), Taylor Jungmann (@SD).

USA Today Sports. Wins 81. Starts left: (7): Max Scherzer (CIN, @NYM), Derek Holland (LAA), Collin McHugh (@ARI), Julio Teheran (STL), Chris Archer (TOR), Jeremy Hellickson (HOU).

Razzball. Wins 81. Starts left (9). Rick Porcello (@NYY, @CLE), Corey Kluber (MIN, BOS), Adam Conley (TB), Jerad Eickhoff (NYM), Logan Verrett (@PHI), Danny Salazar (BOS), Gio Gonzalez (@NYM).

MLB.com is smack dab in the middle of a huge clump of teams in wins and has the fewest amount of starts left. This is in part because they are hoping to protect and/or gain points in ERA and WHIP, but this strategy is going to require a fair amount of luck on their part simply to maintain the nine points in the category that they have. If FNTSY and Jeff Erickson’s team can pass MLB.com, Bret and I could be home free.

Saves MLB.com 94. Closers: Sean Doolittle, Jeurys Familia, Kenley Jansen.
Rotowire – Colton 94. Closers: Mark Melancon, Darren O’Day, Francisco Rodriguez.
Mastersball 91. Closers: Cody Allen, Brad Boxberger, Hector Rondon.

USA Today Sports 79. Closers: Andrew Miller, Roberto Osuna, Tom Wilhelmsen.
Baseball Prospectus 79. Closers: Luke Gregerson, A.J. Ramos.

Zinkie lost Huston Street to injury on Sunday, so the decision to push for saves and definitively protect that half point against Bobby Colton was taken out of his hands. Mastersball’s Todd Zola is a long shot to take that point, but as my sister-in-law used to sing when she was in high school “It Could Happen.” With two closers to Steve Gardner’s three, I am assuming we will lose that saves point to USA Today, but with only seven days of baseball left, stranger things have certainly happened.

ERA
Razzball 3.7427
Mastersball 3.7804.
Starts left (6): Hector Santiago (OAK, @TEX), Cody Anderson (MIN, BOS), Tyson Ross (MIL), A.J. Burnett (CIN).
MLB.com 3.7914
Rotowire – Colton 3.8041.
Starts left: (11): Kyle Hendricks (KC, @MIL), Lance Lynn (@PIT, @ATL), Jake Peavy (LAD, COL), Johnny Cueto (@CHW, @MIN), Matt Wisler (WAS, STL), Ervin Santana (KC).
Fangraphs 3.8215
Fangraphs (Sleeper & Bust) 3.8421.
Starts left (8): Clayton Kershaw (@SF, SD), Drew Smyly (MIA), Eduardo Rodriguez (@NYY), Erasmo Ramirez (MIA), Ian Kennedy (MIL), Felix Hernandez (OAK), Chase Anderson (COL).
USA Today 3.8516

Our combination of Arrieta, Cole, and deGrom has BP way ahead of the pack in ERA and winning the category. But as is the case with wins, Zinkie is caught in the middle of a battle with several teams. Jason Collette/Paul Sporer of Fangraphs Sleeper & The Bust squad and USA Today might be longshots, but are listed just in case their pitchers have a big week. The best case for Zinkie in ERA is a two-point gain, and his general hope is that it is a big week of offense, since he has fewer pitchers going than most teams do.

WHIP
MLB.com 1.2026
Razzball 1.2089


Of all of the pitching categories, this is the most boring one. As is the case with ERA, BP is way out in front in WHIP and will not lose any points. Zinkie can only lose point to Razzball but cannot gain any points. Notice that there are two possibilities here that are almost mutually exclusive. If MLB.com passes Razzball in ERA, they probably will not lose any points in WHIP. Likewise, if MLB.com loses a point to Razzball in WHIP, it is unlikely that they also pass them in ERA.

Strikeouts
USA Today 1,332
Baseball Prospectus 1,311
Razzball 1,294
Fangraphs 1,280
MLB.com 1,272
Fantasy Score 1,258

Gardner is probably out of reach, but I listed him here just in case something weird happens. Our larger concern is shortened starts and the starting pitcher-heavy lineups that Razzball and Fangraphs are trotting out there this week. Zinkie’s six starts compared to eight for Fangraphs and nine for Razzball make it unlikely he will catch them and more likely he will slip behind Keith Hernandez of Fantasy Score, who is also running a starting pitcher-heavy lineup out there.

Regardless of how each individual category plays out, it seems extremely unlikely that this race comes down to the final day. You can follow along here if you are interested (and if you read this far along, you probably are).

Tout Wars NL


Jorge Lopez $13 ($26). Other bids: $12, $4. Player reserved: Joakim Soria.
Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com was the winning bidder on Lopez and I had the $12 bid. Twelve dollars was all I had left in FAAB and I had decided to push for starting pitching with my last bid. It appeared that Lopez might be a two-start guy when Cockcroft and I bid, but it turns out he is only getting one start, which will be tonight against the Padres. Lopez had a terrific year in the minors and could put up the best rate stats of any of this week’s pickups, but since Cockcroft is primarily playing in the hopes of making a big wins run, I’m a little surprised he made a one-start guy his first choice (he was aware that Lopez was a one-start pitcher when he made his bid). But since he is chasing and defending points, though he couldn’t simply bid on any two-start pitcher. This allowed me to get…

David Buchanan $5 ($13). Other bids: $4, $0. Player released: Aaron Nola.
Since I entered the week tied in wins with Cockcroft, I decided to go for volume with a two-start week for (gulp) Buchanan. His numbers have been terrible on the whole but he has pitched fairly well in his last two outings. My hope is that the Mets put a “B” lineup in there tonight and that the Marlins are running for the bus on Sunday.

Jarrett Parker $1 ($26). Player reserved: Elian Herrera.
Chris Rusin $1 ($16). Player released: Mat Latos.
Tony Cruz $1 ($4). Player released: Chris Stewart.
Josh Smith $1 ($4). Player reserved: Hunter Strickland
Brian Bogusevic $1 ($2). Player released: Ryan Braun.
Zach Davies $1 ($2). Player released: John Lamb.
Alex Guerrero $1 ($2). Player released: Ryan Zimmerman.
Aaron Hill $1 ($2). Player released: Phil Gosselin.
Brent Wallace $0. Player reserved: Matt Adams.
Joe Ross $0. Player reserved: Jason Hammel.
Steve Cishek $0. Player reserved: Ryan Weber.
Robbie Erlin $0. Player reserved: Daniel Hudson
Tyler Lyons $0. Player reserved: Jon Niese.

Cockcroft’s other move was to grab the hot hitting Parker. He has lost ground in the power categories in the last week to the hot hitting of Ray Guilfoyle’s Fake Teams squad and needs to hope that Parker continues to mash in the final week. Parker gets to face Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw this week, so while those pitchers are certainly not invincible, it will be a more difficult assignment for Parker this week than it was facing the Athletics Sonny Gray-less staff.

Most of the other teams made moves to try to maximize their point totals. Josh Smith’s two-start week was picked up, and starts from Rusin, Davies, and Erlin were also added to active rosters. But while it is great to try and go out with your head held high (as I certainly tried to do in my first five non-winning years in Tout Wars), the race has been down to two teams for some time now, and it might not even be much of a race in the final week depending on how things go in the next couple of days.


Table 3: Tout Wars NL Only 2015, Through Games of Sunday, September 27

Team

R

HR

RBI

SB

OBP

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

Total

+/-

Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus)

11.5

12

12

7

8

6.5

10

8

8

9

92.0

+2

Tristan Cockcroft (ESPN)

9

10

10

3

4

6.5

11

9

9

10

81.5

+1

Bold = points gained
Italics = points lost

Cockcroft isn’t dead by any means, but with all of the races done in the National League it is going to be difficult for him to pull ahead in offensive categories where he has lost ground. He can realistically gain 6.5 points overall, which would put him up to 88 points. This means I would have to lose four points for him to gain at least a tie. This certainly could happen but the maximum amount of points I can lose (again, realistically, without something crazy happening) is five. So if Cockcroft maximizes his points and I minimize mine, I would lose by a point. Can it happen? Of course it can, and I have seen wackier things than that go down in the final week. On the other hand, I have seen crazy things like this happen a grand total of two times in the last 20 years across multiple league platforms. The opportunity is there—and the race isn’t “officially” offer—but by Wednesday or Thursday it might very well be. Or I could still be sweating it out down to the wire. Don’t jinx me, Mike.

Tout Wars AL


Neftali Feliz $11 ($18). Other bid: $10. Player reserved: Jean Machi.
Felix Doubront $3 ($10).
Other bid: $2. Player reserved: Martin Perez.
Liam Hendriks $1 ($7). Player reserved: Jake Diekman.
Mikie Mahtook $1 ($4). Player reserved: James Jones.
Chris Bassitt $1 ($2). Player reserved: David Freese.
Jesus Sucre $0. Player released: Hank Conger.


The race didn’t change much in the AL, so as is the case for me in the NL, another week with a similar lead pushes Chris Liss of Rotowire that much closer to the title.

Table 5: Tout Wars AL Only 2015, Through Games of Sunday, September 27

Team

R

HR

RBI

SB

OBP

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

Total

+/-

Chris Liss, Rotowire

7

12

10

6

9

5

12

10

11

8

90.0

+1.5

Mike Podhorzer, Fangraphs

10

10

7

8

12

6.5

3

8

9

10

83.5

-0.5

Bold = points gained
Italics = points lost

Podhorzer has the same upward mobility he had last week, but time is running out for him to capitalize. However, unlike in the NL there is a significantly larger swing across all of the categories. Podhorzer picked up Doubront to try and grab wins where he can. Liss did not make any moves in FAAB; he is hoping the roster he has can maintain his lead and bring him his first Tout Wars title since he won in Tout Mixed back in 2009.

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:  Fantasy,  FAAB,  Expert Leagues

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