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June 9, 2016

Fantasy Freestyle

Building a Contender in TGDX

by J.P. Breen

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Regular Baseball Prospectus readers are familiar with The Dynasty Guru Experts League (TDGX). It’s a 20-team, 40-man-roster dynasty league that’s run by our benevolent leader, Bret Sayre, and it includes experts from across the industry—from BP to CBSSports to FanGraphs to MLB.com and beyond. We chronicle the weekly transactions and occasionally have an in-depth article from a TDGX owner that digs into the nitty gritty of his roster and his past/future strategy.

TDGX was my first dynasty league when it began in 2014. My inexperience led to a catastrophe of a draft, and I was the first team to officially embark on a roster rebuild. I finished in 18th in 2014 and 16th in 2015—firmly in the bottom fourth of the league. However, when looking at weekly results in the second half of last year, I began creeping up into the 6-10 range, which gave me hope that I was nearing contention.

Verdict: I’m currently in fifth place this year and have been quite active in the trade market.

My current roster is below (keep in mind that 200-plus prospects are owned and roughly 500 big-league players are also owned):

C

Yan Gomes, CLE

P

Kenta Maeda, LAD

1B

Wil Myers, SD

P

Kevin Gausman, BAL

2B

Ian Kinsler, DET

P

Tyler Chatwood, COL

SS

Jonathan Villar, MIL

P

Brandon Finnegan, CIN

3B

Yasmany Tomas, AZ

P

Martin Perez, TEX

MI

Jonathan Schoop, BAL

P

Jimmy Nelson, MIL

CI

Jung Ho Kang, PIT

P

Jeremy Jeffress, MIL

OF

Charlie Blackmon, COL

P

Jake McGee, COL

OF

Ian Desmond, TEX

P

Steve Cishek, SEA

OF

Adam Eaton, CHW

OF

Stephen Piscotty, STL

DL

Zack Wheeler, NYM

OF

Denard Span, SF

DL

Shelby Miller, AZ

UTIL

Yunel Escobar, LAA

DL

Andrew Heaney, LAA

UTIL

Domingo Santana, MIL

BEN

Tommy Joseph, PHI

MiLB

Blake Snell, TB

BEN

Devon Travis, TOR

MiLB

Jacob Nottingham, MIL

BEN

Matt Wieters, BAL

MiLB

Jorge Lopez, MIL

BEN

Jorge Iglesias, DET

MiLB

Javier Guerra, SD

BEN

Ender Inciarte, ATL

MiLB

Cody Ponce, MIL

BEN

Jorge Polanco, MIN

MiLB

Ke’Bryan Hayes, PIT

BEN

Aaron Blair, ATL

MiLB

Marcos Diplan, MIL

MiLB

Demi Orimoloye, MIL

MiLB

Dylan Cease, CHC

MiLB

Chase Vallot, KC

I’ve paid most attention to my bats, due to the depth of the league and the number of offensive roster spots required, and it’s gone better than expected. My squad has accumulated the third-most offensive roto points in the league, and it’s not anchored with aging players. This was largely accomplished through biting the bullet and moving prized prospects Joey Gallo and Javy Baez for Charlie Blackmon, Yunel Escobar, Jung Ho Kang, and Ender Inciarte. I moved Alex Wood for Devon Travis. I moved Francisco Rodriguez for Denard Span. I moved a package surrounding Ryan McMahon for Jonathan Villar and Jeremy Jeffress.

My overarching strategy has been to amass enough big-league bats to have the flexibility to start moving them for upgrades. I now have the necessary depth to make deals without worrying about specific positions or holes. I have redundancies at every position with legitimate starting options for most positions on the bench.

In deep dynasty leagues, such as this one, I think depth is an underappreciated asset. Premium players are undoubtedly important; however, a groundwork of usable big-league depth has to be built up before those premium pieces can legitimately be acquired without torpedoing massive holes in one’s roster. It’s also the only way to successfully deal with injuries, as the waiver wire is relatively useless in that regard.

With that said, I’m only in fifth place because my pitching staff is obscenely mediocre. It’s being carried by Tyler Chatwood, who I grabbed off the waiver wire in April and don’t expect to be a long-term solution, and it lacks high-end impact. A rotation that has Martin Perez, Tyler Chatwood, and Brandon Finnegan isn’t competing for championships anytime soon, even in this deep of a league.

My plan since the beginning of the year has been to tread water with my pitching staff until Blake Snell gets called up and Zack Wheeler returns from injury. Those are two potential SP2s and should bring the strikeouts that my squad desperately needs. The question is whether that will make enough of a difference to make a push for the top-three. My gut reaction is no, but this league has shown that quality major-league arms are available for mid-tier bats… so I may have the possibility to grab an arm or two in the coming weeks.

I’m also banking on a couple of short-season players to breakout and become attractive trade targets this fall, namely Demi Orimoloye and Dylan Cease. Orimoloye could catapult himself into top-100 prospect territory with a strong Pioneer League campaign. If that happens, I’m confident that I can package him in a deal to upgrade my roster before it comes time to cut-down rosters for the winter.

Orimoloye hit .291/.319/.518 with six homers and 19 stolen bases with the AZL Brewers a year ago at just 18 years old. He fell in the MLB Draft due to an off-and-on spring; however, he flashes five tools when he’s at his best and had scouts salivating in August. Cease, on the other hand, posted a 2.63 ERA with a 24.8 percent strikeout rate a year ago at just 19 years old, and he got some serious helium in the spring. I’m hoping for a little bit of #CubsTwitter bump in value, too. Kidding. Sort of.

TDGX has been highly enjoyable. My theories on how to author a complete rebuild without taking three-plus years to do so will continue to evolve, but I’ve been pleased with my squad this year. We’ll see how it looks in three months.

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

Related Content:  Fantasy,  Dynasty Leagues,  Expert Leagues,  TGDX

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Cold Takes: The Stolen... (06/08)
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