April 18, 2017
Expert FAAB Review
Welcome back to The FAAB Review, the weekly series that looks at FAAB bidding in expert leagues to help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Every week, I closely scrutinize the expert free agent bids in LABR Mixed, Tout Wars NL, and LABR AL.
As a reminder, LABR uses a $100 budget with one-dollar minimum bids, while Tout Wars uses a $1,000 budget with zero-dollar minimum bids. LABR and Tout Wars use a bidding deadline of Sunday at midnight ET for all FAAB claims. Any statistics mentioned in this article are through the previous Sunday’s games.
Derek Holland $17. Tout Auction $27. [@NYY (yesterday), CLE)
Monday night was the first time I saw Holland pitch in 2017. He doesn’t have his pre-injury velocity back and is compensating by throwing fewer fastballs and relying more on off-speed offerings. It worked well for Holland in his first two starts, but this week’s unfavorable matchups were not the best time to roll Holland out there, even before he got drubbed by the streaking Yankees.
Chase Anderson $17. Tout Auction $47. Tout Draft $95. [@CHC (yesterday), STL)
As is the case with Holland, Anderson was off to a strong start before last night’s subpar outing. I am slightly more intrigued by Anderson than I am by Holland in mixed leagues due to what appears to be increased usage of a cutter. The unlikely dip in Anderson’s line drive rate means this is more likely a mirage than a miracle, but Anderson could have some use in mixed leagues as a streamer.
Jeremy Jeffress $13. Other bids: $2, $2.
This bid—and all the bids on Rangers’ relievers in this article—came Sunday night, before Sam Dyson was put on the DL and before the Rangers named Matt Bush the new closer. Todd Zola of Mastersball took the $13 stab at Jeffress, figuring that even if Bush was named the new closer that it is far from ironclad that Bush keeps the job, particularly since he has already reported AC joint soreness. On the other hand, the Rangers’ bullpen is in flux, and any of the relievers mentioned in this article could be in line for saves at some point this season. Even Keone Kela, who was just promoted from Triple-A, could be the closer at some point in Texas in 2017.
Todd Zola of Mastersball bought Holland, Anderson, and Jeffress in LABR. These three players comprise nearly half of his budget, so he obviously believes in all three and/or has a significant need. You can read Todd’s take on his bids in his own FAAB column here.
J.J. Hardy $7
Dan Straily $5. Other bid: $1. (@SD)
Straily pitched 5 1/3 innings of no-hit ball against the Mets on Sunday before being pulled for a reliever. He walked five, and despite the solid ERA he hasn’t shown much consistency with his control thus far in 2017. This week’s matchup against the Padres at Petco is solid, although San Diego didn’t play as an extreme pitchers’ park in 2016 and probably won’t this year either.
Trey Mancini $5. Other bid $4. Tout Auction: $87. Tout Draft: $42
There is no greater arbitrary endpoint than Opening Day.
Hitter A: 44 PA, 6 HR, 12 runs, 11 RBI, .368 AVG, .455 OBP, .921 SLG
Hitter B: 39 PA, 7 HR, 8 runs, 14 RBI, .361 AVG, .410 OBP, 1.000 SLG
Hitter A is Eric Thames in 2017, who has (deservedly) received oodles of positive press and accolades for his fast start. Hitter B is Mancini in 2016 and 2017 combined. Outside of Baltimore, Mancini has not nearly received as much positive attention for his amazing feats of small sample as Thames has.
Regardless of when the small sample is accumulated, we cannot help ourselves when it comes to heaping praise. Here are the top 10 hitters by OPS (minimum of 30 plate appearances) dating back to 2016.
1) Mancini 1.410
2) Thames 1.376
3) Matt Davidson 1.180
4) Jose Martinez 1.103
5) Jesus Sucre 1.098
6) Pedro Severino 1.048
7) David Ortiz 1.021
8) Tom Murphy 1.006
9) Mike Trout .993
10) Daniel Murphy .991
Two potential Hall of Famers, a believable mid-career resurgence in Murphy—and a lot of question marks. I’m happy for Matt Davidson too, but I don’t think he is the next coming of Mike Schmidt. I forgot about Pedro Severino’s streak, which means you probably did too.
While Mancini isn’t going to swat 80 home runs, he is going to have play somewhere if he continues to hit. Thirty home runs in that ballpark is a legitimate possibility. Even if the batting average settles in somewhere around .260, that will play.
Miguel Rojas $4. Tout Draft: $0.
Jesse Chavez $3. Tout Auction $4. [@HOU (yesterday), TOR]
Both winning bids came from our handsome and fearless manager Bret Sayre, which means (flips through my Baseball Prospectus contract) … hold on a second (wait, I have to bring Craig a “hot dog sandwich” every year that Easter is later than April 14?) …one more minute (why do I have to wear Spiderman Underoos to Baseball Prospectus’ events?)…hold on (oh, THERE it is!) … I have to write something about the transactions in this week’s FAAB logs. I need a better agent.
Bret said he liked Chavez’s two matchups this week and that Chavez has historically been a solid first half pitcher before falling apart in the second half. Bret also said he’s “not sure why (Chavez) doesn’t get any love. He’s not a bad pitcher.” In 15-team mixed, I am inclined to agree.
Jed Lowrie $3
David Freese $3. Other bid: $1. Tout Auction: $37. Tout Draft: $75.
After the bidding was completed in the expert leagues, it was announced that the appeal on Kang’s visa status will be heard May 25. Even if Kang wins his appeal, this makes mid-June the best-case scenario for his return to the majors in 2017. As a result, Freese is locked in as the starting third baseman for the Pirates. He is off to a strong start, although if Freese is the starter all year, he will settle in as a lower-end corner option in deep mixed leagues.
Jesse Hahn $2. Other bid: $1. Tout Draft: $16. (TEX)
I wrote about Hahn last week in the AL section of the FAAB Review.
Hahn didn’t start the regular season in the Athletics’ rotation, but he will get an early opportunity, getting flipped into the Athletics’ front five in favor of Raul Alcantara. He already is stretched out, as he threw six innings in a relief outing, so he should be able to go at least five or innings against the Royals. Hahn is intriguing if he can bounce back to prior levels of performance, but this is far from a sure thing. Hahn has not had a decent strikeout rate since 2014, and is a poor fantasy bet until he shows he can whiff seven per nine at the major league level, at a minimum.
Hahn tossed six innings against the Royals and, despite allowing three runs, looked solid in the process. The analysis from last week remains unchanged.
Jesse Hahn reminds me of Don Hahn, a journeyman outfielder who played from 1969 through 1975 with the Expos, Mets, Phillies, Cardinals and Padres. When I was a kid, my parents dragged me to a LOT of yard sales. Most of them were boring, but sometimes there were baseball cards for sale. Sometimes there were books about baseball; old dime-store biographies are how I learned a lot about the game. At one garage sale, I hit the jackpot: a partial Strat-O-Matic set with 12 of the 1971 teams, on sale for a quarter. I must have spent hundreds of hours playing with that set before moving on to contemporary seasons. Not only did I recreate imaginary pennant races with my 12-team league but I would also treat my Strat-O-Matic player cards like characters in a role-playing game, creating fake player feuds and making some players the leaders inside of my imaginary clubhouses. One of these make-believe clubhouse leaders was Hahn. Despite his .292 SLG in 1971, the Mets of my table top game loved him, and would shout “Mr. DAAAAHN HAAAAAAHN!” whenever he came into the clubhouse or when he came up with a big hit. This is one of those memories I unearthed, and would not have recollected without the associated of Jesse with Don.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun with that 1971 partial Strat-O-Matic set. I don’t think I would have become interested in fantasy baseball without being exposed to that game.
Yandy Diaz $1
Trevor Cahill $1 (MIA)
Mike Fiers $1. Tout Auction: $17 (LAA)
Chris Young $1
Manny Piña $1. Tout Auction: $4
Antonio Senzatela $1 (SF)
This is Chris Young the hitter. He is a solid pickup this week with Jackie Bradley slated to spend most of the week on the DL.
Cahill got hit hard against the Braves on Sunday but remains a decent streaming option for mixed. Fiers is better than a streaming option and probably should be owned in anything deeper than a 12-team mixed league.
Piña is splitting the at-bats down the middle in Milwaukee with Jett Bandy. This is a tough situation in a league like LABR, which carries 30 catchers. Pina is borderline in this format, but so is Bandy, and so are many catchers in job sharing arrangements. A dollar is fine for Pina, but the return is likely to be marginal.
Jordan Montgomery $9. Other bids: $6, $5, $2. [CWS (yesterday), @PIT)
George Bissell covered Montgomery in Free Agent Watch a week ago so I don’t need to rehash George’s words here. I picked up Montgomery in LABR. With Chris Tillman already on the DL and J.A. Happ a likely DL candidate, I decided that I needed to scoop up Montgomery’s two starts this week and see what happens after that. This feels slightly expensive to me, but given some of the starting-pitcher winning bids to date (for example, Ariel Miranda went for $7), as well as a lack of available starting pitchers, I felt like I had to be aggressive to win the player. It’s better to spend two or three dollars “too much” than it is to leave a hole on your team to save a couple of FAAB dollars.
Chris Coghlan $7. Other bids: $3, $1. Tout AL: $56
Coghlan was called up from Triple-A to replace the injured Josh Donaldson, and Coghlan should get most of the starts at third base while Donaldson is out. Coghlan wasn’t very good in 2016 but he was a double-digit home run/steal guy in 2015 for the Chicago Cubs. He’s better in OBP leagues, but should provide solid value in AL-only as a regular.
Tony Barnette $6. Other bid: $2. Tout AL: $22.
I ran through the Texas closer situation above in the mixed section, under Jeffress. I bid $2 on Barnette. At the time of my bid, my hunch was that Bush or Jeffress would get the first shot to replace Dyson. I have Dyson in LABR and have Kela on reserve. Chasing uncertain saves in an unsettled bullpen is the road to the second division. I made my bed with Dyson and Kela and am willing to sleep in it. If I do spend big on a closer in FAAB, it will be on a more reliable commodity than Barnette.
Andrew Romine $5. Other bid: $4.
Romine and JaCoby Jones are splitting time in center field for the Tigers. It isn’t a straight platoon, as Jones has picked up some starts against righties. Romine has been a bench bat for his entire major league career but the Tigers lack a true center fielder so it is possible that Romine continues to get semi-regular at-bats for Detroit for the foreseeable future. The most attractive thing about Romine from a fantasy perspective is that he is can steal a few bases.
Christian Vazquez $5
Dylan Covey $4 (@NYY)
Brad Peacock $4
Omar Narvaez $2
Jose LeClerc $2. Other bid: $1. Tout AL: $100.
LeClerc is the dark horse to pick up saves in the Rangers bullpen. Or the favorite. Who knows anymore? As I said above, I didn’t even bother trying to throw FAAB at my in-auction mistake.
Jaff Decker $2
Craig Gentry $2
Zach Putnam $1
Joakim Soria $1
In addition to Montgomery, I activated Andrew Cashner and Tyler Collins. Jackie Bradley went to my DL and I cut Bryan Shaw.
Tout Wars NL
Melvin Upton $113. Other bids: $111, $33.
I bid $33 on Upton. With Jarrod Parker’s injury and the paucity of decent internal options for the Giants in the outfield, I figured it was worth taking zeroes on my active roster for a week while Upton spends a week or two in the minors getting back into game shape.
Craig Mish of Sirius XM was far more aggressive than I was and narrowly beat out Lenny Melnick of Roto Experts with a $113 bid. This could be a solid purchase for Mish. Upton earned $19 last year in mono league 5x5 OBP formats and was a 20/20 player. The downside of Upton is that he was bad with the Blue Jays after he was traded. If he repeats that performance with the Giants he could disappear quickly. He is worth the risk, but even when I was considering a more-aggressive bid, I was not going to go past $75. Some of this was pertinent to my situation; I already am projected to get a lot of steals and do not want to hurt my OBP.
Brock Stassi $22. LABR NL: $2
At the age of 27, Stassi finally earned a big-league shot, breaking camp with the Phillies on Opening Day. He quietly put up two solid seasons in the minors in 2015 and 2016, although he was old for his level. Stassi made some legitimate improvements in the minors with the bat and certainly earned his shot but thus far has looked overmatched in the bigs. Tommy Joseph’s slow start might buy Stassi a little more time, but I don’t like this play even in an only. Even if Stassi produces like he did in Triple-A, there isn’t enough playing time in Philadelphia as a part-timer for Stassi to be worthwhile as anything more than a third corner in only.
Alen Hanson $12. Other bid: $6.
Jarred Cosart $7. LABR NL: $1 (ARZ, MIA)
Mike Dunn $2
J.J. Hoover $1
Tyler Lyons $0
Pedro Baez $0
Robert Stephenson $0
Hector Sanchez $0
I had the $6 bid on Hanson. Dunn was my third choice for a FAAB bid in a week where I didn’t truly need a player and was looking to add someone because I had the roster flexibility this week.
Cosart was the only free-agent starting pitcher purchased in Tout this week. Relievers continue to garner more interest among the expert bidders than starting pitchers, which is a slightly interesting development.
Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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