Each Friday, we are going to publish questions from our unofficial mailbag. We find that some of you email multiple members of the staff with the same question, while others hit us up at We have decided to share the knowledge, anonymously, with the populous, and allow you to ask additional questions in the comments for the fantasy staff to address.

Keeper league, Profar or Taveras? Does Profar’s position give him the edge or is Taveras's bat that special?

It's still Jurickson Profar for me, but they are both the elite of the elite as far as prospects are concerned. Oscar Taveras has the better bat and greater upside, but Profar has the middle-infield eligibility—and he's no slouch himself. Profar can become a true five-category contributor at one of fantasy's weakest positions. —Bret Sayre

The good news is you really can't go wrong here between Taveras and Profar. Even though Bret and Josh's rankings (which are a tremendous resource) have Profar over Taveras, I'd personally go the other way. I think Taveras has the more obvious path to playing time in St. Louis, and there's a greater chance he finds himself batting near the top of the order. You can't go wrong here though. —Paul Singman

I have been losing sleep over whether or not to keep Mike Olt on my fantasy AL-only roster. He is $7 out of the $260 cap we have. Right now he would be in my DH spot. Do you see him getting regular at bats in Texas? What is a safe bet for him numbers-wise? If he does get regular at-bats, will he be putting up good numbers even? I see his PECOTA projections, but the number of at-bats seems too high in my opinion. However, I would hate to drop him and then have him get regular at-bats and smash the ball like he is projected to do. Thanks for the help.

Personally, I would throw Olt back out and not lose any sleep over it. As you brought up, his playing time isn't guaranteed, although I do see him getting the call late in May/early June and accruing 300-350 plate appearances. Once up, he's still a batting-average liability, which puts on a damper on whatever power he'll offer. He will also bat at the back end of the Rangers lineup, limiting his run/RBI contributions. Olt is interesting for future years, but I'm not paying $7 for him in 2013. Good luck! —Paul Singman

I have a hard time seeing him getting enough playing time to warrant a $7 price tag in an AL-only. He may be the first guy up when Lance Berkman gets hurt, but he'd have to beat out Profar for that assignment as well. Plus, with his contact issues, there may be a longer adjustment period for him than higher-contact prospects. —Bret Sayre

My question is about roster construction and, more specifically, about using the bench. After playing in only mixed, snake, points leagues for several years, I'm now in a head-to-head, N- only, 6×6 (OPS and holds) league with no keepers. In the past I've used all my bench spots for starting pitchers, loading up on pitching starts for the week, figuring that if a position player goes down, I can find a decent free agent from the pool. I didn't want to waste a roster spot on a bench position player. Not so anymore. I'm wondering how you try to use your bench in a deeper league, balancing backups for positional players, with a deep stable of arms, capable of winning holds and saves, in addition to other categories? For reference, here's my roster of my recent auction draft with dollar values (note that some players, like Zack Cozart, got silly because of bidding wars between people with money left at the end of the draft). This was my first auction draft.

C Yadier Molina 14
1b Ike Davis 15
2b Aaron Hill 18
3b Todd Frazier 11
SS Ian Desmond 13
MI Zack Cozart 15
CI Yonder Alonso 3
OF Carl Crawford 6
OF Shin-Soo Choo 17
OF Jayson Werth 7
OF Norichika Aoki 14
U Alfonso Soriano 8
P Adam Wainwright 21
P Madison Bumgarner 16
P Johnny Cueto 17
P Jeff Samardzija 8
P Aroldis Chapman 16
P JJ Putz 11
P Luke Gregerson 5
P Bobby Parnell 5
BE Mike Adams 8
BE Wilton Lopez 1
BE David Hernandez 1
BE Carlos Quentin 9
BE Oscar Taveras 1

P.S.: Trevor Rosenthal is available as a free agent. Do you think he'd be more valuable in 2013 than some of those established holds guys?

Regarding bench construction, you should have a mix. You have excellent starters, so you don't really need to stack any of them on your bench, but I'd never go all hitting or all pitching. I'd probably want my best offensive guys covered, which you have done. Your outfield is your strength, and it's covered by having Quentin on the bench and then even Taveras when he comes up. I think you've built a strong team here. —Paul Sporer

We are going to be adding an expansion owner in my 12-team dynasty. What is the best way to do a dynasty expansion draft? I was thinking protecting five players per team and letting the rest be drafted. Once a player is drafted from your team, you can pull back someone else. That even close?

That's pretty fair right there. I was gonna say 5-6 for sure. Give folks a chance to protect their core.  —Paul Sporer

I am in a league where saves and holds are one category. Would you draft saves first or wait and grab holds, and could you help with two or three strong holds guys?

I don't play in any holds leagues, but Paul believes holds are everywhere,e so there is no reason to reach for them. —Jason Collette

I'm picking fourth in a new 12-team keeper league, using Tristan's 6×6 (OBP and SLG). I've been taking Robinson Cano in mocks, but we use four outfield spots and I am worried about not having an elite guy to anchor my outfield. Would I be crazy for taking Andrew McCutchen and passing on Cano?

Nah, it wouldn't be crazy. There are a LOT of guys who are viable at 4. I took Stanton in one draft earlier in the winter. I think you could go any number of ways without it being "crazy.” Go with your gut there at fourth overall. —Paul Sporer

To what do you attribute Jordan Zimmermann's increased strikeout rate in the second half last year? Will he keep it up anywhere close to that and will the higher ERA and WHIP come with it? Guess I am looking at him over R.A. Dickey as a keeper (quality-start league) in case Dickey's strikeout rate plummets.

Zimmermann needs to learn to balance strikeouts grounders, as I wrote in the SP Guide. Check that out for a more detailed analysis. Zimmermann isn't one who seeks out strikeouts, so while the talent is there, the results will be sporadic. 

I'm still okay with valuing Dickey higher despite my unquestioned love for Zimmermann. —Paul Sporer

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
Everyone talks about positional scarcity but I'm not buying it. I often wonder but don't have the time to research about statistical scarcity. For example... take the OF position. What if you took the average of the tier two players and compared them to the tier four players (I'm not using Tier one since they are an anomaly)and then you noted the difference and then compared them to another positions difference between tier two and four? When I look at SS the difference in stats between tier two and four seems so small in counting stats that I almost feel like it's flipping a coin. Am I on to something or just ON something when I think this?
I do use this in my rankings. I take the difference between the players in basically the second tier & compare to the players in the bottom tier that will be drafted. I don't use tiers as sure but percentiles, but it comes out the same. Then I set my positional adjustment based on the difference. If the difference is greater for outfielders than shortstops, I make sure I load up on outfielders first. I've had good success with this but it can be time consuming and counter-intuitive. It also results in me almost never getting catchers early as everyone jumps on them because of scarcity but I know there's not much difference between catcher #10 & catcher #20.
I wish we had a BP messaging system or back-channel discussion area so I could pick your brain more on this. Thanks for the confirmation.
One more: sometimes I'll stream hitters. I noticed that certain players seem to hit HRs in bunches over several days. Has anyone ever done research to find batters who are statistically more likely to hit a HR the day following hitting a HR? I end up going through two years worth of game logs when I do this and it's a bit tedious.
I think it's unlikely. BP has an article I found with a simple google search on hitter streakiness. They basically found nothing.

I believe it's just an after the fact narrative. Convince yourself of what you'd like, but the study seems pretty conclusive.

It's similar to the hot hand idea in basketball. Seems pretty clear it's just post hoc rationalization. Remove the feedback of whether the ball went in the hoop, and they weren't able to tell when they were hot.

Human brains don't deal well with randomness, so we ascribe a narrative.
That seems like same old cant prove it so it doesn't exist logic. Mark Reynolds is streaky as hell. When he gets hot you can ride it.
Yeah, but you forget the times he's on your bench, has a two homer game, so you stick him in the lineup and he goes 1 for 31 with 17Ks for the next week. Anyway, I'm going with the intelligent analysis over the one man knows approach again.
Trying to decided who to draft in a nl only 10 team keeper league Travis D'Arnoud, Devin Mesoroca, and Yasmanin Grandal are all available how would you rank them going forward.
D'Arnoud had scouts love all over despite not play single major lg game. Grandal has last year's sample for your reference. Bad news for Devin Mesoroca, he has a full season of P/T stats. This would be my rank personally. Given Devin 's receiving struggle, he has to hit way more to be a top of this group (bad glove in Dusty Baker's eye = less playing time.)
Regarding holds and saves; my league switched to a combined holds and saves category in 2005. Our experience is that saves are a much more reliable outcome than holds. Thus while closers are still the preferred first choice, middle guys can no longer be ignored. Why bother to combine the categories? Two reasons; we wanted to give more value to middle guys and we wanted to rein in the price of closers (auction league) which had become ridiculous. The combined category met our objectives.
Not to give away my secret to success, but in H2H leagues, I think it's always better to use all you bench spots for pitching. In rotisserie leagues, you have a max number of GS's or IP's for the season, meaning 5 or 6 good starters will be enough to meet the max. You don't want to waste a start on Doug Fister in May, if it costs you a Justin Verlander start in Spetember. In H2H leagues though, You can pick up a couple of guys in the back of the draft like Fister and Tim Hudson, and the two together will put up the numbers of an elite SP.

In H2H leagues, I always end up with a bunch of low WHIP/ERA guys with low K totals. You can pick up those guys at the back of the draft and concentrate 8 or 9 of your first 10 picks on offense.
Fister at the back end of a draft??
In my 15-team NFBC league I have Jose Reyes and Rickie Weeks at SS and 2B, but ended up with Tyler Greene as my middle infielder. I do have Stephen Drew on my bench, but with Tyler Greene headed to AAA, I am looking at putting in a bid on another MIF. How would you rank these great choices: Mark Ellis, Ruben Tejada, Brandon Crawford, Pete Kozma, Jamey Carroll, Brian Dozier and Ryan Roberts? It's $1000 FAAb, so any thoughts on how much to bid would be appreciated as well -- first time NFBC player. Thanks!
Tejada, then Ellis and maybe Crawford for me. Tejada has some upside and his floor isn't ugly. Ellis and Crawford have gloves that will keep them in the lineup but the bat is shakier.