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Welcome to The FAAB Review, the series that looks at FAAB bidding in expert leagues to try and help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Zach Steinhorn covers the Tout Wars mixed auction league and LABR NL, while Mike Gianella tackles Tout Wars NL and LABR AL. LABR uses a $100 FAAB budget with one-dollar minimum bids, while Tout Wars uses a $1,000 budget with zero-dollar minimum bids.

Tout Wars’ free agents are awarded at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday while LABR’s are awarded on Sunday at midnight ET.

Tout Wars Mixed Auction

Keynan Middleton $215 (Other bids: $78, $57, $27, $16, $15) Tout Mixed Draft: $207

This league has historically placed a very high value on closers or potential closers in FAAB bidding, which is why I personally prefer to draft two solid stoppers so that I won’t  need to deplete my FAAB budget by chasing guys who might not even give me any saves. In the case of Middleton, it does look like he’s Mike Scioscia’s closer of the moment as he picked up a save last weekend and finished off Friday’s game by tossing a scoreless ninth inning, albeit with a four-run lead. Do note that he was already warming up before the Angels extended their lead in the eighth. Still, no clear announcement has been made, so $215 is an aggressive bid that far exceeded the second-highest bid.

Shohei Ohtani (hitter) $111 (Other bids: $56, $42, $35)

We all knew this was coming, right? Apparently, Ohtani the hitter is pretty good too, as he’s 7-for-18 (.389 AVG) so far and is coming off a dramatic week at the plate in which he swatted three home runs while collecting seven RBIs. That said, it remains to be seen if Ohtani will receive enough at-bats this season to maintain mixed-league value on the hitting side. And then there’s the factor of big league pitchers adjusting to him. This could turn out to be a worthwhile buy, but I like him a lot more at $56.

Christian Villanueva $95 (Other bids: $57, $42, $27, $1, $0) LABR Mixed: $6. Tout Mixed Draft: $3

While we’re on the subject of home run chasing, Villanueva has three homers through seven games, all of them recorded in the same game. He’s shown decent pop in the minors but Petco won’t do him any favors in that regard going forward. Let’s just say I’m lukewarm on Villanueva.

Jeremy Jeffress $78

Matt Albers $77 (Other bids: $22, $7, $1, $0, $0)  LABR Mixed: $14. Tout Mixed Draft: $33

Interesting. Jeffress and Albers, two candidates to earn saves for the Brewers while Corey Knebel is sidelined, went for almost the exact same price, the Jeffress bid being uncontested while six owners tried to grab Albers. Jacob Barnes was considered the favorite but then he blew a save chance on Saturday. This situation could get messy, so hopefully you have the luxury of avoiding it entirely.

Hunter Renfroe $76 (Other bid: $0)

Joey Lucchesi $71 (Other bids: $36, $27, $26, $1) LABR Mixed: $3. Tout Mixed Draft: $13

In need of more starting pitching options, I would have liked to add Lucchesi, who boasts a strong minor league track record, including a stellar strikeout rate, and is coming off an impressive performance in his second big league start. Unfortunately, my $36 bid fell short.

Victor Martinez $46

Jordan Hicks $45 (Other bids: $0, $0) Tout Mixed Draft: $13

Jose Urena $36 (Other bid: $0)

So, instead of Lucchesi, I settled for Urena, who is risky and a little boring. But he’s fresh off an exceptional outing versus a dangerous Red Sox lineup and is a two-start pitcher this week with a pair of decent home matchups against the Mets and Pirates.

Luis Valbuena $36 (Other bids: $2, $1) LABR Mixed: $2. Tout Mixed Draft: $43

Howie Kendrick $27 (Other bids: $12, $2, $1)

Drew Robinson $26 (Other bid: $6)

Aledmys Diaz $22

Dustin Fowler $19

Martin Maldonado $19

Jon Jay $4 (Other bid: $2)

Alex Wilson $1

Tony Watson $0 LABR Mixed: $1

Tout Wars NL

Matt Albers $48 (Other bids: $16, $10, $5)

Corey Knebel’s hamstring injury will keep him on the disabled list for about six weeks. Jacob Barnes is the early favorite to close in Milwaukee but is already gone in most NL-only leagues, including Tout Wars. Albers is one of the relievers who is next-in-line should Barnes struggle, particularly since the Brewers have indicated they prefer Josh Hader in a multi-inning role. Phil Hertz of Baseball HQ came in with the aggressive $48 bid. Hertz didn’t purchase any closers at auction and is hoping Albers can at least pick up a few stray saves while Knebel is out. Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN has Knebel and placed a $4 supplemental bid on Albers.

A few hours after the FAAB deadline, Hertz traded Ian Happ to Grey Albright of Razzball for Jeurys Familia. Albright had Familia, Sean Doolittle and Hunter Strickland and could easily afford to move the closer. Three Tout teams currently have no closer, so Hertz wisely acted early to capitalize rather than waiting a month or two.

Tyson Ross $25 (Other bid: $3) (SF)

Ross picked up the win in his 2018 debut against Colorado but looked kind of rusty, striking out only two in six innings. The results in his second outing were worse, but Ross’ K/BB ratio and his somewhat increased velocity were both encouraging signs. The odds of Ross’ sustained success or failure hinge on his health and his slider, his bread-and-butter pitch when he was flying high in 2014-2015. Cockcroft picked up Ross for $25. His strategy revolves around risky starting pitching to go with strong ratios from his Kenley Jansen/Knebel combination, so things aren’t exactly going according to plan thus far.

Robert Gsellman $21. (Other bid: $18)

The $18 bid was mine but I narrowly lost out in my quest to add a second Mets starter-turned reliever to Hertz. Gsellman has looked great out of the bullpen thus far, with nine strikeouts and one run allowed in six innings and a win to show for it. Gsellman has ramped up his velocity in his new role, averaging 94 miles-per-hour on his heater and in the upper 80s with his slider. Gsellman is a fine choice in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues, where he is likely to have more value than many back-end starting pitchers with below average strikeout rates.

Pedro Severino $11

Kazuhisa Makita $8 (Other bid: $6)

Gorkys Hernandez $6

Victor Caratini $3 (Other bid: $0)

Craig Stammen $2

Trevor Richards $1 (PIT)

Jeremy Jeffress $1

Shelby Miller $1

Greg Garcia $0

Justin Wilson $0

A.J. Ellis $0

It was another quiet week in NL Tout. Severino is likely to split at-bats behind the plate with Miguel Montero while Matt Wieters is out. Caratini could get at-bats at first base if Anthony Rizzo’s back issues linger. I bid $1 on Miller. I must keep him active for a week per Tout Wars rules. With the Cubs facing only one lefty this week, I’ll move Albert Almora to the bench and carry 10 pitchers including Miller on my active roster. Miller probably won’t be up until mid-season but with unlimited DL spots in Tout, these are the kind of moves I like to make early to try to build up a reserve list in-season.

LABR AL

Drew Robinson $12 (Other bids: $4, $4, $3, $1, $1)

I kind of/sort of recommended Robinson in an earlier edition of the FAAB Review after Ryan Rua was picked up. Now my lukewarm prediction has come to fruition, with Robinson getting most of the extra plate appearances in Texas while Delino DeShields recovers from a fractured hamate bone. Robinson has a home run and a stolen base in 27 plate appearances for Texas. His ceiling is a 15-20 home run seasonal pace, which matters far more in mono than it does in mixed. It helps that his playing time is relatively safe while DeShields is out. I bid $4. I keep trying and failing to replace Jose Iglesias in my lineup.

Dan Vogelbach $9 (Other bids: $8, $7, $2, $2)

Your eyes are not deceiving you. This is the second time in three weeks Vogelbach has been featured in the AL section of The FAAB Review. Clay Link of Rotoexperts purchased Vogelbach in Week 1 for $8 and then dropped him for Tyler Austin a week later. Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN was the winning bidder this time around, narrowly beating my $8 bid in my other attempt to replace Iglesias. Vogey has been DHing in Nelson Cruz’s absence and will slide over to first base when Cruz returns this week because of Ryon Healy’s twisted ankle. Vogelbach has a window to impress and take some or all of Healy’s job but the results thus far haven’t been anything special. There is a 25-30 home run hitter lurking in Vogelbach but he’s an AL-only play and nothing more until he shows some of this power in game action.

Bartolo Colon $5

Hector Velazquez $5 (Other bid: $1)

With Eduardo Rodriguez back in the rotation and Drew Pomeranz soon to follow, Velazquez moves to the Red Sox bullpen and would seem to have little if any fantasy value. However, the play here is as future starting pitching depth. I bid $1 to “stash” Velazquez on my active roster but Lawr Michaels of Creativesports was far more aggressive, beating me handily. The back end of my pitching staff is a mess, but I’ll get to that later.

Niko Goodrum $5 (Other bids: $2, $2, $1)

A long, long time ago (OK, in November 2012), Goodrum was a “projectable shortstop with some power potential.” The power never materialized and Goodrum went from middle-of-the-road Twins prospect to Triple-A starting infielder or major league utility guy. The Tigers are giving him an opportunity on their bench and thus far he has responded admirably, with a home run and three steals in 18 plate appearances. The steals are the most intriguing part of the package, and while no one expects Goodrum to come close to his career high of 35 at High-A Fort Myers in 2014, the speed is legitimate, and he could steal 15-20 if he can log consistent time across the diamond for a rebuilding Detroit team.

Joe Kelly $2

Daniel Robertson $2 (Other bids: $1)
(inhales deeply)

Now here’s to you, Daniel Robertson
AL-only is the place for you
Woo woo woo
Health bless you please, Daniel Robertson
Mono holds a place for those who play
Hey hey hey. Hey hey hey

Put him on your roster and hope he gets some at-bats
Maybe he’ll steal a base or two
It’s a little secret, just Dan Robertson’s affair
Most of all, you’ve got to make a good FAAB bid.

Where have you gone, Evan Longoria
A small market turns its lonely eyes to you
Woo woo woo
What’s that you say Daniel Robertson
Ownership traded everyone away
Hey hey hey. Hey hey hey

No one under the age of 40 will comprehend this.

Anyway, with Brad Miller heading to the DL, Robertson will split time at second base with Joey Wendle. Robertson is off to a terrific start fueled by a .571 BABIP that won’t last. He has very little power or speed and his value is wrapped almost entirely in his playing time.

Some might ask why I went with this joke under Robertson instead of Robinson when the Simon and Garfunkel song I based this joke on is called Mrs. Robinson. Well, that’s an excellent question, dear reader. It is partially due to the jokes above working better with the perpetually rebuilding Rays than with the Rangers but also because I came up with this bit at 8:00 a.m. when I saw the FAAB bids and was already committed to using Robertson as part of the joke. Gems like these and many others can be found in my upcoming book: Writing FAAB Reviews: Tricks and Tips for the Fantasy Novice, coming soon to fine bus stations and dental waiting rooms near you!

Juan Centeno $2 (Other bid: $1)

Centeno saw a little more playing time last week than expected due to a minor Robinson Chirinos injury. Chirinos seems to be fine so Centeno should go back to playing once or twice a week. He’s an extremely low-end AL-only option, even in two-catcher leagues.

Luke Maile $1

Domingo German $1 Tout Wars AL: $13

Chris Martin $1

Jim Johnson $1

Brandon Guyer $1

I lost out on Vogelbach and Robinson but managed to add Johnson to my team for $1. Matt Shoemaker and JC Ramirez both landed on the DL and I decided that my roster and my heart aren’t ready for the James Shields experience just yet. With only three starts scheduled for this week, I am running the risk of digging an early hole in strikeouts but it’s a marathon and not a sprint and it’s better to be patient than to add Martin Perez and Chris Tillman to my roster to chase a handful of whiffs at the expense of my ERA and WHIP.

LABR NL

Joey Lucchesi $23 (Other bids: $22, $5, $4, $1)

Well, I missed out on Lucchesi in Tout Wars, so I wasn’t about to let that happen here. Actually, while adding a starting pitcher in Tout would have been nice, it was an absolute necessity here considering the struggles of Julio Teheran and Jhoulys Chacin and the fact that my starting staff included only four guys who are currently starting, one of them being Jake Arrieta. The price for Lucchesi was high, but if he can give me strikeouts with decent ratios, in a 12-team NL-only league, I think the $23 bid will be worth it. And of course, the $22 runner-up bid makes me feel a lot better about the $23 bid.

Christian Villanueva $18 (Other bids: $12, $8, $8, $3)

I discussed Villanueva in the Tout Wars Mixed Auction section, so I’ll keep this brief. Obviously, his value is much greater in an NL-only where at-bats are so important. For now at least, the Padres seem to be willing to give Villanueva a long look, and it helps that his main competition for playing time is Chase Headley.

Braxton Lee $12 (Other bid: $5)

Steven Brault $4

Josh Fields $4 (Other bid: $1)

Jarlin Garcia $2 (Other bid: $1)

Jeremy Jeffress $2

Pedro Severino $1

Adam Ottavino $1 (Other bid: $1)

What a dominant start to the season for Ottavino, who has allowed just one hit and one walk through five appearances (6 IP) while striking out 11. The value of high-end setup men is often overlooked in fantasy, and these non-save relievers carry even more appeal in non-mixed formats.

Greg Garcia $1

Hansel Robles $1

Miguel Montero $1 (Other bid: $1)

Pat Valaika $1

Jordan Lyles $1

John Ryan Murphy $1

Thank you for reading

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