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Welcome to The FAAB Review, the series that looks at FAAB bidding in expert leagues to 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 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

Bud Norris $126 (Other bids: $54, $47, $45). LABR: $11. Tout Draft: $102.

Greg Holland was supposed to be the Cardinals closer by now. But it hasn’t happened yet, and until then, it looks like Norris will be the guy handling the ninth inning for St. Louis. Despite allowing a solo home run, Norris notched his third save in as many chances yesterday, and he sports a strong 2.35 ERA and an exceptional (but unsustainable) 16.4 K/9 rate through eight appearances. Still, Holland was signed to close, and I fully expect him to close sooner rather than later. So the question becomes whether or not a handful of saves is worth more than one-eighth of a season’s FAAB budget. I’m not so sure.

Tyson Ross $88 (Other bids: $56, $52, $49, $45, $35, $34, $10, $2). Tout Draft: $14.

So far so good for Ross, who was limited to just 54 1/3 innings from 2016-2017 due to multiple health issues, and the limited performance during that stretch was subpar to say the least. While it might be unrealistic to expect the soon-to-be 31-year-old righty to return to top-30 fantasy SP status, he’s certainly mixed-league relevant again after registering a 3.50 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and a 14-to-4 K/BB ratio through three starts this season. The 2018 sample size is small, but what makes Ross more appealing than some other waiver wire starting pitchers is his track record, even though the track record is a bit outdated. I would have liked to add him but my $52 bid wasn’t quite enough.

Nick Delmonico $77 (Other bids: $20, $16, $3). LABR: $3.

In his first taste of the big leagues last season, Delmonico launched nine homers in just 43 games, and he’s getting regular at-bats right now on a rebuilding White Sox team. That said, the 25-year-old’s minor league numbers are decent but nothing special, and he’s unlikely to be a true difference maker in any specific category.

Joe Jimenez $73

Detroit’s “closer of the future”, Jimenez is off to a fine start this season while Shane Greene doesn’t figure to have a long leash if he runs into trouble. This is a preemptive saves speculation move while the price is reasonable.

Kolten Wong $59 (Other bid: $3)

Someone has a lot more faith in Wong than I do, as I was the $3 bidder but actually landed up getting a second baseman higher on my priority list for much less than $59.

Teoscar Hernandez $41 (Other bids: $36, $5). Tout Draft: $78.

Ben Zobrist $37 (Other bids: $33, $28, $21, $16, $12, $6, $0). Tout Draft: $31.

Zobrist was my top target as a short-term second base replacement for the injured Jonathan Schoop. The 36-year-old is swinging a hot bat right now and his ability to play multiple positions ensures that he will be in the lineup just about every day. He also carries added value in OBP leagues (career .355 OBP). Alright, I think I’m convincing myself that I should have bid a little more than $33. Oh well. At least Schoop isn’t expected to be sidelined for long.

Matt Kemp $34 (Other bids: $27, $12, $3)

Jurickson Profar $32 (Other bids: $27, $23, $22, $17, $3). LABR: $14. Tout Draft: $0.

Sticking with the theme of bids that fell a little short, Profar, who will likely play every day while Rougned Odor is on the DL, was my second choice behind Zobrist to fill in for Schoop, and I was actually fairly confident that my $23 bid would be a winner. But once again, it was not meant to be.

Adam Ottavino $30 (Other bids: $29, $8, $2, $0). LABR: $3. Tout Draft: $24.

Daniel Mengden $27

Francisco Liriano $27. LABR: $3.

Nick Tropeano $20. LABR: $6. Tout Draft: $60.

This could turn out to be a sneaky good buy as Tropeano, who posted a 3.56 ERA across 13 starts in 2016 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, is fresh off an impressive 2018 debut in which he tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings. But that outing did come against a mediocre Royals offense. Let’s see how Tropeano fares in tougher competition before considering him a safe mixed-league option.

Yolmer Sanchez $20 (Other bid: $10)

Wilmer Difo $12

Well, Difo was the second baseman I ended up with, which is fine since he’s playing regularly for the time being and sometimes even hits near the top of Washington’s lineup. The good news is that I only need him for a little over a week.

Devin Mesoraco $5

Bruce Rondon $5

Dixon Machado $1

Tout Wars NL

Adam Ottavino $156. (Other bids: $21, $16, $2)

In retrospect, I overpaid. But after three weeks of watching players I was hardly interested in sail past my FAAB bids, I decided to aggressively pursue a pitcher I wanted badly. Ottavino has come out of the blocks with 20 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings. Only Bruce Rondon and Josh Hader have a higher strikeout percentage than Ottavino’s 65 percent rate. Health has always been Ottavino’s primary issue but thus far the 32-year-old right-hander has been physically sound. His slider is a wipeout pitch, and while Ottavino is unlikely to be the next multi-inning, super reliever because of his injury history, it isn’t difficult to envision a 100-strikeout season with glittering ratios if he can stay on the field. He could also pick up a few saves if closer Wade Davis needs a rest.

Looking at the mixed league winning bids (above), while my bid may have been too aggressive, I am surprised that no one else bid more than three percent of their budget on Ottavino.

Martin Prado $105. (Other bids: $47, $25, $2)

I cut Prado earlier this week to reclaim $10 of FAAB. With the emergence of Christian Villanueva and a full outfield, I didn’t have room for Prado. Four teams tried to take advantage, with Lenny Melnick of Roto Experts placing the most aggressive bid. Prado is at extended Spring Training and could begin a rehab assignment in a few days. He is a solid batting average contributor who doesn’t offer much power or speed and whose run/RBI contributions will be hurt somewhat playing for the moribund Marlins.

Junior Guerra $60. (Other bids: $12, $5, $1) (CIN, MIA)

Guerra was the second pitcher I overbid on, beating second place bidder Brian Walton of Creative Sports by a whopping $48. He was solid in his first start of 2018 against the Cardinals, to the surprise of the 12 experts in Tout who passed on him in both the auction and the reserve rounds. Guerra was awful in 2017 but with additional command and a return to a higher groundball rate, the Brewers’ hurler could be a useful back-end component. The lack of a high strikeout rate limits him and makes him nothing more than a matchup play in mixed but if Guerra can hang onto his rotation spot, he is a useful piece in mono.

Chad Bettis $37. (Other bids ($12, $1) (@PIT)

Bettis and Guerra are similar pitchers fantasy-wise, with the obvious caveat that Bettis is stuck pitching half his games at Coors. Bettis hasn’t been particularly solid regardless of venue, with a career 5.16 ERA at home compared to a 4.62 ERA on the road. Like Guerra, if he can keep the walks down and keep the ball on the ground, he can be solid, but thus far in his career, Bettis has been all over the map. You must carry free agent pickups in your active lineup for a week in Tout, so Bettis’ projected road matchup in Pittsburgh makes him a relatively low risk acquisition.

Kyle Farmer $33. (Other bid: $7)

Farmer is catcher-eligible in Tout Wars, and Phil Hertz of Baseball HQ used this to his advantage, replacing injured Kevin Plawecki with Farmer. With Logan Forsythe landing on the DL Sunday with shoulder inflammation, Farmer should see a healthy chunk of plate appearances at third with Justin Turner also on the DL. He doesn’t have much pop but offers batting average, and with the catcher eligibility, he has enough value to be useful in most two-catcher formats.

Devin Mesoraco $26. (Other bid: $2)

Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN had the other half of the Mets injured catching tandem. Neither Hertz nor Cockcroft opted for one of the Mets’ new catchers, Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido. Mesoraco was a fantasy force once upon a time but a series of injuries reduced his effectiveness and pushed him into a backup role due to an inability to start behind the dish more than one or two days a week. Mesoraco has been decent in very limited playing time, but Tucker Barnhart is the starter. Despite his past pedigree, Mesoraco is an NL-only play and nothing more.

J.B. Shuck $13. (Other bid: $5). LABR NL: $7.

Mac Williamson $11

Steve Cishek $10

Jeff Mathis $7

Moises Sierra $6. (Other bid: $4). LABR NL: $1

Homer Bailey $6. (Other bid: $1). (@STL)

Sean Rodriguez $4. (Other bid: $1)

Anibal Sanchez $2. (Other bid: $1) (NYM). LABR NL: $5.

Shawn Kelley $0

Williamson makes for an intriguing stash, particularly if you believe Hunter Pence’s time as a starter in San Francisco is ending. Shuck led off on Sunday for the Marlins but his time as a moderate base stealing threat is past. Bailey and Sanchez are hold-your-nose starting pitchers even in NL-only, although both looked solid in their last starts.

LABR NL

Matt Albers $13 (Other bids: $9, $2)

Albers allowed a walk-off homer to Wilmer Flores yesterday, but that didn’t have much of an effect on the bidding for his services. It remains to be seen if he will continue to be the preferred choice for saves while Corey Knebel is out. He probably will, and saves are hard to come by in a 12-team NL-only league. Thirteen bucks seems a bit high to me, but not by much.

J.B. Shuck $7 (Other bids: $2, $2, $1, $1)

Wilmer Difo $6 (Other bid: $5)

I was surprised to see Difo on the waiver wire in this league and almost entered in a bid. Why not own him in both Tout and LABR? The problem is that the LABR roster rules are much more restrictive. In order to add Difo, assuming I had no one to place on the DL, I would need to drop a player in my active lineup. I wasn’t prepared to do that.

Anibal Sanchez $5 (Other bid: $1)

Let’s see how much longer the Sanchez magic lasts, but he’s certainly worth an add in this league. The veteran righty has been a favorite of mine over the years, and I’ve owned him in so many leagues that I can’t even begin to count. I’m rooting for you, Anibal.

Phil Ervin $2 (Other bid: $1)

Cliff Pennington $1

Moises Sierra $1 (Other bid: $1)

Jose Lobaton $1

Adam Cimber $1

Sammy Solis $1

Gregor Blanco $1 (Other bid: $1)

LABR AL

Ronald Guzman $17. (Other bids: $2, $1). Tout AL: $77.

Mark Barry exhaustively covered the fantasy profile for Guzman in The Call Up a mere three days ago, so I won’t rehash. The lack of bids in LABR compared to Tout Wars, where seven teams bid on Guzman, is a product of the stricter reserve rules in LABR, where you cannot reserve an active major leaguer unless you drafted him on reserve. The more aggressive bid on Guzman is a product of the stricter FAAB rules in LABR, where you cannot bid on minor leaguers or players on the DL and fewer players tend to be available. Guzman is the projected starter against righties in the short term for the Rangers, so even with LABR’s stricter roster structure, I am surprised more people weren’t in on the bidding. I only bid $1. In hindsight, I should have bid more in my weekly effort to replace Jose Iglesias in my utility slot, although I would not have bid more than $8-10.

Jefry Marte $6

Sergio Romo $5. Tout AL: $16.

During the offseason, speculation revolved around Alex Colome getting traded by the penny-pinching Rays to a contender. A few weeks into the season, uncertainty surrounds the closer job in Tampa because of Colome’s shaky performance. Romo and Jose Alvarado have both been mentioned as a possible replacement should the Rays decide to pull the plug on Colome, with Romo getting more buzz because of his prior closing experience. Romo is a decent add, although his walk rate is a concern. This is an AL-only speculation play; in mixers, I’d avoid all the non-closers in this pen.

Brock Holt $5. (Other bids: $4, $2, $1). Tout AL: $7

Three years ago, in either one of my most brilliant or most disturbed pieces of writing, I delved into a long tangent about Brock Holt’s hair and an elf named Gompers. I’ve thought about bringing that elf back to the pages of The FAAB Review many times but have never been able to find a valid reason for doing so without it feeling forced. In 2015, I had fun with The FAAB Review and created an elf named Gompers. In 2018, the magic has dissipated, and Holt’s hair is gone, replaced by a more conservative coif. Just as Sampson’s magic dissolved after Delilah cut his powerful locks, perhaps the power of my C-minus jokes is gone thanks to Holt, Jacob deGrom and other major leaguers opting for a more traditional look atop their heads.

Or maybe I’m just lazy.

With Xander Bogaerts sidelined, Holt has seen far more playing time, shifting between shortstop and second base. He has done very little with that time, however, and because of his lack of big time home run power or base stealing ability Holt needs to hit close to .300 to be more than a fringe player.

Drew Butera $2

Butera was my buy for the week. I’m hoping for a week or two of everyday at-bats before Salvador Perez returns.

Abraham Almonte $2. Tout AL: $39.

With Alex Gordon on the DL, Almonte and Paulo Orlando should split time in center for the Royals. Almonte is stretched as a starter but with so few regular hitters available in LABR, Larry Schechter of Winning Fantasy Baseball decided to take the plunge and gamble on Almonte providing more than merely empty regular plate appearances.

Craig Gentry $1. Tout AL: $6.

Tyler Saladino $1. Tout AL: $1.

Ryan Goins $1. Tout AL: $1

Gentry is the most interesting name among the $1 FAAB throws. He has four steals in a mere 24 plate appearances and 20 steals is a realistic possibility if the Orioles continue to let him run wild. The arguments about whether someone like Billy Hamilton has value in fantasy is funny to mono league players, who love part-timers like Gentry and their empty bags.

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Fred Bellemore
4/16
So Teoscar Hernandez was already grabbed in the LABR-AL?
Mike Gianella
4/16
Andrea Lamont bought him for $1.