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. Tim McCullough covers the FAAB bidding in the Tout Wars Mixed Draft league, while Mike Gianella covers LABR Mixed and both NL-only and AL-only leagues. 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 agent deadline is at 8 pm ET on Sunday while LABR’s deadline is Sunday at midnight ET.
All statistics in this article are through Sunday’s games.
Tout Mixed Draft
It was a slow week in Tout Wars Mixed Draft bidding with only one player receiving multiple bids.
Framber Valdez $70, $31, $17, $17, $12 (TOR)
Not surprisingly, the heaviest bidding this week was on pitching, which is becoming quite scarce in Tout Wars Mixed Draft. Oddly enough, though, Valdez was the only player to receive multiple bids with D.J. Short of Rotoworld topping the field. Valdez isn’t a great strikeout pitcher (22 percent strikeout rate in his 2018 MLB debut) but he makes his bones with terrific groundball generation. He could stick in the Astros’ rotation, although they seem to have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to starting pitching. Valdez may be on a short leash.
Jerad Eickhoff $43 (ARI, @ATL)
Eickhoff generated plenty of strikeouts earlier this season but struggled with the long ball, a problem he really didn’t solve during his time in the minor leagues. If he can keep the ball in the park, he’s still a terrific breakout candidate. Color me skeptical, though.
Ryan Yarbrough $34
Yarborough appears to have taken a step forward with his control, as he has dropped his walk rate considerably through three starts to date. He’s still just an average strikeout pitcher but since he is pitching for Tampa Bay, he should be good for a few wins. He looked sharp in his last outing against the Red Sox, striking out seven in 7 2/3 innings of work.
Anthony DeSclafani $23 (@CLE) It seems we have a bit of a theme going here with pitchers who struggle with the long ball, have average strikeout rates but seem to have improved of late. DeSclafani has increased his strikeout rate over last season, and he has been pitching well except for the tendency to cough up homers. Of course, in the current home run environment, we could be looking at a new norm for starting pitchers who are generally not among the elite in the game.
Merrill Kelly $21 (@PHI)
Kelly is currently sporting a 4.12 ERA, but his 5.42 DRA indicates he may have a tough time staying there, especially since he is only striking out 18 percent of batters faced. His nine percent swinging strike rate doesn’t offer hope for much more, so I’m not sure this was a great pickup for Ray Murphy of Baseball HQ.
Travis d’Arnaud $17
This was a high price to pay for a catcher who is batting .204 and strikes out almost 24 percent of the time. Perry Van Hook of Mastersball must be hoping d’Arnaud will suddenly find his stroke.
Peter Lambert $13 (CHC, SD)
Brandon Workman $7
Workman picked up his second save over the weekend and is pitching in high leverage situations for the Red Sox. He won’t get the closer job outright but will see the occasional save chance and could end up with 5-10 saves before it’s all over.
Eric Thames $6
Thames is getting regular playing time and is batting .324 with three homers over his last 10 games.
Adrian Sampson $5 (@BOS)
Pedro Severino $2
Cameron Maybin $2
Hansel Alberto $2
Ji-Man Choi $2
Josh Naylor $1
Eric Fedde $1 (ARI)
Tout Wars AL
Mac Williamson $77, $5, $3
As you might imagine, players like Yordan Alvarez are long gone in a competitive league like Tout Wars, where you can stash minor leaguers in-season. As a result, Williamson was the big-ticket item in what was a very quiet week. The former Giant was scooped by the Mariners and almost instantly inserted into their lineup. For AL-only players who don’t read the NL section of this article, Williamson has some pop, but it has come with a ton of strikeouts and correspondingly bad batting averages. There was an attempt at a swing change in Williamson’s recent past so maybe the Mariners can unlock what the Giants couldn’t, but I wouldn’t bet your grandpa’s 1980 Mike Parrott card on it.
Brandon Workman $27, $5, $5, $0
If you’re thinking “am I having a fever dream, or did Mike write about Brandon Workman two weeks ago?” you’re not alone. Those drones in corporate insisted I don’t write about Workman a second time, but this column is about transparency, so I told the suits to back off, jack! (Editor’s Note: Mike…)
Larry Schechter of Winning Fantasy Baseball dropped Workman unceremoniously after Workman failed to run with the closer’s job in Boston so of course Workman picked up another save this weekend. As Tim pointed out above, Workman could be in line for a few more saves. I wouldn’t bid more than a couple of bucks for Workman unless you’re desperate in the category and/or if you already have other pieces of the Boston bullpen on your roster.
Tommy Milone $16 (@MIN)
Miguel Castro $12
Brendan McKay $8
Anthony Santander $7, $3
Sandy Leon $6, $0
Dillon Peters $5
Sam Travis $3
Peter Fairbanks $3
Ryne Stanek $2, $1
Brian Boxberger $2
Daniel Norris $2 (@KC)
Sam Gaviglio $2
Kelvin Gutierrez $2
A.J. Puk $1
JC Ramirez $0
Roenis Elias $0
Liam Hendriks $0
Tim Federowicz $0
Chris Devenski $0
Kevin Cron $75, $6, $4, $1
Cron was acquired by Andy Behrens of Yahoo! on May 27 for $161, reserved and then activated on June 3 and then released on June 6. It’s been quite the ride for Cron, both in real life and (chuckles heartily and looks into the distance at a non-existent camera) in fantasy as well (chuckles again and starts walking toward the other side of the room). The tough thing for Cron believers is even with Adam Jones’ injury there doesn’t seem to be enough room in the lineup for Cron, who played two of his last three games at DH. Cron could hit 25 home runs with a mediocre batting average if he sticks but Christian Walker could probably do that too. Is it me or does this week’s FAAB review feel like the re-run of a mediocre sitcom? All we need is a wacky neighbor and a simple misunderstanding that gets blown out of proportion with lots of hi-jinx thrown in as a result.
Cal Quantrill $56, $51, $33 (@SF)
Since his big league debut, Quantrill has gone back and forth from San Diego to Triple-A, and his results for the big club have been a mixed bag. This is a case where thus far the scouting has anticipated the results, with four solid pitches not necessarily adding to up to one dominant out pitch and a package that looks decent but not a future stock worth bidding aggressively on. Quantrill gets a sweet matchup against the Giants this week and is worth considering as a streamer in 12-team mixed.
Drew Pomeranz $23, $0 (MIL)
I’m old enough to remember getting excited about Pomeranz when he was a prospect, first with Cleveland, then with the Rockies (this is going to be the Rockies pitching prospect who defies the odds!) and finally with the Athletics. Pomeranz has been…fine. He has a 4.11 ERA in 754 career innings, and if you merely looked at his stuff and ignored his pedigree (he was the fifth overall pick in the 2010 June Amateur Draft), you’d think this was a fairly decent outcome given the less than overwhelming stuff. The wheels came off for Pomeranz in 2018 while he was with the Red Sox and he hasn’t righted the ship in the National League in one of the most forgiving parks in baseball. He’s pitching at home this week, but I can’t recommend Pomeranz against Milwaukee.
Yordan Alvarez $36, $33, $16, $14, $13, $6
A 36 percent, budget-busting bid for Alvarez isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that nine teams passed on the Astros’ super prospect. I’m not in LABR Mixed, so I cannot comment on why teams didn’t bid. On his merits, Alvarez is one of the best acquisitions you’ll see this season. He ripped through Triple-A easily and as J.P. Breen pointed up in The Call Up, Alvarez could be a four-category monster, although the batting average might not be a positive initially.
Cal Quantrill $5, $3, $1, $1 (@SF)
I profiled Quantrill above in the Tout NL-only section of this article. Quantrill is worth streaming in deep mixed against the Giants, and because LABR experts can stash him on reserve starting next week, he’s a decent spec play to see if he emerges as more than what he has shown thus far.
Roberto Perez $2, $1
If you’re looking for anecdotal evidence that the baseball is juiced, Perez is a very good place to start. He always had some pop, but 11 home runs in 165 plate appearances is more than “some.” I have no idea if this is fact or fiction, or if Perez can keep this up, but in any two-catcher league he’s worth the roster slot if he’s producing.
Freddy Peralta $2, $1 (@HOU)
Peralta’s overall numbers look bad, but he has picked it up after a bad start to the season, posting a glittering 2.01 ERA with 27 strikeouts in his last 22 1/3 innings with only one home run allowed. He is still a two-pitch pitcher, so nothing has changed outside of better location and control. Houston is a tough test for the young right-hander. I’m split on using him against the Astros outside of NL-only, but he should be owned in a deep mixed league like LABR and sometimes you can’t wait for the perfect matchup before you make your move.
Jay Bruce $70, $65, $58, $53, $28, $24, $22, $21
I had $80 left in FAAB and bid aggressively but narrowly missed out, my $65 bid falling short to Derek Carty of Rotogrinders. I spoke to a few non-LABR experts this weekend about Bruce and there were mixed feelings about whether it was appropriate to blow the bank on him, which explains the lukewarm bids. Bruce is on pace for 45 home runs, and now he’s in a cozy home park just in time for the summer. I’m guessing the wariness about Bruce is due to his inherent streakiness and the possibility the Phillies aren’t done trading and Bruce winds up in a platoon in August. I can understand the reluctance to overpay Bruce in a mixed but in NL-only getting a shot at another 15-20 home runs is something I was willing to bid aggressively for.
Carlos Gonzalez $16, $12, $4, $4, $2
I wasn’t nearly as aggressive with Gonzalez as I was with Bruce, my $4 bid falling well short of NFBC’s $16 offering. Gonzalez quickly latched on with the Cubs after Cleveland released him. Cargo has split time in the outfield with Albert Almora, with Jason Heyward shifting to center when Cargo plays. It isn’t a strict platoon, and unless there is an injury there won’t be enough PT for Cargo to justify more than a single-digit bid. As I have pointed out before in this space, Cargo was mostly a product of Coors and hasn’t been a fantasy force since 2015. If he starts, he will hit enough home runs and benefit from a strong Cubs lineup in runs and RBI, but this could also be a repeat of what happened in Cleveland, where he didn’t produce and was quickly cut. He does get a return engagement at Coors this week, which is worth noting in leagues with daily or mid-week lineup changes.
Freddy Peralta $15, $8, $7, $1 (@HOU)
Peralta is a no-brainer in NL-only. I didn’t bid because I was mostly shooting for Bruce and wouldn’t have bid more than $1-2 for Peralta because of this specific constraint. He could be one of the better NL-only acquisitions of the year.
Yordan Alvarez $88, $39, $32, $28, $21, $17, $13, $11
That’s a sexy bid for Alvarez by Dave Adler of Baseball HQ. It was also $48 more than he needed to bid, but I like the idea of shooting your shot rather than waiting for an late July acquisition from an NL team that might never arrive.
Framber Valdez $12, $7, $7, $5, $4, $4, $2, $1 (TOR)
In the 1989 film Batman, The Joker (played by Jack Nicholson) wonders aloud about Batman “where does he get all these wonderful toys?” This is how I feel about the Astros, although this reference to a 30-year-old movie is as tired and played as saying “Moneyball” when you’re talking about contemporary data sciences. Valdez replaced Corbin Martin in Houston’s rotation and had a strong start on Saturday against Baltimore. Valdez doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, but he is a groundball machine when everything is going right. His issue has always been walks; if he can keep those in check Valdez will be saying “wait, until they get a load of me” to opposing batters. This was another quote from the 1989 film Batman. If you’re under 30 and confused by this entire comment, my sincerest apologies.
Mac Williamson $7, $1
Anthony Santander $7, $1
A Rule 5 pick in December 2016, Santander spent most of 2017 on the injured list and/or on the Orioles bench. Sent back to the minors in 2018, Santander took some time to shake the rust off and didn’t look anything like prospect he was in Cleveland’s system. Baltimore’s bereft roster gives Santander an opportunity to start, and maybe there’s a chance at a 15-home run, 10 steal seasonal pace.
Chance Sisco $7, $2
Sisco was lauded as a top prospect but stalled out after a poor big-league stint in 2018. Sisco was optioned to Triple-A this spring, which disappointed some who believed his service time was being gamed but it was difficult to make this argument too strenuously given Sisco’s stat line. He returned to Triple-A this year and the bat has been terrific. Sisco hit 10 home runs in 193 plate appearances with a .289 batting average. Sisco has a wide-open opportunity in Baltimore to run with the job. The major league strikeout rate is high in a limited sample in 2019, but this was a concern last year too. He’s worth a $10-12 bid in AL-only based on the run he could get at a thin position.
Sam Travis $3
Ariel Jurado $3, $1, $1 (@BOS, @CIN)
Entering the season, Jurado was buried on the Rangers’ depth chart, but being buried beneath pitchers like Shelby Miller and Edinson Volquez is like being buried under a pile of dry leaves while you’re holding a leaf blower. Jurado started 2019 in the pen but moved to the rotation once the inevitable injuries occurred and the results have been decent. His stuff isn’t tremendous, but he’s a strong sequencing/command arm and has kept hitters off balance throughout most of his career. The strikeouts aren’t there, so the fantasy value is somewhat limited, but he’ll play in AL-only and is flying under the radar given the skill set.
Tom Murphy $2, $1
From the time he was drafted in 2012, Murphy was an exciting fantasy proposition because he was a Rockies catching prospect with power. Unfortunately, it never jelled for Murphy in Colorado and he never got much of an opportunity there. Signed by the Mariners this winter, Murphy is doing what he was supposed to do in Colorado: hitting a bunch of homers and giving his fantasy managers a warm fuzzy feeling. Unfortunately, Omar Narvaez is the starter and is having a decent enough year that it isn’t likely Murphy takes the job. Still, getting another 7-10 home runs from your backup catcher is worth a $1-2 bid in only.
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