Welcome back to the FAAB Review, the column that examines what been going on in multiple analyst leagues. The hope is that we can help you with your own FAAB bidding process and habits. This year, our primary focus is on The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational (TGFBI), a contest that contains 29 leagues of 15 teams each and crowns an overall champion. We’ll look at the 10 most popular FAAB buys in those leagues every week. We’ll also mention some of the highlights from Tout Wars AL and LABR NL, two deeper leagues in which I also compete.
TGBFI and Tout Wars use a $1,000 FAAB budget, while LABR uses $100. Tout Wars also allows teams to place $0 bids. All three leagues run their FAAB weekly on Sundays. For TGFBI. I’ll list the average winning bid, followed by the highest and lowest winning bids. LABR and Tout will show the winning bid followed by all losing bids.
All stats and matchup listings for pitchers are through Sunday’s games.
Brandon Marsh $49 (Maximum Bid $207, Minimum Bid $3)
I’m a little jealous of whoever bid $3 and was lucky enough to add Marsh to their squad. I got Marsh for $142, which was way too high (the next highest bid was $9 in my bracket). But because TGFBI has a $1,000 budget and because it’s not an -only league, there won’t be many opportunities left to add a player of Marsh’s caliber and ceiling to our fantasy rosters in mixed formats. His undeniable potential might not be realized this year, but I’d rather spend a big chunk of my FAAB on Marsh and whiff on a potential future superstar than end the season with $200-300 burning a hole in my pocket because I was too conservative on a player with this kind of ceiling.
Tanner Houck $46 ($72, $12)
Houck was part of last week’s FAAB Review, and this week he was scooped up in a few more leagues that were cautiously waiting before dipping their toes in the water. His average salary last week was $9, indicating that sometimes it’s better to just add the player on the cheap and worry about the details and performance later. Throwing $9 of FAAB away in a $1000 league isn’t fatal. Houck has pitched well in the majors, but the primary issue has been quantity, not quality, as Houck hasn’t pitched more than five innings in any of his 11 combined major- and minor-league outings in 2021. There’s been some talk of Boston using him as a follower, which would mitigate one fantasy concern (wins) but would still tamp down the earnings ceiling for Houck if he is indeed limited to 4-5 innings per start. Houck gets the Blue Jays at home this week. I’d leave him on the bench in mixed.
Josiah Gray $35 ($183, $5)
It probably isn’t uncommon for the top prospect from both Los Angeles squads to be written up in the same Baseball Prospectus article (our prospect coverage is both voluminous and outstanding), but I’ve written here for eight-and-a-half years now and can’t ever recall this happening in one of my fantasy pieces. Gray consistently has been tabbed with the “future mid-rotation starter” label, but the potential the ceiling is considerably higher. That’s the rub, though, as Gray is a converted position player and losing minor-league reps in 2020 slowed down his development considerably. He also had a shoulder impingement earlier this year. While Gray is healthy now, the Dodgers are being cautious about Gray’s pitch counts. I like him long term, but in redraft leagues I’d only add him if an injury opened a spot on my staff. Even with a favorable matchup in Arizona, I see Gray as borderline this week in 15-team mixed.
Touki Toussaint $31 ($100, $2)
If I felt a little dumb about my needlessly aggressive bid on Marsh, my $2 winning bid on Toussaint made me feel like a genius again. Toussaint provides the lesson that we collectively forget time and time again in fantasy: Pitching is hard and pitching prospects frequently don’t click in their first, second, or even third time around the block. I don’t want to overemphasize two starts, but the right-hander looked great against a solid Phillies lineup in a park that frequently plays like a bandbox, particularly in warmer weather. The command/control was always the primary issue with Toussaint, so while I don’t expect his walk rate of 1.3 per nine innings to persist, I see potential for a capable SP4-5 in mixed if he can keep his walk rate in the 3-4 walks per nine range. I’d start him in deep mixed and mono leagues against Milwaukee.
Brian Anderson $11 ($31, $1)
I suspect most of the TGFBI leagues slept on Anderson where he was available. I have him on one of my NL-only rosters and kind of forgot that he was there, and I was surprised when I was notified that my roster was illegal. (Wait, he’s back? I have him. What year is it?) Anderson is the sort of player who exemplifies the difference between 12- and 15-team mixed. In the former, you can usually just walk on by, but in 15-team mixed consistent third basemen who hit 15-20 home runs with a .260 AVG should be on someone’s roster—maybe even yours. He was having a down year before a shoulder injury landed him on the IL in late May, but Anderson should start at the corner down the stretch for Miami.
David Bednar $9 ($27, $1)
Bednar was in last week’s FAAB Review, and the same premise applies. He’s the logical replacement for Richard Rodríguez as the closer if Rodríguez is traded, although there are no guarantees. I’m less worried about a committee (the Pirates don’t seem to lean that way) and more that someone else might get the job. As I said last week, $9 for a pitcher who could be a closer is fine. With more than a few bullpens mired in job shares and uncertainty, it makes more sense than ever to speculate like this on near-term future saves.
Ji-Man Choi $9 ($28, $1)
In a universe where only right-handed pitchers existed, Choi would be a full-time first baseman who popped 25 home runs a season with a .360 on-base percentage. While that wouldn’t make him a fantasy superstar, it would make him a top-10 contributor at the position. Alas, left-handed pitchers exist in the universe that we happen to reside in, and Choi has a paltry .196/.292/.315 slash line against them in his career. Choi’s value the rest of the way is contingent upon how many right-handers the Rays face. Most of their opponents the rest of the way are AL East teams, and seven of the 20 projected starters for their divisional rivals are southpaws. Tampa will face other non-AL East teams, but whether Choi is worth the add depends on your roster flexibility and need. He has been sitting in my free-agent pool for weeks, and I keep contemplating him but walking on by, preferring regular at-bats to part-time ones.
Rougned Odor $7 ($17, $3)
I won’t lie, I assumed that Odor was having an awful season and that he is only employed by the Yankees because of their many injuries. But Odor has been solid. A dozen home runs in 220 plate appearances and a .230 batting average is acceptable for him. It isn’t just the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium that is propping him up, as Odor has as many dingers on the road as he does at home in only four additional plate appearances (and the batting average is way better on the road). If you need the power and can stomach the average, you should add Odor in deep mixed.
Eric Lauer $7 ($22, $1)
Of the four starting pitchers written up in this week’s article, Lauer has the lowest ceiling by far and doesn’t generate the “wow” that the other pitchers do in certain circles. But Lauer does have the most favorable matchup this week: A projected start at Pittsburgh makes him a solid if unspectacular streamer for a few bucks. The lefty has been lights out in July, and while I wouldn’t expect this level of performance to continue, I also wouldn’t be shy about riding the hot hand, potentially taking advantage of what could be a soft NL Central-heavy schedule down the stretch.
Cal Raleigh $5 ($21, $1)
Raleigh impressed in the minors and thus far—in an extremely small sample—has flopped in the majors. Twenty-five plate appearances says nothing about Raleigh’s long-term potential, and you’d be foolish to write off Raleigh in a keeper league. In a one-and-done league like TGFBI, however, you’d be better served looking elsewhere. If you’re thinking “maybe this is just a stash,” carrying three catchers on your roster is generally a terrible use of reserve list spots and resources.
Tout Wars AL
Brent Rooker $54 (Other Bids: $46, $44, $22)
Daniel Lynch $41
Franchy Cordero $34 ($3)
Bryan Shaw $33
Aledmys Díaz $26
Jack Mayfield $19 ($15)
Nick Gordon $8
Cal Quantrill $7
Willians Astudillo $6
Reese McGuire $5
Daniel Johnson $3
Danny Coulombe $2
Luis Rengifo $0
José Ruiz $0
Charlie Culberson $0
I expected a quiet week on the last transaction period before MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline, and my expectations were correct. This was in large part because, unlike in the NL (see below), there were no early interleague trades to bring out some early bidders.
I bid $44 on Rooker and lost. I settled for Cordero as a consolation prize. The Nelson Cruz trade opened a roster spot and some playing time for Rooker, and while he’s not nearly the prospect that Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach are, in the short term the power could provide considerable value. Cordero has been extremely disappointing in the majors but destroyed Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .329/.411/.545 slash line in 191 plate appearances with six home runs and seven steals. This isn’t big news for a 26-year-old whose prospect luster faded a couple of seasons ago, but sometimes toolsy players like Cordero put it together later rather than sooner. I am utterly dead in the water in Tout Wars (this will be my worst showing ever by far), so it doesn’t really matter.
Rich Hill $32 (Other Bids: $22, $7, $6, $4, $3, $3)
Josiah Gray $11 ($7, $7, $3)
Alcides Escobar $3
Wil Crowe $2
Rafael Ortega $1
Johan Oviedo $1
Jake Woodford $1
Ronald Torreyes $1 ($1)
Gerardo Parra $1
All things considered, it’s going well for me in LABR NL this season. This sentence buries the lede just a wee bit, which is that both Jacob deGrom and Mookie Betts are on the IL, and even when Betts has been healthy, he has massively underperformed. I’ve admirably competed under the circumstances and my team currently resides in third place, but unless deGrom and Betts come back soon, a 19-point deficit will be far too much to overcome.
I had a little under half of my budget left and decided to bid aggressively on Hill, getting him for $32. I was somewhat surprised that someone else with a lot of FAAB didn’t outbid me but not extremely so. Teams that hoarded most or nearly all their FAAB are waiting patiently for someone better than Hill to jump over to the NL, and while Hill has the potential to be electric, the most likely outcome for him is that he gets hurt. I know this but don’t care.
My pitching strategy entering the year was Buehler and deGrom and to go watch a romcom on the nights that my other starters were pitching. Now, it’s Buehler … and I’m too sad to make up a clever rhyme because I’m crawled up in a tight ball weeping about Jacob deGrom while my family looks on with grave concern. If Hill stays on turn, he has 12 starts remaining. This would mean that Hill would finish with around 160 innings and 32 starts, which would mean that he had logged more work since 2007. If the Mets are smart (ha ha ha, I know, good one Mike), they will try to use Hill judiciously down the stretch, so they don’t break him and render him useless for the playoffs. Or perhaps the plan is to maximize Hill during the regular season and then move him to the pen, while a deGrom/Carrasco/Stroman/Walker rotation takes the hill for New York in October.
Getting back to my LABR team, I decided that I couldn’t worry too much about what’s going to happen over the next two weeks. If I sat on my hands this week and did nothing, I would have been fifth overall in FAAB at the trade deadline. Perhaps five excellent players will be traded from the AL this week and I’ll feel stupid that I overbid on Hill, but I doubt it. While the deadline always brings surprises, it appears that AL fantasy managers will have more to choose from next Sunday than their NL counterparts. Looking at ESPN’s Player Rater, Trea Turner, Craig Kimbrel, Javier Báez, Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, and Trevor Story are the significant NL players who could be on the move this Friday. In the AL, the big names are Whit Merrifield and José Ramírez, players where the rumors seem to be more wish-casting than anything else (and Merrifield has only been linked to Seattle, another AL team).
I didn’t look at the ESPN Player Rater before I bid on Hill, but my intuition told me that the folks hoarding their FAAB this year might be extremely disappointed. It might not be as awful as 2011, when Travis Snider was the big AL-to-NL FAAB prize, but Jonathan Schoop at $87 probably isn’t the big boost Eric Karabell of ESPN is hoping for when he gets ready to exert his FAAB hammer next Sunday.
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