Welcome back to the FAAB Review, the column that reviews the goings-on in multiple analyst leagues in the hopes we can help you with your own FAAB bidding process and habits. This column will mostly focus on The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational (TGFBI), a contest that contains 31 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 focus on some highlights in Tout Wars AL and LABR NL, two deeper industry leagues.
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.
Brayan Bello $52 (Maximum Bid $511, Minimum Bid: $1)
Even for a pitching prospect, Bello’s short-term, anticipated outcomes are extreme. His supporters point to his great minor-league line, amazing stuff and command, and incredible high-90s heater. His detractors point to a subpar major league debut and how Bello leaned too heavily on the fastball when everything else wasn’t working. The risk with bidding aggressively is that he’ll get one more start and get demoted or shuttled off to the bullpen. The potential reward is one of the stronger starting pitching claims of the season. The dilemma is the usual one: If you don’t grab Bello this week, it’s already too late.
Nolan Jones $50 ($211, $3)
If you’re old enough (like I am), then Jones sort of reminds you of a Cleveland third base prospect from a couple of generations ago, Russell Branyan. Like Branyan, Jones has excellent power but a strikeout rate that limits his ceiling and could turn him into a second division starter or Quad-A bat in short order. Ignore the .311 AVG this year at Triple-A, as Jones is a probable .230-240 hitter whose carrying tool is going to be 30-plus home run power if it all clicks for him. He is penciled in as an outfielder for the Guardians but has third base eligibility that carried over from last year, which boosts his fantasy value.
Reid Detmers $29 ($57, $4)
Detmers cracked the Opening Day rotation for the Angels but struggled and was demoted to Triple-A in mid-June after back-to-back clunkers at the Dodgers and against the Royals. He’s back after only one start in the minors due to need and pitched six great innings in pitcher-friendly Baltimore on Friday. Detmers is a polished arm with advanced stuff that is highlighted by his curve, but has bouts of inconsistency and sometimes lacks a punchout pitch. This describes a lot of young arms. Detmers should eventually be a solid mid-rotation arm but the outlook for 2022 remains hazy. He’s a risky play this week against the Dodgers (again).
Jonathan Villar $24 ($66, $1)
Villar was so bad for the Cubs that they granted him his release. He has latched back on with the Angels, who desperately need someone to fill the void left by Anthony Rendon’s latest injury. Villar is tempting because he has mostly been leading off ahead of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, but his numbers have been even worse for the Angels and I doubt they’ll stick Villar out there for long if he appears to be washed. The potential for steals is what make Villar tempting, but he’s a poor bet.
Brett Martin $24 ($71, $2)
Things had been going smoothly for Rangers closer Joe Barlow, but two back-to-back blown saves last week led to a reshuffling in the Texas bullpen, with the team saying they were shifting Barlow out of the closer’s role and going with a committee. Martin’s career line is nondescript, but pedestrian career stats have never stopped the Rangers from using a reliever in a high leverage role in the past. Martin might hold onto the job, but his low strikeout rate will make him one of the poorer bets for fantasy production. Dennis Santana and Brock Burke are the more skilled relievers to keep an eye on if you took a shot on Martin.
Matt Carpenter $18 ($69, $1)
Since donning the pinstripes, Carpenter has 10 home runs in 77 plate appearances. That sounds amazing, but the problem up until last week was that Carpenter was a part-timer and not a regular, and even his ridiculous performance wasn’t enough to force the issue for the Yankees. Perhaps that’s finally changing, as Carpenter has started nine games in a row and just continues to rake. The batting average will plummet, but if he can maintain even some of his rediscovered power, he will be plenty valuable in any format.
Josh Winder $17 ($34, $1)
Winder’s raw numbers are uninspiring, but his splits are weird in that he has dominated as a starter and been abysmal as a reliever. It’s possible he’s not suited for high leverage situations, but it’s more likely that he was struggling in a role he isn’t accustomed to. He has a useful two-start week coming up at home against the Brewers and White Sox. There is a talented pitcher lurking who needs to make a couple of adjustments to take the next big step forward. It would help him – and us – if the Twins just let him settle into a regular rotation spot but understand that it might not work out this way, particularly in 2022.
Diego Castillo $11 ($29, $1)
Paul Sewald has quietly settled into a mostly traditional ninth inning role for the Mariners, but Castillo is lurking and picks up the odd save here and there. The Mariners also aren’t afraid to use Sewald in a tie game or a tight spot, which benefits Castillo when his bullpen mate needs a rest day. Castillo is a solid reliever even if he isn’t a great one. He’s a good pickup if you’re looking a reliever who might contribute across the board, but a poor bet if you simply need saves.
Gavin Sheets $10 ($51, $1)
After a slow start, Sheets started smacking the ball around in June and has kept it up so far this month, with a .286/.357/.476 line since June 1. He hasn’t quite found his way into full-time action, but the White Sox are gradually moving away from A.J. Pollock and Sheets is on the good side of a platoon with the former Dodger/Diamondback. I don’t envision Sheets lighting up the box scores, but if he can stick in the lineup, he’s a solid bet for a .250 AVG or so with a little pop. He’s a popular pickup this week because the White Sox have an eight-game slate with six righties on the schedule.
Braxton Garrett $7 ($21, $1)
Since his promotion to the majors in early June, Garrett has been an up-and-down pitcher who has produced like a backend starter in deep mixed. Garrett has a strong command profile but doesn’t have a punchout offering, so when he doesn’t have everything working for him it can be a long afternoon. He’s walking the tightrope and is a matchup play. He is a good one this week at home against the Pirates.
Tout Wars AL
Brett Martin $138 (Other Bids: $126, $77, $39)
Jonathan Aranda $54 ($45, $19)
Josh Winder $53 ($27)
Reid Detmers $23
Cole Silseth $11
Spencer Howard $9
Jeter Downs $9
Jackson Kowar $7
Kody Clemens $6
Andrew Chafin $0
Lower rung closers spell out the difference between mono and mixed formats. Here, Martin’s sudden and somewhat surprising ascendance to the closer’s gig in Texas led to some understandably aggressive bids. You’re probably jettisoning a decent but not great reliever for Martin, or perhaps you’re tossing aside someone who was a saves candidate who didn’t work out. In my Tout Mixed (15-team) league, Martin went for a mere $12. That could be a bargain but bidding big on a non-elite reliever who might not be a shoo-in for the job the rest of the season could be a big mistake, particularly if it leaves you low on FAAB funds for needs down the road.
It feels like the Rays magic pixie dust isn’t working as well this season as it has in years past, but a lot of that is just bad injury luck. Aranda is the latest relative unknown to get the call to fill the holes. The contact and bat-to-ball skills will translate better to the majors than the power, but if Aranda’s defense can survive the majors he’s likely to stick in the lineup and get enough reps to be valuable at this price.
Jake Lamb $3 (Other Bids: $1, $1, $1)
Nelson Velázquez $2
Yency Almonte $1
P.J. Higgins $1 ($1)
Ehire Adrianza $1
Jose Herrera $1
Corey Knebel $1
David Bote $1
Lamb hasn’t had enough playing time to do what Carpenter is doing, but he’s posting an impressive line of his own in a far more limited sample size for the Dodgers. For all the deserved credit great teams like the Yankees and Dodgers get for their holistic approach of aggressive player spending and young player development, it is their ability to get production from cagey veterans like Carpenter and Lamb that frequently is the difference maker.
Velázquez and Bote reminded me that four of the 10 best free agent hitters in NL-only last season were Cubs (Rafael Ortega, Frank Schwindel, Patrick Wisdom, and Matt Duffy). I’m not suggesting that Velázquez and Bote will replicate this, but the Cubs have a recent track record of getting more than you’d expect from players of this ilk.
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