Image credit: © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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 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 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.

Taj Bradley $231
(Max Winning Bid: $497. Min Winning Bid: $93)
Bradley was only supposed to be a short-term fill-in for Zach Eflin, but Jeffrey Springs’ injury means Bradley will get an extended look. The stuff is great, and the ceiling is high; the only real knocks against him are that he’s still young and learning and he’s still young and there is a lot of variance with rookie arms. Bradley could immediately emerge as a solid SP2 or he could struggle and get demoted to put the finishing touches on his third pitch, with plenty of outcomes between those two. I bid $113 and didn’t get him in my bracket, and you’ll probably need to bid at least a fifth of your budget if you really want him.

Zach Neto $121 ($246, $31)
The surprise isn’t that Neto was promoted in 2023 but rather that he was promoted this early. The Angels decided they needed to bolster their lineup and that David Fletcher wasn’t the answer at shortstop, so Neto got the very early call. He has a moderate floor because of his excellent bat-to-ball skills, but everything else is in question, particularly in redraft formats. Whether Neto is barely worth using as a third MI in deep mixed or a top 15 shortstop will come down to how much power he can generate with his unusual, noisy swing. I’m not nearly as excited about Neto as I am about Bradley, and how aggressive your bid is will have far more to do with team context than player ability.

Edouard Julien $92 ($321, $21)
A few days ago Julien looked like he’d be the big FAAB buy but with the promotions of Bradley and Neto, Julien turned into far more of a consolation prize. Timothy Jackson has been extoling Julien’s virtues in The Stash List so hopefully you picked him up already in your deeper leagues. The patience and on-base skills will make Julien a major leaguer in the long term, but how his power translates into game action (scouting reports are in disagreement on this piece of his game) is far more important to his fantasy fortunes. Julien could be a better redraft target than Neto if he manages to stick in the majors, but that’s a significant question, particularly with Julien struggling in a small sample and many Twins about to come off the IL.

Johan Oviedo $42 ($113, $2)
A deadline acquisition from the Cardinals last year, St. Louis gave up on him as a starter but the Pirates put him back into the rotation and so far this season the results have been solid. Oviedo has increased his curveball usage and is throwing his fastball less frequently but with more velocity. His primary issue throughout his career had been control and so far in 2023 he has kept the walks under control. Oviedo gets an awful assignment this week at Coors and shouldn’t be used anywhere.

Brad Keller $38 ($117, $11)
“I’m a stuffist” – Eno Sarris, The Athletic
“First in strikeouts, last in WHIP” –
Jeff Zimmerman, FanGraphs

This was part of a conversation between Sarris and Zimmerman I saw on social media this morning which aptly sums up the contemporary fantasy debate on pitching. Sarris’ comment refers to his ‘Stuff+” model of analyzing a pitcher’s arsenal. Keller added an elite curve to his pitch mix, but the control remains subpar and even with the curve in hand the strikeout rate isn’t close to elite. Keller is a two-start pitcher this week against Texas and at the Angels but is tough to recommend outside of AL-only.

Brent Rooker $37 ($103, $1)
The power has always been there for Rooker, but it was everything else in the profile that turned him into a journeyman after a brief opportunity with the Twins in 2021. He’s back with Oakland as a starting outfielder, and while it is predictable and perhaps inevitable that Rooker will get exposed, his batting eye means he doesn’t need to hit .280 to be a viable outfield choice for the A’s or for us. I’ve seen some dismissive takes on Rooker, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he hits 25-30 homers this year. I wasn’t in on him in mixed but this was mostly because I didn’t have any glaring holes in my outfield.

Jose Quijada $35 ($101, $8)
Quijada probably isn’t the closer for the Angels, but I’m not convinced Carlos Estevez is either. This still feels like more of a saves desperation play than a sneakily good move that will net you 25-30 saves at the end of the season, but if you’re falling behind in the category early there are certainly worse plays you can make.

Rodolfo Castro $34 ($78, $1)
Castro was turning into an afterthought in Pittsburgh until Oneil Cruz’s injury pushed Castro into everyday duty at short. He has solid power and some speed, and could be a 20/10 middle infielder if the strikeouts don’t turn him into a liability. I was all in on Castro this spring and while it was looking like I was incredibly wrong pre-Cruz injury there’s a good chance Castro could outproduce the other, more high-profile infielders mentioned earlier.

Franchy Cordero $33 ($71, $2)
Cordero is one of those players who generates a lot of excitement among his backers, usually culminating in a social media campaign to #free the player from minor league purgatory. Cordero has started out hot with the Yankees and Giancarlo Stanton’s latest injury gives Cordero more runway to remain in the lineup. He has benefited from a slate of righthanded opponents that will end this week, making Cordero a tough sell in the short-term. If you have the bench space, he’s a nice option to have when the Yankees are home and mostly facing RHP.

Mauricio Dubon $26 ($68, $2)
David Hensley was the popular preseason choice among fantasy players, but it is Dubon who has taken the job at second for the Astros and run with it in Jose Altuve’s absence. He offers a little pop and almost no steals, so he needs to be at or near the top of the Astros lineup to have deep mixed value. He led off both of Houston’s contests this weekend, so if that trend continues then Dubon is an acceptable deep mixed placeholder at middle infield.

Tout AL
Zach Neto $403
($289, $231, $203, $202, $147, $132, $76, $55, $42, $28)
Taj Bradley $223
($132, $129, $98, $86)
Edouard Julien $197 ($189, $131, $113, $91, $76, $59, $0)
Travis Jankowski $81
($15, $14, $12)
Kevin Smith $76
($39, $11, $0)
Tanner Bibee $45
Lenyn Sosa $28
($26, $13, $11)
Corey Julks $28 ($12, $11, $3)
Tyler Wade $21
Ian Hamilton $8
Yu Chang $7
Shintaro Fujinami $5
Peyton Battenfield $5
Enyel De Los Santos $1
Zach Pop $0
Danny Coulombe $0
Jimmy Cordero $0

Jankowski was getting some starts in the Rangers outfield but with Leody Tavares back in the fold might be more of a bench option. The speed makes him palatable in AL-only if that’s all you need. Wade fits this mold as well and was much cheaper in Tout.

Smith was amazing in Triple-A in a small sample size and has been awful in the majors in an even smaller sample size. He is getting a shot at shortstop with Aledmys Diaz getting a few starts there as well.

Hunter Gaddis hasn’t impressed and Bibee has been lights out in two Triple-A starts, making him a solid stash.

Yuli Gurriel $13
(Other Bids: $11, $7, $4, $1)
Mike Brosseau $5 ($4, $3)
Darin Ruf $3 ($1)
Bryse Wilson $3 ($2)
Tucupita Marcano $2 ($1, $1)
Cristian Pache $1
Mark Mathias $1
Gregory Soto $1
Luis Torrens $1
Owen Miller $1
Jose Herrera $1

Gurriel was getting some starts at first base due to a minor Garrett Cooper injury, but with Cooper (and other Marlins) healthy, he’ll probably retreat to the bench. Brosseau is a more intriguing acquisition, particularly if Jesse Winker’s injury requires an IL stint.

I grabbed Soto for $1. My offense has mostly been healthy and with Seiya Suzuki back in action I now have a healthy lineup for the first time all season. The starting pitching that is available is gruesome and since you can’t reserve active pitchers in LABR any SP acquisition needs to be more than just a matchup play. I’m rolling with four active starting pitchers which isn’t ideal, but my ratios are more important than losing a few strikeouts in one week.

Thank you for reading

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