Image credit: © Tommy Gilligan-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 31 leagues of 15 teams each and crowns an overall champion at the end of the regular season. 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.

Jordan Westburg $66
(Max Winning Bid: $188, Min Winning Bid: $4)
It was an underwhelming first week for the recently called up Orioles prospect, but he started almost every day, splitting his time between second and third base at Jorge Mateo, Adam Frazier, and Ramon Urias’ collective expense. While underwhelming, Westburg didn’t look overmatched so he should continue getting opportunities. Even with Camden Yards’ challenging dimensions the power potential remains and Westburg should be nabbed even in 12-team mixed if he remains available.

Brandon Lowe $18 ($32, $1)
Lowe struggled offensively before landing on the IL with a back injury in early June. He is likely to return this week after a short rehab assignment, jumbling the Rays convoluted offensive puzzle even further. Lowe was nonexistent against lefthanders in a teensy sample this year, which will make it easier for Tampa to justify sticking him into a straight platoon at second. Lowe’s a worthy gamble for power if someone dropped him in your IL-limited league but the platoon risk makes him dubious in leagues with short benches.

Michael Soroka $18 ($46, $1)
Soroka was profiled in this column four weeks ago but was dropped almost everywhere after Atlanta unceremoniously demoted him to the minors shortly thereafter. Soroka returned on Friday and delivered an OK start against the Marlins. He threw more fastballs this time around, which is unusual for a pitcher who doesn’t throw hard, but the approach worked. He is scheduled to face Cleveland this week, and while I don’t trust him right now in mixed, he’s as reliable a wins play as you’ll find given the roll Atlanta is on.

Kolby Allard $13 ($40, $1)
Soroka’s teammate Allard also isn’t a hard thrower, but his mix of four effective pitches in his 2023 major league debut makes him more intriguing, especially coming off an eight-strikeout performance against the Twins. It’s not the pitches Allard threw that intrigue me so much as how he used them, mostly working in the bottom of the zone and below it with his curve while littering the top of the strike zone with his two-and four-seam fastballs. Don’t go too far into the weeds because of one start but Allard is worth stashing even if you’re not going to use him this week in Cleveland.

Will Benson $11 ($43, $2)
The Reds have so many young and exciting players that Benson has kind of been overlooked. Did you know that he’s third on the team in OPS behind Matt McLain and Spencer Steer? Well, you do now! There hasn’t been this much excitement about a Benson since ABC announced they were spinning Robert Guillaume’s beloved character from Soap off into his own show (It’s an incredibly outdated reference and you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. You have a computer and Wikipedia!) Benson probably won’t keep up this level of production, but he should be rostered in most formats until he cools off, particularly if he keeps working his way into the lineup against some lefties.

Nick Madrigal $8 ($19, $2)
With Patrick Wisdom due off the IL shortly, conventional wisdom suggests that Madrigal’s time as the Cubs’ starting third baseman is ending. But is it? While Wisdom can crush a mistake pitch a country mile, Madrigal’s defense and athleticism might give him the edge, particularly on a team with a few groundball pitchers who can use as much help as they can get. The playing time is key for Madrigal, as outside of some stolen bases he’s not doing a ton and you need volume from him to justify a starting role in anything outside of NL-only.

Ryne Nelson $8 ($30, $1)
Nelson is here because his last two starts were strong and he had some prospect pedigree thanks to a strong season at Double-A Amarillo in 2021. Nelson has almost entirely abandoned his curve and is throwing his change much more while taking a little bit off his fastball. I still see him as no more than a #4 major league starter at best if everything breaks right but that’s still useful in deeper formats, even if only as a streamer. I’d leave him on the bench against the Mets in Queens this week.

Andy Ibanez $6 ($11, $1)
I wrote a lukewarm blurb about Ibanez last week so naturally he went out and socked two home runs and six RBI with a .258 AVG. It’s OK to keep riding the hot hand but I’ll continue to temper my expectations, particularly given the low walk rate.

Cristopher Sanchez $5 ($17, $1)
Way back in 2019 Sanchez was swapped to the Phillies by the Rays for Curtis Mead. It looked like a lopsided trade heading into this season, but Sanchez has been solid for Philadelphia in four major league starts while Mead has struggled at Triple-A. Sanchez’s stuff is good and the command issues that have plagued him throughout most of time in the Phils organization have not been present in his brief time with the big club. He gets his old team on the road this week. I don’t want to use him just yet, but you’ll have to pick him up now if you want to take this journey.

Drew Waters $3 ($11, $1)
Waters’ real-life numbers aren’t good (.656 OPS, subpar defense, replacement level WARP) and I suspect he wouldn’t be on anyone’s radar if not for his three home runs and three steals in 105 plate appearances. The fact that he is on the Royals means Waters could stick but he is a bad bet to go 20/20 despite the positive early returns in the two categories all fantasy players crave.

Tout AL
Matt Manning $77
Donovan Solano $69
Jordan Diaz $43
Daniel Lynch $31 ($7)
Oswaldo Cabrera $16
Carlos Hernandez $13
Miguel Cabrera $11
Glenn Otto $8
Brendan White $5
Carlos Perez (Oak) $3
Triston McKenzie $2
Trey Cabbage $1
Jake Marisnick $1

Manning’s only 25 years old so we shouldn’t completely write him off, but in redraft leagues you can mostly ignore him. Even if you’re desperate for wins he plays on a subpar Tigers team and isn’t a good bet this week against the Blue Jays. Lynch has had good results with poor peripherals and while he has improved in each of his three major league seasons he remains a fringy AL-only arm.

Solano’s walk rate has nearly doubled from last year and that makes him more valuable in Tout Wars, which uses OBP. He needs a few injuries to get regular playing time and is currently on the weak side of an infield platoon. Diaz returned from the minors and got two starts at DH in the Athletics last three games. The modest power potential makes him slightly interesting in this format.

Austin Gomber $5
Brenton Doyle $5.
(Other Bids: $2, $2, $1)
Jared Young $3 ($1)
Victor Caratini $2
Dominic Fletcher $2
Keaton Winn $2 ($1)
Kirby Yates $1 ($1)
Tanner Scott $1 ($1)
Brandon Dixon $1

Gomber has cobbled together a respectable run over his last four starts (4.24 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 21 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings), but he is a Rockies pitcher. This siren song has destroyed fantasy teams far stronger than yours and pitchers far better than Gomber. There are narrow situations where Gomber can be of use (I won LABR last year in small part due to using Gomber in the final week to maximize my strikeouts), but these scenarios are few and far between.

My acquisition of Henry Davis last week led to a roster crunch, and I had to drop Doyle. While I didn’t expect a full-on bidding war, I was somewhat surprised that a hitter who has 12 steals in 183 plate appearances didn’t creep close to double digits. Perhaps my futile attempts to trade an outfielder the week before should have provided a clue. Teams in the middle and toward the top of the standings are set and teams toward the bottom are generally wary of influencing the standings too much with a trade.

Thank you for reading

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