Depending on how long you have been a Baseball Prospectus subscriber, welcome or welcome back to the Expert FAAB Review. Every week, I’m going to take a look at the players and the process behind the bidding in LABR AL, LABR mixed, and Tout Wars NL. Bret Sayre and I participate in LABR mixed while I have a team in Tout Wars NL, so I can provide some insights behind the reasoning on the bids. Budgets in all three leagues start at $100.
For week one, the LABR auctions and mixed draft were held earlier than Tout Wars, which influenced the bidding significantly this week. This week, LABR held their bids a day early on Saturday, so the news from the blockbuster Braves/Padres trade did not impact the bidding in that league.
Archie Bradley $34. Other bids: $10, $6, $3, $1, $1, $1, $1
We didn’t have any injured pitchers, so we decided not to bid on any pitchers this week in LABR. I like Bradley, but this is a very aggressive play in a mixed league that counts wins as opposed to quality starts. Some of the pitchers below could earn as much or more than Bradley quite easily in mixed.
Eric Young $13. Other bids: $6, $6, $5, $4, $4, $4, $3, $2.
As Craig Goldstein wrote in Baseball Prospectus’ beloved “Darkhorses” series, Young may be a poor option in real life, but in Roto formats he could steal a significant number of bases if he starts. The Braves trade for Cameron Maybin could limit Young’s at bats, but for now it seems like Atlanta will start Young. Young was our first choice and we bid six dollars, but with Denard Span only out a few weeks, we didn’t want to commit significant FAAB to a low-skills, temporary replacement.
Raisel Iglesias $10. Other bid: $1
I dig the upside, although $10 feels like a lot for mixed leagues. Even in expert leagues, the first couple of weeks of bids usually involve feeling out the process.
Edward Mujica $10. Other bids: $4, $4, $4, $2, $1.
I assumed that Mujica’s winning bid belonged to Koji Uehara’s owner, but it did not. This could work out if Uehara’s injury is worse than assumed, but Mujica’s skills don’t speak to an elite closer who can hold the job all year long. He could be fine, but given the nature of the injury and Uehara’s contract, this bid seems a little high for a fill-in.
Alexi Amarista $7. Other bid $3.
Zach McAllister $6. Other bids $3, $3, $1.
McAllister is an example of what I was talking about above under Bradley. He has the AL disadvantage, but if McAllister’s velocity pickup from spring training holds, he could be a legitimate no. 3 for the Indians.
Jordan Schafer $6. Other bids $6, $3, $2, $1.
Schafer was our Plan B for Young. I am not convinced that Schafer will hold a starting job for very long, but again this is a short-term play for Span. Here is hoping that the speedy Schafer can steal five to seven bases in April before Span comes back.
Joel Peralta $5. Other bids $2, $1
There has been no faith in Peralta as the fill-in closer candidate in any of my leagues, and Chris Hatcher picked up the first save for the Dodgers on Monday. At best, there is a good deal of uncertainty in this pen that could mean a couple of saves for Peralta.
Ryan Rua $4. Other bid $1.
Rua could flame out, but he’ll start as a starter in Texas and the power potential makes him a sneakily good play at four dollars. Rua was one of our many contingent bids behind Schafer.
Michael Taylor $4. Other bids $2, $1.
Initially, I thought about making Taylor our primary target for Span and bidding at least $6-8 for him. We decided to go for the speed instead and make Taylor a contingency bid under Schafer. I like Taylor’s power/speed combination a great deal, but while the “all three of those outfielders could get hurt theory” applies, it works the other way; they could all stay healthy and Taylor could be a bench player. This is great as a fifth outfielder in an NL-only but not so much in a mixed.
Jesse Chavez $3
Chavez could eventually work his way into the A’s rotation. You can stash players on your reserve list in mixed LABR after one week whether they are in the majors or not, so I guess that is the play here.
Josh Collmenter $3. Other bids: $1, $1.
Stephen Drew $3
Deep mixed leagues are not as fun as glamorous as they might appear on television.
Nick Hundley $3. Other bid: $1
I (perhaps foolishly) maintain that Wilin Rosario will eventually get most of the at bats in Colorado behind the dish, but Hundley is starting now and has power potential.
Brandon Morrow $3
Morrow might pitch 20-30 innings before getting hurt, but upside plays in mixed are better than boring #4-5 starter back end plays, particularly in April before innings needs become apparent. If it works, this is a great find. If it doesn’t, you churn and go back to the drawing board.
Ryan Hanigan $2
This was our pick to replace mid-February trade speculation play Welington Castillo. I was thinking about Francisco Cervelli, but Bret was leaning Hanigan and I was fine with that decision. I suspect the Red Sox don’t rush Swihart, and I like Hanigan in Fenway more than Cervelli in PNC, so good thinking on your part, Bret.
Billy Burns $2. Other bid $1.
The ultimate sneaky steals play, Burns isn’t likely to get as many at bats as Young or Schafer, but it is not like the outfielders in front of him in Oakland are Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.
Shane Victorino $2. Other bid $1.
There were some very negative reports coming out of camp about Victorino, but for now Victorino gets the job over Rusney Castillo. It’s not a terrible gamble, given that Victorino could do enough in the speed department to provide steady 5×5 value.
Dillon Gee $1. Other bids: $1, $1.
Johnny Giavotella $1
Miguel Gonzalez $1
Caleb Joseph $1
Jace Peterson $1
Given all of the other speed plays above, I’m a little surprised Peterson snuck through for a buck.
Tout Wars NL
Tout Wars uses a Vickrey bidding system, which awards the winning bidder the player at $1 more than the second-highest bidder bid (this sentence uses the word “bid” a lot).
Archie Bradley $44 ($42). Other bids $41, $40, $37, $30, $3
I had the $30 bid on Bradley. With Hyun-Jin Ryu out indefinitely, I did want a starting pitcher; however, I wasn’t crazy about spending more than 30% of my budget on Bradley. The winning bidder – Peter Kreutzer – had a soft pitching auction and probably had the greatest need, so the bid in his case feels appropriate. It is a significant amount of cash to spend, but as Chris Liss of Rotowire showed a couple of years ago with Jose Fernandez and Tony Cingrani, being aggressive in a mono format can pay.
Trevor Cahill $32 ($27). Other bids $26, $20, $3, $1
I bid $20 on Cahill as a backup bid to Bradley. I feel a little bad about this one. I like Cahill this year as a high strikeout option moving to a better division, and wanted to be aggressive. I didn’t think anyone else would bid $20. There was a part of me that wanted to go $30 and held back. I don’t very extremely bad because I would have lost the bid anyway and just pushed the winning bidder to $31 due to Vickrey. These losses seem tough in April, but we are talking about Trevor Cahill in an NL-only. A step back for perspective is important at times.
David Buchanan $31 ($27). Other bid: $26.
How badly did Phil Hertz of Baseball HQ need pitching? He bid $37 on Bradley and had the winning bids on both Cahill and Buchanan. His rotation coming out of the auction was Gerrit Cole, Shelby Miller and Jon Niese, with a Marco Gonzales gamble that didn’t work out, so I can see why Hertz didn’t want to be timid and risk falling into a big strikeout hole. On the other hand, he could do some severe damage to his ERA and WHIP and is also the unlucky owner who had Joaquin Benoit and Kevin Quackenbush (I was going to make a terrible joke here about how handcuffs can do more than hurt your wrists but I’m not going to subject you to such awfulness. You’re welcome). When you have a lot of bad luck early, loading up on speculative plays to try and make a trade isn’t a bad idea. However, in mono formats it seldom if ever works.
Jim Johnson $5. Other bids $5, $3, $1.
I made this bid right after the news of the Braves trade, when it was unclear whether or not Jason Grilli (already owned) or Johnson would close. Oh well. Middle relievers aren’t worthless in NL-only and I can always jettison Johnson if he is super bad.
Jeff Francouer $5 ($1).
This one is also mine. Francouer will play against left-handers and could get playing time above and beyond that in a leaky Phillies outfield.
Eric Stults $11 ($1)
Jordan Lyles $11 ($1)
Both of these pitchers were Brian Walton’s (Mastersball) booby prizes after he came in second on Bradley, Cahill, and Buchanan. Walton’s staff was a little deeper than Hertz’s, but with Homer Bailey and Jaime Garcia on the shelf Walton felt he could use a little help early. The nice thing about Vickrey is that if these pitchers don’t work out, Walton only loses two FAAB dollars, not $22.
Johnny Giavotella $12. Other bid: $6.
Giavotella wrested the second base job from Josh Rutledge with a strong spring. His upside isn’t terrific, but in AL-only the name of the game is plate appearances. Giavotella may have enough upside to hit 8-10 home runs and steal 8-10 bases if he gets a full season’s worth of plate appearances, but it’s possible that he loses some or all of the job going forward.
Erasmo Ramirez $11. Other bids $7, $5, $4, $3, $3, $3, $1, $1, $1
The trade from Seattle to Tampa Bay opens up a window for Ramirez to be an effective starter. The numbers types love the Eraser, but he hasn’t done much in the handful of opportunities he has had. In only, though, it’s a decent spec play.
Miguel Castro $7. Other bids: $1, $1, $1
I like Castro long-term, but hate bidding more than a dollar or two for speculative saves plays. In a Vickrey league like Tout Wars, a bid like this makes sense, but in LABR it feels like a waste to me.
Jonathan Villar $5
This bid seemed aggressive at first glance, but it appears that Villar will start out the year in a platoon at third base with Luis Valbuena and there is a speed component in Villar’s game. I don’t love it, but it’s not crazy in only.
Keone Kela $4. Other bids $3, $1, $1
I believe Neftali Feliz will be fine this year, but if you don’t agree Kela is the trendy pick to run with the job if Feliz falters. These greater than one dollar bids on closers-in-waiting look great when they work, but they usually don’t.
Asher Wojciechowski $3. Other bids: $1, $1, $1, $1.
As a speculative play in an AL-only, I lik this bid. I wouldn’t touch Wojciechowski in mixed, but in AL-only he could join last year’s Astros’ success stories Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh as a viable mid-tier starting pitcher, albeit one without significant strikeout potential.
Ricky Nolasco $3. Other bids: $1, $1, $1.
It is AL-only, but I prefer to upside play of Wojciechowski to Nolasco at three dollars.
Hector Noesi $3
I want to believe but I don’t.
Danny Valencia $2. Other bid $1.
Brandon Guyer $2. Other bids: $1, $1, $1.
Jacob Petricka $1
Shane Robinson $1. Other bid $1
Jackie Bradley Jr. $1
Tony Sipp. $1. Other bid $1.
Brian Matusz $1
David Carpenter $1. Other bid $1.
Casey Fien $1. Other bids: $1, $1