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 mixed, Tout Wars NL, and either LABR AL or Tout Wars AL (I will alternate every week). 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 at the beginning of the season.
Random Quote of the Week: “I don’t recall saying good luck.” – “Cracker Factory Executive” The Simpsons, A Milhouse Divided
Addison Russell $34. Other bids: $17, $8, $6.
Since Christopher Crawford and Nick Shlain already covered Russell in great detail at Baseball Prospectus while Cat Garcia took an intense, deep dive into Russell’s present and future impact at BP Wrigleyville, I’m not going to go into yet another long description of what Russell could be. I like the Bogaerts comp that both Garcia and Shlain made in their respective articles. This is awesome in real baseball – and should put a goofy smile on your face if you are a Cubs fan—but if you are playing a non-keeper league, you should temper your expectations. Bogaerts earned $10 in AL-only in 2014 and $3 in 15-team mixed. You should assume a little more speed in Russell’s fantasy toolbox, but this still doesn’t make him a tantalizing play unless you’re in an only league.
You can see this playing out in the bids above. Only four out of 15 teams thought that Russell was a better option than what they are currently rolling out there at middle infield, with 11 teams taking a pass on the bidding, including your dashing, charismatic, and handsome heroes—Bret Sayre and Mike Gianella (hey, that’s me!). With Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Desmond, and Brett Lawrie manning our middle infield, Russell would have been an afterthought. So we didn’t bid.
The winning bidder was Doug Anderson of Fantasy Sports Network. Anderson’s offense is doing well, but his middle infield is weak enough (Jedd Gyorko, Stephen Drew, Brad Miller) that adding Russell is a worthwhile speculative comp. If Russell works out, Anderson can trade Russell or another middle infielder to shore up his struggling pitching. If he doesn’t work out, Anderson‘s team is likely out of luck and it probably doesn’t matter. I like the aggressive play for Russell if you’re near the bottom of the standings, as Anderson’s team currently is.
Tout Wars Mixed Draft: $20, $19, $11, $9, $1.
Jimmy Paredes $12. Other bids: $4, $4, $2.
Paredes is a tough call for a FAAB bid in deep mixed. You have to ride the hot bat, but you don’t want to get too excited for a player who possesses a 256/291/370 slash line over 497 career plate appearances. He is kind of a poor man’s Russell (for fantasy; I’m not suggesting that Paredes is anywhere near the wunderkind or potential future diety Russell is for non-fantasy purposes). You need to take a shot that Paredes is legit if your team is struggling, but otherwise a $2-4 bid (like the losing bids here) is the appropriate play. Jake Ciely of Roto Experts is currently in 14th place so his team certainly fits the bill. He has already lost Coco Crisp, Joe Nathan, Hunter Pence, Anthony Rendon and David Wright to injury and also had the misfortunate of drafting Javier Baez. For more information on all of Ciely’s LABR injury trials and tribulations, along with all of his musings on the upcoming NFL Draft follow Ciely on Twitter at @allinkid. You won’t be sorry; that’s the Gianella GuaranteeTM
Tout Wars Mixed Auction: $12 ($22), $11, $5, $4, $4, $4.
Tout Wars Mixed Draft: $7 ($8), $6, $3.
Kevin Plawecki $8. Other bids: $6, $4.
Kurt Suzuki $8. Other bid: $1
I lumped Plawecki and Suzuki together because they are two different plays depending upon what your motivation is. If you are looking for more short-term upside—particularly in the power department—Plawecki is your guy. He could slug 2-4 homers for the Mets while Travis D’Arnaud is out. Suzuki is more of the dependable, station-to-station kind of player you need in a 15-team, two-catcher league. If you have a catcher who is only going to miss a couple of weeks, Plawecki is the guy for you. Suzuki is the backstop you want if you lost someone for a significant period of time, or if you’re carrying a backup or weak-side-of-the-platoon option and simply need at bats.
Kyle Lohse $8. Other bid: $3.
Lohse is off to a poor start, but there is no reason he cannot bounce back and be a solid back-end deeper mixed guy or at worse a matchup play.
Jesse Chavez $7. Other bids $3, $3, $3, $2, $1.
Chavez is replacing Kendall Graveman in the rotation, and while his ceiling is low his floor is high, so he should be able to provide value as a SP5 or SP6 in deep mixed. Just don’t expect Chavez to hold the job all year; Sean Nolin or Jarrod Parker will likely be filling this slot by July. We bid $3—figuring we probably wouldn’t get him—since we lost Adam Wainwright to a gruesome injury earlier in the day. We didn’t get him so we tried for…
Tout Mixed Draft: $3 ($9), $2, $2.
Tony Watson $7. Other bids $1, $1, $1.
Mark Melancon’s velocity is down, and Watson seems like a more likely CIW than Arquimedes Caminero. Fangraphs Sleeper and the Bust duo of Jason Collette and Paul Sporer have had almost no luck with saves out of the gate, rostering Brett Cecil, Steve Cishek, and Ken Giles, so Watson is a fairly decent speculative play on their end in the hopes that Melancon continues to struggle. We bid $1. We are currently in first place, so we would not have nabbed Watson even if everyone else had bid a dollar. This is something Bret and I probably need to consider if we continue to perform well in LABR: our $1 bids are likely to lose in nearly every instance.
Tout Mixed Auction: $6, $5, $4, $2.
Trevor May $4.
The Sleeper and the Bust team were busy this week, nabbing Lohse, May, and Watson in an effort to give their pitching a shot in the arm.
Juan Lagares $3. Other bids $2, $2, $1.
I wish Bret and I had space in our outfield for a savvy low-end play like Lagares; as it was, with Denard Span returning from the DL we had the nice problem of having too many outfielders and “had” to reserve Anthony Gose (aw, poor us). Lagares is a solid back end outfielder in deep mixed. There should be 10-12 home run power in the bat and some speed should come along with this as well. That isn’t great, but it plays in 15-team mixed, and three dollars is a cheap FAAB price to pay for this profile.
Jorge De La Rosa $3.
I don’t like De La Rosa at all in fantasy, but he is a solid strikeout play with a start at Petco this week. $3 is fair amount of FAAB funny money to plunk down for that start and as a future stash.
Andre Ethier $3. Other bids: $1, $1.
Ethier should get most of the at bats for the injured Yasiel Puig and while Ethier probably isn’t going to be the hitter he was in his prime, should still provide some solid OF4 numbers while Puig is out. Watch out for Alex Guerrero, though; he continues to have a super-hot bat and could steal some time away from Ethier in the outfield, defense deficiencies be dammed.
Tout Wars Mixed Auction: $2 ($7), $1, $1.
Martin Maldonado $3
Maldonado is the starter while Jonathan Lucroy is out. In terms of ROI, while Plawecki has the higher ceiling at these prices and Maldonado may very well turn out to the superior investment.
Tout Wars Mixed Auction: $1
Tout Wars Mixed Draft: $2 ($10), $1, $0
A slew of $1 bids came through this week. Bret and I nabbed Martin to replace Wainwright; Bret and I both love the whiff potential. I strongly prefer Martin’s earnings profile to risky plays like Marquis and Elias in the $1 bucket.
Tout Wars NL
Elian Herrera $7 ($8). Other bids: $6, $2, $0
Herrera will get regular at bats at second base for the Brewers with Scooter Gennett out. Gennett’s owner —Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN—was the winning bidder. His semi-aggressive bid despite Herrera’s low ceiling makes plenty of sense given Gennett.
LABR: $2, $2, $2, $1, $1, $1
John Axford $7 ($10). Other bids $6, $6, $2, $1
When these bids were placed, it didn’t seem that Adam Ottavino’s mild injury would have an impact. However, Ottavino is now on the DL, making Peter Kreutzer (Rotoman’s) bid seem prescient. Ax will probably get the first crack to close, and while it doesn’t seem likely he’ll hold the job after Ottavino returns, it isn’t the craziest outcome to anticipate either.
Eddie Butler $6 ($5). Other bid: $4.
I thought this was the week I might be able to sneak Butler in Tout, but Lenny Melnick of Roto Experts had just lost Adam Wainwright and decided to be a little more aggressive than I was this week. Butler’s walk profile is a little frightening, but he is a groundball pitcher, which makes him a little more palatable. He is also getting a Petco start this week, so is probably a no-brainer NL-only play. I’m surprised more people didn’t bid. Bret and our podcast partner in crime—Mauricio Rubio—like Butler more than I do. Maybe I’m wrong on this one. Maybe I’m wrong.
Eric Stults $10 ($4). Other bid: $3.
Stults isn’t the greatest option unless you can take the potential hit in ERA/WHIP. Despite having Clayton Kershaw as an anchor, I’m off to a slow start in ERA/WHIP, and didn’t feel ready to take this risk. Once again, Melnick took the plunge, hoping to make up for Wainwright’s loss with lots and lots of starts.
Justin Bour $1 ($4). Other bid: $0
Sergio Santos $1 ($3).
Clint Robinson $1 ($4).
Clint Barmes $1 ($6).
Anthony Recker $1. Other bid: $1
Chris Stewart $1
Zach Lee $1
Brennan Boesch $0. Other bid: $0.
Tony Cruz $0.
Matt Belisle $0.
Carlos Torres $0
Ryan Vogelsong $0
There are some interesting bids here in the bargain bin. Santos could get some saves with Joel Peralta out, though my make believe money is on Yimi Garcia. Cockcroft made a fun stab at Lee, who could a fill-in for the Dodgers in short order with Brandon McCarthy’s injury. Vogelsong looks like he is going to stick in the Giants rotation for now, and for $0 is an interesting play, particularly if you can reserve and stream, as you can in Tout Wars.
I got Tony Cruz for $0 after losing out on Anthony Recker for a dollar. My life is complete now. I’m going to go paint a mural to celebrate this amazing accomplishment. Hold me America.
Tout Wars AL
Jimmy Paredes $9 ($37). Other bid: $8.
In an AL-only league, I’m surprised that more teams didn’t get their FAAB freak on for Paredes. As I noted above, he could disappear in a week or two, but the gamble that he remains a solid citizen in the long term is a worthy one, particularly in AL-only. Jeff Erickson of Rotowire used the Vickrey hammer much in the way that Thor used the mighty Mjölnir to smite his enemies in ancient Norse mythology*, bidding an aggressive $37 and getting Paredes for nine dollars. Paredes is a very solid play at this place and even as a part timer could provide value.
*and modern Marvel comics as well. Did you know that there are two separate entries for Mjölnir at Wikipedia: one for the hammer in Norse mythology and one for the hammer used in the contemporary Marvel comic? Yes! It’s true. I have mixed feelings about this choice by Wikipedia. While I feel that from an encyclopedic standpoint it makes complete sense to have two separate entries, it isn’t a particularly useful teaching tool for young children who go to the Marvel Comics Mjölnir entry at Wikipedia and don’t have the intellectual curiosity to click through and see how Mjölnir differed in Norse mythology from the way it was presented in the modern comic. Granted, Norse mythology certainly isn’t a vital skill for our nation’s youth to possess, and probably will not have a discernable impact on future generations. But if I had to learn about this stuff in my high school and college’s comparative religious classes, then by gum these kids today should have to learn about it as well.
Erik Sogard $3. Other bid: $2
Sogard will get plenty of at bats for the Athletics with Ben Zobrist out of commission. He is worth playing in only, but the upside is probably a 15 steal pace with almost nothing else. He is somewhat better in batting average leagues.
LABR Bid: $3
Eduardo Nunez $12 ($2). Other bid: $1
Nunez isn’t likely to stick as a starter, but he is swinging a hot bat and many of the other Twins are not. Nunez was the DH last night in favor of Kennys Vargas and will probably rotate in for other Twins as long as he is hitting well. Twelve dollars is aggressive, but the hope for Larry Schechter of Winning Fantasy Baseball is that Danny Santana continues to struggle and Nunez wrests the starting shortstop job from him.
Is Rodriguez worth it in Texas? Probably not. Robinson is the most intriguing option on this list as long as he is hitting.