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 Tout Wars AL. Bret Sayre and I participate in LABR mixed while I have a team in Tout Wars NL, so I will provide insights behind the reasoning on some the bids. Budgets in all three leagues start at $100 at the beginning of the season.
Random Quote of the Week – “Amalgamated Bank: Our Fees and Penalties are Slightly Lower Than The Other Banks” – Jim Earl.
Tanner Roark $15. Other bids: $8, $3, $3, $3.
With Jared Cosart and Wil Myers hitting the DL for the Baseball Prospectus squad, Bret and I decided to use our two roster openings to add some pitching depth. We had one of the $3 bids on Roark, but Steve Gardner of USA Today Sports placed an aggressive $15 bid to obtain his services. Roark was a strong option last year for the Nationals, and while his first start this week was on a strict pitch count, the Nats should be able to stretch him out in no time. Roark should be solid, but the positive ERA/FIP/DRA differential likely won’t be as pronounced this year with the Nationals defense looking a little weaker this year minus Anthony Rendon and plus a shakier Ian Desmond. Roark’s strikeout rate has plummeted to a terrible K/9, which could be a product of rust, but the fact is he’s getting hit, and strikeouts provide a good chunk of pitcher value. Roark will be okay, but I’m expecting more of a no. 4-5 deep mixed than a no. 2 (based on his numbers last year).
Jaime Garcia $7. Other bids: $4, $3, $1, $1.
Garcia was our most aggressive pitcher bid, but our four dollars was trumped by Mike Podherzer’s Fangraphs squad at seven. We know the deal with Garcia. He has solid stuff and has the potential to be quality mid-tier guy for the Cardinals, but he hasn’t pitched a full season since 2011. His command seemed more than a little spotty in his first outing off of the DL and he abandoned his off-speed stuff almost entirely in favor of a nearly exclusive fastball/cutter combo. Garcia still has to polish some of the rust off, in other words. He is OK to use in deeper mixed and NL-only in a home matchup today against the Diamondbacks.
Kendall Graveman $5. Other bids: $2, $2, $1
Graveman was our third choice, and we had one of the two dollar bids. He looked terrible in his first go round with the Athletics, but he looked like a different pitcher on Sunday, keeping the ball down in the zone and forcing the Rays to pound into nine groundball outs. If he can keep up this profile, he can slot in as a fairly reliable backend guy in mixed, albeit one without a high whiff profile.
Charlie Morton $5
Brayan Pena $4
Someone finally grabbed Pena off of the free agent pool, the someone being Mastersball’s Todd Zola. With Devin Mesoraco’s most recent setback, it seems likely that Pena will be the starter for the rest of the season barring an injury, a trade, or the sudden heat death of the universe.
Wade Miley $3. Other bid: $1
Miley is the first pitcher who wasn’t part of our list of LABR bids. The argument for Miley this winter was predicated on his high strikeout rate, but the whiffs are way down and not surprisingly the peripherals stink. Miley has been a little unlucky with his strand rate, but that doesn’t explain away the outings where it just seems like he can’t generate swinging strikes. You can stream Miley in non-AL East road outings, but I just don’t like him at the moment.
Ryan Raburn $3
Shaun Marcum $3
Lance McCullers $2. Other bids: $1, $1
There was a time in fantasy baseball where McCullers would have went for $15-20 based on his potential. But we are all savvier than that now, and while the results have been strong thus far, in non-carryover leagues the risk for a poor WHIP and the lack of wins due to high pitch counts cannot be ignored. If Bret and I had a second division team with weak pitching, I may have taken a stab at McCullers, but with a strong staff and a second place team overall (entering Monday’s action) it didn’t make much sense to push this particular envelope.
Joe Kelly $2. Other bid $1.
Kelly was the first pitcher we purchased after all of the contingent bids above failed. He has been simply trying to throw hard, harder, and hardest and while he was generating strikeouts this wasn’t working for him on the whole. Kelly’s approach against the Rangers in his last outing featured a superior mix of pitches and kept them off balance. He certainly has the stuff to succeed going forward, and while I believe the risk is high, at two dollars he can easily be cut if he doesn’t work out.
Maxwell Muncy $1. Other bid: $1
Muncy fits the profile of the prototypical Moneyball (ugh, just typing this makes me feel icky) Athletics corner infielder: good walk rate, decent contact rate, not the prototypical power hitter. Of course this is now more the norm in baseball than the exception thanks to improved pitching across the board, so Muncy is no longer a rarity but a common commodity. In fantasy, he is a better play in OBP leagues like Tout Wars than in LABR where his batting average is a bit of a risk. If this turns into a straight platoon with Mark Canha, Muncy will get most of the at bats.
Enrique Burgos $1
Will Venable $1
David DeJesus $1
Matt Duffy $1
Carson Smith $1
Smith was our second pitcher purchase. Our colleague Keith Cromer should be happy with this; he has been touting Smith for the last two weeks as a great closer-in-waiting candidate. Even if Smith doesn’t supplant Fernando Rodney, his high whiff rates make him a decent option in weeks where one of our back end starting pitchers is a one-start play.
Tout Wars NL
Ben Paulsen $16 ($45). Other bids: $15, $11, $11, $9, $9, $6, $3
Brandon Barnes $10. Other bids: $9, $6, $5, $3, $1
I lump Paulsen and Barnes together since these are partially bids for the present and partially bids for the rest of the season. Corey Dickerson’s plantar fasciitis and Drew Stubbs’ poor play has opened the door for Paulsen and Barnes in the Rockies outfield. It is also possible that the Rockies clean house and additional playing time opens up for Paulsen and Barnes later in the season. Paulsen has 15-17 home run potential at Coors if he gets to start, while Barnes profiles as a 10/10 player who maybe could go 15/15 if every single thing broke right. I foresee more of a part-time situation for both players, but in an NL-only, taking chances like this is necessary. I bid $11 on Paulsen while bidding one on Barnes. My offense is strong, but adding depth for trade can never hurt.
Rafael Ynoa $3. Other bid: $3.
I didn’t include Ynoa with the Rockies above because even if the Rockies do clean house, Ynoa likely qualifies as a utility infielder. He doesn’t have enough power or speed to be more than a fringy player, even in NL-only. He is worth owning if you have a complete hole on your roster, but isn’t an upgrade on any starters.
Jose Urena $1 ($5)
Sean O’Sullivan $1 ($3). Other bid: $0
Tucker Barnhart $1 ($3)
Darrell Ceciliani $1 ($2)
Daniel Muno $1 ($2)
Jonathan Gray $1
Jon Moscot $1
Jeremy Jeffress $1
Rafael Betancourt $0
Junior Lake $0
Pedro Ciriaco $0
There are four Rockies starters in the free agent pool and the market passed on all of them. O’Sullivan’s start at Citi Field later this week was grabbed by Peter Kreutzer (Rotoman) but most of the low-end bids involved speculation. Urena will get a start this week for the Marlins in Pittsburgh. Brian Walton of Mastersball made a couple of starting pitching spec plays this week with Gray and Moscot. After missing out on Paulsen and Barnes, I grabbed Lake to push into my lineup this week for Jeff Francouer and grabbed Betancourt as a closer-in-waiting candidate due to his strong peripherals thus far this year.
Tout Wars AL
Wellington Castillo $10 ($13). Other bids: $9, $7, $5, $4, $0
After the Mariners acquired Castillo, it seemed that he might be the clear backup to Mike Zunino, but in the last six games both of them have played three times. I still suspect that Zunino will get about two-thirds of the starts, but Castillo could provide a little more value in AL-only than your typical backup catcher. He has a little bit of pop, and even though Safeco suppresses that, he will still be helpful.
Geovany Soto $6 ($7). Other bids: $5, $0
Tyler Flowers is the White Sox starter behind the dish but has done very poorly. Geovany Soto is the White Sox backup behind the dish and… um… has also done very poorly. I suppose Soto could get more starts if Flowers continues to tank, but the whole situation just seems bad. I can see why you’d add Soto for the backup power potential, but as a counterpoint: eh.
Maxwell Muncy $5 ($9). Other bids: $4, $0.
See the mixed league recap above. Muncy is obviously a stronger potential contributor in AL-only than in mixed, but the bids were not particularly aggressive.
Buck Farmer $3 ($4). Other bids: $2, $1.
Farmer entered the season looking like a back end starter, but improvement on his secondary offerings increases both the real life and the fantasy potential. He could slot in as a #3 in real life, which gives him plenty of AL-only viability. The concern entering the season was a lack of strikeout potential, but if Farmer can even strike out seven per nine, he could be a sneaky $10-12 AL-only earner.
Dear Leonard. To look free agents in the face, always, to look FAAB in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it, to love it for what it is, and then, to outbid your opponents. Leonard, always the double-digit bids between us, always the Vickrey bids. Always the FAAB reclaims on injured players. Always the hours.