Welcome to The FAAB Review, the series that looks at the expert bidding in LABR mixed, Tout Wars NL, and Tout Wars AL every week in an effort to try and help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Bret Sayre and I participate in LABR mixed while I have a team in Tout Wars NL, so I can provide some insight on the bids and the reasoning behind them. LABR uses a $100 budget with one-dollar minimum bids, while the Tout Wars leagues use a $1,000 budget with zero-dollar minimum bids. I will also be including Bret’s winning bids in Tout Wars mixed auction league where applicable.
LABR and Tout Wars both use a bidding deadline of Sunday at midnight ET.
All 2016 statistics in this article were as of Sunday, May 15.
By this time in 2015, the LABR mixed experts had placed $20-plus FAAB bids on Archie Bradley, Jason Grilli, Miguel Castro, Jeurys Familia, Addison Russell, and Blake Swihart. This year, two players have garnered $20-plus FAAB bids: Trevor Story and Jeanmar Gomez. As many predicted, the lack of “hot” rookies (oh, get your mind out of the gutter, and keep your #thirstbase hashtag away from my FAAB column) has cooled the experts’ jets. However, something we didn’t expect was an environment where only a limited number of closers lost their jobs early. As a result, there hasn’t really been a good reason to push hard on the free agents in the pool thus far this season.
Arcia is my kind of gamble in this format. He split time with Eddie Rosario in the Twins outfield last week. Both of them have been subpar in real life; Arcia’s offensive ceiling combined with the Twins lack of high end options while Byron Buxton is in the minors makes Arcia a solid short-term play. Santana has been quietly solid year-to-date and while he isn’t quite a must start in 15-team mixed, he should be out there nearly every week (although he is borderline this week with the Blue Jays on the slate).
While these are the kind of players who could become significant contributors, these aren’t the types of players we are saving our money for in LABR. The Bradley, Castro, and Swihart bids look funny now, but the impetus behind these bids made sense at the time. I don’t care so much about whether or not Arcia and Santana are “underpaid” but I do have to have to consider what the conservative bidding this year in LABR is going to do to the FAAB culture going forward. My instincts tell me that Bret and I should continue down the path of being conservative, not spend much of our FAAB coin, and hope that a hot shot minor leaguer who isn’t on a reserve list is unexpectedly promoted. The dilemma with this approach is that Bret and I are not sitting on the biggest pile of FAAB and there are no guarantees that we will be in June or July.
Matt Andriese $7. Other bids: $4, $4, $3. Tout Mixed Auction: $52. Tout Mixed Draft: $27.
Andriese has delivered great results in two starts to date but with a super low strikeout percentage and middling minor-league results Andriese is more of a back-end option for fantasy than a mainstay. I like his matchup against the Tigers in Detroit this week and would suggest adding him in anything larger than a 12-team mixed league.
Ivan Nova $6. Other bid: $4.
Now I’m just a simple ol’ country fantasy baseball writer (snaps suspenders), but something tells me that Ivan Nova’s 1.74 ERA across his last two starts isn’t nearly as representative of his ability as his 5.20 ERA. And that’s no…(pauses, takes off glasses, stares at a wall I am pretending is a camera) manure.
Nova managed to help his fantasy owners last week with a decent enough two-start week against the Royals and White Sox but his 4.41 K/9 on the season doesn’t inspire trust going forward. He gets the Athletics in Oakland this week and while the matchup is decent enough, Nova is still a marginal play in AL-only. He should not be used in 15-team mixed unless or until the strikeouts spike.
Marwin Gonzalez $3. Other bid: $2.
Very quietly, Gonzalez has replaced Tyler White as the primary option at first base for the Astros. This makes sense, as after a fast start White has a .140/.231/.193 slash in his last 65 plate appearances. With White struggling, A.J. Reed on the Triple-A DL with a hamstring strain, and Jonathan Singleton sitting around .200 at Triple-A, Gonzalez is likely to get regular at bats for Houston in the near future. Gonzalez unfairly has a reputation as a marginal hitter, but his numbers dating back to 2014 are a shade above average. The best thing about Gonzalez in fantasy is that he has all kinds of positional eligibility and in leagues with 15-game positional requirements from the previous season Gonzalez is eligible everywhere except catcher. This isn’t to say that Gonzalez is going to be a 25-30 home run hitter and win Keith Hernandez of USA Today Fantasy the whole enchilada, but it is a solid pickup, and a better one than most casual observers would believe.
Dillon Gee $3
On Saturday, I made a joke on Twitter that Gee—a former New York Met—had a lower ERA than any current New York Mets starting pitcher. This was during the fifth inning of the Royals/Braves game in which Gee was pitching. By the sixth inning, this turned out to be untrue, as Gee allowed three runs in the frame and was removed from the game. I wasn’t seriously suggesting that Gee is better than anyone on the Mets staff, not I was I suggesting that the Mets made a poor tactical decision by letting Gee go. No, this was merely an exercise in me presenting an interesting but meaningless tidbit. I don’t believe Gee is better than anyone on the Mets staff and I don’t like the idea of starting a pitcher who gave up three runs to the Braves against the White Sox offense at the Cell this week.
Matt Cain $3
Mike Foltynewicz $3. Other bid: $2. Tout Mixed Auction: $72. Tout Mixed Draft: $28.
The pitching bids this week tell me that perhaps Bret and I should try to trade a starting pitcher for something else (a closer? Stolen bases?) and capitalize on a thin starting pitcher market. Cain and Foltynewicz both had solid outings in their last starts but I do not have a great deal of trust in either pitcher in the long term. I suppose I’d go with Foltynewicz for the upside if pressed to make a decision, but thankfully the depth that our LABR team has means that we don’t have to do so. We have Trevor Bauer and R.A. Dickey on our bench for Week 7’s games and I prefer both of these arms to Cain and Folty at the moment.
Jose Ramirez $2
Brandon Guyer $2. Tout Mixed Auction $57. Tout Mixed Draft $27.
At a glance, Guyer appears to be a mediocre fourth outfielder with a small sample size power burst. It’s fine to ride the wave, but to expect anything more than a 10-12 home run, 10-12 steal season the rest of the way would be folly. However, a closer look reveals a hitter who had shoulder surgery in 2012 and had trouble with both his recovery and his approach for a couple of years after the surgery. This isn’t to suggest that Guyer is a stud in fantasy, but if he is completely healthy a 20-home-run season if he can hang onto a job in Tampa isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Given some of the softer options on the active roster, Guyer will keep getting playing time if he produces.
Chase Utley $2. Other bid: $2.
The counting stats are down but from a metric-driven perspective Utley is having his best season since 2013. This is bad news for Howie Kendrick and Enrique Hernandez owners in fantasy leagues. At the moment Utley’s upside doesn’t necessarily make him an automatic add, but he has played in 33 of the Dodgers first 38 games and appears to be healthy. He is fine if you need a fill-in but don’t count on anything beyond the power/speed numbers that Utley put up in 2014 with perhaps a slightly better batting average thrown into the mix.
Bret and I discussed Ray as a free agent possibility but decided not to bid on anyone this week.
Tout Wars NL
Tommy Joseph $101. Other bids: $77, $25, $21, $7. LABR NL: $9
I don’t know if the good times will last for Tommy Joseph or not, but he was mashing Triple-A pitching at Lehigh Valley in a difficult environment for hitters and now gets an opportunity to at least platoon with Ryan Howard at first base in Philadelphia. Joseph’s minor-league numbers are far from impressive, but injuries were a culprit for a big portion of his minor league career. If he can stay healthy, perhaps Joseph can generate the 20-home-run power some were expecting out of him when he was a pup in the Giants’ system and later a key piece for the Phillies when they shipped Hunter Pence off to San Francisco for Joseph among others. From a fantasy standpoint, Joseph’s offensive profile was significantly more valuable behind the dish, but if the power is legitimate a .240 batting average and 20 home runs will play in NL-only. This doesn’t mean Joseph is a mortal lock to get there, of course.
Eddie Butler $71.
Butler has quietly put up solid K/BB and K/IP ratios this season, and looks closer to the once highly-touted prospect he was as opposed to the Coors-influenced punching bag that he became. That being said, the ERA is still high, Coors is Coors, and you don’t want to play the xFIP game with a Colorado pitcher. Butler gets the Pirates in Pittsburgh this week, which isn’t bad as an NL-only matchup play.
Jon Niese $44. Other bids: $21, $11, $2. LABR NL: $7.
There is a lot to loathe in Niese’s statistical profile, but the 10 home runs in 40 innings jumps off of the page. Niese has a 5.63 ERA, a 6.28 FIP, and a 5.87 DRA. You don’t need to be a numbers nerd to know that the technical term for this is “awful.” Nevertheless, I considered picking up Niese because my pitching in Tout is already a disaster and adding more kindling to the fire will just keep me and my hot takes warmer at night. In the end, I passed on Niese and Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN grabbed the Pirates hurler for the bid you see here. If there is a silver lining for Niese, it’s that he has been OK at home and awful on the road and gets two home matchups this week, against the Braves last night and the Rockies later in the week.
Alex Reyes $33.
Brian Walton of Mastersball plunks down $33 to stash future Cardinal Alex Reyes. More importantly, Brian Walton of The Cardinal Nation picked up Reyes, which made me think that Brian knows something that I don’t know about Reyes’ ETA this year. Let’s check out Brian’s Twitter and see what we can find!
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="und" dir="ltr">No. <a href="https://t.co/j5277mtUgM">https://t.co/j5277mtUgM</a></p>— Brian Walton (@B_Walton) <a href="https://twitter.com/B_Walton/status/732228061777821697">May 16, 2016</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
So, um, I guess Brian doesn’t know more than what the rest of us know. I still like Reyes as a stash, particularly on a team with a couple of pitchers in the rotation not known for their durability.
After spending weeks of making fun of other people’s pickups of Padres, I picked up a Padre from the free agent pool, which probably prohibits prospective pokes at prognosticators’ pickups in the phuture.
Jose Pirela $4. LABR NL: $1.
Actually, I picked up two Padres. So now I have four of them. Four Padres on offense on a team where at bats is the priority, but you do have to have some offensive stats, you know? My entire offense looks like a cry for attention, as if I am hoping a wealthy Padres fan adopts me, flies me to his skybox in Padres Stadium – or whatever it is they call the place the Padres play (I can’t keep track of all of these corporate sponsorships anymore, and in any event I’m not getting paid to shill for these corporations in The FAAB Review, hint, hint) – and we commiserate over the status of his Padres and my fantasy team. This is only a rough plan so I haven’t worked out all of the details (for example, do I bring my family with me or start a new life?), but I figure I’ll hash that out after I get off of the plane in sunny San Diego. Assuming that someone takes me up on this offer, it has been nice knowing all of you, patient readers of my ramblings in the FAAB column.
Hector Sanchez $2
Chase D’Arnaud $2
Cory Gearrin $1
Chris Heisey $0
Joe Blanton $0
What’s going on? What year is it? What kind of dystopia did I wake up in where people are putting bids in on Chase D’Arnaud and Joe Blanton? I think I’m repeating my jokes from previous FAAB Reviews but I don’t care. I can’t taste my food. Now I’m just making random statements that have little if anything to do with FAAB or fantasy baseball.
Tout Wars AL
Jhoulys Chacin $101. Other bids: $46, $28, $25, $13. LABR AL: $13.
The Braves are tanking. After losing most of their rotation and Andrelton Simmons to injury the Angels should probably be tanking as well but instead decided to trade the crumbs left in their farm system to the Braves for Chacin, who will take the ball every fifth day and is likely to be a capable no. 4 or no. 5 for Anaheim. The NL to AL move is far from ideal, but Chacin does get to pitch in a great pitcher’s park, and as I pointed out a few weeks ago when I picked Chacin up in Tout Wars, his lifetime ERA outside of Coors is 3.39 (compared to a 4.24 ERA at Coors Field). Chacin certainly isn’t a world-beater, but he will play in AL-only, and in mixed formats as a home streamer.
Dillon Gee $65. Other bids: $41, $26, $13, $9, $8. LABR AL: $11.
I wrote about Gee above in the LABR Mixed section, but there is a big difference between 15-team mixed and AL-only in the type of pitcher you are willing to roll out there. I don’t like Gee at all in mixed. I can see how in AL-only you might be willing to roll with a fifth starter on a strong real life team with a great defense behind him. This is mostly a wins and volume play, and considering the alternatives on the free agent pool in Tout (Miguel Gonzalez, Chad Green, Cesar Ramos, Matt Shoemaker, and Eric Surkamp), Gee is an understandable alternative. On the other hand, there is something to be said for using relievers over low strikeout pitchers and hoping for some lucky wins here and there.
Mike Montgomery $44
Steven Moya $37. Other bid: $8. LABR AL: $8
I am surprised there were not more bids and that no one besides Steve Moyer of Inside Edge bid into double digits. Moya could lose playing time now that Cameron Maybin is healthy but the Tigers seem intent on playing Moya nearly every day and seeing what he has to offer, as opposed to leaving him on the bench as a role player. There is a lot of risk in Moya’s profile and it doesn’t seem very likely that he will ever hit better than .260 but the power potential is enticing and plays in an only format. Even though Moya could be demoted in short order, I would have bid somewhere in the low $100s if I had needed an outfielder and was a member of Tout Wars AL.
Juan Centeno $35. Other bid: $0. LABR AL: $1
Kurt Suzuki has been dealing alternately with a “stiff neck” and “being a terrible hitter” so the Twins have been giving Centeno a fair amount of starts behind the plate. Centeno is a solution to Suzuki in the way driving into a tree is a solution to avoiding a head-on collision, but these are the kind of decisions we AL-only players sometimes have to make. Centeno has never hit at any level; his .666 career minor-league OPS is poor and he had virtually no power to speak of in the minors. Naturally, this means that Centeno is going to his 10 home runs this year and wrest the job away from Suzuki. It’s just good science.
Jake Marisnick $21. Other bids: $13, $3.
What a difference a year makes. Twenty-seven games into the 2015 season, Marisnick was a Top 10 AL-only hitter and it appeared that he would be starting and worth owning in every format. A year and a couple of weeks later, Marisnick is a fourth outfielder on the Astros and while he did play a good deal last week, Evan Gattis’ return from the minors combined with Carlos Gomez’s return to full health (Gomez was DHing) makes it unlikely that Marisnick will play full time. I like the steals potential for Marisnick in AL-only, but at the moment that is the best-case scenario.
Justin Wilson $9.
Ryan Rua $9. Other bid: $2. LABR AL: $4.
Rua is playing every day for the Rangers and while he is not going to keep posting a .395 BABIP he could put up a .250 batting average with decent power if he can stick in the lineup. However, Shin-Shoo Choo just started a rehab assignment, so Rua’s time as a starter could be a short one. I like Rua as a short-term play this week and a $9 bid is appropriate in AL-only. It is unclear what his role will be once Choo comes back.
Cam Bedrosian $9. Other bid: $0.
Bedrosian is buried in the Angels’ bullpen but the strikeout rate has been elite and with lesser strikeout options like Joe Smith and Fernando Salas in front of Bedrosian, there is the possibility that Bedrosian could steals a save or two while closer Huston Street is out of commission.
Michael Feliz $3. LABR AL: $1.
Feliz has been a strikeout machine for the Astros but a big chunk of this is the product of a five-strikeout game Feliz delivered in an extra inning marathon on May 11th against Cleveland. Feliz is a decent long-relief play, but he has virtually no chance at saves in the Houston bullpen.
Mike Wright $3. LABR AL: $6.
Wright is a tough pitcher to roll with in any format, but he gets the Angels in Anaheim of Los Angeles of California of the United States of North America of the planet Earth of the Solar System of The Milky Way of The Known Universe in Week 7 If you’re going to roll with Wright in any given week, the week where he gets the Angels on the road with a potent Orioles offense backing him up is the week to do so.
I did not realize that Michael Martinez is still in the major leagues. Neshek and Diekman were both on my home league AL-only team earlier this year so I understand, AL-only experts. I understand.