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, June 5.
Archie Bradley $19. Other bids: $13, $10, $7, $5, $1, $1.
Bret and I were aggressive but not quite aggressive enough, bidding $13 but losing out to Ray Murphy of Baseball HQ. Bradley looked terrific against the Cubs on Friday afternoon, hitting 93-94 miles per hour with ease and displaying consistency with his breaking stuff, which is something that had been lacking in his earlier stints with the club. Command will likely be the biggest factor in determining if Bradley can live up to the hype of a couple of seasons ago and push past the ceiling of a mid-tier starting pitcher. In fantasy, the ceiling is well worth sinking 20 percent of your budget into a pitcher like Bradley if your staff needs a boost. Bret and I need hitting a little more than we need pitching, which is why I did not want to get too aggressive.
Will Harris $12. Other bids: $7, $5, $5, $4, $4, $1. Tout Mixed Auction: $195. Tout Mixed Draft: $310.
Harris picked up the save on Sunday for the Astros. Shortly after the game, the club announced it was going with a committee in the ninth, with Harris, Luke Gregerson, and Ken Giles all potentially in the mix. Giles was not available on Sunday, so it is possible that Harris remains in a set-up role or isn’t at the front of the committee. Situations like this are messy in fantasy, but saves have to be chased in any format that uses them. In a league like LABR Mixed, I’d argue that Harris should have been taken a few weeks ago and used over one of the back-end starting pitching options that teams commonly like to employ in deep mixed. In any event, committees generally don’t hold. I would guess that Harris gets the saves in the short-term and if he is capable in the role he will run away with the job, but Giles should be picked up in deeper formats if he was dropped.
Bret and I bid $4 on Harris.
Zach Davies $7. Tout Mixed Auction: $11. Tout Mixed Draft: $13
I’m not surprised that Davies was picked up, but I am surprised by Todd Zola’s (Mastersball) somewhat aggressive bid. Davies is a decent streamer for the week, with home starts against the Athletics and a Mets lineup that has been decimated by injuries, but as a long-term play he is difficult to recommend. With a fastball that sits below 90 miles-per-hour, Davies relies a good deal on deception to survive. Sometimes this works, like it did against the Cardinals last week, but when it doesn’t the floor is ugly. One reason Zola made this aggressive bid is because he has Clayton Kershaw and can afford to take the ERA/WHIP hit on Davies if the ERA/WHIP don’t play.
Julio Urias $5. Other bid: $2.
Urias was drafted on reserve in both Tout Wars leagues. In LABR, not one of the 15 experts thought he was worth speculating on in the reserve rounds. This reluctance to nab Urias extended to last week, when the fantasy experts avoided him due to a bad matchup against the Cubs. It is worth noting that the experts in LABR passed on Bradley for the same reason. In fantasy, the Cubs have become a must-avoid for non-elite pitchers. Urias has oodles of potential and is an incredibly exciting pitcher to track long-term but he cannot be recommended in anything outside of an NL-only at the moment. You can see the potential but the consistency hasn’t been in there in either one of his starts.
James Paxton $3.
Jarrett Parker $2. Other bids: $1, $1. Tout Wars Auction: $57.
The severity of Hunter Pence’s injury gives Parker a few weeks of regular at bats in the Giants outfield. The power potential is impressive, although Parker comes with a poor batting average. Mac Williamson could steal some at bats against left-handed pitching but Parker should play almost every day while Pence is out. If you’re thinking Adam Duvall 2.0 you are being greedy, but the potential is here for 20-25 home run power across a full season.
Chris Young $2
Seung Hwan Oh $2
David Ross $1
Michael Feliz $1. Other bid: $1. Tout Mixed Auction: $26.
Dae-Ho Lee $1. Tout Mixed Auction: $67. Tout Mixed Draft: $0
John Jaso $1
Tyler Naquin $1. Tout Mixed Auction: $277. Tout Mixed Draft: $3
Austin Romine $1
That’s Chris Young the hitter, not Chris Young the pitcher.
Oh and Feliz fit the mold of middle relievers who should be owned in deeper formats, and Feliz has the added bonus of being part of an uncertain Astros bullpen.
Naquin homered in three consecutive games this past weekend. With Marlon Byrd out for the year, Naquin should get a fair opportunity to show what he can do for Cleveland. It’s far more likely that Naquin is riding a hot streak than suddenly having a major power breakout, but the playing time opportunity plus the solid lineup make Naquin a solid pickup. In Tout Wars Mixed Auction, Gene McCaffrey really thought so, bidding $253 more than the next team to get Naquin.
Tout Wars AL
James Shields $671. Other bids: $445, $175, $173, $88, $51, $33. LABR AL: $57.
The first big NL-to-AL trade acquisition of the season, Shields got the full-court-press treatment by two teams. Rick Wolf and Glenn Colton were aggressive, getting Shields in both LABR and Tout Wars. The strategy with Shields in AL-only is to make a big bid if you are in the second division and cannot afford to wait for better players to come over from the other league at the trade deadline. Shields numbers thus far look bad, but are mostly the product a terrible start against the Rockies. He moves to a tougher league and a tougher park, so this is primarily a play for consistent innings and a healthy amount of strikeouts. Shields could hurt his fantasy teams’ WHIPs and particularly their ERAs. He isn’t the steady starter he once was, but he could rebound due to the change of scenery. He was an obvious add in AL-only, the question is whether he was worth this hyper-aggressive bid or not. The answer to this likely depends upon where your team is in the standings and how much risk your squad “must” take on at this point in the season.
Will Harris $288. Other bids: $175, $57, $52, $23.
I cannot believe that Harris was a free agent in an AL-only all season long, let alone in an expert league. In AL-only, I had Harris as the 37th-best pitcher overall in last week’s valuation update. Yes, he’s not going to pitch to an 0.34 ERA and an 0.71 WHIP all season, but the value is there even if Harris slips somewhat and he is a far better option than one of the marginal starting pitchers at the bottom of the pile in AL-only. I’m not suggesting Harris should have been owned all season long. He was barely mentioned in any of Baseball Prospectus’ off-season pieces discussing bullpens and Giles seemed like a mortal lock to close for most of the winter. But at some point this year, Harris should have been nabbed in AL-only.
Steve Gardner of USA Today has had Harris on his roster all year, snagging Harris with his last pick in the reserve round of LABR. Nice work, Steve.
Reymond Fuentes $41. Other bid: $31.
Fuentes grabbed a couple of starts for the Royals this weekend and could find himself with some semi-regular playing time in Kansas City. The speed is what is worth noticing for fantasy purposes; Fuentes stole 29 bases last year in the minors and the Royals do like to run. This is a decent addition in AL-only.
Chris Parmelee $38. Other bid: $23. LABR AL: $7
With Mark Teixeira possibly out for the rest of the season, Parmelee got the call from Triple-A over Nick Swisher. Parm could be an interesting power add in AL-only, but Rob Refsnyder picked up both starts this past weekend. Parmelee could probably play as a 15-home-run, .240-batting-average guy as a starter, which is strictly AL-only material. He’s worth the stash if you had Teixeira or have a dead spot at corner.
James Paxton $32. Other bids: $27, $17.
If don’t play AL-only and you’re wondering why two teams went all-in for Shields, this is part of your answer. Just for fun, try typing the sentence “while James Paxton certainly has potential” into your internet search engine of choice. Oh my, look at all of the fun and exciting results that come up in your browser! Pitchers generally have far less linear learning curves than hitters, but Paxton is a 27-year-old pitcher who has never seemed to stay healthy for long enough to matter in fantasy. He’s OK as a streamer in AL-only I suppose, but the risk factor is high.
Anderson is the most interesting name on this list: a decent one-dollar stash if he gets called up by the White Sox or if he is traded to a National League team at some point later this season. I like Neshek as a relief speculation play in the aforementioned Astros bullpen.
Tout Wars NL
Jimmy Paredes $151. Other bids: $106, $41, $1. LABR NL: $16
The beginning of the regular season is a thing of unbridled optimism, and nothing captures this unbridled optimism in fantasy baseball more than Tout Wars weekend. You’re there with your industry expert colleagues, people are asking you questions about fantasy baseball and—I’m not going to lie to you—it feels pretty darn special. You get to go on the radio and talk about your fantasy team (don’t tell me satellite radio doesn’t count. It counts! It counts!) and if you’re one of the lucky winners, you get your name on the menu at a famous New York City bar and your face plastered on make believe money. If this doesn’t sound great to you, then I don’t want to know you, friend!
None of this prepares you for the misery that is bidding over 10 percent of your FAAB budget on Jimmy Paredes. If there isn’t a greater juxtaposition in fantasy life, I don’t know what is. Imagine building a time machine and then going back and telling the March 2016 version of yourself that you are bidding $106 on Jimmy Paredes. Can you envision how this conversation might go? It would probably involve a lot of questions about wasting your time travel powers on fantasy baseball results but once this objection was addressed, I’m sure that the March 2016 version of you would be thinking that life is a horrid cesspool and the best laid plans are often for naught.
Anyway, Jimmy Paredes is getting a healthy amount of starts in right-field for the Phillies at the moment. He has some pop and could be a decent power source for Philadelphia if he can hang onto the job. We went through this with Paredes last year in Baltimore, however, and it did not end well. He won his way into our hearts with a .346/.376/.625 slash his first 109 plate appearances but then lost those same hearts when he put up an icky .247/.284/.332 line the rest of the way. If you buy Paredes for this price, the hope is that he can come close to replicating those first 109 plate appearances before he turns back into a pumpkin. The odds aren’t in his favor, but given that I placed what I thought was an extremely aggressive bid, I at least believe in Paredes enough for the purposes of NL-only.
Erik Johnson $97
Andres Blanco $10. Other bid: $5.
A look at Blanco’s career numbers makes him look like a complete washout offensively. However, since he joined the Phillies in 2014 Blanco has been a solid contributor with the bat, posting TAvs of .267, .303, and .292 (year-to-date). The rub with Blanco in fantasy is that he doesn’t steal bases and while the ISO has been solid this has not translated to significant home run power. An even bigger rub is that Blanco isn’t a starter. His versatility is useful—and in NL-only Blanco is a better utility or middle infield option than a few players on NL-only rosters—but this is the definition of damning with faint praise.
Albert Suarez $6. Other bid: $3.
Since 2009, Suarez has been through a series of maladies, including Tommy John surgery, knee problems, and a significant bout with Lyme Disease that sapped him of his physical energy and kept him off the field for significant periods of time. Suarez worked his way back last year in the Angels system through a conditioning program that helped not only with his stamina in games but in between starts as well. Now with the Giants, Suarez makes for an awesome story, and the kind of guy you root for unless you’re dead inside or a Dodgers fan. He had a solid debut as a starting pitcher against the Braves, with surprisingly decent velocity on his fastball and a ground ball rate that could at least make Suarez sustainable. Suarez is still “just” an NL-only play, but I love the idea of rolling the dice on a guy who fought this much to keep pitching.
Adam Rosales $5. Other bids: $2, $0. LABR NL: $1.
I picked up this guy a few weeks ago. I dropped him when Adonis Garcia returned from the minors. Others waited, but then eventually there was a mini-bidding war, and three teams vied for the services of Adam Rosales. The Coors factor this week will help (San Diego has three games in Colorado on the schedule), but Rosales is strictly playing against left-handers at the moment and the Padres face nothing but right-handers this week.
Daniel Descalso $3. Other bid: $0.
In theory, Descalso should have more value than nearly every non-Rockies backup and perhaps a smattering of non-Rockies regulars. In practice, Descalso has done little over the last year and two months and has some bizarre home/road splits that feature four of his five home runs coming on the road. Descalso could have one of these weird weeks where he hits three home runs because of the Coors factor, but this isn’t something that you want to bet on in fantasy.
After failing to get Paredes with my robust $106 bid I settled on Castro for three bucks. My plan of running eight starting pitchers out there every week has hit a snag thanks in part to my Jerad Eickhoff trade (see last week’s fun and exciting write-up!) but mainly because the pitchers in the free agent pool stink and I have developed an allergy to Adam Morgan starts.
Dahl is a nice stash by Phil Hertz of Baseball HQ. Hertz is mirroring the strategy I employed last year: take advantage of being in first place by stashing players as much as you can.