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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, July 31st.

LABR Mixed

Alex Bregman $33. Other bids: $12, $9, $6, $4, $4.
He is off to a slow start, which is putting it mildly, but despite that Bregman garnered the highest bid in LABR Mixed this week, with Steve Gardner of USA Today putting down the big $33 hammer. Gardner entered the week in thirteenth place so at this point is playing for pride (as I would too, and have done in the past). It is likely that the contenders at the top of the food chain bid tentatively on Bregman due to the considerable risk that he could get sent to the minors by the contending Astros if he does not perform. As I have said in previous FAAB columns, the lack of quality minor league options in a mixed league makes Bregman someone who should be bid on aggressively regardless of the risk. Two teams had over $65 in FAAB remaining and did not do so. One team did not bid on any players at all while another team decided to put significant money down on…

Alex Dickerson $26. Tout Mixed Auction: $36. Tout Mixed Draft: $66
This is an aggressive bid by Jason Collette and Paul Sporer of FanGraphs, but reasonable people can argue that Dickerson could have as much or more value than Bregman for the rest of the season in a 15-team mixed league. Dickerson’s power is legitimate, and with both Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton out of the way in San Diego, Dickerson should get regular at bats the rest of the season assuming full health. Bret and I did not bid on Dickerson. We bid $20 on Bregman but he was our second choice behind…

David Dahl $21. Other bids: $10, $5, $4, $4, $2.
We did not think we would get Dahl or Bregman based on how much money was still floating around. But not only did we obtain Dahl but we outbid the next team by $11. Dahl looked terrific this past week, but the league’s bids were likely tempered by the risk that he is sent back to the minors or becomes a part-time outfielder when Gerardo Parra returns from the DL. We believe that talent finds a way and were not going to be timid in our attempt to get the free agent who has arguably the highest ceiling the rest of the way due to the Coors Factor. The drawback to this play is that it left us with one dollar of FAAB with eight weeks to go. We will have to try to trade our way to first place, and unlike in 2015 we are not currently in the driver’s seat. We have a shot, but a lot will need to go wrong for current leader Todd Zola of Mastersball for this to happen, and for a lot to go right for us as well.

(As I have noted in earlier FAAB pieces, Bregman and Dahl were both taken in the Tout Wars leagues in prior weeks because their rules allow for FAAB bids on minor league players.)

Jake Barrett $8. Tout Mixed Auction: $66. Tout Mixed Draft: $102.
The Diamondbacks made it official and said that Barrett will close for the team going forward. More teams should have bid on Barrett in LABR. Even though he is a closer on a poor major-league team, saves are saves and closers on bad teams get them too. Barrett isn’t only a good bet because he has good stuff but also because there is not much behind him in the way of other options. Bret and I have not discussed our strategy down-the-stretch yet, but with Wade Davis on the DL there is a strong chance that we flip Andrew Miller for offense and let saves sink like a stone.

Tony Watson $8. Tout Mixed Auction: $90. Tout Mixed Draft: $288.
The closer carousel claimed Jon Papelbon in Washington and Watson will step in and get the first crack for saves in Pittsburgh. He should be fine in the role. In NL-only leagues, it is worth stashing Neftali Feliz as well if Feliz is available.

Barrett and Watson were both purchased by Mike Podhorzer of FanGraphs, who is in first place in savffes and has a 12 save lead over the next team in the standings. He is now carrying six closers: Barrett, Watson, Steve Cishek, A.J. Ramos, Jim Johnson, and Brandon Kintzler). While all six are unlikely to survive the rest of the season, this puts Podhorzer in the position where he has to make a trade to properly leverage the value of his assets.

Martin Prado $7. Other bid: $2.
Prado has been a free agent in LABR for the last few weeks. Every week I looked at his stats, wistfully wondered aloud if I should bid a dollar, and then did not follow through on discussing this with Bret. My wife was starting to wonder who Martin Prado was and why I kept muttering his name while we watched Gilmore Girls. Prado’s batting average is to fantasy baseball what Sookie St. James’ stellar management skills are to the Dragonfly Inn. Just like you spend more time obsessing over Rory’s friendships or Lorelai’s love life while watching Gilmore Girls than you do obsessing over the day-to-day operations at the Dragonfly Inn, you spend more time in fantasy baseball obsessing over your power or steals than you do worrying about your batting average. Batting average is the underpinning of your team, since every hit can produce a positive result tied to that hit, just like good meals and clean, comfortable rooms at the Dragonfly allowed Lorelai to follow her dreams instead of forcing her to spend episode after episode dealing with customers complaining about clogged toilets, rodent or insect infestations, or cold and runny eggs. Without batting average, your fantasy team suffers everywhere else. Without good management skills, a charming New England inn can quickly turn into an episode of Hotel Hell.

Just like our team’s batting average, this analogy stinks. Also, would someone please stage an intervention and get me to stop watching Gilmore Girls? Thank you in advance.

Tyler Skaggs $7. Other bid: $7, $3.
Skaggs has two terrific starts under his belt since coming off of the disabled list, and is at least worth using for his home starts in deep mixed. The Angels will sap some of his value in leagues that use wins, but Skaggs’ ERA and WHIP should be good enough to justify him as a mixed league play. The velocity and command have both been encouraging thus far for Skaggs.

Joey Gallo $4. Other bid: $3.
You know that the luster has worn off a prospect when people stop making jokes about his name because of a 24-year-old movie. You also know the luster has worn off when the FAAB bids for him are extremely tepid. Prince Fielder’s injury appeared to open up some playing time for Gallo, but yesterday’s trade for Carlos Beltran closed Gallo’s window for the time being; he was optioned to the minors and probably won’t be back until September barring an injury. Regarding Gallo’s long term prognosis, he certainly has upside, but contact concerns will remain until Gallo does it in the majors. This isn’t to dismiss his drop in strikeouts in the minors this season or to say that Gallo will fail. I like Gallo’s long term chances now better than I did a year ago. However, his short-term outlook remains as a high risk, high reward player, particularly for a team in contention that cannot afford to carry a hitter with poor results while waiting for something better. This is a better place to use a Gilmore Girls analogy than under Martin Prado, where my forced batting average/Sookie St. James comparison came across like wet, smelly garbage: perhaps some treacle about Lorelai’s love life and her deep feelings about Luke that she waited for so long to act upon. Some things are worth waiting for, and maybe Gallo’s power is like the fulfillment of love between two fictitious yet emotionally fraught human beings who – like Gallo – have a lot of power but in the first few seasons of Gilmore Girls simply cannot make contact no matter how hard they try.

I reiterate: please, someone make me stop watching this show. It is a compulsion and I am worried about what it is doing to my brain.

Raul Mondesi $1

Tout Wars NL

Aroldis Chapman $605. Other bids: $539, $506, $153, $92, $72. LABR NL: $86.
Eduardo Nunez $477. Other bids: $315, $256, $255. LABR NL: $88.
On Sunday night, the big question in mono leagues was whether it was worth waiting for better players to be traded from the other league or if caution should be tossed to the wind in favor of pushing all of your chips to the center of the table for the players who already had crossed over from one league to the other.

Here is how the NL experts in Tout Wars saw it on Sunday:

Table 1: Tout Wars NL, FAAB Bids July 31, 2016

Rank

Team

Budget

Spent

Balance

Chapman

Nunez

1

Derek Carty

$1000

$344

$711

12

Tristan H. Cockcroft

$1000

$371

$694

$539

$315

11

Steve Gardner

$1000

$945

$612

$605

4

Scott Wilderman

$1000

$1198

$539

$506

$477

5

Brian Walton

$1000

$516

$409

$256

$153

8

Ray Guilfoyle

$1000

$619

$381

7

Mike Gianella

$1000

$745

$255

$255

9

Lenny Melnick

$1000

$769

$231

10

Grey Albright

$1000

$873

$118

$72

2

Todd Zola

$1000

$768

$92

$92

3

Phil Hertz

$1000

$1358

$14

6

Andy Behrens

$1000

$999

$1

The lack of big names being tied to rumored trades from the NL to the AL led to most of the teams at the top of the FAAB pile bidding fairly aggressively. Of the five teams in Tout NL with the most FAAB, only Carty declined to bid heavily on either of the two AL imports. His gamble looks like it could pay off, with Josh Reddick and Rich Hill coming over from the Dodgers yesterday. Carty’s reluctance to bid isn’t merely due to wanting to play the waiting game but also by the fact that he is dead last in saves and Chapman wouldn’t have helped him all that much.

In my case, I bid everything on Nunez and didn’t come close. I could have been more conservative with my FAAB earlier in the year, but even if I had avoided bidding on the bad pitchers bought earlier this season I still would have fallen well short of Chapman or Nunez. The biggest takeaway I have from the $1,000 bidding system Tout Wars implemented this year is that chasing marginal arms with FAAB is bad when cheaper arms can help (or hurt) just as much, However, this is the type of analysis that is best saved for my year end recap.

Braden Shipley $63. Other bid: $1.

Shipley doesn’t have much in the way of swing-and-miss stuff but he generates plenty of weak contact (you can read Christopher Crawford and Scooter Hotz’s take on Shipley here). The unimpressive strikeout rate and poor home park make Shipley an iffy bet in fantasy. Even if he survives as a fourth or fifth starter for Arizona, the lack of strikeouts hampers his fantasy value considerably.

Neftali Feliz $11
Jose Rondon $5. LABR NL: $1

Brandon Nimmo $2
Jarred Cosart $2
Chase Anderson $0. LABR NL: $1

Brian Walton of Mastersball buying Feliz as a hedge for his Tony Watson was a smart play. So was his stash of Rondon, who could take the shortstop job in San Diego if Alexei Ramirez is traded this month. Nimmo looked like a savvy buy by Phil Hertz of Baseball HQ earlier in the day Monday when it appeared Nimmo was going to the Reds. With Nimmo staying in New York, his value takes a big hit, especially with Jay Bruce joining the club.

Tout Wars AL

Melvin Upton $401. Other bids: $318, $156, $78, $69, $39, $30, $12, $10. LABR AL: $77

Raul Mondesi $318. Other bids: $156, $113, $19, $12, $10, $1. LABR: $18

Where the NL experts where aggressive, the AL experts were relatively conservative. Expectations on Sunday night were that more talent could move from the NL to the AL, with a Jonathan Lucroy trade to the Rangers at the front of the list. Still, given that the second and third most expensive buys of the day were Mondesi and Lucas Harrell, the market was fairly timid on Upton.

Table 2: Tout Wars AL, FAAB Bids July 31, 2016

Rank

Team

Budget

Spent

Balance

Upton

Mondesi

11

Mike Podhorzer

$1000

$183

$1041

$156

$156

3

Patrick Davitt

$1000

$232

$1009

$39

12

Jeff Erickson

$1000

$378

$891

$19

1t

Larry Schechter

$1000

$256

$849

$10

$10

5

Ron Shandler

$1000

$430

$570

$78

$113

10

Jason Collette

$1000

$920

$467

$401

6

Steve Moyer

$1000

$692

$455

1t

Seth Trachtman

$1000

$967

$411

$318

$318

4

Lawr Michaels

$1000

$583

$209

$12

$12

9

Rob Leibowitz

$1000

$926

$90

8

Chris Liss

$1000

$960

$69

$69

7

Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton

$1000

$1350

$30

$30

$1

I understand the imperative to be conservative where Melvin Upton is concerned. On the other hand, nothing in this life is guaranteed and it is always possible that the deadline could have ended with a whimper at 4 pm ET yesterday. I didn’t expect the AL Tout teams to blow through their entire budgets just to get Upton, but I also expected one of the teams with $800 or more to bid at least $300 on him. This is particularly true for the teams over $1,000 (you can reclaim FAAB by dropping players on the disabled list; I should have mentioned this rule in the NL section). Upton isn’t going to rescue anyone’s season, particularly as a part-timer, but the bids here were too conservative for my liking.

I would be remiss if I let Mondesi get buried in the middle of a league-wide FAAB analysis and didn’t give him a specific write-up. I’m impressed with what he has done this year—both in the majors and the minors—as a 20-year-old (he turned 21 six days ago) but for fantasy I am wary that he will do anything in 2016 besides steal a few bases. He is at the bottom of the lineup for the Royals, and while this doesn’t preclude him from running it will curtail his opportunities somewhat. Mondesi has a bright long term future but for 2016 this bid is very aggressive.

Lucas Harrell $277. Other bids: $51, $26.

It was surprising enough that Harrell was a key deadline acquisition for a contender, but conventional wisdom was that he would pitch in middle relief for the Rangers. Instead, he moves from the Braves rotation to the Rangers rotation, moving from doing yeoman-like work in the pitcher-friendly NL East to doing yeoman-like work in the hitter-friendly AL West. Harrell could provide serviceable innings, but the odds of him putting up a horrid outing or two and torpedoing your team’s ERA are very high. His future is likely in the bullpen, and Harrell could have one of these late career resurgences where he thrives in that role for a few years. That future is not here yet, and likely will not be part of Harrell’s 2016.

Chase Whitley $29

Tyler Collins $19. Other bid: $1. Other bid: $2

Collins has hit for power in his short stint for the Tigers, but with J.D. Martinez at the beginning of a rehab assignment, Collins will likely head back to the bench or the minors shortly. He is a decent enough add for this week, but his playing time the rest of the season is uncertain.

Tim Beckham $7
Ryan Pressly $3
Carlos Sanchez $2
Yan Gomes $1
Bruce Maxwell $0
Mike Aviles $0

Gomes is a slick addition in case he makes it back late this year. Catcher is the best position to stash someone for a week on your active roster in any format. With Logan Morrison on the DL and Brandon Guyer traded yesterday, Beckham suddenly offers sneaky AL-only value as a utility play who could pick up 10 or more at bats every week.

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