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, August 14.
Aaron Judge $15. Other bids: $4, $2, $1. Tout Mixed Auction: $183. Tout Mixed Draft: $234.
It could be argued in the Tout Wars leagues that Judge should have been stashed immediately after the Yankees sold off their assets and started thinking about the future. However, a knee injury did bring into question how quickly New York would call Judge to the majors this season. Turns out the answer to this question was “relatively quickly.” The same could be said for Judge’s production, as he looked like a seasoned veteran in his debut weekend against Tampa, clubbing two home runs in two games and making some wonder why the Yankees didn’t promote him earlier. As I wrote this weekend in The Call-Up, Judge has an opportunity to make an immediate impact in all fantasy formats. The expert bids reflected this urgency. The lack of high-end bids in LABR with the exception of the winning bid reflect a combination of teams out of the running and teams without much FAAB left to make an impact.
Adam Ottavino $6. Tout Mixed Draft: $138.
It is likely that Ottavino is the closer for the Rockies the rest of the way, assuming health. But health is likely the reason that the expert market was fairly timid on Ottavino, with only one primary bid on him in LABR and two in Tout Mixed Draft. Bret Sayre had already grabbed Ottavino during a previous reporting period in Tout Mixed Auction.
One reason the market for Ottavino was so timid in LABR is because two teams have dumped saves entirely while a few others aren’t pushing hard in the category. Keith Hernandez added Ottavino to Mark Melancon to give his team two closers. This puts Hernandez in a similar situation with a number of teams in a categorical clump in the category. Five teams – including ours – entered the week between 42-46 saves. Which meaningless late September save will change the course of 2016 LABR Mixed forever? Tune in all season long to find out!
Gary Sanchez $6. Other bid: $1.
Like Judge, Sanchez will get an opportunity down the stretch for the rebuilding Yankees to play every day. Sanchez’s catcher eligibility makes him a must own in every two-catcher format. He doesn’t have nearly the power potential that Judge does, but the catcher eligibility gives Sanchez a great deal of potential value down the stretch.
Rajai Davis $5. Other bid: $1
Davis has been pushed into a part-time role by the emergence of Tyler Naquin, the addition of Brandon Guyer, and the return of Abraham Almonte, but Davis’ stolen base ceiling gives him plenty of value in a 15-team mixed league. Hernandez’s team is second-to-last in steals, but a six steal jump could gain him three points in the category. Hernandez spent $21 of his remaining $30 in FAAB this week, pushing hard to make sure he doesn’t finish last overall and – more importantly – making sure his team doesn’t impact the standings by passively losing points to other contenders. I have nothing but respect for this tactic.
Ryan Vogelsong $5. Other bid: $1. Tout Mixed Auction: $0.
Since joining the Pirates rotation, Vogelsong has a 0.95 ERA and an 0.74 WHIP in 19 innings and four starts entering Monday’s action. He is highly unlikely to continue this ridiculous hot streak the rest of the way, but with a nice two-start week on tap at San Francisco and home against a Giancarlo Stanton-less Miami, Vogelsong makes for a nice stream-and-stash for Week 20.
Abraham Almonte $4.
Vogelsong and Almonte completed Hernandez’s big week of free agent acquisitions.
Tyler Austin $3. Tout Mixed Auction: $66.
Austin doesn’t have the prospect sheen of Judge or Sanchez, but he could provide solid value the rest of the way for fantasy owners, as it appears that the Yankees will give him most of the at bats at first base over incumbent Mark Teixeira. Austin struggled in the minors in 2015 and was so far off the prospect radar that no one claimed him after the Yankees outrighted him off of the 40-man roster. Injuries – particularly a wrist injury – were the likely culprit for Austin’s struggles last year. Austin had never profiled as a significant power threat, but he was mashing at Triple-A this year and it is possible that the improvements carry over to the majors the rest of the way. In a worst case scenario, he will be acceptable as a back-end corner infield option in 15-team mixed.
I’ll cover Weaver more in depth in the Tout Wars NL section of this article. Broxton is a likely afterthought to most fantasy owners, but an awful start to the season masks a .351 on-base percentage and 14 steals in 15 attempts across 135 plate appearances. Since July 1, Broxton has an absurd .346/.460/.596 slash in 64 plate appearances with two home runs and seven steals. Sometimes it takes a while for a sleeper to emerge, and this is one of those cases.
Tout Wars NL
Luke Weaver $87. Other bids: $66, $12, $2, $2. LABR NL: $6
Weaver is a relatively “safe” pick in NL-only. He isn’t projected to strike out a lot of batters (despite what the Double-A numbers might tell you), but the excellent control should keep the WHIP down and a good Cardinals team improves Weaver’s odds to get your fantasy team some much needed wins. The upside is a fourth starter, but in NL-only that plays. If there is a caveat to Weaver in fantasy for 2015, it is that the Cardinals are fighting for a Wild Card spot and aren’t likely to use him if he struggles like he did in his major-league debut.
I did not bid aggressively on Weaver for a couple of reasons. I am last in ERA and near last in WHIP and looking for volume as opposed to quality the rest of the way. Additionally, with the second highest amount of remaining FAAB, I am hoping that a couple of solid pieces come over from the AL in a waiver trade and that I can grab someone better than Weaver between now and August 31. I am in the middle of the pack and cannot win, so this is all a matter of academics. And pride. Never…forget…the pride (commences weeping openly).
Ross Stripling $15. Other bid: $0.
It wasn’t certain that Stripling would get a start this week, but Brett Anderson’s injury makes it all but certain that Stripling will face the Reds in Cincinnati later in the week. Stripling is very unexciting from a fantasy standpoint but he gets the job done and is on a team that generates wins. He could easily match or exceed Weaver’s value the rest of the way in NL-only, and cost significantly fewer FAAB dollars in Tout Wars.
Paul Clemens $10. Other bid: $1.
Trevor Cahill $10
Ben Paulsen $4. Other bids: $2, $1.
T.J. Rivera $3
Matt Szczur $1
Enrique Burgos $1
Steve Hathaway $1
Brad Hand $1. Other bid: $0.
Socrates Brito $1
Chris Johnson $1
Manuel Pina $0
Corey Knebel $0
Wily Peralta $0
Clayton Richard $0
I could have bid much less on Clemens and Cahill, but the other side of having so much FAAB remaining is that there is no point in leaving all of that money in my pocket at the end of the season. Clemens is home against the Diamondbacks while Cahill steps in for a spot start in a doubleheader against the Brewers. I am looking for strikeouts and wins and don’t care about ERA.
Considering that he is starting and plays half of his game at Coors, Paulsen is a fairly cheap acquisition. On the other hand, he did virtually nothing in his first stint in Colorado early this season. I doubt the Cubs would bench Jason Heyward, but if he does lose at bats in the Cubs’ outfield, Szczur is intriguing. Johnson will get more at bats if the Marlins don’t sign anyone to replace Giancarlo Stanton. Hand is a sneaky good middle reliever who offers a fair amount of strikeouts.
I typically do not cover LABR NL bids, but Fernando Rodney was dropped in that league after being traded to the Marlins. He cost $19 in FAAB this week.
Tout Wars AL
Tyler Austin $302. Other bids: $179, $40, $27, $12. LABR AL: $16.
Players traded from the other league who pass through waivers are one way to use a big chunk of FAAB at the end of the year. But the other type of expensive acquisition comes via players like Austin: guys who weren’t high profile prospects that no one thought was worth stashing. Jeff Erickson of Rotowire was the last owner remaining with a pile of FAAB, but decided not to bid on Austin, allowing Jason Collette of FanGraphs to jump in and grab Austin for $302. Besides Erickson, only Ron Shandler could have outbid Collette, but opted not to do so. None of these teams is close to first, and Shandler has 23 out of a possible 24 points in home runs and RBI. Larry Schechter of Winning Fantasy Baseball is in second place overall and could use a power boost. He bid $179 out of his remaining $202 in an aggressive effort.
Wade Davis $75. Other bid: $6.
At one point it appeared that Davis might be out for the season, and was dropped by Erickson so he could reclaim some FAAB. Now it seems like Davis could be back in a couple of weeks. A chance at a month or so of saves is possibly worth a $75 bid, although most of Tout Wars AL decided that Davis wasn’t worth even a zero-dollar bid and – perhaps more importantly – a week of zeroes on the active roster.
Ezequiel Carrera $45.
Carrera was Schechter’s consolation prize. He is in the middle of a short rehab assignment and has an opportunity to pick up at bats in Toronto’s outfield while Jose Bautista is on the DL as early as this week.
Teoscar Hernandez $40. Other bids: $27, $12, $1. LABR AL: $26.
A poor 2015 at Double-A combined with negative scouting reports knocked Hernandez way off of everyone’s radar in anything but the deepest of dynasty leagues. Hernandez recovered in a big way this year, albeit with not nearly as much home run power as he had displayed in the past. If nothing else, Hernandez is a significant stolen base threat, with 100 steals in his last two and a half seasons in the minors on his resume. There is a great deal of crash and burn in Hernandez’s profile, but in AL-only Hernandez is worth a moderate investment like the one that Chris Liss of Rotowire made in Tout. The $26 bid that Eno Sarris of FanGraphs placed in LABR looks kind of nutty, but with no stash rule in that league, it makes sense to a degree.
There was more low-end speculation in Tout AL than usual. Detwiler gets two road starts at hitters’ parks against the Rangers and White Sox. Buchholz gets one more chance to start at Detroit. This article marks Strahm’s first mention ever in a Baseball Prospectus article.
LABR AL was far more active, mostly because Matt Duffy was not eligible for bid last week in that league. He went for $42 to Dave Adler of Baseball HQ. With Duffy, Hernandez, Austin, and Chris Devenski ($15) all going for double-digit bids, the LABR experts have spent nearly all of their FAAB. Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN leads the pack with $11 spent and Liss of Rotowire is the only other fantasy manager with double-digit dollars remaining (at $10). With no zero bid mechanism in LABR, the bids the rest of the way will be extremely conservative.