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 21.
Fernando Salas $5. Other bid: $2. Tout Mixed Auction: $19.
The Angels only have 20 saves as a team? That doesn’t seem quite right. But there they sit, last in the majors. Furthermore, no reliever on the team has more than nine. Huston Street led before being ruled out for the season with a knee injury. Cam Bedrosian and his appealing ratios and strikeout rates would have made everyone in fantasy land happy, but a finger injury has ruled him out until the end of this month at the earliest. That leaves Salas as the default candidate for saves in Anaheim (motto: “the heart of Orange County”). Saves are saves, but given the lack of opportunities in the Angels’ bullpen and the uncertain status of Bedrosian, low-end bids were the way to go. Salas has not pitched particularly well, but the other options for the ninth are quite limited and not much better. To make all of this even more uncertain, the Halos spoke of using a committee the rest of the way.
Shin-Soo Choo’s latest injury opens up a narrow window for DeShields to get regular at bats until Carlos Gomez is promoted to the Rangers. Morneau has hit home runs at an acceptable rate for the White Sox, and is a fine injury replacement in a 15-team mixed format. I am tempted to write An Oral History of Justin Morneau’s Five Career Stolen Bases.
Tout Wars NL
Dansby Swanson $300. Other bids: $232, $74, $2.
The much anticipated and hyped Swanson made his major league debut last week and should play nearly every day down the stretch for the Braves. He had been stashed on reserve for most of the year by Steve Gardner of USA TODAY but was dropped in early August. In a redraft league like Tout, I can see why Gardner dropped Swanson. He will make an impact in NL-only, but it is likely there will not be a significant number of steals or home runs coming in the short term and most of Swanson’s earnings will come via accumulation in runs and RBI. Ray Guilfoyle of Fake Teams bid $300 and I bid $232, but these bids had less to do with a belief in Swanson in 2016 and more to do with the fact that Guilfoyle and I have the most FAAB left and have to spend it somewhere. This is no knock on Swanson’s long term potential, merely a reality check on his short-term expectations.
Mike Montgomery $125. Other bids: $37, $25, $11, $7, $3, $1.
Montgomery will fill in for John Lackey this week in a start at Los Angeles. There is a possibility that Montgomery gets some starts down the stretch as the Cubs attempt to rest their rotation as they gear up for the playoffs. Montgomery’s raw numbers look great, but his FIP as a starting pitcher this year (4.68) is much higher than it is out of the bullpen (3.11). He is OK as a speculation play, but some of the appeal of Montgomery comes from his opportunities to grab wins as a Cub, and a limited pitch count as a starter could curtail his ability to do this.
I picked up Adleman. My strategy in Tout continues to be flailing for pitching points I won’t get.
Haniger intrigues me. I picked him up in my other NL expert league but didn’t have space for him in Tout.
Stanton is an amazing speculation play by Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN. It could only be for one week’s worth of stats, but a week of Giancarlo Stanton could be great. If it isn’t great, it is still fun, which is a very good reason why so many of us are obsessed with this silly game.
Tout Wars AL
Erick Aybar $207. Other bid: $159. LABR AL: $6
Coming into this season, I was all about Aybar as a good value relative to other shortstops who do what he does. Unfortunately, Aybar turned into a pumpkin this year, hitting for his worst batting average since his rookie season. Playing for the Braves didn’t help his run and RBI totals, but the biggest problem for Aybar was that he stopped running completely. For years, Aybar’s value proposition in deep mixed and AL-only was tied to his ability to steal 15-20 bases. Without this, Aybar is a middling third middle infield option in only leagues, at best. To be fair, Aybar’s poor overall numbers are mostly due to a terrible start. He is hitting .286 since June 12, with 22 runs and 20 RBI in 225 plate appearances. However, the steals have not returned and without those his value is significantly limited.
Luis Cessa $110. Other bid: $1. LABR AL: $2
If Cessa’s name sounds familiar to you, it is probably because he was the “other” pitcher the Mets traded to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes deal. The Tigers turned around and flipped Cessa this winter to the Yankees as part of a modest package for Justin Wilson. Coming into the season, Cessa profiled as a future bullpen arm due to below average secondary offerings, but the Yankees are giving him a go ‘round in the rotation to see if he can expand beyond that role long term. It is rare that the Yankees have an opportunity to experiment like this on their active roster. Cessa responded with a strong outing in his first major league start. It was against the Angels, so expectations must be tempered. Cessa gets the Orioles at Yankee Stadium this week. Unless you’re desperate for wins you might want to wait on Cessa for a week or two.
Andrew Triggs $110. Other bid: $7.
Triggs is a fun pitcher to watch, although fun doesn’t necessarily always dovetail with successful. Triggs utilizes a funky, three-quarters delivery that is extremely deceptive and is difficult to pick up for the hitter. The problem with Triggs is that his stuff isn’t particularly dominant, so while his repertoire could work for him as a reliever, the odds against him as a starting pitcher are long. The Athletics are using him in the rotation—partially to see what he can do there, but mostly out of need. Triggs gets a two-start week this week, but it isn’t a pair of matchups that should make anyone rush out to the waiver wire, or wherever it is you kids are rushing to pick up free agent pitchers these days.
(Naturally, Triggs was working on a shutout through 5 2/3 innings as I was about to submit this to editing.]
Chad Green $57. Other bids: $33, $31, $1. LABR AL: $5.
Of the three pitchers grabbed for over $50 in Tout AL, Green is the one I would want to ride the rest of the season. The Tout experts didn’t see it this way, bidding $53 fewer on Green than they did on either Triggs or Cessa. Green was the other pitcher acquired by the Yankees for Wilson. Like Cessa, Green entered 2016 with a profile that spoke to a future reliever, not a starting pitcher. Unlike Cessa, Green has seen a spike in his strikeout rate this season, primarily due to mid-90s velocity as a starting pitcher (something the scouting reports did not anticipate if Green stayed in the role). Is this sustainable? I don’t know, but I would be willing to bid in this range to find out if it is.
Mejia has significant promise, but he won’t make much of an impact in the next six weeks. Torreyes started twice against the Angels this past weekend and could see more at bats down the stretch, particularly if the Yankees cut or trade Mark Teixeira. Nick Buss is a starting outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, which is more than nearly every other person on the planet can say about their Major League Baseball careers.