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 September 4.
Tout Mixed Auction
With only four winning bids submitted in LABR Mixed this week, I decided to shift my focus to the bids in Tout Mixed Auction, where Fred Zinkie and Zach Steinhorn of MLB.com entered the week’s action tied for first place.
Robert Stephenson $120. Other bid: $0.
Remember this guy? I certainly do. I drafted him as a reserve on my initial Tout Wars NL team but then jettisoned him after a few weeks on my reserve list. Stephenson was up for the Reds in April for two starts due to pressing need but then sent back down. He has been passed by more than a few pitchers on the Reds depth chart, but Stephenson is only 23 and there is certainly time for him to turn it around and become a decent mid-tier starting pitcher instead of settling into the relief role that many see in his future. Like nearly every non-contender these days, the Reds are going with a six-man rotation down the stretch, so Stephenson will see some starts. He started yesterday against the Mets and gets the Pirates in Pittsburgh later in the week. He’s an OK streamer, particularly if you need strikeouts and aren’t too worried about your rate stats.
Yoan Moncada $105. Other bids: $94, $11, $0. LABR Mixed: $6. Tout Mixed Draft: $58.
At this point in the season, the amount of a winning bid is academic. What matters almost entirely are categorical needs. Zinkie bid $105 of his remaining $114 to nab Moncada, who is extremely likely to be the best hitter available at this point in the season, unless Raimel Tapia manages to procure every day at bats for Colorado. There was some handwringing among the fantasy cognoscenti about whether Moncada would start or simply be a bench option, but the Red Sox are going all in, inserting Moncada into the lineup in two games this past weekend. You can look at the minor league line and find stuff to quibble with (his stolen base rate dropped after his promotion to Triple-A; his strikeout rate climbed after said promotion), but forget all of that. Moncada is a stud. Maybe he is a middling regular for the next four weeks in mixed leagues, but if I have the FAAB and a so-so corner in a 15-team mixer, I’m bidding heavily on the upside, even in a redraft league.
Gerardo Parra $47. Other bid: $3.
I was somewhat surprised to see Parra available until I looked at his numbers. Ouch. I did not realize that Parra was having such a poor campaign. Despite his subpar season, Parra has been getting most of the playing time at first base for the Rockies. Parra still could turn it around, and the power/speed combination potential in Coors cannot be ignored, even if Parra has not delivered on that promise thus far.
Jose De Leon $39. Tout Mixed Draft: $16
On the surface, De Leon’s four earned run, six inning debut performance against the Padres this past weekend looks poor, but the young hurler struck out nine batters and picked up the win. If you are dipping your toe in this water in a redraft league, this is what you are pushing for: lots of whiffs and the hopes that a strong Dodger squad will improve your chances at wins with De Leon on the bump. The challenge with De Leon (besides remembering to include that space in his name) is that it is not clear how the Dodgers will use him down the stretch. It is possible that De Leon will be used sparingly in the bullpen. It is also possible if the Dodgers put some space between them and the second place Giants that they will use Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill sparingly and start De Leon. We just don’t know what the Dodgers will do, making any speculation on De Leon riskier than usual for a rookie pitcher.
Ross Detwiler $24. Other bid: $0. Tout Mixed Draft: $4.
Detwiler feels like one of these pitchers who I have written about four or five times this year, mostly in the AL-only section of this column. Without looking, I would have guessed his ERA was around five, and it turns out I was awfully close (4.81). He has been better than that in his career, but a 4.29 ERA as a starter is not exactly worth interrupting your never-ending fantasy football draft to brag to your friends about. Detwiler was supposed to get a start at home against the Angels this week, but was forced into action yesterday in relief, putting his status up in the air as I write this on early Monday evening. I would be reluctant to add Detwiler in any event, even in AL-only.
Starting pitchers were the heavy play in Tout Mixed Auction this week, with four starting pitchers going for under $10. Murphy was a favorite among redraft prospect speculators in March – particularly in two-catcher leagues – but it is not clear that he will garner significant playing time this month. Bret Sayre grabbed Cessa for zero dollars. That’s how much money Bret has left, and while he has an outside chance at first, with 12.5 points to make up in four weeks, I wouldn’t bet my Tom Seaver rookie card on it.
Tout Wars NL
Destin Hood $112. LABR NL: $3.
Destin Hood: He takes predetermined outcomes away from the rich and gives them to the poor? No, that isn’t any good. At best, it needs work.
A once moderately regarded prospect in the Nationals system, injuries put a significant damper on his future and turned Hood into a minor league journeyman at the tender age of 24. Two years later – after bouncing around from the Nationals to the Indians to the Phillies – Hood is getting an opportunity to play in Miami due to multiple injuries on the Marlins’ big club. Hood had an uninspiring year at Triple-A, but there is double-digit power/speed potential, albeit more of the 15/10 variety than the 25/25. I doubt Hood will amount to much long-term, but in an NL-only with four reserve slots and a weak call-up list, this might be one of the better hitter pick-ups you will see in the next month.
Robert Stephenson $55. Other bid: $6.
If you only read the NL-only section of this column, Stephenson was profiled among the mixed bids. He is a definite add in NL-only but the caveats about the ERA and WHIP still apply.
Steven Brault $55. Other bid: $0.
Brault was my buy for the week. With $220 left in FAAB, I had the most money in the league by a healthy margin. Assuming my offense stays healthy, I will be spending the rest of my FAAB streaming starting pitchers for the final three weeks. I cannot win, but my team has steadily climbed in the standings in the second half and my modest goal at this point is to finish with a 70-point season (I currently have 67.5). My team struck out 57 batters last week and my hope is that I can continue to rack up whiffs and pass two or three of the teams ahead of me.
Brault likely profiles as a fourth or fifth-starter type. While his ERA (3.32) looks decent, his DRA (4.98) makes Brault a high risk arm, even in NL-only and especially on the road. He gets a home start against the Reds this week. As streamers go Brault is fine in NL-only and borderline in deeper mixed.
Tapia is a great addition in NL-only. I am surprised that no one took a chance on him earlier. I picked him in another expert NL-only I am in but did not have the space in this league to add him. Tapia was listed in a prior FAAB review as a pick-up but it was an illegal move and was disallowed by the league’s commissioner. Hudson is presumably the closer for the Diamondbacks, so it was annoying to see Phil Hertz get him for zero dollars. This won’t impact the race at the top of the standings, but I was hoping to build up a saves lead on Hertz on use as many starting pitchers as I could in the last week or two of the season. Depending on what happens in the next week, I still might.
Tout Wars AL
Michael Bourn $153
In an extremely soft waiver market, Bourn was as good as it gets for NL-imports in AL fantasy leagues. He won’t play every day unless there are injuries but he could steal some bases down the stretch for Baltimore. Entering Monday’s action, Bourn had not started for the Orioles at all.
Ezequiel Carrera $99
Carrera could do the same thing as Bourn: steal bases with part-time at bats on a team in contention for a playoff spot. I would rather have Carrera than Bourn, but the reality is who bleeping cares? These are the kind of choices that are on the margins, even for an AL-only team, and could easily work out in either direction. Like Bourn, Carrera has not started a game since his most recent call-up.
If you are wondering why expert managers would put bids on players like Bourn and Carrera, it is because there is an extreme lack of at bats in the free agent pool. Logan Schaffer led the pack in the last week with six at bats, followed by Rafael Ortega, Cliff Pennington, and Guillermo Heredia with five apiece.
JaCoby Jones $50
Unlike Bourn and Carrera, Jones has started in the last week, with two starts in center field and one at third base. Jones sat in favor of Tyler Collins the last two days against a right-hander so it is possible that Jones is on the wrong side of a platoon with Collins. Jones’ numbers were solid in Double-A but a little bit below average in Triple-A, so while it might seem mysterious that Jones is sitting in favor of Collins, he isn’t necessarily a top flight prospect. I saw a 10 home run/15 steal projection slapped on Jones for a full season at a non-Baseball Prospectus web site. That seems optimistic but it could happen, I suppose. For 2016, Jones is AL-only material, and worth it because this crop of free agents is poor, even for AL formats.
Alex Meyer $47. Other bid: $0
Meyer is scheduled to start tomorrow for the Angels in Oakland. The promise with Meyer has always been tantalizing, but the health history combined with a lack of consistency makes many wonder if his future is in the bullpen. Meyer is worth using in AL-only for all home starts and in softer match-ups like this one, but he is difficult to trust in any other format and as a reliable auto-start option until he shows results. In a keeper league, I’d stash him if I had the opportunity.
Gamel has been leading off and playing regularly since the Mariners acquired him from the Yankees. With the Mariners falling out of the wild card race, it is possible that Seattle will continue to play Gamel regularly to see what they have here. Severino’s raw stuff remains tantalizing, but sticking him on your active roster in a fantasy league is risky, to say the least.