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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 September 18.

LABR Mixed

Ryon Healy $3. Other bid: $2.
We’re winding down in the expert leagues. There are 13 days to go, assuming no play-in games. Depending on what your league is like, free agent pickups are either extremely crucial or utterly meaningless. In LABR Mixed, they’re utterly meaningless.

Table 1: LABR Mixed Standings Through Sunday, September 18, 2016

Team

Owner

Points

Mastersball

Todd Zola

123

MLB.com

Fred Zinkie

99

Baseball HQ

Ray Murphy

99

Razzball

Rudy Gamble

91

Mastersball’s Todd Zola entered the week leading the field by 24 points. Barring some kind of catastrophe, Zola should win his first LABR Mixed title.

Murphy added Healy as part of his push for sole possession of second place. There was justifiable cynicism in fantasy circles when the Athletics moved Danny Valencia off of third base in favor of Healy, but the big guy has responded with an amazing run that has included 10 home runs and a .313 batting average in 217 at-bats. I doubt he will keep this pace up in 2017, but this isn’t a keeper league.

Obscure Culture Reference: Major Roger Healey, “I Dream of Jeannie”
At the beginning of I Dream of Jeannie – the 1966-1970 hit CBS television comedy – Healey played the dupe: the member of the ensemble who wasn’t aware of the big secret, in this case, that Jeannie (played by the incomparable Barbara Eden) was a genie (get it? Genie? Jeannie? What an incredible play on words!). Healey would walk into a room after Jeannie did something crazy with her magical powers and inevitably say something like “I say, Captain Nelson, a moment ago that chair was floating on the ceiling but now it seems to be back on the ground.” Nelson (Larry Hagman) would deny it, and then a crazy version of the show’s theme music would play while the camera panned in on Healey, who looked like he knew he was right but couldn’t prove it. Later on, the show had Healey find out about Jeannie’s powers but retconned the role to pretend that he knew all along. My memory of Healey and Jeannie is mostly from a comedian I saw on Late Night with Conan O’Brien in the 1990s. I cannot remember the comedian’s name. He had a bit where there was an apostle of Jesus’ who was the Major Healey of the group (I say Jesus, a moment ago that cup had water in it but now it tastes like wine. Crazy incidental music plays).

UPDATE: An astute reader notes that it was Dr. Bellows – and not Major Healey – who was constantly flummoxed by Jeannie's magic. I could have sworn that Healey was a foil early in the series before he found out Jeannie was a genie, but I could be wrong. I'd go as far as to say I am almost definitely wrong. I could write to Ryon Healy and request that he change his name to Ryon Bellows, but this is a level of commitment to this particular bit that I simply do not possess. Maybe I could get Jeannie to cast a spell and change the plot of the show in my favor.

Jharel Cotton $2.
I wrote about Cotton last week in The FAAB Review. He had another strong outing, this time against the Astros, although he did not figure in the decision. He had an OK outing against the Royals last week. The Athletics are planning to use a six-man rotation, so Cotton is unlikely to get another start this week.

Obscure Cultural Reference: The Cotton Commercials from the 1980s
Does the cotton industry still advertise on television? I don’t know, because thanks to DVR and the ability to watch major league baseball on my computer I have not watched a commercial in years (during the World Series I put headphones on and look away from the screen dejectedly because I hate commercials that much) but in the 1980s there was an entire series of print and television commercials focused on the magic of cotton. There was even a song. I don’t remember all of the lyrics and I am too lazy to go seek out this ridiculous ad on YouTube but the breathy singer/narrator would intone “abandon yourself to the feel!” This lyric was likely intended to take you away to a magical land where cotton covered your body in all its glory but in reality made you feel more than a little creeped out by the singer, just like you, the reader, is probably feeling creeped out by what has become an incredibly weird and unsettling FAAB column.

A.J. Cole $2. Other bid: $1.
So far, Cole has generated a fair number of strikeouts but has been far from dominant, with a 4.71 ERA in five 2016 starts entering last night’s action against the Marlins. He was appealing this week because of a two-start week at Miami and at Pittsburgh, although Cole’s start against the Marlins did not go particularly well.

Tout Wars NL

Archie Bradley $107. Other bids: $40, $0.
I didn’t intend to spend most of my title-defense year playing spoiler in NL Tout while other fantasy experts went for the glory, but here I am in Week 25, doing exactly that.

Table 2: Tout Wars NL Standings Through Sunday, September 18, 2016

Owner

Affiliation

Points

Todd Zola

Mastersball

92

Derek Carty

ESPN

91.5

Scott Wilderman

On Roto

84

Phil Hertz

Baseball HQ

82.5

I suppose it is mathematically possible for Wilderman to win, but realistically it is a two-team race between Zola and Carty. I am in sixth place and locked in to this finish no matter what my team does, but I could steal a strikeout point from Carty (I was seven strikeouts behind him entering the week). Tout Wars has a FAAB penalty that is assessed in future seasons if you finish below a certain point threshold, so the idea that you’re “ruining” someone’s season by making moves is irrelevant. Bradley has a favorable matchup against the Padres this week, so even though he hasn’t been the best option in fantasy, he is worth using for the matchup alone. Ignore how much I spent. I had the most money in the league with $110 of FAAB and figured I could spend nearly all of it. In theory, there won’t be a free agent starter next week who will be better than Bradley is this week against the Padres.

Keyvius Sampson $40

T.J. Rivera $31. Other bids: $15, $1, $0. LABR NL: $7
Rivera may not have been the most expensive Tout free agent but he was certainly the most popular in terms of the quantity of bids. Rivera was awesome in the PCL for the Mets’ Las Vegas affiliate. This awesomeness comes with all sorts of caveats, but he has looked amazing thus far for the Mets, hitting .344 with two home runs in 61 at-bats. The lack of walks concerns me – and Tout is an OBP league – but Rivera will play every day for the Mets the rest of the way barring either a slump or an early clinch of a Wild Card slot for the Mets.

Tyler Holt $15. Other bid: $0.
Billy Hamilton appears to be done for 2016. That leaves center field as a contest in Cincinnati between Jose Peraza and Holt. Peraza is way more exciting as a fantasy proposition than Holt but his defense leaves a good deal to be desired. Holt is a steadier albeit far less exciting performer. This is a straight up steals play by Carty, who is tied with Wilderman in stolen bases. As you can see in Table 2, every point counts in this race.

Grant Dayton $12
Austin Hedges $3
Juan Nicasio $2
Albert Almora $1
Aaron Blair $0
Michael Reed $0
Alexi Amarista $0

Carty was busier than Zola, picking up Sampson (as a second choice for Bradley) and Amarista in addition to Holt. Zola only picked up Dayton, who was supposed to be a LOOGY but has evolved into way more than that as a key asset in the Dodgers’ bullpen.

Tout Wars AL

Billy Butler $87
If you would have guessed that Billy Butler would have been cut by the Athletics in 2016 even though he was signed through 2017 and despite the fact that the penurious A’s owed Butler an additional $10 million on top of his remaining 2016 salary and that Butler was cut in part because of an altercation over clubhouse equipment with Danny Valencia and that the Yankees, who decided to give up on 2016 at the trade deadline but then suddenly jumped back in the race mostly on the back of rookie Gary Sanchez, who had one of the best starts for a rookie in major league history, decided to pick Butler up as a righty-bat against lefties, then give yourself a star. As unpredictable as these stories are in real baseball, in fantasy it is all the more fascinating to find a guy like Butler potentially swinging the race in a team’s favor. Butler isn’t likely to do much for the Yankees, and it is possible that the Yanks bench him if they fall out of the AL Wild Card race entirely. The move to acquire Butler is worth it, particularly in case Butler gets hot. He did hit a home run last week.

Brad Peacock $56. Other bids; $23, $0, $0.
I genuinely forgot Peacock existed. This is somewhat hyperbolic, but I figured that he was on an independent league team or perhaps in a foreign league. Nope. Peacock was his usual solid self in Triple-A this seasons but it remains to be seen if his OK but not overpowering stuff can survive in the majors. He has managed in two solid big league outings but his strand rate and home run rate do not speak to good results in the next two weeks. Peacock has a strong two-start week that started last night at Oakland and concludes this coming weekend against the Angels.

Jhoulys Chacin $6
Raul Alcantara $3.
Other bids: $0, $0
Matt Barnes $0.
Mike Clevinger $0
Tyler Clippard $0

The bottom of the AL pool is dominated by low-end starting pitchers with favorable matchups and/or favorable venues down the stretch. Clevinger is getting stretched out by Cleveland and while he hasn’t pitched deep enough to get wins yet should be able to go at least five this week against the sinking Royals. I don’t have a preference among any of these arms but in AL-only you almost have to roll the dice on pitchers like this, particularly if you are gunning for wins/strikeouts and a title shot.