Welcome back to The FAAB Review, the series that looks at FAAB bidding in expert leagues in an effort to try to help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs.
This year there is a change in the leagues we cover. I’ll still be covering the LABR Mixed and Tout Wars NL bids, but since I have shifted over from LABR Mixed to LABR AL I'll be focusing more on LABR AL for my American League-only readers. While I will offer insight into the bidding in the mixed expert leagues, it won’t have my direct perspective.
As a reminder, LABR uses a $100 budget with $1 minimum bids, while Tout Wars uses a $1,000 budget with $0 minimum bids. LABR and Tout Wars use a bidding deadline of Sunday at midnight ET. However, for Week 1, LABR used a deadline of Saturday at midnight.
Blake Treinen $53. Other bids: $50, $38, $22, $21, $20, $14, $12, $8. Tout Auction: $359. Tout Draft: $263.
Koda Glover $6. Other bids: $3, $1.
LABR holds its mixed draft in February and then you have to wait … and wait … and wait. Much can change in six weeks, and some of the biggest changes almost always come with the saves market. Treinen was by far the biggest surprise, tabbed as the Nationals’ closer by Dusty Baker last week over Glover and Shawn Kelley. Treinen was purchased in the Tout Wars NL auction for $2 but in the mixed leagues he was fair game.
The bids were very aggressive, particularly in LABR, where two teams sunk at least half of their budgets into the new closer. BP's own Bret Sayre bid $38 in LABR and just missed getting Treinen in Tout Auction, where he bid $357. Thirty-five to 40 percent of my overall FAAB budget is a stock bid for a pitcher like this. I believe Treinen will be OK, but with so many volatile bullpens out there already, I do not like the idea of spending more than half my budget on a pitcher who might not hold the job.
Three teams in LABR bid on Glover. Faith in Treinen is low, and given how much praise Glover received from Nationals management this spring, it is possible the Nationals will ease Glover into the role later this year.
Delino DeShields $25. Other bids: $23, $14, $11, $10, $3, $1. Tout Auction: $210. Tout Draft: $188
There are some big believers in DeShields’ ability to hang onto a starting job in Texas and get a whole mess of steals (insert old timey, prospector voice here). He starts out the season projected to lead off and play left field for the Rangers, although Jurickson Profar started in left on Monday. Stolen bases are at a premium in fantasy leagues more than they have been in years, and players with speed who get opportunities will be chased.
Jarrett Parker $12
Daniel Hudson $12. Other bid: $1. Tout Draft: $45
There is some early concern about Tony Watson based on a poor spring (cough, cough, a poor outing this spring) but that concern only translated into three bids on Hudson in the mixed leagues. Hudson could close, but with Felipe Rivero and Juan Nicasio also being bandied about as closer candidates should Hudson fail, I would spend my FAAB elsewhere. This is particularly true in LABR, where there are no zero-dollar bids. Or maybe I’m wrong and Hudson will be closing by the end of the week. Life is funny that way.
Tyler Saladino $11. Other bid: $3
When LABR convened in February, Saladino was a utility infielder who was ticketed for Triple-A. Today, he’s a starter for the White Sox, thanks to Brett Lawrie’s release and Yoan Moncada getting sent to the minors for more seasoning. Saladino could be a useful home runs/steals option all year long, but he also might only be keeping the seat warm for Moncada for a month.
Gerardo Parra $11. Other bids: $4, $3, $2, $2, $1.
Ian Desmond and David Dahl’s injuries opened regular playing time for Parra, a fantasy dud in 2016 but someone who certainly could be a legitimate power/speed threat based on his track record and the benefit of Coors Field for half his games. Once again, the significant time lag between the LABR auction and Tout draft and auction played a factor, as Parra was taken in both Tout leagues.
Shelby Miller $6. Other bids; $3, $2.
Miller was horrific last year, but hope springs eternal for pitchers, and reports out of Arizona this spring noted that Miller had increased velocity and that he appeared sharp. In the past, Miller was somewhat overrated as a potential future ace, but now that his price has dropped to a low-end FAAB pickup, there is little harm in taking a chance on him. In LABR Mixed you can reserve pitchers liberally, so Miller could at the very least turn into a nice streamer.
Hyun-jin Ryu $4. Other bids: $3, $3, $3, $2, $2.
Ryu is healthy. This is the headline, and while he might not have much fantasy value, it is great that he is pitching at all. Ryu’s velocity isn’t much to speak of, but he was not considered a hard thrower even before he hurt his shoulder, so if his location and command are reliable he could survive the season. I like him as a steamer in mixed.
Charlie Morton $3. Other bids: $3, $2, $2. Tout Draft: $23
Morton is yet another pitcher who looked great this spring, with reports of increased velocity, and blabity, blabity, blabity. We all know the deal with pitchers who have great springs. A few of them carry over their results into the regular season. Most don’t. For what it is worth, I have liked Morton in the past as an NL-only flier. I would like him better this year if he were still pitching in an NL venue. Three dollars is OK, I suppose, but don’t believe the hype.
Michael Lorenzen $3. Other bid: $1.
Lorenzen was one of Sayre’s consolation prizes for losing out on Treinen and a few of the starting pitchers listed above. Raisel Iglesias is healthy, but the Reds have talked about using a committee for saves anyway, so Lorenzen could pick up a few cheapies. Even if he does not, quality middle relievers are underrated in mixed.
You have to start the players you pick up in LABR the first week and McCarthy is lined up to pitch in Colorado.
UPDATE: At the time the LABR bids were due on Saturday, McCarthy was lined up to pitch in Colorado. The Dodgers switched that on Sunday, presumably when I was out at yet another fantasy baseball auction instead of spending time with my kids, planting a tree, and all that other crap that makes our lives whole. Still a risky bid at the time, but it appears that the risk worked out, as McCarthy now gets the Padres this week.
Matt Boyd $2. Other bids: $1, $1.
Boyd earned a spot in the Tigers' rotation with a strong spring. He could be OK, but the numbers last year were not very good and he’s probably older than you think, unless you thought 26, in which case you are correct or you are cheating and looking it up somewhere. Boyd’s weakness in the past has been the long ball.
Kendall Graveman $2. Other bid: $1. Tout Mixed Draft: $15
I could cut and paste the comments for nearly every pitcher in this section beneath every pitcher. He had a nice spring! His velocity was up! Scouts are excited! Four stars! Spring training fantasy blurbs are typically filled with optimism and joy, only to be replaced in June with sadness and nihilism. Graveman is OK at two dollars. That strikeout rate is very low and makes him difficult to use unless he is pitching extremely well.
Brett Anderson $2. Other bid: $1.
Anderson has two things going for him over every other pitcher on this list: a propensity to induce ground balls and a ridiculously good Cubs defense behind him. What he doesn’t have is a propensity to stay healthy. Anderson did hurl 180 innings in 2015, so there is a relatively recent track record of health.
Ricky Nolasco $1
Felipe Rivero $1
Pitching dominated the back end bidding in LABR. The LABR experts really don’t believe in Watson, as Rivero and Nicasio also garnered bids. There are a number of reliever purchases in the bargain bin; whether this is because fantasy experts are less committed to adding bad starting pitching or because teams did not want to commit more than a dollar to low-end starters is an open question. Altherr is a slick pickup; he could find his way into regular playing time relatively quickly.
Derek Norris $33. Other bids: $11, $9, $4, $2.
It is not often you get an opportunity to purchase a starting catcher via FAAB at the beginning of the season, but Larry Schechter of Winning Fantasy Baseball did just that, putting almost one-third of his budget into Norris. Getting a starting catcher to replace a backup catcher in AL-only is an obvious play, but the bids were relatively lackluster, probably because of Norris’ poor performance in 2016 and the expected midseason return of Wilson Ramos. On the other hand, in AL-only it pays to get what you can when you can in the form of regular at-bats. It is also important to note that Schechter is dumping batting average.
Jacob May $21. Other bids: $9, $4, $3, $2.
May could pick up a fair amount of steals for the White Sox while Charlie Tilson is out. May could win an outfield job outright. He could also stink and wind up on the bench after a couple of weeks. The scouting reports speak to a future major-league backup, but the opportunity is there for the taking.
Ariel Miranda $7. Other bids: $4, $3, $1, $1.
Miranda was thrust into the Mariners’ rotation due to a Drew Smyly injury. He profiles as a reliever long term, but he is the team’s best short-term option. He could be serviceable, but a propensity for fly balls makes me nervous. I bid a buck. Schetcher got Miranda, so he spent 40 percent of his FAAB in the first week. Miranda was the best starting pitcher available in LABR this week. Isn’t AL-only fun?
Ronald Torreyes $6. Other bid: $2.
Torreyes will start at shortstop for the Yankees while Didi Gregorius is out. I would have picked up Torreyes for Yolmer Sanchez but Torreyes only has third base eligibility in LABR. He has done very little with the bat in the majors or minors.
Adalberto Mejia $6. Other bids: $2, $1.
Mejia won the Twins’ fifth starter job out of camp. He doesn’t have any particularly great pitch but he has four average to above-average offerings and could be one of those guys who fools major-league hitters for a month or two. I bid a buck.
Yandy Diaz $4. Other bids: $2, $1.
Opportunity is the key for Diaz in an AL-only. Cleveland opted for Diaz over Giovannny Urshela as a fill-in for Jason Kipnis (Jose Ramirez moves to second, Diaz will play third) so everyday at-bats in Week 1 in an AL-only are great. Diaz’s fantasy profile isn’t exciting, but he could steal a few bases and probably won’t kill your batting average. The biggest bonus is that he’ll get plenty of runs/RBI opportunities in a strong lineup.
A.J. Griffin $3. Other bid: $1.
I was the losing bidder on Griffin. I made three attempts to get a starting pitcher and failed at all three. He has a surprisingly good strikeout rate and an unsurprisingly bad home run rate. I would have held my nose and started him in AL-only because I am currently running four starters out there. But I can’t recommend him if you have depth and don’t have an extreme need.
Dan Altavilla $2. Other bid: $1.
I couldn’t even get one of the relievers I wanted. Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN outbid me by a buck. Altavilla is a sneaky closer-in-waiting candidate in Seattle, particularly while Steve Cishek is hurt.
If you’re wondering why Jason Grilli wasn’t purchased in LABR, it is because he was taken on reserve by Clay Link of Rotowire. In Tout AL, went for $161 to Nando DiFino of FNTSY Sports Network.
The rest of these picks show you how thin an AL-only league is. I took Clippard and Shaw as my consolation prizes. I don’t like running four starting pitchers out there in an AL-only, but I didn’t want to spend too much of my FAAB dollars on someone like Miranda.
Tout Wars NL
Chris Marrero $23. Other bids: $5, $1. LABR NL: $1
Marrero had a strong spring and found his way onto the Giants’ roster. If the name sounds familiar, this is because Marrero was a prospect for the Nationals a few years ago and played in the majors briefly in 2011 and 2013. He has OK power but would likely be stretched as a regular. The plan is to use him in the weak side of a platoon with Jarrett Parker.
Kevin Siegrist $11
I overpaid. I was slightly more interested in Siegrist after Seung-hwan Oh struggled Sunday night and blew a save, but Oh is safe. This move was made to try to grab good Siegrist rate stats and some garbage wins while Jeurys Familia is out.
Jose Martinez $11. LABR NL: $3.
Dustin Garneau $11
Stephen Cardullo $3. LABR NL: $7
Andre Ethier $2. Other bid: $0.
Hansel Robles $1
Joe Blanton $1
Tom Wilhelmsen $1
Junichi Tazawa $0
Nick Ahmed $0
Daniel Nava $0
J.J. Hoover $0
This was the quietest first week I can remember in Tout Wars NL. Some of this had to do with the Tout auctions happening a week later, but this doesn’t entirely explain it, as Tout AL saw a far more robust series of bids. There simply were not that many last-second job changes or news items that impacted bidding or strategy in Tout NL. The Hoover and Wilhelmsen bids were likely reactions to Fernando Rodney’s poor outing Sunday, but those were the only bids that were tied to game action or breaking news. Most of the players here are fill-ins and roster placeholders. Cardullo is interesting if he gets time at Coors. But this is a very weak group for the first week of an expert league, even in Tout.
Notice the complete absence of starting pitchers in the bid list. Rookie Davis, Matt Cain, Clayton Richard, Jered Weaver, and Antonio Senzatela were the only free agent starters on the wire and the market passed on all of them.