Welcome back to The FAAB Review, the weekly series that looks at FAAB bidding in expert leagues to help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Every week, I closely scrutinize the expert free agent bids in LABR Mixed, Tout Wars NL, and LABR AL.
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 for all FAAB claims. Any statistics mentioned in this article are through the previous Sunday’s games.
Jacob Faria $17. Other bids: $10, $9, $8, $7, $4, $4, $1. Tout Auction: $244. (BAL)
Faria has three excellent major-league outings under his belt. He has allowed one run in each, tossing 6 1/3 innings twice and seven innings Sunday at Detroit. While the winning bid from Fred Zinkie of MLB.com was aggressive, it wasn’t hyper-aggressive, which ties in nicely with what George Bissell wrote about Faria on Friday in Free Agent Watch. Faria has good stuff and clearly knows how to pitch, but the lack of an overpowering offering suggests that Faria’s 29 percent whiff rate is not sustainable. I would grab him almost everywhere and see how long this will last.
Matt Davidson $7. Other bids: $6, $4.
On April 23, Alan Harrison of The Fantasy Fix picked up Davidson for $2. Ending play on that date, Davidson had a .324./.333/.676 line in 36 plate appearances with three home runs and 10 RBIs. He also had a 47 percent strikeout rate. Since then, Davidson has a .242/.294/.517 line in 160 plate appearances with 12 home runs and 26 RBI with a 38 percent strikeout rate. Davidson’s average has predictably plummeted but otherwise he has been a superior version of Joey Gallo without the hype. Harrison dropped Davidson because he had a roster crunch after trading for Michael Brantley and Eduardo Nuñez, but Davidson remains a fine deep mixed-roster play if you can stomach the subpar batting average.
Manny Piña $4
Francis Martes $4. Other bids: $2. Tout Auction: $46. Tout Draft: $34 (@OAK, @SEA)
Martes’ terrific start against the Rangers bumped him up in the eyes of at least two LABR players, but I’d like to see more than one strong major-league start before investing. His walk rate in Triple A was nearly eight batters per nine, and Martes’ youth and size make me wonder how repeatable his results will be. Two starts on the road in conjunction with Houston’s strong offense behind Martes make him a must play in 15-team mixed and someone to consider in 12-team mixed, particularly if you can take the ERA/WHIP risk.
Hyun-jin Ryu $4. Other bid: $3. (COL)
I was prepared to write a negative comment about Ryu, but his numbers aren’t nearly as awful as I was expecting. The ERA isn’t good but the strikeout rate is higher than I thought and the velocity—while not dominant—is closer to 90 mph than I would have guessed. However, Ryu remains a matchup play and not a pitcher I trust against the Rockies.
Enny Romero $3. Other bid: $1. Tout Auction: $19. Tout Draft: $5.
Romero picked up a save this weekend during the Nationals’ shellacking of the Mets. He could be in line for saves while Koda Glover is out, but it also is possible the Nationals attempt to acquire a closer prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The rate stats have been very good so even if Romero doesn’t get saves he is a useful addition.
Matt Strahm $2. Other bid: $2. (BOS)
After spending the entire season in the bullpen, Strahm was moved to the Royals’ rotation this past week and had a solid outing in Anaheim. Strahm gets a tougher assignment this week at home against the Red Sox. Strahm’s stuff is good enough for him to succeed as a starter, but in-season transitions make me wary. Strahm is a solid AL-only play this week but not a decent option anywhere else.
Derek Fisher $1. Tout Auction: $167. Tout Draft: $191.
Mike Pelfrey $1 (OAK)
Eduardo Escobar $1. Tout Auction: $0.
T.J. Rivera $1
Eric Sogard $1
Matt Chapman $1. Tout Auction: $101. Tout Draft: $122.
Francisco Rodriguez $1. Tout Draft: $41.
I’m more than a little surprised that Fisher and Chapman didn’t command more than $1 bids in LABR. I’ll dive into further detail on both players in the AL-only section below, but even in a 15-team mixed there should have been more play for both prospects.
Matt Chapman $37. Other bids: $28, $12, $6, $3. Tout AL: $234.
This week had the most robust bidding that LABR AL has seen all season long, and perhaps that most vigorous bidding the circuit will see—not including the week after MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline. Chapman was one of three significant acquisitions this week, going for $37 to Ray Flowers of Sirius XM. Rick Wolf and Glenn Colton were the other big bidders, missing out at $28. I came in a distant third at $12. These bids were submitted prior to Chapman’s knee-injury news.
There are two schools of thought with aggressive FAAB bids in an -only league in mid-June. The first school is you should hold on to your FAAB and wait for a significant trade chip to come over from the “other” league. While Chapman will get at bats, he isn’t expected to make a significant impact in any category, doesn’t run, and is a potential batting-average risk. The other school of thought is with every day at-bats difficult to come by in an only league it is worth making an aggressive play when the rare opportunity to obtain a full-time player presents itself. I wanted Chapman, but see him as more of a low-end power hitter and didn’t want to pay more than $10-15. I figured I wouldn’t get him, but also figured it was worth bidding in case everyone else fell asleep. Part of the reason I didn’t push harder on Chapman is because I pushed a big chunk of my chips in on…
Derek Fisher $36. Other bids: $28. $3. Tout AL: $367.
There was some chatter on social media late last night after I won Fisher that $36 was too aggressive a bid for a hitter who is not guaranteed playing time and who, as we now know, is headed back to the minors after Josh Reddick passed his concussion tests. However, with my offense floundering and with injuries taking a toll of late I felt I needed to gamble rather than wait 5-6 weeks for an NL import who might never come. Fisher could get sent down. He could also get traded to a non-contender and start immediately. He could also stay on the team and supplant Nori Aoki and his 641 OPS. I might lose this bet but given my team’s position it was a play I felt I had to make. Flowers’ back-up bid on Chapman was $34 on Fisher, so while my bid looks excessive it turns out that my instincts were correct.
Two other important factors that were at play:
2) The free-agent pool in LABR AL—a league with 23 active players, a six-man reserve list, and unlimited DL slots—is laughably bad. Also, we cannot speculate on minor-league players. This doesn’t explain why Fisher wasn’t taken in Tout AL prior to this week, where he could have been stashed at any time.
There were more bids in Tout AL on Fisher than there were in LABR, but only Seth Trachtman of Rotoworld bid more than $200. The fear that Fisher would get sent down in short order was real. The upside is enough that I can live with it, even though it didn’t work for now.
Jacob Faria $31. Other bids: $18, $16, $12, $8, $4. (BAL)
The third and final aggressive play of the week belonged to Greg Ambrosius and Shawn Childs of NFBC/Stats Inc., who nabbed Faria to add to their Chris Sale/Yu Darvish tandem. Ambrosius and Childs entered the week in first place by a healthy 14 points, but are near the top in every pitching category except saves. Perhaps they are thinking trade, not so much with Faria but with one of their aces. Or perhaps they were looking to block an opponent from making a move.
Jaycob Brugman $7. Other bid: $2. Tout AL: $112.
Brugman is starting for the Athletics in their outfield. From a fantasy perspective, this is the nicest thing I can say about him. He has never done much with the bat in the minors and thus far has no home runs or steals in 37 plate appearances.
Alex Presley $2. Tout AL: $12.
Presley was the other non-Fisher outfield option picked up in LABR this week. His raw numbers are slightly better than Brugman’s, as Presley has a home run and two steals in 49 plate appearances. Presley is a 31-year-old journeyman who hasn’t been fantasy relevant since 2012.
Still wondering why, I bid $36 for Fisher?
Tout Wars NL
Enny Romero $56. Other bid: $11. LABR NL: $4.
Romero’s save potential is even more appealing in an NL-only, but only two teams in Tout and one team in LABR bid on him.
Jose Martinez $37. Other bids: $24, $16, $12.
Martinez was picked up a few weeks ago and cut the following week. He played nearly every day this past week, although a series in an AL park with the DH in play had a hand in that. Martinez’s power is intriguing but it might not be enough to land him a regular job in the majors. I had the second highest bid on Martinez at $24.
I nabbed Cecchini and Nimmo for a combined $13. Injuries have destroyed my season in Tout Wars this year, with Ryan Braun, Kyle Hendricks, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Manuel Margot, Jeurys Familia, and Trevor Cahill on the DL, and Jason Heyward and Travis D’Arnaud spending time there earlier this season. Starling Marte’s suspension certainly didn’t help. I could have done a few things better but even if every one of my healthy players was outperforming his auction price by 20 percent it wouldn’t have mattered.