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.
Derek Fisher $14. Tout Mixed Draft: $43
Fourteen dollars is a reasonable bet for Fisher, especially now that Nori Aoki has been shipped to the Blue Jays. Fisher’s defensive shortcomings don’t matter to us, but are why the Astros have not rushed to give him an outfield job over Aoki. Now that Fisher could play every day, there is potential for fantasy gold, although the speed he showed in the minors could disappear in the majors, as Fisher was 16-for-26 on steal attempts at Triple A. There is enough power in the profile that Fisher plays in deeper mixed leagues. He is criminally under-owned in ESPN leagues (7 percent).
Rafael Devers $13. Other bid: $5.
Devers was purchased in both Tout leagues, which you already know if you are one of my faithful readers. (If you aren’t one of my faithful readers—why the hell not? I’m affable. I make a bunch of stupid jokes. I know fantasy baseball. If you’re not reading The FAAB Review every week, won’t you consider making this a regular stop on your fantasy reading itinerary. Thank you for your time.)
Not much has changed in a few days, but it is possible that Ben Carsley’s power projection for Devers was too modest. More importantly, Devers not only survived the Eduardo Nuñez trade but it appears he will play every day at third for Boston. Even at the bottom of the Red Sox lineup, Devers is a key addition to nearly any fantasy squad thanks not only to the home-run potential, but because he could score a fair amount of runs with Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi batting “behind” him.
Harrison Bader $9. Tout Auction: $12. Tout Draft: $31.
A big tip of the cap to Greg Wellemeyer on Bader. He has had Bader listed on The Stash List since May as a viable pick-up for fantasy managers looking to “stash” players on their reserve list. I imagine that when Bret Sayre established the stash list column he was thinking about the word “stash”, which Merriam-Webster defines as “to store in a usually secret place for future use—often used with away.” But perhaps Bret should have called it the “stache” list, as many of these players cover the deficiencies in our fantasy teams the way a good mustache covers the space between one’s nose and upper lip. In this case, Bader’s power and moderate speed make him a good “stache” for your fantasy team, even though he was sent back down to the minors yesterday.
Zach Davies $8. Other bids: $2, $1, $1. (@TB)
One problem with jumping back and forth between mixed-expert leagues in this column is that I run the risk of repetition from one week to the next. Such is the case with Davies, who I wrote about a week ago when I covered the Tout Mixed Draft league. What could have possibly changed from one week to the next for Davies? He is on a hot streak—with a 2.67 ERA and 23 strikeouts in his past 27 innings—but is there something in the underlying performance that has changed? If so, I do not see it.
In my first job out of college, I worked in a marketing department and wrote sales proposals for current clients and prospective new business. Part of my job was making sure that all content was up to date. Getting paid to write was the best part, but I enjoyed most of the research and the job was a great way to learn about the business. The lone exception was when we received questions about Six Sigma or quality initiatives or some such bullshit. All of the answers felt completely made up, like someone just strung a bunch of positive words together with no meaning. The person in charge of the quality initiatives was an older employee who had what I called a “retirement job.” He was at the end of his career, clearly running out the clock, and waiting his pension to kick in. He kept telling me that “I gave you that already” when I asked for an updated answer to the quality initiative question when he kept regurgitating the same answer repeatedly. I would change a few words in the answer for our prospects and clients, but I was not doing anything but giving them the same answer ad infinitum.
This is what we are doing when we write about pitchers like Davies multiple times in the season. Many analysts try to generate new content, but how much really changes in a week or a month? When I was young and eager, I made fun of “Bob” (that was his real name, but I like using the quotes) but as I get older and wiser perhaps Bob had it right. There is nothing new under the sun. Davies will succeed or he will fail, but what can I possibly tell you this week that is different from what I told you this week? “I gave that to you already” may not seem like a good answer for fantasy, but sometimes we are all in our retirement jobs, sitting in our fancy offices with our perfectly coiffed silver hair, waiting until five o’clock until we can leave the office and drive our $70,000 cars off the company lot.
Blake Treinen $6. Tout Auction: $32. Tout Draft: $0.
The Athletics have made noise about removing Santiago Casilla from the closer’s role. While no formal decision has been made, Treinen could find himself in the mix for saves in Oakland down the stretch. Despite poor results in the ninth for the Nationals, Treinen’s raw numbers didn’t change much this year and he could be OK in the role if given the opportunity. He blew a save Thursday and there has not been an opportunity for the A’s since.
Shane Greene $4. Tout Auction: $86.
With Justin Wilson flipped to the Cubs late Sunday night, Greene is next-in-line for the Tigers, assuming he is not traded in August. Joe Jimenez was called up yesterday to replace Wilson on the roster, but is much more of a long-term bet for saves. Greene’s walk rate has been a little too high but overall, he has pitched well and should be fine in the role.
Leury Garcia $4
Brad Ziegler $3. Other bid: $3. Tout Draft: $36
Without A.J. Ramos and Kyle Barraclough, the Marlins bullpen is a mess. The team announced that Ziegler will get the first crack at saves. Perhaps Ziegler will recapture the magic of his 2013-2015 seasons and rack up a bunch of saves down the stretch, but his 2017 performance does not make him a good bet. There is always a fine line with pitchers like Ziegler, and the spike in walks has really hurt him. A .382 BABIP is unlucky, but this is the problem with pitchers like Ziegler: he relies on luck! The low strikeout rate also hurts his valuation in a context where batters are being whiffed prodigiously. This pickup is fine for $3. Saves are saves.
Ricky Nolasco $2 (PHI, OAK)
Adam Conley $2. Other bid: $1. Tout Auction: $36. Tout Draft: $16 (ATL)
Conley has been on a roll of late, but despite what some people on the Internet would have you believe this does not make him a sandwich. His ERA and WHIP have been delectable in Conley’s past three starts, but an average fastball velocity of below 90 miles-per-hour won’t cut the mustard. He’ll have to keep up his 1.74 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over three starts to ketchup to other pitchers in the league thanks to his bad start. Conley is like week-old meat in the back of your refrigerator. If you’re desperate enough, you can put him in your lineup the way you’d put that old roast beef in your stomach but you probably shouldn’t.
Paul Blackburn $1. Other bid: $1. (@LAA)
After weeks where the LABR managers were not speculating on low-level starting pitching, they jumped in with both feet, grabbing five starting pitchers for $1 and a potential sixth starter in Weaver. I am not enamored with any of these arms, but even in a 15-team mixed league the quality falls off quickly.
Cowart is my favorite pick up in the bargain bin. Danny Espinosa’s release paved the way for regular starts for Cowart at second base. Cowart will never live up to the hype of his first-round draft selection in 2010, but he could provide a little pop and some stolen bases for fantasy managers as a starter.
After two weeks where the NL experts had all the fun free-agent imports coming from the other league, the AL experts got into the action this week. With so many players, it is more useful to look at each individual bidding block and how each fantasy expert bid than to use the more popular tabular format. Sorry, table lovers!
Steve Gardner, USA Today. FAAB Left $91.
Gardner controlled the board, and flexed his muscles with a bid that could not be beat; he would have won the tiebreaker for Nunez based on league standings. Gardner could have tried to split his bids to obtain two players, but with six competitors having $49 or more in FAAB, Gardner would have missed out on both Nunez and Duda had he taken this approach.
Nuñez has been used a super-utility player thus far and barring an injury this is how he will be used down the stretch. He is an excellent addition in stolen bases regardless of anything else he does, but he also has some pop. For Gardner, who needed offense much more than pitching, passing on Cahill and Garcia made sense.
Tristan Cockcroft, ESPN. FAAB left: $83
Bidding Block 1 – Nuñez $59, Rafael Devers $59, Jaime Garcia $29
Bidding Block 2 – Devers $24, Garcia $20, Cahill $12, Duda $10
Bidding Block 3 – Garcia $10, Cahill $10, Duda $8
Unlike Gardner, Cockcroft did try to nab two players and succeeded, getting Devers and Garcia for nearly all his budget. He instantly adds an everyday player and a rotation member to a team that was good but had holes in both areas.
I discussed Devers above. In AL-only, he obviously makes even more of an impact than in mixed.
I don’t have a good feeling about Garcia in Yankee Stadium. His 4.29 ERA is not awful, but Garcia has a 6.33 ERA in his last seven starts. The strikeout rate is also up somewhat, but I don’t like this bet against a schedule that will mostly feature AL East opponents.
Brandon Funston. FAAB left: $80
No bids. Funston’s non-bids had a ripple effect, allowing two teams with less FAAB to grab NL-imports, and probably allowing Cockcroft to get both Devers and Garcia instead of just one of them.
Baseball HQ, Dave Adler FAAB left: $59
Bidding block 1 – Nuñez $34
Bidding block 2 – Cahill $23, Garcia $3.
Rather try to put all his eggs into one basket, Adler split nearly all his remaining FAAB between Nunez and Cahill. The less-than-robust bids on Cahill permitted Adler to grab a starter while still leaving him with some FAAB for later.
Cahill has been pointed to by many as someone with improved skills who could be great down the stretch. He moves to the tougher league and health has been a question for him nearly all season. Whether you believe in Cahill or not, he is a different pitcher than the guy for the Athletics who put up a 2.97 ERA despite only striking out 5.4 batters per nine way back in 2011. The strikeouts play for Cahill in any format even if the ERA and WHIP don’t match up.
Colton and the Wolfman, Glenn Colton and Rick Wolf. FAAB Left: $59
Bidding block 1 – Duda $49, Nunez $49, Garcia $49, Cahill $8, Kaleb Cowart $8, Devers $8.
Bidding block 2 – Nunez $5, Garcia $5, Cahill $5, Jake Petricka $1.
Bidding block 3 – Garcia $1, Cahill $1.
There was a lot of smoke with these bids, but they were designed to grab one of Duda, Nunez, or Garcia. Colton and Wolf got their first choice in Duda, a power hitter currently on a hot streak who could thrive in the AL for the Rays. Health is generally a question for Duda but the power is not.
Rotowire, Clay Link. FAAB Left: $57.
Two teams passing entirely allowed Cahill and Garcia to sneak in much cheaper than they might have otherwise.
Sirius XM, Ray Flowers. FAAB Left: $49.
Bidding block 1: Nunez $43
Flowers placed a lone bid on Nunez. He probably hoped that other preferences would be expressed by teams at the top but part of his play is saving money in case players were traded yesterday. Flowers moved from seventh to third in overall FAAB and the two teams ahead of him were inactive last week and might not be paying attention.
Baseball Prospectus, Mike Gianella. FAAB Left $28
Bidding block 1: Nunez $25
Bidding block 2: Devers $17, Duda $12
Bidding block 3: Cahill $11, Garcia $7
I did not expect to get any of these players and this is how it played out. I considered bidding $20-25 on Cahill or Garcia but did not want to spend nearly all my budget on a non-elite arm. I need hitting more than pitching.
NFBC, Greg Ambrosius/Shawn Childs. FAAB Left: $16
Bidding block 1: Nunez $1, Cowart $1
Bidding block 2: Cahill $1, Garcia $1, Bartolo Colon $1, Steve Cishek $1, Ryan Dull $1, Trevor Hildenberger $1, Emilio Pagan $1, Simon Castro $1.
Bidding block 3: Cahill $1, Garcia $1, Bartolo Colon $1, Steve Cishek $1, Ryan Dull $1, Trevor Hildenberger $1, Emilio Pagan $1, Simon Castro $1.
Bidding block 4: Cahill $1, Garcia $1, Bartolo Colon $1, Steve Cishek $1, Ryan Dull $1, Trevor Hildenberger $1, Emilio Pagan $1, Simon Castro $1.
Ambrosius and Childs didn’t bother placing $19 bids on players they had no chance of obtaining.
Schechter opted to spend 50 percent of his remaining FAAB on Cowart. With so little money left, it is the right play. Cowart could play every day down the stretch and has some stolen-base potential.
Mastersball, Lawr Michaels. FAAB Left: $8.
Bidding block 1: Cowart $4, Peter Bourjos $1
Bidding block 2: Narvaez $1, K. Smith $1, Cowart $4
Bidding block 3: Bourjos $1
In Tout Wars AL, Duda went for $559, Nunez $558, Cahill $223, and Garcia $212.
Tout Wars NL
Brad Ziegler $167. Other bids: $120, $13, $13, $11 $10. LABR NL: $10.
Grey Albright of Razzball —looking to put the finishing touches on a season where little has gone wrong—added a potential closer to his team to go with Felipe Rivero, to try and maintain in the category after it was announced that Jim Johnson would no longer be the primary closer. Brian Walton of Mastersball had the only other aggressive bid. It is possible that many of the experts in Tout were waiting for a few more imports from the AL. Jonathan Lucroy was not available when this bidding took place on Sunday night, but Yu Darvish came in right at the deadline and will be the big prize next week.
Chris Flexen $88. LABR NL: $1 (@COL)
Flexen was another Razzball pickup. Albright spent $289 of his $469 remaining this week, apparently convinced that he wouldn’t do better with the remaining commodities coming over from the AL with the FAAB dough he had left. While some of the scouting reports about Flexen were positive, he didn’t look ready in his debut against the Padres. He did show swing-and-miss stuff, but both his command and control were off, leading to a very poor outing. One start certainly does not determine Flexen’s entire career, but for 2017 redraft leagues it is impossible to recommend him. He starts against the Rockies on Wednesday, which is not optimal.
Jordan Luplow $41. LABR NL: $1
Luplow was not considered much of a prospect coming into 2017, primarily due to issues with his swing mechanics that impacted his power potential, but his numbers this year tell us he could have fixed those issues, with 21 home runs in 374 plate appearances before his promotion. Throw in some speed, and Luplow is an intriguing add while Gregory Polanco is on the DL. The Pirates might give Luplow regular playing time to see if he can run with it.
Brock Stewart $30 (@ATL)
Dusty Coleman $22. Other bid: $0. LABR NL: $1
A 30-year-old minor-league journeyman, Coleman has never been considered much of a prospect thanks to a lot of swing-and-miss in his profile. He did put up solid speed and power numbers at Triple A this year but was still well-below average because of a .209 batting average. Coleman could stick with the moribund Padres and hit a few home runs; he could also go 1 for 30 and disappear. A $22 bid out of a $1000 budget in NL-only is acceptable.
Jose Martinez $14. LABR NL: $1.
Phil Maton $6. Other bid: $0. LABR NL: $1.
Jesen Therrien $5
Miguel Gomez $2
Jake Thompson $2 (@LAA)
Kelby Tomlinson $0
Arismendy Alcantara $0
Tyler Moore $0. Other bid: $0. LABR NL: $1.
Luis Avilan $0
Jake Barret $0
Matt Bowman $0
Chris Rusin $0
Jose Martinez has seven home runs in 149 plate appearances and keeps getting dropped in an NL-only, which serves as yet another reminder of how much power there is floating around out there.
Thompson looked decent in his last start and could be a decent streamer against the Angels.
I added Bowman and Rusin. Nothing I do in Tout matters anymore.