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.
Amed Rosario $13. Other bid: $7.
In both Tout leagues, Rosario was grabbed early. In Tout Auction, Fred Zinkie of MLB.com stashed Rosario on April 24. Adam Ronis of Scout Fantasy purchased him a week later in the Tout Draft league. Both experts held on to Rosario all year long, using one of their six reserve slots on him. In LABR, where you cannot stash players in the minors in-season, Rosario was purchased for a mere $13. The hesitation about him stems from the possibility that he will not play every day (the Mets said as much after his call up) but there is enough speed potential in Rosario that you should bid in the low double-digits like Zinkie did in LABR.
For all of the chest pounding on social media about how Rosario should have been called up sooner, his Triple-A numbers are not eye-popping. His .277 TAv is only slightly above average for the PCL, and his power and speed numbers are not off-the-charts amazing either. Rosario’s results are very impressive for his age, but fantasy managers don’t get Rosario’s stats prorated on an age curve. He should provide some steals but not too much else in 2017. Rosario will be the shortstop for the Mets for many years, but the fantasy payoff is not coming right away.
Tyler White $3. Tout Auction: $7. Tout Draft: $14.
Remember this guy? White had a hot spring in 2016 and pushed his way into the starting first base job for the Astros. He hit three home runs in his first five games and everyone chased—but then the wheels fell off. From game six forward, White slashed .188/.260/.312 in 258 plate appearances. He was forgotten in fantasy. Even in AL-only, White wasn’t even considered for reserve lists. But new hot streaks can erase memories, and White’s strong performance this past weekend put him back on the fantasy radar. He probably will be overmatched again once opposing pitchers remember who he is, but there is nothing wrong with putting down a low-end bid on White while he is hot and playing.
Matt Belisle $3. Tout Auction: $31.
For a little while there, it looked like the Twins were just going to let all their starters throw complete games and never appoint a closer. But this changed Sunday, when the 37-year-old Belisle saved the day for the Twins. Belisle is not a strikeout pitcher and he wasn’t having a particularly strong season. But saves are saves and if the Twins intend to use Belisle in the ninth for the rest of the season, feel free to bid $3-5 if you need a closer, and especially if you had Brandon Kintzler.
Jordan Zimmermann $2. Tout Auction: $32. [@PIT (yesterday), MIN)
There was a time when six strikeouts per nine innings was considered a decent baseline for a starting pitcher in fantasy baseball. In 1997, Andy Pettitte struck out 6.2 batters per nine innings. He ranked 40th out of 83 pitchers in the category. In 2017, Zimmerman had struck out 6.3 batters per nine innings heading into last night. He ranks 62nd out of 72 pitchers in the category. There was a time when you could get away with using one or even two pitchers like Zimmermann on your fantasy team. In today’s high-strikeout context, pitchers like Zim pave the path to a second-division finish. He does have a nice two-start week on tap against the Pirates and Twins.
Brandon Woodruff $2. Other bids: $1, $1. Tout Auction: $57. Tout Draft: $18. (MIN)
An under-the-radar minor leaguer who hasn’t been featured among Baseball Prospectus’ top prospects since 2015 and has never appeared in the BP Annual, Woodruff caught the attention of many a fantasy manager with a strong major league debut against the Rays. Woodruff throws in the mid-90s but inconsistency with his off-speed offerings has led to speculation that his future is in the bullpen. If he can consistently throw his slider for strikes and can establish his change, Woodruff could be a fourth or fifth starter. Otherwise, his future might be as a reliever. For now, he is fine to use in deeper mixed formats as a matchup play.
Marco Gonzales $2. Tout Draft: $1. (LAA)
Picked up by the Mariners in July in a trade with the Cardinals for Tyler O’Neill, Gonzales was pressed into duty when Felix Hernandez went on the DL with biceps tendinitis. Gonzales has decent velocity and an acceptable curve but it is the change up that makes all the boys come to Gonzales’ yard to taste his proverbial milkshake. Gonzales is younger than you think and is an interesting acquisition for Jerry Dipoto in the long run, but in the short run Gonzales is a work in progress. The range of outcomes on him is wide, and the upside for 2017 alone isn’t considerable.
James McCann $2. Other bid: $1.
According to our metrics, James McCann is an awful pitch framer. Only Jonathan Lucroy has been worse this year, and while Lucroy’s troubles have received a great deal of attention, McCann’s have not. This is for a combination of reasons. Lucroy is a higher-profile player, he was signed to a bigger contract, and he was a much better player before his collapse. It’s a shame McCann cannot field, because of late he sure can hit. Sure, some of this is BABIP fueled and McCann will never hit for batting average. But the power is what is intriguing. McCann’s .194 ISO is tenth among catchers with at least 200 plate appearances and 10 home runs in 64 games would translate to 20 home runs a year if McCann were not stretched as a starter. But he is stretched, so while it is OK to pick him up in two-catcher formats, hope for 6-8 home runs the rest of the way full well knowing that McCann could finish the season in a job share with John Hicks or someone else.
Pitchers dominate the $1 LABR pickups, as they frequently do. I don’t have a strong feeling about any of these arms. I like the volume with two Graveman home starts; I like Hoffman’s start in Miami in terms of park and quality of matchup.
Albies went much cheaper than Rosario but could be a comparable earner if he runs.
Tout Wars NL
Yu Darvish $872. Other bids: $841, $700, $427, $170, $100, $93, $13. LABR NL: $88.
For those of you who were pining for another table chock-full of FAAB data, sorry to disappoint you. While there could be some waiver trades this month, the strategy in both expert leagues was to spend like there is no tomorrow. This makes sense. In the past decade, there was one case where holding on to FAAB would have made sense, and this happened five years ago when Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford were traded to the Dodgers in late August 2012. Otherwise while some talent crosses into the opposite league every August it seldom moves the needle.
I don’t need to waste your time talking about how good Darvish could be or how much better he is than Lucroy.
In Tout Wars, Craig Mish of Sirius XM traded for $80 of FAAB last week to put himself into a position to buy the best player traded to the NL, moving him ahead of Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN. Cockcroft is 18 points behind Grey Albright of Razzball for first place but that still must sting. Mish is trying to gain points so he doesn’t take a big FAAB penalty for finishing under 60.
In LABR, Eric Karabell of ESPN had the most FAAB and entered the week in first place by 5.5 points over Steve Gardner of USA Today. Karabell added Darvish to an already formidable team. If Karabell’s team stays healthy, he will be tough to beat. Jinx!
Jonathan Lucroy $839. Other bids: $427, $424, $300, $124, $93, $51, $17, $13, $5. LABR NL: $62.
Not surprisingly, Cockcroft spent nearly all his FAAB on the AL to NL consolation prize. Lucroy could bounce back at Coors but Texas is not exactly a pitchers’ park. Lucroy’s big problem is that he is hitting everything into the ground, so even if the batting average bounces back he will mostly be an empty AVG guy with some runs and RBIs if nothing else changes with the batted-ball profile. This is fine in NL-only. It is not the saving grace Lucroy was a year ago for his fantasy teams, when he hit eight home runs with 26 RBIs in 132 at bats down the stretch.
Alex Avila $227. Other bids: $63, $25. LABR NL: $62
Seeing Avila go for $227 in Tout was surprising enough. Seeing him go for the same cost in LABR as Lucroy did was shocking. Yes, Avila is having the better season. But he disappeared in July and he is not going to start more than two or three times a week behind Willson Contreras in Chicago. He is a fine second-catcher option in NL-only but that is all he is for the rest of the season.
Brandon Woodruff $117. LABR NL: $10 (MIN)
Woodruff was profiled in the mixed section above.
Hyun Soo Kim $100. Other bid: $64. LABR NL: $10.
Unless Kim is flipped again by the Phillies, he has virtually no fantasy value as a backup, and now that the Phillies have floated the idea of moving Rhys Hoskins to left field Kim is likely to get buried on Philadelphia’s bench if he isn’t traded.
Ryder Jones $65. Other bid: $2.
With Brandon Belt on the DL, Jones will split time between third and first base for the Giants. Jones has hit well at Triple A but in a very small sample with the Giants has been terrible. When Belt returns it is more likely that Pablo Sandoval stays at third base but neither Jones nor Sandoval is particularly palatable for fantasy in 2017.
Brandon Kintzler $23. Other bids: $1, $0. LABR NL: $22.
There was some thought that Kintzler could be the closer in Washington or split saves with Sean Doolittle but thus far it has still been Doolittle’s job, leaving the other relievers with little to…do. Kintzler might pick up the stray save here and there but he has very little value now, particularly since he isn’t a big whiff guy.
Lucas Sims $13. Other bid: $0. LABR NL: $1. (@STL)
Josh Fields $1
Max Fried $0
Jace Peterson $0
Luke Voit $0
Justin Wilson $0
Edwin Jackson $0 (SF)
Pablo Sandoval $0
Drew Steckenreider $0
David Hernandez $0
Carson Kelly $0
This week’s bottom of the barrel is the intriguing Sims and then players who strike up a “The Way We Were” theme. This movie starred Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford and also featured a young James Woods, who played Streisand’s boyfriend in the movie but meekly stepped aside when Redford’s character returned for her. At least this is how it was written in the screenplay. In an interview with Bob Costas on the television show Later, Woods talked about how he lingered behind Redford and Streisand while giving Redford the stink eye even though this wasn’t in the script. I had never noticed this but when Costas played the clip you could see Woods lingering, cramming a lot of acting into a tiny corner of the screen. That’s what these $0 FAAB bids are like. They’re not going to win anyone a fantasy league and they’ll recede into the background shortly after their purchases, but perhaps they will give another fantasy team the veritable stink eye.
Matt Belisle $17. Other bid: $3. Tout AL: $53.
Belisle was far more expensive in AL-only than mixed, although as it turned out, Ray Flowers of Sirius XM could have saved himself a good deal of money. It appears that saves are a category without much upward mobility in LABR AL. Most of the gains or losses that happen in saves are likely to impact only a point or two in the standings. Unless Flowers trades Belisle, this bid will likely be a waste for him.
Matt Boyd $4. Other bids: $2, $1. (@PIT, MIN)
This was my winning bid. With Jordan Montgomery going to the minors, I decided to make the strikeout play with a two-start week and hope the ratios are not putrid. Boyd’s strikeout rate is pedestrian overall but he does have 19 strikeouts in his past three outings. I doubt he has turned a corner but I was willing to try him in a good road matchup in Pittsburgh and at home against the Twins.
Marco Gonzales $3 (LAA)
Drew Butera $2. Other bid: $1. Tout AL: $10.
Butera should start for the Royals in Salvador Perez’s absence. His numbers are not very good this year but he should hit the occasional home run. Hopefully for his fantasy teams he improves upon his career .203 AVG.
Nick Delmonico $2. Other bid: $1, Tout AL: $7.
Delmonico was left unprotected by the White Sox in last winter’s Rule V draft but no one bit. Delmonico would have more of a future if he could play second base; as an outfield/first base/third base type his defense would really have to shine at third or his bat would have to be much better in the outfield or first to survive in a bench role. Delmonico is off to a strong start for the Sox so perhaps he will stick until the end of the season.
The market primarily speculated on starting pitcher plays in the $1 bargain bin.