Welcome back to The FAAB Review, the weekly series that looks at free-agent 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.
Ian Happ $22. Other bids: $22, $21, $16, $6, $3.
Happ had the same problem nearly every Cubs prospect does at some point and time: a stacked major-league team makes it difficult to crack the roster, let alone get opportunities to play every day. Despite the talent, fantasy managers shied away from Happ as a reserve pick. Conventional wisdom suggested Happ would spend all of 2017 in the minors, even after the Cubs aggressively sent him to Triple A to begin the campaign. But Happ's prodigious power forced the issue, and the Cubs promoted him due to multiple injuries and a pressing need, figuring they would worry about how to juggle the roster later. Happ has been so good that he forced Chicago's hand, leading not only to a spot on the major-league roster, but a starting role over Albert Almora.
Six out of 15 LABR teams bid, reflecting the uncertainty about Happ sticking with the Cubs. Happ won't continue to produce at this pace, but the bat plays in the bigs even when he does level off. He is arguably stretched defensively as a center fielder, but that is the Cubs problem, not yours. Even if Happ starts only five games a week, he's still worth an aggressive bid in deep mixed.
Bradley Zimmer $16. Other bids: $12, $6, $3, $3, $3. Tout Auction: $187. Tout Draft: $351.
I assumed Zimmer was going to: 1) garner more bids and 2) garner more aggressive bids. Sixteen dollars in LABR is a potential steal for Zimmer, a prospect with a four-category ceiling who is in a strong lineup. The concerns with the batting average and swing-and-miss profile are legitimate, but I would have bid at least $30 in LABR Mixed. I like Zimmer more than Happ for 2017 because Austin Jackson, Brandon Guyer, and Abraham Almonte are not threats to Zimmer's playing time if he performs. Zimmer has historically been league average for his first 150-200 plate appearances at a new level, so if he does struggle somewhat, do not be surprised.
Matt Adams $11. Other bids: $9, $8, $5, $4, $1, $1. Tout Mixed: $177. Tout Draft: $63.
Freddie Freeman's injury compelled the Braves to trade for Adams, giving the 28-year-old first baseman a new lease on life, or at least a new lease on playing time. It's a short-term lease, as Freeman's injury is not a season-ender, so this is a short-term buying opportunity. His fantasy managers are hoping that Adams' 16 home runs in 327 plate appearances in 2016 translates to a big power boost, and that the Braves new park continues to play as a launching pad. I'm not as excited by Adams as some are, but he is a better play in deep mixed than a corner infielder who can hit .280 with no power or speed.
Chris Taylor $8. Other bids: $4, $3. Tout Auction: $28.
Taylor is ripping the ball, and has a clear path to playing time while Justin Turner is on the DL. Playing time will be less clear when Turner returns. Chase Utley is the obvious candidate to sit, but Utley has hit well for the past two weeks (everyone on the Dodgers save for Joc Pederson has). The likely outcome is a super utility role for Taylor. The home runs will fall off, but Taylor's bat is legitimate. Normally, I would advise that talent finds a way in these situations, but the Dodgers offense is stacked and I doubt they will move off Utley unless he slumps for a prolonged period.
Tony Zych $6
Mike Clevinger $6. Other bids: $4, $1, $1. Tout Draft: $62 (CIN)
You can't argue with the results so far (this isn't true. You can find reasons to argue about anything, especially if you are a contrarian jerk), but it is difficult to figure out why Clevinger has been more successful in 2017. His fastball velocity has dropped and the walks are up to nearly six batters per nine, which is not nice. The ground-ball rate is higher, but not high enough that it explains no home runs in 17 1/3 innings. He is an AL-only play this week. Clevinger is not likely to stick in the rotation when Corey Kluber returns, unless Cleveland decides to move Josh Tomlin to the pen.
Chad Pinder $3. Tout Auction: $11. Tout Draft: $0.
Pinder played this past week mostly because Yonder Alonso is day-to-day, but it helped that the Athletics faced three lefties in a row. Normally, Pinder would be a great pickup as a hedge for Jed Lowrie, but Lowrie is not only healthy but also hitting well. Pinder has three home runs in his past four games, so Oakland will find him a place to play while he is hot.
Jhoulys Chacin $3. Tout Auction: $36. Tout Draft: $37. (@NYM, @WAS)
I got sucked into the Jhoulys Chacin hype machine a year ago, albeit in Tout Wars NL and not a mixed league. He will have the occasional start where he dominates, but inconsistency from start to start, and within starts, has produced some ugly results. Chacin's slider usage is up significantly, but even with the spike, the overall results remain consistent with Chacin's career norms. The two-start week is tempting, but Washingtons offense nullifies any benefit Chacin might get from facing the Mets. Mark Barry listed Chacin as a SIT in last week's Fantasy Starter Pitching Planner and I concur with this advice.
Christian Arroyo $2. Tout Draft: $4.
He is still playing, but after a solid start Arroyo's bat has mostly disappeared, leading to a .232 TAv and a replacement-level performance. The Giants injuries and poor performance overall could keep Arroyo in the majors, but he appears overmatched. Even if the Giants do not demote him, Arroyo is a subpar pickup in anything but an -only league.
Whit Merrifield $2
German Marquez $1. Other bids: $1, $1. Tout Draft: $33. (@PHI, STL)
Ryan Rua $1
Chris Carter $1
Jesus Sucre $1. Tout Draft: $1
Chad Green $1. Tout Draft: $5
Jacob Turner $1
Jesus Aguilar $1
David Phelps $1. Tout Auction: $12. Tout Draft: $0. (LAA?)
Don't look now, but Whit Merrifield has four home runs in 108 plate appearances. (I never understood that expression. You can look if you want.)
Carter is playing almost every day for the Yankees but has not capitalized with the kind of power Yankee fans or fantasy players were expecting. Carter has gone through long, non-productive steaks like this in the past, but this is an extremely disappointing outcome nonetheless.
Bret picked up Marquez for a two-start week. This is a tough set of matchups, and Marquez's 6.34 DRA does not inspire confidence. Phelps could get a start at home against the Angels but the Marlins could decide to use their off day this week to keep the rotation on regular rest. It will be difficult to contain my excitement about whether Phelps starts, but I suppose I will have to try.
Tout Wars NL
Rio Ruiz $82. Other bids: $34, $25, $6.
Adonis Garcia's Achilles injury opens the door for Ruiz at third base in Atlanta. Ruiz's minor-league numbers are hardly inspiring but then neither were Garcia's major league numbers. Ruiz might stick after Garcia returns. The bids show significant reluctance that he will indeed remain with the club. I bid $34. I wanted Ruiz but didn't want to pay more than $35 for what could be a short-term replacement.
Eric Sogard $45. Other bids: $36, $11, $2, $0. LABR NL: $4.
I came a lot closer to adding Sogard to my team, losing out to Steve Gardner of USA Today/Sports Weekly by $9. Steve didn't write about Sogard in his Fantasy Waiver Wire piece this week, which is quite unsporting of him if you ask me. Just tell me what you're going to bid so I can top it, Steve! Sogard should have difficulty nabbing regular playing time behind Jonathan Villar and Orlando Arcia, but if Villar doesn't hit and Sogard does, the Brewers might give Sogard more at-bats.
Brett Eibner $1
Amarista and Colon are my consolation prizes for Ruiz and Sogard. With Jason Heyward and Ryan Braun returning Sunday and Travis dArnaud working through a rehab assignment, hopefully my offense starts picking up lost ground soon. I gave up on Jung Ho Kang, releasing him from my reserve list. I called this one in February.
Jon Jay went for $23 in LABR NL. He wont get nearly as much playing time as he did out West, where even Austin Barnes is having a better year. If the Cubs move Ian Happ to a corner outfield position, Jason Heyward could play center, which would be quite the Hayburn, and an even tougher Case for the Cubs to start Jay. Perhaps a trade would help, either to the Orioles in Maryland or the Braves in Georgia. Although they are both obscure examples, Jay's playing time conundrums hearken back to Cy Chisolm and T.R. Brailsford's troubles in the minors in the early half of the 20th Century. There is an old saying in baseball: Let playing time issues run their course, and then youll be happier than an old Van Slaphorst.
Jared Hoying $7. Other bids: $1, $1. Tout AL: $30.
In the early days of fantasy baseball, a player with Hoying's profile would have been a chimera, a player we would have believed in because of back-to-back 20/20 seasons at Triple-A. Advanced metrics and scouting reveal too much now, so we know that while Hoying's raw numbers are good, he has never posted a TAv above .300 in the minors and his scouting profile speaks to an outfield reserve. However, with Carlos Gomez on the DL and with no "pure" centerfielder on the Rangers' active roster, Hoying will be a starter for the foreseeable future. His 2017 PECOTA projection is probably a mirage, although if Hoying can translate any of that power or speed to an everyday role, he will be quite valuable in AL-only.
Anthony Alford $3. Other bids: $1, $1. Tout AL: $0.
Long term, Alford is an intriguing prospect, thanks primarily to his athleticism, but also due to the stats he has put up in a mostly truncated minor-league career. This is the rub; Alford's commitment to college football pushed his development clock back somewhat and 2017 marked his first year in the high minors. Alford passed his first test at Double A with flying colors, but his call-up to Toronto is more out of desperate need than a long-term plan, and he will soon be back in the minors. Alford is an intriguing keeper-league option, but in redraft formats it is difficult to predict much out of him for this year.
I picked up Cishek. He is a cheap flier for Seattle saves while Edwin Diaz works out his issues. Someone else took a shot with Sam Dyson, my former second closer.
Chris Liss of Rotowire was at it again in Tout, stashing Michael Kopech at $37. Kopech is a great prospect, but he is also 21 years old, has 42 1/3 innings at Double A and has a walk rate a shade under five batters per nine innings. We will not see Kopech in the majors in 2017.