Rotoman’s 5×5 Roto Earnings Through May 4th!

Which pitcher earned the most in the season’s first four weeks? Dallas Keuchel earned $40.

Screenshot 2015-05-06 16.45.28Which pitcher who wasn’t bought was earning the most after four weeks? Nick Martinez earned $24.

Our best hitter the first four weeks? Nelson Cruz earned $51.

And Tim Beckham is the undrafted hitter who is earning the most, with $12.

Each month we publish the 5×5 roto prices, along with a listing of what these player’s cost on auction day, so you can judge how players are performing versus expectations. This month we let the stats run into May a bit because of the late start to the season.

These are 5×5 stats based on a 24-team mixed league, so AL or NL peculiarities are ignored. This makes the prices a little less exact, because league context does affect them, but the differences are small and complicate issues significantly.

You can find the spreadsheet here on Google Docs.

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Rotisserie Baseball: Carved In Stone

Dan Okrent talks about the game he invented.


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ASK ROTOMAN: Is Jake Elmore Perfect?


This could be a dumb one but I cant find the answer anywhere. Last week I picked up Jake Elmore. In his first game he went 1 for 1 giving him a batting average of 1.000 on that particular day. If I don’t play him again and remove him from my roster do I retain that batting average towards the category? There’s nothing in my league settings that states you have to use a player a minimum amount of times. Is this a loophole that could be used towards batting average and also ERA and WHIP for pitchers? I really don’t want to question my Commissioner in case I have stumbled onto an advantage. I’m a first time player so I hope I’m not coming across as an idiot. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.

“Idiot Wind”

Dear IW:

jakeelmoretwitterThe short answer is that without knowing your league rules, it’s hard to say exactly what having a 1-1 Jake Elmore means.

What can be said with certainty is that your ignorant question goes to the very heart of fantasy game theory when the game is played with category rankings.

That’s because one maximizes the qualitative categories (BA, OBP, ERA, WHIP) by reducing the number of AB or IP relative to productive evens (Hits for hitters, Outs for pitchers) by reducing the number of AB and IP, trying to prune away the bad ones and focus on the productive ones.

jakeelwoodFor instance, a pitching roster of middle relievers would almost certainly win ERA and WHIP, but would do very poorly in Wins, WHIP, and Strikeouts, the quantitative categories.

The challenge of Rotisserie style scoring is to find the balance between these two inexorable and mostly contradictory forces, though the challenge was reduced as the game moved from 4×4 (in which 37.5 percent of the categories were qualitative) to 5×5 (in which they are 30 percent). Still, in recent years a lot of roto thought has turned on how to take advantage of strong middle relievers in 5×5.

Still, it’s hard to see the advantage you’re going to get out of a 1 for 1 performance by Elmore. That’s just one of thousands of at bats your team is going to accumulate over the course of the season, which makes it the smallest of advantages possible.


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ASK ROTOMAN: Addison Russell at Second Base


No Signature

Dear Shouter:

There are so many things wrong with your question, they must be addressed.

A salutation isn’t required, but it is nice. I’m fine with just Rotoman! or Hey Rotoman! or Hey! Or even something without an exclamation point.

Secondly, we are too deep into the 21st century for anyone to not know about the caps lock. Don’t use it to communicate. It is that easy. WHY? Because it feels like shouting.

It isn’t that hard to type “for.” Or FOR if you must.

If you’re going to type 2, you might as well type 2B. That gets it done. 2 BASE sounds like a small boy band.

The premise of your question is either impossibly specific or hits the sweet spot of my opinion.

Screenshot 2015-04-27 16.23.16If you want to know how many games it takes for Addison Russell (LL at the end, or I prefer ll) in your fantasy league to qualify at second base, I have no idea because you didn’t say what league you’re in.

And since looking up rules is easier, there is always a link on your stat service, than typing with thumbs, you should look there.

If you’re asking how Addison Russell is performing as a second baseman, since he has always played shortstop until this year, I’m interested, too.

Russell had only played five minor league games at second base before the Cubs called him up to the major leagues. And he’s played five major league games at second base. He made one error in each five-game set, which is too many, but errors are not a fair way to grade a fielder, at least not entirely.

Joe Maddon says Russell is doing a fine job as a fielder at second base, which could be the truth, or Maddon could be blowing smoke. We do know that Russell is a fine shortstop, so any problems he has at the less-demanding second base position are likely due to the learning curve, which he should quickly move along.

The big issue for Russell right now is the bat. He drove in two with a double yesterday, but he’s struck out 12 times in 22 AB. Even for a Cubs player that’s a lot. But Maddon seems fine with letting him work it out, and the Cubs have been winning, so maybe he’ll get a chance to develop his big league talent in the big leagues.


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ASK ROTOMAN: A Dank(s) House Is Not A Home

Dear Rotoman:

With Cam Bedrosian (LAA) being called up from the minors, I have a tough decision to make:  I hold both TJ House (CLE) and John Danks (CHW) on my squad.  I think Bedrosian has a closer in waiting feel about him and LAA looks like they will need one before the season wraps, so one of my starters needs to go.  I see nothing on the projected pitchers list about House in CLE and Danks has been stinking up the joint in CHW.  I need innings and can afford a bad outing or two if I can get 6 IP per start.  Your suggestions on who to keep and who to toss? (12 team AL only 5×5 Roto with regular categories, with the exception of S is S+1/2H).

“A Chair”

Dear Chair:

With a 14.14 ERA, why is this man smiling?

With a 14.14 ERA, why is this man smiling?

I’m listening to the Luther Vandross version of the Bachrach-David classic (see below). Thanks for putting me in mind of it.

First off, you might be right about Bedrosian, though if the Angels were to move Huston Street it’s hard to see the job going to anyone other than Joe Smith first. That makes Bedrosian a real longshot, but since your league values holds he has some potential value.

As for Danks vs. House, I had Danks as a $1 pitcher in the preseason, and House as a $5 pitcher. Not much has changed since then.

House is not a big strikeout guy, but gets lots of grounders. He’s been terrible so far, and his velocity is down, but it appears this is more a question of finding a rhythm than health. So, expect him to get back to the decent-enough form he showed last year. Maybe not quite as stellar an ERA, but lots of ground outs and something close to 7 K per 9.

Danks has shown in recent years that as bad as he can be sometimes, he’s not an overall disaster. He only strikes out five or six per nine and shouldn’t be expected to have an ERA better than 4.25.

So, House is clearly to be preferred, despite his cold start. He’s slated to be the Indians starter this coming Tuesday. I can’t promise he’ll go six innings, and would probably have written different advice if the Talking Heads Burning Down the House was the first song that came to mind.


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Tuesday Bloody Tuesday. A Daily Fantasy Sports Story.

I’m new to DFS. So new I still have to think about what DFS means. Daily Fantasy Sports. I’ve just started playing DFS this year, beginning with a FanDuel Opening Day Challenge to beat Rotoman. Only four did, beat Rotoman I mean. I finished fifth, and took home $20. That was fun.

Since then I’ve played in the two Tout Wars Daily contests and finished in the middle of the pack, and a freeroll in which I picked fairly capriciously and didn’t do very well. But I hadn’t really tried, so whatever.

In the meantime, I also set up an account at Draft Kings, because I wanted to compare the two games and it bought me a Baseball Prospectus membership. In my first game there I finished fifth, won $15, and thought, gee, this is easy!

Actually, not. What I mostly thought was that I’d done well in small stakes games in which I spent some real time making real decisions after real effort to set a good lineup. To do that and make $10 or $15 each time is simply not worth it. Who has the time?

Yesterday, thinking about this, I got interested in two big contests, one each at FanDuel and Draft Kings.

At Draft Kings some 38,300 $3 entries would be competing for $100,000, paid out to 785 places.

At FanDuel, 6,850 $5 entries were chasing $30,000, paid out to 1,296 places.

brettandersonI’m not going to go into details about my rosters, but the only common players on the two teams were Bret Anderson, pitcher, who was a late replacement for Taijuan Walker, who I chickened out on, and Alex Rodriguez, who seemed a likely beneficiary of a stiff breeze out to left field at Comerica Park against Kyle Lobstein.

Notice how his name starts with L-O-B? He’s not a flamethrower.

In Draft Kings I had the bright idea of taking Michael Fiers as my second starter, which didn’t help, but the fact is that both my teams, checkered with stars and power bats playing in ballparks with the wind blowing out and bad opposing starters, were disasters.

My Draft Kings team, which featured no Reds, who knocked the bejeeziz out of the Brewers whole staff, and finished 36,826, finishing ahead of only the 1,500 souls who built their teams around Bud Norris.

And FanDuel was worse. My pathetic squad finished 6,879 out of 6,896.

Who were the winners? In both leagues, teams that loaded up on Reds and Blue Jays, not the Yankees and Indians I focused on. The same guy finished first, second, third, and fourth in Draft Kings, starting Francisco Liriano in two, Colin McHugh in three, Chris Archer in one and Nick Martinez in the other.

All four of his teams had Joey Votto, three had Brandon Phillips, all had Jay Bruce. They all also had Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart and Billy Hamilton. Did I mention that the Reds scored 16 runs last night? Many of them against Michael Fiers?

Many players make multiple entries. The team that finished last yesterday in FanDuel, also finished next to last. Multiple entries don’t increase your odds of winning, unless you win all your bets, but they do increase your action. Looking deep in the standings I found teams that submitted four identical entries that finished in the mid 37 thousands in Draft Kings. Presumably on other days things go better than that.

A more interesting question is whether it is better to load up with players from a single team, or to take them from a variety of games. Is it easier to pick the game with the most outsized scoring results, or the players facing the best matchups in the best parks? And how much do player prices shift to adjust from day to day? I don’t know, and clearly I have more to learn before I’ll be taking these games seriously.

Have I learned any other lessons? Well, the key one is the one that got me interested in the first place. Any single day’s results are pretty arbitrary. Before yesterday’s brawl, the Reds were the fourth lowest scoring team in the NL, while Milwaukee was the lowest. So the race is a long one, maybe best measured by the year and its winnings, just like regular year-long fantasy. The big difference, I don’t ever have to roster Fiers again.




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ASK ROTOMAN: Travis or LeMahieu


I am working on a trade for Justin Upton. The other team wants me to give him Devon Travis or DJ LeMahieu as well as someone else. Who should I give him?

“Give Me A Second”

Dear DMAS:

Both LeMahieu and Travis are on fire right now. The Blue Jays second baseman is hitting .356 with three homers (and no steals), while the Rockies second baseman is hitting .444 (!!!) with a homer and a steal. Needless to say, neither is quite as good as they’ve looked so far.

I feel as if we have a pretty good handle on LeMahieu. He has earned $13 and $14 the past two years, with modest power and stolen base potential. That makes him a solid addition to any team, but not a differencemaker.

devontravisphotoTravis is more interesting. He’s posted solid numbers in the minor leagues, but did so as a collegiate player who was a little old for each level. He didn’t rocket up through the minors, the way highly-skilled players often do.

He’s shown decent plate coverage and strike zone control, and some power, but it isn’t clear how that is going to translate to the big leagues over the long run. My projection for him shows him to be similar to LeMahieu, but with more speed.

But he also is more unknowable. He’s younger, with more growth potential, and is perhaps a little more athletic. That suggests there is a chance he could get better than anyone (except maybe the Blue Jays) expected.

So, I would put it this way: If you want to play it safe, hold onto LeMahieu. He’s got a job, is solid but not exciting. If you want to gamble, hold onto Travis. Maybe the power is for real, the speed will kick in, and he (plus Upton) will make you a winner.


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Rotisserie Culture 101

Bruce Buschel usually precedes each American Dream League auction with a benediction, but this year, in honor of our Easter Sunday kickoff, he and Larry Fine sang lyrics they wrote to the melody (sort of) of Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade. I missed the very beginning, alas, but you’ll get the idea.

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ASK ROTOMAN: Kris Bryant is Coming! Kris Bryant is Coming!

Hey Rotoman,

I am in a 12 team H2H Points league which is very competitive between the guys I work with.

My question pertains to Kris Bryant…I am not going to ask you when is he going to get the call. I am sure you are tired of that.

I have him sitting on my bench and it looks like he is going to (once he gets called up) take one of my two Utility spots. They are right now filled with Stephen Vogt and Brandon Belt. I was wondering which of the two to keep knowing that most likely somebody else would put in a waiver claim on either.

“Get Out The Vogt or Tighten the Belt?”


The only reason I can imagine you would consider dumping Belt in favor of Vogt is if it’s a good strategy to have a backup catcher available. I wouldn’t do that, so my answer is that Vogt is the guy to dump when Bryant is called up.

Screenshot 2015-04-15 13.26.15When will Bryant be called up? 

This coming Friday is deadline number one. If he’s called up after April 17th, the Cubs will gain an additional year of control before he becomes a free agent.

The next deadline is sometime in June. If he’s called up after that, he will avoid super two status in 2017, and thus won’t go into arbitration until after the 2018 season.

Waiting until June would save the Cubs millions of dollars over the next six years, which is why they might waid.

On the other hand, they’re off to a good start, one game over .500 at this point. Bryant is again crushing Triple-A pitching, to an OPS tune of 1.089. There is clearly little for him to learn in the minors.

Plus, the Cubs are playing Mike Olt and Tommy La Stella at third base. Even if Bryant struggles with big league pitchers, he’s better than either of those two. Which is why I think we’ll see him sooner rather than later.


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ASK ROTOMAN: Boring or Flashy?

Dear Rotoman:

Do you think it would be wise to cut Tyler Clippard and pick up Miguel Castro of Toronto?

It is a 10-team mixed league roto league. I look forward to your reply,


Dear B:

Tyler Clippard is the closer on the Oakland Athletics, but has not yet had a save opportunity in this young season. It’s expected that Clippard will return to his usual role as a setup guy once Sean Doolittle comes off the DL, which is expected to be in late May.

castro3Miguel Castro is a hard-throwing youngster who has surprisingly ended up as the Blue Jays closer just a week into the season. He’s a lively performer who already ranks fourth on the list of 20 and younger pitchers with the most saves since MLB went to Divisional play in 1968.

And that’s the rub. We’re in mostly uncharted territory here. Terry Forster had 26 saves in 1972 as a 20 year old, Victor Cruz had nine in 1978, and Don Gullett had six in 1970, all before the era of fantasy baseball. Is a 20 year old with just 15 starts in Single-A last year able to hold onto the closing job all season long?

And what are the chances that Doolittle doesn’t make it back in five weeks, or he cedes the closer job even if he does make it back?

There are no hard and fast answers to any of these questions. What I think we know is that Castro probably has a slightly higher save ceiling than Clippard, but Clippard might be a little more reliable. That is, Castro is the greater unknown here, and thus comes with greater risk, but also has a better chance to get a lot of saves this year.

For me, this seems to be a bit of a sideways move for you. Probably worth doing if Castro is cheap, certainly worth doing if you don’t have to throw Clippard back, but in all likelihood, not a reason to bet the farm.

Edge to Castro.


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