Ask Rotoman: Rank the Cardinals Outfield

Rotoman:

I’m in a head to head points league. Should I hold on to Randal Grichuk or would one of the other Cardinals OF be a better option.

“Jack of Hearts”

Matt Holliday is the best St. Louis outfielder, but he comes with the dreadnought of age and some injury history.

I think Grichuk is a smidge more valuable than Piscotty, but what really matters is whether you value BA or HR more. Grichuk has more power but will hurt your batting average, while Piscotty isn’t going to hit as many out but should have a better batting average.

You can tell best what your team needs. But if you can get Matt Holliday, go for it.

Sincerely,
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ASK ROTOMAN: A Real Keep Question!

I’m in a 13-team NL-only 5×5 $260 keeper league. We can freeze up to 9 players. List is due Sunday.

I am definitely keeping: Pollock $16, Domingo Santana $2, S Casilla $4, Joe Ross $2, R Iglesias $1, Nola $1.

I need to choose 3 more from the following: Rendon $22, E Suarez $19, Span $13, Kang $7, Peraza $1, H Strickland $2. I’m honestly stumped. Who would you select, Rotoman? Thanks in advance for your time.

“Old School”

Yeah, this is living. Deep league keepers are challenging, and raise all sorts of questions keeper questions that involve only stars don’t. Who would you keep? Mantle or Mays? There is an answer, it’s worth discussing for about 30 seconds before saying, Mays! But really, you’re making me jealous either way.

In deep leagues, one has real decisions to make, and can use expert league prices to start to find answers. Here are your possibles, with their freeze prices compared to their Tout Wars prices:

Rendon: 22, 23 in TW, +1
Suarez: 19, 12 in TW, -7
Span: 13, 14 in TW, +1
Kang: 7, 15 in TW, +8
Peraza: 1, 7 in TW, +6
Strickland: 2, 4 in TW, +2

Step 1, the easy way, would be to declare that Kang, Peraza, and Strickland are the three biggest bargains and be done with it. And you could do that, and it could work out.

Kang, Peraza, and Strickland are also your cheapest choices, and we haven’t yet factored in inflation. I have no idea how much inflation you have, but let’s say it’s 20 percent (a guesstimate based on the prices of the guys you are keeping). Let’s increase the Tout Wars prices by 20 percent and run the chart again:

Rendon: 22, 28 inflated in TW, +6
Suarez: 19, 14 inflated in TW, -5
Span: 13, 17 inflated in TW, +4
Kang: 7, 18 inflated in TW, +11
Peraza: 1, 8 inflated in TW, +7
Strickland: 2,inflated 5 in TW, +3

Once you insert the inflated dollars to your expected draft prices, things get a good deal murkier.

Kang is your obvious keep, even though he’s expected to miss the first month of the season. Your price is good for him and he’s worth holding onto.

Peraza went for $7 to Todd Zola in Tout Wars. Todd was looking for upside buys on which to spend his money late in the auction, when he had the hammer. Peraza is fast and young. He could start the season in the minors, and may not be eligible to be drafted/kept, or he could start the season in center field, subbing for the hurt Billy Hamilton. Then what happens when Hamilton gets healthy?

Span is a solid player at a solid price.

Suarez is a solid player at a bad (for you) price.

Strickland isn’t the closer in San Francisco now, and may not be this year. I think he’s a good closer-in-waiting type to roster, appealing because you already have Casilla and because he could be asked to step up and he has the skills to do the job, but that means he should still be fairly cheap in your auction.

Rendon is healthy, coming off an injury-plagued and disappointing season. He’ll be 26 this year, still young and likely to be very productive. He’s had injury problems all his career, in the pros and college, so you can’t disregard that, but at $22 you get a fair price for him that looks better in an environment of inflated prices.

I would keep Rendon, Span and Kang, they offer pretty sure and solid production, and try to pick up Peraza and Strickland in the endgame. Their prices should not be as inflated as much as the bigger-priced players. And if you don’t get them you’ll find worthy alternatives in your draft pool.

Deeply,
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ASK ROTOMAN: Keepers Tonight!

chrissale-smallDrafting tonight in a Keeper league, so I’m not sure if you can help me out in time. Get to carry over 4 keepers. Going to keep Donaldson, Correa, and Kershaw. Having a hard time deciding between Sale and Altuve. Suggestions?

“Sale? No Sale?”

Of course you’re having a hard time. Choosing between gold and more gold is no easy matter. There are a few things worth talking about.

  1. The simple fact is that Altuve will be taken in the Top 10, in all likelihood, in a startup (no keepers) league. Altuve is going much earlier in drafts and auctions than Sale is, so keep Altuve.
  2. No matter what pick you have in the first round, by the time the snake gets back to you in the second, in most drafts there is a good chance that Sale will still be there. So keep Altuve.
  3. Except, unless, if, in case, in your league, all the other top pitchers will be kept. If everybody else in your league is keeping two pitchers, or three, it might make sense for you to keep two. So, maybe keep Sale, if that’s the case.
  4. Another case for Sale could be made if you have an early pick in the draft, and might snag Altuve (or someone better) back, and there is a good chance Sale would be gone by the time the snake made its way back to you. Then, keep Sale.

But generally, keep Altuve.

Ca-ching!
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Tout Wars Head To Head With Rotoman’s Team.

Tout Wars Head to Head is a new league with a group of owners from last year’s Tout X, from Tout’s other leagues, and Tout newbies.

It is also a league that has a set of rules that aren’t like any other standard set of H2H rules. You can read about all of that here.

The setup: 12 team 5×5 head to head auction. Cats: BA, R, HR, RBI, Net Steals, Quality Starts + Wins, ERA, K/9, WHIP, Net Saves.

Screenshot 2016-03-22 17.46.58
The first week’s schedule.

There are 22 periods, so each team plays each other team twice. Most are one week, but four are two weeks, so that all 26 weeks are included. There are also three Roto scoring periods (first 13 weeks/last 13 weeks/all 26 weeks), after each of which the team that finishes first goes 12-0, next team is 11-1, and so on until the last place team is 0-12 (no team finishes 6-6, so there are 12 outcomes). Each half season has a minimum innings requirement of 475, while the full season is 950, just like the other Tout leagues. There is no weekly minimum IP.

The first thing I did to prepare was run straight prices using the 10 categories, as if it was a Roto league. What the numbers said was that three hitters towered above everyone else, both hitters and pitchers. You don’t need me to name them. And one pitcher, who also doesn’t need to be named, ranked far above all the others. What was surprising to me, at least a little, was how many hitters had higher prices than that pitcher.

I decided on a few strategic approaches:

  1. This is a 12 team mixed league. I know that the top players, the players without peer, go for more than their projected value. I was going to price enforce on these sorts of players. I didn’t want to overspend to acquire them, but I wasn’t afraid of paying a good bit to buy them. And I would pay a premium for Clayton Kershaw, who I was sure would go some bit higher than the $33 the program had him at.
  2. This is a head to head league, and it was important to load up on Steals and Saves.
  3. I was not going to roster innings eater type starters who have average or worse K/9 ratios.
  4. The roto component represents 36 of the 168 total points (21 percent), and can’t be ignored. Assuming other teams are trying to find six good categories, and ignoring five, I resolved to be as strong overall as possible across the board, and try to build flexible management into the reserve roster. I wasn’t afraid of Stars and Scrubs in this context, because there are everyday players available in the endgame, and replacements on waivers if someone gets hurt.

How did it go?

Starting pitching went for much more than my pricing model showed. I think this has to be a result of adjustments owners made to reach the IP limit that my model didn’t have programmed in. Kershaw came out early, and I bid him into the high $30s, but he busted into the $40s and I dropped out. I hadn’t yet figured out the impact of the IP limit, and feared that alternative aces, while not as good, might go a good deal cheaper. They went for less than Kershaw, but at a decided premium over my expected prices for starters, who really contribute only in QS+W and IP.

The rush to starting pitching had to take it’s money from somewhere, and that turned out to be mostly relief pitching, and steals. A few owners charged in on top closers, like Kenley Jansen and Wade Davis, but soon after the market collapsed, and we all picked up cheap closers.

The top hitters all went for their straight line prices or better, except for the two stars I bought. That is, they cost as much or more as the value of their projected stats. Since I know the top guys are worth more than their projected stats, I picked off players who were costing less than their projected earnings (which made them good bargains), which is how I ended up with Mike Trout and Paul Goldschmidt.

What follows is my roster, with some notes. You can see all the rosters here.

C: Yasmani Grandal $12. He has some power and gets on base a lot, which makes him a fine choice in an OBP league. He has battled forearm issues all spring, but has had about 440 plate appearances each of the last two years, so there is hope he’ll get over it.

C: Yan Gomes $4. I waited and waited, out of money for a long time, and then went on a streak picking up $4 players. Gomes was one of those. He’s the opposite of Grandal, and will have a poor to ghastly OBP. But he has 20+ homer potential if healthy, and he is healthy right now.

1B: Paul Goldschmidt $47. He was on my sheet at $54, so this feels like a bargain. The fact that Anthony Rizzo also went for $47 makes Goldy feel even cheaper.

3B: Manny Machado $37. In my pregame planning, I’d focused on guys I saw priced in the high $30s, like Machado and Kris Bryant, George Springer and Starling Marte. When Machado didn’t reach his price, I plucked him. There are some solid third basemen down the list, but also quite a few problematic ones. Getting the best, a mere child coming off a massive season, is a treat. Also, OBP hounds, like Machado and Goldschmidt, help offset a guy like Gomes.

CI: Chris Carter $2. His bad contact skills makes him problematic, but he will take walks and hit homers if he can figure out a way to get on the field again. Milwaukee is a team that should be ripe for opportunities, and $2 didn’t cost me elsewhere. If he flounders or loses his job, there will be someone else out there, maybe someone on my reserve.

2B: Dee Gordon $22. No, I don’t believe he’ll hit .333 again. No one does. But given his speed and contact skills he could hit .300. That doesn’t make him a big OBP contributor, but he shouldn’t hurt too badly. Of more concern are all the caught stealings. He’s not that efficient, but if he nets out at 40 or so I think I can live with that at this price.

SS: Brad Miller $3. With a Stars and Scrubs approach, you inevitably have some scrubs. The idea is get ones who have some potential to be really helpful, to ideally bloom on your watch. Miller isn’t a star about to bust out, but he should be a regular presence on the field who hits some homers and takes some walks, plus he will steal a few bases.

MI: Daniel Murphy $2. Another scrub, and one to monitor closely. He usually doesn’t have a lot of homer power or speed, doubles are his game, and he doesn’t walk as much as you would like. Probably fine as a fill in in the odd week, I hope he doesn’t end up spending too much time on my active roster, unless he plans on hitting a homer every day.

OF: Mike Trout $49. He was on my sheet at $51, and, as with Goldschmidt, I would have gladly taken him there or a few bucks higher. That’s the way to play it in shallow mixed leagues. I’m of two minds about whether I would like him to run more again. First mind says, sure! Load up on steals! Other mind says stop sliding headfirst! Stop running, hit more homers!

OF: Jay Bruce $4. This is where one pays for buying superstars. Bruce’s bad average and refusal to go the other way against the shift makes his okay walk rate a little dicey. I’m hoping that he figures things out, a way to compromise between his powerful younger self and his stubbornness of late, since there used to be a power hitter in there. In any case, rooting for a rebound, without a ton of confidence, and will be looking for a replacement. Now.

OF: Wil Myers $4. I had him targeted. He’s post hype at this point, and coming off tough wrist injuries. He could, to be honest, once again disappoint, but what if he gets healthy and reaches some part of his potential? We’re waiting, hoping, praying.

OF: Ender Inciarte $2. Waiting, waiting, gone. I didn’t think he’d come to me at $2, but no one raised, so here he is. The price justifies the buy, really. He’s a contact hitter with good wheels. He may not play against lefties, and that will be a good reason to check matchups closely each week, but at this price he should be a good contributor most weeks. At the same time, I’m hoping I end up not needing him.

OF: Jorge Soler $7. I had a couple of options at this price. Billy Hamilton went for $7 (steals were devalued generally), as did Billy Burns and Delino Deshields. I was looking for power, however, and those prices didn’t fall quite so much. There are some issues with Soler. He was fine last year, but not the explosive breakout the Cubs had hoped for. He’s now in a crowded situation and could platoon with Kyle Schwarber, not because he’s shown weakness either way, but because Schawarber may, and both need to play some. My feeling is that last year’s learning turns into this year’s realization, if the chances come his way. They may not.

UT: Nick Castellanos $2. He’s another young guy who has shown he can hit in the majors, but not yet at the level and with the power that was expected of him. Unlike Soler, he has a line on playing time. He’ll take a walk and I hope he hits more homers, but even if the power doesn’t erupt this yeara he should contribute solid production at a bargain basement price.

P: Jake Arrieta $28. I kept waiting for the price of one of the top line pitchers to drop, but none did. Arrieta was the last one out and he cost just as much as all the rest of them. I’m as happy to have him as any of them, he outearned Kershaw last year, but I would have preferred a little cheaper.

P: Jonathan Papelbon $6. I called him out at $6 and Paul Sporer said in a low voice, “$5.” The room cracked up and nobody had the nerve (or perhaps desire) to bump him. Crickets. Fine by me. He’s not a big strikeout guy anymore, but he’s got the job, it seems, and will earn saves as he has every year since forever. And he does strike guys out.

P: Taijuan Walker $3. He was a target for me because his numbers last year didn’t look that good, but he pitched much better after a rugged start to the season, is young and I would expect him to grow up to be the pitcher he was always expected to be. Maybe this year. He has a pretty good chance to break out, if he can keep the ball in the yard better.

P: David Robertson $11. I had him as the fifth best reliever, The ones ahead of him went for $20, $25, $17, and $8. Oops. Melancon was the $8 buy, and was perhaps punished for having a below-average K/9 and chatter that his job is not secure. Robertson’s job is secure and his ERA last year appears to be inflated by a less than normal strand rate. Now, that could be his fault, but since his velocity and control seem to be undiminished, I look for him to bounce back.

P: Trevor Rosenthal $8. Here’s my counterpart to Melancon, with many more strikeouts. He reined in some of his wildness, and the strikeout punch is still there. Looks like I have three closers.

P: Shelby Miller $2. Last year’s most unlucky breakout returns this year in a worse situation for a pitcher because of Chase Field, his new home. Chase is a bit of a help to lefty hitters and Miller has struggled slightly against lefties, but he has also been strong against righties throughout his career, and last year Chase played tough for righties. He probably won’t have quite as good an ERA this year, but he’s going to win more games. I’m sure of that.

P: Kevin Gausman $3. He has electric stuff at times, and hasn’t always known what to do with it, which has led to too many homers and too many runs. But he’s still learning his trade. More worrisome is shoulder tightness, which emerged on Sunday, after I bought him. He’s the former phenom most dissed this year, for not showing obvious improvement last year after a promising 2014. I see the electric stuff and say, I hope he figures out how to use it this year. There’s a pretty fair chance he will.

P. Brandon Finnegan $1. He showed flashes of dominance and vulnerability in his less than 50 innings in the majors last year, so he represents another flyer with upside potential. The biggest problem for him is his team, which isn’t very good and isn’t likely to get better this year. And his home ballpark is not a friendly one for pitchers, 12 percent more runs are scored there than the average NL park. There’s a good chance this pickup is a year early, but for $1 there’s a big payoff if the timing turns out to be right.

P. Hunter Strickland $1. I’ve been talking about him all winter as a breakout closer in San Francisco, if Santiago Casilla reverts to form (becomes an effective short man in the seventh and eighth innings) and the team prefers Sergio Romo in the eighth, where he has been brilliant most of his career (and very much so in the second half last year, after struggling early). Even if that doesn’t happen he should strike out lots of guys and serve as a replacement during certain weeks when other pitchers have tough matchups.

Reserve: Eddie Rosario. He’s not a huge guy, but the ball jumps off his bat and he’s fast. He makes decent contact, but doesn’t walk enough to help in OBP, which is why he lasted to the reserve round. Since his drug of abuse suspension a while back he’s make solid and consistent strides forward as a player. Here’s hoping that continues.

Reserve: Wilmer Flores. Power-hitting middle infielder who may start the year as the starter because Asdrubal Cabrera is hurt. But Cabrera will likely get healthy, and Flores isn’t a great defensive shortstop anyway. But perhaps more importantly he’s also the backup third baseman, behind the deteriorating David Wright. Not enough walks to use every week, probably, but potentially a lot more valuable with a change in role.

Reserve: Trea Turner. Speedy shortstop was expected to start the season with the Nats until they signed Daniel Murphy to play a position Murphy isn’t very good at, second base, and then hired the youth-phobic Dusty Baker to manage the team. Thus, Turner lasted to the third reserve round. High upside pick, but could end up in the minors for most of the year, too.

Reserve: Jared Eickhoff. He looked very solid in about 50 innings last summer for the Phillies, far better than he had at Triple-A Round Rock before his trade from the Rangers (for Cole Hamels). He wasn’t expected to be an ace, but he starts the season in the rotation coming off that excellent major league stint. He’s got a chance to contribute to my team, because the strikeouts are there.

Reserve: Jesse Hahn. Was pretty solid until he was shut down in August with forearm and shoulder tightness. He says he’s scrapping the slider and will go with more change ups, which could make him a better pitcher or could turn him into a batting practice pitcher. I’m not worried, he’s on reserve.

Reserve: Matt Adams. For now, he’s my power-hitting alternative to Chris Carter and Nick Castellanos. He has to fight his way through a crowd, but don’t expect him to gather any moss.

How is this team? I really have no idea. I haven’t played a 12-team mixed in 13 years, and mocks don’t count for this.

I like my power, like my youth, think I have speed but that’s all relative (meaning it may not be enough), have lots of potential power pitching and good relievers. I look at my opponents and I’m glad that they don’t have Trout, Goldschmidt and Machado, nor Gordon, but they all have some talented players.

I’m looking forward to the start of the games.

 

Updated Projections for Fantasy Baseball Guide 2016 Buyers, out now!

fbg2016-cover 600wSlip over to the Corrections and Updates page for the 2016 Fantasy Baseball Guide for an Excel spreadsheet  with updated projections and Big Prices.

The update is for FBG buyers only. The password is the lower case version of the last name of the only $14 player on page 66 of this year’s Guide.  You can look it up!

ASK ROTOMAN: Hold On I’m Comin’!

My league 8 team AL only 5×5 pitching categories are QS, SV, Holds, K and ERA.

We have had holds for at least seven years. I always struggle with it. Since its a bit of an odd ball category not much is written about it. A hold is a terrible stat, but it brings value to middle relievers. I was wondering if you had any good advice on how to attack Holds?

“Hold Out”

Holds is a terrible stat, just about as terrible as Saves, though a little worse because a staff can have more holds in a game than Saves, or Wins, for that matter.

But in the fantasy game, holds can have a solid role, as a way to value productive relief pitchers, even if they don’t find their way into the closing job.

What’s curious about your league is that instead of combining Saves and Holds in a single category that values relief pitchers, you’ve split the two imperfect stats so that you have to man two less-than-perfect categories.

The cool thing about that is that you’ll need to roster a closer, and an eighth inning guy, at least, so i guess your question is, how do you identify the eighth inning guy.

Path No. 1: Read many comments from each team’s manager about how he is going to set up his bullpen. Of course you’re going to roster a closer or two, but then also keep an eye on the guys who are identified as setup guys. These are the guys likely to run up high holds totals.

Path No. 2: Identify guys with high strikeout totals and low walk totals. These guys may not be identified by their managers as closers in waiting or setup guys, but they’re likely–if they can keep it up–to be increasingly trusted in game situations, which means they’re likely to add Holds or Saves as the season goes along.

The quirkiness of your rules also means that you can mess around with your roster configuration. Clayton Kershaw plus a roster of high strikeout relievers could finish high in ERA, Holds, and Saves, and in the middle of the pack in Strikeouts, for middle of the pack money. But even if you put together a more traditional staff, high strikeout pitchers are going to help you in Ks and ERA, and maybe Holds and Saves, too.

Past performance and youth are the best predictors of high strikeout rates among relievers.

Sincerely,
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ASK ROTOMAN: Dynasty Puig versus Dynasty Braun

In a regular 10 category head to head dynasty league would you keep Yasiel Puig over Ryan Braun?

TALE OF THE TAPE

Age: Puig 26, Braun 33.

2016 Rotoman Price: Puig $21, Braun $26

CBS/LABR Prices: Puig $23/$27, Braun $28/$26

For this year, Braun is the clear winner. But dynasty is tough.

Braun is in the decline phase. He might have a few more productive years, but you can’t count on that. He should be very solid this year, but the wheels can come off at any time.

Puig, on the other hand, is just entering his prime. He’s coming off a dismal season, due to injuries, but also indicative of some laxness of approach to conditioning and training. His stolen base effectiveness indicates that despite his speed he’s not going to be a big basestealer, which knocks him down a peg, too. He’s supposedly in shape, but dental surgery got him off to a slow start in camp this year.

There is a not insignificant chance that Puig will crash and burn in the next couple of years,  but there is a much greater chance that Braun will run out of gas in the next 3-5 years.

And Puig will get the chance to restore his career and have a career year that will beggar anything that can be expected from Braun at this point.

It’s risky, but the upside lies with Puig.

Sincerely,
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ASK ROTOMAN: Take Five

HELP, need to keep 5. c.davis, m.sano, d.gordon, f. lindor, k.bryant, b.harper, c.dickerson, m.harvey, g.cole 10team 5×5.

Play this, then:

Keep Bryce Harper, your best player. 1.

Keep Matt Harvey, your best pitcher. 2.

Keep Dee Gordon, your best steals middle infielder. 3.

Keep Chris Davis, your best homer hitter. 4.

Don’t keep Miguel Sano. He’s not as valuable as Bryant.

Don’t keep Corey Dickerson. He’s left Colorado and is not entirely clear of the injury shadow.

Which leaves you with Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant and Gerrit Cole.

Don’t keep Lindor because, like Sano, he’s not as valuable as Bryant.

Don’t keep Cole because you would rather have four elite hitters and one elite pitcher than three and two.

Keep Bryant. 5.

Sincerely,
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ASK ROTOMAN: Two For Machado?

Rotoman:

Ten-team Yahoo keeper, head to head league. nine offensive categories and eight pitcher.

Can keep four. Kershaw, Arenado, Kris Bryant, Rizzo, Jose Fernandez, Nelson Cruz?

Tempted to trade two guys for Machado?

“Machado, man!”

A league with so many categories should favor playing time, but at the quality level here that isn’t too much a consideration.

It looks to me like the offer is Bryant and Rizzo for Machado.

Machado is the best of the three, and has some chance of picking up shortstop eligibility this year, which would give his value another boost.

Until he does, he’ll be your DH/UT, which does cost you some flexibility, but in a 10 team mixed league that shouldn’t matter much.

Finally, you are giving your trade partner a lot of power. It’s a good deal for you, but you should consider whether you’re turning his weak list into a solid unit. That might not be enough reason to not make the deal, but you want to be sure.

Sincerely,
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ASK ROTOMAN: Hyun-soo Kim

Rotoman:

Now that he’s an Oriole, what would your big price be on Hyun-Soo Kim?

We don’t have a lot of priors for Korean hitters to join the major leagues.

Kim is interesting, too, because he’s coming off a career year power wise. He had some 20+ homer years early in his career, but from 2011-2014 he hit between seven and 17 before last year’s 28. Is this a trend, a blip, or something in between? We can only guess.

What we know is that Kim makes a ton of contact, has good strikezone judgement, and some power. We also know that he started spring training  making 23 straight outs, which is a bad start but probably not a strong warning against his success.

My projection for Kim, in the Patton $ Software,  has been a mess. I just boosted him to 475 AB and changed his R and RBI distribution to reflect the fact that he’s likely to lead off. If he leads off all season he’ll get far more than 475 AB, but the lesser amount reflect the possibility that those 23 straight outs actually meant something.

I have Kim at $11 this year. He could be a bust, or if he hits the way he did in Korea, with a bit less power and less contact, he could earn $22, or anywhere in between.

Sincerely,
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