Patton $ Cheat Sheets are here in time for your Fantasy Baseball Auction/Draft! That means now!

Is your fantasy baseball draft coming up? Are you not ready? Or would you like to see what lists Alex Patton and Rotoman (FSWA Hall of Famers) are using this year? No matter what you need, they are here to help.

We’ve extracted all the ranked position charts from the PattonandCo.com annual subscriber package (which we’ve been selling for 20 years and you can buy here) and made Fantasy Baseball Cheat Sheets based on Alex’s 4×4 and Rotoman’s 5×5 lists for AL, NL and Mixed leagues.

These lists are great for reviewing your own opinions, or as the basis for your auction/draft itself. These are the Cheat Sheets Alex and Rotoman will be taking to their own AL and NL only auctions this week and next.

Interested? You can read more and buy by clicking here.

My Tout Wars Mixed Draft.

This is my first year in the Tout Wars Mixed Draft league. The thing to remember about this league is that in the last four years Rudy Gamble has finished first twice and second twice, Adam Ronis has finished first twice and second once, and so since the 2015 season only one other player has finished first or second: Scott White, in 2017.

In the offseason Rudy suggested that he and Ronis had an advantage because of Tout’s rules allowing the top finishers first choices in picking draft position the following year. But a little research with NFBC leagues doesn’t show any advantage to earlier picks in a draft. Last year teams picking in the ninth, 10th and 11th slots has slightly better results than others.

There is talk about changing this rule, but I would like to see some solid evidence that having the first pick consistently helps team finish higher in the standings. For that we need to look at more years.

In last night’s Mixed Draft, I chose to pick in the No. 10 slot. This was based on the aforesaid research, thin as it was, but also on my observation that if you didn’t get one of the first two picks this year you were basically playing a jump ball for the next eight or nine players. Earlier in the week, in the National Fantasy Baseball Invitational, I lucked into the 11th pick (it was random), and scored Alex Bregman.

With the 10th pick in a league that uses On Base Percentage instead of Batting Average, I hoped I might get a shot at JD Martinez or Christian Yelich or some other of that 2-10 group of hitters, and I did. Only the guy who fell to me was unexpectedly Nolan Arenado, since Jose Ramirez didn’t drop as he might have. I did not debate this pick.

Here are some comments on the successive picks:

ROUND 2: Freddie Freeman. The alternative option was Rhys Hoskins. I like Freddie.

ROUND 3: Charlie Blackmon. Two of the Rockies big producers for my Colorado based team. I’m looking forward to seeing them on April 9th against the Braves. Yes, I’m a homer.

ROUND 4: Corey Seager. This was perhaps the most challenging pick. The question: Do I go Correa, who suffered with back injuries last year but says he’s healthy, or Seager, who missed almost the whole year with hip and elbow surgeries, but is expected to be healthy by opening day? When healthy they’re pretty similar. I picked Seager as much on a hunch as on a fear of back spasms.

ROUND 5: Clayton Kershaw. I would usually have taken one of the ace pitchers in the third round, but the only one left was Luis Severino, who earlier in the day was shut down with arm discomfort. In the fourth, as the only team without a pitcher and the second wave of starters just starting to go, I chose an offensive piece, figuring I could get someone comparable in the fifth. In this context, I’ll take Kershaw. He can’t be expected to throw 200 innings, he may not strike out an elite number, but he’s shown that he can get guys out anyway. If I get 150 innings like last year I’ll be very happy with this.

ROUND 6: Michael Brantley. Frankly, he showed up at the top of my queue based on my rankings in this format. Other guys in this area, like David Dahl and Michael Conforto, were tempting. I went with the queue.

ROUND 7: Dee Gordon. This round was very meh. I wasn’t thrilled with the hitters, didn’t feel like the pitchers were worth reaching for, but did have a need at that point for steals. Dee Gordon was a category play. It meant I didn’t need to worry about steals again. On the radio later, Glenn Colton asked me if I was concerned about Gordon hitting down in the order. I would be concerned if I needed 60 steals from him, but I’ll be quite happy with 25-30 and a not totally destructive OBP.

ROUND 8: Josh Hader. It was time for a closer. Instead I took an innings eating setup guy who strikes out a starter’s worth of hitters. He could get saves if things break right, but without an ace on board I decided to cobble a high skills pitching staff together out of injury concerns and question marks. I could have taken someone like LeClerc, who will likely get more saves than Hader, but he might not and he won’t be as decisively dominant. That was my thinking, at any rate.

ROUND 9: Michael Foltynewicz. Surely Folty fell this far because of concerns about his elbow, which has slowed his spring training. The reports sound okay at this point, he may miss an early start (or he could implode) but if he turns out to be okay he’s a big plus.

ROUND 10: Wade Davis. Here come some saves, I figure.

ROUND 11: Tim Anderson. A 20-20 shortstop who is just maturing into his prime is gold, especially since he’s shown some a smidge of progress on the walk-taking side of things. It does mean I need to find ways to shore up my OBP.

ROUND 12: Ender Inciarte. I should have taken Kepler here, but I had Inciarte ranked higher. I’m one who has been holding his breath for the Kepler breakout for some time now. Inciarte makes enough contact and runs enough that I might be able to use him or Gordon to make a trade later.

ROUND 13: Josh James. Like Folty, he’s hurt during spring training, and that seems to be enough to knock the youngster out of the rotation to start the season. Like Folty, he can strike out a lot of guys. Many of my targets for this round, Ryu, Maeda, and Peacock, were snatched up just before my pick. Maybe I could have waited til the 14th, but there wasn’t anyone coming up that one I fancied more.

ROUND 14: Sean Newcomb. He ran out of gas last season, his first, but he’s a bonafide strikeout guy who could quickly become a No. 2 with just a bit better control. And he’s not hurt.

ROUND 15: Josh Bell. This guy can hit. He can also walk. He’s constantly criticized for not hitting for big power as a first baseman, but he was exactly the sort of OBP sink that I needed. The funny thing is that I debated whether to go for Bell or Brian Anderson with this pick. They’re both essentially the same player, and both perfect for late in the day OBP leagues. I chose Bell because it feels like more power could come to him sooner. I’m not counting on it, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

ROUND 16: Jorge Alfaro. Catching was getting very thin and I liked Alfaro a lot last year. There is less to like this year, at least for now, but the AB should be there in Miami and there is some chance that as he settles into the job he’ll blossom as I expected him to last year.

ROUND 17: Jimmy Nelson. Did not pitch last year. Was very good the year before that. I’m wary of shoulder rehabs, but the reward potential here is high. The pitcher taken before him was Carlos Martinez, no prize, and the next after was Jake Junis, who I would have liked to have. Love those AL Central pitchers.

ROUND 18: Gregory Polanco. More risk here, but we’re in the endgame and this is a mixed league. Not totally shallow, but there will be players to sub in for Polanco until he returns. The bigger question is how much he’ll run when he comes back, and how much the injury will sap his power.

ROUND 19: Reynaldo Lopez. He struck out more and walked fewer in the second half than in the first. For a young pitcher, one for whom I would excuse a fatigue-induced second-half melt down, that seems like a good sign. He also has the advantage of pitching a lot of games against the Royals and Tigers.

ROUND 20: Vince Velasquez. He’s not going to throw a lot of innings, he gets pulled after two times through the lineup, but he throws strikeouts and kept the ball in the park last year. No chance he becomes the ace he once looked like he’d grow into, but if properly managed he could be a very sneaky fantasy asset.

ROUND 21: Brian Anderson. Look what I found. Another corner with a nice stroke, excellent on base skills and not a ton of power. Anderson also has the virtue of qualifying in the outfield.

ROUND 22: Freddy Peralta. The theme develops. Peralta, like Josh James, could end up in the bullpen, where his strikeouts will soar as his innings drop. The big question is just how soaring the bases on balls remain, and whether he can continue to throw fly balls that don’t get out of the park. With young pitchers of talent, there is always a chance.

ROUND 23: Austin Hedges. Needed another catcher. Liked Hedges before he demonstrated just how hard it is for him to make contact with bat on ball. He has some power and a bit of pedigree, and he’s turning 27, which isn’t magic but gets him past the early struggles of a young catcher.

RESERVE ROUNDS: There are six reserve rounds in Tout Mixed Draft. Your roster doesn’t have to be complete after 23 rounds, but does need to be after 29. I took Kevin Pillar (useful power speed outfield backup, will play while Polanco is out), Brent Honeywell (staying on message), Framber Valdez (not in the rotation yet, but effective in there last year), Mark Melancon (could he close in SF? Closer monkey says so), Joe Jimenez (could he close in Detroit? Closer monkey says not yet, but he’s behind Shane Greene, who could be traded), and Yonny Chirinos (more in the Franber mode than the Honeywell, he looked promising last year).

In summary, I like my team. It could be really good if things work out, and could be awful if things don’t. The biggest issue will likely be that this staff of talented but risky arms will not run up the innings and will end up struggling in Wins and Strikeouts, even if it pitches well. It’s harder to pull this off in 5×5 than it is in 4×4. But it won’t take a lot of good luck to land in the hunt, which at this point, three weeks before the start of the season, is all you can hope for.

Ask Rotoman: Dynasty Keeper Cut One

Hi,

I am in a daily head-to-head dynasty league. This year we cut the number of minor leaguers we can keep from 5 to 3. I have Jo Adell, Joey Bart, Dylan Cease, Keibert Ruiz, and Nick Senzel.

I prefer Bart over Ruiz, and since both are catchers, I think Ruiz is out.

The question is do I cut Adell, Senzel, or Cease? My concern is based on what position Senzel might wind up at. Thoughts?

“Senzelbility or Surcease?”

Dear S-squared:

Given his age, his tools, his proven skills, and did I mention his age(?), Jo Adell is a Dynasty player to own. He’s not likely to see the majors this year, might not see them in 2020, but he could if he keeps mashing. I wouldn’t drop him.

Which brings us to Senzel and Cease and your concern about Senzel’s position.

First off, Senzel is the better prospect. Just is. A good hitter is always a better prospect than a good pitcher because not as many hitting prospects fall apart in the majors, plus the injury risk.

And Senzel is expected to start the year in the majors, or, you know, sometime a little later so the Reds gain an extra year of control, while Cease may get a call up but he may not.

As to position, Senzel is likely a second baseman as the season starts. The Reds are talking about having him play in center field. That dings his value a bit, especially if you’re in a 10-team league, but that’s in the future. For now you have some second base goodness coming (or here), and Senzel is such a polished hitter he’s likely to start strong and get stronger.

That’s Senzelble.

Sincerely,

Ask Rotoman: My Fifth Keeper?

Hi,

10 team mixed league with 5 offensive (OBP, HR, Rbis, R, SB and 4 pitching categories (Wins, Saves, ERA and WHIP) NO STRIKEOUTS.

5 keepers

Committed to 4: Freddie Freeman, Jose Ramirez, Charlie Blackmon and Francisco Lindor. Fifth from Gerrit Cole, Aaron Nola or maybe Jean Segura.

Any preference from these three?

“A Fifth of Gerrit or Man of Aaron?”

Dear Fifth Man:

I don’t know. The biggest difference between Cole and Nola is that Gerrit has six letters and Aaron only five. And Cole was a better strikeout pitcher last year.

For one thing, go with a pitcher, because you need an ace and Cole and Nola are two of the top tier of starting pitchers.

Since strikeouts don’t count in your league there isn’t a whole lot of difference between them. Will Houston score more runs and win more games? That’s a point for Cole. Who has been better the last two years combined? That would be Nola, but Cole was better last year.

In 5×5, I have Cole at $28 and Nola at $26, but that difference is due to strikeouts. Nola has the edge in ERA and WHIP, but it’s a small one. So, like I said, I don’t know.

I guess I would go with Cole if forced to pick, which I’m making myself do, because I think the improvement he showed last year is sustainable and that makes him the better power pitcher. Thus more likely to repeat.

But if you’re hunch goes the other way, go with your hunch.

Sincerely,

Eno Sarris on Stats

The Athletic has hired a solid stable of fantasy and analytical baseball writers. The excellent Eno Sarris published a story today about how advanced stats work. He makes drudgery fun, plus it’s baseball.

Ask Rotoman: The Next Step to Winning

Hello,
I’m writing because I read your article in your magazine. It’s great it’s been around for 20 years.  Typically I print out a cheat sheet and try to study it and overstudy but can’t beat having a magazine with insights and tips.  I’m also writing because I am the commissioner of my league.  This will be the 10th anniversary of it!  It’s been 10 years and I still haven’t won a championship.  My league is with Yahoo 5×5 Head to Head.  I rack my brains out every year.  I’ve gotten better over the years, making the playoffs, but I can’t get over the hump.  Any suggestions or advice you may have, besides walking away with my sanity while it’s still intact?  I laugh buts it’s true.  Every year I try a different strategy but never seems to pan out.  Oh and it’s not a keeper league.  Which I think makes it a lot more difficult.  Thanks for reading my plea for help.  Hopefully I’ll be able to hear from you soon. Keep up the great work!
“Bridesmaid”

Dear B:
In my day (which is a long one) I’ve won a fair number of league titles, but I’ve been playing in Tout Wars for 20 years and not won a title. Second place a few times, in the money some, but never a first. So I know where you’re coming from. The fact is, however, that there is no one-size fits all answer to the question. Here’s why.
If everyone in your league was equally talented, equally smart, made an equal effort, in 10 years at least two teams, despite doing everything right, would not have won titles. In 2o years the odds would be that one or two equally talented teams would not have a title. So the fact is that we’re really looking at a sample size that’s too small to accurately judge what’s going on based on the results. The challenge for you is to analyze what’s happening in your league, and then come up with a strategy that will give you an edge, because the keys to winning are three: Knowing the values of players, knowing how other teams value players, and working hard to always get the edge in value.
Here are a few places to look:
Knowing the value of players: Of first importance is knowing your scoring system. How many points hitters and pitchers score, and when, makes a huge difference, and will determine how valuable players are. In shallow mixed leagues nearly all the value is found in the more better best most extraordinary players. While everyone knows these players, they’re the first ones to go in the draft. Then, at every pick later in the draft you’re going to have to choose between a player who is 30 years old, a solid regular with unspectacular production and a player who is younger, more athletic, but with perhaps injury or playing time issues. In other words, $10 in the bank versus the possibility of buying $20 with the risk of getting only $1. What you need to remember is that in a shallow mixed league the value of $10 in the bank is less than the riskier player, because if your riskier pick fails there will be other players available on waivers who are almost as good as the safe pick.
Knowing how other teams value players: One of the things I like about drafts is that bad players can totally screw up picks if they don’t know how the room values players. One of the things I don’t like about drafts is that I can screw up picks, too, if I don’t get the room right. The way to get familiar with what other people do in the draft room is to participate in Mock Drafts. It only takes a few, played by your league’s rules, to get a feel for the types of players taking Adelberto Mondesi and Vlad Jr. in the second or third round. There is variation in every mock, but seeing the highs and lows for players will give you an idea about when you need to reach for the guys you value highly, and not reach too early. (It’s also an opportunity to try out different approaches to your draft, to see how the opposition reacts.)
Working hard to always get the edge in value: Working harder means working effectively. I think your first order of business should be to figure out if there is a reason other teams have won your league. If it’s just one or two guys winning, what are they doing? If it’s a different team winning every year, and they’re all doing different things, what are all the things they’re doing? And what can you do to find the bargains they leave behind. Then, work hard in season to stay on top of matchups, player health and slumps, and pursuing creative trades that can earn you extra points bit by bit. Extra points lead to extra wins.
You may or may not solve this thing this year. Head to Head can get pretty random, especially in the playoffs, so the best team doesn’t always win. But having the best team will give you the best chance. If you execute this year and honestly evaluate after the season about what went right and what went wrong, you’ll be able to hone your approach the following year so that you get better. Consistently working in a framework of evaluation and experimentation is the way to improve, so that when you get lucky you’ll find the championship you long for.
Good luck!

Ask Rotoman: Should I Trade Mookie Betts?

Dear Rotoman:

I’m in a dynasty H2H total points based. Got a trade offer.

Juan Soto. Jon Lester. Blake Snell. Pick 29 and Pick 53 for

Mookie Betts. Mike Clevinger and Pick 42.

It’s a 12 team league on we are on year eight. My starting line up is:

Bats…S Perez C…J Bell 1B…Baez 2B…J Rameriz 3B…Machado SS…Betts. Acuna. Braun OF… N Cruz DH
Pitchers…Tanaka. Bumgarner. Clevinger. Buehler. Porcello

I dont have much depth and close to the cap. I’ll drop braun and I have Cueto I can easily drop to make room. Thoughts on the deal, I could use the advice on this one please.

“Blockbuster Made or Averted?”

Dear Blockbuster:

This is a big deal, and without knowing your categories, how big your roster is, how weak your depth actually is, and if that matters, it’s hard to be definitive. What I know is this:

  1. Juan Soto is not as valuable as Mookie Betts, because he won’t run as much, and because he’s had one amazing partial season, while Mookie has proven he’s a Top 5 player.
  2. Blake Snell is probably equally better than Mike Clevinger as Mookie is better than Soto. So these two pieces wash. If you had enough hitting and needed pitching, that’s a deal you might do reasonably. Since it looks like you have hitting and need pitching, that’s an argument for it.

The rest of the trade has you giving up Pick 42 and getting Pick 29 and Pick 53 plus Jon Lester, who is not a sure thing to be excellent, but has a decent chance of it. In a league with as many keepers as your teams seem to have, there is very little difference between picks 29, 42 and 53, and you get two for the price of one. Since Lester is better than Cueto, who is going to miss the whole year, he’s a bonus.

Could you lose this trade? Certainly. My rule of thumb is don’t give up the best player in a deal in return for depth, especially in shallow leagues, where only the very best players are much above replacement level, but I like Snell enough this year (I like Clevinger, too, but not quite as much) that the core is a solid pitching for hitting deal, and the add ins are a bonus.

Go forth and multiply,
rotomansignature

Rotoman

ASK ROTOMAN: Keeper Question

Ask Rotoman:

I can hold 8 in a $260 NL only auction league. Which 8 do u think?

Jose Peraza $8 Starlin Castro 8 Yasmani Grandal 6 Jeff McNeil 1 Lorenzo Cain 29 Eric Lauer 1 Stephen Matz 6 Trevor Williams 3 Alen Hanson 1 Hector Neris 1 Yoshi Hirano 5 Pablo Lopez 1 Franchy Cordero 10 Koda Glover 2.

Thanks
Eight is Enough

Dear Eight:

I don’t usually answer such open-ended questions on the site because, well, it seems to me you should do most of the work. That’s why you play. And then hit me with the hard question I might contribute something to. For you, that’s determining your No. 7 and 8 picks.

But today is launch day of the Fantasy Baseball Guide 2017 and your question does let me highlight how to decide who to keep.

Make a list of your players and their prices. Then add their big prices from the Guide (or whatever reputable source you have for prices, including your own), and do the math:

Jose Peraza $8 $25 = +$17
Starlin Castro 8 $18 = +$10
Yasmani Grandal 6 $10 = +$3
Jeff McNeil 1 $12 = +$11
Lorenzo Cain 29 $24 = -$5
Eric Lauer 1 $2 = +$1
Stephen Matz 6 $8 = +$2
Trevor Williams 3 $12 = +$9
Alen Hanson 1 $5 = +$4
Hector Neris 1 $1 = E
Yoshi Hirano 5 $3 = -$2
Pablo Lopez 1 $1 = E
Franchy Cordero 10 $5 = -$5
Koda Glover 2 $0 = -$2

First thing first, there are the big winners: Peraza, Castro, McNeil, and Trevor Williams are obvious keeps. That’s four.

Picking off the other four gets more complicated. First off, Yasmani Grandal is at a good price and is looking at a change of scene that might give him a boost. That’s five.

Of the remainders, Alen Hanson is cheap. He’s not a great hitter, doesn’t have much power or speed, but he could get a fair number of at bats, and he has some power and maybe a little speed. That’s six.

To get to the final two you have to evaluate my prices and your expectations.

For instance, if you think Glover or Hirano might close, you have to consider them. At present I do not.

If you’re in a pinch you can keep Lopez and Lauer, because they are arms with some talent who might get a chance to play this year. The problem is they’re not going for more than a buck or two on auction day, so these are plays of last resort.

Lorenzo Cain is costly, and should go for less than $29 in startup leagues, but what is the inflation rate in your league? If it’s more than 20-percent he becomes something like a  bargain. Heck, you might think he’s going to go for $29 in your league, which definitely makes him a bargain. You have to decide if you want to park that money in him, or go after a different outfielder to anchor your offense. He could be your seventh keeper. Or not. I’m personally wary of $33 year old outfielders whose games rely on speed. With each year, the risk of a big failure goes up.

Which brings us to Steven Matz or Franchy Cordero. I think $10 is too much for Cordero, but others love him and if you love him you might want to take a chance. FWIW Baseball HQ has him earning $15 this year. I think his contact skills are so bad that, while he could earn $15, he could also be back in the minors in a hurry. Especially because he’s coming off a wrist injury.

Which leave us with Matz, who has been injury prone and not that good since his dazzling debut in 2015. I think he’s no riskier than Cordero and cheaper, with the same sort of upside, which is why I would make him my eighth.

When you have to make these decisions matters a lot. Health issues and playing time issues will become clearer than mud as the preseason approaches. The longer you can wait the more clarity you’ll bring to your final decisions. But it doesn’t hurt to start exploring the possibilities early.

Best,

rotomansignature

Rotoman

Brian Walton Tastes Own Medicine. Smiles.

My friend Brian pays attention to the rules. He’s done that in Tout Wars for years, and in recent years has been writing a column at Creativesports.com (and Mastersball.com before that) about fantasy baseball rules.

This week I thought I’d caught him up in a rules violations in the XFL, a league we play in together.

 

And I did, but he’d already gotten clearance from the league’s poobahs, who said there was precedence for his position. Maybe there was, but whoever benefited from it should have also insisted that the language in the Constitution be changed. It wasn’t.

What I know is that I reverse engineered the box score, and Franmil Reyes had his 50th at bat of the season, changing his draft status, in the bottom of the 6th inning of Sunday night’s Padres game. That at bat clearly came before 9pm, draft time, when Brian took Reyes as a Farm player. That is, one with 49 or fewer at bats. But Brian was allowed the +$3 for his newest farm player.

My partner Alex and I were fine with the common sense rule being applied, rather than what was written in the Constitution, and yet we still nurse a grudge about the fact that the league didn’t apply the common sense ruling they should have, that when a Frozen player dies before the auction, as Oscar Taveras did a few years ago, you should be allowed to at least open up his slot on auction day to make room for a sentient body. The fact that no one had died in the last two weeks of October before meant that there was no precedent, but the exception is now in the Constitution.

You should always read Brian, he’s a punctilious  thinker and a good guy. Plus, among a lot of things, he knows his Cardinals. His story is here.

And the Constitution has been changed to reflect reality. Yeah for that.

Baseball and Race and Let’s Talk About It

My friend, Don Drooker, wrote about Jackie Robinson last week. Why? What, are you living under a rock? Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League baseball on April 15, 1947.

That is appalling, as every baseball fan knows. And really as anyone who has thought about the history of the United States knows. But that is what happened, and we rightfully celebrate the end of the barrier. It would certainly be wrong not to, at least until all the ancillary misery of racism has been fixed.

I think about the slogan, Make America Great Again, and it is difficult to think of it as meaning anything other than that we were a better country when we were whiter and had more slaves, or at least fewer civil rights laws. My friend Don’s piece reminded me of something.

I was young. Maybe 6, could be 7. My friends and I collected baseball cards. We were crazy about baseball cards, really. And we played games. The most popular baseball card games we played were built on the rules of the card game War.

You would lay down a card, at random, and another player would lay down a card at random. If they matched, the other player would take your card. If they didn’t match, the next player would turn a card, and so on until a match was made.

Matches were made with logo colors, team names, positions. We had a lot of variations of the game. This was a way to mix up our card collections, which we didn’t see as having monetary value, but we did see as currency of a baseball fandom sort.

And then, one day, we decided to play the same game, but using player skin color as the determinant for matches. What I can say for sure is none of us six year olds thought skin color meant anything other than the color of skin. There were no other signifiers for us. We saw it as natural a swap as your yellow logo versus my yellow logo. So we sat on the stoop of my friend’s house playing this game, when my friend’s mother heard what we were doing. Matching on skin tones. Boom.

Everyone had to go home. This was unacceptable.

I think back and I don’t blame my nameless friend’s mom. She was telling us race is not a game.

But she wasn’t telling us that race is in the eye of the beholder. It is a power system. And our innocent heads, up to that point, didn’t see skin color as anything other than skin color. A shade.

Later, we learned how much more there was to it.