ASK ROTOMAN: Can the DJ Save My Life This Year?

Hey Rotoman!

I am new to a 14 team 6×6 roto. With the standard 5×5 categories plus OBP and K/9. I get to take 8 keepers into the next year. I am one of 3 new owners in this league who got to draft from the abandoned teams. I have DJ LeMahieu for $1, I can put him on contract before this year for a new salary of $6 as contracts add $5 every year. I want to know if I should keep him this year only and no contract for $1 or put him on a 2 or 3 year contract. A two year contract would put his last year of his contract at $11. I am worried that he could get moved out of Coors if Brenden Rodgers comes up next year.

Thanks for your help!
Stagesetting

Here’s the piece of information you need. Last year, LeMahieu went for $10 in Tout Wars mixed auction. That was coming off his breakout season. Now that he’s done it again, his price will go up some, but how much? And does it make it worth the risk of extending him?

First we look at his home road splits. He was great at home last year, and pretty good on the road. In 2015, he was fine at home and not quite so good, but not bad on the road either. That makes the trade talk less worrisome for me.

Still, he’s a guy whose main value is his outsized batting average. While he hit for more power last year, it wasn’t that much more. He could grow in that area, but he might not.

So, I wouldn’t extend him for two years, because that raises his cost too close to his draft day price.

I think you could justify not extending him at all, take the one-year benefit of his cheap price, and move on.

But I think extending him one year gets you the best of both worlds. He’s inexpensive at $6, likely to earn a profit, and maybe a nice profit if he can pull off a third straight career year. And if things go sour, as they sometimes do, you’re not on the line for that much.

Sincerely,
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Ask Rotoman: Take Two and Get Ready for the Season

Dear Rotoman:

Question for you regarding a couple guys in a Rotisserie Keeper league. 

H=OBP, SLG, R, HR, RBI, SB   P=WHIP, ERA, QS, W, K, SV

10 team league, have two more spots to keep guys. Who would you go with?

Wade Davis-19th round

Billy Hamilton-21st round

Byron Buxton-10th

Joc Pederson-14th

Kevin Gausman-21st

Danny Duffy-19th

Javy Baez-18th

Already keeping

Stras, Thor, Bogaerts, C Seager, Sano. All good value.

Thanks, Rich

Dear Rich,

Mansa_MusaYou are Midas, you are Croesus, you are Gates. You are Tut, you are Mansa Musa, you are Mugabe. You are Buffett, you are Goldman, you are Sachs.

Of course, because you can only keep two of the seven you will be taking a hair cut. Let’s see how these guys are going. I look at Tout Wars, because it was recent and I know where it is. It’s a 15 team league, but that doesn’t really make a big difference in the draft order of major league regulars (though it does in the endgame).

Wade Davis (117), Billy Hamilton (86), Byron Buxton (147), Joc Pederson (161), Kevin Gausman (179), Danny Duffy (109), Javier Baez (113).

How many rounds up do you get?

Wade Davis (+8), Billy Hamilton (+13), Byron Buxton (-4), Joc Pederson (+2), Kevin Gausman (+3), Danny Duffy (+9), Javier Baez (+7).

This is pretty clear cut. Billy Hamilton is a great price. And you have to choose between a starter, Duffy, and a reliever, Davis. I think I’d take Duffy, because he’s going earlier and good starters are harder to find than relievers. But if you decide you need a reliever more than a starter at this point, that’s a fair way to go.

Sincerely,
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Ask Rotoman: Keepers Extreme Vetting

Dear Rotoman:

As for now my fantasy baseball keepers are

Josh Donaldson, Tor 3B K

Francisco Lindor, Cle SS K

Carlos Gonzalez, Col OF K

Jonathan Villar, Mil SS, 3B K

Joey Votto, Cin 1B K

But I also have A.J. Pollock, Eduardo Nunez, Jose Peraza, Jason Hammel, J.A. Happ and Jacob deGrom.

Just wondering if I’ve chosen the best 5 out of my keepers.

“Top Five”

Dear TF:

A quick glance tells me you have the right guys.

Donaldson is a first round pick. Votto a second rounder. Lindor a third round pick. Cargo and Villar are also third round values.

Which doesn’t mean you don’t have options. AJ Pollock is a third rounder probably, so if you decided to go for him over Cargo no one could blame you. I have Cargo ranked a little higher, mostly because Pollock is just coming back from a lost year, his second in the last three, which adds a bit of risk.

Jonathan Villar in Houston, before being traded to the Brewers
Jonathan Villar in Houston, before being traded to the Brewers

More interestingly, while Jonathan Villar is going in the third round, Jose Peraza is going in the ninth. Villar has his spectacular 2016 season under his belt, but Peraza looks to be similar type of player. Until the Brandon Phillips trade it was hard to see where he would get full time at bats, but all of sudden his way is cleared.

Steamer has Jonathan Villar projected to hit .255 with 15 homers and 54 steals. My projection is for .250 with 15 homers and 48 steals. So we’re in the same ballpark certainly.

Steamer has Peraza projected to hit .282 with six homers and 42 steals. My projection is for him to hit .300 with seven homers and 38 steals. So, again, similar, as I suppose we should be. We’re working off similar inputs.

Clearly, unless you value batting average a lot, and you shouldn’t, Villar is the better keep for you, but it is possible to see how in a BA league that Peraza could conceivably outperform Villar this year. That’s not a reason not to keep Villar, but in a league where both are available it is a reason not to reach too much for Villar. If someone else grabs him you can get a somewhat similar player about 50 picks later.

Sincerely,
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ASK ROTOMAN: Licensed to Ill Edition! Tillman or Miller for Final Keeper?

Dear Rotoman:

American League, 5 X 5, OBP

We can keep 10 and I have the following as keepers:

  • Bregman 7
  • Odor 9
  • Sano 7
  • Cain 15
  • L. Martin 10
  • A. Sanchez 10
  • Duffy 7
  • Gausman 7
  • Porcello 5
  • And either Tillman 4 or Brad Miller at 11

I like the idea of Tillman at the cheap price so I can go into the draft with 5 undervalued starting pitchers. On the other hand (I sound like Tevye), Miller gives me roster flexibility, especially if he is slated for starting at 2B. I went with Martin over Tillman and Miller because of the scarcity of stolen bases. Who would you keep—Miller or Tillman?

“Licensed to Ill”

Dear Ill:

First off, while it looked like Miller was going to play first base for the Rays, after they signed Logan Morrison he seems to have slid over to second. Since already qualified at SS, that isn’t a big deal, but it is a deal.

Second off, Tillman is literally ill, if you consider shoulder problems and illness as well as an injury. He had one of the enriched plasma injections in his shoulder in December, which is supposed to fix him up, but he is now reportedly three weeks behind schedule on his recovery. I’m not sure when in December he had the surgery, but let’s say he had it the first week. It is now 10 weeks later, at best, and he’s three weeks behind where he was supposed to be. We have six weeks of training camp ahead, and he’s living like it’s mid January, and recovering like it’s early March. And it ain’t. I would be concerned about that.

Finally, I have Martin as a $15 player in 5×5 BA, and Miller at $13, so in my book you have your pecking order right there. In OBP both are less valuable. I have Tillman at $10, pre injury concerns. That made him a slightly better keep based on price and ROI when he was healthy, but now he’s in doubt. Could he still be the better keeper?

license-to-ill-gatefold
Gatefold metaphor for Chris Tillman’s 2017 season? Could be.

Given what we know right now, I’m going to have to knock a few bucks off of Tillman’s price. The chances that he falls farther behind in his rehab program are significant, as are the chances that his situation will deteriorate completely. That’s a lot of risk of no return, or even worse, negative return for your $4.

So, better the Beastie in hand, than the Beastie who hobbles.

Sincerely,
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ASK ROTOMAN: Impossible Keeper League Question

Dear Rotoman:

I am in a 12 team fantasy baseball league, rotisserie style, with 4 keepers. You can keep 1 player for a maximum of 5 seasons. I finished 5th in the league last year and have the 1st overall pick of the year. It so happens that Mike Trout was kept the last 5 years and will be available to be drafted this year. Is there any deal out there that would make you think about trading that pick? Perhaps the other person’s number 1 and 2? Something more than that?

“Fishing for Improvement”

Dear FFI:

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27)There are many questions about your rules that are hard to deduce. For instance, how many of the typical first-round picks are available in this draft?

And, do the keepers clog the round they’re taken for the teams that keep them? Or are they merely gone?

So, you may have technical issues with my answer, but I think the answer is fairly obvious (though the execution may not be).

First point: In shallow leagues, as you have, the best most hardest to replace players are worth a premium. Having the first pick and taking Trout is valuable in any startup league. In a league where much of the first two rounds of talent are kept, as I imagine yours is, having Trout has extra valuable.

Second point: There isn’t much you can do about the kept players. Your job is to maximize your haul in the pool. So, Trout is clearly No. 1. Whom of the available players is going to be your second pick? I think that player is your baseline.

Third point: If you can swap Trout for two players better than your second pick, you may have the makings of a deal. But that isn’t a sure thing. Remember: In shallow leagues top talent has an outsized value. And you certainly wouldn’t trade Trout for two players worse than Trout and your No. 2.

Fourth point: In shallow leagues, position scarcity matters a bit more than some expect. So, trading number one for two positions before No. 24 may make sense if you can see a way to score a top SS and a great 2B or, given your league size, a top catcher.

But: It’s hard to tell without specific information about all this stuff. Which is your job. I think it’s possible for someone to buy Trout off you and make you a good deal, for them or for you, but you need to go both for quantity and for position advantage when analyzing your league. That’s where your real advantage is going to be found.

It’s a tough deal to make, but it can be made.

Ruggedly,
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ASK ROTOMAN: Keeper Question Involving Power

Rotoman!

I’m in a 10 team head to head keeper. My question is should I keep Cespedes in the ninth or Trumbo in the 20th.

Thank you so much,
Frank

Dear Frank:

I’m going to ignore the H2H aspect. Cespedes and Trumbo are both power hitters, similar enough in type if not style that the format shouldn’t affect their value much.

The way to figure out who the better keeper is in a draft league is to convert each draft spot to a dollar value. I don’t have that data for a 10-team league, but I do for a 15-teamer. Tout Wars Mixed Auction is a good source of auction information going back for years.

The major differences between the two different-sized leagues is that the smaller the league, the more valuable the best players at each position. Since neither Cespedes nor Trumbo is among the top players in the outfield, their values should degrade by a similar amount in the smaller format.

In the 15 teamer, a ninth round pick is worth $15-$16.

In that same league, a 20th round pick is worth $4-$5.

These prices are derived by taking the 2016 Tout Wars Mixed Auction and sorting the prices from highest to lowest. The 20th round includes picks 229 to 240. The ninth round has picks 97 to 108.

Last year, Cespedes cost $22 in the 15-team league, which makes him a +$7. Trumbo cost $10, which makes him a $5. Cespedes performed slightly below expectations last year, while Trumbo performed slightly above expectations, so the two are pretty comparable, which I suppose is why you’re asking.

Yoenis Cespedes takes batting practice on #WSMediaDay.
Yoenis Cespedes takes batting practice on #WSMediaDay.

My answer is that I would keep Cespedes, because in his down year he still earned more than Trumbo. He’s a surer bet than Trumbo, with far less chance of giving you nothing. By the ninth round he is exactly the sort of player you want, somewhat underpriced, but not too risky.

Later in the draft you can buy players like Trumbo, maybe even Trumbo perhaps, and even better by not keeping him you may be able to saddle another team, a team that loves having the home run champion, with a less valuable commodity a little too high a price.

Win-win, potentially.

 

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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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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