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.


ASK ROTOMAN: Two For Machado?


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.


ASK ROTOMAN: Battle of the All Star Keepers

Hi Rotoman.

I’m in a 12-team head-to-head keeper league that counts total bases instead of home runs. Our keeper system is that we can keep players each year but they are retained at a lower round (e.g. last year I drafted Pollock in the 9th round so this year he would cost me a 7th round pick; I kept Harvey in the 19th so he would cost me a 17th round pick).

I can keep three players and I am keeping Correa in the 19th round.

Which two other players should I keep:

– AJ Pollock in the 7th round

– Edwin Encarnacion in the 11th

– Starling Marte in the 13th

– Matt Harvey in the 17th

“Better You Bet”

In the real world, AJ Pollock and Edwin Encarnacion and Starling Marte are going to be gone after two rounds. And Matt Harvey is going to go not a whole lot later. I’ve seen him taken in the second round, though he’s probably a third round pick.

Since keeper value derives from how much better the player is than the keeper round in which he’s kept, these guys rate Pollock (+6), Encarnacion (+10), Marte (+11), and Harvey (+14). The obvious choices are Marte and Harvey, they’re your best values.

On the other hand, you should also game out how your league’s draft is going to go. I don’t know, but let’s say the best hitters go really quickly and pitchers linger a bit. While it would be a shame to lose Harvey, it may make better tactical sense to keep Encarnacion instead. That’s a call only you can make, asking yourself the question: If I keep Harvey and Marte (as well as Correa), will there be enough hitting out there for me?

Depending on how you respond, let your experience be your guide. With this group you can’t really go wrong.


ASK ROTOMAN: David Peralta or Steven Souza?

Who has more value in a standard ESPN keeper league this year and possibly for years beyond, David Peralta as an 11th rounder or Steven Souza as a 19th rounder? Thanks


In last nght’s Tout Wars Mixed Draft Peralta went in the 7th and Souza went in the 14th. It looks like Peralta in the 11th (+4) and Souza in the 19th (+5) are about equal in terms of step-up value.

Peralta is the more valuable player, however, because he’s a decent contact hitter who will have a decent batting average. This will make him a productive regular.

Souza has a better power/speed combo, but strikes out more than a lot. This leads to a bad batting average and the ever present danger of losing playing time.

If you don’t care about batting average, if you already are dumping it, Souza is probably a reasonable choice, but otherwise Peralta is a clear value in the 11th and the better, more rounded player to keep.


ASK ROTOMAN: Which Two of Four Should I Keep? With Why Not Mike Moustakas Bonus Discussion.


Just have a keeper question. I need to protect two of these four. Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Gregory Poblano, or Mike Moustakas. It’s a head to head league. Thanks!!!

“Half and Half”

Let’s be systematic.

Carlos Gonzalez is a huge power hitter when he’s healthy and on, as he was for about six weeks last summer, but he’s often injured and is aging.

Matt Kemp has aged.

Gregory Poblano has fiery warmth, a smooth peppery heat. Gregory Polanco, on the other hand, is a speedy talented outfielder with some power, and at 23 has headroom.

Mike Moustakas is a power-hitting third baseman who is coming into his prime.

I currently have their prices as $26, $22, $25, and $16 respectively. That makes it pretty plain that Gonzalez and Polanco are your best bets, especially since injury prone players are not as risky in shallow 12 team mixed leagues as they are in deeper formats. But my heart aches for Mike Moustakas, who almost earned as much as Kemp last year, so let’s take a closer look.

moustakas-freeWe’ve been following Mike Moustakas for a long time. He made his way up through the minors at what felt like a slow pace. Looking at his stat history, however, it looks like he was always moving forward toward promotion. Maybe that’s the difference between foresight and hindsight.

What I think was true was that Moustakas started slower than he finished at each level, and worked hard and got better. And last year, after a terrible 2014 season with the stick, Moustakas became a bona fide major league third baseman (with a World Series championship, to boot).

Looking at all the components to his performance last year, it can be said to be a typical Moustakas season, but with an uptick in more and harder contact. That is, he hit the ball more, and when he hit it he more often hit it harder. This looks to me like a genuine improvement by a young hitter who is known for working hard and improving during his way up through the minors. This makes me think he might have set a new baseline, not established a new peak performance, which is why I’m going to be aggressive about him this year.

I still can’t recommend keeping him in your situation, even if he plays a scarcer position than outfield. Cargo comes with the injury risk, but he’s a much more powerful hitter if he stays healthy. And Polanco is young and valuable now, with potential to grow into more power and more effective base stealing.

Go with them.


ASK ROTOMAN: Lots of Talent, Only Two Freezes


12 Team H2H 7×7. Added OBP and SLG. to Offense and no wins but added IP, K/9 and SV/HLD to pitching. Only allowed two keepers

$1 Mookie Betts
$1 Francisco Lindor
$1 Roughned Odor
$26 Nolan Arenado
$18 Joey Votto
$1 Kyle Schwarber
$1 Jose Abreu

$1 Corey Kluber
$1 Noah Syndergaard
$1 Yu Darvish

“Dollar General”

One aspect of answering questions about leagues that don’t have standard configurations and rules is trying to figure out how they play.

In the writer of the above note’s league, potential young stars went for $1 last year, while Nolan Arenado and Joey Votto didn’t have crazy high prices. Does that suggest it’s best to value the extraordinary players, like Arenado and Votto, regardless of price? Or to go cheap and then pay for the studs in the auction, since their prices aren’t that crazy?

Then, if you’re going cheap, as it seems you should, do you take Betts and Abreu, because they’re the two best hitters, even though outfielders, or Lindor and Odor, because they’re MI and scarcer talents, or somehow get Schwarber in there because he’s a Catcher?

Or is it better to lock up your staff, take Kluber and Syndergaard, and get solid there with arms?

I don’t think there is a completely wrong answer here, except to take Yu Darvish, who may turn out to be okay, but is too big a health risk to keep over these other keeps. But I think I would lean toward Betts and Abreu, the two projected to earn the most this year, by quite a bit.

Position scarcity is a thing in a shallow league, but when you’re getting two essentially free players I think it makes sense to go for volume over nuance and speculation.


ASK ROTOMAN: Arenado or Seager?


I am in an eight man Points FB league where we get one keeper from the previous year. Whatever keeper we choose we lose the round that the player was drafted the year before. I have to choose between Nolan Arenado and lose my 7th round pick or Corey Seager and lose my 23rd round pick. We can keep them for years to come but the round goes down every year they are kept. For instance, next year I would lose my 6th round for Arenado. What is your opinion??

“Days of Future Past”

Holy cow, there’s some soothsaying involved here.

Nolan Arenado in the 7th, even in an eight team league, is awfully good for this year. And really, in the 6th round next year he’ll be really good, too.

But Corey Seager is one of the top prospects at shortstop, an even shallower position than third base, and the prospect of having him well below price is obviously appealing. Hence your question.

So, first off, the easy answer is that if you have a competitive team this year, keep Arenado. He is a great keep and should be much more productive than Seager this year, and in all likelihood next year and the year after, too.

Now, it’s hard to imagine that in a league with one keep any team is out of it in any year, but if you want to take the long view you do have to consider keeping Seager at 23. After all, you’ll still be getting early valuable picks, including a 7th rounder, which in a league this size is roughly Top 50.

Seager likely won’t be as helpful this year or the next, but as he establishes himself he has the potential to be a Top-3 shortstop for many years to come. What you have to decide is whether it’s worth taking the downgrade this year for that sizable discount in the future.

I would lean toward Arenado, the bird in the proverbial hand, who is only 25 this year. He’s mature and ready now, and while he may not get any better, he’s plenty good enough to be a big plus in the seventh round.


ASK ROTOMAN: Trade Josh Donaldson for Kris Bryant and Jeurys Familia?

We can keep 6 players in a mixed keeper league. $260.. My first three are Mike Trout ($18), Bryce Harper($27), Josh Donaldson ($14) are no brainers. Curious to get your opinion on the final three…

Joe Panik ($4), David Price ($29), Zack Greinke ($20), Dellin Betances ($11), Mark Melancon ($15), Luis Severino ($8). Also I have been offered a trade , Kris Bryant ($8) and Jeurys Familia ($7) for Donaldson. What do you think.

“Keep Trouble”

I think you have four good keeps, they are your top three plus Greinke.

I was in a mixed auction this week and all the other players on your list came in below your prices. Draft inflation can drive those values up, and no two mixed auction leagues are alike, so you can justify keeping guys you like at okay prices. Panik went for $4 in my auction, so he is keepable. But he’s not a good keep.

Which is why you might want to the two for one deal.

Donaldson is a great keep. Bryant is cheaper, but he’s not as valuable this year. He’s a solid freeze, in terms of value, but a less certain player, but add Familia and you have a nicely-priced closer. The key question is how much closers will cost in your auction.

Saving a few dollars on one closer is a value, but if other closers not quite as good go for $4 or $6, as some did in that auction I was in, your keep might cost you an opportunity at a better price. In which case you’re probably best not making the trade.

But Bryant is an exciting young player at an exciting your price, so out with the old Donaldson, in with him and Familia, and keep Greinke and Panik. No panic.


Ask Rotoman: Verlander (18th) vs. Darvish (25th)

Hey Rotoman,

I need keeper help. I’m in a 12-team, 5×5 roto league with 29 rostered players. We’re allowed to keep up to 3 players but must surrender a draft pick 4 rounds earlier than where we drafted the player. We can keep the same player the next year by surrendering a draft pick another 4 rounds earlier and so on. There’s no limit on the years we can keep a player other than the declining surrendered draft pick.

My candidates are:

Y. Puig (drafted 19th round, surrender 15th round pick)

D. Salazar (drafted 28th round, surrender 24th round pick)

Y. Darvish (drafted 29th round, surrender 25th round pick)

J. Verlander (drafted 22nd round, surrender 18th round pick)

B. Hamilton (drafted 16th round, surrender 12th round pick).

Who do you like?

Sweet Surrender

Dear Sweet:

Your letter is of interest mostly because I’ve never heard of this keeper system before, and it is delightful.

Which means it is pretty close to unique (though as I type those words I’m sure to learn of others who do this).

As you might imagine, coming up with valuation systems for no dough is outside my pay grade, but let’s run a little pricing logic.

Billy Hamilton is your least attractive player, and he has the highest price. Set him freakin’ free.

The rest of your guys are good keeps no matter what. So, keep Puig, because he’s a hitter, and Salazar, because he’s cheaper than Darvish, and more attractive, which makes your choice either Verlander and Darvish. Both are fine keeps. Which is better?

It would be easy if they were priced equally. Verlander is a former ace who seems to be adjusting to aging and having less velocity. Darvish is coming back from Tommy John surgery. Many pitchers, though not all, do. Will he come back quickly or slowly or not at all is the big question.

Alas, Verlander is more expensive than Darvish. But in the 18th round, Verlander’s price is low enough that his apparent moxie increase in the second half last year, living with less (velocity), is a big plus over Darvish’s rehab.

For me, Puig, Salazar and Verlander are the way to go.


ASK ROTOMAN: Heyward or Wacha?

Hello Rotoman,

I am in a 14-team mixed keeper auction league with 23 players (14 hitters, 9 pitchers) and a budget of $260. Who should I keep as my last keeper? Jason Heyward for $20 or Michael Wacha for $10?

“Wacha Wacha Hey!”

I used that technique I described last week, converting draft position to dollar values, to assess what Heyward is going for these days versus Wacha. And I also converted their stats into dollar values and found something interesting.

Both methods said Heyward is worth $19, while Wacha is worth $14. The easy answer is keep Wacha.

But I’m not so sure. The key thing to remember is that shallow league prices are not linear. What this means is that a guy who collects twice as many stats is worth more than the guy who collects half as many.

The curve, that’s the non-linear part, from last year’s Tout Wars Mixed Auction, a 15 team mixed league, looks like this:

Screenshot 2016-02-20 18.05.39The left side represents the most expensive players, the right side the cheapest. Between them is not a straight line.

However, the part of the line that runs from Wacha, at $14, and Heyward, at $19, is pretty straight, meaning that the stats for each escalating pick are pretty much equivalent.

If that’s the case, it might make sense to keep Wacha instead of Heyward.

On the other hand, see how the curve arcs upward at the $20 mark? Heyward is right on the cusp of being valued non-linearly. He’s on a new team that is offensively rich and going to win the World Series for the first time since 1908, and he’s going to turn 27 this season.

Without knowing who your other keeps are it’s hard to make a contextual argument, so if you need pitchers it’s fine to keep Wacha, but any improvement by Heyward this year in his new hitters park will be valued as a multiple. I think I would roll the dice with the Cub and make history. Or be cursed.



Ps: The writer later contacted me to say what his categories were.

BA, HR, STEALS, RBI, RUNS, OBP and TB on offense and WINS, ERA, WHIP, SO,  HOLDS, SAVES and K/9 on pitching. 

Run those through the grinder and you get $20 for Heyward, $9 for Wacha. Another vote for going for the hitter.

And a reminder that categories matter.