## How to Use The Guide’s Big Price in Shallow Mixed Leagues

A reader writes: “How would you equate or gauge the Big Price to a 12 man 5X5 mixed league auction with \$260. We play keepers too but that’s really not my issue. The Big Number seems to be about right as most other magazines I’ve seen will list auction prices using that format.”

But before you do that, you may want to read this.

The prices in The Guide are for a 24-team mixed league, and are intended to emulate the pricing of a deep AL and NL only leagues. The reason I don’t publish AL and NL only prices—the leagues are a little different, which makes the values of their stats a little different—is because when we put together the Guide in December there are usually hundreds of free agents out there. We don’t know who is going to be in which league.

The important thing to remember about deep prices is that the value of the stats, be they homers, RBIs, runs, hits, steals, are linear. That means that every home run a batter hits has the same value. Every stolen base has the same value. Et cetera. The reason for this is because the vast majority of stats that are produced in the whichever league one is playing in are counted in your roto standings. The replacement level is pretty close to nil for any stat category.

In a 12-team mixed league, you’re playing with just 12 of baseball’s 30 teams. You’re only using the half the available stats overall, roughly (this varies by category). This means that a player has to hit a bunch of homers before those homers have any value. And if he doesn’t hit them, there will someone available for free who will.

What this means, practically, is that in a AL or NL only league, the last player taken costs \$1. And in a 12 team mixed league the last player taken cost \$1. But the last player taken in the mixed league would have cost about \$13 in the only league. The chart below shows the prices for players taken in a 15-team mixed auction, likely Tout Wars in 2016, from most expensive to least.

The thing to notice is that the graph goes pretty straight at about the 50th player taken, which supports the observation that after the third round in a mixed draft the players in each round are pretty interchangeable. No matter who someone takes, there’s another player like him still available. But this isn’t so among the best players. They are not interchangeable, and their value drops quickly, as the left side of the graph shows.

When someone takes Mike Trout, there isn’t another Mike Trout out there. There is Jose Altuve, but when he’s gone there isn’t someone similar. By the time you get to the sixth or seventh player the options are not nearly as appealing as the early choices were. In a draft, the compensation is the earlier pick in the next round. In an auction there is no compensation. Those irreplaceable players can only go to the person who pays for them, and that drives their prices up. Hence the steep curve in the graph showing the prices of the best players.

This situation is even more extreme in a 12-team league than a 15-team league. The bottom line is that if you convert the magazine prices to your mixed league size, it is important that you then reallocate money from the least expensive end of the list to the most expensive end, so that you have realistic prices for the Trouts, Turners, and Scherzers in your game.

Your draft day goal is to have a list that shows the prices you’re willing to pay for each available player, and have that add up to the amount of money available in your auction.

You don’t have to buy those most expensive players. In this year’s Guide, Tout Mixed Auction 2017 winner Jeff Zimmerman talks about how the prices for the top guys in that auction were overinflated. He complains that people always inflate the prices of the top guys in mixed auctions, as if that’s a mistake. I think Jeff is such a numbers guy that he only looks at what people earned to determine their price, and from his success you can see that his price list can work. But I think his list worked in spite of his error, rather than because of it.

What makes me think so? The graph above.

## Subscriber Benefits at Pattonandco.com, Available Now!

Spring training is rapidly approaching, which means fantasy baseball prep time is going into high gear.

Alex Patton and I, Rotoman, offer a fun baseball discussion board at pattonandco.com. Every player has his own discussion thread, so you can ask questions and get answers from a strong coterie of fantasy experts, baseball fans and roto players, including Alex and me. The discussion boards are free and open to everyone, though you need to register to be able to post.

On top of that we offer a Subscriber package each spring, for rotisserie and fantasy players who want a little bit more.

What are the benefits?

Rotoman’s projections

Roto bid prices from me (5×5), Alex (4×4) and Mike Fenger (5×5), in an Excel spreadsheet, text files, and as part of the Patton \$ Online Window program. These include probable lineups, highlight the top prospects, and are updated each Thursday until the Thursday after opening day, incorporating the latest news, better thinking, and useful comments.

The package is \$36.

And the player discussion boards are free all season long, so please check us out even if you’re not interested in the Subscriber benefits.

Not to Brag or Anything

We have the most loyal customer base in the universe, no kidding.

Why? We hear from our customers every year about their good seasons and their bad, and always with their thanks for providing straightforward draft prep information tailored, through the discussion board, to every person’s particular needs.

Our data is bespoke, from rotisserie veterans, but also open enough to help you make your own adjustments and tailor things better to the way you see them happening. This is a powerful combination, and we’re proud of it.

Patton \$ Online was one of the first fantasy baseball software packages available anywhere. It helps you make lists, adjust for inflation, update and change projections, and keep an eye on the prices you’re willing to pay at your auction.

It is also super fast, written in machine language back in the day when computers weren’t so fast. That’s the good part.

But the fact is that it is an old program that uses old menuing and interfacing, so while it is popular among our loyal veterans who are familiar with it, it presents a learning curve for newbies. We encourage you to try out last year’s edition. This archive has the program, the excel and text files, so you can try it out. We hope you find it helpful, but don’t want to overpromise what we can deliver.

The good news is that the spreadsheet has all the same data, and can be used to craft the same sorts of lists and adjusted bids.

The bad news is that the program runs on Windows. To use it on a Mac you’ll need a copy of Windows running in Boot Camp, or Windows running on the virtual machines Parallels or Fusion. The program run great in Parallels and Fusion, and will run on WINE for a while, but will then it will crash when you try to change data. Which limits it’s use there.

I’m running it this year on a Lenovo Ideastick 300, which cost me \$69.99 at Best Buy. It’s a Windows 10 computer about the size of the original Ipod Shuffle that plugs into the HDMI port of a TV or monitor. Paired with bluetooth keyboard and mouse, it’s a limited but capable and protable addition if you have any reason to use Windows.

If you’re interested, please feel free to download last year’s program and data for free. If it works for you, great, if not you got to experience the Patton \$ data and decide if you want to be a subscriber as you prepare to win the 2017 fantasy baseball season!

Let us know if you have any questions, and we hope to see you at pattonandco.com.

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

Slip 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!

## The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2016 in Brooklyn!

I spied the Guide in the wild today, at the Park Slope Barnes and Noble. Just us and the Sporting News amidst the gun mags.

## TOUT WARS NL: How I See Things

This was my view across the draft table.

It’s nice to see Tristan Cockcroft (with trophy) enjoying himself.

I had one plan going into this year’s auction. If I was to land either Aroldis Chapman or Craig Kimbrel, I would eschew an ace, buy one aspiring ace and then fill in with all the attractive young NL starters available near the end.

On the hitting side, I ticked all the OBP guys up a buck and the anti-OBP guys down a buck, rather than fully price in the OBP difference. The reason was my observation last year that buying OBP won me the category, but cost me a bit in countables. My goal was to be cognizant of OBP, but to buy homers and RBI foremost and scramble later.

The auction opened with four straight pitcher nominations, and then—with just a few exceptions—a heavy stream of the game’s best players. The pace was brisk and I bought the players who came in well under my bid prices. This landed me Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Braun in the early part of the game, as well as Craig Kimbrel.

Shortly thereafter, Troy Tulowitzki and Buster Posey joined Team Rotoman, and when the bidding stalled at \$26 later on Anthony Rendon, I had to bid, and once again I was playing Stars and Scrubs style, as I did last year to disastrous second-half results.

The thing about last year’s first half was it showed the power of Stars and Scrubs. My guys were in second place late in June, even though I’d lost Joey Votto for a month. The second half, when six of my seven 20+ guys did DL time, was the flip side. Once I started sliding the only thing that stopped me was the end of the season.

The problem is that prices in this league at the top end are usually a touch soft. Not a lot soft, but a buck or two on each of the Top 50 hitters adds up to \$75 or \$100 that later gets redistributed to the attractive players later on. If you don’t spend early, you spend late.

The problem is that if you spend your money early on the chalk, and add all those big players, the teams with a little more scratch pick off the attractive endgame buys. On the pitching side, the guys I wanted for four were going for five, the guys I wanted for three went for four, and so on. Which is how one ends up with perhaps the least appealing pitching staff of all time.

And I’m not bummed out about that. But it surely didn’t go the way I hoped. Here’s a chart to see the problem:

Pitchers who cost \$20 or more whose draft price differed by \$2 or more from my expected price:

Pitcher Bid Cost
Bumgarner \$27 \$25
Cueto \$24 \$21
Greinke \$23 \$25
Chapman \$23 \$25
Zimmerman \$23 \$21
Hamels \$21 \$19
Wainwright \$20 \$18

There were 11 pitchers priced \$20 or above. Five were more or less dead on. Five were off by two bucks, and one was off by \$3. Nobody got a great deal here, but as a group the 11 cost \$8 less than expected.

In the \$15-\$19 group:

Teheran \$18 \$16
Arrieta \$17 \$19
Lester \$17 \$19
Cole \$17 \$20
Shields \$16 \$18
Papelbon \$15 \$13
Melancon \$15 \$18

There were 12 pitchers in this group. Five were more or less dead on. Five were off by \$2, Two were off by \$3.  This group cost \$8 more than expected. This is where I hoped to pick off Arrieta or Cole.

After two groups, the bid prices equal the sale prices.

From \$10-\$14, the two dollar (or more) differences:

Rosenthal \$14 \$16
Cashner \$14 \$11
Fiers \$13 \$10
Benoit \$13 \$17
Rondon \$12 \$15
G Gonzalez \$11 \$16
Cain \$12 \$9
Lynn \$11 \$16
Latos \$11 \$15
Ross \$11 \$14
Casilla \$11 \$7

There are 19 in this group. Eight were more or less dead on. Only one was within \$2. Only five were within \$3. As a group, bidding exceeded my bid prices by \$12.

Alas, this was the group from which I hoped to walk away with Matt Cain and either Mike Fiers or Lance Lynn and, I hoped Shelby Miller. Lynn blew up, but I guess I blew it on Fiers. He had the biggest discount other than Cain in the group and I can only think my bankroll was so depleted at that point that I simply couldn’t buy him. But from this side of the ledger I absolutely had to. Too late.

I should point out that there is operator error here. In the next group, of \$5-\$9 pitchers, I had Homer Bailey at \$7 even though he went for \$11 in LABR. His \$12 on Sunday was aggressive, but not crazy.

In that same group, I wanted Jenry Mejia (\$9 \$8), Kyle Lohse (\$8 \$7–I got beat to \$7 and couldn’t real afford it, much less \$8), Kyle Hendricks (\$7 \$6), Wily Peralta (\$7 \$9), Jimmy Nelson (\$6 \$6) and Carlos Martinez (\$5 \$8).

I know this recitation is dry as toast, but the point here is sweet as salty butter. This group doesn’t spend on the big pitchers, but only by a little, and uses their savings  to pay for the cheaper guys with upside. Not outrageously, but just enough for a small bankrolled guy (like me) to lose out on every one.

This was my decision, based on my evaluation that it would be better to have Martin Prado rather than one of those mid-level pitchers. That’s not a sure thing, but it is a fairly sure thing that I will have more opportunities to find pitching help during the season than hitting help.

So, I stuck to my values, wherever they might take me, and I’ll try to fix the team composition in season. That is always part of the process. The game is rarely won in the auction. What I have now is a nice group of hitters, one and a half comeback pitchers, a fair amount of saves and closer strikeouts, and a budding closer in waiting behind two injured relievers.

There is work to be done.

Here’s my team with Bid Price and Cost:

Buster Posey \$27 \$27
Yasmani Grandal \$12 \$13 (paid extra because he’s a 1B, too)

Sean Rodriguez \$1 \$1
C. Johnson \$12 \$7

Anthony Rendon \$29 \$27
Troy Tulowitzki \$31 \$29
Alberto Callaspo \$4 \$3

Andrew McCutchen \$43 \$39
Ryan Braun \$34 \$30
Gerardo Parra \$5 \$3
Melvin Upton \$8 \$4
Will Venable  \$4 \$3

Nate McLouth \$3 \$1

Matt Cain \$12 \$8
Jose Fernandez \$10 \$9
Tom Kohler \$1 \$2
Mike Minor \$4 \$2
Evan Marshall \$1 \$2
Bobby Parnell \$3 \$5 (thought he was worth more to pair with Mejia)
Jenry Mejia \$9 \$8
Craig Kimbrel \$22 \$21

That’s a net positive of \$33, if anyone’s counting. It may not be pretty, but there are pieces here to work with.

## Ask Rotoman: Zack Greinke or Mark Melancon?

Rotoman:

Only 4 pitching categories in my keeper league. Wins+Saves is one category…Greinke or Melancon?

“Volatile”

Dear V:

My 5×5 projections for both Greinke and Melancon are worth \$17 this year, so I thought this would be an easy one to answer. Combine the value of the Wins and Saves for the pitchers, divide in half, and replace the values of Wins and Saves with that number and bingo. Or voila! Or eureka!

Instead, I’m not sure. I used the Razzball, FanGraphs and Patton \$ Online value calculators on whatever projections they used (Grey Albright, Steamer, Rotoman) and found that though the numbers they spit out were different, all favored Greinke. In order: \$10.4/\$8.2, \$7.6/\$1.9, \$10.1/\$7.55.

Fangraphs clearly punishes relievers more for their lack of strikeouts, but I’m sure a closer look would show they’re rewarded more for their low ERA and Ratio. Razzball and Patton were close enough to declare a winner, but I was nagged by the question of population. You see, pricing systems are based on the performance of some group of players. In the regular 5×5 world this means one thing, but when you make guys who get saves more valuable, as you do when you combine saves and wins, the population changes. That changes the value of an earned run, it alters WHIP, it means a strikeout is worth something different.

So, I ran the numbers on last year’s stats using my own pricing calculator.

Last year, in 5×5, my pricer says Greinke earned \$21 and Melancon earned \$19, Combine Wins and Saves into one category for all ML pitchers, re-sort, and their prices change to \$21 and \$20.

Which means, if you agree with me that they’re each worth \$17 this year, that Melancon gains a little edge in value over Greinke using your rules.  But prices didn’t change as much at the high end as I expected they would.

Of course, value is only part of the equation. Keeper questions start there, but always come back to what the guy is going to go for in your league. You want to keep the one you think is going to cost more. That’s a question only you can figure out.

Sincerely,

## Why There Will Never Be A Rotoman 250. B/w The Rotoman 250.

I’m asked sometimes why there isn’t a Top 250 player list in the Fantasy Baseball Guide. I wrote about this last year, explaining why, so I won’t repeat myself too much here.

But an interesting thing happened this year while putting together this year’s Mock Draft for the magazine, and I thought it might be helpful to talk about it.

Now that the Guide is back to an early printing schedule, the Mock happens in mid November, and no draft service has updated draft-ranking lists loaded on their sites. We used CouchManagers.com this year, and they were glad we were using the service so early, hoping it would help them develop and fine tune their rankings.

Rankings are an important part of a draft service, because they help drafters find the players most likely to be drafted when their turn comes, which makes the whole process move more smoothly. But rankings, like ADP, also serve as a powerful suggestion for who to take in any given round. Not only do they suggest who ranks most highly, but they’re like an advertisement shown to everyone else pitching that player. If you want a player who appears near the top of the list, you better take him now because he isn’t going to fall once he’s atop the ranking list.

The fact is, playing the ebbs and flows of demand that ripple through the draft software and its lists are one of the skills of drafting a fantasy team. And another reason why a Top 250 not based on your draft sites list is of limited utility.

But this year, for the mock, I decided to take my Dollar Values and turn them into a draft list.

To each price I added .4 for catchers, .3 for shortstops, .2 for second basemen and .1 for third basemen.

I didn’t change the prices of pitchers, but I knew I would have to manage when to take them by using my sense of the draft. I wanted an Ace and I wanted a solid closer, and after that I was willing to scramble. My strategy was to take a pitcher in the later rounds when there was no standout hitter available.

(Note: I think one could simulate approximate pitcher draft slots by subtracting a certain number of places from each of them, but I think we’re better served knowing where pitchers rank in value–remember, at these prices they’re only getting 30 percent of the draft budget–and make decisions based on that.)

The list I made for that night is a bit out of date, so I’ve made a new one based on my current prices. Enjoy.

THE ROTOMAN 250
1: M Trout, LAA, OF
2: A McCutchen, PIT, OF
4: J Abreu, CHA, 1B
5: M Cabrera, DET, 1B
6: P Goldschmidt, ARI, 1B
7: J Altuve, HOU, 2B
8: G Stanton, MIA, OF
9: F Hernandez, SEA, P
10: R Cano, SEA, 2B
11: C Sale, CHA, P
12: A Jones, BAL, OF
13: R Braun, MIL, OF
14: D Price, DET, P
15: C Gomez, MIL, OF
16: M Brantley, CLE, OF
17: M Bumgarner, SF, P
18: A Rendon, WAS, 2B
19: S Strasburg, WAS, P
20: I Desmond, WAS, SS
21: B Posey, SF, C
22: J Bautista, TOR, OF
23: J Ellsbury, NYA, OF
24: B Harper, WAS, OF
25: H Pence, SF, OF
27: F Freeman, ATL, 1B
28: A Beltre, TEX, 3B
29: P Fielder, TEX, 1B
30: C Gonzalez, COL, OF
31: S Marte, PIT, OF
32: A Rizzo, CHN, 1B
33: J Upton, SD, OF
34: J Zimmermann, WAS, P
35: C Kluber, CLE, P
36: J Reyes, TOR, SS
37: T Tulowitzki, COL, SS
38: M Scherzer, WAS, P
39: J Donaldson, TOR, 3B
40: E Encarnacion, TOR, 1B
41: V Martinez, DET, 1B
42: A Pujols, LAA, 1B
44: A Wainwright, STL, P
46: K Seager, SEA, 3B
47: D Wright, NYN, 3B
48: B Hamilton, CIN, OF
49: M Kemp, SD, OF
50: J Cueto, CIN, P
51: I Kinsler, DET, 2B
52: A Chapman, CIN, P
53: D Gordon, MIA, 2B
54: D Murphy, NYN, 2B
55: E Longoria, TAM, 3B
56: C Hamels, PHI, P
57: M Holliday, STL, OF
58: J Votto, CIN, 1B
59: C Yelich, MIA, OF
60: H Iwakuma, SEA, P
61: J Lucroy, MIL, C
62: C Kimbrel, ATL, P
63: D Pedroia, BOS, 2B
64: B Revere, PHI, OF
65: H Ramirez, BOS, SS
66: S Castro, CHN, SS
67: A Gordon, KC, OF
68: T Frazier, CIN, 3B
69: R Zimmerman, WAS, 3B
70: Y Cespedes, DET, OF
71: N Cruz, SEA, OF
72: C Dickerson, COL, OF
73: M Ozuna, MIA, OF
74: J Werth, WAS, OF
76: W Rosario, COL, C
77: G Richards, LAA, P
78: A Ramirez, CHA, SS
79: E Andrus, TEX, SS
81: B Belt, SF, 1B
82: G Holland, KC, P
83: Y Darvish, TEX, P
84: J Samardzija, CHA, P
85: P Sandoval, BOS, 3B
87: C Davis, BAL, 1B
88: B Gardner, NYA, OF
89: A Rios, KC, OF
91: J Heyward, STL, OF
92: W Myers, SD, OF
93: D Span, WAS, OF
94: M Cabrera, CHA, OF
95: L Martin, TEX, OF
96: J Kipnis, CLE, 2B
97: E Aybar, LAA, SS
98: M Carpenter, STL, 3B
99: B Butler, OAK, 1B
100: S Choo, TEX, OF
101: E Hosmer, KC, 1B
102: J Bruce, CIN, OF
103: J Morneau, COL, 1B
104: J Teheran, ATL, P
105: M Tanaka, NYA, P
106: D Santana, MIN, SS
107: N Walker, PIT, 2B
108: N Castellanos, DET, 3B
109: K Calhoun, LAA, OF
110: A Eaton, CHA, OF
111: A LaRoche, CHA, 1B
112: J Martinez, DET, OF
113: B Zobrist, OAK, 2B
114: C Blackmon, COL, OF
116: S Gray, OAK, P
117: A Jackson, SEA, OF
118: D Mesoraco, CIN, C
119: Y Molina, STL, C
120: H Street, LAA, P
121: A Escobar, KC, SS
123: C Utley, PHI, 2B
124: S Perez, KC, C
125: L Chisenhall, CLE, 3B
126: J Harrison, PIT, 3B
127: M Pineda, NYA, P
128: R Castillo, BOS, OF
129: B Dozier, MIN, 2B
130: J Loney, TAM, 1B
131: G Springer, HOU, OF
132: L Duda, NYN, 1B
133: D Betances, NYA, P
134: A Cobb, TAM, P
135: J Arrieta, CHN, P
136: F Rodney, SEA, P
138: A Wood, ATL, P
139: J Peralta, STL, SS
140: C Santana, CLE, 1B
141: Y Gomes, CLE, C
142: S Gennett, MIL, 2B
143: K Wong, STL, 2B
144: L Cain, KC, OF
145: A Craig, BOS, OF
146: D Ortiz, BOS, DH
147: M Trumbo, ARI, 1B
148: J deGrom, NYN, P
149: R Odor, TEX, 2B
150: B Moss, CLE, OF
151: J Hardy, BAL, SS
153: S Cishek, MIA, P
154: D Fowler, HOU, OF
155: M Wieters, BAL, C
156: P Alvarez, PIT, 3B
157: C Johnson, ATL, 3B
158: C Carter, HOU, DH
159: A Garcia, CHA, OF
160: K Davis, MIL, OF
161: M Morse, MIA, OF
162: G Polanco, PIT, OF
163: D Stubbs, COL, OF
164: J Fernandez, MIA, P
165: D Fister, WAS, P
166: J Lester, CHN, P
167: C Carrasco, CLE, P
168: J Shields, FA, P
169: M Shoemaker, LAA, P
170: D Smyly, TAM, P
171: J Papelbon, PHI, P
172: T Roark, WAS, P
173: A Sanchez, DET, P
174: E Gattis, HOU, C
177: J Segura, MIL, SS
178: D Jennings, TAM, OF
179: B Phillips, CIN, 2B
180: T Plouffe, MIN, 3B
181: A Ramirez, MIL, 3B
182: A Cabrera, TAM, SS
183: A Lind, MIL, 1B
184: O Arcia, MIN, OF
185: M Betts, BOS, OF
186: C Crisp, OAK, OF
187: A De Aza, BAL, OF
188: J Hamilton, LAA, OF
189: B Lawrie, OAK, 2B
190: J Mauer, MIN, 1B
191: J Jay, STL, OF
192: A Pagan, SF, OF
193: P Hughes, MIN, P
194: D Robertson, CHA, P
195: A Cashner, SD, P
196: M Fiers, MIL, P
197: M Melancon, PIT, P
198: B McCann, NYA, C
199: J Lowrie, HOU, SS
200: J Mercer, PIT, SS
201: J Gyorko, SD, 2B
202: T Yasmany, ARI, 3B
203: D Ackley, SEA, OF
204: M Bourn, CLE, OF
205: C Cron, LAA, 1B
206: R Davis, DET, OF
207: T Hunter, MIN, OF
208: J Lagares, NYN, OF
209: N Markakis, ATL, OF
210: J Soler, CHN, OF
211: D Salazar, CLE, P
212: J Weaver, LAA, P
213: M Cain, SF, P
214: G Cole, PIT, P
215: D Viciedo, CHA, OF
216: R Martin, TOR, C
217: C Allen, CLE, P
218: Z Britton, BAL, P
219: Y Ventura, KC, P
220: F Rodriguez, MIL, P
221: T Rosenthal, STL, P
222: X Bogaerts, BOS, SS
223: B Crawford, SF, SS
224: A Simmons, ATL, SS
225: D Freese, LAA, 3B
226: C Gillaspie, CHA, 3B
227: K Morales, KC, 1B
228: S Pearce, BAL, 1B
229: C Rasmus, FA, OF
230: M Cuddyer, NYN, OF
231: C Granderson, NYN, OF
232: R Howard, PHI, 1B
233: G Parra, MIL, OF
235: A Pollock, ARI, OF
236: M Wacha, STL, P
237: Y Solarte, SD, 2B
238: D LeMahieu, COL, 2B
239: J Panik, SF, 2B
240: C Tillman, BAL, P
241: M Montero, CHN, C
242: W Ramos, WAS, C
243: E Cabrera, FA, SS
244: T Watson, PIT, P
245: N Feliz, TEX, P
246: S Kazmir, OAK, P
247: A Sanchez, TOR, P
248: M Stroman, TOR, P
249: J Verlander, DET, P
250: S Casilla, SF, P

I hope this is a good start for you in your draft.

## Top 20 Fantasy Baseball Hitting Bargains, through August 31

None of the most expensive hitters show up on the list of profitmakers, because the known hitters are paid for on auction day. The Top 20 is a mix of guys having explosively good years after being paid to be a little above average, and the unknowns who weren’t bought or were taken in the end game, who have turned out to be pretty productive. It’s hard to look back to March and see how we could have predicted any of these breakouts, but the teams that landed these guys have a leg up on the rest of us.

## The Price of Everything

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the dilemma of owning David Price in an AL only league in which the stats of players traded to the NL don’t count. I’d sent a note to the other owners in the American Dream League offering Price for a power hitter, a catcher preferably, but as a team battling for first place, willing to take any deal that returned fair value and helped my team in some way.

The initial offersâ€”Jason Castro, Derek Norrisâ€”seemed potentially doable on July 29th, if I was panicked and certain that Price was going to the Dodgers or Cardinals, but not strong enough to get me to give up in early July the four or five more starts he likely had with Tampa in July, and the not insignificant potential that Price would remain in the American League.

I then came up with an idea that I thought was great. The team that owned Yu Darvish was in last place, below the point threshold that triggers a penalty in the next year’s FAAB. That is, a team loses one FAAB (of 50) for each point it finishes below 35 points. You also gain extra keeper slots for each standings place you gain, from four up to eight.Â  So a team in trouble has a great incentive to gain points.

My idea was to trade for Darvish, offering Price and James “Some Came Running” Jones, who has ranked second in the AL in stolen bases since he was inserted into the Mariners outfield on May 6th. Price is of equal value if he stays in the AL and no value if he is traded to the NL, which is where Jones comes in. If Price stays in the AL the team gets a huge boost, if he’s traded they still get some points moving up in steals.

The team that owned Darvish were not moved to move him. Part of the problem was that they only had three places to gain in steals, which is nice but not a big deal. And while Darvish and Price have keeper value for 2015, Darvish in all likelihood will be back. Not only might he lose Price this year, but he’d also likely lose him for next year.

At this point I was thinking that I might end up keeping Price. My pitching staff was okay, but it never hurts to have one of the best pitchers in the league on your team. And if I lost him? My staff was still okay, and if I managed it creatively I might even gain points in ERA and Ratio without Price. My lead in wins was big enough I wouldn’t be crushed. I was okay keeping Price, but then Huston Street was traded to Anaheim.

Two teams had \$38 FAAB left. No other was close. One was in the second division, but second in saves with a big lead. He had no need for Street. The other was, depending on the day, a point ahead or behind me in the standings, a couple points out of first place. Another closer for him was worth at least three points in saves, plus another potential point or two in ERA and WHIP.

Over at the discussion board at pattonandco.com I suggested that the team who didn’t need a closer might benefit more by buying Street and flipping him than by waiting to see who else is dealt to the AL. A bird in hand and all that. I wasn’t thinking at that time of being the one to get Street, I just didn’t want the team I was fighting to get him. That owner accused me of being self-interested. Guilty.

What I didn’t think of, the other owner did, was trading David Price for Huston Street. The other owner proposed it online, and there was only one reason I could see not to do it. I’m pretty far behind in Saves. Two saves for one point, and then it’s 13 saves to the pack. That’s a lot of ground to make up.

But I decided to go for it, for a few reasons.

Street is a fair value return for Price in 4×4. Did I mention this was 4×4? So far this year Street has earned \$24 and Price \$20, using Alex Patton’s prices. I don’t expect Street to outearn Price the rest of the way, Price’s first-half ERA was inflated by what seemed to be some bad luck on fly balls. More than usual left the yard. He should have a lower ERA in the last two months.

Important to me, however, is that relief pitcher ERA and Ratio have real value. To date, Price has earned \$4.90 in ERA and \$7.60 in WHIP. Street doesn’t have nearly as many innings, but he’s earned \$4.20 in ERA and \$3.90 in WHIP.

But if my per month earnings projection for Price is \$5, he’s projected to earn \$11 the rest of the way. While Street’s per month projection is \$4, so he’s expected to earn \$9. But there is some real chance that Price will do his earning in the NL. If that chance is 20 percent, I get a slight edge in the deal. If the odds are more 50-50, which I do, then things look very well today pricewise.

Category-wise, however, the prices are askew. For one, I have a big edge in wins, so Price’s wins (worth \$8.70 to date) have helped me out to a decent lead in the category, and don’t mean that much to me at this point. And I have a big deficit in saves, so Streets saves (worth \$14.90 so far) might not mean that much to me.

Except, I have a couple of outs, as we say in poker.

For some reason I bought Matt Lindstrom in our auction, and he was the White Sox closer at the start of the year before he got hurt. He is rehabbing now and is expected to be back in the majors in early August. If he is reinstalled as the team’s closer and save 5-10 games the rest of the way, I could actually make up ground.

I also have Aaron Loup, who saved two games for the Blue Jays this past weekend (before Casey Janssen was pounded last night). More saves is a big help (my fingers are crossed).

I hope that breaking the lead up to this deal will help illustrate the many different factors that go into dealmaking. I think the biggest one, however, are your league’s rules. This old school AL 4×4 league, the first AL rotisserie league in existence ever, is no longer typical, but then neither are your 6×6 15-team mixed league that doesn’t include teams from the NL west. Or whatever.

Working through how your league works will help you unlock value, and perhaps make trades that help both sides, and give you a better chance to win.