Ask Rotoman News, June 25 Edition

The biggest news is that The Fantasy Football Guide 2020 is shelved. The publisher was getting too few advance orders from skittish retailers, and so we’re taking a pass for this season. We hope there’s a football season this fall and you can enjoy it without the Guide.

The goal is to be back for baseball come January, if possible.

In the meantime, we have baseball potentially starting up. Updated projections and prices for buyers of The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2020, reflecting the 60 game season and the unbalanced schedule, will be available on July 9th on the Updates and Corrections page here.

Feel free to ask Rotoman any questions about this strange and endangered season.

Despite pessimism about the chance the full 60 games get played, I’m looking forward to reconsidering baseball again.

Last time I bought this team in the Tout Wars NL auction back in March.

Retro Drafting is a Thing.

I’ve now done three retro drafts, for 1982, 1990 and 1999. I wrote about the 1982 draft here, and have written about the 1990 and 1999 drafts at pattonandco.com, in the Stage Four thread.

I’ve finished in the Top 4 each time, but have yet to win one. I’ll be drafting next Wednesday night, taking apart the 1986 season. Fred Zinkie selected it because he won last week’s 1999 contest, jumping a mighty 11 points with his last round pick of Ryan Klesko.

I took apart the draft a few different ways. First I looked at how many draft dollars each team bought in hitting and pitching, using my earnings values (which give positive value to the Top 108 pitchers and Top 168 hitters based on their 10 category stats).

Then I compared their earnings to their expected earnings for each draft slot (basically my earnings list sorted from highest to lowest), to see their NET value.

And I compared these things to their actual finish. Here are the data:

Looking at this, it doesn’t really pass the smell test. Dean earned more than Fred? How did Jeff finish so high while earning so little?

Someone over at pattonandco.com pointed out that Fred added Pedro Astacio, who I had valued at -$20 on the season. That appears to have cost him two points in ERA and WHIP combined, because of the way those categories were grouped, but gained him many more Wins and Strikeouts.

Someone else suggested that this indicated a problem with my pricing, but I don’t think that’s true in a general sense. But in a very specific sense the issue of who gets a positive value seems to have a lot of impact on pitcher prices. I wrote:

Doug led in ERA and was second in WHIP. I was second in ERA and third in WHIP. Dean was third in ERA and first in WHIP. Fred was first in strikeouts and fifth in ERA and WHIP. And the three of us are way ahead of the other nine teams, with Fred finishing just ahead of seven of them. That’s efficiency. 

I think this shows not a problem with my pricing, but a problem with pricing in general. The dollar values work, but they then have to be applied to the right stats when you’re constructing your team. In other words, it’s not the meat it’s the motion.

But one issue to be aware of is that pitcher value very much depends on which 108 pitchers you value. The math will tell you one group, but as we can see, for a team in a particular position, a player like David Cone or Pedro Astacio will have real value and supplant one of the 70 inning relievers with a low ERA and Ratio that usually reside in the $1-$5 range.

So, if you go and reprice the actual pool, so that the worst pitcher is worth $1 and the 108 add up to $1092, the value of Pedro Martinez drops from $55 to $25. (I just did that.)

In the prospective leagues we usually price for, this phenomenon drives up the value of the best pitchers, but when we know what the stats are going to add up to it seems to do the opposite. Here’s how the Retro earnings looks with the pitching pool repriced. 

This doesn’t really make sense to me logically but eyeballing the Dollar totals in this chart makes more sense to me than the earlier one.

Note: I also adjusted the hitters in a similar way after noticing that the total wasn’t adding up to $3120. These results look more like what I would have expected, demonstrating that in a retro draft to get good prices you need to know which players will be selected.

The XFL 1982 Retro Draft Was Last Night!

For 17 years I’ve played with a bunch of friends in a quirky keeper 5×5 (OBP) fantasy league called the XFL. We hold a $260 auction in the fall at First Pitch Arizona, keeping up to 15 players off the previous year’s rosters with a $5 increase (+$3 for players picked up before they had ML playing time). Then, in March, usually, we have a 17-round supplemental draft to round out our 40-man rosters.

Only this year, you know, we didn’t have that supplemental. We first put it off until April 20, and then as that date approached we collectively realized that it made no sense to spend time on something when conditions in the majors this year may be totally different, or that there may not even be a this year, so we postponed.

Which led to the idea of doing something. Anything. What that turned out to be, under the direction of Ron Shandler, was a draft of the major league players from 1982. I’m not sure why Ron chose ’82. I pushed for 1980, since that was the first year of our game and Dan Okrent’s piece about the Rotisserie League the following winter in Inside Sports magazine was called “The Year George Foster Wasn’t Worth $36.” But 1982 was fine, it was the first year I played the game, joining the Stardust League that Matthew Berry wrote about recently, in its second year.

There are things about a retrospective draft that are different than they are in a prospective draft. Our regular drafts and auctions before the season is played are shaped by our expectations–our projections–of what players may do, what chances there are that they will do more, or less, and how we put a price on that range of outcomes.

In a retro draft you know what a player has actually done, and you know the context in which he did it. That makes it fairly easy to come up with a value for each player and a ranking of player values. But it turns out that the math only gets you so far. Here’s why.

The Split: Many years ago, in the early ’90s, Les Leopold and I developed the idea that each player actually had two prices. One was his actual worth in the fantasy season just played (that’s his retro price), and his draft price, which was based on his projection and market expectations, what I call in The Guide The Big Price. We theorized that in a retrospective auction you would allocate 50 percent of your budget to pitching and 50 percent to hitting. This was something I tried to test for a long time, but there wasn’t much interest until everyone had to stay at home for months on end.

But alas, in preparing for this retro draft, it quickly became clear to me that allocating 50 percent to pitching didn’t solve all the problems. The one problem it did solve is that of pitcher injuries and unreliability, which are one and the same for the most part. Pitchers who stay healthy are reliable, but pitchers get hurt a lot. So while we discount pitching in our draft price, splitting our budgets about 65/35, spending half on pitching for half the points seemed like a good strategy.

But if you do that, I soon realized, you’re going to have to compete in all five pitching categories, and if you do that you’re going to bump into the fact that in a draft you can’t really load up your staff with aces. If you have the first pick and take Steve Carlton by the time you pick again all the other high strikeout, high wins starters will be gone. Drafts, obviously, are different than auctions, so once again we’re not testing the split.

Dumping: A draft is a linear playing field. The difference between the price of each successive pick is the same. But the value of the player pool is not the same. So, when you graph, say, the auction prices in a mixed league and compare it to the line of selections in a similarly configured mixed draft, you’ll see that the value of the first 50 or so picks is higher than the line, while after the third round most picks are under the line.

The blue line are actual auction earnings (15 teams, $260) vs the cost in a draft.

I prepared by running the available players through my pricing spreadsheet, adjusting for a 12 team mixed league. Absolute prices weren’t important for this exercise, it was a draft, but I tried to jigger the balance between the categories so that I didn’t overvalue low-ERA low-production pitchers. The danger of doing that is because you’re (I) using computed prices for the player’s season. When we’re ranking players prospectively, we don’t price their optimal performance but rather one that’s in the middle of the range of possibilities. Drafting retroactively, you know what Joe Niekro’s optimal performance was worth, but if the value of his ERA and Ratio outstrip Steve Carlton’s monster strikeouts and wins in your formula, are you putting together a roster that can win?

Maybe.

As it turns out, Brian Feldman (fantasybaseballauctioneer.com) led off with Carlton as the first pick. I had the wheel and took Andre Dawson with the 12th pick and Joaquin “Donde Esta Mi Cabeza” Andujar for some reason. Niekro was still there, higher on my sheet, but at that point my sheet was too big, too many columns, and I misread hits allowed for strikeouts in Andujar’s case and typed his name into the sheet. It was fine, they were close enough, but I had already deviated from my pricing.

At the next turn I took Dave Winfield and Goose Gossage, creating my own mini Yankees run which also set off a closer run. But I didn’t really mean to turn this into a play by play. There are a few other points about this exercise.

If you love baseball and play fantasy baseball this is potentially a great way to get together virtually with friends and spend some hours with a new way to play and talk about baseball. Some of us played fantasy baseball in 1982, some of us weren’t even born in 1982, but we all knew how great Robin Yount’s season was, how bad George Foster’s was. There was lots to talk about while selecting teams.

Zoom allowed us to see the excellent drafting spreadsheet that is part of the Mastersball.com package. A handful of us were also on camera, though the demands of keeping up with our lists meant we weren’t watching each other. The rest were on audio feeds, which was filled with banter and reminiscing.

The spreadsheet updated after each pick with revised standings, but we didn’t start checking that (Todd Zola was updating the sheet and he’d have to be asked to show that page) until more than halfway through. If I’d been paying attention to it earlier I would have seen that by not taking Ricky or Timmy or Willie my pursuit of steals was doomed, which would have changed some of my later picks as I vainly pursued the bottom of the steals pack and failed. This came to a head fairly deep in the draft when I selected Dickie Thon’s 37 saves and didn’t make a dent.

Position scarcity is something I didn’t think about in advance and though I was in the lead for a number of the first 20 rounds my team faded at the end. I don’t think that was caused by scarcity because when you know everyone’s value the math tells you the tradeoffs. If you take Gary Carter in the third you’re getting fewer stats than if you take Gary Ward, do you get that back later? You might, but that’s not a sure thing. A properly formed price list would have the exact 168 hitters with the positions necessary to fill 12 team rosters and prices rejiggered to reflect the fact that some of those catchers are of negative value when you price all players. They’re not negative valued when you have to pay for them, the prices have to change.

In the end, Jeff Erickson pulled out to a good lead in the last round, optimizing his categories. I failed at optimizing, wasting value by buying too much average, wasting money on steals, and having too low an ERA and WHIP. We’ll be playing again in a couple of weeks, Jeff picked the 1990 season, and you can be sure we’ll all be paying more attention, not necessarily balancing the categories, but more effectively managing the categories we dump. Or not.

Click here for the draft results.

Photo by Keith Allison

Ask Rotoman: What happens to Domingo German this season?

Ask Rotoman: How will multiple game suspensions for an individual player that were supposed to start at the beginning of the season in March, be calculated when and if the season does start. Will there be a reduction of games due to the late start?

Good question. Here’s what MLB says:

All suspensions of 80-or-fewer games will be served in 2020 if games are played. Should the season be canceled, those suspensions would not carry over to 2021.

MLB.com

What MLB doesn’t say is whether those suspensions will be pro-rated for the games that will be (we hope) played this year. For instance, if the season is scheduled for 81 games, will German’s suspension be 80 games (the full monte) or 40 games (the prorated part).

The canceling of the suspensions if the season isn’t played at all suggests that the suspensions will be pro-rated, I think, in recognition that the punishment is meant to be proportional. This is also how service time will be treated for all players. Given players’ limited shelf life, giving them a full season penalty when a half seasons worth of games are played seems excessive.

But since this isn’t stated we can’t really know for sure until issues like the length and shape of the schedule are worked out, and both players and owners can assess how things are going to go. That won’t be until late May, at the very earliest, it looks like. We hope.

Back In Tout NL. A Draft Recap.

After five years or so playing in Tout Head 2 Head and Tout Mixed Draft, this year I returned to the National League version of Tout Wars, to compete against old friends, joined by some new faces (for me), including Fred Zinkie and Justin Mason.

With Tout Weekend canceled because of the ongoing pandemic crisis, we decided to have the auctions now as scheduled, rather than moving them to nearer the start of the season for two reasons. We knew everyone already had the time blocked now, just the location would be changing, and we figured that while there certainly will be news between now and when the season starts, the player evaluations we’ve done this spring will be just as valid now as in the future. Later we’ll scramble to fix bad luck, or take advantage of good fortune. That’s part of the game.

I haven’t gone back to read all of the auction write ups I’ve done for Tout NL over the years, but I’m afraid (since I’ve never won) that many of them start the same way. My goal was to bargain hunt in the middle range all auction long, but the bargains at the top were too enticing, so I went where the (extra) money was. This year was no different than any other. Here’s what happened.

Ronald Acuna Jr. $44 ($47 value): Some say he’s not an OBP guy, but why not? Sure, he’s no Yelich, who I had valued at $51, but he hits the ball hard, should have a decent average and walk 10 percent of the time. That’s an OBP guy. He also has power and runs. I was very pleased. Yelich, by the way, also went for $44, which was the superior buy. I almost bid $45. Maybe I should have.

Walker Buehler $30 ($29 value): I pressed the +$1 button on the auction site on a $28 bid, but a flaw in the auction software allows a momentarily earlier bid to take precedence and then bump your bid another dollar. That happened here. Buehler came out early enough that I might not have actually bid $30, there were still plenty of other pitchers to be bid on, but at this price a $1 difference is insignificant. $29 is my median value for Buehler, there’s plenty of ways he could beat it. An equal number he could fall short.

Ozzie Albies $27 ($33 value): You know how you have your guys? I don’t know why, but you have your reasons for your guys. Well, I have my guys, and my guys are the players who consistently rank higher than the prices the experts seem to be willing to pay for them. Albies is one of those this year. He has power, he has speed, he will hit for a decent average and while he’s not a base on balls machine, he walked more last year than the year before (and struck out a little less), which may be normal fluctuation but may also be improvement. If he earned $29 last year and $25 the year before and he’s just 23 years old with 1360 plate appearances, why would you expect him not to do just as well again? Maybe it’s the seven percent walk rate. Looking at my value for him, I’ll admit that I’m probably giving him a little too much OBP credit. If he hits .270 instead of .295 he’ll be worth $27 this year, all other stuff being equal. And really, he could also get better. That’s my guy.

Nolan Arenado $35 ($40 value): After buying three of the first 16 players nominated I was determined to hold off, but 15 picks later the bidding stalled on Arenado. I bid $35, expecting to be topped, but I wasn’t. The only thing I can figure here is that folks are scared of a trade. I’m not scared of a trade. First of all, there’s no guarantee he’s going to plotz if he is traded. Sure, he’s been a much better hitter in Colorado than on the road, but it isn’t as if he’s been terrible on the road. Just an ordinary guy hitting .285, which right there isn’t an ordinary guy these days. Plus, he might not be traded. Plus, who knows how trades are going to go in this weird season. So, I’m willing to take something like an eight percent discount on the chance to have the best third baseman in the game. By far.

Will Smith $14 ($14 value): I’m a believer in Will Smith, so paying the ticket price just made sense. Smith wasn’t a top prospect most of the time coming up, but a look at his play through the minors showed plate judgment and growing power. I don’t see any reason why that should stall at this point. Might he be a low-average guy? Could be, but he walks more than nine percent of the time. His OBP may not be big, but for a guy with his power and quantitative stats, he’ll get on base enough to be much better than most catchers.

Wilson Ramos $13 ($17 value): Ramos is another one of my guys. Three-time Tout NL champion Mike Lombardo, who passed away recently, thought having two good catchers was the center of any winning strategy. Don’t overpay, but get good catchers he’d say, because a lot of teams are going to be playing with garbage. The homage wasn’t intentional, but very appropriate.

Reisel Iglesias $13 ($13 value): I hate buying closers, but when you plan on only buying one expensive starter you can’t afford to punt saves. Iglesias wasn’t quite as reliable last year as in the past, but the top-line numbers are more dramatically negative than the underlying ones. As with nearly all closers not called Mariano, pretty much a dart throw at a pretty good strikeout rate.

Yasiel Puig $5 ($3 value): That value is a little bogus. If you figured Puig was 50/50 to play in either AL or NL, he’d have an $11 value in both leagues. But that’s complicated by the fact that he hadn’t signed when ST camp ended. So there’s some chance he won’t play at all in the majors this year. Calling that a 50/50 shot seems fair, which means his real value should have been $5.50. Not a great bargain, but a little one, and if he does land in the NL he should be a great profit center.

Mike Moustakas $22 ($22 value): I was getting nervous about shortstops, that’s why I bought Moustakas (one of my guys) here. The real guy I wanted was Corey Seager, who was the next guy nominated after Puig. He’s another of my guys. He even went cheap, for $21 ($23 value), but I was feeling cash poor and didn’t pull the trigger on $22. 22 picks later I was feeling like I needed another bat, and when I could get Moustakas at my price I took it. He has valuable position flexibility, can cover corner or middle, so I wasn’t jamming myself up, and he’s moving to a good park. Might one be optimistic even?

Dylan Carlson $8 ($8 value): Taking another risky guy boom or bust guy here probably is a mistake. If either of them works out I’ll have a profit, but the chance neither of them will are good enough that a safer choice might have made more sense. But heck, you have to take chances to win, don’t you?

Mike Foltynewicz $12 ($12 value): I was hoping to pick off him or Dinelson Lamet as ($13 value) my No. 2, but I didn’t get to $13 first on Lamet so I settled for Folty. He had a great second half, which coming off injury may or may not mean something. But if he returns to 2018 form and luck I got him at about a 50 percent discount. That’s at the high end, but I think there’s a better than fair chance there’s profit here.

Ender Inciarte $6 ($6 value): There were better outfield bargains, but most cost more. Or I thought would cost more. Inciarte has a low price because he was awful last year while battling injuries and fighting for playing time, but he should play more this year and isn’t that old and gets on base, even if he doesn’t run as much as he did (though I hope he does). And most importantly was not that costly. I have a weird outfield, for sure, that’s really all I can say.

Freddy Galvis $7 ($7 value): Budget limited, I had to let my guy Dansby Swanson go for $17. This is going to happen in NL only, you can’t have great players at every position. Galvis has some power but he doesn’t walk much and his batting average isn’t going to be average, which makes him an OBP liability. On the other hand, he has some power which is more than can be said of the other guys I could have picked up. I had hopes of landing Johan Camargo, who would not get as many at bats but could be a more productive hitter, in the endgame. That didn’t work out, so there is work to do here.

Chris Archer $5 ($7 value): It hasn’t gone well for him in Pittsburgh, but he’s earned $7 the last two years. He strikes out more than a batter an inning. At this price I’m throwing darts.

AJ Pollock $7 ($14 value): Okay, here’s one of those outfield bargains I was talking about earlier. He’s not likely to see 500 plate appearances, but he projects out at $18 of earnings for me. LABR paid $13 and I should probably adjust my bid price down to $10 or so, still he’s a good price for a good player who could play more if there’s an injury or trade. Historically he has no platoon split.

Jon Lester $2 ($4 value): Veteran grit, of course, and he’s earned $12, $16 and $7 the last three years. It could be the end of the line, he’ll be on a short leash, but he’ll also be looking to prove something. That he’s ageless.

Wade Davis $2 ($4 value): A second closer? Maybe. Scott Oberg went for $2 as well, to Tristan Cockcroft. One of us might be right.

Sean Newcomb $2 ($4 value): There’s a reason he’s only $2. He doesn’t have the big strikeout pitch, he’s been better in relief than as a starter. He’s also a good age to make some change that either wins him the starting role or not. The bet here is maybe.

Dollar Days:

Dominic Smith: I needed a first baseman. I know, I know. Smith has real upside if he can find at bats.

Jose Osuna: Technically $2 because he was on my mind in my first base misery and I clicked +1 when I shouldn’t have. Not as much talent as Smith, and no greater chance to play. A mistake, my mistake.

Brian Dozier: He hit 20 homers last year and he walks a lot. Discounted because his batting averages are bad and he has no path to obvious at bats.

Tony Gonsolin: Talented arm in a crowded rotation. Not a huge strikeout guy, but throws ground balls. Could be Ross Stripling, if only Ross Stripling wasn’t still on the team.

Touki Toussaint: Talented arm in a crowded rotation, was terrible as a starter in Triple-A last year and not much better in relief in the big leagues. But he’s young and he’ll always have 2018.

Of course I like my team!

The bones are good, the talent for the most part young and exciting or middle aged and moving into good situations. The big risks are having no first baseman, three risky outfielders, and a lot of arms with some pedigree, but one or two of the five will have to step up. But it’s a long season, unless it turns out to be a short one, and this is the price to pay for having some top talent.

So, we wait.

The 2020 Roto-Regs Draft is Over.

Back in the bad old days of the internet, when AskRotoman had a bulletin board visited by hundreds, before spam and malicious interlopers wrecked it, the regulars at the bulletin board formed a funny league. Funny because the format was different than other leagues.

For one, 20 teams. But only nine hitters (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF, UT) and seven pitchers. A good man named Steve ran the league for a number of years. My memory is that the first year I finished second, and I’ve done worse every year since.

Actually, after the bulletin board was no more (I pulled the plug, sadly) the Regs league went on hiatus, but our friend Tim McLeod has revived it and I had my second new era draft last night.

You can see the results here. I’m not sure how transferable they are. Pitchers flew off the board because each round is so long you never know if the best ones will get back to you. Maybe that’s how we play now, or maybe it reflects these peculiar rules. In either case, it was a fun time.

Historical Picks and Pans: A correction

In this year’s Fantasy Baseball Guide 2020 (out now!), we received some bonus Picks and Pans from longtime contributor Kevin Cook and his son Cal. The Cooks imagined the Hall of Fame cases for Shoeless Joe Jackson, Pete Rose and Barry Bonds, written as Picks and Pans. I liked the idea so much I included them in the Guide’s editor’s letter. And I hoped that readers would come up with their own, which we would publish here.

That hasn’t happened, but I did hear from a reader named Steven McPherson, who knows a thing or two about the Eight Men Out. He wrote:

In regards the arguments made for Joe Jackson belonging in the Hall of Fame in the Letter from the Editor in The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2020.  It states “he handled 30 chances without an error and threw out five baserunners.”

You are mistaken.  He was credited with 16 put outs and one assist.  The assist occurred in the sixth game when Jackson threw out Cincinnati second sack Morrie Rath at the plate in the fourth inning.  The play-by-play in the Spaulding’s Official Base Ball Guide reads:

“Rath tried to score on Daubert’s short fly to Jackson.  He was doubled at the plate as he slid into Schalk and knocked the little catcher over.”

In fact, a photo in the same publication suggests that Jackson made a poor throw up the first-base line, forcing Schalk to retrieve the poor throw and then dive back towards home plate into Rath’s flying spikes to make the tag.  Great effort by the catcher who was not involved in the fixing of the Series.

BTW, the number of putouts by Jackson are meaningless anyway since, for example, in one inning he could misplay or misjudge five flyballs and still make three putouts.

I think Jackson probably did give his best effort in most of his plate appearances because he was, after all, playing for next year’s salary; however, it should not be overlooked that he did not run the bases particularly well: he was thrown out at least once trying to steal, doubled off at least twice after failing to tag up, and fell down at lest twice trying to advance on the bases.

Additionally, his public and legal versions of events changed radically so much so that in 1923 the Judge in his civil trial charged him with perjury.

In his 1920 Grand Jury testimony, he stated he had been promised $20,000 and received only $5,000 for his part in the fix.

FYI, you might enjoy the link below.  There are also references to more updated research on this subject at this link.

Steve

PS- I agree with the takes on Barry Bonds and Pete Rose.

I know there are competing views about Shoeless Joe, so I forwarded Kevin Steve’s letter. He wrote back:

He’s right about the assists–that’ll teach me to accept a stat on Wikipedia. But putouts aren’t the same as chances handled. There were hits he fielded cleanly that he could have booted. I should certainly have been more careful about throwing out five baserunners, an awfully high number; I still think Joe still belongs in the Hall.

So there, an acceptance of a correction and a refutation. The debate will doubtless continue. Maybe it’s time for me to develop an opinion.

ASK ROTOMAN: A Keeper Question

I’m in a 12 team auction keeper league with 30-man roster. We are allowed to keep up to seven players. Each year a player is kept his salary goes up $5. We can keep a player for a max three yrs. This year’s salary is in parentheses. Out of the following players who would you keep. M Chapman(11), P Dejong(13), V Robles(18), E Jimenez(11), J Luzzardo(14), T Glanow(12), S Bieber(15), j lucchesi(11), N Senzel(12), J James(11), J Villar(16).

First off, if salaries go up $5 a year, I don’t see why you have a three year limit. The idea of an escalating salary is that eventually the player becomes too expensive. This might happen in a year or two, usually, and for some surprising players it might not happen for four or five years. But it happens.

Get rid of the time limit. Reward teams who get in early on the right guys.

As far as your keeps, I’m assuming you’re using a S260 budget. The thing is in a 12 team mixed league the stars should go for a lot of money, and middling talents should go for a lot less. So I don’t see your list as choices between prices as much as choices between players.

You have some big talents, not all of them yet fully expressed. So, you have to keep Shane Bieber, Nick Senzel, Jonathan Villar, Jesus Luzzardo, Tyler Glasnow, Eloy Jimenez and Victor Robles. And you’re done.

Really. Chapman and Dejong had great years, are very good players, but they and more like them will once again go for $11 or $13 because we’ve seen their best and that’s what they’re worth in a deep league. They may be better this year than Senzel or Jimenez, but they’ll go cheaper in your auction. That’s what keepers are made out of.

Trade Talk

Q: Should I trade Mitch Garver for Dansby Swanson in a straight trade? Seems a little light to me. I have two other startable catchers.

A: I like Swanson. They both earned the same last year. Garver was a career year. Swanson, probably not. Better could come. Have no idea if you could do better for Garver, who did hit a ton of homers in limited AB, but if you can’t Swanson is a good match I think.


OUT NOW! The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2020

People are finding it in Barnes and Noble stores in New York City and Cincinnati, so it’s out there. 160 pages of fantasy baseball info, enough I hope to last you through all of a 2020 season that will answer a lot of questions we have about home runs and strike outs.

More than 30 fantasy experts, people whose online columns you read, podcasts you listen to, radio shows you follow, Twitter feeds you devour, folks you mostly know, have written hundreds of Picks and Pans. They are funny, perceptive, opinionated, and sometimes right!

We (mostly Rob Blackstien, HC Green, Jeff Zimmerman and Rotoman) profile more than 1400 players, so that when you want to know something about a callup or a trade, there’s a good chance we’ll have an answer.

The Guide also features a Top 30 Rookies column, with extra sleeper prospect picks, and JD Bolick’s Unheralded column, which each season has pointed out non-prospects who have gone on to have major league impact that year.

Plus, a great group of fantasy experts gathers in November for our mock draft, and helps us by writing comments on why they made their picks. It’s a fun time for us, and a trove of fantasy baseball opinion by some of the game’s best writers.

Plus there’s more! We hope you enjoy.