ASK ROTOMAN: Keeper Question Involving Power


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,

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.




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.


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.


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?


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.



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.