Ask Rotoman: Dynasty Keeper Cut One


I am in a daily head-to-head dynasty league. This year we cut the number of minor leaguers we can keep from 5 to 3. I have Jo Adell, Joey Bart, Dylan Cease, Keibert Ruiz, and Nick Senzel.

I prefer Bart over Ruiz, and since both are catchers, I think Ruiz is out.

The question is do I cut Adell, Senzel, or Cease? My concern is based on what position Senzel might wind up at. Thoughts?

“Senzelbility or Surcease?”

Dear S-squared:

Given his age, his tools, his proven skills, and did I mention his age(?), Jo Adell is a Dynasty player to own. He’s not likely to see the majors this year, might not see them in 2020, but he could if he keeps mashing. I wouldn’t drop him.

Which brings us to Senzel and Cease and your concern about Senzel’s position.

First off, Senzel is the better prospect. Just is. A good hitter is always a better prospect than a good pitcher because not as many hitting prospects fall apart in the majors, plus the injury risk.

And Senzel is expected to start the year in the majors, or, you know, sometime a little later so the Reds gain an extra year of control, while Cease may get a call up but he may not.

As to position, Senzel is likely a second baseman as the season starts. The Reds are talking about having him play in center field. That dings his value a bit, especially if you’re in a 10-team league, but that’s in the future. For now you have some second base goodness coming (or here), and Senzel is such a polished hitter he’s likely to start strong and get stronger.

That’s Senzelble.


The Gift of Our First African Baseball Player

Screenshot 2017-05-09 00.06.26Tyler Kepner tells a pretty good story about Gift Ngoepe (en-GO-epe), the first African to play in the major leagues. He’s a slick fielding infielder from South Africa who was promoted last week by the Pirates, who have nurtured him through their system for the past nine years. Nicely, the story suggests.

You should read the story, because it is a good story, because Ngoepe is charming, because his mother was a saint and so she suffered (and died), because he worked with Barry Larkin in Italy, because he’s a great fielder, apparently, (and a bad hitter, but off to a hot start with the bat in the majors).

And maybe because it’s helpful to hear some of the details of how some person got to that point. Kepner tells a good story. Even if you didn’t care about baseball you might like this one.



ANNOUNCING: Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Football Prospects 2014

Bolicks Football 2014 v3 cover 400wideThe iBook version of Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Football Prospects 2014 is available now. Click here to buy for $1.49.

The Kindle version is out now! You can buy it here for $1.49.

The pdf version is now live. Also $1.49.

[purchase_link id=”3198″ style=”button” color=”blue” text=”Purchase” direct=”true”]

(If you own the Fantasy Football Guide 2014, see below for how you can obtain a free version of Bolick’s Guide. It contains scores of profiles of

  • Quarterbacks
  • Running Backs
  • Wide Receivers
  • Tight Ends.

Read moreANNOUNCING: Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Football Prospects 2014

Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Baseball Prospects 2014 on sale at Google Play store, now!

bolickbaseball2014 coverJust released through the Google Play store, which serves up an Android mobile version, and files that can be read on eReaders and in web browsers, now discounted to just $2.28!

Okay, you already know about Tanaka, but do you want to know what JD Bolick thinks about Gregory Polanco, Oscar Taveras, Noah Syndergaard and all the hot prospects slated to come up in the coming months? They’re all here, with fantasy implications highlighted.

Also available through Apple’s iBook store and for the Amazon Kindle.

Ask Rotoman: What price the good Polanco?

Dear Rotoman:

I want to pick up Gregory Polanco before someone else grabs him. If he comes up and is decent I can keep him for 1/3 espn auction value for 2015. (3 year average is calculated from $0 + $0 + ESPN estimated price.) to grab him I have to drop one of my outfielders, we start 5. Who should I drop or should I leave Polanco for someone else?

J. Ellsbury – not dropping
B. Harper – in DL spot

C. Blackmon
C. Yelich
S. Victorino
C. Crisp
J. Heyward – leaning towards dropping him due to slow start

Much appreciated!
“Keeper Heaven”

Dear KH:

First off, and everybody should listen up, if you’re going to ask a keeper question you should give prices. It’s really hard to properly weigh a situation without the facts.

I’m assuming that The Good Polanco at one-third his FAAB price is going to be a good deal next year. But how good? Without the prices of your other guys, I can only guess.

For instance, how does Polanco’s projected keeper price compare to Heyward’s? I happen to love Heyward’s potential, but he’s still a child in a game played by mostly men, and he has done little to deserve that love. But hey, Love never asks.

Heyward is off to a slow start, but he’s getting on base, even though his BA stinks. He’s running more, and successfully, and his power numbers are in line with batting leadoff. Depressed. Which is what he’s been doing, and which hurts roto players who expected big power.

What isn’t in line with his performance or future expectations is his runs scored. Those are down now, for no apparent reason, and should grow as we go along, as long as he bats leadoff for the Braves. And given everything else, his batting average should be in the .250 range, which would put his OBP above .350. The runs will come.

But how much did he cost you? I don’t know, which matters in so far as you might keep him next year (or play him this year). If the answer is negative on both counts, you don’t really care how much he bounces back. He’s your second reserve outfielder and he’s kind of costly. Polanco may not be any better this year, but he’ll be way cheaper. It doesn’t matter what either do now, it seems, what matters is next year.

I’ll remind you, I’m mind reading here, but if that’s the case I would try to trade Heyward. You may think he stinks, but my guess is if I was in your league I’d want him more than my fifth outfielder. I might not give you much, depending on his future price, but something is better than nothing.

And then, if I stopped being my Heyward-acquiring self, and I was you, I’d make a reasonable bid to acquire Polanco. You don’t need him. He’s probably not going to help you this year. He might help you next year, but that’s not a guarantee. The cheaper you can get him the more value he’ll have for you going forward. Which is a reason not to bid too aggressively.

And if you lose him? Then you still have Jason Heyward, unless you already traded him to me. Hmm, this is getting complicated. You can sort out the timing, here’s the takeaway.

Heyward is doing his team a favor leading off, but is far better suited to batting fifth, where he can beat the hide off the baseball. And let his BA go to hell. So maybe he’s not in line to earn the way he did a couple years ago.

Gregory Polanco emerged last year as a minor league fave. He’s killing it in Triple-A this year, with a 1.070 OPS. My usual thing about minor leaguers versus major leaguers is to point out that at Polanco’s age today Heyward had already hit 70 major league homers. So, the rule of thumb is, don’t overreach for prospects.

But Polanco is a real talent who makes better contact than Heyward, but doesn’t walk as much. More importantly, he may end up in an RBI role in Pittsburgh, which suits him (and probably helps your team more). And the Pirates have every reason to promote him once he gets past the Super Two date, probably in early June.

Assuming he’s reasonably cheap, that makes him a keen pickup. And I use the keen adjective enthusiastically.

Not placidly,



ASK ROTOMAN: The Rich Get Richer


6×6, 8-team head-to-head categories league.  I just got Jose Reyes back from the DL, so who should I drop from the following:

Jose Altuve ($23)
Chase Utley ($17)
Dee Gordon ($7)
George Springer ($10)

“Reyes of Light”

Dear RoL:

Oh, the agony of the shallow league. I’m not going to address 6×6 and Head to Head issues, since you don’t specify categories and H2H mostly ups the randomness of winning and losing rather than adding any strategic nuance.

The numbers in the parentheses above are what those players were going for in preseason auctions. Jose Reyes, by the way, went for $25 or so. So, the obvious answer would be to drop Gordon., but I can understand your reluctance. He’s already stolen 10 bases and while he isn’t going to continue to hit .365, if he hits .270 on the year he’s going to steal a lot of bases.

Jose Altuve is off to a solid start, making him one of the best second basemen in the game, so it’s hard to drop him, and Chase Utley is off to a monster start and has more power than Altuve, Gordon and Reyes, so you have to hold onto him.

Which leaves Springer as the odd man out. He was the surprise promotion last week, and there is a lot of excitement about him because he has a nice power/speed combo. There are also serious questions about his contact rate, and he’s struck out five times in 15 plate appearances already—on track with his Triple-A numbers, which could prove a problem.

One of the agonies of playing in a shallow league is deciding between excellent or exciting players. If Springer goes on to hit 15 homers this year, you may look back and wish you’d kept him rather than Dee Gordon, but at this point Springer’s risk of failure is high enough I think you have to go with the speedy middle infielder.



Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Baseball Prospects, Out on iBooks!

bolickbaseball2014 coverIt took a while, but Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Baseball Prospects is now available on iBooks, for the iPhone and iPad.

Read more about the book at or go directly to the iBook Store.

Introducing: Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Baseball Prospects

bolickbaseball2014 coverJD Bolick has been writing rookie and draft analysis for the Baseball and Footaball Guides since shortly after the beginning.

He came to me this year and wanted to do a Rookie Guide for Fantasy Baseball Prospects that we might sell as an eBook and other formats.

We didn’t get this together until too late in March, and then it turned out that Apple and Amazon add their own delays, so we’re just appearing today.

You can find the eBook for Kindle here. You can Look Inside the book there and get a taste of it. There are also sample profiles at

There will be an Apple version soon, I hope. They seem to take longer to approve. And I’m going to post a pdf version here, in case you don’t want to go through the big stores.

If you didn’t buy because of the price or any other reason, please let us know at askrotoman (at) If there is anything you would like to see added, send that to that email address, too.

I think we have a great first draft, hitting the stands too late. But you should be able to tell most of what you need to know by the preview Inside the Book at Amazon. We want to get your $3 next time.


PLAYING TIME: Seattle’s Shortstops

Screenshot 2014-03-13 08.41.57When the Mariners added Robinson Cano as a free agent this past winter, they forced one of their top prospects, Nick Franklin, from the position he seemed likely to hold onto for the foreseeable future. For all intents and purposes, this set up a battle for shortstop between the team’s top two middle infield prospects.

Brad Miller is the older of the two and had the better rookie season. He’s got a good eye, makes good contact and stepped up into the majors with only a small hit to his walk rate last year. He’s also played more shortstop than Franklin.

Franklin stumbled in the majors last year, hitting .225. He was able to draw walks in the majors, but his contact rate took a big hit and his batting average crashed. But even his minor league contact rates trailed Miller’s. Franklin has more power, however, he hit 12 homers last year, and might end up getting on base as much as Miller once he adjusts to big league pitching. The question is whether he’ll get the chance this year.

There are a few possibilities here and one could burn a lot of pixels over the backs and forths of the arguments, most of which end up with the logical conclusion that two bodies cannot exist in the same space. The bottom line is that last year Miller’s bat was ready, Franklin’s was not. Both are having strong springs, which makes this all clear as mud, but the course that makes more baseball sense is to give Miller—the older more established candidate—the job, send Franklin down for more seasoning, and see what happens.

If Franklin gets off to a hot start maybe there’s a trade to be had, or an injury will change all the conditions. If Miller stumbles, a team that has struggled to get prospects started on the road to their self realization as major league regulars (I’m not just blowing Smoak here), will have Franklin and Willie Bloomquist to fall back on.

That seems like the most likely way to get everyone in place to succeed.


Dear Rotoman:

Jose Abreu gets hit by a TON of pitches.  How much more valuable does that make him in a OBP-instead-of-Avg league?


Dear A:

José_Dariel_Abreu_on_March_9,_2013One thing we don’t know is how many pitches Jose Abreu will be hit by in the major leagues. In 2010-11 he was hit 21 times in Cuba, which ranked fourth in the league. Considering he led the league in hitting and slugging and tied for the most homers (with Yoenis Cespedes), fourth doesn’t seem like a lot.

But let’s look at what it means to be hit a lot by major league pitchers. Last year the leader in the category was Shin-Soo Choo, who was plunked 26 times, followed by Starling Marte (24) and  Shane Victorino (18).

But as a percentage of plate appearances Marte led all of baseball last year, getting hit in 4.2 percent. He made a hit in 25.2 percent of his plate appearances and walked in 4.4 percent, so getting hit by a pitch represents one seventh of his on base value.

This compares with the average batting title qualifier, who made a hit in 24.4 percent of his appearances, walked 8.5 percent of the time, and was hit by a pitch 0.8 percent of the time (or about one thirty-third of his on base value).

There are two ways to look at this.

One seventh is 14 percent, a small but measurable part of a player’s value. Let’s say a hitter was worth $20, $4 in each of the five cats. One seventh of $4 would reduce his value in OBP from $4 to $3.42, or $3. His total value would be $19, not $20, which seems small but represents a five percent decline.

The other way is to note that the average player is hit about one percent of the time. Someone who gets hit like Marte is hit about five time more often, so he gets five times more value than players who don’t get hit. For someone like Marte, who doesn’t walk that much, the HBP boosts his OBP up to the average level for a batting title qualifier.

Either way, it matters, but isn’t a game changer.

One final thought about those HBP. In discussing them above, I treated them as if the choice was between a HBP or an out, but clearly some HBP would lead to bases on balls, and some bases on balls for a regular player might become a HBP for a player who crowds the plate or tends to dive in on the delivery. That narrows the difference some, and reduces the expected value of our most prolific guys with a talent for getting hit (not hits).

ron-hunt-hitWe don’t know if Juan Abreu is going to be Starling Marte or Shin-Soo Choo. He probably won’t be Mark Trumbo, who had the most at bats with no HBP last year in the major leagues, and he could turn out to be Ron Hunt, who holds the modern record for most HPB in a season. That would be 50 in 1971, which represented 7.8 percent of his plate appearances!

That was 20 percent of his on base value that year. Let’s consider that the ceiling, at least until we get to see Abreu play regularly.