From worst to first

Per Dan Beachler’s request, here is a “how I went from worst to first” post. I suppose technically I wasn’t worst last year, and by head-to-head record I wasn’t first in 2017 either. (I was first in points!) But hey, here we are.

I should preface this by pointing out what should already be obvious: there’s a ton of luck involved in fantasy sports. Even if you talk fantasy sports a lot, for example, you’re going to find that you won’t uncover all the answers.

I thought the team I assembled in 2016 would compete. Then, Miguel Cabrera (.340 wOBA in April/May) and Joey Votto (.276 wOBA in April/May) started painfully slow. They were supposed to be my offensive anchors. Tyson Ross, a 32.52 points per game starter in 2015, got hurt in his first start and missed the season. Carlos Carrasco, my best pitcher, missed all of May. Sonny Gray turned into a pumpkin. Alex Rodriguez had a .293 wOBA in April/May. Of the first seven guys I won at our inaugural auction, only Johnny Cueto was good or even useful through the season’s first six weeks or so.

All of that is blind, dumb luck. I don’t control injuries. I don’t control Votto, one of the best hitters of our generation, hitting like Jose Peraza for over a month.

I certainly left money on the table that first auction and probably relied too heavily on boring, useful bench types as starters. I legitimately thought a cheap Trevor Plouffe was an acceptable starting 3B option. I thought I could platoon the White Sox catchers last year, an idea that played out so poorly I may as well have just played the year without a catcher slot. But mostly, my team went bust in 2016 because of random stuff that could happen to anybody. Even if they’d all stayed healthy and produced early, I probably wouldn’t have been a great team. But because that stuff did happen, I decided in May to start reworking my team by trading Cabrera and Gray for picks and prospects. That was the first step in climbing out of the cellar and to the top…

Step 1: The Miguel Cabrera/Sonny Gray trade

Sending Miggy and Gray to the Preseason Double Stuffs for Cody Bellinger, Ian Happ, Brett Phillips, Jorge Soler, and draft capitol is really what ignited my team into 2017. Bellinger, as a rookie, hit at a 1.737 points per plate appearance clip for me at a $0 cost. That’s elite production. Again, I can’t control that Bellinger hit. But he did and it helped.

The one thing I will say is, I targeted prospects that I thought would debut in 2017. Because (a) my team sucked in 2016, so if they debut and their clock starts, that’s a ding in value; and (b) points now are better than points later. I’m not super interested in an 18-year-old prospect in Single A when there’s a comparable 22-year-old prospect on the cusp of the majors. In the case of this specific trade, the Double Stuffs happened to have a few near-MLB guys that fit the bill. And I love Ian Happ, so. Obviously, there’s no science involved. The Cubs could’ve promoted Happ last year. The Dodgers could’ve called Bellinger up in September. I can’t control that stuff either. But I do think it’s possible to hedge within reason and if your goal is to get better quickly, you won’t do it with teenagers unless you’re using them exclusively as trade currency.

Happ, Soler, and the draft pick acquired from the Double Stuffs — which I assumed would suck but became the second overall pick — didn’t score me a ton, really. I did have Happ in my lineup 25 times at 5.76 points per game, so that’s pretty good. But 25 starts isn’t swinging things much one way or another. But these pieces ended up helping later on.

My other big trade was swapping Cueto for JP Crawford, Aaron Judge, and a first round pick. More on Judge in the step below. But also, damn, I had and traded Judge. Frowny face.

I should note here also that not going full scale blow-up mode helped. Hanging onto Votto and Carrasco is as big a reason as any that my team got good. The offers I got for these players were, frankly, pitiful, so that made things easy. But I could have very easily dumped them for picks and lukewarm prospects and gone into auction with $350 or whatever. I’m glad I didn’t.

Step 2: Acquiring good veterans from over-budget teams for picks and prospects at below market rates

I think this was more impactful to my team than Bellinger. Because I “tanked” the season, I was able to build up a solid minor league system and a nice cache of draft picks. But picks and prospects rarely score points. So in the off-season, when teams way over budget shopped quality veteran players, I cashed out some of those assets and bought. And because I’d sucked so badly that I had loaded up on picks and prospects, selling some didn’t mean leaving the cupboard bare.

I acquired a way overpriced Andrew McCutchen for Soler, Travis d’Arnaud, Billy Hamilton, and I think a second round pick. Cutch mostly bounced back in 2017 (1.438 PT/PA), thankfully. I couldn’t have controlled that either, but I’m comfortable betting on a player with an elite track record. It paid off. I think that’s the key to a quick rebuild. If you’ve got budget space, use it ahead of auction and buy low to lock in a guy you think can bounce back. I think budget space is worth much more pre-auction than during auction, when you’re left picking through the risky players no one wanted. I also think if your team sucks like mine did but you want to quickly improve, you need to gamble. You need to overpay a guy or two and hope for a return to form. Also, you won’t likely have an opportunity to buy a recently elite talent at auction. And if you do, there may only be one or two of those guys, so you’ll have competition.

I also bought Russell Martin for a second round pick. Martin’s another efficient, boring veteran player. But my catcher position was the worst in the league in 2016. Martin helped fixed that.

One other trade was working a three-way swap with The Foundation and Hustle Loyalty Respect that effectively landed me Neil Walker and the 16th overall pick for the 4th overall pick. HLR used the pick to take Blake Rutherford, who I think got hurt. I took Franklin Perez with the 16th pick. Today, I think Perez is more valuable than Rutherford, though to be fair, Rutherford got hurt. Even if Rutherford’s more valuable, they’re both top-100 guys. To me, any difference is negligible. But even if Rutherford hadn’t gotten hurt, there’s no chance he (or whichever other available prospect) was scoring at a 1.338 PT/PA clip like Walker did, and doing so right now. Points now > points later, and prospects are fickle, so the guy who goes 4th and the guy who goes 16th could very easily switch fortunes over a single season. At the time, I just felt like I was slightly downgrading a prospect in exchange for making a big upgrade to my current 2B spot, which was a big weakness in 2016.

Then I acquired Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre, who presumably had affordable prices because of their age and their team’s budget situation. Again, if you’ve got budget space, attacking the trade market is worth it. Beltre cost me Amed Rosario, an elite prospect, but that’s really where stacking prospects in 2016 helped. Having JP Crawford meant feeling more comfortable shipping out Rosario.

Of course, both those old dudes could’ve fallen apart. But my team was garbage in 2016. If they did fall apart, oh well, I’m in the cellar again in 2017 and then I just cut those guys and have the cap space back. But there weren’t hitters this good in the auction (granted at the time of the trades, the auction pool was a mystery), or at least players less risky. The highest paid hitters at auction were Adam Jones, Adrian Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Lorenzo Cain. There’s some hindsight present, of course, but I’m not sure pre-auction anyone would’ve honestly felt like any of those guys were better, more efficient hitters than Cruz or Beltre. If you’re cool with a multi-year rebuild, by all means, ignore trading for old dudes like this. But I think it’s prudent to do it if you want to try winning money instead of just sinking money into a multi-year plan.

I also traded Judge for Matt Holliday, and that proved very stupid. In Holliday, I saw a one-year rental with a Giancarlo Stanton-esque batted ball profile and a cheap ($10) salary. I ended up starting Holliday 57 times for 5.9 points per game, so while he didn’t go bonkers like Judge did, he did help the cause. And with regards to Judge, his 2017 season was something I don’t think anyone saw coming. I offered him to several teams and no one bit. I had to include Grant Holmes along with Judge to secure Holliday. So yeah, sometimes trading prospects for vets will backfire, but in general I think it’s a solid, less risky strategy. I’d be curious what Dan thought he was getting with Judge when he made this trade, especially since I know he’s an old guy lover as well.

One thing I’m curious to see this off-season is if over budget teams continue selling their guys short to “get something instead of nothing,” or if teams feel more comfortable dumping to auction. Cruz was had for Dan Vogelbach and a first round pick. I liked Vogelbach as a prospect and obviously Team Hydra did too, but in retrospect, might those guys have figured out a way to keep Cruz’s bat? Or might they have been better sending him to auction and seeing if maybe they could buy him back cheaper? I’m not convinced giving teams discounts on good players is effective, even if the alternative is cutting and “getting nothing.”

Step 3: Not screwing up the auction

I notoriously left like $21 on the table at our first auction. But I also made some awful bids. Buying into A-Rod’s resurgence was dumb. I came away from auction with two 1B’s and ¬†UT player, effectively destroying all my lineup flexibility.

I did a lot better, I think, with my buys in 2017, adding Jaime Garcia, Francisco Cervelli, Lucas Duda, Chris Owings, Ryan Zimmerman, and Charlie Morton.

Once again, luck played a role here. I didn’t expect almost 900 points from a $1 Zimmerman. I liked his batted ball profile, but come on. I also didn’t think Morton would be more than a back-end starter, and he ended up being my most consistent pitcher and a solid SP2. I didn’t even want him. It just ended up being the end of the auction, he was the last starting pitcher available, and I wasn’t leaving money on the table again. Owings filled multiple crucial positions for only $8. I overpaid for Cervelli at $17, but he was a nice compliment to Martin because, again, my catcher spot needed help.

The thing about the auction is, all the players are supremely risky. Teams will find ways to keep or trade “sure things.” And so if you rely too heavily on auction, you’re lending yourself to luck. If Morton and Garcia don’t give me quality starts, my auction stinks and my team suffers. But I started Morton 21 times at 30.43 points per start and Garcia 14 times at 24.04.

But hey, guess what? Matt Harvey, Drew Smyly, Jordan Zimmermann, Collin McHugh, Carlos Rodon, Felix Hernandez, Garrett Richards, Francisco Liriano, and Shelby Miller were all in the same auction. At the time, not sure how any of those guys were too different from Morton and Garcia. I got lucky the guys I won didn’t injure their arms. I got lucky my darts landed where they did. I mean, I wanted Liriano really bad and just screwed up my bid on auction day. Bullet dodged. Blind, dumb luck.

The lesson here, maybe, is to just give yourself fewer dart throws to botch. Acquire talent you have conviction about pre-auction rather than finding yourself in a spot where your money is going to Shelby Miller or Francisco Liriano, and you’re totally uninspired either way. Your mileage may vary, of course. Having a bunch of money at auction is fun, if nothing else.

Step 4: I love you, Giancarlo Stanton

As part of that Cabrera/Gray trade, I secured the second overall pick in last year’s draft. I took Nick Senzel. I like him a whole lot. But I love Giancarlo Stanton and his moonshot home runs. And so in mid-May, I landed Big G for Senzel, Blake Snell, and a future first round pick.

From May 11 forward, Stanton was the third-highest scoring hitter behind Votto and Charlie Blackmon. As much as I like Senzel, you simply have to trade guys like him for elite production now. It helps that Stanton finally stayed healthy, but even if he hadn’t, we all know what he does when he is. In our format, he is an elite fantasy producer on a rate basis. It was a no-brainer for me.

As for Snell, well, I like him still, but if I wanted to win this year I knew I couldn’t sit around waiting and hoping that he learns how to throw strikes and pitch deep into games. The downside to young pitchers is they sometimes are slow to put everything together. If next year Snell’s awesome and cheap, oh well. I’ll still be happy with several mammoth months of Giancarlo.

Step 5: Keep on buying stuff that helps

During the course of the season, once I saw that my team was pretty good, I just kept trying to add. In a series of deals, I sent prospects Corey Ray, Albert Abreu, Julio Urias, Happ, and Jake Faria off for the likes of Max Scherzer, Miggy, JA Happ, Jason Vargas, and Danny Salazar. All those moves did not pan out.

Reunited on my team, I slotted Miggy into my lineup 31 times and he scored at a 2.61 point per game rate. That’s abysmal. Despite his highest hard hit rate since 2014 and the best line drive rate of his career, Miggy gave me nothing. He performed worse than any random bench player I already had, in fact. In Urias, I paid little. But I felt like I had to take the gamble. I expect Miggy to get his back right this off-season and return to an elite level in 2018. He reminds me a whole heck of a lot like McCutchen last year. His price seems way too high (he’ll get a raise to $75), but how can you easily bet against one of the best hitters the game has seen in the last decade plus? Like, would you really rather two $35 lottery tickets at auction (in the 2017 auction, Adrian Gonzalez + Carlos Rodon = $76) than one player a single injury-hampered season removed from being an elite hitter?

Meanwhile, Happ was a fantastic addition for me, scoring 28.04 points a game in 14 starts. I started Salazar seven times for more than 30 points per start. Scherzer didn’t do much for me in the playoffs, but in total, he logged six starts at 32.67 a pop. Net total, these were good, albeit short-term, trades for my team. Corey Ray wasn’t scoring me 392.5 points like Happ did. Albert Abreu didn’t drop a 65 point start on my roster like Salazar.

Again though, these trades could look brutal in just a few months. What if Scherzer gets hurt? What if Urias overcomes his injury? What if Ray ascends and JA Happ grows old quick? I don’t know. But I think if you’re in a spot to seize a chance to win now, you need to be okay with these types of calculated risks.

The other thing to note is that the in-season trades didn’t necessarily have a ton to do with going worst to first. The Stanton trade, sure. The other trades just bolstered a team that had been mostly assembled in the off-season.

In closing…

I think the biggest reason my team got it’s shit together so quickly was simply putting in the work to do it. When a good player became available, I asked for a price tag. When I saw a team was way over their budget, I inquired about expensive players with good track records. I wasn’t too worried about riskiness because well, my team was a dumpster fire. Getting worse than bad isn’t much of a risk. Staying worse, and paying into a league to not even try to fight for wins now, seems way riskier to me. I placed the highest value on today and worried less about if the prospect I’m sending away will be a fantasy monster in 2021 (or in Judge’s case, 2017) or if all the old guys will decide to retire simultaneously.

Clearly, there’s a strategy to this game. If there wasn’t, we probably wouldn’t play. What’d be the point?

But ultimately you only control so much. I think the only way to really approach things is to give yourself the best hand possible and hope for the best. In hold ’em poker, a 2/7 will beat a K/K, for example, some of the time. But the odds say more often than not, the stronger hand will prevail. So I just tried to do stuff that I thought made my hand stronger, then accepted all the luck I could get.

Trade: We Talk Fantasy Sports | Capital City Ironmen

We Talk Fantasy Sports send: 3B Adrian Beltre ($32)
Capital City Ironmen send: SS Amed Rosario (minors), 3B Jhonny Peralta ($10), SP Martin Perez ($3), SP Charlie Morton ($5)

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†I really love Adrian Beltre. I do not know who¬†Amed Rosario is. I could look up these players. But what I see is three fringe keeper players for a lock at 3B at a reasonable price. The prospect could be whatever.

There’s no doubt that if I’m Bailey I’m pulling the trigger on this trade. Beltre’s production in my opinion is harder to acquire then the glimmer of hope the players returned offer in value. There’s plenty of waiver wire fodder for cheap available that could be good.

I get what WTFS is doing it, I just don’t love it. I feel like another month or two would have presented a better option.

Andrew’s defense:¬†The grandpa overhaul continues!

Amed Rosario is one of my favorite prospects and, as Mets fans, I assume WTFS feel the same. FanGraphs recently listed him as the 15th best prospect for fantasy heading into 2017. I would have liked to keep him and see what happens, but with Trevor Story and JP Crawford sitting on my roster, shortstop seemed like a depth spot to deal from.

I felt a big¬†need for a third baseman. It’s one of the deepest positions in fantasy right now and I¬†learned last year that if you don’t have someone good there, you’re really at a disadvantage. I don’t think there will be a lot of options to fill that spot at auction. I don’t envision Bryant or Arenado or Donaldson or Machado or Seager becoming available via trade, and if they did, the acquisition cost would be a lot higher I suspect.

At $32, Adrian Beltre seems like a good value to me, even if he’s about to turn 38. He went back over 30 homers last year after not eclipsing 20 in the previous two seasons, but even in a supposed “down” 2015 campaign he finished as a top-10 3B with a .337 wOBA. With or without high home run totals, he has as high a floor as anyone at the position and arguably of¬†any hitter, period.

For WTFS, this move converts a player facing off with Father Time into useful budget space, one of the better prospects in baseball, and some low cost depth pieces.

Dynasty Grinders Class-A All-Star Bats

Using our scoring system, I pulled all Class-A hitters stats from MILB.com to find out who has been dominating the league.

Just 10 of the top 50 hitters there are owned, including three by Hydra – Yoan Moncada, Bobby Bradley and Jorge Mateo.

TBD was the only other owner with more than one – Eloy Jimenez and Josh Ockimey.

The Cleveland Indians feature seven players in the top 50:

  • Greg Allen
  • Tyler Krieger
  • Nathan Lukes
  • Bobby Bradley
  • Yu-Cheng Chang
  • Connor Marabell
  • Francisco Mejia

Add those prospects to Bradley Zimmer, Clint Frazier and a handful of pitching prospects and the Indians are setup for a very successful future.

This is the farm system of a team that just won 14 games in row and sits 6.5 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers, in first place of the American League Central division.

Thanks to 40 doubles, yes 40, Brian Mundell has 20 more total bases than Eloy Jimenez, who is 2nd.  That, plus just 48 strikeouts = future major league hitter.

He was drafted out of college in the 2015 draft and at 22 years old could speed through the Rockies farm system.  It is also very likely that an American League team would love to have him as a DH.

HLR’s Travis Demeritte has hit 20 home runs but also has 105 strikeouts.¬† He has already served an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance and the Rangers moved him to 2B with Adrian Beltre and Joey Gallo ahead of him.¬† But now with the rise of Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar back, it could be a while before Demeritte finds a spot with the Rangers.¬† It wouldn’t surprise me to see him dealt at the deadline or this offseason.

a1-20 a21-40 a41-50

Every team’s most valuable one dollar player

Clayton Kershaw went for $117 — or 23.4% of a total team budget– at auction and was totally worth it. He’s that good. But there are a bunch of other players on the opposite end of the cost spectrum who have been good as well. Not Kershaw good, but good. And at $1, they’ve proven to be steals.

The cool thing about dollar players is that the team who nominated them can bask in all the credit. It’s not like a $20 player where five teams were in on the bidding but only one won and gets to look smart.

Here’s a quick look at each team’s best currently-rostered $1 player, starting from the top of our current standings and working down…

TEAM CANADA: SP Martin Perez – 273.5 points, SP53

Getting a borderline top-50 starting pitcher for a buck is just unreal value. His numbers aren’t particularly good though. He’s striking out just 5.43 batters per nine, walking 4.21, and has posted a FIP/xFIP slash of 4.39/4.59. Basically, he’s been super lucky and he’s getting by without particularly good stuff.

But hey, he costs a buck! As of this post, first place Team Canada has only started him three times, so he’s clearly not being relied on too heavily, which is exactly what you want for a guy like Perez.

HUSTLE LOYALTY RESPECT: LF/RF Seth Smith, 228.5 points, OF62

The Mariners’ platoon outfielder was the fourth-to-last player auctioned and at just $1, has rewarded Hustle Loyalty Respect handsomely. Smith has been in HLR’s lineup 14 times to date and has hit at a rate of 4.88 points per game in those opportunities, which is a better than league average clip. He’s a really good bench option.

TRUMPA LOOMPAS: 2B/3B/LF/RF Brandon Drury, 244.4 points, 2B18/3B22

Brandon Drury has thus far been one of the best values in the league. Not only has he hit the hell out of the ball, but he can play three positions. At the absolute worst, he’s a flexible bench player capable of being deployed on days where better players are out. But¬†the Loomps have started him 30 times this year, so he’s played his way into a key role.

Having said that, he’s only hit at a 2.68 points per game rate over the last two weeks. Even if he cools though, he’s still been worth every bit of that dollar investment and with all that positional eligibility, he can still deliver value even if he hits at right around replacement levels.

TBD: 3B Jake Lamb, 312 points, 3B11

Jake Lamb has been on my prospect radar for a while now, so it’s cool to see him getting playing time and making the most of it. For just a buck, TBD has gotten an every day third baseman that is currently outscoring Todd Frazier, Miguel Sano, Adrian Beltre, and Evan Longoria.

Like his Diamondbacks teammate Drury above, Lamb is certainly one of the best $1 buys and one of the better values of any dollar amount leaguewide.

TEAM HYDRA: SS Zack Cozart, 235.3 points, SS13

The shortstop position is no longer as weak as it was, so coming into this year there were a few savvy teams who opted to punt the position knowing that they could come away with a good option for cheap instead of paying a position premium. Hydra didn’t necessarily do that, as they dropped $23 on Marcus Semien at auction, but Cozart made him expendable and their team is better for it.

Cozart won’t wow you most weeks, but at such a negligible cost, he’s proved a really valuable piece to a team vying for a playoff spot.

BEACH BUM: 1B/LF, Hyun Soo Kim, 96.9 points, 1B62

Okay, I realize this looks bad. The Orioles’ international signee has barely played and, in fact, Dan just scooped him up from free agency after the owner who won him at auction opted to cut bait. But the reason he’s here is twofold.

First, there isn’t really a better option on this team. And second, if there’s one owner in this league who I think is capable of recognizing a potentially valuable player that can be had for free and then have the patience to sit on him, it’s Dan. Kim hits when he plays, it’s just a matter of opportunities. On this roster, there’s a good chance he’ll just linger until those opportunities present themselves, at which point value should follow.

THE WILFRED BRIMLEY FIGHTING DIABEETUSES: 2B/3B/SS Danny Espinosa, 172.9 points, SS27

Nothing to see here, move along.

THE FOUNDATION: SS Jean Segura, 298.3 points, SS8

Jean Segura has cooled off considerably from his hot start. Over the last 21 days, he’s been only the 31st ranked shortstop and is hitting at a below replacement level points per game clip. But the first few weeks to his season were insane, illustrating the potential that’s here. You could argue that Segura is the biggest reason The Foundation is 4-4 and not below .500, and in that regard he was definitely a dollar well spent.

WE TALK FANTASY SPORTS: SP Ubaldo Jimenez, 154 points, SP125

 

 


WHO’S YOUR HADDY?: RP Addison Reed, 81.7 points, RP24

Admittedly, it’s weird choosing a reliever. But the only other viable option here was Lonnie Chisenhall, and I actually like Reed more. I’m not a big believer in spending big to build a bullpen, so Reed is pretty much exactly what you want: a cheap guy that performs comparably to guys who are paid well. As a top-25 reliever, he’s tremendous value at a position where spending a lot doesn’t seem advisable.

LONG BALL TO LF: SP Mike Foltynewicz, 116 points, SP143

Mike Foltynewicz has only started six games and he hasn’t been particularly good overall, but four of those starts were quite good. Two of them were toxic. The former top prospect is young and still developing, so you need to be cautious about deploying him. In other words, if you’re using him as anything more than your emergency seventh starter, you’re probably not going to fare too well. But for a buck, I really like the risk and the potential for reward.

ROCKY MTN OYSTERS: 3B/LF Adonis Garcia, 91.1 points, 3B58

Nope.

CAPITAL CITY IRONMEN: LF/RF Michael Saunders, 304.1 points, OF24

Finally, it appears Michael Saunders is healthy. That’s always been his bugaboo. When on the field, he’s always performed well, though right now he’s experiencing a true renaissance. And at just 29-years-old, his low cost and great production suggests plenty of future surplus value as well.

IN LINE 4 THE WIN: N/A

This team does not have a single $1 player on it. That doesn’t mean they don’t have any good values. Just no good values for a buck.

SENIOR SQUIDS: N/A

Um… is this a trend? Remember, we’re going in standings order. Suffice to say, if you do not have a $1 player on your roster, period, you will lose. Let this be a lesson to you.

PRESEASON DOUBLE STUFFS: 1B John Jaso, 235.6 points, 1B29

John Jaso rules. Like Saunders above, he’s always been a really good player, he’s just struggled to stay healthy and put full seasons together. To date, his on-base percentage is a cool .369 and he’s a .362 guy for his career, so he’s basically just doing what he does. He lacks the power you want at 1B, probably, but when you’re walking a lot and barreling up base hits, you’ll take it. In fact, it’s the lack of power that makes guys like Jaso sneaky valuable in this league.

While teams are targeting the big home run hitters because they’re capable of dropping 30 point games, guys like Jaso, who will just quietly put up above average weeks without the long balls, will slip through the cracks.

2016 Auction Review – We Talk Fantasy Sports

We talk Fantasy Sports

wtfs

These guys talk fantasy sports and it shows. Their line up is solid, on the daily they should have good production from the offensive side of the ball. Without diving deep into it, clearly this team is the favorite for best bullpen. It might not be close for a dozen of the other teams. That will play out this season.

Hitting – Great

If you removed the names from this list and just looked at the numbers, you would probably see something closer to outstanding. However, I settled on great. Andrew McCutchen, Justin Upton and Chris Davis are all easy to pencil in for top five at their position. Adrian Beltre, Jason Heyward, Devin Mesoraco, and even Brandon Phillips could find themselves there at the end of 2016. The line up here is stacked with options. They found values here as well. That being said these guys have names. Chris Davis is what he is. Has been awesome, has been awful, which one did we get? Honestly at $46, he’s a candidate for steal of the draft. I love Beltre more than anyone else in this league, but he’s old even before you consider he was probably actually 18 when he got caught for being only 15 (great long con).

Pitching – Not quite

Can you believe it, the bullpen is bunching this rating up a notch. Craig Kimbrel, Ken Giles, Trevor Rosenthal and Jeurys Familia could expertly be shuffled to maximize those three spots in a way that all the other teams just can’t do. But that only goes so far. I love Taijuan Walker, but he’s still learning how to pitch. Raisel Iglesias is the hype man this year, will it pan out? Lots of things to like about Jordan Zimmermann (efficient innings eater), Michael Pineda (big game potential), Kyle Hendricks (trending towards good). The problem here just is, that there is five guys here you¬†would like to be your 3, maybe 2 in a pinch. Nobody here you really want to be your Ace or number two fantasy starter. Could that change? I hope so, go Tai Walker.

Depth – Good

I like the 4th bullpen option a lot. The bench guys at the starting pitcher spot could all spot start just fine. Even the hitters are¬†well filled out. He’s covered at every position likely three or four deep. That says a lot when skimming each day for as many points as possible without having to expose players to the waiver wire. I like what I see. This team has the opportunity to create its “own” luck from week to week.

Why 2016 would be bad…¬†

The pitchers here are¬†just okay, meaning they’re inconsistent. Its pretty awful when they’re spinning up starts like aces and following them up with 2 inning outings that cripple your week. This rotation outside of Jordan Zimmermann begs that question each and every start. Beltre might be X-factor here on this squad, he doesn’t have a clear backup and he needs to be good. Justin Upton is already hurt, does it linger?

Why 2016 would be¬†good…¬†

Things are great when the line up delivers and one of the starting pitchers make the magical leap to the tier one spot that pitchers tend to make. Odds are on Iglesias or Walker, but anyone of them could theoretically do it. It’s not impossible for this team to be good with a bunch of average starters, I’ve seen it done.