Trade: We Talk Fantasy Sports | Long Ball to LF

We Talk Fantasy Sports sends: 1B Chris Davis ($48)
Long Ball to LF sends: 1B/3B Travis Shaw ($5), SP Matt Moore ($11), 2017 1st Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†Long Ball to LF needed a 1B and got one of the better ones without giving up any significant pieces, so I definitely¬†like this deal for them. Chris Davis is one of the best power bats in the game and at $48, he’s priced¬†well.

On the WTFS side, I guess I get it here. They’re cutting costs and trying to find surplus value. On the cutting costs front, I’m just having a hard time figuring out who they’re chipping off value to keep. Like, with Hustle Loyalty Respect, he’s got a $49 Adam Wainwright and a $42 Garrett Richards that if he can finagle his budget enough, he might like to keep. They’re overpriced, but pitchers are valuable, whatever. With WTFS, I’m not sure if they’re hoping to have budget space for auction or positioning themselves to keep certain players.

I can’t really identify any players that make the latter seem¬†likely. Punting Davis in order to keep, like, $17 Elvis Andrus and $27 Colin McHugh, for instance, seems weird. I want¬†to imagine¬†they’re dumping to keep $38 Byron Buxton. Because that means he’s got to perform that much better not just to justify his own salary, but to justify the dumping of quality talent to keep him around. :buxton: If it’s the former, well, that’d be kind of a fun “zig while everyone else zags” strategy, since it seems like the consensus is that the auction won’t have a ton to offer.

I’m not a Matt Moore fan¬†because he’s HR-prone and that’s a dagger in this format, but pitching in San Francisco¬†helps suppress bombs and raises his floor quite a bit. He’s worth $11 either way, as most any competent pitcher is. And Travis Shaw is only $5, moves to a full time role in hitter-friendly Milwaukee, and has bonus 3B eligibility. Downgrading from Davis to Shaw is a massive drop-off though.

And the pick is whatever. It’s the ninth overall pick, so they’ll land a top-100 prospect there almost definitely.¬†Depending who they get and how well that player does through May or June, they could turn around and flip whoever they draft for profit.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†I think the haul for Chris Davis here is a bit light. Not so much that you need to make a big fuss about it. I know that Davis was shopped around and if this was the most attractive package they could get, well that’s the market. Bravo to both teams.

Trade: The Foundation | Preseason Double Stuffs

The Foundation sends: SP Braden Shipley (minors)
Preseason Double Stuffs send: 3B/LF Danny Valencia ($4)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†This trade created quite a bit of buzz in our group chat and here’s why: since the beginning of 2015, Danny Valencia ranks 13th in the major leagues in wOBA (minimum 400 PA). He has the same wOBA as Manny Machado in that time and is just .002 behind Nolan Arrenado. He’s posted a higher weighted on-base than Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Davis, Yoenis Cespedes, Kris Bryant, and… well, you get it.

And Valencia costs $4.

So the controversy was: sure, Braden Shipley is cost controlled and will be $1 next year assuming he debuts in 2016 (likely), but Valencia will be just $6. Maybe he gets hit with greed. Even if he does, he’ll cost around $20 maximum. For the thirteenth most productive hitter in baseball, 2015-present! He’s also just 31-years-old. He’s not over the hill. He’s certainly not¬†any more of a risk than a prospect, particularly a pitcher.

The problem, of course, is that Valencia has heavy platoon splits that make him questionable against RHP, though this year he’s crushing them too, to the tune of a .354 wOBA. And this isn’t totally new. He had a .351 wOBA in 2010. He had a .381 wOBA in 2013. Granted, he was a sub-.300 guy in every other year he played, but the point is that it’s not like he’s just all of a sudden hitting. He’s done this before.

For the Double Stuffs, I do like getting Shipley, who recent reports suggest has turned a corner and has been able to generate more K’s, in a vacuum. Even if he’s “just a number four starter,” as some lamented in our chat, that type of guy can be quite valuable in a system like ours where prospects get paid only if they produce. More valuable than Valencia? Likely not. But still.

I think the Double Stuffs wanted to “sell high” here, but to me, the definition of selling high isn’t simply exporting¬†a guy when he’s performing well. It’s being overpaid for that player at that time, which I¬†don’t think happened here. I do understand wanting to cash out¬†before he crashes back down to Earth though, but this is a case where I’m not sure that crash even happens. And if it does, it’s not like it was going to happen overnight (part of the controversy was along the lines of “we put him on our trade block and this is all we were offered,” which is true, though he was only on the trade block for less than 24 hours, so how thoroughly was the market tested?).

Ultimately, I don’t feel strongly about this for either team. But it’s boring to write a review where you just shrug. I can see it from both sides. I think landing Valencia is great for The Foundation. Jordan needed a 3B and some offense and got it without sacrificing any present day contributors. The Double Stuffs don’t really need Valencia, since they’ve also got Nick Castellanos and Yasmany Tomas at third.

I’m not sure the market has caught on yet to the value of productive veteran players¬†on cheap contracts. Like, how is any prospect’s cost control status worth a lot but a guy like Valencia being only $4 seems like an afterthought? I don’t know. If Shipley sucks,¬†his cost control status means you just never pay him until the day you eventually cut ties. If Valencia falls off between now and 2017, you just cut him and move on. If he doesn’t, he’s $6. I think cheap, productive players have as much risk/reward as prospects do. There’s a cost of acquisition involved, sure, but any asset you acquire has risk associated with it. With guys like Shipley (cost control) and Valencia (cheap), I¬†don’t think there’s any big difference. At least with the veteran player, you pretty much know what you’re getting.

Musing on positional scarcity and age…

I always feel compelled at the beginning of these posts to remind the rest of the league: I swear, I’m not trying to sway your personal valuations or opinions. I just want to riff on fantasy baseball. If I happen to use a player on your team as an example and view him unfavorably, oops. I would hope we’re all capable of coming to our own conclusions. It’d be pretty boring if we all had exactly the same valuations.

So, having said that…¬†how valuable are good-not-great¬†players at super top heavy positions? Or positions that aren’t even top heavy, but rather mediocre all throughout?

Two positions immediately jump to mind here, and that is catcher and shortstop. Let’s look at¬†shortstops.

Through nearly three full weeks, here are your top five overall scorers with the salary they went for at auction:

shortstops
Carlos Correa was our league’s highest paid shortstop at $81, so it’s nice that he’s pictured here. He was also the fourth highest paid hitter in the league, which means he’s being paid to be an absolutely, unquestioned transcendent talent and fantasy producer.

The obvious thing that jumps out is that four shortstops who were practically free either at auction or in our minor league draft currently sit atop the landscape at the position. In fact, Trevor Story, Jean Segura, Aledmys Diaz, and Eugenio Suarez cost just 11.1% of what Correa costs combined.

Granted, we’re only 19 days into our fantasy schedule. But our regular season is 148 days long, so we’re already over 12% of the way through the season. No one would be surprised if Correa ends up as his position’s best producer by the end of the season, but what we have so far shines an interesting¬†light on the shortstop group. It has paid to not pay for these guys.

Behind Correa in terms of salary at shortstop are Xander Bogaerts ($58), Corey Seager ($54), and Troy Tulowitzki ($46). Bogaerts ranks ninth in scoring, Seager ranks 28th, and Tulowitzki is 29th.

For the sake of argument, let’s just look at those three guys, whose average salary is $52.70, or $53 to simplify.¬†Of course, no one went for $53 at auction, but we did have¬†Francisco Liriano go for $54 and a couple¬†go for $52: Kyle Schwarber and Edwin Encarnacion. Some big names and reliable fantasy producers that cost in the mid-to-high¬†$40 range: Cole Hamels, Justin Upton, George Springer, Sonny Gray, Chris Davis, Jose Altuve.

Hypothetically, if that list of players played the same position as Bogaerts, Seager, and Tulowitzki, would they have gone for less? I’d argue not. There are pitchers mixed in, so the positional view is wonky, but what if the shortstops were left fielders instead? Is Seager getting $54 to play the outfield? Hell, right fielder Matt Kemp cost $11. If Seager played the same spot, are you really paying him $43 more? Go look at Kemp’s last two years worth of stats before answering, because they’re¬†likely to be better than you think.

In terms of having ever accomplished anything worth banking on, only Tulo has done it out of this group for more than a single season, but his age and injury concerns chew up some of his value.

The argument I’m making is that Bogaerts and Seager had “being a shortstop” baked pretty heavily into their price. Age was baked in there too, I’m sure, but whatever. Bogaerts was the top scoring shortstop in our format a year ago, so good for him and all, but Jhonny Peralta ($7) was number two and Brandon Crawford ($14) was number three. Peralta being hurt to start the year is a wrinkle, but those guys got pretty heavily punished for not being 23-years-old and presumably keepable for a decade. Maybe age was an even bigger factor than position?

Speaking of Bogaerts and 2015: he scored 810.5 points last year and yes, he led the way for shortstops. But compared to all other hitters, he ranked 55th. The two guys below him: Nick Markakis ($4) and Brandon Belt ($12). The two guys above him: Evan Longoria ($20) and David Peralta ($17).

So you could have literally bought the four hitters directly surrounding Bogaerts in 2015 net points and still had $5 left over!

Also, while Bogaerts was the 55th highest scoring hitter last year, he’s the 17th highest paid hitter this year. He’s also not priced to be immune from greed and his salary is going to grow by $2 a year. So… yikes.

Just as easily as it is to envision that $81 Correa being tops at short in August, it’s not crazy to see Bogaerts and Seager in the top five or even three. But it also seems fair to suggest that even if these guys lead the charge at their position, they’ll come out behind in the greater landscape of hitters at large.

Last year, Bogaerts averaged 40.525 points per week as the top shortstop. The 16th highest scoring shortstop, Erick Aybar ($3), averaged 27.325 points per week. So a 13.2 weekly edge between the best possible “starting” shortstop and the worst. (I grant you, this is a bit primitive. It assumes the top 16 scorers are spread across each of the 16 teams, it ignores platoons, guys got hurt and that screws up their net output, etc. I get it.)

Crush Davis, who you’ll recall went for less money and was just the second best right fielder (but also has 1B eligibility) behind MVP Bryce Harper, averaged 55.835 points per week. Kole¬†Calhoun ($10), the 16th best RF, averaged 38.805 points per week, a difference of 17.03 between second best and 16th.

So, through that lens, you’re better off just having the better overall player in Davis than you are having the top guy at a weak position. Having Davis instead of Bogaerts, again in this admittedly simplified example, gives you a 4+ point weekly edge over the worst possible starter at each¬†position.

Starting Davis/Aybar gets you 83.16 a week. Starting Bogaerts/Calhoun gets you 79.33. Also, the total cost of Davis and Aybar is lower than the cost of Bogaerts and Calhoun by $19, meaning that, at least theoretically, not overpaying for perceived positional scarcity affords you more resources to help your team.

Personally, I like to view players across their broader peer groups: pitchers against other pitchers, hitters against other hitters. Yes, a player may be the third best shortstop or the fifth best catcher, but that ranking is not interchangeable across positions.

Buster Posey is so good, he does not have a peer group at the catcher¬†position. He is a tier, the two tiers below him are filled with chirping crickets and sawdust, and then other guys start falling in line after that. Yeah, you’d like to have whoever is second or third best, but if you have to settle for that 16th guy, it probably won’t be overly painful.¬†The difference is negligible.

Swinging a Hot Stick in April

There is nothing better than drafting a player who gets off to a hot start, like Justin Upton hitting 12 home runs in April of 2013. ¬†However, the MLB season is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s important to remember that sometimes you need to know when sell a player at peak value. ¬†But that is different discussion for another day. ¬†Let’s focus in on the¬†players that have dominated the first month of the season over the last three years.

You Won’t Believe Who is #6 On This Cool Spring Breeze List of Hot Sizzling Pitchers

Since 2013, we have seen a decline in players scoring 150 points in April – from 53 down to just 23 last year.

quickstart

Anthony Rizzo is the only other player to score 150 points in each of the last three Aprils, but has not totaled 500 points.  Jose Altuve and Chris Davis have score more points than Rizzo, but each had a season where they failed to score 150 points.

There is one name on that list that jumps out in a group of future Hall of Famers – Jed Lowrie.

He got off to a hot start in 2013, with 14 XBH in the month of April. Lowrie had another quick start in 2014, with eight doubles and two home runs, drawing 20 walks, In 2015, Jed hit .300 with four doubles and four home runs.  His 12 walks led to a .432 OBP.  Unfortunately, his season lasted just 69 games due to injury and the Astros promoted this kid named Carlos Correa.

Over the past three seasons, Lowrie has a triple slash of .313/.425/.508 with 23 doubles and nine home runs.

Now a member of the Athletics, Lowrie is slated to bat second and play 2B according to RosterResource.com.

2014

Troy Tulowitzki had the greatest April in recent memory in 2014, totaling 262.3 fantasy points.  With seven home runs that month, Tulo hit .381 with nine doubles and a triple (.762 SLG) while drawing 21 walks, leading to a .495 OBP.

2013

In 2013, Justin Upton and Chris Davis each scored over 250 points.  Upton hit 12 home runs that month, despite striking out 30 times.  He only hit 14 more HRs that year, eight in August.  Davis totaled 17 XBH in April of 2013,  He followed up nine home runs in April with 10 in May and 12 in June en route to 37 home runs before the MLB All-Star Game.

Last season saw the fewest number of player score 150 points in April.

2015

 

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.