Trade: TBD | In Shorter Line 4 the Win

TBD sends: 3B Yoan Moncada ($1), SP Michael Kopech (minors), SP Cal Quantrill (minors), two 2018 1st Round Picks
In Shorter Line 4 the Win sends: SP Noah Syndergaard ($82)

Andrew’s thoughts: This trade occurred on April 26 and immediately became a disaster for TBD.

Syndergaard was supposed to take the mound on the day this trade was processed, but that start got pushed to the next day. On the 27th, he was scratched from a start due to “biceps tendinitis.” Then, he started on Sunday, April 30. In that start, he promptly got knocked around by the Nationals — five hits and two walks in 1.1 IP — before injuring himself on a pitch to Bryce Harper. He came out of the game having scored -4.5 fantasy points. Turns out, he has a partial tear in his lat. He’ll be on the shelf for three months or so. Just horrible, horrible luck for TBD. Like… if Syndergaard misses the year, which seems well within the range of possible outcomes here, how do you keep him at $82 next year? Or if he comes back but is rusty and struggles, or re-injures himself, or displays any sign of long-term volatility, how do you not send him back to auction? It’s totally possible that TBD spent three very good prospects and two premium draft picks to get -4.5 fantasy points.

Hindsight here is 20/20 but man, this just sucks for TBD. Ultimately, because they dealt picks and prospects, their already very good team is mostly unaffected. But they’re now down a lot of trade chips.

Before the injury though, I thought this swap was okay for both squads. I would rather have healthy Syndergaard than all the stuff IL4W got, but I understand why, if your team isn’t scoring points and is sitting at the bottom of the standings, you’d do this. Pitchers are time bombs. Obviously. So Aaron and his cohorts at IL4W mitigated some risk, took on a bunch of young, cheap talent with upside, and gave themselves a few more paths to being good down the road. Even if only two of the five pieces they got become useful, they’ll be useful and cheap. But pitchers are also a big part of winning games in this league (especially in 2017 when all the pitchers stink) and Syndergaard has essentially been Clayton Kershaw Lite since last year. To me, Kershaw is the type of talent you empty the chambers for. Syndergaard is that same type of talent.

If I’m TBD, I pull this trigger too. Not now, of course. But at the time they did it. Clearly they couldn’t have predicted the injury. And yeah, they surrendered Corey Kluber and Dellin Bettances in the midst of a pennant race just last year for Moncada alone. But trade markets aren’t static and, again, that was a late season deal. You pay more earlier. Go look at last year’s trade log, you’ll see. I don’t have a huge problem with the seemingly faulty logic of trading an ace for a prospect, then later on trading that prospect plus a bunch of other prospects for a different ace. Stuff changes. I also think if you get the opportunity to land a transcendent talent and really want to take it, well, take it, even if it means forking over a bunch of your best lottery tickets.

As arguably the best team in the league with or without Syndergaard, I really like the killer instinct and the aggressiveness it takes to get a deal like this done. And hey, it’s conceivable that TBD gets Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner back in time for the playoffs. I’d argue the potential of that is worth the same, if not more, than the potential that Moncada becomes a dirt cheap version of 2016 Jonathan Villar*.

* So… we realize Moncada’s clock started last year and so he’s in his $1 season, in which IL4W seems unlikely to compete, right? Next year he’s $3 minimum, more if his projections are good. Three bucks is nothing if he becomes 2016 Villar or even Anthony Rendon or whoever. But the point is, the two most valuable years of a player’s cost control status are the year they’re first promoted ($0) and their sophomore season ($1). IL4W is effectively getting zero tangible benefit from those two years from Moncada. If Moncada kills it for them in his $1 season, that’s cool and all, but IL4W still probably isn’t making headway as a team and the better his stats are this year, the better his projections will be next year, and the higher that salary will jump. This certainly isn’t a huge knock to Moncada’s future value, but is something to keep in mind, I think.

Speaking to Moncada specifically though, I do wonder just how amazing he can be here. He strikes out a ton, which I don’t think will matter, because when he makes contact it’s really, really good contact. But the stolen bases aren’t big factors in our scoring like they are in a 5×5 and if he’s whiffing more than 30% of the time against Triple-A pitchers, what happens when he steps into an American League with Sale, Verlander, Carrasco, Kluber, Darvish, Keuchel, etc? It’s not like he’ll get to tee off against Mike Fiers every day, y’know?

For IL4W though, I can speak from experience that the decision to start selling sucks. It means your team is poop emoji. But aside from the super lucky timing, I like that they recognized not just a poor win/loss record, but also a deep deficit in points, and went ahead and made that call early. By doing so, they didn’t have to compete with any other teams, could set their own market, and could come away with the assets they wanted. And I actually think they still have a decent roster and can win some weeks this year, even if their playoff odds aren’t particularly good.

Trade: Team Hydra | Preseason Double Stuffs

Team Hydra sends: 2B DJ LeMahieu ($15)
Preseason Double Stuffs send: LF/CF/RF Derek Fisher, $5 2017 Auction Budget

Andrew’s thoughts: Love this for the Double Stuffs, who essentially traded Derek Fisher for DJ LeMahieu straight up, then gave the Rockies’ 2B a $5 raise.

LeMahieu made some crazy offensive strides last season — and not just in Coors (he had a .326 road wOBA) — that put him in the conversation as a top-8 or so 2B. Mainly, his walks and strikeouts both moved dramatically in positive directions. At $15, he’s an incredible value. Based on Steamer’s projection and my early auction calculator, he’s projected to be worth $31. So that’s a big swing. Still, he had an absurd .388 BABIP last year, so I think some regression is in his 2017. But even if he’s the guy he was in 2015, he’s worth $15 (or $20, however you want to look at it). Playing in Colorado pushes his floor up too.

For Hydra, they essentially make $20 worth of budget room, add an interesting prospect, and still have Steve Pearce and Jose Peraza (who is way more interesting in 5×5’s, but whatever) to man second. Their entire off-season has revolved to this point around keeping both Corey Kluber and David Price, so this trade works well to that end.

Fisher, meanwhile, is a good if unexciting get. Baseball Prospectus recently ranked him eighth just in the Astros’ system, but that’s largely because his defense isn’t very good. He may be a LF, which isn’t so unfortunate given how shallow that spot currently is. In that same ranking, they pegged him as a good dynasty piece, though one who’s probably more “ceiling” than “floor.” If your main objective is to purge salaries though, then getting a guy back who does have significant upside is a good gamble.

Jordan’s thoughts: I think Double Stuffs really got a great deal here. I could echo everything Bailey said, but I won’t. They paid a relatively low price for a very useful asset. They created value at the cost of a prospect and a couple of auction dollars.

For Team Hydra, their auction dollars are as valuable as anyone’s in the league. So from their perspective you have to love the deal as well. I would not want to have to sell players who have value for 70 cents on the dollar. But, being in that position, with the rest of the league knowing it, and still getting 70 cents on the dollar is really actually quite good.

There’s some chance that the prospect is good and a good value for Hydra. But, they don’t need him to ever reach the Majors for this deal to work. They got something for potentially nothing (if they were going to have to cut players who have value). Quite a score for them.

Bravo to both teams!

Congrats Team Hydra

The inaugural Dynasty Grinders regular season is over! Team Hydra edges out TBD on the back of recently traded Corey Kluber. We’ll never know if the 90 point swing was enough to sink TBD or not.

Hustle Loyalty Respect edges out the Trumpa Loompas to finish in 3rd place. We Talk Fantasy Sports topped Team Canada to win the second tier bracket. Who’s Your Haddy beat Rocky Mountain Oysters to win the third tier. Finally, In shorter line for the win topped The Foundation to win the Toilet Bowl bracket.

The first season was a real experience. I’m already looking forward to season 2! Have a fun off-season.

Trade: Team Hydra | TBD

Team Hydra sends: 2B Yoan Moncada (minors)
TBD sends: SP Corey Kluber ($82), RP Dellin Bettances ($14)

Jordan’s thoughts: What a disaster. I get it. You have lots of aces. But, any veteran of fantasy baseball should be well aware, that come fantasy playoff time, pitching rotations change. Two-start weeks start to disappear. That’s why you want seven good and reliable starters, because when it counts (unlike MLB where you can get away with just 3), you need 6 (if you’re lucky) or 7 starters.

Yoan is an impressive prospect, I get it. He probably will see playing time next season. That’s not very helpful now. I don’t see the value in this trade even if TBD was not in the playoff hunt. Trading two real assets for one 21-year-old who is doing quite well in AA seems foolish. Sure, if Moncada comes up and is a top-5 2B, great, you’re sitting on a fat pile of value for a few seasons. However, sitting on players who have great value doesn’t guarantee a future dynasty. Far from it.

Championships require a good roster, great value, but most of all luck. Even if Moncada is a monster and a top 15 MLB fantasy hitter, you still need the other 29 spots on your roster to work out in any given season. And you took a great roster that has a real chance to win it all this season and bruised it hard.

Hydra gets way better here. I love this move for them. They probably can figure out how to keep both players, and they’ll provide more value in the next three or four years than Moncada. Easy move. EVEN IF THEY DON’T keep either player, their shot of winning the whole league just went up because they took from the team they’re tied with and added to their own. Brilliant.

If TBD wins it all anyway, great. “Better lucky than good” is something I hear all too often.

Andrew’s thoughts: Maybe I’m just jealous because I tried to get Moncada and failed, but as soon as this trade popped up in my e-mail, the instinctual feeling I got was “man, prospects are way too valuable.”

I hate this move for TBD and love it for Team Hydra. Respectively, they are the third and fourth place team. They are clinging to the last two playoff spots. I realize TBD can simply fall back on Madison BumgarnerJacob deGrom, Tanner Roark, et al now. But I just don’t love punting an indisputable ace and the top overall relief pitcher at this juncture of the season. Granted, RPs aren’t super valuable, but still.

I get the logic. They rode Kluber long enough to get to this point and are in great postseason position with the most points in the league, thus giving them the tie-breaker should they finish with the same record as another team. They are now handing the keys to luck and in turn, getting arguably the best prospect in baseball. But I’m not sure they got enough for handing a direct postseason competitor two players of this caliber.

Oh well!

One other thing: I had forgotten what the original deal TBD made to get Kluber was and when I went back and looked… my god. This trade somehow manages to make that one look even worse. And from TBD’s perspective, you could argue that since they got Kluber for essentially nothing to begin with, he was just house money anyway. Their low initial investment in Kluber does make me like this move a little more for them.

Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | TBD

Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: C Russell Martin ($18), 2018 1st Round Draft Pick
TBD sends: SP Hyun-Jin Ryu ($7)

Andrew’s thoughts: I think Martin-for-Ryu straight up is justifiable. Since acquiring Martin on June 14, he has scored a total of 64.1 points (9.16 pts/game) while being in Dusty’s starting lineup seven times. He had a .373 wOBA in June. That’s terrific production for a catcher. But Dusty’s just 4-8 overall, likely won’t make the playoffs, and has a hugely expensive pitching staff. So selling off a catcher he wasn’t likely going to be able to keep for an inexpensive pitcher isn’t awful. Of course, having to start Sandy Leon (lifetime .263 wOBA; .524 wOBA in 35 PAs this year though!) going forward is going to suck, probably.

Ryu at $7 seems like a great gamble to me. He’s got a fantastic track record. His career FIP is 2.97, xFIP is 3.27, he gives up a paltry 0.60 homers per nine, and strikes out 7.66 per nine innings. He’s pretty close to being a viable ace of staff and at worse is a SP2. He also hasn’t pitched since 2014, though he’s throwing rehab starts now, so there’s a ton of risk here. I’m not sure that his odds of returning to form are better than his odds of being a middling starter due simply to the effect of injury. But given Dusty has a ton of expensive pitchers and likely won’t be able to keep them all, I like the dice roll.

TBD didn’t really need a catcher, per say, since they have Matt Wieters there. But Wieters gets a lot of regular rest because of the brittle, almost tissue paper-like composition of his bones, tendons, and muscles, and so Martin provides a great option when Wieters rests. And with a rotation headed by Madison Bumgarner, Corey Kluber, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Wright, there would seem to be a bit less reward to having Ryu to offset the risk than there might be for some other teams. Though, like the Oysters, keeping those pitchers beyond this year could be a tight fit and having Ryu as a cheaper alternative could have been a helpful fallback.

My only real beef with this trade is punting the top-16 pick in 2018. Granted, that is two drafts away and anyone you pick is likely to be two or more years from hitting the majors (so you’re looking at an asset maybe four years off?), but still. A second or even a third rounder was probably enough to plug any perceived gap here between pitcher and catcher. Maybe two bucks at auction next year covers it. I mean, I would totally trade a first round pick for a $7 Ryu, but I think I want to see him come back and string together a few good starts first. Yeah, now may be the last opportunity to get your foot in the door on him (if he comes back and pitches to his career averages, he’s suddenly a super commodity), but it could just as easily be the calm before the storm.

Dusty has also now exhausted all his first and second round picks in 2017 and 2018, and has previously sold off all of his worthwhile prospects. This is a system headed by… Touki Toussaint? Maybe he can sell off some parts as the season winds down to replenish, but it really feels like a buyer’s market to me. Logically, yeah, you should get a haul for one of his pricey pitchers if he doesn’t think he can finagle the cap to keep. But there hasn’t been much trade action at all, which suggests to me teams have become more hesitant to pay multiple big time assets for upgrades.

Trade: Senior Squids | TBD

Senior Squids sends: SP Corey Kluber ($82)
TBD sends: C Gary Sanchez ($5), 3B Matt Chapman (minors), LF Peter O’Brien (FA)

Andrew’s thoughts: This just looks like theft to me.

Matt Chapman is clobbering minor league pitching, so there’s that. Scouts will tell you though: when it comes to minor leaguers, scouting the stat line is often a bad idea. But while Gary Sanchez and Peter O’Brien are “prospects” in real life, they are not cost controlled prospects here because they debuted in 2015. So to start 2017, which Squids is focusing on now, they’ll cost $5 (O’Brien) and $7 (Sanchez) — and that’s before potentially getting hit with any greed. Twelve bucks and two roster spots is an interesting investment. Those aren’t prohibitive salaries and ultimately five poorly distributed dollars won’t hurt you much. But the point of the cost control aspects for prospects is to mitigate against busts, which prospects do quite often. This is why I don’t like the idea of trading for a $32 Byron Buxton or for Sanchez/O’Brien here. There’s nothing padding you from these players busting. There’s no real incentive for risk.

To be clear: I don’t think trading for salaried prospects is fundamentally wrong, but I don’t like making them the key cogs in a trade. If Gary Sanchez is an add-on to a larger trade, it makes sense because his salary isn’t so much an albatross that it’s not worth some risk. But looking at this one, he’s like… the main piece.

Prospect lists are not gospel. I get that. But Chapman is unranked on Baseball America’s list and Baseball Prospectus’ list (BP’s regular list as well as their dynasty fantasy list), and ranks just 100th on MLB’s. Again, not gospel. You could argue that these rankings are altogether meaningless and I wouldn’t bother fighting you on it. But I’m just not sure how this is the only prospect — and I’m defining the word here as cost controlled prospect in our league — in a trade for a pitcher of Kluber’s pedigree. I’m not sure how you send Kluber off without securing yourself the type of prospect that is universally coveted.

With regards to Sanchez, he’s already being paid more than Wilson Ramos (#2 catcher), Yadier Molina (#5), Welington Castillo (#6), and Jason Castro (#12). It’s easy to say in hindsight just pick up those guys instead of acquiring Sanchez, but my point is just that all three of those catchers took years and years to be even serviceable options and still cost less than $5. Catchers develop slowly. The odds are good that Sanchez follows the same career path, except he’s already more expensive than them.

Sure, Sanchez has “upside.” But he just doesn’t strike me as a very good value. And that ignores all the catchers that are already producing and are priced more than Sanchez, but within just a few bucks. I still feel like in order for a catcher to be worth a lot, they have to be a Posey (or Lucroy!) type that really separates from the pack. Is Sanchez that guy? I don’t think he is.

Oh, and O’Brien sat in free agency for like six weeks not that long ago. TBD added him on March 24, cut him on April 2, and added him back on May 16. Maybe that’s a bit like saying, six months after a draft, “well I took so-and-so in the secound round, I can’t give him up for this-or-that because you took him in the fourth.” Values change. But it warrants mentioning that for 43 days, O’Brien sat free to any team.

Overreaction Thursday, you paid what for this?!

Welcome to Overreaction Thursday! Today we are looking into the first half of Week One and overreacting to how the star players have performed already. For some of these guys, the weekend cannot get here soon enough.

$117 Clayton Kershaw – 65 points.

Good lord I told you guys he was good. How in the hell did he go for JUST one hundred and seventeen dollars!? He’s worth two hundred at least! We are all idiots for allowing BetterNameLater (by the way, when it that better name coming?) to rob us blind like this.

$109 Bryce Harper – 23.1 Points

You’re the highest paid hitter and you are getting out scored by CHRIS IANETTTA! What in the world is going on here. Just one home run? Trevor Story has four! He’s two months younger than you, you’re getting old son.

$95 Mike Trout – -8 points

This is some serious bullshit. Negative points? The could-have-been four time reigning American League MVP has negative eight points? Sucks to suck, Who’s Your Haddy’s?. You bought a complete shit bowl of a player. He’s awful. Add him to the waiver wire and pick up Leonys Martin.

$93 Chris Sale – 48 Points

For being just $24 cheaper than Kershaw, you have no reason being 17 points worse than him too. You faced the Oakland Athletics who are due for contraction sometime soon. Just eight strikeouts? The 18 swinging strikes are really nice, but Jeremy Hellickson beat you by 1.5 points. Loser.

$88 Paul Goldschmidt – 30.3 points

I bet you want me to be proud of your 10.1 points per game, huh? Well I’m not. You should be scoring 100 point weeks. You’re behind pace. Do you know who’s outscored you this week, Paul? DJ LeMahieu! We’re not even certain that guy is a real person. But, he has more points than you do. Get with it.

$86 Max Scherzer – 28 Points
$84 Jake Arrieta – 56.5 Points

$83 Jose Fernandez – 40.5 Points
$82 Corey Kluber – 9 Points
$81 Madison Bumgarner – -3 Points

It’s a God damn perfect bell curve from awesome to dog shit. Bumgarner and Kluber dropped flaming bags of poo for their investment, while Arrieta and Fernandez both did alright. Max, my buddy, you’re better than that. C’s don’t get degrees here in Dynasty Grinders. Figure it out.

$81 Carlos Correa – 52.1 points

Have mercy on our souls. How in the hell did Alex Rodriguez clone himself into a younger and better version? This Correa kid is only being bested by some guy named Yasiel Puig. Correa is unlucky he cannot be bidded up for by a greed vote. He’d be rich, bitch!

Start me up, please get a no-no

The regular season is so close. The taste of baseball that counts is palatable. In the time between, because we are not there yet, let us look at starts from 2015 once again.

Using Baseball Reference’s Play Index I was able to grab all 4,858 starts from 2015. This includes each game line from each starting pitcher who started each individual game.  Before we dig deep into this data lets answer the easy questions as it relates to our scoring…

Average Start in 2015: 24.25 points
Median Start in 2015: 25.50 points
Mode Start in 2015: 35.50 points

660 starts, or 13.58% of the starts last year, ended up being negative points for the day. Ouch. Of those awful starts, the worst five were led by everyone’s favorite Jeremy Guthrie (pictured above, what the hell is wrong with his elbow):

May 25 – Jeremy Guthrie -75 points vs Yankees
May 30 – Shane Greene -66 points vs Angels
July 7 – Chad Bettis -54.5 points vs Angels
August 23 – Matt Wisler -53 points vs Cubs
August 15 – Felix Hernandez -52 points vs Red Sox

One of those is not like the others. Ouch. Felix actually had two starts that were absolutely soul crushing. But, on the other side of the table. Max Scherzer was king.

October 3 – Max Scherzer 101.5 points vs Mets
June 14 – Max Scherzer 94 points vs Brewers
May 13 – Corey Kluber 90.5 points vs Cardinals
September 25 – Carlos Carrasco 89 points vs Royals
August 30 – Jake Arrieta 88.5 points vs Dodgers

Wow! I think it should come as little surprise that two of the top five, and several of the best starts overall, came in September. Those September call-ups can make a difference compared to the rest of the season.

However, September call-ups do go both ways. As we can see below, the average points per start goes way down in September.

Average PPS by Month

April 24.25
May 24.97
June 25.47
July 25.04
August 23.25
September 22.29

Shorter outings, extra pitchers sitting in the bullpen, rookies getting a shot, injuries taking a toll, pitch counts… Everything could be counting into that low September number. It was most surprising to me that August was trending downwards so dramatically. It really catches up to September quickly.

Diving a bit deeper into those monthly numbers. You see a similar trend in innings pitched per start.

April 5.73 IP
May 5.94 IP
June 5.96 IP
July 5.90 IP
August 5.80 IP
September 5.55 IP

Well, that is interesting. Starts in April are shorter than August by some small fraction, but April starts are good for a point more per start over starts in August. Obviously pitcher quality plays a huge role. Pitching is not a healthy thing to do and by August if the pitcher was going to break down, he is already broken by now. You can see it there.

In this kind of fantasy baseball league, starts are a very important commodity. I feel like the whole point of this post is to drive home how valuable those 6th, 7th and 8th starters on your roster are. Week 1, for most teams, you may not even use them at all. Barring some kind of amazing luck, you can see here that come August and early September when playoff races are finishing and the playoffs are starting, pitching gets thinner quickly.

You might just start to find comfort in having those extra guys sitting around and doing nothing in April, because you can see that the future is dark and full of terror.

2016 Auction Review – Senior Squids

Senior Squids

squids

After taking a beating for making a trade with super trader Dusty, Squids came out hard and furious and drafted pretty well. It’s clear that this team has serious potential, but there’s a few question marks. Is Randal Grichuk really worth $35? At least two people thought so. Was Shelby Miller good last year or lucky?

Hitters – Not quite

There is nobody in this line up for the Senior Squids that week in week out is reliably going to carry you. This line up is not that different that Capital City that we saw earlier, except it is missing the Votto/Miggy connection. Great at the catching position, and I like Joe Panik and Kyle Seager. Obviously I love Brad Miller, but prefer him to not be forced to slot at short stop. The outfield is alright, but is Grichuk a top 5 outfielder? Between the eight outfielders, he should be able to stream a solid 3-man outfield, but even their ceiling isn’t terribly high. Justin Bour at first base could be solid, or was last year as good as it gets?

Pitchers – Great

This was one of the harder ones to classify. It’s on the bubble of Very Good and Great. Corey Kluber and Zack Greinke are amazing. Tier one for starting pitchers is probably truly two sub tiers, the unreal good guys and the other good guys relative to the entire pool. Kluber and Greinke are elite. Shelby Miller got chastised for getting traded to Arizona for a king’s ransom, but in fantasy not much has changed. It is not hard to imagine that out of Jaime Garcia, Scott Kazmir, Clay Bucholz, Wade Miller and Home Bailey that you can string four comfortable starts out of the group weekly. Likely two of those guys end up being traded for more hitting. Also for the first time during this review exercise, the bullpen here is great. Wade Davis and David Robertson are primed to be great. While that can change in a week, it is hard to argue with the values he spent and assumed to receive here.

Depth – Great

I like the rotation depth a lot. I like the outfield depth that all suffices to cover both utility spots just fine. Brock Holt and Brad Miller can play so many positions. None of his starting hitters are good enough to sink this team if they get hurt, and he already has built in serviceable starters at every position. Although replacing Kyle Seager would hurt the most, and not just because I’m a Mariners fan.

Why 2016 would be bad… 

Well, while the Squids could theoretically afford to lose both Greinke and Kluber to some scary injury and survive, the back end of the rotation is presumed to be good enough. However, the line up just is not. He needs the 100 points a week from those two aces each week. Even then, the ceiling for this team’s scoring just seems destined to be too low.

Why 2016 would be good… 

Things are great for the Senior Squids if Kluber and Greinke pitch themselves into Cy Young conversations in their respective league’s again this year. The rest of the starters shake out in some good way. Perhaps there’s a hitter here that breaks out and jumps into the top 5 of their position that I’m just not seeing. Mark Trumbo reclaims some of his sheen in Baltimore? There’s lots of options here for things to go good, and that’s a good thing.

Pre-auction valuation of players, an introduction.

It is fairly commonplace now days to have a multitude of resources that help you compete in fantasy sports. Whether you use magazines, subscription websites or various crowd sourcing tools, there is usually little problem in drawing what a player’s value will be in any fantasy league.

Dynasty Grinders is not different enough to make those types of tools useless. Quite the opposite, I believe in having more information to gather to draw my conclusions. The crowd definitely has information for you to draw from.

That being said, there are differences. Dynasty Grinders is a head to head, points based scoring, dynasty fantasy baseball league. It is similar to FanGraphs‘s version of Ottoneu, but different. We have a larger budget, draft different positions, more players. It is similar to standard dynasty leagues, but different, mostly because we are not roto.

That being said they all offer a synopsis of sorts about how the crowds are assuming players are going to perform from year to year. They are just projections, but these projections offer a baseline. This baseline is necessary to judge assumed value of any given player. The trick here for Dynasty Grinders is how to calibrate various projections or draft utilities to Dynasty Grinders’ settings.

FanGraphs does offer a nice auction calculator utility. It actually works quite nicely. But, alas, it also has its short comings. Take for instance the values of these top 5’s using Steamer Projections and with standard roster construction:

FanGraphs Auction Calc – Standard Hitters

Name Team POS PA rPTS Dollars
Mike Trout LAA OF 671 1256.1 $89.8
Bryce Harper WAS OF 647 1174.0 $78.5
Giancarlo Stanton MIA OF 647 1127.2 $72.0
Paul Goldschmidt ARI 1B 658 1123.7 $69.7
Miguel Cabrera DET 1B 649 1091.9 $65.3

Phew, $90 for Mike Trout? Hot damn. That’s a hefty price for the guy who’s won four one MVPs. But, in a sixteen team league, and with the projection of 1256 points, he has a value that it would take several players to make up at other positions. Let’s take a look at pitchers.

FanGraphs Auction Calc – Standard Pitchers

Name Team POS IP rPTS Dollars
Clayton Kershaw LAD SP 217 1430.3 $118.4
Max Scherzer WAS SP 212 1264.2 $95.6
Chris Sale CHW SP 210 1251.9 $93.9
Jake Arrieta CHC SP 208 1189.3 $85.3
Corey Kluber CLE SP 211 1183.4 $84.4

And there you have it. Starting pitchers! Now, nobody is arguing who is on the list. Those guys are studs, and in weeks that they start twice, your team is sitting in the clear driver seat.

Why the higher values? Well the context matters. First, this auction calculator is not considering that we’re a dynasty league, so while Max Scherzer is quite good, it might be better to throw the extra dollars on Corey Kluber who should be fairly easy to keep for the next half decade.

Secondly, Three of these guys are projected to outscore Mike Trout for the season. Now, any rational betting man would probably put their money on Trout to meet projections more than any other player. Pitchers are volatile, perform a job that biomechanically impacts their ability to stay healthy, and their statistical floors are just lower.

Finally, FanGraphs is tied to OttoNeu which doesn’t do head to head. They’re doing roto. This makes a difference too. Dynasty Grinders allows 7 starts per week. The guys listed above are going to get every chance to start no matter what. However, our league is likely to be prone to people not carrying 7 man staffs and streaming starts like FanGraphs assumes.

No, more likely you’ll be carrying a 9 or even 10 man starting pitcher staff. Why? Because, after the third or forth tier of starting pitcher, match-ups start to matter quite a bit. So while most teams will have their first four or five starts each week pigeon holed, those last ones often leave tactical match-up decisions.

Being able to keep 30 active players, it makes sense to grab more starters to have more choices, and also limit the streaming ability for other teams in a way. If you could pick 6 good starters who won’t get hurt, you could just do that. For those of us who can’t predict the future, we will be hedging.

So what does that change? Well let’s tweak the auction calculator, instead of letting it use the bench spots wherever, lets tell it that all 16 teams are carrying the following roster:

2 C, 1 1B, 1 2B, 1 SS, 1 3B, 1 CI, 1 MI, 6 OF, 2 UT, 10 SP, 4 RP

Yes, while we’re not able to capitalize on all these players as full-time starters, these guys who we will be bidding on backups, do offer coverage on a week to week basis. Each week offers an extremely limited opportunity in getting starts at each position. If Mike Trout is only playing 5 games one week, you’d rather have a backup play the other two days if possible, rather than leaving the spot open. You’d also rather have a starting capable player over the replacement level one. We’re all trying to win here…so what does the FanGraphs Auction Calculator say now?

FanGraphs Auction Calc – Adjusted Roster Hitters

Name Team POS PA rPTS Dollars
Mike Trout LAA OF 671 1256.1 $55.3
Bryce Harper WAS OF 647 1174.0 $49.7
Giancarlo Stanton MIA OF 647 1127.2 $46.5
Paul Goldschmidt ARI 1B 658 1123.7 $44.0
Miguel Cabrera DET 1B 649 1091.9 $41.9

Well, that’s quite a difference… Let’s see those pitchers again…

FanGraphs Auction Calc – Adjusted Roster Pitchers

Name Team POS IP rPTS Dollars
Clayton Kershaw Dodgers SP 217 1430.3 $71.1
Max Scherzer Nationals SP 212 1264.2 $59.7
Chris Sale White Sox SP 210 1251.9 $58.9
Jake Arrieta Cubs SP 208 1189.3 $54.6
Corey Kluber Indians SP 211 1183.4 $54.2

Now these prices almost seem too low. They probably are. The truth is that the prices are most likely in between these two values of sorts. If you click on the links that I provided. You’ll see the difference more so.

In the original list, FanGraph’s AC is setting the replacement level ($1) for players ranked 16th, 17th, 18th. That’s certainly low. Addison Russell, Erick Aybar, and Brandon Crawford are all in that “zone”, and they’re all going for at least a few dollars, if not even more.

In the second list, where the replacement level for SS is being set much lower, those three guys are all being rated around $7. Low or high? Who knows. In the case of Russell, a rookie last year, perhaps its low, as the young guys attract value in dynasty leagues.

But, when you tell the calculator that there will be money spent on the bottom of the roster, that lowers how much can be spent on the top players. Over the next two and a half months leading up to the draft, I will be going over these valuations much more. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Oh, Happy New Year!