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: Beach Bum | Capital City Ironmen

Beach Bum sends: 1B/LF Matt Holliday ($10)
Capital City Ironmen send: RF Aaron Judge ($1; cost controlled), SP Grant Holmes (minors)

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Aaron Judge got his chance last year and was short of inspiring. He’s still a prospect and he does carry some level of potential that is very enticing. Grant Holmes is in the same category of prospects. That category being the catch-all level 40-45 future value grade group.

These guys exist. They have good qualities. They have one or two talents that could truly make them stars. Unfortunately, they have other levels of talents that are more likely to hold them back, causing them to potentially be less than valuable.

These kinds of trades are weird. Matt Holliday is a great hitter, aging, and just signed a fantasy hitter’s favorable deal. There’s a lot to like. His floor is generally high as long as he actually sees the field. His ceiling is high-ish, but that is also held back by how many games he plays.

The keeper price for Holliday is a good buy. I think he’s 100% kept at that price for the next two to three years, short of some dramatic fall off. Cutting him in the end or keeping him for a year too long is hardly a penalty here. That makes him quite valuable to me.

Sure, could either of these prospects that Bailey sent turn Bailey’s decision into regret? Absolutely. The fact that Dan got two of these kinds of guys who are close/in the majors, is a bit surprising.

In a vacuum I’d rather have Holliday, but given the situation for both teams, it is hard to come away with an opinion other than liking the deal for both teams. Losing Holliday doesn’t hurt Beach Bum all that much and the prospects could be useful. Adding Holliday helps Capital City a lot, and losing the prospects that are (at this point in our dynasty) easily replaceable, isn’t much pain to suffer.

Andrew’s defense:¬†I like Matt Holliday a lot. The biggest question mark with him, really, is health. He’s old too, but he should mostly just DH now in a hitter friendly park. He had a solid¬†.335 wOBA in his 426 plate appearances last year. If he can simply duplicate that, he’ll be good for me in LF, as it’s a fairly shallow position. And keep in mind, he did that despite a .253 BABIP and a really good looking batted ball profile (38.5% hard hit rate). If he just has neutral luck, he should¬†hit that .355 wOBA Steamer has him pegged for.

For Dan, he sheds one of his many LFs and adds a couple promising young guys, one of which (Judge) plays RF, so that fills a need. Judge’s power is prodigious and should play up at new Yankee Stadium, but he also¬†struck out 44.2% of the time last year. Small sample, sure, but the K’s have always been a concern. I wasn’t overly concerned about them personally (for fantasy, a strikeout and a ground out are the same, so whatever), but it just means his floor is a little lower than I like and it could jeopardize his playing time. Not a bad¬†bet for Dan.

And Grant Holmes is just sort of an interesting grab. He’s an Oakland A (for now), so maybe Beach Bum was being a bit of a homer. Either way, Holmes is a top-100 prospect on most lists and profiles as a middle of the rotation guy. In our format, that’s alluring.

Trade: TBD | Beach Bum

TBD sends: SS Troy Tulowitzki ($46)
Beach Bum sends: LF/CF Charlie Blackmon ($27)

Andrew’s thoughts:¬†The logic here is pretty simple: Beach Bum had too many outfielders and was relying on Jed Lowrie and Adeiny Hechavarria at short, while TBD has Corey Seager and a need at centerfield. By executing this deal, both teams fill a need without exposing any roster weaknesses. So good job.

Troy Tulowitzki is interesting. He¬†was good last year but significantly worse than he had been in his career and he took a considerable dive moving from Denver to Toronto. He’s been atrocious this year, though a .190 BABIP probably plays some role in his shoddy numbers. His .164 ISO is actually up a few ticks from last year. I can totally understand moving on from Tulo though, as it looks like even at his best he may just be a fringe top-5 shortstop play as opposed to being the undisputed kingpin at the position.

Long term, Tulo doesn’t look like a guy Dan keeps beyond 2016, and that’s fine. If Charlie Blackmon gets traded out of Colorado to make room for David Dahl, it’s conceivable that he doesn’t get kept either. Short-term, win-now moves are fine and as I said, this one has the hallmarks of that type of move. Both sides are better.

Big picture, I do like¬†the risk here for Beach Bum. On a day to day basis, he’ll be deploying Matt Holliday instead of Blackmon, which strikes me as a lateral move. No harm, no foul. Even broken Tulowitzki is better than Hechavarria, so there’s that.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†I really do not have much to add to what Bailey’s already said. It is a win win deal for both teams. At this point, I figure Blackmon to be worth more going forward, but it should shock no one if Tulo regains some momentum before 2016 is over. I find both players to be questionable at best for keeping in 2017.

Both teams fill a need by sending from a position of abundance. I’m surprised more deals like this have not already sprung up in various areas.

Dynasty Grinders Podcast – Episode 12

Jordan and Andrew get into the post-draft reviews, and talk about the season ramping up. How do we really feel about Jonathon Lucroy? What do you mean Bryce Harper went for a billion dollars? Trades happened, but we wrote about those. Matt Holliday got went for what the what what? We spent a solid section about what happens next. What to expect next off-season, including the steps leading up to next year’s auction draft. We talk forever it seems and holy crap baseball is close.

Fun with similar price points…

It’s weird comparing player values — particularly the lower dollar guys — post-auction. Just for the heck of it, I went into Fantrax, searched all owned players, and went looking for guys priced similarly whose values I think are way off. For this exercise, I just picked three pairs to look at.

Here we go…

Matt Kemp ($11) vs. Max Kepler ($10)

This, to me, is a great example of how nomination order can influence a player’s value. Max Kepler, a top-50 or so prospect depending on whose opinion you buy, was the fourth player nominated overall and went off the board for $10. I like Kepler a lot. I have him in my minors in my other dynasty league. But I was not in the Kepler market at $10.

Strategically, I think you’re better off drafting/adding prospects, stashing them in your minors, and hoping they can develop and you can cash in on their cost controlled status. I mean, if you can get Kepler for a buck, sure. But $10 is a pretty hefty price tag. And you’re not really buying him for his 2016. I suppose if he’s completely over-matched, you could cut bait after the year at no real detriment. But if you’re buying a player with this profile for $10, you’re hoping for some long term gains. So you’re looking at a $12 (minimum) player in 2017 before you can realistically hope for profit and you sort of have to ride him out until then, because if you bought him for $10, cut him because he disappoints as a rookie (plenty of rookies do), then breaks out as a soph, you’ll feel silly.

Matt Kemp, meanwhile, went for a buck more. The Padre outfielder has averaged 623.5 plate appearances over the last two years, so while he’ll always be an injury risk, it seems fair to say that he’s defied his reputation over our most recent and relevant sample. He finished as the 43rd highest scoring OF in 2015 and in 2014 he was 13th. In a start-up league, this is production in line with a team’s third or fourth best hitter.

And for the same price as a player with seven plate appearances to his name.

Kemp’s best years are behind him and Kepler’s are likely ahead of him, so I get why you’d be inclined to invest a little heavier in one than in the other. But for 2016? Or the next two years? It’s tough to imagine Kepler out-producing Kemp. It’s certainly not impossible. But it’s tough.

Trevor Bauer ($6) vs. Bud Norris ($6)

Again, nomination order had some impact here. Bud Norris, who I guess is going to make the Braves pitching staff (?), came up seventh overall and Trevor Bauer‘s name didn’t show up until nomination #361. Huge gap.

Having said that, I think it’s tough to justify Norris under any circumstances for more than a dollar. He’s just not any good. It’s totally within the realm of possibility that the Braves coach him up, squeeze value out of him a la Aaron Harang, and as a result you have a league average or slightly better pitcher until sometime in July when a desperate contender with a worse coaching acumen trades for him. And that’s valuable.

And look, I don’t particularly¬†like Bauer. The strikeouts are awesome, but he walks everybody and serves up a ton of home runs. But he’s also just 25-years-old and is in one of the best organizations in baseball as far as developing pitching talent. And he’s super talented. Guys that aren’t don’t have 8.47 K/9 rates at the big league level.

I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest the floor for both of these guys is pretty similar. Norris has the same flaws as Bauer but without the strikeouts. He’s also six years older and I’m not sure you can argue there’s much more untapped potential in that arm. For that reason, if you’re dropping $6 on a guy whose best case is league average-ish, you may as well just drop it on the younger, more talented guy who could be an adjustment away from being a Tier 2 type. I mean, if Bauer gets that HR/9 rate under 1.00 and shaves a walk per nine, is he not suddenly a very valuable piece?

Matt Holliday ($8) vs. Billy Hamilton ($8)

Other than “he’s old,” what’s the knock on Matt Holliday?¬†Even last year when he was hurt, he put up a .351 wOBA. He has a .389 career mark. Sure, some of that is padded from his time in Colorado, but he’s done enough in Oakland and St. Louis to dismiss any Coors effect out of hand.

Holliday is awesome. He walks a ton, he gets on base a ton (.386 career clip), and he’s always at or above 15 homers. He may also be unlocking first base eligibility too, which isn’t super valuable, but it’s better to have than not. If he plays a healthy season, even with the expected regression for a 38-year-old, he’s arguably a top-25 overall outfielder and a team’s third best hitter. For $8, that’s pretty incredible. Please trade him to me, whoever owns him (Dan?).

Billy Hamilton, meanwhile, is a guy we’ve discussed a bunch. In real life, he’s defensively valuable, a nightmare on the base paths, and just generally a fun guy to watch. But his sabermetric stats mostly stink.

He only walks about 6% of the time. He has a career .287 on-base percentage and his wOBA is even worse because he lacks power. So yeah, he steals a ton of bases, but that skill is really only useful — or valuable in this league — if he’s getting on base.

Realistically, I think in order for Hamilton to be worthy of being on a roster in Dynasty Grinders, he has to get on base at a .300 clip minimum. That means he needs to be .026 better than he was last year. That’s a fairly significant growth requirement. And even then, because he’s not launching homers or lashing liners, he’s not overly valuable. I think his best case scenario might be a reserve centerfielder worth a dollar or two.

So while Holliday and Hamilton went for the same price, their values are worlds apart. The only way Holliday gets cut postseason is if he retires, gets hurt, or age rears its ugly head. Even with a $2 raise, he’s a guy you probably want around for $10 in his age 39 season. Hamilton may not¬†be on a roster past June.

2016 Auction Review – Beach Bum

Beach bum

BB

Future President Beachler’s team here is well rounded out as you can see. He found value as he always does in those, who by most in fantasy baseball, are considered old. He mixes together hitting and pitching really well and has a very flexible roster. I particularly love the value found in Yu Darvish at $29 and Albert Pujols at $21.

Hitting – Good

Matt Carpenter and Ryan Braun stand out as guys who you can figure to be leaders at their respective position. Nobody would be surprised by Brian Dozier or Pujols having an up-year and sneaking into that same tier. Dan’s team does not have that superstar on offense, but his offense is solid. He did¬†not punt at any of the nine positions and has several guys he can stick at the two utility spots with ease. The missing piece here taking his rating from Very Good down to Good¬†is the lack of a star hitter that should carry week to week. Balance is great, but the entire line up could finish ranking in the 6-10 slots at their positions and that might not be enough.

Pitching – Very Good

Gerrit Cole is¬†the highest paid player on the roster is a worthy choice as he should be a great number one starter. Francisco Liriano is one of my favorites. Yu Darvish was a bargain if he comes back healthy in 2016, and Tanaka is good when he is pitching. His top four is enviable by most teams in this league I¬†would¬†bet. Andrew Cashner seems like a quality bounce back candidate. Dan’s staff is held from a rating of greatness over the bullpen. If Dan punted anywhere it is here. He spent five dollars on three guys. While they could all be serviceable, he is likely banking on streaming relievers in hopes of finding something good.

Depth – Great

All of Dan’s¬†hitters have a backup that is above replacement value. Perhaps if Vogt gets injured his catching situation gets a tad hairy.¬†Overall having Evan Longoria, Matt Holliday, Mark Teixeira, and Dexter Fowler on the bench is a lot of fire power. Adam Lind and Joe Mauer are good in utility spots if they are called upon. Dan’s flexibility with guys like Carpenter qualifying at two spots¬†and¬†his outfielders overlapping well, makes the Beach Bum squad¬†potentially scary as a competitor.

Why 2016 would be bad…

It is not unthinkable that both of Darvish and Tanaka do not pitch well in 2016. While Tommy John surgery has not been as scary as it was in the past. It is still a concern. Toss in ideas like perhaps Cashner has pitched his best already, or punting bullpen is a poor idea, and things could get middling or even sour quickly. Maybe baseball is a young mans game and Dan’s older roster just doesn’t hold up.

Why 2016 would be good…¬†

In short, Dan’s team is a candidate for being¬†a contender in 2016. His roster allows him to suffer some unforeseen blows, plus has upside in previously injured player returning to stardom. He just has so many choices to make that make a lot of sense. Depth might be the best feature, and it just fits into this team so beautifully that even if nobody gets hurt, the potential route to maximize the entire roster is clear here.