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 Income

Capital City Income trades away
Happ, Ian ($0 prospect)
Faria, Jake ($0 prospect)
2018 Draft Pick, Round 1 (The Foundation)
Owings, Chris ($8)

We Talk Fantasy Sports trades away
Scherzer, Max ($88)
2018 Draft Pick, Round 3 (Hustle Loyalty Respect)

$10 Auction Dollars 2018

 

 

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Controversy

 

A bitter angry source (not really but maybe kinda) who will remain nameless (but hint: there is a vowel in his first name) has come forward saying he had a deal agreed to for Max Scherzer but this one was accepted instead. I had a chance to review the package ( ͡º ͜ʖ ͡º) from my source and I think it’s relatively on par with the one Bailey offered. The centerpiece in that deal I believe has more upside than anyone acquired here, but was also considerably more unproven.

 

Hustle’s EXTRA ULTRA TOXIC $.02

 

I guess we should really look at this trade through WTFS’ eye. For Bailey? He’s getting one of the 3 best pitchers in the game. He’s losing 2b depth, but for this year at least he has Neil Walker, Howie Kendrick, or Marwin Gonzalez who could slot in there. I think worst case scenario he’s averaging maybe .5-1 ppg less from his 2b spot for the rest of this season, but probably not. The value Max will give to his team more than makes up for it. Additionally his team looks like a monster for next year It’s a big win for CCI.   Not sure if the market might have cooled because Max slept on his neck poorly one night, but it might have. Ultimately, can you really trust a guy with different colored eyes?

 

Per Keith, WTFS has 423 next to spend next year and that’s before dumping Buxton (BREAKING NEWS) and Upton resulting in an additional $90. That alone pays for Scherzer IN FULL with decent money left over. You’re not going to get someone as good as Scherzer in auction with the 130 or whatever they will have, so why not just keep him? Additionally looking at WTFS rotation next year we see Faria, Moore, and Kennedy. There is no way getting around the fact that this is bad. You can add some pieces in auction, but it’s a gamble thinking you’re going to walk away with more than 1 quality SP all year from auction. For those that have gotten 2 or more this year, kudos… I think you’re in the minority…. And I am not one of you.

 

Looking at the assets. The headliner is Ian Happ who is cost controlled for another 6 seasons. Currently averaging 5.56 ppg (I really should do points per pa like Bailey does, but haven’t figured that out yet). I like Ian Happ a good amount and he certainly seems like a long term keeper for WTFS, but if his upside isn’t being an elite guy, then I don’t like this as a headline piece. Furthermore, one of the most attractive parts of Ian Happ is that he will only cost $1 next season. A $1 and 5.5 ppg or even 6ppg 2b for $1… rookie on the Cubs?… SIGN ME UP! But when you have over $100 cap space and you’re giving up $10 to do it, the $1 deal is considerably less valuable. You might as well think of Ian Happ as $11 next year, which is still a great price for current pace. Faria is nice but I think is clearly overachieving, his LOB % is still over 80%, FIP 3.8, XFIP 4.5. He is potentially a decent starter to keep for a few years. Chris Owings is $10 next year and is averaging 4.7 ppg this year. He’s probably a keeper? Unexciting but useful. I like draft picks, but best case scenario you’re getting a back end top 100 guy here with this pick.

 

I guess I don’t love this package. I’m not sure the tipping point is the $10 or not, but it might be. If the plan is to compete for next season, I think this trade is a lose for WTFS barring Scherzer’s performance and health. A pitcher can lose it at any point and quick or get hurt, as we saw with Thor earlier this year.

 

There are a lot of mid range good cost pieces coming back to Keith here, but nothing really game changing. Nothing that’s really going to compete with a core of elite talent like Scherzer, Mccutchen, Stanton, Carrasco, Bellinger, and Denard Span….supplemented with useful good cost pieces. Other top teams based on point scored are similarly built.

 

Auction budget doesn’t guarantee you much, Squids had overwhelmingly the most of it last auction and wasted $70 on Richards and Harvey. $70 alone was more than double some teams had to spend this last auction and they have done almost nothing for Squids. Looking at Squids Auction he hit on a $42 Keuchel, but that’s not a super value going forward. He also had plenty of other wasted picks like $18 on Alex Gordon and $23 on Shelby Miller. For the record, my auction was probably worse than his… I just had less money so I’m focusing on the guy who had the most.

I spent about the same amount on Smyly and Rodon.  Rodon has had maybe 1 ok game in my lineup along with a -42…. And when you combine those two scores for negative whatever… it’s still more than the 0 Smyly has given me.

 

This is a long way of me saying….expensive priced players like Scherzer are good for your team if they are good. Cap space is considerably overrated. David Price is going to be in the auction, but there are going to be quite a few teams that can drop more than $50 on a player if they want, and there aren’t going to be many players (if any) who you will feel great about paying $50 for. I know this won’t happen, but if you’re a team that’s out of it, it’s not the worst idea to deal some prospects for a proven $20-50 guy who you want to keep next year.

There are quite a few teams already where I am comfortable writing off their 2018 chances of a championship. Anything is possible as Kevin Garnett once said (you could be 1st place in august with 10th most points in August), but it’s going to be an incredibly difficult task. Multiple teams building for 2020 isn’t wise because well, multiple teams are doing it. Additionally, the top teams aren’t going to start sucking. Many of them have better farm systems than the teams who actually need them.

Ultimately I don’t like this trade for Keith because he has a ton of cap space and his pitching for next year looks in trouble. If the plan is to build long term and tap out for 2018, I might have opted for more upside.  The ways this does work out for Keith is

 

  • Scherzer has a lengthy injury
  • He becomes not an Ace. At 33 years old, it’s not crazy and Scherzer likely doesn’t have more than a couple years of this level left.
  • Faria stays this good and Happ improves.

 

So, I think this trade could work out for Keith, I just don’t love the probability of it.

Like the referees told UNC after Chris Webber called a timeout with no timeouts left. “Enjoy the Turnover”.

TRADE: Foundation + Capital City Ironmen

 

 

Hustle’s Take

Oh look, the commissioners trade with each other again, and only a few days before the one year anniversary of the infamous James Shields trade. Truth be told, the trade is very similar in structure.  Two upgraded picks for a player. The picks are worse this time.

 

That being said I love this trade for Bailey.  He has a glut of 2b in Devon Travis (hey Dusty), Neil Walker (who Jordan traded to Bailey), Marwin Gonzeles, and  Chris Owings. Also, he has Ian Happ in his minors that he could call up at any moment. Basically, there’s no way he’s going to remotely miss Jed Lowrie.

Jed Lowrie is 33, playing in Oakland, very injury prone, and currently over performing. He’s over 6 points per game at the moment, which is very good for any player and even better for a 2b.  Generally I think Jed Lowrie is an underrated player in this format when healthy and has a clear role, but he’s nothing special. When you’re owning Darwin Barney, I think you probably need to make a move for some middle infield depth or be more aggressive on the wire.

That being said, I think two 2nd rounders is a pretty steep price for Lowrie.  Does Bailey actually say no to one 2nd rounder with that depth? Did he? I’d say it would be pretty irresponsible to say no to 1 for him unless he was confident he could milk 2 (which he did).

I get Jordan hating prospects and picks, but a 2nd rounder was selling for 5-7 bucks last year.  I can’t get behind selling 2 of them for Lowrie. As our minor league player pool shallows out with getting 5 spots a year, the upper round picks in theory should be worth more. I also think Jordan could have used the other 2nd rounder as a trade chip in a different more impactful deal down the line. Now we probably see Bailey use Jordan’s pick somehow.

I’d be pretty surprised if Lowrie moved the needle for Jordan this season, but if it does, it’s worth it.

Trade: The Foundation | Hustle Loyalty Respect | Capital City Ironmen

The Foundation sends: 2B Neil Walker ($18) [to CAP]
Hustle Loyalty Respect sends: SP Adam Wainwright ($49) [to CAP], C Yadier Molina ($6) [to FND], 2017 1st Round Pick [to CAP]
Capital City Ironmen sends: 2017 1st Round Pick [to HLR]

Andrew’s thoughts: So in summation: HLR gets the 4th overall pick, I slide back to the 16th overall pick, get Neil Walker and his back problems, plus Adam Wainwright, and The Foundation gets Yadier Molina. This was a fun trade.

I really needed a 2B and didn’t like any of the options already sitting in free agency or on the trade market. I also felt really torn with the fourth overall pick. My list is pretty clear for the first two or three guys, but after that, it’s just a random dart throw for me between players with low ceilings versus players that are three years away from debuting, much less being fantasy relevant. So I hedged a bit on the pick front, moving back to 16th where there are some names I like and going ahead and adding my 2B.

Walker ranks 11th in wOBA at 2B from 2015-16 and 6th if you go back to 2014-16. I have no doubts about his skills. He walks a good bit, doesn’t strike out much, and has some pop. He had the back surgery last year, which is where my doubts lie, but $18 is really not that much. I don’t see how, at that price, he’s any more risky than some 19- or 20-year-old that’s just getting their feet wet in the minors.

Oh, and Adam Wainwright! I like him. Whether or not I keep him at $49 remains to be seen, but I like having the option. He’s a little over-priced, but last year was basically the only sub-par year he ever had and pitching at auction isn’t likely to be deep, so I’ll take the wildcard. Inquire if you’re interested in him! Absolute worst case, I kept HLR from trading him to someone else for $1 and ensured that if he makes it to auction, it’s because I made the call.

Jordan’s defense: I have been after a catcher since the off season started. Yadi was on the trade block, but Jonny and I had issues making a deal that fit well. Yadi’s Steamer projections have him as the 8th best catcher next year while taking a significant step back from last year’s production.

I enjoy not having to deal with Derek Norris or catcher streaming going forward. It cost me Neil Walker who was a borderline keeper for my team anyway. I would rather have Neil Walker than not, but since I picked him up off the waiver wire (shouldn’t have been there), I felt little connection to him. I will take a starting catcher for the sacrifice of not having a good back up at 2B and UT.

For HLR the motivation for the deal is clear. Moving to the fourth pick of the draft is both exciting and potentially profitable for a catcher slated to be a back up on his team and starting pitcher headed to the auction pool.

For Andrew, well I actually think he could have sold the pick for more. But, when you have three of the top four picks, securing a starting 2B and an option on a former ace with potential to return to glory, there are worse deals.

Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | We Talk Fantasy Sports

Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: SP Max Scherzer ($86), SP Rookie Davis (minors)
We Talk Fantasy Sports sends: SP Tyler Glasnow (minors), CF Manuel Margot (minors), SP Robert Stephenson (minors), SP Lucas Sims (minors), 2017 2nd Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts: This is a really interesting deal. I think for both sides, it works out well.

For We Talk Fantasy Sports, this has been a unique season. They are 9-6 and in prime spot to challenge for the final playoff spite despite being objectively bad. They are 15th in total points which, since we’re mid-week, is a little finicky because some teams have used more starts than others. Still, an extra start or two isn’t going to make much difference. My stinky team is 14th in points and has a 324.3 point edge over WTFS. To say that WTFS, who has had the fewest points scored on them by a margin of 527.95 points over the next team, has been lucky is just a massive understatement.

But whatever! I think in some ways, simply being so lucky and being in this spot is all the reason you need to push in some chips. It could be ill advised and screw future seasons, but I would hope everyone’s goal is to win championships, not just out-kick your coverage and finish seventh (their current place in the standings). It’s almost August, they’re in playoff contention, so why not go for it (especially as it looks like all the other teams are content standing pat)?

Max Scherzer is a difference maker. He instantly becomes WTFS’s best pitcher and it isn’t really even close. Their second best starter is Michael Pineda, who is just around league average. Of course, the price to take on the league’s sixth-highest paid player is a big one. Tyler Glasnow was a top-5 overall pick, Manuel Margot is a prized outfield prospect (I’m not super high on him for fantasy purposes), Robert Stephenson is a regular on top-100 lists (he’s another guy I don’t like because he can’t stop serving up homers and will get to pitch his home games in Coors Lite), and Dusty’s team stinks, so that pick (his own pick, which he’d previously dealt) will probably be top-20. Given all the context — that WTFS has been far more lucky than good — I assume they’re making this move with the intent of keeping Scherzer beyond this year, which seems reasonable. While I like that they aren’t taking their fortune for granted, I’m not sure they swing this move for a rental knowing that they still have tons of ground to cover, even with Scherzer on board. It’s really just your run of the mill high risk, high reward move for WTFS. I respect their aggressiveness.

For Dusty, the truth is, there was never really a good reason to ignore (and in some cases dismantle) his offense in favor of his nasty pitching staff (formerly Scherzer, plus Jake Arrieta, Zach Greinke, Kyle Hendricks, and John Lackey). Instead of a balanced team, he punted offense and went all-in on arms which is probably the biggest reason he’s at the bottom of the standings. By swinging this deal, he doesn’t do much to fix his offense. Margot pretty much has to be a stud from day one to be a marked upgrade over Brett Gardner in center. To be clear, if Margot produces exactly like Gardner, that’s great, because Gardner is good and Margot would cost nothing. I think too often people get tantalized by “upside” and ignore that players can be really valuable just simply by being good. It’s just that, adding a single good hitter won’t magically propel an offense. Anyway, he does free up $88 headed into next year, which gives him better odds of keeping the rest of those pitchers if he wants.

The problem is, I’d actually looked at his team recently and thought it looked fairly simple to keep all those pitchers in tact, which would then clearly outline an offseason gameplan where you need to address only hitters. I mean, you can just cut Jason Heyward ($50 in 2017) and Mike Fiers ($13) and then apply the $20 auction cash you have sitting in till to keep Scherzer. That covers him almost completely. $16 Blake Swihart looks like an easy cut, $9 Hyun-Jin Ryu probably should be dumped unless his arm regenerates itself, $18 Neil Walker doesn’t strike me as a keepable investment, paying Josh Harrison, who looks like he’ll only qualify at 2B next year, $15 seems pointless. Keeping Scherzer was certainly a realistic option. I love Glasnow’s talent though (I almost took him third overall) and if you think he hits his ceiling, he’s certainly a better value than Scherzer at over $80. Plus you get Margot, Stephenson, a Lucas Sims lotto ticket, and that pick. But if I can afford to keep my studs, I’d rather do that, I think. I’m a Scherzer fan, so I’m likely harboring some bias toward him.

That all probably sounds like I don’t like it for Dusty, but I do. Bottom line is he didn’t need all the pitchers he amassed, and this way he distributes his talent a little better and frees up significant budget space. The trade is done so I don’t think it matters now, but I had very loosely pursued Scherzer and just didn’t want to part with the prospect package Dusty wanted, and I didn’t think Dusty would find anyone who would. The package he ended up getting is lighter, I think, but it’s close. Like I said, I think both sides come out clean on this one. There’s risk — there always is — but sometimes you have to just push down on the gas and see what happens.

Jordan’s thoughts: It’s really boring to just say that I agree with Andrew on all points, because I do. I love this deal for Dusty. Yes, Max is very keepable. Yes, its not a bad strategy to keep Max. Yes, there is reason to not sell off despite being “out of it.” But, Dusty’s trading one major asset for a bunch of interesting ones. Some more than others obviously.

Dusty still has a formidable staff and gets to punt on Max who has shown signs of shakiness (oh wait, that’s all pitchers in 2016, the worst year of baseball since 1994) at times. The flexibility he adds in four decent minor leaguers has its perks.

I love this trade even more for We Talk Fantasy Sports. Honestly, who gives two shits about prospects when you have a legit shot at a championship? I don’t. You shouldn’t. Max in this kind of a formatted league offers a huge upgrade. Late August/early September, Max will be throwing against tired and expanded rosters. Probably toss a couple of 50 spots in playoff weeks. If you get a 2-start week in the playoffs from Max, hot dog, you nailed the jackpot. Sure, any of the prospects could be hard to lose, but at this point for WTFS you’re playing for now and winning today is more important than having a chance at some serious talent in two or three seasons.

2016 Auction Review – Rocky Mountain Oysters

Rocky Mountain OYSTERS

ss+(2016-03-13+at+11.06.00)

The man stole Bryce Harper from me. May as well crown him as champion. Kidding aside, Harper, Giancarlo Stanton on the same team with George Springer and the tantalizing possibility of Byron Buxton. Is it to borrow from a close friend…fake or for real?

Hitting – Very Good

If Vegas was taking odds on likelihood of me ending up with Bryce Harper or Bailey ending up with Giancarlo, they would have been favorites. The odds that Dusty ends up with both of “our guys”, was the parlay of the century. Between the two RMO paid about $91 a star. That is a fair price now and going forward. Springer and David Ortiz clogging up the utility spots is a good problem to have (or as it turns out: no problem at all). In a team primed for 2016, I would have liked to see Byron Buxton‘s money buy Adrian Gonzalez, but I could be wrong anyway. Neil Walker, Josh Harrison, Brandon Crawford and Brett Gardner are all good enough to build around. The trade has already happened, but Yonder Alonso is probably not good enough to stick with at first base all year long.

Pitching – Alright

I really had a hell of a time rating this pitching staff. First lets get out of the way, the bullpen is forgettable. This rotation has three Houston Astros pitchers, Lance McCullers, Colin McHugh and Mike Fiers. Is that exciting? No. Is that bad? No. Kenta Maeda, Hisashi Iwakuma, John Lackey are all good in my book, but they have their concerns. Seven dollars Dylan Bundy. C’mon. I should knock the rating down one peg just for that. I think this pitching staff will perform honestly. And it’ll be alright.

Depth – Alright

The depth exists, it is alright. I like the pitching depth, I like the outfield depth although you hope not to need it. There’s a lack of first basemen on this roster, but that is probably easily solved. No backup catcher. But, it’ll be easy enough to mill through these guys and get points where you need them when you need them

Why 2016 would be bad… 

Things go South quickly if Giancarlo fails to play 100 games again, and the pitching staff is just mush. The first base spot on this roster creates a weekly deficit that is hard to make up. David Ortiz plays out his final season like Derek Jeter, just half assing it. If shit goes downhill fast, Dusty’s roster is better prepared to reload for next year than to save this season.

Why 2016 would be good… 

You can see it now Giancarlo and Bryce are clearly leading each other in the home run race where they both clear fifty bombs. Maeda is as good as advertised, Iwakuma is actually healthy and the Dodgers used the medical to save face when the bear wanted to stay in Seattle. Buxton silences doubters by being a top ten fantasy center fielder goes a long ways on this roster even though Dusty doesn’t technically have room for him.

Overvalued Minor League Draft Picks

While preparing for minor league drafts, the easiest way to get started is to find some top prospect lists by top sites like Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.  However, it is important to remember that these sites are creating lists for real life, not fantasy, so defense and intangibles are part of the thought process.  As fantasy owners, our scouting report is much simpler, and predetermined by league settings.

In Dynasty Grinders, we do not count runs scored or RBI, and ERA is not a big deal.  So while scanning all of these lists, it’s important to look a bit deeper into a players’ past production, read the scouting reports, and find players that fit our specific league scoring system.

A member of the r/FantasyBaseball community on Reddit was kind enough to put together a top 100 list that combined multiple top 100 lists from reputable sites.

I’ve complied a list of multiple Top 100 Prospect lists into one. This is purely a mathematical based list not based on any scouting. The formula is based on how many lists they are on, the rage of their positions on the list, their high and low position, their average position and scores weighted more towards fantasy than real life prospect lists.

Now again, your league will determine how valuable each individual player is, and in this league, we could not draft certain players that had limited MLB experience.  After removing them from the list, leaving us with 85 players and moving what was left up the rankings, here are the players that we overvalued by 10 or more draft slots, when you compare our draft slot versus their ranking.

MILB Draft Overvalued

FND, HYD, LB and WYH each selected two players at least 10 spots ahead of their top 85 ranking.

However, it was GAU with the “worst” pick of the draft, selecting Brady Aiken with the 34th overall selection, when he was rank 70th. The differential, 36, was actually higher then the draft slot! Obviously Aiken is a well known name around baseball after being selected 1st overall in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft by the Houston Astros. However, he did not sign and was then selected 17th in the following draft by the Cleveland Indians. He has yet to throw a pitch in a game that counts as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

We have discussed the Foundation’s selection of Jeff Hoffman with the 18th pick a lot in our Slack chat, so I will let this one go, as to not embarrass his owner any more. But FND also selected Jesse Winker ahead of his rank, 34, with his first round pick and did so even before selecting Hoffman in round two. Prior to 2015, MLB.com ranked Winker the 26th overall prospect in baseball and with 14 Top 100 prospects removed from our list of eligible players, the selection does make some sense. He is often compared to Jay Bruce, mainly because they came up through the Reds farm system. If Winker turns into 2012/2013 Bruce, this pick will be a steal.

Team Hydra may have reached for Pirates 2B Alen Hansen, but I think they got a real nice piece in Bobby Bradley, a player we were targeting with our next pick. Hanson is slotted in at 2B for the Pirates this season with Neil Walker being traded to the Mets and Jung-Ho Kang out to start the season. Hanson can fly and if he can get on base could be a valuable piece to the Pirates as a utility player this season. However, our league does not count runs scored and Hanson has a .320 OBP despite a .275 BA over two seasons at AA ball.

The Rays drafted Taylor Guerrieri way back in the first round of the 2011 draft out of Spring Valley High School in South Carolina.  Who’s Your Haddy selected him 30 picks ahead of his rank, with the 53rd pick.  Over four minor league seasons, and 206.1 IP, he owns a 1.61 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP with 178 strikeouts.  Those are some nice numbers.  He just turned 23 in December and will look to join the Rays rotation by early 2017.  However, he is one full season removed from Tommy John surgery and has faced a 50 game suspension for a positive drug test.  The Rays are loaded with pitchers and Guerrieri is their 3rd or fourth best pitching prospect.  WYH hopes to not see him land in the bullpen, and a trade wouldn’t be the worst thing, as long as it is not to the Colorado Rockies!

With the 44th pick, WYH drafted Cubs OF Billy McKinney, despite being ranked 71st.  Chicago is loaded in the OF, signing Jason Heyward this offseason in addition Kyle Schwarber, Dexter Fowler (just re-signed), Jorge Soler and prospects Albert Almora and Ian Happ.  MLB Pipeline ranks McKinney the Cubs #2 prospect behind SS Gleyber Torres, ahead of Almora and Happ.  He is actually a perfect prospect to own as he is a high BA/high OBP guy.  He just needs Soler to be traded.

Long Ball to LF drafted two MLB ready players ahead of their rank, but I like both Jameson Tallion and Willson Contreras, despite both going a round earlier than their rank suggests.