Trade: We Talk Fantasy Sports | Capital City Ironmen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trade: We Talk Fantasy Sports | Capital City Ironmen

We Talk Fantasy Sports sends: CF Andrew McCutchen ($71), 5th round 2018 Draft Pick
Capital City Ironmen¬†send:¬†C Travis d’Arnaud ($22), LF Jorge Soler ($18), CF Billy Hamilton ($10), 2nd round 2018 Draft Pick

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Andrew McCutchen just had the worst season since becoming a super star of Major League Baseball. It was so awful that he finished as the 11th best center fielder. Let that sink in for a second. A super star, gets paid a lot, under performs and his apparent floor is 11th best in the league at his position.

Granted I would rather not be paying super star keeper money for a guy finishing as the 11th best at his position, but that has to be his floor right? I think so. I think McCutchen gets back into the top 5, possibly even the top 3 of center fielders next season. I absolutely love this trade for CCI as they gave up almost nothing, and got back a potential superstar. If he has back to back mediocre seasons, then you cut him or trade him for some poo poo package next year and you’re out nothing. The odds that CCI would spend the $71 on a better gamble in the draft are really low in my opinion.

For WTFS, I don’t understand this trade at all. I would almost certainly rather risk McCutchen to the draft with intentions of drafting him for less cash at auction. I don’t see how you keep d’Arnaud at that price. Soler is easier to keep since he got traded to Kansas City, but that’s not a prize piece. Billy Hamilton doesn’t get points for defense, and doesn’t really get enough points for steals. I just don’t see the upside of forcing this deal.

Andrew’s defense:¬†Projection systems are far from infallible, but Steamer has Andrew McCutchen pegged for a .363 wOBA, the 15th highest mark among hitters. As Jordan mentioned, last year was a down year. But Cutch’s floor remained pretty high — he still grossed 829.9 points — and his second half numbers look on par with his career norms. He posted a .355 wOBA in August and a .374 across September and October. He actually had a .333 in March/April and a .343 in May (not $71 good, but pretty good still), so really the .250 in June and .300 in July are what dragged his season totals down. I think seven-plus seasons of production are more telling than two crappy months, particularly because of that strong finish.

Would I rather take the Cutch leap at, like, $50? Sure. But I’m really not confident he would’ve made it back to auction for that opportunity to present itself. And I think the main¬†utility of¬†$1 prospects like Trevor Story and Sean Manaea is to create so much surplus that it enables you to spend elsewhere, be it on risks or safe bets.

 

Trade: Rocky Mountain Oysters | Long ball to LF

Long ball to LF sends: SS Francisco Lindor ($40) & 1B/LF Hanley Ramirez ($15)
Rocky Mountain Oysters sends: SP Kenta Maeda ($21)

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†I really don’t like shipping off Kenta Maeda here. Five starts into his short MLB career so far, and he’s been better than advertised. 38 points per start. He’s efficient, able to get deep into games and strike hitters out. He also is quite fun to watch, which probably has less value in fantasy that I give it for.

Maeda just had his worst start where he finished with 27 points. His pitch counts have been well managed and there’s just so much to like about him. Even if Maeda gets hammered by greed dollars, he’s still keepable at under $50. I hate sending him away for anything less tier 1 ace return.

Long ball gets an ace, and they send off some overprice pieces. You’re not a baseball fan if you’re not aware of where Hanley Ramirez‘s value stands. So far this season, he’s not walking, striking out more and the power isn’t making up for it. A .696 OPS for a first basemen is not good enough. The Red Sox have a problem on their hands. Hanley was overpriced in the auction is certain to be dropped at the end of the season. While he does provide some what consistent low bar production, he’s a throw in for this kind of deal.

Francisco Lindor is the presumed prize coming back. He’s been good. Not great, but good. Andrew’s already written about positional adjusted values. Short stops this year have been all good. Lindor’s 5 points per game should have been top 5, but right now its 10th. Aledmys Diaz, Jean Segura, and Zack Cozart are names you should not expect to hold on to finish ahead of Lindor, but they are there now. Guys like Trevor Story, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Starlin Castro, and Corey Seager should not be surprising. If all the sudden short stops are a deep enough position, there’s just no prize here. Guys like Jed Lowrie, Brock Holt, Asdrubal Cabrera have all been better than average for years past. They’re all basically free. If you can get a player who’s an everyday guy without punting the position you are golden. If we knew what we knew now in the draft, I have to imagine that Lindor is going for $25-30. That isn’t insignificant. He’s good, but that perceived value is just gone when the 2nd and 3rd tier of a position show up.

Dusty has really won many trades in this league so far, and this was not one of them. Lindor replaces Jose Ramirez in the line up. It is an improvement. But, now Dusty is one less ace short in a world where you cannot have too many.

Johnny couldn’t cash this check fast enough in my opinion. He gets value for a player he didn’t need. Dallas Keuchel wasn’t enough to carry the rotation, adding Maeda to that makes his pitching staff leagues better. Fantastic move.

Andrew’s thoughts: I know Dusty really likes Lindor and has a solid pitching staff with or without Maeda, but I’d rather have the pitcher here.

For starters, Lindor is probably overpriced. He’s young and a shortstop¬†though, so hooray, $40! I just don’t like his price — or Hanley’s, for that matter — and think Maeda’s a bargain. Anything can happen, of course. Maeda had some questionable medicals and he’s just making his first run through the league, so maybe we’re seeing the best he has. Even still, I wouldn’t view this as a “sell high” in a league where pitching is at a premium. To me, Lindor and a potentially finished Hanley aren’t a big prize.

But hey, who knows? As I said, Dusty still has pitching and now his offense should be slightly improved, salaries be damned.

Side note: Dusty previously traded Hisashi Iwakuma for Khris Davis, then abruptly cut Davis because he was underperforming through less than 20 games. Just thinking aloud here, but would you rather have Davis on your roster or Hanley? I think most would say Hanley. He’s got the longer track record and qualifies at an extra position. And that isn’t a bad answer. Point is, is the gap between Davis, who was cut flat out, and Hanley, who was a key piece in dumping off a really good starting pitcher, really that big? I don’t think it is.

Musing on positional scarcity and age…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Call Up: Our league’s first cost controlled minor leaguer has been promoted

One of interesting details of this league are cost controlled minor leaguers.  In a nutshell:

Cost Controlled Keepers:

All players acquired through the minor league draft are cost controlled eligible. They are free to keep until after their first MLB season.

1st off-season: $1
2nd off-season: 20% of FanGraphs Auction Calculator Value
3rd off-season: 40% of FanGraphs Auction Calculator Value (or +$2 whichever is greater)
4th off-season: 60% of FanGraphs Auction Calculator Value (or +$2 whichever is greater)
5th off-season: 80% of FanGraphs Auction Calculator Value
6th off-season: Graduate to Major League Keeper eligibility.

In the fifth round of this year’s inaugural minor league draft, following a trade with Beach Bum, I took Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story. He was my primary target at the time of the trade for reasons I’ll get to, but I thought I could trade down, add a higher pick later, and still get my guy. Luckily, I did. Anyway, he’s an interesting prospect in an even more interesting situation.

In short, Story’s¬†a power hitter with a whole lot of swing and miss in his game. He’s a bit like Ian Desmond in that regard. He¬†plays a tough position to fill¬†too, and now that he’s won the starting gig, plays in the most favorable fantasy park in the game. The guy presumed ahead of him, Jose Reyes, is likely to be suspended and even if he’s not, he’s yet to join the team. And the Rockies didn’t seem to like Reyes too much anyway.

When I drafted him, I did so gambling that a few dominoes would fall. First and most importantly, that he’d earn playing time. With Reyes’ legal issues, I knew he’d be mostly out of the way through spring training and the Rockies didn’t look to me like a team plentiful with options. They could’ve signed Desmond, but that never felt like a viable fit to me. So first, I picked him hoping he’d get ABs sooner rather than later.

Next, I obviously love the park. Who doesn’t want their fantasy players taking the field 81 times at altitude, where pitchers can only serve them meaty fastballs? My logic was that at the absolute worst, Story’s skill set lends him to being roughly average at home. Unless you have an elite shortstop, average is valuable. And because he’d cost me nothing in 2016 and a buck in 2017, an average starting shortstop meant I could punt the position at auction (which I obviously did).

The last thing that led me to Story in our draft was his projections, specifically how ZiPS pegged him. ZiPS generously projected him for a .244/.308/.441 slash line with 18 homers and a .322 wOBA. That’s pretty good at a weak position. To lend that some context, here are the qualified shortstops who had higher wOBAs in 2015: Xander Bogarts, Troy Tulowitzki, Brandon Crawford, Jhonny Peralta (also on my team!). That’s it.

In 2014, only Hanley Ramirez (no longer a shortstop), Peralta, and Starlin Castro and Ian Desmond, whose shortstop eligibility expiration date is rapidly approaching, had higher wOBAs.

So basically, I saw a guy¬†that ZiPS was projecting as a top four or five player at a weak position. Admittedly, I viewed these projections as optimistic. But even if you take some of the helium out, you’re looking at a serviceable player. Marry that to the other stuff — limited competition, opportunity, ETA, a dream of a ballpark — and this was a very enticing player at draft.

That brings us to this past Monday.

Trevor Story

With these cost control guys, there’s an advantage to letting them season in the minors. Of course you’d like to siphon as much value from them as possible while their cost is nil.¬†But most prospects don’t hit the ground running, and adding a sub-par, developing player to your major league roster means effectively playing a guy short. Which in itself is something to consider. If you promote your prospect, what’s the opportunity cost of adding a viable major leaguer? In more cases than not, I don’t think promoting a guy in this league is as simple as “well he got called up by his major league team.”

But with Story, it sort of was that simple. I drafted him for this exact situation. I like Marwin Gonzalez and Wilmer Flores just fine — in fact, they’re bad asses against lefties — but these aren’t every day guys. How bad would Story have to be to be worse than a guy that isn’t in the lineup that day?

So I called him up and put him in my lineup. For the first time in the very young history of our league, a player drafted as a minor leaguer was in a starting lineup.

And he hit two homers. And another the next day. And another the day after that. For a player that costs nothing, it’s been a fun half week.

But it’s still just a half of a week. It’s totally conceivable that he stops laying into hangers and starts striking out at a 35% clip. There’s always a hitter that tears through the league for a week, then descends back into anonymity.

For now at least, the plan is unfolding about as well as I could’ve wanted. I wanted this player and got him, and the dominoes that needed to fall have fallen. Now I just need the toppling to continue for another five or six months.

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!