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Zach’s Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 4/11

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For owners in weekly lineup leagues looking to routinely maximize their wins and strikeouts, two-start pitchers carry a significant amount of appeal. In some cases, two-start pitchers with a pair of favorable matchups can be added via the waiver wire. In other cases, the waiver wire will not offer many viable options. Instead, owners in search of an edge in counting stats will need to stick to their roster and perhaps play a riskier two-start pitcher over a more dependable hurler who is in line for one unfavorable matchup.

Every Friday throughout the season, I’ll be writing an article for the MLB.com site solely devoted to previewing the following week’s two-start pitchers who are worth considering. I will mostly focus on 12-team mixed leagues but will also mix in some pitchers more suitable for deeper mixed leagues or even non-mixed formats. Keep in mind that I will not be discussing the obvious choices. I don’t need to tell you to pitch Clayton Kershaw in two-start weeks. A sampling of the full piece along with a link to the complete article will be available right here on the blog. Below is a portion of this week’s article.

Aaron Nola

Aaron Nola (vs. SD, vs. WAS)

Nola certainly deserved a win on Wednesday night as he held the Reds to just one run on four hits with eight strikeouts across seven innings. Unfortunately, the Phillies bullpen was unable to preserve a one-run lead, so Nola had to settle for a no-decision. Wins might be tough to come by for Nola this season as Philadelphia’s lineup and bullpen could struggle often, but the 22-year-old righty has already proven that he can be a highly effective big league pitcher. He should be owned in all 12-team mixed leagues and belongs in starting lineups for all of his two-start weeks. This is especially true for next week, as Nola’s first opponent, the Padres, were shut out in each of their first three games this season.

Wei-Yin Chen (@NYM, vs. ATL)

Chen owners should not be too concerned about his rough opening outing against the Tigers. I still expect a strong season thanks to his career-long consistency and his move from the AL East to the much more pitcher-friendly NL East. Next week, the new Marlins southpaw gets one favorable matchup (vs. ATL) and one matchup of medium difficulty (@NYM), but like Nola, I view Chen as an automatic start in two-start weeks.

For the full article, CLICK HERE

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Pitch or Ditch for Saturday-Monday, April 9-11

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Padres Royals Spring Baseball

ZACH’S PICKS

SATURDAY

Porcello @ Dickey – Bad matchup for both.

Sabathia @ Pelfrey

Cole @ Iglesias

Co. Anderson @ Sale – Anderson coming off strong spring but I’ll pass for now.

Kershaw @ Bumgarner – Nice!

Koehler @ J. Ross

Smyly @ M. Wright – Hanging with Smyly.

Fister @ Peralta – Fister could prove to be PoD worthy sooner rather than later.

Velasquez @ Matz – Need to see at least one solid outing from Velasquez before I can confidently pitch him.

Martinez @ Teheran

Milone @ Kennedy – Kennedy deserves consideration in deeper leagues but in 12-teamers, I’d play it safe for the time being.

Hendricks @ Greinke – Not a great matchup for Hendricks but I’ll go for it.

Pomeranz @ J. De La Rosa – I’m high on Pomeranz in general but not at Coors.

Hamels @ Richards

R. Hill @ Karns – Not trusting Hill right now. Karns offers sneaky upside this year.

SUNDAY

S. Wright @ Estrada – Taking a wait and see approach with Estrada.

Hellickson @ Colon – Great matchup for Bartolo.

Locke @ DeSclafani – DeSclafani is intriguing this year but I don’t like this matchup.

Cosart @ Scherzer

Wainwright @ W. Perez

Odorizzi @ T. Wilson

Tomlin @ Quintana (PPD)

Keuchel @ Nelson – I’m a believer in Nelson this season…just not for this start.

Nolasco @ Volquez

M. Perez @ Weaver – Weaver topping out in the low-80’s with his fastball…no thanks.

Kazmir @ Cueto

Arrieta @ S. Miller

Bassitt @ King Felix

Shields @ Bettis

Tanaka @ Verlander (PPD)

MONDAY

Niese @ Verlander – Niese strictly a deep mixed/NL-only option for this start.

Gallardo @ Price

Cashner @ Nola

Quintana @ Gibson – Gibson a viable two-start pitcher choice in deeper leagues for next week, but I’m reserving him in daily transaction formats.

Jungmann @ Wacha

B. Norris @ Scherzer

Cosart @ Matz

Finnegan @ Lester – I like Finnegan a lot this year but this matchup is too tough.

Young @ McHugh – Not giving up on McHugh.

Tropeano @ Gray

Lewis @ Iwakuma

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Pitch or Ditch for Friday, April 8

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Taijuan Walker

ZACH’S PICKS

Severino @ Zimmermann

Eickhoff @ deGrom

Salazar @ Danks

Rea @ Lyles

Archer @ Tillman – Need to see more than two dominant innings from Tillman.

Kelly @ Stroman

Liriano @ Simon

Garcia @ Wisler

Feldman @ Ch. Anderson

Big Erv @ Ventura – Erv looked pretty good in his abbreviated first start, but I’ll play it safe in this matchup.

Hammel @ Ray – Ray is too risky here, and though I’m not super confident in Hammel, I’ll say pitch.

Griffin @ Shoemaker – Shoemaker could become a viable PoD option soon.

Surkamp @ Walker – I have high hopes for Walker this year.

Stripling @ Cain

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Pitch or Ditch for Thursday, April 7

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Derek Holland

ZACH’S PICKS

Morton @ Stephenson – Playing it safe with Stephenson in his big league debut despite tempting matchup.

Latos @ Graveman – Graveman a decent option in AL-only leagues though.

Fiers @ Eovaldi – Tough matchup for both but I’ll give it a shot.

Conley @ Roark – There’s a lot to like about Conley this year.

Wood @ Peavy – Pitching both, but both are a little risky.

Kelly @ Salazar (PPD)

Hughes @ Jimenez – I don’t like the matchup for Hughes and I don’t trust Ubaldo.

Lackey @ R. De La Rosa

Holland @ Santiago – It’s only two games, but the Angels offense isn’t looking good so far (.115 AVG, 1 R), so I’ll pitch Holland. I’m also pitching Santiago at home, where he registered a 2.65 ERA last season.

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Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, April 6

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Brandon Finnegan

ZACH’S PICKS

Happ @ Moore – Moore worth monitoring but this matchup is too tough.

Samardzija @ Jungmann

Miley @ Lewis

Chatwood @ Corbin

An. Sanchez @ Fernandez

Buchholz @ Carrasco – I’m not a big Buchholz fan but if you drafted him, you might as well start him here.

McHugh @ Pineda

Gibson @ Gallardo – Taking a wait and see approach with Gibson.

Leake @ Nicasio – Let’s see Nicasio perform well when it really counts!

Nola @ Finnegan – Favorable matchup for both breakout candidates.

Strasburg @ Norris

Maeda @ Cashner – Not a great matchup for Cashner but at least he’s at home.

Rodon @ Gray

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Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, April 5

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Aaron Sanchez

ZACH’S PICKS (Bold = Pitch)

Keuchel @ Tanaka

Price @ Kluber

Syndergaard @ Young

Wacha @ Niese – I’m liking Niese as an undervalued SP this year.

Verlander @ W. Chen

Ar. Sanchez @ Odorizzi – Sanchez could warrant mixed league consideration very soon, but not yet.

Iwakuma @ M. Perez

Cueto @ Nelson – Nelson more of a deep mixed league option for this one.

Bettis @ Miller – Bettis could graduate to being a viable play for road starts, but not yet.

Lester @ Heaney – Heaney worth monitoring but I don’t like this matchup.

Quintana @ Bassitt

Kazmir @ Shields

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The Inaugural Pitch or Ditch for 2016 (Monday, April 4)

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Zach here,

New season, and Pitch or Ditch is back. PoD has been a vital part of the 411 from the very beginning, and that’s not going to change in 2016. The exclusive home of Pitch or Ditch will be right here on the blog, so get ready for daily posts listing all of the probable starters for the following day’s games along with our all-important decisions and some commentary where applicable. Although the main goal of the Pitch or Ditch strategy is to search the waiver wire for starters who have pitched well of late and are heading into a favorable matchup, it’s also important to know when to bench or even drop a struggling SP currently on your roster. Unless otherwise noted, these picks are geared towards 12-team mixed leagues, and of course, 12-team mixed leagues that allow for daily transactions. Let’s get started!

Raisel Iglesias

ZACH’S PICKS (Bold = Pitch)

Keuchel @ Tanaka (PPD)

Bumgarner @ Peralta

Big Erv @ Tillman – Keep an eye on Erv but this is a tough matchup.

King Felix @ Hamels

Price @ Kluber (PPD)

Hellickson @ Iglesias – Breakout season for Iglesias? He should get off to a nice start here.

Scherzer @ Teheran

Kershaw @ T. Ross

Dickey @ Smyly – Tough opening matchup for Smyly but I’ll go for it.

J. De La Rosa @ Greinke

Arrieta @ Richards

Sale @ R. Hill – Not trusting Hill for now, even at home.

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Zach’s Mixed Auction Tout Wars Draft Recap

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Complete Tout Wars Draft Results

2016 AL LABR Auction Draft Results

2016 NL LABR Auction Draft Results

2016 Mixed LABR Draft Results

And be sure to check out the 2016 MLB.com Fantasy Player Previewwhich contains rankings, write-ups and projections for over 800 players.

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If I had not occupied first place every single day from late-April through late-July, maybe I would have been satisfied with last season’s fourth place finish in the Mixed Auction Tout Wars league. Instead, I arrived at the SiriusXM headquarters in midtown Manhattan this past Saturday determined to do better. Third place in 2014, fourth place last year, what does it take to finally win this thing?

I prepared for the auction in much the same way that I prepared for my previous four Tout Wars auctions, mapping out an ideal team that I projected to fit under the $260 cap, assigning a rough maximum dollar amount for my top choices at each position. I then listed several backup names at each position that would cost less, in order of preference. If the bidding for my top choices exceeded my maximum by more than a buck or two, I’d work my way down the priority list and use the savings to upgrade my targeted player for one or more of the other positions. While it is important to decide on top choices prior to the draft, it is just as important to be flexible and be prepared to go after a second, third or fourth option.

So, how did it go? Let’s see. Here’s my squad, in order of purchase.

Pedro Alvarez ($7) – I threw out Alvarez’s name early, figuring that I could get him on the cheap while there were still plenty of power-hitting corner infielders on the board. It all worked out as expected, as I was able to land Pedro for two bucks less than my budgeted price. Now that he will be playing half of his games at cozy Camden Yards, I’m thinking that 30 homers are likely. Plus, his typically low batting average doesn’t hurt as much in this league, since Tout uses OBP instead of AVG. Alvarez’s OBP last season was .318, not great but not overly damaging.

Jose Altuve

Jose Altuve ($31) – I’ll admit it, I have a soft spot for this guy. I just love watching him play. Altuve provides my team with a strong foundation in steals, runs and OBP. And if he can reach double-digits in homers (expecting 15 home runs again might be unrealistic), well, that would be an added bonus. I was prepared to drop out of the bidding if it exceeded $34, so I was quite happy to draft him for this price.

Jose Abreu ($38) – I might end up regretting not going to $40 for Anthony Rizzo. But at the time, I figured that I could get Abreu, my second choice, for considerably less, maybe $33. Not quite. Still, I’m fine with Abreu, who should post similar counting stats to Rizzo despite perhaps a lower OBP.

Justin Upton ($30) – I was hoping to draft Upton for no more than $27 but Tim Heaney squashed those plans, forcing me to spend the extra few bucks. But Upton was the guy I wanted for my OF1 slot, and I wasn’t about to let $3 get in the way. Maybe it’s because so much was initially expected from him as a former elite prospect, but the younger Upton remains one of the more underappreciated fantasy commodities. He should greatly benefit from hitting in a lineup that includes Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez and Victor Martinez, and his steady walk rate enhances his value in OBP leagues.

Zach Britton ($17) – I wasn’t planning on drafting Britton and I don’t expect him to sustain his dramatically improved strikeout rate from last season. But he was the final upper-tier stopper available at the time, so I ended up paying list price for his services. Looking back, I would’ve rather had Cody Allen and his exceptional strikeout rate for a few bucks less, but this is fine.

Jon Lester ($21) – Lester posted ace-caliber numbers last season but he’s being valued more like an SP2 heading into 2016. He was my primary SP1 target partly for this reason, though as it turned out, he didn’t come at much of a discount. Of course, the day after I drafted him, it was revealed that he’s pitching with a bone chip in his elbow that could require surgery at some point. But as of now, neither the team nor the player seem overly concerned.

Danny Salazar ($17) – After making great strides with his consistency last season, the 26-year-old Salazar appears poised to enter fantasy ace status sooner rather than later. I’m hoping that sooner means 2016.

Yasmani Grandal

Yasmani Grandal ($12) – I was aiming to land either Brian McCann or Russell Martin for my No. 1 catcher slot, but the math didn’t work out. Grandal has been plagued by injuries throughout his young big league career, but the talent is undeniable. A healthy season could result in 20 homers, and he’s an OBP specialist.

Francisco Rodriguez ($10) – I had budgeted $10 for my No. 2 closer slot and K-Rod was at the top of my priority list. When searching for a second closer, my primary focus is job security, and job security will not be an issue here. The 34-year-old has yet to show any signs of decline, and I expect him to continue performing at a high level this season.

Elvis Andrus ($10) – After getting off to a slow start last season, Andrus picked up his game in the second half, batting .277 while recording 16 of his 25 steals following the All-Star break. He doesn’t carry a ton of upside, but Elvis does offer stability at a position lacking many stable options.

Curtis Granderson ($15) – Maybe it’s unrealistic to expect a repeat of 2015, but the price was fair and I am buying into the improved plate discipline, which should once again lead to a solid OBP. As for the counting stats, are 20 homers, double-digit steals and 85 runs too much to ask from the Mets leadoff man? I think not.

Trevor Plouffe ($6) – Plouffe is far from an ideal starting 3B, but after reluctantly allowing Ray Flowers to grab Evan Longoria for the bargain basement price of $13 and pulling out of a bidding war with Cory for Kyle Seager, my top choice, I had little choice but to settle for Plouffe. Although it is unlikely that he can duplicate last season’s 22 homers and 86 RBI, if he can just match the 14 home runs and 80 RBI he compiled in 2014, the Twins third sacker will more than earn the six bucks.

Ketel Marte ($7) – Considering the growing buzz surrounding Marte, I was surprised to land him for only $7. While it’s risky to rely on a player with only 219 big league at-bats under his belt to hold down my starting MI spot, Marte’s minor league track record in addition to his strong stint with the Mariners last season gives me confidence that he can at least post a quality OBP to go along with 25-plus steals in 2016. And I’ll gladly take that. Anything more would be pure profit.

James Shields ($8) – Everyone is so down on Shields this year that I actually think he’s a bargain. The guy pitches 200 innings every year and despite delivering a disappointing ERA and WHIP last season, he struck out well over a batter per inning and pitched to a 3.29 ERA in 16 starts at Petco Park. Eight bucks isn’t a huge bargain, but there’s still some room for profit.

Julio Teheran ($6) – Wins might be hard to come by for Teheran, but he was one of the undervalued arms I had my eye on to fill the middle of my rotation. After two straight superb seasons, Teheran kicked off his 2015 campaign in shaky fashion before registering a fine 3.42 ERA in the second half. Still just 25 years of age, there’s a lot to like here.

Jose Quintana

Jose Quintana ($9) – One of my favorite discounted starting pitchers heading into the 2016 season, Quintana is fresh off a 2015 campaign in which he posted a similar stat line to that of 2014, the main exception being an improved walk rate. He fits in nicely as my SP3, behind Lester and Salazar and ahead of Shields and Teheran.

Jay Bruce ($6) – I honestly don’t know what to expect from Bruce this year. But despite the low OBP, where else are you going to find 25-30 homers for $6? Combine the Bruce purchase with the Alvarez buy and I’ve secured 50-60 home runs for the total cost of $13. That’s pretty good.

Jason Castro ($2) – Nothing special. A worthy No. 2 backstop who could hit 15 homers.

Nori Aoki ($3) – Expected to serve as Seattle’s primary left fielder and leadoff hitter, Aoki is certainly capable of swiping 20 bags while scoring a healthy dose of runs and providing a helpful OBP. Health has been an issue over the past couple of years but for three bucks, there isn’t a whole lot of downside.

Aaron Nola ($1) – Nola’s first taste of the big leagues last season was largely a success, and he will look to carry that momentum into his first full major league season. While it might be too soon to count on Nola in 12-team mixed leagues, in 15-team mixed leagues like Tout Wars, he’s an acceptable back end of the rotation starter.

Carlos Beltran ($2) – No, I’m not expecting 162 games, but on a per game basis, Beltran is still a productive player. And who knows, maybe he will manage to stay healthy for the entire 2016 season. Either way, he’s my fifth outfielder, so the risk is minimal.

Colby Rasmus ($1) – Cheap power to fill my Utility slot.

Anibal Sanchez ($1) – If healthy, Anibal has the ability to return mid-rotation value. For $1, I consider him to be a sound investment.

RESERVES (six-round snake draft)

Kevin Quackenbush – Even if he opens the season as San Diego’s closer, does anyone really think that Fernando Rodney will hold onto the job for long? Didn’t think so.

Trea Turner – Even if he opens the season in the Minors, does anyone really think that Turner will stay there for long? Didn’t think so.

Brandon Finnegan – High upside arm is competing for a spot in the Reds’ Opening Day rotation, and the organization isn’t exactly loaded with quality starting pitching options.

Brandon Drury – Could open the season on the big league roster thanks to a red-hot spring.

J.P. Crawford – Top prospect will likely make his big league debut in 2016, though roster constraints might force me to drop him before that time comes.

Jesse Winker – Similar situation to Crawford, and I’ll probably be a little more patient with Crawford.

On the whole, I think I’ve assembled a very balanced roster, and I’m confident that this team can be competitive. I’m especially pleased with the starting rotation, and I might even have an SP to spare should I decide to trade for an upgrade at another position. The weakest areas are at third base with Plouffe and the outfield, where I feel that I’m lacking a reliable OF2. Granderson is more of a high-end OF3. But I was able to land many of my top targets, and I’m thankful for that.

Here’s my complete starting roster:

C – Yasmani Grandal

C – Jason Castro

1B – Jose Abreu

2B – Jose Altuve

SS – Elvis Andrus

3B – Trevor Plouffe

CI – Pedro Alvarez

MI – Ketel Marte

OF – Justin Upton

OF – Curtis Granderson

OF – Jay Bruce

OF – Nori Aoki

OF – Carlos Beltran

UT – Colby Rasmus

SP – Jon Lester

SP – Danny Salazar

SP – Jose Quintana

SP – James Shields

SP – Julio Teheran

SP – Anibal Sanchez

SP – Aaron Nola

RP – Zach Britton

RP – Francisco Rodriguez

And you can view the full draft results for all of the Tout Wars leagues by clicking on the link at the very top of this post.

As always, your feedback and questions are welcome.

Zach

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Cory’s Mixed Auction Tout Wars Draft Recap

***NOTE: If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog by hitting the Follow button on the right panel. You will then get an e-mail as soon as each new post goes up.

Complete Tout Wars Draft Results

2016 AL LABR Auction Draft Results

2016 NL LABR Auction Draft Results

2016 Mixed LABR Draft Results

And be sure to check out the 2016 MLB.com Fantasy Player Previewwhich contains rankings, write-ups and projections for over 800 players.

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Coming off a competitive fifth-place finish in the Tout Wars mixed auction last year, my overall strategy going into this auction was mostly the same as in past years: build a strong offense that can compete in every category, acquire two top closers to anchor a great bullpen and bargain shop for inexpensive starting pitching with upside. Last year, I nailed two-thirds of the strategy, with a monster offense and a great bullpen, but my starting pitching melted down as none of the risks panned out.

Just a reminder, this is a 15-team mixed league, with a $260 budget for a standard 23-man roster, and a six-man snake reserve draft. Here’s who I got this year, in order of purchase:

Corey Seager, Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Corey Seager (SS) $18

I had projected Seager at $19 so I was happy to get my first purchase of the day at a slight savings, perhaps thanks to the balky knee that may cause him to open the season on the DL. Still, I think my projection for him is actually somewhat conservative, and if the knee problem doesn’t linger, he could return a big profit even at this price. In fact, I think he’ll be the #2 shortstop in fantasy this year behind Carlos Correa, so I’m very happy with this buy.

Kenley Jansen (CL) $21

He and Wade Davis shared the highest auction price for any closer, with Craig Kimbrel going shortly after for $20 and Trevor Rosenthal for $19, so I paid a fair value for the man I expect to be the #1 closer in fantasy baseball this year. In fact, I had projected him at $23 – the same price Aroldis Chapman went for as the #1 closer last year – so I think I even got a small discount!

Giancarlo Stanton (OF) $39

Derek Van Riper is notorious in Tout Wars for spending heavily to buy the elite bats, and that drags up the prices on all of the top-25 hitters. I had projected Stanton for $37, and he carries considerable risk at almost any price due to his lengthy injury history, but the choices were getting thin and I didn’t want to get shut out of the elite power bats. Of course, I can’t feel too bad about getting a 26-year-old slugger who has averaged 41 homers per 162 games in his career. I just hope he gets close to that many this year!

The downside of this purchase is that I had to pass on my pet player, Edwin Encarnacion, who went moments later for my projected price of $33. But, he carries some injury risk too, and I didn’t want to commit that much money after spending so much on Stanton.

Rougned Odor (2B) $18

This was without question my biggest reach of the day, but I am a huge Odor fan, and after passing on Encarnacion – it was too tempting to acquire another pet player at a much lower price. He was outstanding after his recall last year, ranking third among MLB second basemen in OPS from that date through the end of the season, so he could indeed earn this price. But, he’s still very raw and lacks plate discipline, and may get stuck near the bottom of the Rangers’ lineup. There’s upside here, but at a very risky price.

David Robertson (CL) $17

I wanted a solid second closer to back up Jansen and opted for Robertson at a dollar more than I projected him. I might’ve been better off with a slightly cheaper option in Ken Giles ($16) or Cody Allen ($14), but Robertson has been remarkably consistent over his career and was quietly outstanding last season, with a career-best WHIP despite an artificially high ERA fueled by overinflated strand and HR/FB rates.

Kyle Seager (3B) $22

Not much to say about this one. I got a solid, consistent power bat who is still in his prime, at a very reasonable price, at a point in the draft when power was dwindling and most hitters were still going slightly above my projected prices.

Marcus Stroman (SP) $12

Almost all starting pitchers were going for $3-4 more than I had projected, so I was happy to get Stroman at my projected price. Unfortunately, the more I look at this buy in hindsight, the more unwise it seems. I’m as big a Stroman fan as there is, but he threw only 46.1 IP last year including the postseason, has averaged a good but not great 7.4 K/9 in his brief MLB career, and pitches in a great hitters’ park in what should be a tough division. On the bright side, Stroman’s injuries last year had nothing to do with his arm, and he should get plenty of offensive and bullpen support, so he could indeed earn what I paid, or even more. But, I probably would have been better off with a similar risk/reward profile at a better price from Yordano Ventura ($7), Luis Severino ($7), Carlos Rodon ($8) or Patrick Corbin ($8), just to name a few.

Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish (SP) $10

I got him right after Stroman, which makes me feel better about that purchase. Darvish is a borderline top-10 starter when healthy, and should be back by late May or early June, plenty of time to throw 150 or more innings. But even if he comes back at the All-Star break, and pitches at a step below his previous level, I still could break even on this pick. Anything more than that and I could make a huge profit. This is one of my favorite buys of the entire auction.

Addison Russell (2B/SS) $11

I projected him for $15, so I was surprised to get him for this price after a moderate jump bid. He lifted his OPS by over 90 points in the second half last season and may move up a few batting order spots in what should be a loaded Cubs offense. His dual position eligibility makes him an ideal middle infield selection.

Brandon Belt (1B) $11

There is risk here after last year’s season-ending concussion and minor offseason knee surgery, but I projected him at $12, so it’s a fair price. It’s well within his reach and even leaves room for a profit.

Kole Calhoun (OF) $18

I got Calhoun for the exact price I projected him for – in fact, the same price I paid for him last year – and probably could have gotten him for a dollar or two cheaper after Zach “The Goose” Steinhorn cooled off on his $15 bid. I expect a little less power this year, but he should provide a better OBP, with a lot of runs hitting in front of Mike Trout.

Ben Revere (OF) $8

I was at a point when I was starting to worry about my team speed, and while I’m not a big fan of no-power speedsters, I couldn’t pass up on this price, since I projected him at $19! Dusty Baker vows to have a running offense, so Revere should post a ton of steals and runs with a solid OBP. This buy should yield a huge profit, certainly enough to make me feel better about the moderate overpays on Odor and Stroman.

Kevin Pillar (OF) $10

I thought I could sneak Pillar through at a lower price, given that I got him at a point in the auction when teams were starting to conserve money, but I projected him for $13 so I’m still very happy with this buy. He’s not a great OBP guy, but leading off in the explosive Blue Jays lineup could lead to strong overall numbers and good value for this price.

Logan Forsythe (1B/2B) $10

I’m a huge Forsythe fan and though I might steal him for $4 when Jeff Erickson started reciting “going once, going twice…”, but Joe Pisapia stepped in and bid me up to $10 before bowing out. I had projected him for $8, going slightly conservative after last year’s unexpected breakout, but if he ends up batting leadoff for the Rays, that could be a boon to his value. There’s some risk at this price but still room for profit, and I like players with multiple position eligibility.

JT Realmuto (C) $5

Like the rest of my offense, Realmuto will return solid counting numbers but with a low OBP. It’s nice to find a catcher who can chip in with some steals, and I had projected him for $7 due to that, so I may even have gotten a little discount here.

Derek Norris (C) $7

I got him at my projected price, which was very satisfying after paying $10 for him last year. Given my need for OBP, I would’ve been better off with Stephen Vogt ($9) and/or Francisco Cervelli ($6), but I’m very happy with this tandem for this total cost.

Drew Smyly (SP) $9

Smyly is even more risky than Stroman, given his past shoulder problems, but I like his upside even more and thought he would go for a few dollars more than this. He has a 3.20 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 8.6 K/9 over the past two seasons since returning to starting but has managed only 219.2 IP during that time. I’m not worried about his level of performance, but volume could be a major problem if he can’t stay healthy. There’s room for profit here, but this was one of my riskiest purchases of the entire day.

Jesse Hahn

Jesse Hahn (SP) $1

I wanted a dollar pitcher at this point in the draft and love getting Hahn, who offers terrific upside. He has a 3.23 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 170.0 career IP, gets a ton of ground balls, doesn’t give up many homers and works in a great pitching environment. Plus, he’s vowed to throw fewer breaking balls this year to try and keep his arm healthier. I should make a big profit on this purchase almost regardless of how much he pitches.

Brett Lawrie (2B/3B) $6

I wanted Brad Miller as my UT, looking for a backup for both shortstop and outfield, but he surprisingly went for $9 against my $6 projection and I couldn’t afford to chase him to that price. Justin Turner would’ve been a better buy for $5, given my poor team OBP, but Lawrie does at least bring the advantage of dual position eligibility and a better hitting environment. He quietly posted several career-highs last year, most importantly in games played, and is entering his prime years, so hopefully he can regain some of the OBP and steals from earlier in his career and turn this into a big profit.

Jeremy Jeffress (CL?) $2

Manager Craig Counsell has refused to commit to either Jeffress or Will Smith ($4) as the Brewers’ closer, and while Smith may be the consensus pick, I think the club will eventually opt for Jeffress’ power arm in that role. He just made his spring debut on Tout Wars Saturday due to a mild hamstring strain, but was said to be “shoving it” in bullpen sessions and is expected to be ready for Opening Day. Worst case, I think he’ll split the closer role with Smith and return a huge profit on this buy, so I’m thrilled to get him at this price. Combined with Jansen and Robertson, he’ll be the key third piece to make my bullpen a major strength, which is critical to my team given how heavily I discount starting pitching.

Erasmo Ramirez (SP) $1

Ramirez posted a stellar 2.99 ERA (14th-lowest in all of MLB) and 1.04 WHIP in 24 starts from May 14 to September 24 last season, so he clearly has the ability to be a top-end starter. Of course, he was utterly horrible in his other 10 appearances, so there’s plenty of risk here too. But for a dollar, there’s almost no way I won’t make a profit on this buy, and at the age of 25, it’s not out of the question to think he might take a major step forward.

Kevin Kiermaier (OF) $1

I was hoping to sneak through Gerardo Parra ($10) for my last outfield spot. No such luck, but getting Kiermaier for a buck is a fine consolation prize. His .298 OBP last year was brutal, but he made up for that with 10 homers and 18 steals, and his outstanding glove will keep him in the lineup every day and help drive up his counting stats. Even with the poor OBP, I’ll make a profit on this buy.

Nate Eovaldi (SP) $2

Eovaldi is one of the hardest-throwing starters in the game, has decent command and isn’t homer-prone, all of which contributed to a 14-3 record last year. On the downside, despite his elite velocity, he’s still too hittable and has only managed good but not great strikeout numbers. He was much better in the second half last year after improving his changeup, so he could take a step forward this year. I love this gamble for $2, and between him, Stroman, Smyly, Hahn and Ramirez, I think I have a group of young starters who collectively present major breakout potential this season.

Reserves: Alex Cobb, Doug Fister, Rubby De La Rosa, Henderson Alvarez, R.A. Dickey and Daniel Nava

As usual, I loaded up on five more starting pitchers with varying degrees of upside, to create lineup options and hedge against injuries. Between Darvish, Cobb and Alvarez, I’ll have three more spots to fill in free agency once the season starts. Nava has had a huge spring and could end up in my Opening Day lineup as a short-term fill-in for Corey Seager if he has to start the year with a brief DL stint.

(Funny anecdote, at least to me: I record all auction purchases in one big Excel sheet, to track projected standings, auction inflation, the available player pool, etc., then copy the row for each of my purchases into another spreadsheet so I can quickly check my own roster and needs. At one point, the draft got somewhat out of turn and I nominated Andrew Bailey, only to have that nomination nullified when the previous owner at the table, Scott Pianowski, took his turn instead. Then, I tried to pick up Bailey in the end game for $2, when only Joe Pisapia would be able to outbid me (and seemed disinclined to do so)… but I realized I had already completed my roster, as I had forgotten to copy Hahn into my roster spreadsheet and thought I still had one pitching spot left! Joe then took Bailey in the reserve round after I stashed Alex Cobb, so I missed out on Bailey three separate times in this draft. Watch him go on to pick up 25 saves this year!)

Here’s how that all looks as a roster:

C – Norris 7, Realmuto 5

CI – Belt 11, K. Seager 22, Forsythe 10

MI – Odor 18, C. Seager 18, Russell 11

UT – Lawrie 6

OF – Stanton 39, Calhoun 18, Pillar 10, Revere 8, Kiermaier 1

SP – Stroman 12, Darvish 10, Smyly 9, Eovaldi 2, E. Ramirez 1, Hahn 1

RP – Jansen 21, Robertson 17, Jeffress 2

So, based on my initial goals, how’d I do? Well, pretty good, but not great. I think I will do well in the offensive counting categories, although much of my speed is expected to come from several players each stealing 6-10 bases, with only Revere, Pillar and Kiermaier looking like guarantees to even top a dozen steals. I could have a very poor OBP, particularly if youngsters like Odor, Russell, Kiermaier, Pillar and Realmuto don’t improve their on-base skills. My bullpen should be terrific, particularly if Jeffress secures a share of the closing gig, and I like the upside of my pitching staff. However, given all of the youth and injury risks among my starters, I’ll need to cycle in pitchers all year long to try and stay competitive in wins and strikeouts, the categories that killed me last year.

According to my own projections, three-time champion Fred Zinkie is once again the team to beat, with last year’s runner-up Scott Swanay right behind him. After them, there are several teams projected in the low 90’s in points, including myself, Dave Gonos, newcomer Brett Sayre and MLB.com’s own Zach “The Goose” Steinhorn. However, given Fred’s propensity to lead the league in trades as well as in the standings, I’m sure every team is in for a fair degree of turnover this year. Looking forward to the season getting started to see how they all do!

Let me know what you think!

Cory

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2016 Composite Projections (First Draft)

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2016 AL LABR Auction Draft Results

2016 NL LABR Auction Draft Results

2016 Mixed LABR Draft Results

And be sure to check out the 2016 MLB.com Fantasy Player Preview, which contains rankings, write-ups and projections for over 800 players.

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Hey everyone,

Back by popular demand, here is a first draft of Cory’s 2016 Composite Projections spreadsheet.

A few notes from Cory:

* We found 12 projection sources this year, and included all players here who were included in 7 or more of those. The more projections, the more reliable the numbers are likely to be.
* Team/league assignments are as of March 6.
* Positions are as listed on rosters and/or in our database, and NOT based on position eligibility (to-do list).
* Playing times are NOT adjusted, so there may be some odd disconnects between games and at-bats, or games and innings, etc. (to-do list).
* Runs, RBI’s, stolen bases, saves and all other stats are averages of provided sources, NOT calculated based on raw stats (to-do list).
Here’s a link to last year’s composite projections post for additional reference. In that blog post, you will also find links to older posts if you would like to gather as much information as possible about the projection process.
Cory hopes to have a second draft ready in a week or so.
Enjoy!

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