Tout Daily Picks: Falling for Flaherty

It’s the final week of Period 4 with three more Golden Tickets up for grabs. Here’s some of the picks the Touts are counting on to get into the Championship Tournament.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis)

Pitcher: Walker Buehler – Buehler looks to improve on his 8 wins this season and his 1 k per IP ratio.

Hitter: Edwin Encarnacion – Encarnacion owns similar pitchers like Stanek.Over the past two seasons he is slugging .495 in his last 220 PA’s against right-handers with high strikeout rates.

Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50)

Pitcher: Jack Flaherty – Last two starts have gone well — and he’s done better at home.

Hitter: Juan Soto – He’s been red hot and facing Wojciechowski

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy)

Pitcher: Brandon Woodruff – Woodruff is only $8,700 yet strikes out 28.8% of the batters he faces and goes against an Atlanta team that averages almost 9 Ks per game. Earlier this season Woodruff went 8 IP with 6 Ks versus the Braves.

Hitter: Alex Bregman – Bregman faces lefty Andrew Heaney of the Angels tonight and on the season Bregman is hitting .278 with 8 home runs in 90 at bats versus lefties. All with a reasonable $4,500 price tag.

Derek VanRiper (Rotowire, @DerekVanRiper)

Pitcher: Jack Flaherty – Homers have been a big issue for Flaherty this season, and they’re a huge part of why he “deserves” a high-4.00s ERA through 18 starts. While the Pirates temper strikeouts (20.2% as a team, 27th in MLB), the conditions in St. Louis are relatively mild for mid-July, and I’m expecting him to get deep into his start and offer up 5-6 strikeouts over 6+ IP at a very affordable price.

Hitter: Paul Goldschmidt – Pirates starter Dario Agrazal hasn’t missed many bats in his very limited time with the Pirates (three starts), and his ascent through the minors was fueled by very good control the ability (at lower levels) to keep the ball in the park. I can’t quite figure out why Goldschmidt’s power has fallen off so much in 2019, but he’s priced down on a night where there is a 14.5 o/u at Coors, which might actually keep his ownership rate somewhat reasonable in this excellent matchup.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola)

Pitcher: Zach Plesac – Going with the two cheapest pitchers for which I have a modicum of trust (Flaherty the other).

Hitter: Brandon Crawford – Call it chasing stats after the DH yesterday but 3.7K in Coors against cruddy RHP is a free square

Michael Florio (NFL Network, @MichaelFFlorio)

Pitcher: Jack Flaherty – I keep going back to the Flaherty well in hopes of the big turnaround game. The good news for today is he has been much better at home this season. Plus, the Pirates lineup isn’t the scariest. It is not a great pitching slate, so I am going for cheaper upside.

Hitter: Nolan Arenado – He is expensive, but he is facing a weak lefty at home! Sign me up.

Jeff Erickson (Rotowire, @Jeff_Erickson)

Pitcher: Walker Buehler – Buehler is too cheap at $10.2, even with facing the Phillies on the road. I’ll sweat the high ownership elsewhere.

Hitter: Matt Adams – There are so many bad pitchers tonight that I wish to stack against, but for this contest I’m using my Nats stack – listing Adams here because he’s the least obvious of the five.

Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotobuzzGuy)

Pitcher: Jack Flaherty – Has seemingly turned that corner we hoped to see him turn about two and a half months ago, but better late than never, right? I like him to best the Buccos tonight.

Hitter: Nolan Arenado – Pretty much anyone on the Rockies tonight against a tomato can like Pomeranz. After being embarrassed by the Giants in a double-header Monday, Arenado should be good for 8 home runs and 28 RBI by the end of the 5th inning.

Tout Wars Free Agency Bidding Recap – Sunday, July 14

Welcome to our second report of the week, from Sunday, following our Wednesday night bidding. We summarize the top free agent bids in each of the five Tout Wars leagues, with links to the detailed bidding action following our 8 p.m. ET deadline each Sunday evening. All prices are on a $1000 base.

After you scan the detail below, please join our live chat, starting at 9 p.m. ET Sunday evening, to discuss these results with Todd Zola of Mastersball and other Touts.

American League

11 free agents joined new American League rosters this Sunday.

Leading the way at $57 is Royals outfielder Bubba Starling, acquired by Jeff Erickson of RotoWire. To say that the former no. 5 overall draft pick from way back in 2011 is a post-hype player is an understatement. Yet, the 26-year old has finally made his MLB debut and could see time in center field with KC.

The other mildly expensive acquisition is Nick Solak, formerly of Tampa Bay, who went to Doug Dennis of BaseballHQ for $41. The second baseman was dealt to the Rangers this week, and though he is initially assigned to Triple-A, he may not be down for long. This is Solak’s second trade in two years as the Yankees dealt him to the Rays during spring training 2018.

No other AL free agent went for more than $4 this week.

Review all 7/14 AL bids here.

National League

Bidding was quiet in the National League, with just six players added.

With 2 ½ weeks remaining until the July 31 trade deadline and a need for saves, I picked up two prospective closers, Kyle Crick of Pittsburgh and Mark Melancon of San Francisco, for $2 each. The latter probably has a better chance of getting the ninth inning job due to a combination of the desirability of incumbent Will Smith and his own bloated contract, though neither have appeal unless they close.

Justin Mason made a savvy addition of Arizona starter Luke Weaver, also for $2. The former Cardinals right-hander has been out since late May with elbow problems that did not require surgery. Mason noticed that Phil Hertz dropped Weaver mid-week in return for $30 FAAB and swooped in.

Everyone else was either a $1 or $0 acquisition.

Review all 7/14 NL bids here.

Mixed Auction

10 free agents found new homes this Sunday in Mixed Auction.

The top dollar acquisition is Tampa’s Mike Brosseau, for $51 of Eric Karabell of ESPN’s money. The third baseman’s two home runs on Saturday drew a lot of attention, but in his 11 games with the Rays to date, the 25-year old is hitting .382 with eight RBI.

At $38, old standard Daniel Hudson of the Blue Jays was acquired by Scott Swanay. The right-hander picked up a save on Sunday, but more importantly, closer Ken Giles appears to be prime trade bait, and if so, Hudson’s value could increase substantially.

Al Melchior picked up starting pitcher Jose Suarez of the Angels for $33. The 21-year old lefty (Suarez, not Melchior!), is averaging less than five innings over his six big-league starts and has a 5.40 ERA, but also has fanned 30 in 28 1/3 innings – and his team is not a contender.

Review all 7/14 Mixed Auction bids here.

Mixed Draft

Just seven free agents were added in Mixed Draft this week.

Leading the way in spending was Adam Ronis, who won the bidding for new Cardinals starting pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon for $87. The 27-year old righty has been very effective in long relief and spot starts and is getting his chance to supplant disappointing Michael Wacha among St. Louis’ starting five.

A pair of once-shiny starting pitchers were picked up for $22 each. Vince Velasquez of Philly went to Ray Murphy of BaseballHQ and Jeff Samardzija was acquired by Anthony Perri. “Shark” may have some interesting upside over the final two months. Though teammate Madison Bumgarner is getting more trade interest, he could be joined on the block.

Rudy Gamble did not have to take much of a … risk on Daniel Norris, at just $18. The Tigers lefty’s last good season was 2016, but Rudy must be banking on a second-half turnaround from the 26-year old.  

Review all 7/14 Mixed Draft bids here.

Head to Head

10 free agents fetched winning bids this week in Head to Head.

Second-place owner Ian Kahn was busy, with the top spend across all five leagues with his $142 acquisition of some outfielder from the Yankees named Giancarlo Stanton. His rehab from a PCL strain in his knee is going slowly, with the latest word that the prior early August target return may not be made.

Kahn also added Nate Lowe of Tampa Bay for $38. The first sacker has been red-hot, with three long balls and seven RBI while batting .462 in his three post-break games. Kahn doesn’t get those stats, though.

In between is the $51 RotoLady (aka Andrea LaMont) paid for Ponce de Leon.

Review all 7/14 Head to Head bids here.

Tout Daily Picks: Duffy Aims to Tame Tigers

Period 4, Week 3 takes place on Friday night to make up for the All Star Week. Here’s a few picks as the Touts chase the next three Golden Tickets into the Championship round.

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy)

Pitcher: Robbie Ray – For $7,900 you have a pitcher who is striking out almost 31% of the batters he faces and St. Louis strikes out over 8 times per game while ranking 22nd in runs per game. Ray is averaging 18.7 fantasy points per start.

Hitter: Nick Castellanos – Castellanos is hitting .360 since June 15 with a wRC+ of 162 in over that same time period. His cost is only $4100 and he faces Danny Duffy and his 4.28 ERA and 1.43 HR/9

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola)

Pitcher: Danny Duffy – I lost a bet and am forced to play Duffy. Or, I’m going dirt cheap pitching, all out hitting and am playing matchups against a cruddy Tigers unit

Hitter: Buster Posey – Feels like a trap with such a low cost, but he’s batting second in a great park against a middling arm. Loading up elsewhere so what the hey.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis)

Pitcher: Gerrit Cole – At $11,500 he better produce tonight. Yes there are cheaper options available, but I am building my lineup tonight around the best available starting pitcher. No other options tonight really stand out like Gerrit Cole.

Hitter: Christian Yelich – In my recent Tout article, I wrote about Christian Yelich being my 1st half MVP. I am rostering him tonight for his push as my 2nd half MVP.

Gene McCaffrey (The Athletic, @WiseGuyGene)

Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel – I’ll be happy with 15 points. So many good big bats tonight and they’re mostly not cheap. For my #2 SP, I can’t decide between Robbie Ray (K’s but on the road) and Dylan Bundy (home, but he’s Dylan Bundy).

Hitter: MIke Moustakas – Best HR bet on my board.

Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50)

Pitcher: Danny Duffy – Not thrilled with Duffy, but the price and his opponent sold me.

Hitter: Whit Merrifield – He’s been doing well and gets a starter coming off the IL.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports)

Pitcher: Danny Duffy – I went cheap on pitching. Duffy should gets 6-9 k’s and hopefully a win

Hitter: Paul Goldschmidt – Hoping the power surge before the break continues tonight at home against his former team. take Ray deep Goldie!

Tout Table: First Half MVPs

Let’s kick off the post break action with a look at some of the pre-break studs. FWIW, the Touts were asked to define MVP how they wished.

Who is the first half fantasy MVP batter? MVP Pitcher? What initial Top-50 player with a disappointing first half will rebound the most?

Lenny Melnick (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @LennyMelnick): Valued added meaning Draft cost vs Actual Production is Josh Bell hitter and Hyun Jin Ryu SP. Paul Goldschmidt to rebound.

D.J. Short (Rotoworld, @djshort): Figuring in preseason ADP, I’d have to say Josh Bell. Bell wasn’t drafted as a top-10 first baseman in standard mixed leagues, and maybe not even top-15, but here he is a top-five overall player. The 26-year-old has enjoyed a true breakout with a .302/.376/.648 batting line to go along with 27 home runs and a major-league leading 84 RBI in 88 games. He’s driven in 13 more runs than anyone else in the majors. As for pitcher, I have to go with Max Scherzer, mostly because getting the return on investment for a top starting pitcher can be tricky. He’s been amazing as always, with a 2.30 ERA and a ridiculous 181 strikeouts in 129 1/3 innings. Expect the excellence to continue. As for top-50 drafted player to rebound, I’ll put my money on Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. making some major strides in the second half.

Alex Chamberlain (Rotofraphs, @DolphHauldhagen): For hitters, I don’t know if there’s a correct answer side from Josh Bell, although DJ LeMahieu is nearly as worthy of the title. For pitchers, it’s a little more difficult: Ryu has been the superior pitcher but had more preseason fanfare by measure of ADP/draft capital, whereas Lucas Giolito was effectively an afterthought, even in 15-team formats (NFBC ADP 437). Rebound: this is a selfish selection, but Khris Davis’ contact quality and outcomes are so far removed from his typical self that I’m having a hard time believing them, especially considering the state of the ball (i.e., juiced). It’s one of those situations where I’ll look past xwOBA, just as Paul Goldschmidt’s early-season xwOBA in 2018 belied his 2nd-half production.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): DJLM has to be the hitting MVP and on pitching side, probably Ryu. Pretty great value there. For *my* teams: John Means, Dan Vogelbach, Rafael Devers, Carlos Santana, Omar Narvaez–and Ryu. 2H I am pretty excited about Fernando Tatis, Jr. and Eloy Jimenez.

Tim McLeod (, @RunTMc59006473): It’s hard to pass on Josh Bell, but figuring him to be the obvious pick, I’ll go a bit deeper and look to Rafael Devers of the BoSox. His first half puts him at or near the top of the 3B rankings and as the 20’th or so 3b off the board last Spring that’s a huge return on that investment. Several young players drafted late have also enjoyed incredible success. Pete Alonso and Fernando Tatis Jr. deserve a shout out. Ryu has enjoyed an incredible first half, but so has Lucas Giolito and in most formats Giolito was a bench pick or early Waiver Wire grab. Those that invested late in Marcus Stroman or Matthew Boyd also have reason to smile. Paul Goldschmidt has had a disappointing first half. I’m expecting better numbers after the break.

Michael Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): My first half fantasy MVP for players completely off the radar is Ketel Marte and his .311 batting average along with 20 home runs and 53 RBI. My first half MVP in terms of best ADP is Pete Alonso who is tied for the second most home runs in the league with 30 as a rookie. He has also maintained a respectable .280 batting average which is impressive given his inexperience. The obvious choice for fantasy MVP pitcher is Hyun-Jin Ryu in terms of ADP value. However, I will go with Max Scherzer even though he is doing what we all expected him to do. He has provided exactly what the top pitcher in the league should produce, and more. With respect to a top-50 player rebounding from a bad first half, I will go with Jose Ramirez. He was banged up in spring training and got off to a horrendous start to the season. He is far too talented to not see a significant increase in production during the second half.

Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): First half fantasy MVP batter is – DJ LeMahieu. He is the #1 player bargain when looking at net profit (value earned less cost to acquire) when looking at NFBC earned values versus NFBC pre-season average auction values. For only a $1 AAV, he has earned almost $32 of value. First half fantasy MVP pitcher is Lucas Giolito. Same reasoning as above. Giolito went for $1 at NFBC auctions this year, yet has earned over $26 of fantasy value. As far as disappointing top-50 player to rebound – I’m going to go with Jose Ramirez. With many paths to value, Ramirez has a lot of ways to produce value, so he makes for a great target. Unlike a Joey Votto, he is still in the prime of his career. After a hot week, he is showing signs of coming out of his funk.

Nando Di Fino (The Athletic, @nandodifino): I’m not going to deny Josh Bell his near-unanimous vote for fantasy MVP, but I’d at least like to put Yoan Moncada on the radar here. Everyone had dumped on him preseason and he came out in the first half with a .308 avg, .364 OBP, 16 HRs, and six steals. And he did it from the middle infield. For pitcher, how about Charlie Morton? A 2.32 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 142 Ks in 112 2/3 IP. Plus the 10 wins — whether you believe they’re a good stat or not, that’s a category in fantasy. My rebound player is Yu Darvish. And I can’t pull out much besides “”he can’t be this bad.”” He has a 5.01 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, and it’s not like we can point to blisters anymore. Maybe it’s the weird ball (he’s given up 20 HR), maybe his arm wasn’t fully fixed with the quiet October surgery. I think he just needs a week to clear his head and come back in his old form. I’m probably wrong and just too much of a Darvish romantic, but you dig a little, and you see some weird stuff. Like his cutter has been great, and he’s using it more than any other pitch and more often than he’s ever thrown it ( One would reason that it would lead to good stuff… but it’s not. Maybe it’s hen he’s using it or his sequencing… or maybe he’s tipping his other pitches. I don’t know. I just feel like Darvish has to click one thing for everything to come rushing back to his former glory.

Zach Steinhorn (Baseball Prospectus, @zachsteinhorn): I’ll go with Josh Bell for MVP hitter. While Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger and Mike Trout have been better from an overall fantasy production standpoint, Bell has delivered far more profit relative to his draft day price, as he was drafted well outside of the top-200 in NFBC leagues. Although Bell was a popular bounceback pick heading into the season, who could have expected this? Sticking with the profit theme, I’m choosing Lucas Giolito for MVP pitcher. Giolito wasn’t even drafted in the vast majority of mixed leagues but is finally living up to his potential as a former top prospect. He hasn’t been quite as dominant lately, however, and considering his thin track record as an elite big league starter, trading him while his market value is at the level of a fantasy ace might not be a bad idea. As for the bounceback player, Jose Ramirez would be the chalk answer but at least he’s providing considerable value with his steals. I’m choosing Paul Goldschmidt instead. I just can’t believe that a career .294 hitter will finish the season with a sub-.270 AVG, and the low RBI total can at least partly be explained by his .235 AVG with runners in scoring position. Oh, and he did close out the first half with two homers and six RBIs over his final three games.

Scott Engel (Rotoballer, @scotteTheKing): Josh Bell is going to get the consensus MVP vote, but Pete Alonso does deserve an honorable mention. He went incredibly late or for very low dollar amounts in most drafts. Ryu has actually stayed healthy and I probably just jinxed that. I have a gut feeling Jose Ramirez will have a very good second half.

Dan Strafford (FNTSY Radio, @DanStrafford): There’s nothing quite like a MVP debate! There are a number of ways to evaluate the idea but for this process I suppose it’s best to say which player has most exceeded their draft day value. DJ LeMahieu had an ADP of 212 according to and has been a godsend for fantasy teams and the Yankees alike. In the National League, it’s tough to ignore what Josh Bell has done. With an ADP of 254 at FantasyPros, Bell has injected himself right into the middle of the NL MVP discussion. For pitchers, there’s a whole slew of starters who could enter into the conversation, but I’ll take Lucas Giolito as the most valuable starter. He was left largely undrafted and has finally rounded into form this year. For those of you crazy kids still playing roto, Will Smith has been my most valuable relief pitcher. I’d love to think Jose Ramirez is the top 50 player to rebound, but I think we might have just gotten his breakout wrong. I’ll take the easy way out and say it’s Giancarlo Stanton.

Michael Beller (Sports Illustrated, @MBeller): Josh Bell is the definitive right answer for the hitting MVP, which plenty of people have already said. Instead of echoing their thoughts, I’ll give an honorable mention to Carlos Santana. Remember, back in March, we were all concerned about the depth of the first base pool. Santana was one of those guys who looked like a worthy gamble, and he has paid off in a big way. I understand the return-on-investment argument for Hyun-jin Ryu and Lucas Giolito, but there’s something to be said for an expected ace living up to the billing and being the anchor he was expected to be. I’m giving the pitching MVP to Max Scherzer, who has watched all the other supposed top-flight starters around him fail to live up to expectations (with the exception of Justin Verlander) and gone into the break as the No. 1 pitcher in standard 5×5 leagues. Lorenzo Cain has been too good for too long without any signs of cracks in the foundation to fall off a cliff for an entire season. I think we see him bounce back in a big way in the second half.

Michael Rathburn (Rotowire, @FantasyRath): My 1st half MVP would be DJ LeMahieu who could have been had for $1, and has returned $35 (10 team AL) for a $34 profit. Thought to just be insurance for Didi for 3 months, he would also be the AL MVP if the season ended today. Yes, I would vote him over Trout. My MVP Pitcher would be Hyun Jin Ryu who was projected around $13 and has returned $42 for a $29 profit. It would be a close race between him and Max for NL Cy Young. For bounce back, I like Blake Snell as his K, BB, and xFIP numbers are identical to 2018, but his BABIP is .351 and the HR/FB rate jumped.

Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru Elite, @BaseballGuys): The MVPs are Yelich/Scherzer. If we’re going based upon expectations though… Josh Bell, Rafael Devers and DJ LeMahieu have all posted tremendous efforts. I’d be hard pressed to argue against any of the three, but with Josh Bell setting an NL record for extra base hits at the ASB, he’s my vote for the out of nowhere MVP. On the hill, it has to be Hyun-Jin Ryu. He’s been flat out amazing. The rebound player will be Carlos Correa, that is if he avoids receiving any more massages of death.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Defining MVP as profit over draft cost, we’re looking at Pete Alonso and Hyun-Jin Ryu. With due respect to Josh Bell, his return on investment trailed several hitters. Hat tip to Lucas GioIito’s first half. I agree with Ray, Christian Yelich and Max Scherzer lead the pack in terms of pure production. I’ll check back later with my second half surger, though off the cuff I agree with Lenny and Goldie and expect Andrew Benintendi to figure things out.

Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): Another vote for Alonso (although his teammate McNeil isn’t a bad choice). Ryu has to be the pitcher. Disappointing hitter Jose Ramirez; disappointing pitcher Diaz.

Dr. Roto (Scout Fantasy, @DrRoto): Josh Bell has to be the offensive MVP and if anyone saw this explosion coming I tip my cap to you. There are better pitchers than Lucas Giolito, but I might argue that anyone who drafted him has to be doing pretty darn well in the pitching categories right now. I will pray that Jose Ramirez and Aaron Nola both turn it around in the second half of the season. They can’t both be this bad all year long.

Ryan Hallam (Fighting Chance Fantasy, @FightingChance): My first half MVP as far as hitting is concerned has to be Cody Bellinger, not only does he have 30 home runs already, but he’s also hitting .336 with eight steals. I took him at the end of the third round in my Tout draft and have been reaping the rewards all season. Pete Alonso has been a fantastic hitter and while we thought he would hit for power, this is more than I hoped for all year and it’s only the Break. A pitcher having a great year that I don’t think is getting enough attention is Luis Castillo. Eight wins, a 2.29 ERA and 124 Ks in 106 innings. Bravo sir! My bounceback candidates will be Aaron Nola, he is way too good to be this subpar.

Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): I’ve always calculated MVP value a little differently: dollars earned (per BaseballHQ) + profit (from NFBC), which is a nice balance between overall production and draft-day “value”. The top two hitters are no surprise: Bellinger ($42 in production + $21 in profit = $63) and Bell ($33 + $30); the next three are Devers ($57), Yelich ($55) and LeMahieu ($55). Top five on the pitching side: Ryu ($34 in production + $27 profit = $61) is the clear winner, followed by Morton ($51), Verlander ($46), Mike Minor ($46), and Zack Greinke ($45). I’m surprised this is the first Mike Minor mention. Sure, he’s not this good, but 117 innings of a 2.54 ERA with 8 wins and 114 Ks has certainly played from his 350+ ADP. Top-50 rebound? Give me Jose Ramirez—his skills really aren’t that far off from 2016-18’s peak.

Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): For straight up earnings, the MVPs are Justin Verlander (by decimals over Max Scherzer) and Christian Yelich. If you’re asking about value relative to auction price, the winners thus far are D.J. LeMahieu (with Fernando Tatis in 2nd) for hitter and Hyun-Jin Ryu for pitcher (with Lucas Giolito the best bargain in the AL). Paul Goldschmidt has shown signs of breaking out and is my pick for Top 50 ADP second half resurgence.

Rudy Gamble (Razzball, @RudyGamble): Yelich has been the best fantasy player. Scherzer/Verlander a dead head for best SP. In terms of most valuable, I would rank it: 1) Fernando Tatis Jr. (2nd in $/Game to Yelich on Razzball Player Rater –, 2) Hyun-Jin Ryu (6th in $/G + 109 IP), 3) Josh Bell. For top 50 ADP comeback player, I’ll say Jose Altuve. He’s been barely above replacement level in 12-team leagues on a per game basis. I think he bounces back to being a top 20 hitter the rest of the way.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): My 1st half fantasy baseball hitter MVP is Christian Yelich. You could make an argument for Cody Bellinger, but Yelich delivers more stats across the board, especially when comparing is 19 stolen bases to 8 for Bellinger. My 1st half fantasy baseball pitcher MVP is Max Scherzer. He’s gritty and anyone that can pitch the day after taking a black eye in batting practice is someone I want on the mound for my fantasy teams. You could make an argument for Justin Verlander, but Scherzer has almost 30 more strikeouts to date. My initial Top-50 player with a disappointing first half that will rebound the most in the 2nd half of the season is Chris Sale. The strikeouts are still there with 153 Ks in 107 innings of work and a 12.87 K/9. He just needs to work on keeping the ball in the park and not having those big innings where he gives up multiple runs in a single inning. He’s the perfect buy low candidate.

Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, The Process, @jeffwzimmerman): It’s Bellinger for MVP. Great return with position flexibility for a 4th round pick. As for pitcher, I love what Shane Greene as done for his owners. He could have been picked up for peanuts in drafts and has provided his owners with some much needed Saves.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): Between Yelish, Bellinger and Bell, it has to be Yelish because of his SB’s. A fantasy MVP has to the guy delivering in the category that’s hardest to get stats! Mad Max has lived up to his number one pitcher taken in drafts. Ryu and Verlander have been good, but Scherzer ‘s K’s put him ahead of the rest . Perhaps it’s wishful thinking because the Cards can’t win the Central if he doesn’t bounce back, but Goldschmidt will rebound . He had a bit of a break out over the weekend in San Fran, hopefully it’s a sign of things to come!

Larry Schechter (Winning Fantasy Baseball, @LarrySchechter): My contribution to this discussion is to say that this question can definitely be interpreted two different ways…by MVP do we mean who produced the most sheer value, or who did best relative to ADP/auction price? I took a twitter poll to see how people would answer this question. 46% said sheer value, 54% said relative to ADP/auction price. For sheer value, I say Yelich slightly over Bellinger due to SB…and Max very slight over Verlander. Rebound candidate I’ll say Jose Ramirez…but that’s just hope more than logic. He can’t keep hitting .218 with little power, can he???

Eric Karabell (ESPN, @karabelleric): I view MVPs/LVPs in context with draft/auction value, so it would be tough for me to go with Yelich or Bellinger here. Josh Bell isn’t far off from those fellows on the ESPN Player Rater but he was a late selection, if selected at all, in ESPN leagues. Rafael Devers deserves much credit as well, but he was a mid-round pick in most leagues and most of us thought his best days were ahead. For Bell, this is stunning, just as it is for Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, my pitcher choice. Amazing season when considering value. As for who rebounds, I see little reason to go with Jose Ramirez, the clear bust of the first half. What’s changing? Paul Goldschmidt, Andrew Benintendi and Aaron Nola seem more likely to turn things around.

Adam Ronis (Scout Fantasy, @AdamRonis): It’s easy to take the best players so I look at more value and for offense I go with Pete Alonso. He went late in most drafts and has produced elite power with 30 home runs. Hyun-Jin Ryu is my pitcher. He has been dominant and rarely has a bad start. He was discounted due to the injury concerns and to get a pitcher in the middle rounds with his stats is a big difference maker in this offensive environment and with some of the early pitchers not living up to the draft cost. Paul Goldschmidt will be much better in the second half.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Like Ryan B., I set “value” by adding production and profit (based on pre-season projections, $1 minimum). Based on that, Bellinger among hitters—he has 3 HR, 8 SB and 35 points of BA on Bell. Among pitchers, using the same method, I have Giolito as most valuable. As for a rebound, I’ll take Jose Ramirez, more as a prayer/wishful thinking than anything.

Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): I tend to pick bang-for-the-buck over elite performers regardless of draft position, but considering Cody Bellinger was barely a top-40-overall pick in the preseason but has been the clear No,. 2 earner for the year, he’s got to be my hitting MVP. On the pitching side, I’ll take Hyun-Jin Ryu, who was talented enough to be universally drafted yet cost practically nothing in mixed leagues due to his injury history. Hey, sometimes that works out! As for the rebound, since it’s top-50 players, Blake Snell gets my nod. Among pitchers with at least 90 innings, he’s sixth in xFIP (3.12) but you’d hardly know it by looking at his traditional Rotisserie stats.

Al Melchior (FNTSY Radio, @almelchiorbb): Josh Bell is the batter MVP based on the value he’s returned, with Rafael Devers as runner-up. I’ll go with Lucas Giolito over Hyun-Jin Ryu for pitcher MVP, since Ryu was at least on the radar of owners in most drafts. Blake Snell is the strongest bounceback candidate among the preseason top 50. As many have noted, he has actually been a better pitcher from a skills perspective this season than last.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Shocking to me no one has mentioned Khris Davis as a bounce back. At .236 he’s still 11 points shy of .247.

Clay Link (Rotowire, @claywlink): Josh Bell was the first name that came to mind as far as first-half MVP Hitter, but I want to show Fernando Tatis Jr. some love. He’s been a top-12 shortstop despite the missed time, and the 13 steals have really helped from a player who was a $1 add or a reserve pick in most drafts (at least in those drafts that took place before we got word that he could actually break camp with the team). MVP Pitcher so far has been Mike Minor. Unreal first half and he was mostly an afterthought in March. I still like Vlad Jr. to hit enough to be a top-50 player rest of season.

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): I’ll answer the question literally, as the most valuable hitter and pitcher, regardless of draft/auction day cost. According to the FanGraphs auction calculator, Christian Yelich has been the most valuable hitter so far, while Justin Verlander has been the most valuable pitcher. I’m hoping Jose Ramirez rebounds the most in the second half, but despite my biased view, believe he has a good shot to. The speed is still there, so even if he isn’t delivering on the power we expected, the steals provide a floor and he’s still able to generate value. He still maintains a fantastic strikeout rate and is hitting tons of fly balls, so he could take advantage when/if that HR/FB rate spikes back up into double digits. He also seemingly has significant BABIP upside, as his current mark is a lowly .234, well below his career average.

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): Fantasy MVP hitter is Pete Alonso when equating draft ADP value. Anytime a post 15 round draft selection returns 1st round value he’s an MVP. Josh Bell is a very close second for the same reason. Pitching MVP is Lucas Giolito. A waiver wire add in many leagues he’s now the 31st overall ranked player on yahoo with 120 Ks and a 3.15 ERA and 11 wins.My top 50 player to hopefully return some of his investment is Jose Ramirez. An elite player can’t fall off that fast, can he?

Ian Kahn (Rotowire, @IanKahn4): I’m going to go with Josh Bell on the hitting side with his 249 ADP (NFBC) slightly ahead of Pete Alonso with his 216 ADP. Ryu has been fantastic, but his 171 ADP at least suggested that he could be a #2. Giolito with his 440 ADP has been dominant, and likely was living on the wire even in 15 team leagues to start the year. I will be looking for Aaron Nola to continue his trend that he has had these last four starts. 29 2/3 Innings,2 runs, 22 runners allowed, 34 K’s. Looking for 2018 results from 2nd half Nola.

Tout Wars Free Agency Bidding Recap – Wednesday, July 10

By Brian Walton and Todd Zola

Welcome to our special All-Star break weekly report summarizing the top free agent bids in each of the five Tout Wars leagues, with links to the detailed bidding action following our 8 p.m. ET deadline each Sunday evening – except for this week, which was on Wednesday night. All prices are on a $1000 base.

After you scan the detail below, please join our live chat, starting at 9 p.m. ET, to discuss these results with Todd Zola of Mastersball and other Touts.

American League

While a total of 17 players were purchased in AL this week, seven of them were bargain-basement $0 acquisitions.

First-place owner Rob Leibowitz placed a winning $63 offer for Matt Theiss of the Angels. The corner infielder has a shot for playing time with AL All-Star Tommy La Stella on the injured list. Though primarily a first baseman, Theiss is seeing time at the hot corner for the Halos.

Nando Di Fino of The Athletic purchased A.J. Reed of the White Sox for $59. The 26-year old first sacker was claimed off waivers from the Astros and is reportedly being called up from Triple-A after the All-Star break.

Greg Allen of Cleveland joined the roster of Colton and the Wolfman for $52. The speedy outfielder is back for another shot a trying to earn a big-league job. A 4-for-6 game with a home run on the Sunday before the break was a nice opening bid for Allen.

Review all 7/10 AL bids here.

National League

A lucky or unlucky total of 13 players were acquired in the NL league this week.

League-leader Phil Hertz of BaseballHQ acquired Cubs infielder Robel Garcia for $58. The rookie has hit well in the minors and in his brief debut and may be able to push veteran Daniel Descalso aside for more regular work with the underachieving NL Central leader, which is looking for an offensive spark.

Apparently unconcerned about the potential return of shortstop Orlando Arcia, Craig Mish of Fantasy Sports Radio dropped a winning $57 offer for Brewers infielder Mauricio Dubon. Then again, shoulder injuries can be a problem and Dubon clearly has talent.

Andy Behrens of Yahoo sat up and noticed when the Giants’ Austin Slater launched a pinch-hit grand slam out of Oracle Park against Miles Mikolas last weekend. Slater should get a chance to claim regular time in the merry-go-round also known as the San Francisco outfield.

Review all 7/10 NL bids here.

Mixed Auction

An even 20 claims were made in the Mixed Auction with an impressive 11 Touts participating. High bid came courtesy of Scott Swanay with his $58 towards sometime Red Sox closer Heath Hembree. Nathan Eovaldi is earmarked for ninth inning duties after the break but Hembree appears to be Alex Cora’s favorite option until Eovaldi is ready.

Scott Pianowski fortified his infield with a $55 ticket on Adam Frazier, $33 on Freddy Galvis and a modest $6 on Evan Longoria. Frazier was one of the league’s hottest batters heading into the break while Freddy Galvis is giving the Toronto Blue Jays a reason to leave Bo Bichette on the farm.

A couple of other infielders have new Tout homes as Brent Hershey thinks $11 is worth the hope Oakland gives Franklin Barreto a long look while Michael Rathburn figures it’s worth $9 for the chance Luis Arraez continues pounding the ball for the Twins.

Review all 7/10 Mixed Auction bids here.

Mixed Draft

There was a little bit of everything this week in the Mixed Draft bidding, led by Scott White opening his FAAB wallet and pulling out 317 units for Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton was available because Tim McLeod opted to drop the Yankees slugger and take the $360 FAAB reimbursement. White only has to keep Stanton active for the shortened week, then he can stash him on reserve and hope for an early return.

McLeod didn’t take long spending his newfound riches, taking a $61 shot on Yusei Kikuchi and a $47 speculative try for saves on Daniel Hudson.

Speaking of saves, Rudy Gamble planted his $27 flag on Diego Castillo to lay claim to the Tampa Bay Rays closer gig while Seth Trachtman put a buck on Joe Jimenez in the event Shane Greene gets dealt. White grabbed Giovanny Gallegos for a $0 bid, either as a stash in case Carlos Martinez needs a breather in the ninth or to have someone active for the weekend before replacing him with a starter next week.

The sneaky acquisition of the week is DJ Short’s scooping of Andrelton Simmons for a modest $10 FAAB. While we’re at the time of the season the focus is on specific categories, Simmons quietly contributes across the board and is primed for a solid post-break run.

Perry Van Hook took advantage of the short week to stash Casey Mize, though the new came out earlier Mize was removed early from his start earlier today. Van Hook also sagely dropped $3 on Robel Garcia, a power-hitting infielder the Cubs saw play in Italy. Garcia isn’t assured of playing time, but with Addison Russell still in a rut, Garcia could be extended a look.

Review all 7/10 Mixed Draft bids here.

Head to Head

It was a relatively quiet week in the Head to Head League with only nine pickups. Two players tied for the high bid with Dr. Roto spending $37 on Byron Buxton while Ralph Lifshitz dropped the same amount on Andrew Cashner. Cashner has been pitching surprisingly well and opens the second half with a Saturday date in Toronto, facing one of the weaker lineups in the American League.

There are only two more double-digit claims, each for the same $10. Dr. Roto doubled down on established major leaguers rebounding after the break with a Rougned Odor dart. Alex Chamberlain got a piece of the surprising Marlins staff with his sawbuck placed on Elieser Hernandez. Hernandez isn’t scheduled to work this week but should be recalled from Triple-A the next time Miami needs a fifth starter.

The rest of the acquisitions are saves speculations, though it doesn’t hurt to have a reliever active in this abbreviated transaction period. Lifshitz decided $6 was worth a chance Colin Poche gets a piece of the Rays saves scenario. Clay Link bet a buck Nick Anderson grabs some saves if Sergio Romo is dealt by Miami. Finally, Ryan Bloomfield not only has three relievers garnering points over the weekend, $6 on each is well worth the chance Joe Jimenez, Sam Dyson and/or Aaron Bummer end up with saves if Shave Greene, Will Smith or Alex Colome are moved to a contender.

Review all 7/10 Head to Head bids here.

Who Is Winning Tout Wars Mixed Draft, Midseason 2019 Edition

At the end of May, the question was whether anyone could catch perpetual Tout Mixed Draft leader Rudy Gamble, but a disastrous month for Rudy didn’t knock him from the top spot but it made the question more of a question.

June 2019 standings

Ray Murphy’s machine of a team kept purring, and unsurprisingly Adam Ronis stepped forward. The result is Rudy still in charge, but the threats are closer.

Midseason 2019 standings

All the categories are tight, all the contenders are mixing it up across the board. Give Rudy props for hanging in there, but we have ourselves a race.

Who Is Winning Tout Mixed Auction, Midseason 2019 Edition

At the end of May Bret Sayre had a slim, slim lead over Eric Karabell in Tout Mixed Auction. Bret went on to win the June standings and hold onto a slim lead over Scott Swanay and a handful of teams.

June 2019 standings.

The big story here is the disaster of a month Karabell had, and Tim Heaney had a strong enough month to climb into the hunt.

Midseason 2019 standings.

Tim has a ways to go, but this race will be worth watching.

Who Is Winning Tout Head to Head 2019, Midseason Edition

A month ago, Clay Link was cruising along, winning 80 percent of his games, looking back at the high-achieving (but not that high) likes of Jake Ciely, Ian Kahn and Ryan Bloomfield.

H2H June 2, 2019 standings.

Since then, Link has cruised along with an .800 win percentage while Kahn and Ciely have fallen back.

H2H midseason 2019 standings

No worries, however. The top six teams make the September finals, with the top two getting a first-week bye.