Tuesday is the first week of the second Tout Daily period. The slates are wiped clean. Here are some of the picks for the Touts on a rain-shortened schedule.
Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports)
Pitcher: Trevor Bauer – Sometimes it’s worth spending up to go with the best. Facing one of the weakest lineups, who strike out a lot, this is one of those times!
Hitter: Kris Davis – Not a lot of $ left having invested in pitching, this is a good spot for Davis to come back to life. Porcello has been giving up his share on long balls, I hope Davis gets his long ball swing swing back tonight!
Rick Wolf (Fantasy Alarm, @RickWolf1)
Pitcher: Zach Grienke – Glenn Colton will hemmorage as I take the pitcher versus his beloved Yankees. In tournaments, you have to be contrarian sometimes and I look for players that have consistency. On the pitching side, Zach Grienke is one of the better players there. He has gotten a little sharper in each of the last three outings and his command has been right there being able to pinpoint location plus changes speeds. He won’t blow away any of these Yankee hitters, but he should put up 15-20 points. If it is any consolation, my other pitcher is Luis Castillo versus my favorite team, the Mets.
Hitter: Rowdy Tellez – Although it was three years ago when I saw him in person hit a 450 homer in the Arizona Fall League, I have been following him since. Glad to see Morales moved to open up a spot for him and see him start to shine hitting .305 with 5 HRs. Tonight, he faces 22 year-old sensation who has been dominating AAA. The lefty Tellez is priced right for him to hit a mistake pitch from the young gun and take it out of the yard. Looking for 2 for 5 with a bomb and a Rowdy night!
Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50)
Pitcher: Trevor Bauer – Sure he’s expensive, but he seems the closest to a sure thing. Didn’t I say that about deGrom three weeks ago.
Hitter: Juan Soto –
Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy)
Pitcher: Vince Velasquez – Along with the Trevor Bauer versus Miami matchup, Vince Velasquez versus Detroit for $8700. Detroit averages less than 4 runs per game and Velasquez has 14 Ks in his last 10.2 IP with only 2 runs allowed
Hitter: Joey Votto – Tough not to stack the Reds versus Jason Vargas and his 7.20 ERA. Joey Votto has a hit on 4 straight games and I’m not afraid of this lefty vs lefty matchup.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola)
Pitcher: Trevor Bauer – Pricing has been tight this season, tough to afford two aces but after a rough first Period, going back to what’s worked for me – stud pitching and piecemeal bats.
Hitter: Curt Casali – Batting 5th against Vargas, not a bad salary-saver, a cheap part of a Reds stack, good part of the order with the platoon edge on a lesser hurler.
Rob Leibowitz (Rotoheaven, @rob_leibowitz)
Pitcher: Trevor Bauer – I’m on the Bauer train as well. Matchup/quality of starter/strikeout rates too god to resist.
Hitter: Jose Ramirez – Doubling up on Cleveland players – starting to show signs of life. Good matchup against Alcantara dn not likely to get a player of his talents at $4,300 for much longer.
Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotobuzzGuy)
Pitcher: Trevor Bauer – Against Miami? Make him fit!
Hitter: Yasiel Puig – If you’re using Bauer, you need to find some salary relief. Might as well give this bat-licking, bat-flipping idiot a shot against Jason Vargas, one of the absolute worst southpaws in the game right now. I might even think about a Reds stack with him, Suarez and Casali tonight!
Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): I assume the prompt is setting an over/under on the number of home runs Guerrero hits off the Athletics in his first major league series. I’m usually the neighborhood naysayer when it comes to prospect hype, but I have to imagine 19 or fewer home runs is something like a 20th percentile outcome (basically all major injury scenarios). As for the batting average, sure, it’s reasonable to doubt an unestablished player’s ability to hit .300 – especially in this day and age of supercharged relievers. Still, I’ll happily bet the over. Projection systems estimate around a .307 average. I’ll call out a .315. A better question: Vladito OPS o/u 1.000?
Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): He’ll hit well over .400 and hit at least 74 home runs while finding a cure for cancer, fixing the US immigration system, and bringing peace to the Middle East between innings. We are not worthy to set eyes on him.
Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): I’m placing Vlad at .290 as .300 for a rookie will be tough as pitchers adjust. 20 plus HRs should be easy. I’ll predict 27
Brian Walton (CreativeSports2, @B_Walton): Over and over. It is easy for a prospect guy to get geeked up for an MLB intruduction, but the consistency Vlad Jr. has demonstrated suggests to me it can and will continue in the majors.
Perry Van Hook (Mastersball): I will take the over on Vladito’s batting average – that is his best tool. But for the first year, I will take the under on 20 home runs. He is more of a line drive hitter and will have some adjustments to make against major league pitchers.
Rick Wolf (Fantasy Alarm, @RickWolf1): Here it comes. Everyone saying that Vlad is the second coming. He is talent-wise, but players who get hurt tend to get hurt again. No one roots for injury. Just saying that someone who gains weight even as muscle and then pulls one of those muscles, will tend to get hurt again. That said, if healthy, he will eclipse 20 home runs easily. A .300 batting average will be difficult as the video, scouting and guile of major league pitchers could make it tough over a whole season. I don’t own him on any teams as the starting price was too high for someone who got hurt and has not played in the majors.
Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ, @BrentHQ): Though I’m convinced that long-term Vlad’s hit + power output is what is going to eventually catapult him into the Top-player-in-the-game conversation, I’d still take the Under on a .300 BA in his rookie year. I’d still consider him a BA asset in 2019 — he’s just hits the ball so hard — but feel that .280-.290 will be where he ends up 2019. Home runs, though? He should easily eclipse 20 over the next five months.
Michael Rathburn (Rotowire, @FantasyRath): I will take the over on both. I’m willing to bet on the skills he has displayed in the minors.
Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru Elite, @BaseballGuys): Expecting a rookie, no matter how immensely talented, to go .300/20 is asking an awful lot. I guess I’ll be Debbie Downer, but this game is filled with players who struggled at the start of their careers – even the great Mike Trout had a .672 OPS his first season – so there is no guarantee anyone will star in their first season, even if they become a tremendous hitter in the long run. I’ll take the under on the average and the over on the homers.
Doug Anderson (Fantrax, @rotodaddy): I’ll go over on both. Have you looked at pitching this year? In the American League? I’ll bet the over on Vlad Sr. and Vlad Jr. Jr. as well.
Andrea LaMont (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @RotoLady): I go over on HR – Under on AVG My Projections for 2019 = 27 HR with .277 AVG
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): I’m more confident with over on average, and that’s without the ” he could get hurt and be over” angle. My numbers say 22 HR, so I guess I’ll take the over, but not warm and fuzzy about it.
Scott Engel (Rotoballer, @scotteTheKing): I am going with the under on both. Baseball is a constant game of adjustments, and a tougher one for rookies. I say he hits .275 with 25 homera
Jon Hegglund (Baseball Prospectus, @JonHegglund): I’ll be boring and say over on both. I think Vlad can choose his own adventure and hit .320 with 20ish homers or sell out a bit and hit .290 with 30ish homers. Have you all seen what the ball is doing this year?
Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): Over .300, but under 20 homers. He’s been a consistent way over .300 hitter in the minors, but power wasn’t impressive and he’s already missed 15% 0f the season.
Glenn COlton (Fantasy Alarm, @GlennColton1): under and under. Love the talent BUT injury risk is real. If he is hurting at all, they are going to be SUPER careful. Could easily see him getting only 300-350 PA. Overvalued in re-draft leagues
Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): over on the home runs, thanks to the rabbit ball they’re using again this year. under on the batting average, just because it’s difficult for almost anyone to hit .300 in today’s game.
Tim McCullough (Baseball Prospectus, @TimsTenz): Under on the average – I think somewhere between .280 and .290. Over on the homers with 25 sounding about right.
Larry Schechter (Winning Fantasy Baseball, @LarrySchechter): .295 20 HR’s exactly.
AJ Mass (ESPN, @AJMass): Crunch all the numbers you want, I’m going to go over on both. He already looks more comfortable at the plate than some multi-year veterans. The stats will come.
Ian Kahn (Rotowire, @IanKahn4): I will go over on the average and under on the 20 homers. I anticipate that he will struggle with an injury. .311 Average and 16 Home Runs. Every at bat will be exciting, just limited I’m afraid by injury.
Scott Wilderman (OnRoto, @): lowered his K-rate at each level — hard to see him not pushing .300. More extra base hits at higher levels at age 19 than at age 18 — should be plenty of power at age 20. Clay Davenport practically invented translating minor league stats to their equivalent MLB level, and he’s got V Jr at .298 and 25. The power I think on the upper end, but the average on the lower end of his range.
D.J. Short (Rotoworld, @djshort): I’ll go under on the batting average, though he’s still be plenty useful in the category. It’s just a lot to ask, even with his ridiculous numbers and polished approach. This might be the last time for a while I’ll take the under there. With the way the ball is flying out of the park this year, over on 20 homers feels like a fair expectation. Let’s go!
Mike Sheets (ESPN, @MikeASheets): Common sense tells me to take the under on the .300 BA for a rookie, but I don’t really care. Vlad is different. Give me the over on both.
Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): C’mon, my pre-season projection was right at 20 homers, hitting .295! I’ll take the under, but just barely for both, simply because he’s only 20 years old, so that would be one heck of a performance in about 5/6ths of a season.
Alan Harrison (The Fantasy Fix, @TheFantasyFix): A healthy Vladito goes .305 with 22 moon shots.
Clay Link (Rotowire, @claywlink): I’m going over on both, and I feel strongly that if he falls short of either mark, he will do so just barely (assuming health). Guerrero Jr. has a lightening quick bat, and it’s controlled violence. Given what he did against Double-A pitching at 19 years old, I believe he will be able to make a pretty seamless transition to the majors and be one of the top 20 or so most productive hitters from here on. This is an incredibly rare talent.
Baseball HQ’s Phil Hertz was electric in Tout Daily, waving to the rest of the field with great frequency. Hertz cycled his way to a first and two third place finishes in the first four weeks, capturing a Golden Ticket into the Tout Daily Championships. As the current overall points leader, Hertz leads the charge for the wild-card entry into the finals tournament.
Yahoo Fantasy’s Scott Pianowski and Scout Fantasy’s Adam Ronis earned the other two Golden Tickets for Period 1. As a great example of why consistency prevails in the DFS league format, Pianowski didn’t finish in the top-three in any week of Period 1 while Ronis finished second in Week 3.
The weekly winners in Period 1 were Hertz in Week 1, USA Today’s Steve Gardner in Week 2, Fantasy Football Empire’s Jeff Boggis in Week 3 and Rotowire’s Jeff Erickson in Week 4.
Welcome to this week’s 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. 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 Andrea
Lamont, aka @rotolady of Lenny Melnick Fantasy Sports, along with other Touts.
A whopping count of 23 free agents were acquired in free
agent bidding this week.
The top dollar player is Hansel Robles of the Angels at $370
to Rob Leibowitz of RotoHeaven. With an uncertain closing situation, some
thought Robles may be behind Ty Buttrey, but on Sunday, Buttrey pitched the
eighth and Robles the ninth. Still it was a non-save situation and Robles has
just one on the season. This is a situation to keep watching.
The next-highest winning offer was also for an emerging
closer, as $199 landed Tampa Bay’s Emilio Pagan onto the roster of Patrick
Davitt of BaseballHQ. Pagan is the fifth Rays reliever to secure a save this season,
but has collected three straight.
$103 was the top bid for Luis Rengifo of the Angels,
acquired by Jeff Erickson of RotoWire. The second baseman is getting regular
playing time while batting ninth for the Halos. Rengifo hasn’t stolen a base
yet but had 40 last season in the minors.
Though the number of players taken in NL Tout this week was
low, just eight, two players fetched big money.
The Padres promoted third baseman Ty France, who was batting
.423 with nine home runs in Triple-A. With Greg Garcia his primary competition,
France could put pressure on struggling Ian Kinsler for playing time at second.
Fernando Tatis’ Sunday injury could add to the opportunity, with Manny Machado
moving from third to short. All of this together led to a $261 winning bid from
Andy Behrens of Yahoo, with the next closest at $119. (As a point of reference,
NL Tout had just 11 other eligible free agent hitters in the entire pool.)
Gio Gonzalez opted out of his minor league contract with the
Yankees and re-signed with Milwaukee, where the veteran lefty was quickly
inserted into the rotation, where he also made five effective starts to close
2018 after his acquisition from Washington. On Sunday, Gonzalez took a
no-decision after allowing two runs in five innings in New York. A proven
starter of this quality rarely comes available this early in the season, so
bidding was brisk. I won with my $256 offer over the closest competing bid of
23 was also the total of free agents to be acquired this
week in Mixed Auction.
New Nationals middle infielder Carter Kieboom, with two home
runs in his first weekend in the majors, was snapped up for $228 by Derek Van
Riper of The Athletic. Playing time looks wide open for at least the next three
weeks due to Trea Turner’s injury.
Griffin Canning of the Angels went for $131 to Ray Flowers
of Fantasy Guru. The 22-year old is the club’s top pitching prospect and was
off to a strong start at Triple-A, with a 0.56 ERA through three starts. The
right-hander is slated to make his MLB debut on Tuesday against Toronto.
The money was spread around as no other free agent fetched
more than $77 (for Brandon Belt by Tim Heaney).
Over in Mixed Draft, 16 players found new roster homes this
Kieboom caused the biggest blast, drawing a $235 winning bid
from Greg Ambrosius of the NFBC. Other top dollar players were taken in other
leagues as well, with Pagan and Canning each drawing top offers of $87 (from
Tom Kessenich and Tim McLeod, respectively). Next up was Buttrey at $79, also
The first new name in the bidding hierarchy is Angels infielder
Tommy LaStella, who went to Ray Murphy of BaseballHQ for $66. The 30-year old
swatted three home runs last week and is a regular at third.
H2H action this week was moderate, with 17 free agents
Leading the way was Kieboom at $287 to Jake Ciely, followed by a round $150 for
Pagan, paid by AJ Mass.
From there, prices dropped hard to the $34 winning offer for
Luke Jackson of Atlanta, paid by Clay Link and $33 spent by Ciely on Phillies starter
Jerad Eickhoff. With Braves closer AJ Minter in a tailspin, Jackson was called
upon to pick up the save on Sunday and converted the three-out opportunity
against the heart of the Rockies’ lineup. As evidenced by his sharp 2.12 ERA
through three outings, Eickhoff is doing his best to make demoted Nick Pivetta a
Phil Hertz from Baseball HQ and Steve Gardner from USA Today have dominated the first three weeks and are in the driver’s seat for a ticket into the Tout Daily championship. The third seat is up for grabs with Adam Ronis currently holding down the third spot. Scott Pianowski, Justin Mason, Michael Beller and Anthony Aniano are all within striking distance. Click HERE for the leaderboard.
Here are this week’s Tout Daily picks. Please join us in a live chat as the leaders sweat the first allocation of Golden Tickets.
Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotobuzzGuy)
Pitcher: Domigo German – This slate is pretty trashy with regard to pitchers and their match-ups, so paying up for German seems like the safest way to go. He won’t light it up with strikeouts as the Angels aren’t a big whiffing team, but he should be able to limit the damage should the Halos start to hit him at all.
Hitter: Edwin Encarnacion – His numbers against left-handed pitching have been rock-solid, including a .585 wOBA against them this season. Petco shouldn’t scare people off as E5 can easily yank one down the line and put it over the fence.
Gene McCaffrey (The Athletic, @WiseGuyGene)
Pitcher: Frankie Montas – I agree with Howard, not a star-studded cast tonight. I’m going cheaper with Frankie Montas, who never seems to be as good as he looks. I bet Montas is super popular and that’s OK, I’ll just have to beat these bums somewhere else.
Hitter: Brandon Belt – Always a decent bet on the road against a righty, Belt frees up some cash for Coors.
Clay Link (Rotowire, @claywlink)
Pitcher: Patrick Corbin – He’s the best pitcher on the slate. Coors Field will steer most people away from him, and that creates an opportunity to really separate myself with a strong performance (NOTE: this approach did not work a couple weeks ago with German Marquez, but I need to differentiate if I’m to take this first Golden Ticket).
Hitter: Jose Altuve – Perhaps no hitter benefits more from the juiced ball (in terms of HR) than Altuve, and he gets a guy in Michael Pineda who has allowed four homers in 18.2 innings and has always struggled to limit the long ball. The Crawford Boxes help Altuve’s cause.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis)
Pitcher: Frankie Montas – Montas in Spanish means “you ride” and I am riding with Montas tonight. You have to love his early season stats with 3 wins, 20/6 K/BB ratio, 2.70 ERA, and a 0.94 WHIP. I’ll take his $7,600 salary on DraftKings tonight in quest of a 1st period “Boleto Dorado” (Golden Ticket).
Hitter: Alex Bregman – Over the last 7 games Alex Bregman has hit a home run every other game. He did not hit a home run in his last game, so he’s money for a home run tonight.
Dan Strafford (FNTSY Radio, @DanStrafford)
Pitcher: Pitcher Name –
Hitter: Bryce Harper – His price point is just too low to ignore against a somewhat volatile RHP. Zack Wheeler has definite upside on this slate, projecting to be one of the higher strike out starters. While I do think Wheeler is fine, I’m looking to go with a mini-stack of JT Realmuto and a cheap enough Bryce Harper.
Ray Murphy (BaseballHQ, @RayHQ)
Pitcher: Luke Weaver – On a crap pitching slate, I’m buying the recent Weaver gains in a very favorable matchup… good park, bad (and depleted) PIT offense.
Hitter: Juan Soto – Pick a WAS OF, I might well end up having all three of ’em.
Derek VanRiper (Rotowire, @DerekVanRiper)
Pitcher: Frankie Montas – I usually don’t mess with the Texas offense, but if I’m going to do it, it’s when they end up on the road in a cooler, more pitcher-friendly environment. Montas is priced at a level that will likely boost up his ownership on a slate like this, but I’m trying to avoid disasters on the mound with the limited options at the top end of the pool.
Hitter: Brandon Nimmo – Nimmo at $4K flat against a righty who can be leaky with the long ball is exactly what I’m looking for. If you’re looking to get some exposure to the Coors bats, you’ll need to save a little with secondary pieces, and Nimmo is one of my preferred building blocks tonight.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola)
Pitcher: Erik Swanson – Need some lightning in a bottle as I’m way behind in the period and overall. The Padres fan a ton versus RHP. My other pitcher (his name rhymes with Shmardizija) faces another high-K offense.
Hitter: Mitch Garver – Going with a Twins mini-stack against Wade Miley in Houston with Garver leading off. The rest of the bats are all sluggers capable of going yard.
Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50)
Pitcher: Luke Weaver – He’s been pitching well. Favorable ballpark. It’s not like there’s a slam dunk option like deGrom was two weeks ago.??
Hitter: Victor Robles – Coors! What more do I need to say.
Jeff Erickson (Rotowire, @Jeff_Erickson)
Pitcher: Frankie Montas – I like his recent form and his price. I’m going to pair him with Domingo German to form the Chalk Brothers duo.
Hitter: Alex Bregman – For Larry. I think that the Astros will hit Piñeda like a piñata.
Rick Wolf (Fantasy Alarm, @RickWolf1)
Pitcher: Luke Weaver – Weaver represents a great way to save money tonight and had 9 strikeouts in his last outing. Sometimes it is as simple as that.
Hitter: Victor Robles – The Rockies had a difficult time picking out a starting pitcher and Coors plays tonight. I employed a game stack and filled in with best value catcher plus two White Sox as they have a tasty match up. Let’s go!
Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy)
Pitcher: Luke Weaver – He has 17Ks in his last 11.1 IP with only 2 earned runs and faces a Pirates team that averages 3.6 runs per game and 3 per game over their last 3.
Hitter: Jose Abreu – He is 6 for his last 15 with 1 HR and 7 RBIs while only striking out twice. He faces Andrew Cashner and his 4.97 ERA and his 7 HRs allowed over 25.1 inning pitched
There’s scientific and empirical evidence the baseball is juiced. This week’s question posed:
With mounting evidence the ball is juiced (lower drag and huge spike in Triple-A runs using MLB balls this season), what measures should be taken by fantasy managers to best take advantage?
Derek Carty (RotoGrinders, @DerekCarty): Obviously, a juiced ball means more runs — which is good for hitters and bad for pitchers in an absolute sense. Many fantasy players will just take a stab in the dark at mentally adjusting player values, I’m sure, or run around like Chicken Little and push all their chips onto the hitting side. There are ways to quantify this change, though, so it doesn’t have to be an imprecise exercise. Ideally, this is something that gets accounted for in the projections you’re using to assess player value. When I realized this was happening a week or so ago, I began upgrading THE BAT to be able to detect changes in the league run environment and — more importantly — to decipher at what point this type of thing “stabilizes” the same way we can decipher when individual player stats stabilize. This way, we’re aren’t over (or under)-reacting to a sample size of just two or three weeks. We’ve definitely hit a point where this looks very largely real, if the physics studies we’ve seen about drag coefficients and whatnot hadn’t already told us that. Once you have players projected within this new context, it should be fairly easy to re-calculate values and make moves accordingly. The biggest question is whether players will be impacted equally. Certain things are obvious; flyball pitchers will be hurt more than groundball pitchers. But will big raw power hitters be impacted less than moderate power hitters? Since all hitters will projected higher and all pitchers lower, does that actually mean hitting is worth more if the intra-position values are all still relative? These are the more interesting questions at this point, IMO.
AJ Mass (ESPN, @AJMass): Assuming that this is indeed a trend and not just statistical noise, the fact that there are more home runs in the baseball universe means that each individual home run is slightly less valuable. Trading away someone like Jay Bruce-type whose early-season HR production has surprised for a Tommy Pham-type who will get you a few blasts along with a rarer stat (steals) is the way to go before the market self-corrects.
Rick Wolf (Fantasy Alarm, @RickWolf1): Actually, it is what you shouldn’t do anymore that is the outcome of this. Don’t pay top dollar for home run production as it will be easier to get across the board and lesser hitters will find more balls going over the fence. Invest in starting pitchers who go deep into games to maximize your strikeouts and players who run. As of today, there have been 540 games played with 700 home runs already hit. At that rate, there will be 6,300+ home runs hit which would eclipse the 6,015 hit in 2017 by almost 5% and crush last season’s 5,585 by 13%.
Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): Hitter value is skewed even more toward the stolen base and batting average (we talk a lot about the former and way too little about the latter). For pitchers, middle relievers are even more vital than ever to protect your ratios. In deep leagues, use MRs over SPs when you can. In shallower formats, work the wire on starters and don’t be loyal to any but the top 15-20 overall.
Michael Rathburn (Rotowire, @FantasyRath): I agree with Gianella on the SB/BA front and MRPs becoming more valuable. James is also on point with targeting the weak offenses for pitching. I look at the lefty/righty team splits and who has the lowest ISOs to stream against.
James Anderson (Rotowire, @RealJRAnderson): We have to be more careful than ever before when it comes to sitting decent pitchers (Steven Matz types) against the top offenses, and we have to be more aggressive than ever when it comes to streaming pitchers against the worst offenses. I’ll start almost anyone against the Orioles, Marlins, Tigers, Indians, Giants, Royals and Pirates. I’ll also start almost any righty against the Blue Jays, and going after the Rockies and Reds on the road seems like a valid strategy at the moment. In order to avoid blow-up outings, it’s critical to roster at least one quality reliever who won’t get many saves but can be counted on for great ratios. Ryan Pressly and Adam Ottavino are long gone, but guys like Nick Anderson, Nick Burdi and Robert Stephenson are still out there in a lot of leagues. I think it’s too late to do much adjusting on the hitting side — it will require a ton of HR, RBI and R to be competitive in those categories, but it’s not like there are a bunch of sluggers sitting out on waivers that will help make up ground.
Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): If the ball is juiced and players are hitting more homeruns … Let’s think about what effect that has on the hitters and pitchers. All offense would be up, but I would think that hitters who hit more fly-balls would benefit more – a couple of more balls hit in the air will fly out of the yard. Players who hit more groundballs, although a few more may go for hits, won’t see as large an impact from a flyout turning into a homerun. Projections who break down power into FB & HR/FB components may adjust FB hitters projections more favorably – and assign a larger value to them. Give a bump to FB hitters such as Hoskins, Gallo, K Davis, Carpenter, Kepler, etc. The opposite goes for the pitchers … the fly-ball pitchers would be affected more, so the groundball and strikeout pitchers (low FB rates) would now be worth more. Pitchers like Corbin, Godley, Arrieta, Marquez, Marco Gonzales with low FB rates should benefit. FB pitchers like Verlander, Scherzer, R Lopez, Cole, etc. should get dinged, and may see a higher ERA than projected. In terms of lineup construct, some low FB relief pitchers may now be worth starting as well.
Alex Chamberlain (Rotofraphs, @DolphHauldhagen): Prior research (mine, others) suggests the players who benefit most from the juiced ball are the fringy ones. Home run distance is generally normally distributed, but with the juiced ball it skews ever-so-slightly toward shorter home runs, and the players with middling/league-average home run outputs, as a group, see the biggest gain. Don’t overpay via trade for premium power bats who, in a sense, are marginally less valuable with league-wide power on the rise. From a pitcher standpoint, home run rates are up for all pitch types, but it’s fastballs that have borne the greatest burden: home runs as a ratio of outfield fly balls have increased from 19.0% to 23.8% in the early goings. Again, all pitch types have been more vulnerable, but fastballs, disproportionately so. Make of that what you will (it’s fair to argue these league-wide pitch-type numbers are still too noisy to be worthwhile.)
Brian Walton (CreativeSports2, @B_Walton): Until I see data that indicates the increased home run rate is inconsistent at a statistically significant level across different classes of hitters, I see no way to act on the offensive side. However, if data shows an increase among top hitters is greater than for lesser hitters, for example, then one can react accordingly. On the pitching side, it would seem to add value to sinkerball pitchers and decrease those who have fly ball tendencies. Now that I think about it, the same could apply to fly ball vs. ground ball hitters. Again, there should start to be enough data available to test this rather than speculate.
Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Alex took most of my reply. The last time we had a juice ball effect, it was the Justin Smoaks who benefitted, not the Giancarlo Stantons. With Smoak, his wall-scrapers and warning-track outs nipped the extra 10 feet to sneak over the fence; with Stanton, the 430-foot blast became a 450-foot blast, but no extra points for added distance! If we had known this ahead of the season, obviously we all could have made adjustments to projected HR and the value of HR, so a few bucks would have moved from the Giancarlos to the Smoaks. In-season, I guess if there are owners in your league who aren’t aware of the situation, trade your Stanton for a pack of Smoaks (hee hee) that includes any kind of useful throw-in. The juice ball benefit will close the gap between Smoak and Stanton, so the throw-in gets a little extra added value.
Larry Schechter (Winning Fantasy Baseball, @LarrySchechter): Is there any evidence that Tim Anderson’s legs are juiced? He’s on pace for 63 SB.
Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): I might try to move a homer guy for a base stealer, but at this point of the season in deep leagues, in which I mainly play, there’s not an imperative to do much adjusting .
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): To Anthony’s point, there was a study published on Baseball Prospectus showing less drag on the balls for the week tested, which would feed into the conditions. The piece warns it was one week’s worth of baseballs and there’s variance from week to week, but the drag levels were lower than anything measured last season and were in fact reminiscent of 2017. Chances are the reduced drag is working in concert with the early winds to boost homers. Gratuitous plug alert: I recently wrote a piece for ESPN determining the sweet spot where added fly ball distance should manifest in the most added homers. My filters were batters with a high fly ball rate, good contact and 2018 average fly ball distance within the optimal range. I tagged 16 batters and some honorable mentions. I’m working on a companion pitcher piece for next week.
Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @Scott_Pianowski): We always want pitchers who miss bats, but I consider K/9 even more critical now. Contact is too risky. I had a soft spot for the Mikolas, Hendricks, Porcello types in draft season; not as horses, but as playable worker bees. I’m certainly concerned now (it’s adorable that all three guys had their best turn of the year this weekend, post-write, but I stand behind the point). At least there are relievers who breathe fire and can smooth ratios, but it’s no country for pitch-to-contact SPs. If I owned a Madison Bumgarner type, I’d be coyly trying to trade him, if possible. (I missed last week’s table, but I see nothing wrong with considering trades in April. You should always be looking for natural fits.)
Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotobuzzGuy): The obvious answer is to start dealing off your HR-only guys for more well-balanced players and grab extra speed while you can. If I think a guy who is normally a 15-15 player can pop me 20-plus with a juiced ball, then the sliding scale should be attached to everyone. Maybe Jay Bruce pops 35 again, but is he more valuable than a Tommy Pham or Michael Brantley? I’d even go so far ….sorry Lawr, but you know I love you…as to trade a Khris Davis for a guy with much less power on paper and a strong starting pitcher who doesn’t pitch to a world of contact.
Derek VanRiper (Rotowire, @DerekVanRiper): I agree with Pianow, the pitchers who simply do not miss bats at a high rate but make value with their ability to log a lot of innings take a hit because significantly worse things are going to happen to them with the juiced ball. There are some streaming implications here as well, and if starting pitchers are getting hit harder, their innings will likely come down. With that, we might be wise to push strikeout-heavy, non-closer relievers even harder to pad ratios, as their collective impact might actually increase in 2019 as a byproduct of the more difficult environment as a whole.
Glenn Colton (Fantasy Alarm, @GlennColton1): I may be in the minority here but I would not change anything. I plan to stick to my knitting, follow the SMART system and Rules of Engagement, look for good matchups, undervalued players and to rid my teams of players unlikely to turn it around.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): I am relying more on more advanced sabermetrics and using this to my advantage in player acquisition through free agency and trades. For pitching metrics, strikeouts per nine innings pitched (K/9) and home runs per fly ball (HR/FB) provide me a way to see which pitchers are making hitters miss the ball, but also what happens when a hitter does make contact. For example, Jacob deGrom (14.9) and Matthew Boyd (13.3) currently lead the majors in k/9, but deGrom has a higher HR/FB rate at .417 versus Boyd at .125, so I prefer Boyd to deGrom. I also like to view and increase in HR/FB rate for hitters and try to spot trends from last year to this year. I’m looking for hitters with a home run to fly ball ratio of 15% or higher.
Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, The Process, @jeffwzimmerman): I’m just going to pretend it’s 2017 (my memory is at least that good) and be careful with each matchup. The biggest change I need to incorporate is that the Triple-A teams are using this same high-flying ball. I used to bake in a little power boost when a player gets to the majors. Not, so much now.
Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): I’m not buying it! Younger, stronger, better in shape players are hitting the ball farther. It will take more homers than yet year to compete in the category, but more players are hitting them. Maybe this will stop the nonsense of moving the mound back!
Ryan Hallam (Fighting Chance Fantasy, @FightingChance): I think this should change your strategy using your pitchers more than using your hitters. Chances are if this continues you will get more value out of your hitters than maybe you anticipated. However, now when thinking about using a two-start pitcher or perhaps a streaming option, the opportunity for it to really blow up your ratios (or grant you negative points in point based leagues) seems to have increased. Even guys like Steven Matz that are definitely rosterable couldn’t even record an out against Philly the other night. Perhaps your hitters that are off to good starts will stay performing well, but be more cautious of those pitching streaming options and really hold out for guys who are going against one of the more anemic offenses.
D.J. Short (Rotoworld, @djshort): These are all excellent thoughts. Nothing novel here, but with each home run, your surprising power hitter is less valuable. Knowing that it’s easier to compete in that area in this current environment, it makes plenty of sense to consider cashing in on the headlines of that early production in order to upgrade in other areas outside of power. This could be stolen bases, as some of you suggest, or a hitter with an excellent approach who has been unlucky or underperformed so far. Pitching feels particularly vulnerable right now, but I’d probably look at things like swinging strike percentage and soft-contact rate as my guide as far as a trade acquisition.
Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): I’m not sure how you’d take advantage of it, unless you have the proverbial crystal ball to be able to tell which waiver wire options at this point are going to transform into the 2019 version of Max Muncy. However, I would try to combat this trend by using as many of my reserve spots as possible on starting pitchers (which has the added benefit of cushioning the blow of the inevitable injuries), then playing matchups to as great an extent as possible to avoid obviously unfavorable matchups.
This is our Easter Sunday 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.
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.
In a busy week in the AL, 21 players received bids.
The scuffling Red Sox brought up top prospect Michael Chavis and give the third
sacker his first start at second base. Jason Collette did not fool around,
dropping $303 for the acquisition. The second-highest offer was $104 in the
blind bidding process.
Chris Liss of RotoWire likes new White Sox center fielder
Ryan Cordell enough to bid $135. The 27-year old has an uneven minor league
history, but can lock down regular playing time with performance. Cordell is
off to a good early start.
25-year old starter Erik Swanson was called up by the
Mariners and made a strong first impression, with just two baserunners
(including a solo home run) in six innings against the Indians. His stay could
be longer than a cup of coffee.
Though only 13 players were acquired this week, the big
money came out Sunday night.
When a rash of injuries occur, opportunity is created for
others. Such was the case with the Pirates this weekend, as Bryan Reynolds and
Cole Tucker were pushed into the starting spotlight for the hottest team in
baseball after a horrific outfield collision between Erik Gonzalez and Starling
Shortstop Tucker has been leading off and has begun his
career with a double and home run in two games. The speedster seems to have the
better chance of securing a long-term job at this point. Switch-hitting center
fielder Reynolds is 4-for-6 with a double and could be worth a stash for later
in the season.
OK, what are the odds that two owners would bid exactly
$326? Well, that happened with Tucker. Lenny Melnick edged Grey Albright by the
narrowest of margins – standings tiebreaker. Reynolds went to Scott Wilderman
for $79, based on what appears to be a shorter shelf life.
Jerad Eichkoff is back from the minors and made Sunday’s
start for the Phils at Colorado. The right-hander carried a shutout into the
sixth before allowing four runs and taking the loss. Tristan H. Cockcroft of
ESPN submitted the winning bid of $107.
31 players purchased this week is impressive, especially
considering four owners stood pat.
Top dollar went for new Seattle closer Roenis Elias, who slipped through unpurchased last week. With Hunter Strickland out at least two months, Elias looks to be in the driver’s seat – at least until summer – or Anthony Swarzak takes it away. The winning bid was $89, placed by Scott Engel.
Cole Tucker drew considerable attention in Mixed Auction,
with the top offer placed by Tim Heaney for $67.
At $62, my choice as the player of the prior decade, Albert
Pujols, joined the roster of Zach Steinhorn. Interestingly, Zach benched Pujols’
Angels teammate Justin Bour in the process.
27 free agents joined Mixed Draft rosters this weekend.
Leading the way is Tucker, the most popular Tout acquisition
this week, taken in all four leagues in which he was eligible. Seth Trachtman
made the top Mixed Draft bid of $185 for the new Pirates shortstop and leadoff
Outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. of Baltimore is coming off a big
week, with seven RBI in six games. The only yellow flag is a quad injury suffered
on Sunday. New owner Peter Kreutzer has to be hoping his $177 went to a player
only sidelined for a short period.
Eickhoff was the third player who fetched more than $100
this week, with Kruetzer dropping $123 for the new-old Phillies starter for a
tidy total of $300 on this latter pair.
21 is the number of new free agent acquisitions in the Head
to Head League this Sunday.
The most expensive player is new Atlanta starter Mike
Soroka, who was acquired by Clay Link of RotoWire for $102. The right-hander made
a strong season debut this week, but with the wealth of rotation talent the
Braves have, Soroka’s leash could be short.
Two of the four top acquisitions in the league this week
went to Alex Chamberlain for a total of $150. $85 was deployed on Oakland’s
Frankie Montas, with $65 spent on the aforementioned Seattle starter Erik
Swanson. Four starts into the season and the 26-year old right-hander has a
2.70 ERA with a WHIP under 1.00 and better than a strikeout per inning.
Cole Tucker was picked up by Ralph Lifshitz for $77.