Tout Table: Down the Stretch

This week’s questions: We’re just past the quarter pole. What are some of your favorite tactics down the stretch?

Rick Wolf (Fantasy Alarm, @RickWolf1): My absolute favorite late season strategy is “addition by subtraction”. Let’s say you have a lead in home runs/RBI or wins/Ks. Look to unload the pitchers with high ratios who get wins since you don’t need them. Trade them for any small upgrade. If you need to move up in ratios…dropping or trading starters with high ERA/WHIP and using strong middle relief pitchers is the way to protect and win! It is also useful with batting average for home run hitters. When you have a low average home run hitter, you can often trade him for a high average hitter who is not a slugger. This corrects your batting average or OBP while not hurting you in the category that you do not need. Another winner.

Gene McCaffrey (The Athletic, @WiseGuyGene): Pay extra-special attention to the September call-ups on bad teams. Many of them will play fulltime or close to it. Watch for what their managers say about their playing time – sometimes they actually tell the truth!

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): 1) In roto, trade to turn your surplus in one category into incremental points in another category. 2) If you are in keeper or dynasty, made the deal if it gets you the win; make the deal if you are out and it gets you the keeper you need for next year, but for god’s sake–don’t lose focus because it’s football season–pull the trigger! 3) Preserve your ratio categories (ERA/WHIP/OBP) as it gets a little crazy late in the year and you don’t want to accidentally drop points there; 4) Sept call-ups are very often a cheap place to buy steals, fwiw.

Lenny Melnick (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @LennyMelnick): Trade LOW % Hitters and Pitchers Addition by Subtraction Thank You Rick Wolf

Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): This is the time of year to stream and sit starting pitchers aggressively. In keeper leagues in particular, I’ve seen too many leagues won or lost because someone held onto a freeze for next year who isn’t performing. If you’re in a tight ace, you can’t have any loyalty to “your player” or to a stale projection from five months ago. This is also when I start looking at ROS schedule very closely. The Phillies (for example) have a soft week and a half coming up. I’m looking to maximize matchups and pick up starters of theirs in shallower leagues where they were dropped. The tanking culture (in the AL in particular) leads to far more favorable matchup opportunities than I have seen since the beginning of the last expansion era in the late 90s/early 00s.

Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): In addition to the ideas above, I try to pay attention to the moves coming up from the minors. Paying attention can get you players, not necessarily highly touted, who are going to have a nice two or three week period and that can make the difference in a couple of close categories. The corollary is to pay attention to your own players. Someone who may have been productive all year, can get benched for a prospect, or go into a major funk. The time for rebounding is short and it may be necessary to move on from that player.

Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): To echo Phil’s point, I like to take advantage of September playing time experiments on teams that are just playing out the string. Guys like Jon Berti, Isan Diaz, and maybe Austin Dean on the Marlins; Josh Rojas in Arizona; etc. are good examples of hitters who might get a long look. Rojas and Berti are great SB sources, and we all need bags. It’s also a good time to look at September IP limits and shutdown candidates (looking at you, Chris Paddack owners). Start looking at Plan Bs for those guys.

Jeff Erickson (Rotowire, @Jeff_Erickson): If you still are allowed to trade, one fun tactic is to not just trade for categories that you need, but to force your opponents to protect their weaker categories. If you’re in second place and the team in first is vulnerable to losing 2-3 points in saves, if it’s possible to trade with one of those teams chasing the first place team in saves, by all means, do so.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Start your best nine pitchers, regardless of need through the month, maybe even into September. Good starting pitcher matchups will be hard to find. Even if you’re close in saves, take advantage of matchups now, get those whiffs and wins, even if it costs saves. If you need saves, overload with closers in September. There’s a finite number of good starting pitcher matchups, don’t waste them for balance when you can even it out later.

Eric Karabell (ESPN, @karabelleric): Because so many non-contenders give up early, it can be easier to find new and perhaps inexperienced free agents with playing time coming their way. Make a 2-for-1 trade. Or add players you might not need to keep away from other contenders. Strengthen your bench. And never stop trying to improve.

Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru Elite, @BaseballGuys): Please look at the standings. I continue to get questions – who should I add? – with one being an infielder the other an outfielder. One being a power hitter, the other being a batting average lifter. The time to take the best player is gone. It’s time to play the categories.

Larry Schechter (Winning Fantasy Baseball, @LarrySchechter): I agree with most everything already written. I’ll add a tid-bit that in Tout Wars I had Joe Jimenez, who just became the closer after the Shane Greene trade. My position in the saves category is such that even if Jimenez gets 10 saves or so, it does me no good. So I looked to trade him, and started by identifying teams that if they got more saves, would also hurt the top teams in the league in the saves category. My slight chance of coming from 5th to win means I need every possible point possible for me to gain and the top 4 to lose. And I did trade him to Nando who is competing with all four of the top teams for saves.

Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ, @BrentHQ): Some great ideas here so far that I’ll echo to some extent: I also think it’s important to pay attention to late-season roster openings for the out-of-the-race MLB clubs. Sometimes those fringe guys are playing for a shot at the MLB roster next season, and can provide fantasy help in the short-term. I’m also more willing to ride out hot streaks for a historically lesser-skilled player, hoping that the eventual regression comes next spring rather than over the last six weeks. In deeper leagues where I have pitcher ratios established, I’m also more likely to replace any injured SP with a quality-ratioed reliever. These can often be easier to find. But also would heed what others have said … know your context as far as categories and as well as the weak links on your roster. Sometimes those small upgrades can make a difference even at this point in the season.

Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, The Process, @jeffwzimmerman): Lineups, lineups, lineups. The “big” change is rosters expanding and those extra players are going to take away playing time from regulars. This applies to the rookie callups like Gavin Lux and Kyle Tucker. The Astros and Dodgers are trying to continue to win. Both prospects could help their parent club but they may play every other day, at most.

Vlad Sedler (Fantasy Guru Elite, @rotogut): Avoid zeroes at all costs and have backups at all positions (or at least, multi-position eligible guys). A league championship could come down to an RBI, strikeout or WHIP point on the final day. Be fully prepared when roster expansion takes place in September and pay attention to teams that may have run away with divisions who might rest their stud players more often those final two weeks. Every at-bat and pitch counts!

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Everything above is great advice. An expert seminar on late-season tactics. The least appreciated idea is tactically trading to move your surplus onto the roster of another team who can gain points at the expense of the teams you’re chasing in the overall (or who are chasing you). A point lost by your overall opponent is as good as a point gained by you, and if it so happens that you can “place” your stats onto a team that will pass two or three overall opponents, you can realize an important “gain” without getting any actual points for your own team.

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): Paying more attention than I would earlier in the season to pitcher matchups and the number of games a hitter’s team has in a week if I’m deciding among several options.

Ian Kahn (Rotowire, @IanKahn4): Trying to take advantage of all of the football focus that is going on, especially in Dynasty Leagues. Now is a great time to find those guys who are just getting called up to the majors and are showing signs that they could have real value this offseason and going into 2020. A little extra attention in these final weeks can pay major dividends in the future.

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): Pay close attention to playing time changes as teams out of the playoff hunt are going to be looking toward the future and giving their youngsters a shot with every day at-bats. Some of these guys may not have been top 100 prospects, but a quick look at their minor league results could reveal a potentially rewarding pickup.

Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @Scott_Pianowski): It’s a stretch to call this a tactic, but just showing up is gigantically important. Do your diligence, set your bids, pour over the box scores like you did in April. And remember you’re trying to solve the category puzzle and win the league – or move up – not necessarily make moves that will make sense in a vacuum. It’s all contextual. Tastes will vary, but if it’s a league with a high percentage of retained owners, I like built-in incentives that give everyone a good reason to compete, full throttle, for the complete season.

D.J. Short (Rotoworld, @djshort): A bunch of things, really. As Scott said, you need to just keep being diligent about making sure your roster spots are filled and lineups set for each day. It gets easy to lose sight of that down the stretch, especially in a daily league. The season is looooooong. On a related note. I like to have multi-position eligible players on my roster for the stretch run, as there are a variety of things that pop up in September which cause fantasy owners to have to switch their lineup on a dime. It’s exceedingly valuable.

Tout Daily Picks: May Day

It’s the final week of the Tout Daily regular season. The final three Golden Tickets are on the line. Here are some of the players the Touts are banking on to get it done.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola)

Pitcher: Eric Lauer – Cheap, in a decent spot

Hitter: Jake Lamb – Not stacking Snakes, they’re slithery and hard to keep in one place, but like some exposure to Hoffman.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis)

Pitcher: Chris Sale – I originally planned on starting Clayton Kershaw, but his start was pushed back to tomorrow. Starting Chris Sale tonight in his place. Sale’s disappointing season has depressed his salary to $10,700 tonight. He is coming off his last start with 46.8 fantasy points and 13 Ks. Hoping for a repeat performance tonight.

Hitter: Vlad Guerrero Jr. – I’m still amazed at his salary being below $4,000, but I’ll take it at $3,800. Tough matchup against Lance Lynn might explain his salary, but I’m willing to take a chance on Vlad tonight.

Derek Carty (RotoGrinders, @DerekCarty)

Pitcher: Matt Boyd – Boyd may be popular, but it’s for good reason. He’s the top pitcher on the slate and is cheaper than some of the other strong aces like Chris Sale and Lance Lynn. He faces a weak Mariners lineup with a proclivity to strike out, has a good pitch-framer in Jake Rogers, and an elite pitchers’ umpire

Hitter: Kris Bryant – Jason Vargas is bad, and the depths of how bad he is have been masked for years by Citi Field. A contact prone, flyball pitcher will not fare well in homer-friendly Citizens Bank Park, especially while lacking the platoon advantage against some of the best right-handed hitters in the game. Bryant, Baez, and Castellanos are all underpriced tonight.

Steve Gardner (USAToday Fantasy Sports, @SteveAGardner)

Pitcher: Dustin May – The Dodgers haven’t been shy about letting their top pitching prospect pitch as far as he can into games. With a great matchup vs. Miami, he could last into the 7th and get 7-8 K’s.

Hitter: Franmil Reyes – Yes, he’s facing Chris Sale. But at only $3,300, he has to be one of the better values out there after homering yesterday off another lefty starter.

Clay Link (Rotowire, @claywlink)

Pitcher: Jack Flaherty – Still way underpriced on account of his lackluster first half. Since the All-Star break, Flaherty has a 0.86 ERA and 43:9 K:BB.

Hitter: Aristides Aquino – Pricey now, but I’m drinking the Kool-Aid.

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy)

Pitcher: Dustin May – A K per inning and faces the Marlins. Too good to pass up

Hitter: Bryce Harper – He leads a Phillies stack versus Quintana at $4500

Tout Daily: Zack Attack

It’s the third week of the fifth period, chances to claim a Golden Ticket are running out. Here are some players the Touts are clicking in.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports)

Pitcher: Zack Plesac – Part of my Tribe double dose, he’ll get the win and 7+ K’s

Hitter: Franmil Reyes – Going deep tonight, makes by his trade from Padres looking good!

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy)

Pitcher: Zach Wheeler – The Mets are rolling and so is he with 21 Ks in his last 17.1 IP. He faces the Marlins tonight who strikeout out 9 times per game on average.

Hitter: Matt Chapman – He’s hitting 13 points higher versus lefties this season and averages a home run every 11 at bats versus lefties. He faces Jon Lester tonight.

Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50)

Pitcher: Zach Wheeler – He’s been doing some of his best pitching of the year.

Hitter: Victor Robles – Price is right.

Ray Murphy (BaseballHQ, @RayHQ)

Pitcher: Mike Leake – He’s been sneaky good of late, PHI bats haven’t traveled well, and the ARI humidor is in full effect

Hitter: Jordy Mercer – He’s dirt cheap at 2600, has always hit lefties well, and there’s no more attractive lefty than Hector Santiago. Just hope he gets more than 1 AB against him. 🙂

Steve Gardner (USAToday Fantasy Sports, @SteveAGardner)

Pitcher: German Marquez – Going against the grain as Zack Greinke makes his Astros debut. Marquez gets a ton of strikeouts and pitches much better away from Coors. Can he tame the Astros lineup?

Hitter: Aristides Aquino – The rookie has a 50% hard-hit rate in his brief MLB career. He’s hitting cleanup at home in Cincinnati and is only $3700.

Gene McCaffrey (The Athletic, @WiseGuyGene)

Pitcher: Zack Greinke – Continuing the Zack theme, let’s see that Astros’ magic one more time. Home start, weak Rockies on the road, Zack goes a little deeper than most SP’s these days

Hitter: Miguel Cabrera – Showing signs lately and if he can’t crush Hector Santiago it really is over. And Miggy is cheap. I know, he deserves to be.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola)

Pitcher: Zack Cashner – I lost a bet. Either that or I need to make up a gazillion points and in this climate, that’s done with bats

Hitter: Miguel Cabrera – +1 on what Gene said, plus he’s hitting southpaws well.

Tout Table: Latent Deadline Deal Repercussions

This week’s Tout Table question is…

What is an under-the-radar or non-obvious fallout from the trade deadline machinations?

Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): There are many directions to take this prompt. I think I’ll focus on the uncertainty posed by The One True Deadline. We saw clubs like the Braves and Nationals pile up mid-tier reliever depth. From the club perspective, having to survive two months using only internal resources seems quite daunting. Alternatively some playoff teams, like the Yankees and Dodgers, decided to roll the dice on a quiet deadline. Only later will we find out if they should have invested in more depth.

AJ Mass (ESPN, @AJMass): There are no Tigers hitters I feel are worthy of stepping in to fill the void left by the trade of Nick Castellanos, which means there’s zero reason not to stream any and all pitchers facing Detroit from this point forward through the end of the season. It’s a virtually guarantee of a quality start.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Several bullpens are even weaker, making it even better to stream hitters against the Rangers, Blue Jays, Marlins, Mariners and Giants when a lesser starting pitcher is scheduled.

Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): If you were hoping for Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler to get a boost by leaving the Mets awful defense behind, sorry. If you dumped Taylor Rogers or traded him on the cheap because you assumed the Twins were going to make a deal for a bigger name, sorry again. One of the biggest takeaways from the deadline every year is never assume or expect that certain trades have to happen and don’t shift value based on a rumor.

Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): I’ll also mention the Detroit Tigers, but for a different reason – an increase of playing time and opportunity for their remaining players. Jacoby Jones, Niko Goodrum, etc. will now get all of the playing time for the rest of the season. With a weaker / lower run scoring lineup, they may run more and could put up some decent power/speed stats. I will also say that Tanner Roark now goes from CIN to OAK – and might have the best short term fantasy boost of any player traded yesterday.

Gene McCaffrey (The Athletic, @WiseGuyGene): With the Giants going all in, watch for them to call up newly-acquired outfielder Jaylin Davis, either immediately or very soon. Davis has the big power that could make the difference for them or for us. Risky, but if they go all-in on him we should too.

Lenny Melnick (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @LennyMelnick): MLB made a huge error having deadline Aug 1…Aug 15 Next year..Etch that in your kitchen table

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): HOU has shows a remarkable ability to acquire and then develop castoff or underappreciated pitchers, and I wonder if it might be worth betting that HOU can straighten out Aaron Sanchez. Quite a few TOR observers have noted that TOR was leaning on Sanchez to generate ground balls with his sinker/change combo, even though his curve is his most effective pitch— per Statcast, curve getting .255 BAA and .201 xBA, .318 Slg and .269 xSlg; Sinker .381 BA, .334 xBA, .575 Slg, .527 xSlg. The challenge will be getting innings in a HOU rotation that added Zack Greinke, but could be a nifty get in keepers with HOU likely to lose Cole in the off-season. Rule of thumb: If HOU likes a pitcher, so should you.

Dr. Roto (Scout Fantasy, @DrRoto): The Marlins might have shocked everyone by trading Gallen, but they added hitters with huge potential who can make an impact within the coming seasons.

Andrea LaMont (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @RotoLady): Mets control the Winter Market in Starting Pitchers

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I tend to hunt for players who are getting an opportunity because the team created a hole. And sometimes they don’t show themselves right away–sometimes it is a week later after everyone has spent their faab chasing the best guy they can get. One example: Trent Grisham (MIL)–what is he worth in faab? I suppose it depends on him to some degree, but also on Travis Shaw and Eric Thames and we are talking about 8 weeks with the clock ticking.

Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): Ryne Stanek is going to become only the second pitcher since the save rule was introduced in 1969 to start at least 20 and save at least eight games in a single season (Tom Gordon, 1997).

Michael Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): One prevailing draft strategy is to not overpay for saves by drafting closers too early. However, chasing saves later in the season is a daunting task, especially when relievers who emerge as closers get traded near the deadline to teams that already have a closer. No one will ever be as consistent as Mariano Rivera, but there is something to be said about taking a semi-reliable closer early in a draft to at least know you can stay competitive in that category for most of the season.

Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru Elite, @BaseballGuys): With the change in rules this season, there are likely to be very few players moved from here on out. Given that, I’m surprised there weren’t more deals, and the new situation should reinforce the belief that emptying out your FAAB budget this week in Only leagues makes a good deal of sense.

Larry Schechter (Winning Fantasy Baseball, @LarrySchechter): Travis Demeritte has been called up by the Tigers and should play regularly. Not a sure thing, but has a lot of power. Joe Jimenez should take over as Tigers closer. Justin Shafer could get saves for Blue Jays as long as Ken Giles remains on the IL. Keep an eye on Seattle and see if anyone emerges as the new closer with Elias and Strickland both gone.

Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): Trevor Rosenthal winds up the year closing some games for the Tigers.

Ian Kahn (Rotowire, @IanKahn4): Crazy prediction. Mets continue to rack up the wins with the Stroman trade being the wind in their sails. They sneak into the Wild Card game and win it behind deGrom. They then lose a thrilling 6 game series to the Dodgers and go into the off-season having big dreams for 2020. Wheeler resigns with the team, and the Mets go into 2020 with their best rotation in Baseball. Crazy prediction.

Al Melchior (FNTSY Radio, @almelchiorbb): I had been anticipating Phillip Ervin as a waiver target once Yasiel Puig was traded, but I overlooked Aristides Aquino. It could be fun to see how his fly ball and pull tendencies play at GABP.

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): Lots of closing gigs totally up in the air, with no confirmations in DET, MIA, MIN, SEA, and TB. There are saves to be had!

D.J. Short (Rotoworld, @djshort): I learned some stuff reading this thread. Good stuff. I think it will be interesting to see Derek Fisher get a chance to play a little bit with the Blue Jays. I wouldn’t say my expectations are super high, but it wasn’t too long ago that folks were interested in him. He has some pop and speed, which could play nicely down the stretch. Another note from the deadline is that the Zack Greinke trade probably clinches that Gerrit Cole isn’t coming back to the Astros next season.

Jon Hegglund (Baseball Prospectus, @JonHegglund): Along with Ervin, Josh VanMeter should now get something approaching everyday run in Cincinnati. Also, that Tampa Bay/Miami trade is interesting: keep an eye on how the Rays use Trevor Richards in the pen and look for Ryne Stanek to get a shot at the ninth-inning role in Miami. (Sure, it’s the Marlins, but saves are saves…)

Craig Mish (SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, @CraigMish): The Cardinals doing nothing at the deadline will create a lot of pressure for them to perhaps call up one of their top prospects from the Minor Leagues. Randy Arozarena or Dylan Carlson would seem likely to get a chance since they didn’t acquire anyone, combined with the demotion of Harrison Bader and IL of Tyler O’Neill.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): The Closer carousel is in full force this week and through the month of August. Look at your league standings and strategically position yourself to make a run in the saves category.

Mike Sheets (ESPN, @MikeASheets): I like Josh VanMeter skill set and am intrigued by more consistent playing time. He’s playing all over the diamond (he should soon have second-base eligibility in most leagues), has a great walk rate, has shown some pop, and is even swiping bags. For now, it appears VanMeter is still going to sit against lefties, but should he start getting everyday playing time, there’s an outside chance he can turn into Max Muncy-lite.

Eric Karabell (ESPN, @karabelleric): I cannot remember simply ignoring so many bullpens so the fact that a few closers were traded means little to the former teams. Who wants to mess with Seattle or Detroit now? What about Miami? It might be Ryne Stanek, but what if there is nothing to save?

Tout Daily: Counting on Canning

It’s the second week of the final period of Tout Daily. Here are some of the players the Touts are counting on to grab the final three Golden Tickets

Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotobuzzGuy)

Pitcher: Julio Teheran – Who doesn’t like a mid-priced option who has posted a 3.29 ERA over his last 10 starts, including five straight games allowing two earned or fewer?

Hitter: Matt Olson – Facing Milwaukee right-hander Adrian Houser? That sounds like an Olson HR waiting to happen.

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy)

Pitcher: David Price – Price has allowed 3 or less runs in 6 of his last 7 starts while striking out 43 batters in those 37 innings. Pitching in Boston he has a 2.89 ERA and the Rays are 20th in runs per game while striking out more than 9 times per game on average.

Hitter: Anthony Rendon – Rendon has 5 hits in his last 10 at bats with 7 RBIs. On the season he is hitting .319 at home and faces Julio Teheran and his 4.45 road ERA.

Gene McCaffrey (The Athletic, @WiseGuyGene)

Pitcher: Griffin Canning – Not pitching well lately but he’s super-cheap and this is a home start against a weak Tigers’ attack.

Hitter: Carson Kelly – Has unbelievable numbers against lefties AND against flyballers. JA Happ is both and the ballpark is a bandbox. Not really cheap at $4100 but I’d pay more.

Derek VanRiper (Rotowire, @DerekVanRiper)

Pitcher: Griffin Canning – Eating chalk with one pitcher if you’re building around a few Dodgers and Rockies bats in Coors is necessary to make the pieces fit. The Tigers are the team I want to stream against the most in season-long leagues, so having a mid-priced option capable of bringing 20+ DraftKings points with a 5+ inning start should get it done.

Hitter: Bryce Harper – I’m actually buying into some of the adjustments that Tyler Beede has made this season, but on the road in a park that boosts homers, he’s in a very dangerous spot tonight. I like stacking the Phillies on this slate, but if I could only roll out one of their hitters, it would be Harper in this matchup.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports)

Pitcher: Adam Wainwright – Time for the veteran to step and lead! Big series with Cubs opens tonight and he needs to set the tone!

Hitter: Paul Goldschmidt – Same with Cardinal hitters. Goldy has been on a homer terror this past week, he needs to keep it going against Cubs

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis)

Pitcher: Justin Verlander – Justin Verlander is the most expensive pitcher on Draftkings tonight at $11,400, but he is well worth the investment. He’s given up no more than 4 earned runs any of the 22 games that he has started this season. He has close to a 33% strikeout rate and is averaging 26.2 fantasy points per outing. Shane Bieber at $10,600 as another option, but he faces Verlander tonight.

Hitter: Mookie Betts, Paul DeJong, and Robinson Cano – Recently, Mookie Betts ($5,000), Paul DeJong ($4,100), Robinson Cano ($3,300), and Nelson Cruz each hit three homers in a game and they did it on consecutive days. The unprecedented streak of home run hat tricks began with Cano on Tuesday and was capped by Mookie Betts on Friday. Unfortunately, Nelson Cruz is not starting tonight. I like my odds for one of these players hitting at least 1 home run tonight, right?

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola)

Pitcher: Reynaldo Lopez – Money where my mouth is — I’ve planted my second half flag firmly on Lopez, he tweaked delivery over the break, added 2 ticks to 4-seamer, throwing (and spinning) curve and slider more. Not to mention, not a bad matchup and price is right.

Hitter: Ketel Marte – Money where my mouth was three years ago. If I were a better marketer, I’d develop a strategy and call it the KETEL Plan.

Steve Gardner (USAToday Fantasy Sports, @SteveAGardner)

Pitcher: J.A. Happ – The Yankees are big favorites tonight at home vs. the D’backs and all Happ needs to do is go five innings to get the win. (And avoid the Ketel Marte land mine.)

Hitter: Tyler White – Yes, his season has been a disaster. But given a new life with the Dodgers and an enviable spot hitting fifth at Coors Field, his $3500 price tag is too good to resist.

Tout Table: Trading Mistakes

This week’s query:

What are some of the mistakes you’ve encountered in trade negotiations?

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): Owners offering trades without looking at my team’s needs and non-needs. Why are you offering me Jose Abreu when I already have Freddie Freeman at first, Anthony Rizzo at corner, and Edwin Encarnacion at utility? On a related note, don’t offer me Mallex Smith if I have a 10 stolen base lead over second place in the category.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): That I make or that others make? I like to try to provide options for other owners to choose from and then if they do choose something, we can get to agreement that helps everyone quickly. I would say that one mistake I make most often is to go for a larger rather than a smaller trade. Not everyone likes that or will respond to that. What I don’t like: when someone is not interested, say so quickly instead of pretending to be interested then wasting time later or never responding again after that initial feigned interest. When someone offers me a trade, I like to tell them quickly what I think. What I don’t like: if you disagree with my view, trying to bully me or coerce me or get me to change my view point because “it is not how you would do it” is a waste of time and is counterproductive. Not everyone sees everything the same way. Maybe you are smarter than me. But when you try too hard to tell me you are, I start to think maybe you aren’t.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Don’t editorialize, it’s distracting and sets the wrong mood. For example, I received a recent cattle call where the person looking to deal wrote something like, “I need to trade so-and-so because of the stupid new rule.” As it happens, I was in favor of the rule, as were at least half of the other league participants, else it wouldn’t have passed. It’s not like I’m not interested in dealing with this person, but instead of combing our rosters for a match, I’m bitching to myself this guy had ample opportunity to state his opinion when discussing the rule, get over it.

Seth Trachtman (Rotoworld, @sethroto): Making an offer that’s one-sided, and that goes well beyond player value. When making a trade offer, you always have to put yourself in the other team’s shoes. Why would they accept this offer? Does it fill one of their needs (category, position, or otherwise)? Does it help their stated goal of winning the league or rebuilding? If the offer clearly has no chance of helping the other team, then you shouldn’t expect them to accept it. In some cases, you’re better off sending an initial email asking what they’d like to accomplish rather than an actual trade proposal so that everyone is on the same page entering potential trade negotiations.

Ron Shandler (, @RonShandler): Always remember that I don’t care about your team. All I care about is my team, so you need to sell me on why this trade will benefit ME. And I am intimately knowledgeable about my team, so don’t try to sell me faux benefits that are really just speculations. I’ll see right through that. Like Mike said above, don’t try to sell me a starting pitcher when I have Scherzer and Wheeler coming off the DL this weekend.

Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, The Process, @jeffwzimmerman): Don’t tell me how to run my team … ever. I told one owner so many times to quit doing it, I had to just block all correspondence from him.

Justin Mason (Friends with Fantasy Benefits, Fangraphs, Fantasy Alarm, @JustinMasonFWFB): Be willing to walk away. Some owners get so far down the line on negotiations that they will accept a lesser offer just to finalize a deal. Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.

Scott Engel (Rotoballer, @scotteTheKing): Salesmanship. Don’t try to sell me on why I should make the deal. Cut the crap, just ask me if I am interested or not. And don’t offer me a player from my favorite team as a lure. That is insulting to my Rotisserie integrity.

Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): I’m with Justin. Many of the best trades are the ones not made. And, I’ll plead guilty to getting involved in a negotiation, watching it go in a different direction than at the start, and then allowing myself to persuade myself that the deal is going to work when I should have walked away long ago.

James Anderson (Rotowire, @RealJRAnderson): The thing that annoys me most in trade discussions is when someone offers something that is so lopsided that it can’t be taken seriously, but they still expect there to be a back and forth. I either don’t respond or immediately decline, depending on my relationship with the other owner. I usually come in with close to my best offer, just because I don’t have the time to trade a bunch of e-mails back and forth only for it to lead nowhere. If I didn’t enjoy the prospect aspect of dynasty leagues, I wouldn’t play in many leagues that allow trading.

Zach Steinhorn (Baseball Prospectus, @zachsteinhorn): Lopsided offers are bad enough, but offers that are both lopsided and demonstrate that the owner did zero research regarding my potential areas of need are a big turnoff and would discourage me from working out any trade with that owner in the future. Even worse is when there’s no accompanying note explaining why I might be remotely interested in making such a trade. It’s fine if your initial offer isn’t your best offer, but you also don’t want to be labeled as the owner who regularly sends out insulting trade offers. Have some respect for your competition.

Eric Karabell (ESPN, @karabelleric): This isn’t personal, so while negotiations should be fair, if we don’t come to a reasonable agreement on this trade, it hardly means we can’t deal with each other. It’s not a character flaw. I just don’t want your Rick Porcello. We can deal but offer someone else!

Dr. Roto (Scout Fantasy, @DrRoto): Losing my patience with bad offers. I know everyone wants to get over on another owner in a deal, but I need to avoid taking it personally. People are going to do what they can to help themselves and I need to be rational and not react to that.

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): Not adjusting your evaluations of a player’s worth to you (or to a potential trade partner) to reflect where you (or they) currently sit in the standings. If I’m in first/last place by a wide margin with little opportunity to lose/gain points in a category, I should be more willing to trade a player (i.e. – value him less) who’s strong in that category than I would have earlier in the season, even if his underlying performance hasn’t changed.

Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ, @BrentHQ): Overthinking it. For myself, there’s been times when I’m scouring rosters, looking for that good fit, and I might make some notes on possibilities to formulate an offer. Then I’ll put it aside, doubting that I could find a viable match, without even engaging other teams or options. Then several days later, my target has been traded, and I missed my opportunity. In this situations, I need to trust my gut more and just open up discussions. One never knows where it might go

Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): Ever get the old “I’d be willing to consider [player x] …” line? What does that even mean? I’m with Mike/Ron here: lay out why the deal makes sense for *my* team, start with a fair offer, and be direct. The fact that you put some time and research into my team makes me much more likely to engage. Related: I got a trade offer today with a message that started: “I realize this is not fair, but…”. Mistake!

Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): A big issue I’ve seen with trade negotiations is where one team makes an offer to the other team, with no understanding of what that team needs. I’ve seen owners offer steals to a team that doesn’t need it for example. They focus on their own needs, and not on the selling point enough.

Glenn Colton (Fantasy Alarm, @GlennColton1): Two biggest mistakes are making the insulting offer just to see if you can trick someone. At that point, I just do not bother negotiating with that person. Second mistake – pushing for just a little more rather than taking a good deal that helps your team. It is a hard line to figure out sometimes but always ask yourself — are you being a little piggy?

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): All the answers above are excellent. The mistake I sometimes make is being TOO explanatory about why a deal helps the other guy. This is not usually a problem in experts’ leagues, where the other guy appreciates the analysis and thought-process effort, even if he disagrees with the outcome, but in home leagues or public leagues, a detailed explanation can read as manipulative or, paradoxically, as an attempt to pull the wool over his eyes with fancy-talk.

Derek VanRiper (Rotowire, @DerekVanRiper): I have realized that I didn’t always do a good enough job of doing the legwork of figuring out what the other owner needed before starting negotiations. Taking that time significantly increases the likelihood of getting a deal done that will help your team, and it probably saves all parties involved some time in the long run since there won’t be a series of wasteful interactions and offers prior to nothing happening.

Larry Schechter (Winning Fantasy Baseball, @LarrySchechter): I agree with many things already mentioned, so I’ll add something different. An owner left the draft with a very huge shortfall of power, and excess SP. I offered a power hitter for a SP and his response was that according to his projections he would lose more points in the standings than he would gain, so he declined. I tried to explain to him that he was so far behind in HR/RBI that this trade was the first step to get closer to the pack and be in a position where something else–a second trade, good FAAB acquisition, overachievers–could propel him to points gains. He didn’t understand or agree, never made a trade, and finished hopelessly out of contention.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): Don’t try to get too much! When offered a good trade, like selling a house, your first offer might be the best one. As I sit at the bottom of Tout mixed, I regret not taking a trade offered to me by Seth Trachtman. He offered Ozzie Albies for Blake Treinen, while he was still the closer and scuffling, but hadn’t hit the IL yet. Treinen is my only closer, and my chance of gaining points in saves was nil. I countered but he balked. I thought I’d get a better offer. Turned out he picked up saves from the waiver wire, Treinen goes on IL, and still hasn’t regained closers role. So he sits uselessly on my bench, and I’m having a heck of a time getting out of last place. Albies would have helped!

Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): Trade partners who waste time with pointless offers. I get that, for years, people have heard the stale advice to begin negotiations with the lowball offer or the early-April buy-low, sell-high offer, but there’s so much more information available now and people are better versed in the game to ever fall for either. Do your homework, and get the deal done on the first try, or at worst the first round of counteroffers. A trade really doesn’t require more than 10 minutes. If it sounds like it’ll take more from the first offer, you’ve lost my attention.

Ian Kahn (Rotowire, @IanKahn4): I recently had an owner talk down a player that he was trying to acquire. It broke the trust in the negotiation. There should always be the hope and intention that both teams will get better with the deal being made. Especially in Dynasty, there is always a way to make a deal work. Respect and care often gets the job done.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Once you agree to an offer, don’t come back and ask for a “little sweetener.” I’m in one league where after a trade negotiation, I’ll ask my waiter/waitress for an ice tea with a “little FAAB.”

Tim McLeod (, @RunTMc59006473): A good offer is one that involves satisfying the needs of both parties. If you don’t start the process with that in mind, you’re not getting more than a “thank-you” and that’s only because as a Canadian I have no choice but to be polite. It’s a rule.

Tim McCullough (Baseball Prospectus, @TimsTenz): The most difficult obstacles to overcome in any trade are the inherent differences in how we all value players. You can make what looks like a fair deal on paper because it benefits the statistical needs of both teams, but you are also assuming that you’re going to get a certain performance level out of the players you receive (and to an extent, the players you trade away also). For instance, earlier this season I nixed a deal for a pitcher because he was experiencing a drop in velocity at the time. My trade partner thought I was crazy to pass up this pitcher because he was asking for a “lesser” player in return. I valued the hitter more than he did and I was biased against the pitcher because of my perception of his health. As a result, we couldn’t make a deal.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): In any trade negotiation, there at least needs to be a starting point. When you create a trade offer, you should do as up front homework as possible. The same applies when you receive a trade offer. If the trade offer received does not even come close to anything that is of benefit to both teams, then why bother sending me a trade offer? My biggest disappointment is when I see the trade offer come in and they ask for players that make no sense for me to trade. And at the same time, they offer me players where they are little to no benefit in return. If I’m leading the league in saves, why bother sending me a trade and you are only offering me another closer.

Adam Ronis (Scout Fantasy, @AdamRonis): One of the biggest things people fail to do is look at what the other team needs. Someone kept sending me offers for closers when that is one the categories that was tight for me and one where I can pick up points. While the trade may seem like a steal isolated, it doesn’t help my team. Make sure the trade can help the other team too or it’s wasting time.

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): Two mistakes I see quite often are trade offers that will help the senders team but don’t fill a need on the other side of the trade. For example, don’t offer me Corey Seager if I have Lindor at SS. Find a need of mine and let’s work out a match. Second, If you are offering 3-5 mediocre players for my superstar guess what…I’m not accepting that trade.

MIke Sheets (ESPN, @MikeASheets): I encounter too many owners who just don’t respond to offers late in the season, perhaps because they’ve turned their attention elsewhere. Sometimes it’s an email gauging interest that never gets a reply, and sometimes it’s an actual offer that just sits there. When these owners are in keeper/dynasty leagues, it makes me less likely to try to negotiate with them in future seasons (whether they’re more willing or not) because I don’t want to waste my time.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Another mistake I see from both sides is categorically adhering to “Never deal the best player in a trade.” Granted, it takes special circumstances to deal quality for quantity, but if your overall roster is better after such a deal, it’s a good deal.

Peter Kreutzer (Ask Rotoman, Fantasy Baseball Guide, @kroyte): I think a lot of the problems we’re discussing here arise because email and the stat service’s Trade Centers make the trading process way more transactional and a bit colder than, say, talking on your rotary phone is. That’s a reason I recoil when I get an announcement in my email box that says this team offered these five guys for my five guys. My eyes usually glaze over with that approach, though I have to admit a couple of times my eyes have lit up because I had totally different values than the guy making the offer. But in most cases the cold approach is hard to understand, has nothing to do with salesmanship or marketing and usually doesn’t reflect any understanding of my needs. Because I have a hard enough time understanding my needs. All of this is prelude to saying that I like the approach of polling the league, offering something specific or something categorical in return for something categorical. Sample pitch: “Hey, I’m overflowing with Stolen Bases. I can offer steals, steals with homers, and steals with homers and average, in return for Wins, Saves, and good innings pitched of equal value. If you see something, please say something.” I’ll still dig through the rosters of other teams, but letting the league know what you’re doing can unearth surprises and inoculates you against the “I would have offered more” complaints that come up sometimes.


A link to the Draft and Hold standings is now in the Tout Data section of the right sidebar at Click the Draft and Hold link and you’ll be taken to the standings for the league (and a lot more about it) at

And take a moment to congratulate Mike Sheets, who has a formidable lead over Matt Modica and Ariel Cohen. Sorry for the delay fellas.

Tout Daily Picks: Last Call

It’s the first week of the fifth and final period for the Touts to earn a Golden Ticket into the Tout Daily Championship Tournament. The scores start fresh, the three highest cumulative totals over the next four Tuesdays are awarded the final trio of entries. Here’s who some of the Touts are hoping get them off to a strong start.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola)

Pitcher: Chris Archer – In past seasons would pay up for pitching but the change in the run-scoring landscape shifts the value to bats so going cheap and hoping to land on the right hitters.

Hitter: Yasmani Grandal – Running three mini-stacks (Indians, Padres, Brewers). I can afford paying up at catcher and of those three teams, Grandal works best betting third vs. Tanner Roark

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis)

Pitcher: Chris Sale – Chris Sale is finally pitching like the Chris Sale that we drafted in the 2nd round of 2019 fantasy baseball league drafts. Sale is coming off a 12 K outing and even if he does not beat the Tampa Bay Rays tonight, his other stats will likely pay high enough dividends to justify his $11,000 salary.

Hitter: Cristian Yelich/Mike Trout – Both Christian Yelich ($5,900) and Mike Trout ($5,800) have carried my team over the past few weeks to earn me a golden ticket . If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Rolling with Yelich and Trout again for this period.

Derek VanRiper (Rotowire, @DerekVanRiper)

Pitcher: Merrill Kelly – There are plenty of aces to choose from tonight, so my hope is that Kelly can quietly deliver a 20-point start at home against a woeful Orioles offense at an affordable mid-tier price ($7,300) at a low ownership rate.

Hitter: Twins Stack (GPP) – I want to load up Twins bats against Domingo German in tournaments (and in this contest, where I’m trying to make up a lot of overall points in the final period), given his home-run issues and the Twins’ ability to hit them in bunches.

Justin Mason (Friends with Fantasy Benefits, Fangraphs, Fantasy Alarm, @JustinMasonFWFB)

Pitcher: Stephen Straburg – Stras is worth paying up for against a struggling Rockies team on the road.

Hitter: Josh Reddick – Reddick is a cheap play in the outfield with a fairly safe floor. Always like getting to be in the middle of a stacked lineup for cheap

Derek Carty (RotoGrinders, @DerekCarty)

Pitcher: Madison Bumgarner – Everyone will be on Chris Sale, who’s great, but Bumgarner is 2k cheaper on DraftKings and nearly as good. His talent level has diminished since his glory days, but too much has been made about his decline at this point. He still has a long leash, gets a pitchers’ umpire, gets easily the best pitching weather of the slate — 60 degrees on a night where everywhere else is mid-70s or hotter — and faces a watered-down Cubs offense that takes a massive park hit.

Hitter: Jose Abreu – Abreu will go overlooked because he faces a great pitcher in Caleb Smith, but he’s way too cheap for his talent level. Plus, Smith gets a very negative context shift, moving from the NL to the AL and from the game’s top pitchers’ park into a strong hitters’ park. Add in the platoon advantage, and Abreu for $3,900 is a terrific value the same as he was last night against Trevor Richards when he posted 25+ points.