Tout Table: Episode IV, a New Hope

Tonight marks the beginning of Period 4. Three down, which means nine Golden Tickets have been awarded. Three more are on the line this period. Here are some of the picks the Touts hope get them off on the right foot.

CJ Kaltenbach (Fantasy Guru, @TheSeigeDFS)

Pitcher: Jhony Brito – Pitched better in first start since recall and now gets A’s team. Gets us some savings at low ownership and high ceiling.

Hitter: Bryce Harper – Could have picked any of the Phillies left-handed bats against Taillon who had allowed a .321 ISO against lefties this year.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis)

Pitcher: Shohei Ohtani – Tonight, my mentor, Shohei-Wan Ohtani will introduce the ways of the pitching Jedi. He will use the force to strike out many hitters while keeping the dark side ERA and WHIP in check. He will be successful in his fight against the Chicago White Sox Galactic Empire.

Hitter: Elly De La Cruz – Time for another cycle! He hits, he steals, he scores runs, and everything in between. Put him in your lineup tonight and be on Cruz control.

Ray Murphy (BaseballHQ, @RayHQ)

Pitcher: Bryan Woo/Trevor Williams – Woo at 6900 and Williams at 5900 is a dirt-cheap pitching combo that sets you up to chase any bats you want.

Hitter: Corey Seager – Lots of expensive bats in good spots tonight if you can afford them (see above pitchers). Seager at 6k against Matt Manning is just one example.

Erik Halterman (Rotowire, @erik_halterman)

Pitcher: Bryan Woo – I think Woo might be Actually Good? His 5.09 ERA through four MLB starts drops to 2.30 if you ignore his disastrous debut, and he has a 33.8 K% and 6.8 BB% even with that outing included. I wish he pitched deeper in games, but you can’t get too picky at $6,900 against the Nationals.

Hitter: Francisco Lindor – He’s heating up (1.169 OPS, 3 HR, 3 SB in his last eight games), and I’m more worried about threats of rain than about Julio Teheran’s 1.53 ERA. He’s going to revert to being Julio Teheran sooner or later, and I want to be stacking the opposing lineup when it happens.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola)

Pitcher: Ranger Suarez – I am following Ray’s blueprint, but spending just a bit more on pitching (also using Garrett Whitlock).

Hitter: Tony Kemp – In the donkiest of donkey moves, (assuming no lineup surprises), I am stacking the top four of the Dodgers vs. Seabold in Coors, so I need some salary relief. Tony Kemp (and Matt Vierling) leading off with the platoon edge for less than 5K total helps Eeyore make it work.

Tout Wars FAB Report: Week of June 26

Welcome to the weekly FAB report. All of the winning bids are included below. If you want to see the standings, rosters and all the moves, just click on the league header.

American League

Player Team Bid
EduEscobar, LAA Eric Samulski 51
MMoustakas, LAA Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton 49
JBrito, NYY Andy Andres 23
ACox, KC Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton 19
DFletcher, LAA Mike Podhorzer 12
BDalbec, Bos Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton 9
LErceg, Oak Jason Collette 6
KMiddleton, CWS Mike Podhorzer 6
FFermin, KC Patrick Davitt 5
HKjerstad, Bal Joe Sheehan 4
BRocchio, Cle Joe Sheehan 4
NPivetta, Bos Eric Samulski 4
SZavala, CWS Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton 0

National League

Player Team Bid
NGonzales, Pit Phil Hertz 88
JonDavis, Mia Ian Kahn 44
NLodolo, Cin Tristan H. Cockcroft 25
AMorejon, SD Peter Kreutzer 23
DHill, Was Todd Zola 17
BFarmer, Cin Steve Gardner 10
LSims, Cin Wilderman/Prior 4
GAshcraft, Cin Rick Graham 2
JMerryweather, ChC Phil Hertz 2
AAdams, Ari Erik Halterman 1
MChavis, Was Tristan H. Cockcroft 0

Mixed Salary Cap

Player Team Bid
JVotto, Cin Justin Mason 100
JBrito, NYY Bret Sayre 72
AThomas, Ari Nick Pollack 70
JWestburg, Bal Bret Sayre 67
YDiaz, Hou Bret Sayre 41
JDuran, Bos Scott Swanay 31
ROHearn, Bal Scott Chu 22
DKremer, Bal Kev Mahserejian 8
MTaylor, Min Jeff Zimmerman 8
SLugo, SD Scott Engel 7
CMcCormick, Hou Scott Engel 7
JOutman, LAD Brent Hershey 7
RGrichuk, Col Jeff Zimmerman 6
EAndrus, CWS Scott Engel 4
HHarris, Oak CJ Kaltenbach 3
CSanchez, Phi CJ Kaltenbach 3
WBenson, Cin CJ Kaltenbach 2
MMoustakas, LAA Kev Mahserejian 1
RJeffers, Min Kev Mahserejian 1
TWilliams, Was Justin Mason 1
CWong, Bos Scott Pianowski 0

Mixed Draft

Player Team Bid
AThomas, Ari Adam Ronis 78
PBlackburn, Oak Ryan Bloomfield 39
AIbanez, Det Ryan Bloomfield 24
BStewart, Min Ray Murphy 17
OBido, Pit Dr, Roto 15
JTeheran, Mil Scott White 9
AFrazier, Bal Mike Gianella 5
JLucchesi, NYM Rudy Gamble 2
JBrito, NYY Seth Trachtman 2
GMoreno, Ari Mike Gianella 1
JSborz, Tex Shelly Verougstraete 0

Head to Head

Player Team Bid
GWilliams, Cle Frank Stampfl 123
JWestburg, Bal Michael Govier 52
YDiaz, Hou Frank Ammirante 49
HHarvey, Was Michael Govier 32
JVotto, Cin Lauren Auerbach 17
ETovar, Col Ariel Cohen 14
TPham, NYM Lauren Auerbach 13
GPerdomo, Ari Joe Gallina 13
HRenfroe, LAA Joe Gallina 11
PBlackburn, Oak Frank Ammirante 9
BSinger, KC Michael Govier 7
JDuran, Bos Joe Gallina 2
RNelson, Ari Frank Ammirante 1
JKaprielian, Oak Clay Link 0

Mixed with IP & Saves+Holds

Player Team Bid
YDiaz, Hou Jennifer Piacenti 36
MGarcia, KC Chris Clegg 31
GWilliams, Cle Jennifer Piacenti 24
BDrury, LAA Chris Towers 7
DKremer, Bal Brian Entrekin 6
JHicks, StL Dylan White 3
PBailey, SF Brian Entrekin 2
JWiemer, Mil Chris Clegg 1
CWong, Bos Matt Trussell 0

Tout Daily: Justin Time for a Golden Ticket

It’s the final leg of the Period 3 with a few Touts relying on the right arm of Justin Verlander. Here are some of the other picks as the Touts jostle for the next three entries into the Tout Daily Championship.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports)

Pitcher: Marcus Stroman – He’s been hot lately, the opposite of me. You might be better not following my picks!

Hitter: Fernando Tatis – Good matchup, hoping he goes deep. He’s been hot lately.

Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotoBuzzGuy)

Pitcher: Aaron Civale – Probably the lowest I’ll go on tonight’s slate. The A’s have lost five-straight games, they’re striking out 31.8-percent of the time over the past week and that comes with a .258 wOBA and .085 ISO. Sure, the A’s can screw us from time to time, but the risk is definitely worth the potential reward.

Hitter: Jonathan India – Hits in three-straight games and in seven of his last nine. In that span, he’s got four home runs and eight RBI. He’s batting third against a tomato can like Noah Davis and the Reds are cruising right now playing at Great American Smallpark.

Erik Halterman (Rotowire, @erik_halterman)

Pitcher: Justin Verlander – Maybe I’m a fool falling for a big name here, but $7,300 seems way too cheap for even a diminished version of Verlander against a Yordan-less Astros lineup.

Hitter: Josh Bell – Bell hasn’t been good this season, but he’s shown enough signs of life recently to be worth a look at $2,600 against opener Ken Waldichuk (6.64 ERA), bulk guy Luis Medina (7.55 ERA) and the Oakland bullpen (5.58 ERA).

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola)

Pitcher: Dylan Cease – I’m going to pretend like I have a chance at scoring 100 more points than anyone else and challenge for a Golden Ticket, to do it, I need Cease to whiff, I don’t know, 15 or 16 Rangers?

Hitter: Corbin Carroll – Pretty sure I’d start Carroll against Ohtani at this point

CJ Kaltenbach (Fantasy Guru, @TheSeigeDFS)

Pitcher: Justin Verlander – Just too cheap for him in his first start against a watered down Astros lineup

Hitter: Ryan McMahon – Ben Lively has been pretty lively when pitching in Great American Smallpark and Reds bullpen is pretty depleted as well

Tout Table: State of the Game

This week’s question is:

From both a fan and analyst’s perspective, where are you with the state of the game with about two and a half months of games in the book?

Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, @jeffwzimmerman): Fine. I still don’t like the shift ban and think the pitch clock could use a tweak but no other complaints.

Brad Johnson (Patreon BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): As long as they don’t plan to stop here, I’m happy enough. The league took way too long to learn lessons from esports about managing the meta to keep the game fresh and interesting. They should keep pushing for more BIPs and SBs in the short term – that’s always going to be an uphill battle with everything the teams/players know. I don’t mind them getting to a point where Esteury Ruiz or Dairon Blanco types can threaten 100 SB paces. The next frontier is expanding multiple times. Don’t stop at 32 teams.

Greg Jewett (The Athletic, @gjewett9): As a teacher, I look forward towards a summer of improving mental health, and perhaps Rob Manfred could do the same. As an analyst, the pitch clock shortening games has let me get more sleep, and eliminated four hour contests. From a fan’s standpoint, I love baseball and wish it did more marketing highlighting its talented players. More games should be accessible, so fewer blackouts. It’s tough growing a game when less people can see it. Also, more focus on making baseball affordable, not catering towards ownership would be appreciated. I love the game, and working as a analyst, plus pending expansion brings more potential fans, and players into the landscape.

Scott Engel (The Game Day, @ScottETheKing): I am good with it overall. The rules changes have not been negative to me at all. The Rays and Pirates have made for some fun storylines. Things seem pretty much the same.

Michael Govier (FTN Fantasy, @mjgovier): I love it! I welcome change! I really thought for a moment there in mid-May that batting average-centric players who can spray to all fields were going to be fashionable again. A month later, I am not so sure of that. But I have been jonesing for steals to be a bigger focus in the game for years so that angle alone has me stoked for the game on the field. More action was required so the powers that be made tangible changes to reclaim the game from the Moneyball nerds that now populate nearly every front office in MLB. I can’t fathom why anybody would be bummed about the pace of play changes this year. My best guess about who those complainers would be are likely miserable married people who were hoping for more time away from their significant others at the ballpark. Either way, I love where the game is going on the field. Off the field however…oh mama. The Oakland fiasco is a total joke, but it’s 2023 so this is hardly a fresh tactic by cheap owners who care only about their bottom line. It’s a rerun we’ve seen several times before over the past 30 years or so. Player contracts are becoming more in favor of the teams than ever before. I can’t blame youngsters like Ronald Acuna Jr. or Corbin Carroll for securing a life-changing payday. Those two are the exceptions to be sure even though their deals will look like a bargain in 3 years. I am looking at those deals from an overall perspective of all the players as another CBA battle isn’t far off. The elites will always get theirs, but with the bankruptcy of the Diamond Sports (Sinclair) regional networks which ubiquitously cover MLB games regionally, the chance to make MLB a national sport again is now possible. Stream the game into millions of homes on Netflix for example. The problem there is the CBA will be about sharing the pie for the next media rights avenue. Will it be a centralized system controlled by MLB through the already rock-solid MLB TV in partnership with MLBPA? Or will there will be more deals like the one the Phoenix Suns just brokered in April before it was blocked by a judge in bankruptcy court because Diamond still had a contract with them? Even if that deal is dead, it’s clear teams want to create a pathway for as many people as possible to watch the games for free or next to nothing before the games get put behind a paywall at a higher price. However games are broadcast, there will be an attempt by the owners to say they have had revenue losses because of the bankruptcy. Despite all these off-field issues, there seems to be an increase in the buzz about baseball this year. That makes me happy because I love baseball! The MLB Draft is becoming more popular each year plus I’m seeing the college game’s increase in popularity as a supporting benefit to the minor leagues and MLB as the ability to watch NCAA baseball has gotten easier. I just hope minor league baseball doesn’t become any smaller over the next couple of years. Prospect hype and dynasty fantasy baseball participation have made those minor league towns even more popular. MLB has eternal problems that will always be squabbled over, but I am feeling optimistic about the on-field product. The future of this beautiful game of skill feels like it’s trending upwards!

Phil Hertz (Baseball HQ, @prhz50): I’m surprised that the on-field rule changes haven’t bothered me. Like Greg, I too would like to see less blackouts on TV. it never ceases to amaze me which markets are blacked out for particular teams. My biggest gripe is turning out to be the A’s. I’ve seen many games in Oakland, but I’m not now, nor have I ever been, an A’s fan. That said, the pending move to Las Vegas is an absolute disgrace. I have to wonder if Fisher has to please some people in the casino industry.

Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): If we could use memes in our responses, I would use the one of Pam from the office being shown 2 pictures and saying they’re the same. The current game is still a ton of strikeouts and the unintended consequences of banning extremity shifting eliminated the sure fire hits on oppo miss hits or intentional slaps the other way thus negating the gains in batting average to the pull side. The run environment is up proportionally to the run expectancy of more runners in scoring position due to steals, but that’s really it. I do enjoy shorter games more than I expected I would as it’s allowed me to consume more west coast action.

Dave Adler (BaseballHQ, @daveadler01): loving the pitch clock; its gotten the game to a respectable pace. Much more enjoyable than having batters step out, adjust batting gloves, pitcher steps off, walks around mound, etc. Having more stolen bases has left to a bit more action, as well. Limited shifts, well, as expected, not making a ton of difference. Guys who can’t hit to all fields are still going to be limited.

Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): As a fan I love all the stolen bases. And I’m glad they limited position players pitching to true blowouts (though I wish they could limit this even more). Everything else I can take or leave. The length of games never bothered me but I’ll admit a three hour 10-8 game is better than a game like that that lasts 3 and a half hours or longer. The clock makes games on TV better but takes away something for me from games in person. I like the social aspect of going to a game and talking to friends but now I feel like I miss too much if I spend even a few seconds talking to someone and not glued to what’s going on on the field. As an analyst, the changes every year make it more difficult to discern trends, perform analysis year over year, etc. I mostly relish this challenge but it makes it more difficult to me to provide useful/actionable advice for my readers/listeners.

Tim McLeod (PattonandCo, @RunTMcP361): Like Phil, I’m generally happy with a lot of the changes implemented this year, although some could use some tweaking… If you’re a starter for the Yankees, they hand you a bar of soap and tell you to scrub up. If you’re a Mets starter you spend ten days writing “I Love Robbie Manfred” on a blackboard… As an analyst, I embrace the idea of going to a central scouting and analytics department that serves all 30 teams. Why should individual teams be investing in employees that will provide opportunities for their team to improve the on-field product? Blasphemy, I say!… Some umpires still haven’t come to the realization that they aren’t the reason that fans attend games, but until the Executive Director of PR addresses that issue, (I refuse to call Rob Manfred the Commissioner of Baseball because he clearly isn’t), and he won’t, it is what it is. I can hardly wait for the automated strike zone but have my doubts that C.B. Bucknor and Angel Hernandez will get it right… Seeing more and more younger players getting the call is exciting, but when you’re calling up pitchers from Low-A to fill in for injured starters there might be a problem?… Stolen bases are exciting and the change to the bases combined with limiting the pickoff attempts has worked. At the same time, those three-foot oven mitts that some players are wearing really has to be addressed. An old fat guy, like yours truly, might be able to steal second against Noah Syndergaard…. The Oakland fiasco is just that. Let’s build a stadium in the desert where we can comfortably sit in the summer heat watching mediocre baseball. Hell, that would pry my sorry ass away from the slots. Nothing was learned from the fine deal that Jeffrey Loria struck with the taxpayers of Miami Dade, including the fact that it works for everyone but who it should work for. John Fisher has been living off freebees for years, does anyone really believe he’ll have a change of heart and spend money on payroll with this move? More billionaires living off handouts is exactly what this business needs.

Tim McLeod (PattonandCo, @RunTMcP361): Can I change my mind? Apparently, I’m not as happy as I originally thought I was.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): I’m all about continuous process improvement, but sometimes it comes at the cost of the fans and the players. The pitch clock has decreased the overall times of the game, but I think the umpires are going overboard with some of their calls. It is only a matter of time before umpires are replaced with computer strike zones and I am all for this. Artificial Intelligence can’t throw out a player or manager for arguing balls and strikes.

Eric Cross (FTNFantasy, @EricCross04): Overall, I’m happy with a lot of the changes MLB has made this season. The improved pace of play can only help bring new fans (especially younger fans) into the game and the overall game play is more exciting as well. All the extra steals are definitely welcomed and bring back memories of when I first got into the game decades ago. The two areas I would love to see improved though are the blackouts (they’re dumb) and marketing of the game. We have so many exciting young players in the game from all parts of the planet, but MLB hasn’t done a great job marketing these young players.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Hard to argue with shorter games, although I worry that the cost is going to be losing more pitchers to injury at younger ages. I like the SBs, but a lot of teams seem determined not to even try taking advantage. The story of the A’s is terrible, and reinforces the impression that “Commissioner” Manfred is merely the frontman for increasingly greedy and heartless owners.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): As a fan, I don’t mind the shorter games since it avails less time for some of the intolerable broadcasters, but then there isn’t enough time for the enjoyable crews. To be honest, I’m not the target audience since I had no issues with the previous length of game and I was OK with teams being rewarded for advanced scouting and knowing where to optimally position players whose job it is to generate outs with their gloves. That said, I’m fine with the game as is currently played. I guess I am just bugged by the artificial nature of it, but the players brought it upon themselves, and the umpires could clearly not police the pace. As such, the objective manner (strict adherence to the timers) was enacted. Even within the Touts, there has been some comments pertaining to how stringent the umpires stick to the rules — but they MUST. There is no gray area. If a violation ends a game so be it. It has to be called. My main complaint is more about some of the talking heads, media members and former Breaking Bad actors are taking a victory lap, already proclaiming how successful all the changes have been. Not so fast. We have no idea what will transpire when innings mount and the temperature rises. There has been some talk about how instrumental Theo Epstein was to the process. He’s a smart guy, so hopefully he’ll be willing to make some suggestions — if warranted — once we see the season play out until the end. My suggestion is adding three seconds to all of the countdowns. Call it 300 pitches per game, this is a maximum of 15 minutes (not all of the pitches will take three seconds longer). I don’t think adding 15 minutes takes away from the perceived improvements, but it could help guys like Alek Manoah and maybe Sandy Alcantara – not to mention probably prevent yet-to-occur injuries. Plus, with three extra seconds, Broadcasts could return from ad breaks without missing so many first pitches of the half-inning.

Paul Sporer (Fangraphs, @Sporer): As someone who watches a ton of games, the quicker pace has definitely made life easier in that respect because even as a diehard I realize a 4-hr pace for a 4-3 gm is insane. I like the added SBs, too. They still haven’t done anything to carve into the leaguewide K%, though, and until that is seriously addressed, it’s still a 3 true outcomes-based game

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I don’t care about rules that shorten the game and I do think it makes the games more accessible to casual fans, so that’s a good thing. I think the blackout rules and weird Peacock stuff and all these little ways that MLB squeezes out more money (I get it, but–) sorry–those things suck for fans. Stolen bases are fun of course. I’m ready for robo-umps. Tired of weird PAs where the ump just loses focus. I could never do that job because I always lose focus, but the tech is there–let’s use it (and get rid of framing once and for all). I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here.

Brian Entrekin (Fantasy Pros, BaseballHQ, @bdentrek): I am just fine with the state of the game. It was tough to accept when first introduced but it has been overall ok. The pitch clock has been great to increase the time of a game, which I really didn’t think I’d like. Steals are up, offense is up, fun for the game. It does stink for pitching from a fantasy perspective and may be leading to injuries, definitely something to be reevaluated down the road. For now though, I am liking the current changes in baseball.

Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): I think the rules making the game faster have been effective although they will take some time to get used to. Just like every other change that has been made over the years, there is an initial backlash and resentment until we accept them as the new normal. As a Mets fan, this has been a dumpster fire of a season as many of their games are unwatchable. The spending spree that Steve Cohen went on has proven that money is not always equated with success. The contrast between the Mets expensive failure and what the Tampa Bay Rays have done on a miniscule payroll is fascinating to watch unfold. From a fantasy baseball perspective, it always seems like what we expect to happen rarely does happen across the board. I don’t think rule changes are all to blame for that. The way baseball is played now has affected players’ statistics, which in turn affects how we evaluate them. But every year there are dark horses out there that salvage seasons much like how underdogs such as Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Arizona and Miami have established themselves as good teams. Despite my Mets fandom, baseball is still fun to watch and play from a fantasy perspective no matter what the rules are.

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): I am all in favor of the rules making games faster, putting more balls in play and the increase in stolen bases. It has compacted the action into a shorter period of time so that is a win. On the negative side of things, umpiring seems to be worse than ever and the “stickiness” rule in regards seems to be objective and this too inconsistent to be taken seriously

Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): I’m happier with the effects of the rule changes on the game than I expected I’d be, though I’ll probably never get past the runner-on-second-in-extras rule, which is one of the worst changes to the game in recent memory. One thing that does concern me about where we’re at, though, is that the shifting of real-game roster construction — even with 13/13 hitter/pitcher splits most commonly, we’re still seeing fewer active hitters than we did 10-20 years ago as well as too many teams with three active catchers — is making “only” league play increasingly difficult, where free-agent lists are regularly populated with can’t-hit defensive catchers and middle relievers. I think it’s come time to have the conversation about whether AL- and NL-only leagues should shrink back to 10 teams, and/or whether they need a roster overhaul.

Zach Steinhorn (Steinhorn’s Universe on Substack, @zachsteinhorn): I’ve never liked the extra-inning ghost runner rule and like it even less now that this season’s new pace of play rules have achieved their purpose of significantly shortening games. I don’t think you need both the pitch clock and the ghost runner, and I’d much rather have the pitch clock. The vast majority of people I talk to are anti-ghost runner, so I don’t believe the league’s narrative that most players and fans love it. If a rule isn’t good enough to use in the postseason, why are we using it in the regular season? Other than the ghost runner, I’m fully on board with the changes. Endless pickoff attempts were especially annoying.

Nick Pollack (Pitcher List, @PitcherList): The anti-shift and larger bases is working incredibly well. The pitch clock has been fantastic…until the 8th inning. We need to keep the tension of the latter frames and we absolutely want to get ahead of a game ending on a pitch clock violation. I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s a change for the playoffs.

Joe Sheehan (Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, @joe_sheehan): It’s the same game, sped up, with shackles on the defense to prevent them from defending steals and balls in play. I am glad to see that after an initial scare, that the pitch clock may not be increasing injury rates.

Grey Albright (RazzBall, @razzball): When I first heard about the pitch clock, I was worried it would dismantle the game I love, but I’ve come to appreciate it. It’s like the TV show, 24, every at-bat. It’s no surprise Jake Bauers has been a revelation. The end of the shift is still very stupid and baserunners on in extras seems like a participation trophy that has sprouted two legs and been asked to stand on 2nd.

Chris Clegg (Pitcher List, @RotoClegg): The pitch clock has been awesome. As someone who goes to a ton of MILB games, I have enjoyed the pace of play and it has translated well to MLB. I attended a MILB game last week that lasted one hour and 57 minutes. It was wild. The shift-ban plus larger bases are also making the game more fun and balanced.

Ryan Hallam (Fighting Chance Fantasy, @FightingChance): While I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a purist, I was skeptical on some of the rule changes coming into the year. However, outside of the runner in the 10th inning (which I can’t see myself ever coming around on), I would say they are a smash hit. I love the fact that (for fantasy and for MLB) the stolen base is back in the game and even the limiting the number of throws trying to pick off a runner is great because really after 5-6 it got tiresome even if it didn’t happen often. I’m sure there are still some fine tuning to do, but overall I would say that the new rule changes have been a success

Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ, @BrentHQ): My biggest beef is that with the anti-shift rule, they’ve taken data-driven decisions on defensive positioning—and thus, creativity since there are 30 different sets of decision makers—out of the game. Sure, everyone plays by these same rules and now fielders have to be positioned within certain parameters, but I’m of the belief that the pre-ban interpretive variation was a feature, not a bug. But so be it—at least now we get increased athleticism . I do like the quicker pace and increased action on the basepaths, but on the shift … I definitely now I feel like the old guy (“Back in my day ….).

Eric Samulski (Rotoballer, @SamskiNYC): I will likely always love baseball, so I’m biased in that sense; however, I’m more optimistic about the state of the game than I was 5 years ago. The shorter/quicker games have been good but I think there is wiggle room for late inning changes or maybe minor modifications to help with injuries. I love the stolen base dimension coming back and the rule changes that have incentivized these young players getting called up. On the other hand, I simply don’t trust Manfred. The changing of the baseball has been sneaky and more nefarious than it needs to be and him publicly shaming the Oakland fans was just a dick move. He also has done very little to market the young starts better to a younger audience. I don’t think baseball can truly take off with him running it

Brian Walton (CreativeSports2, @B_Walton): Selig used to brag about parity. One can argue about how MLB got there but as of 6/20, no division lead is greater than five games and only four teams are more than 12 games out of first. The other 26 squads are all within 9 1/2 games of a Wild Card. With more teams in the hunt, the overall interest in the game is higher, which is good for all. However, it will complicate deadline trading unless/until there is a shakeup in the standings. More so than ever, this may be a year to keep spending FAAB rather than wait for July 31 blockbusters.

Vlad Sedler (FTN Fantasy, @rotogut): Didn’t think I would be a fan of the pitch clock but now I look at clips from old games and recall how impatient I’d get sometimes. Very much enjoy the faster flow.

Erik Halterman (Rotowire, @erik_halterman): The additional action on the basepaths is a positive, but I remain neutral about the clock. The thing I do when one baseball game ends is turn on another baseball game, so I don’t get much out of individual games being shorter, but if it makes others more likely to follow baseball, that’s a win in my book. However, it sure seems as though forcing pitchers to speed up is leading to more injuries. If the data wonks prove this to be true after the season, it would be hard to support bringing the clock back in 2024. I had hoped that the clock would force an adjustment by pitchers and halt the trend of ever-increasing velocities as guys realized they couldn’t pitch the same way and remain healthy, but if the result is that pitchers are just going to pitch the same as ever and accept an increased rate of injury, that’s a considerably worse fan experience.

Mike Sheets (ESPN, @MikeASheets): Overall, I’m good with the changes. I appreciate the uptick in pace – not only on a pitch-by-pitch basis, but with the shorter games overall. We’re not missing any action; we’re getting the same action at a slightly quicker speed, and to me that’s more entertaining.

Clay Link (Rotowire, @claywlink): I think the changes are great for the fan experience and the long-term viability of baseball as entertainment. It feels like the game of baseball is hot right now — while that’s mostly subjective, Major League Baseball noted that more than 600,000 fans attended Father’s Day games across the country, the most tickets sold for any Sunday since 2008. The pitch clock may be having an adverse effect on pitcher health, though it’s too early to make any definitive calls in that regard. Personally, I think the games are a bit too short now and the players would benefit from a few additional seconds in between pitches, so there may be a better sweet spot for the pitch clock.

Tout Wars FAB Report: Week of June 19

Welcome to the weekly FAB report. All of the winning bids are included below. If you want to see the standings, rosters and all the moves, just click on the league header.

American League

Player Team Bid
JWebb, LAA Jeff Erickson 5
AAbreu, NYY Andy Andres 4
SArmstrong, TB Jason Collette 2
HHarris, Oak Jason Collette 16
DBlanco, KC Larry Schechter 176
CIrvin, Bal Larry Schechter 36
JFoley, Det Larry Schechter 23
STaylor, KC Patrick Davitt 89
ZRemillard, CWS Patrick Davitt 79
PBlackburn, Oak Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton 9
AIbanez, Det Andy Andres 27
JCordero, NYY Andy Andres 0
TWade, Oak Jason Collette 1
AVelazquez, LAA Jeff Erickson 11
KolWong, Sea Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton 0
PReyes, Bos Eric Samulski 4

National League

Player Team Bid
LMatos, SF Todd Zola 417
ESheehan, LAD Erik Halterman 312
HDavis, Pit Phil Hertz 104
JHicks, StL Ian Kahn 104
EMontero, Col Todd Zola 47
MMoustakas, Col Peter Kreutzer 43
JAmaya, Mia Wilderman/Prior 29
BPerkins, Mil Wilderman/Prior 29
OBido, Pit Peter Kreutzer 23
RTapia, Mil Grey Albright 23
CSanchez, Phi Phil Hertz 22
JAlfaro, Col Grey Albright 12
MTonkin, Atl Grey Albright 7
KYates, Atl Steve Gardner 3
BHoeing, Mia Rick Graham 2
SOkert, Mia Derek Carty 1
AMonasterio, Mil Tristan H. Cockcroft 0
BHoneywell, SD Tristan H. Cockcroft 0
ANardi, Mia Phil Hertz 0

Mixed Salary Cap

Player Team Bid
ESheehan, LAD Nick Pollack 95
LMatos, SF Garion Thorne 75
JHicks, StL Scott Pianowski 55
JTeheran, Mil Scott Pianowski 55
CEncStrand, Cin Scott Swanay 49
JPeterson, Oak Scott Pianowski 44
SMcGough, Ari Scott Pianowski 33
STaylor, KC Scott Engel 26
ARendon, LAA Kev Mahserejian 16
JBaez, Det Jeff Zimmerman 13
MTauchman, ChC Kev Mahserejian 11
MBoyd, Det Garion Thorne 11
HDavis, Pit Kev Mahserejian 8
JBarria, LAA Jeff Zimmerman 6
MVierling, Det Nick Pollack 5
TyAnderson, LAA Nick Pollack 5
LOrtiz, Pit Scott Engel 4
SManaea, SF Kev Mahserejian 3
CIrvin, Bal Jeff Zimmerman 1

Mixed Draft

Player Team Bid
JHicks, StL D.J. Short 155
ESheehan, LAD Dr, Roto 154
LMatos, SF D.J. Short 125
STaylor, KC Dr, Roto 56
YDiaz, Hou Shelly Verougstraete 53
JFoley, Det Tim McLeod 53
HDavis, Pit Scott White 46
PBailey, SF Shelly Verougstraete 35
DKremer, Bal D.J. Short 30
MBoyd, Det Ryan Bloomfield 14
DSolano, Min Ray Murphy 13
WBenson, Cin Shelly Verougstraete 10
PSmith, Ari Ryan Bloomfield 10
SFrelick, Mil Tim McLeod 4
LGarcia, Was Mike Gianella 4
CDevenski, LAA Anthony Aniano 3
ROHearn, Bal Adam Ronis 1
MBusch, LAD Scott White 1
YChirinos, TB Adam Ronis 1
DBard, Col Mike Gianella 0
ESwanson, Tor Shelly Verougstraete 0

Head to Head

Player Team Bid
ESheehan, LAD Geoff Pontes 223
LMatos, SF Geoff Pontes 79
STorkelson, Det Geoff Pontes 46
HDavis, Pit Frank Stampfl 27
DLynch, KC Michael Govier 21
JMcCarthy, Ari Clay Link 21
TFriedl, Cin Michael Govier 16
JHicks, StL Frank Stampfl 13
MBoyd, Det Lauren Auerbach 11
BNaylor, Cle Sky Dombroske 11
CRea, Mil Lauren Auerbach 9
KFinnegan, Was Michael Govier 9
MCanha, NYM Lauren Auerbach 4
KCarpenter, Det Greg Jewett 3
NFortes, Mia Greg Jewett 2

Mixed with IP & Saves+Holds

Player Team Bid
ESheehan, LAD John Laghezza 129
LTaveras, Tex Dylan White 41
DBlanco, KC Andy Behrens 37
PBlackburn, Oak Jennifer Piacenti 31
HDavis, Pit Andy Behrens 22
CJulks, Hou Sara Sanchez 18
DSolano, Min Carlos Marcano 11
RSuarez, Phi Carlos Marcano 11
OArcia, Atl Jeff Boggis 11
BDoyle, Col John Laghezza 9
TWalker, Phi Chris Towers 3
YKikuchi, Tor Jeff Boggis 2
STaylor, KC Dylan White 0

Tout Daily: Halfway Home

This is the third week of Period 3, so not are we at the halfway point of the period, we’re halfway through the 20-week Tout Daily regular season. So far, six different Touts have claimed an invite to the Championship Tournament. Will some earn their second Golden Ticket, or will there be three more first-timers? Tonight’s 14-game slate will go a long way toward determining the next three entrants. Here are some of the picks.

Erik Halterman (Rotowire, @erik_halterman)

Pitcher: Joe Musgrove – Musgrove has pitched well on American soil this season. Take out his disaster in Mexico City and his ERA drops from 4.35 to 3.08 ERA. A matchup against the Guardians (ranked 27th by team wRC+) makes him my preferred inexpensive option.

Hitter: Anthony Rendon – Rendon has just one homer in 35 games, but he’s also underperforming his xSLG by 99 points, so more power should be on the way. Meanwhile, he’s cut his strikeout rate to a career-low 11.3%, so the version of him we’ve seen so far is already enough to justify his cheap price ($3,200) against unimposing lefty Cody Bradford.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis)

Pitcher: Max Scherzer – Max Scherzer (NYM – SP) – ($9,800) – Big time game for a big-time player. Scherzer loves the spotlight and tonight’s subway series with the Yankees is about as big as it gets. I’ll take his 9.8 K/9 tonight at home against the Yankees.

Hitter: Elly De La Cruz – Elly De La Cruz (CIN – SS) – ($4,700) – This top prospect is fun to watch and can carry your team on any given night. He has 4 stolen bases in 7 games this season.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola)

Pitcher: Edward Cabrera – The blister from the last start is a bigger concern that the Mariners lineup

Hitter: Rafael Devers – Just feelin’ it. Barely missed depositing one into the bullpen last night. Well, it would have made it, if not for a fine play by Nolan Jones.

Sara Sanchez (, @BCB_Sara)

Pitcher: Pablo Lopez – Lopez has been sneaky good this year and the Brewers aren’t exactly a fearsome offense.

Hitter: JD Martinez – Has been doing damage against righties this year and Lance Lynn has not been great. Factor in the time zone change and I think the Dodgers should have a good night tonight and Martinez looks to be in the middle of it.

Tout Wars FAB Report: Week of June 12

Welcome to the weekly FAB report. All of the winning bids are included below. If you want to see the standings, rosters and all the moves, just click on the league header.

American League

Player Team Bid
WCalhoun, NYY Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton 29
YChirinos, TB Rob Leibowitz 23
KSmith, Oak Jason Collette 22
TClarke, KC Patrick Davitt 19
JSborz, Tex Andy Andres 13
TSoderStrom, Oak Rob Leibowitz 11
BMcKinney, NYY Chris Blessing 11
SEspinal, Tor Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton 9
RLopez, CWS Jason Collette 6
RBlanco, Hou Jeff Erickson 5
VBrujan, TB Joe Sheehan 3
DCoulombe, Bal Rob Leibowitz 1
SLong, Oak Doug Dennis 0

National League

Player Team Bid
CMontes, Col Steve Gardner 85
WBenson, Cin Wilderman/Prior 40
NMadrigal, ChC Phil Hertz 32
ESosa, Phi Peter Kreutzer 14
APainter, Phi Phil Hertz 14
MFulmer, ChC Phil Hertz 4
SMuzziotti, Phi Todd Zola 3
AKnizner, StL Phil Hertz 2
JMerryweather, ChC Rick Graham 1
LGuillorme, NYM Erik Halterman 1
JChavez, Atl Peter Kreutzer 0
BHand, Col Peter Kreutzer 0

Mixed Salary Cap

Player Team Bid
JWiemer, Mil Scott Swanay 58
AHicks, Bal Scott Pianowski 55
JRogers, Det Scott Pianowski 55
TPham, NYM Scott Pianowski 51
TMay, Oak Scott Chu 26
BWoo, Sea Brent Hershey 23
RBlanco, Hou Garion Thorne 22
CRea, Mil Kev Mahserejian 19
DPeralta, LAD Scott Chu 19
KCrawford, Bos Jeff Zimmerman 16
DSolano, Min Scott Chu 16
DCarlson, StL Brent Hershey 13
MGarcia, KC Jeff Zimmerman 13
BAnderson, Mil Kev Mahserejian 11
KHendricks, ChC Nick Pollack 8
AMinter, Atl Scott Engel 6
PBlackburn, Oak Kev Mahserejian 4
ERivera, Ari Scott Engel 3
JSegura, Mia Jeff Zimmerman 2

Mixed Draft

Player Team Bid
WBrennan, Cle Tim McLeod 39
BWoo, Sea Rudy Gamble 37
TPham, NYM D.J. Short 35
BRooker, Oak Dr, Roto 24
ERivera, Ari Dr, Roto 22
ROlson, Det Scott White 17
CMcCormick, Hou Anthony Perri 12
KCrawford, Bos Adam Ronis 12
GUrshela, LAA Mike Gianella 10
MCanha, NYM Mike Gianella 10
JCaballero, Sea Anthony Aniano 7
SMcGough, Ari Tim McLeod 7
JWestburg, Bal Dr, Roto 6
JBauers, NYY Anthony Perri 3
BJoyce, LAA Anthony Aniano 2
MAmaya, ChC Shelly Verougstraete 1
DLynch, KC Seth Trachtman 1
TGrisham, SD Mike Gianella 1
KHendricks, ChC Scott White 0

Head to Head

Player Team Bid
NJones, Col Ryan Hallam 73
KHendricks, ChC Clay Link 46
KCrawford, Bos Frank Ammirante 41
JSanchez, Mia Frank Ammirante 33
TCasas, Bos Frank Ammirante 32
ROlson, Det Paul Sporer 26
YChirinos, TB Lauren Auerbach 24
ADeSclafani, SF Ariel Cohen 23
JWiemer, Mil Michael Govier 18
ZDavies, Ari Clay Link 12
LRaley, TB Paul Sporer 7
HHarris, Oak Michael Govier 7
LOrtiz, Pit Michael Govier 7
EJulien, Min Frank Stampfl 7
ERosario, Atl Sky Dombroske 3
SMcGough, Ari Greg Jewett 3

Mixed with IP & Saves+Holds

Player Team Bid
EDeLaCruz, Cin Matt Trussell 531
CEncStrand, Cin Andy Behrens 172
AAbbott, Cin Chris Towers 74
MOzuna, Atl Jennifer Piacenti 36
WBrennan, Cle Sara Sanchez 32
JPeterson, Oak Jennifer Piacenti 28
BWoo, Sea Chris Clegg 16
BDoyle, Col John Laghezza 8
ERosario, Atl Chris Towers 7
BRaley, NYM Matt Trussell 4
GCanning, LAA Chris Towers 4
MThaiss, LAA Jeff Boggis 1
BAnderson, Mil Jeff Boggis 1
SMcGough, Ari Matt Trussell 1
PStrzelecki, Mil Matt Trussell 0

Tout Table: How to Improve Batting Average

Let’s mix a little game theory with roster management and player analysis.

How do you go about improving in the batting average (OBP) category?

Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, @jeffwzimmerman): Trades. While it sounds simple, move extreme contributors in power and speed but low OBP for hitters who provide OBP. The only other option is seeing if your team’s lowest OBP can be upgraded. Otherwise, it’s nearly impossible to improve on it.

Brad Johnson (Patreon BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): The main thing is to actually do the math. Say you see you have a .260 AVG and want to be at .268. What does that actually mean in terms of the average you need to get there? Converting AVG into H/AB can help you visualize matters. It’s one thing to say “I need someone with a .325 AVG.” But you might need to spread that over several someones and figure out some platoons. That’s when seeing it as H/AB is most helpful.

Fred Zinkie (Yahoo/Rotowire, @FredZinkieMLB): Addition by subtraction. Either via trade or the waiver wire, try to get rid of the players who are killing your BA/OBP (assuming that you have reason to believe that those players will continue to have low averages from this point forward).

Rick Wolf (SiriusXM, @RickWolf1): Colton & The Wolfman use addition by subtraction. This does mean dropping players who hit for a low average or have a low OBP if that is your league’s format but only if they are not providing anything else. If the players have power or speed, find a trading partner. Trade that player in a package to get a need, usually pitching. Rely on BABIP to tell you if your player or a targeted player will improve his batting average. Low BABIP means the player has been unlucky. Expect a player’s average to go up if they are below their average BABIP.

Matt Williams (The Game Day, @MattWi77iams): I think the best route to improve AVG/OBP is by either working the trade market in order to improve any glaring deficiencies in your lineup, or by trying to take advantage of batting platoons. Platoons require the proper time & research to be successful, but it is a tried-and-true method to improve those categories.

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): If I’m prioritizing AVG or OBP to gain ground in the standings, then I’ll prioritize it when I look at rest-of-season projections for waiver wire players and/or players I’m considering trading for. Then again, since AVG/OBP are subject to quite a bit of random variation and can move down as well as up, it’s rare I’ll prioritize either in a vacuum. Also, given that in a 5×5 league there are typically 2 average-based pitching categories, but only 1 average-based hitting category, I generally focus less on the average-based hitting category than the pitching ones.

Scott Engel (The Game Day, @ScottETheKing): You really aren’t going to find much of anything on waivers. So my focus would be on the trade market. In a league with very experienced players, such as Tout Wars, it’s not difficult to make a fair deal. There isn’t much salesmanship involved, which can be annoying in other leagues. Each side knows what the other needs and what the other is willing to give up. You’re not going to rip anyone off, but you should always be able to fill a need.

Ray Murphy (BaseballHQ, @RayHQ): First step is excising your biggest BA/OBP offenders. You probably have someone on your roster, maybe not even a catcher, who’s got a .210 BA or worse. Stop playing them. Even finding a relatively empty .250 replacement is a meaningful improvement. From there, you can take the suggestions of others above: do the math to see what gains are possible, what regression candidates you have on your roster. Target trades, etc.

Vlad Sedler (FTN Fantasy, @rotogut): Folks on here have covered many of the important ways to do so, the most helpful recommending trades and to cut the hitters with subpar plate discipline who are damaging and dragging down your OBP. Worth noting that we must still be cognizant of the fact that there are nine other categories to be mindful of. In case we’re considering a full overhaul.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): Agree with above comments about math. I think typically it is a constant effort to improve the roster through PAs, but here we are saying that BA or OBP is where a larger number of standings points can be gained. What can I do to add 3 or 4 points in the standings without subtracting 3 or 4 somewhere else? In these competitive leagues, runs, RBIs, HRs and to some extent SBs are bought through PAs, so even when subtracting someone, you have to make sure it isn’t harming your other categories. Trade-wise, if I am trading to help one category, I look to only give up one other category if at all possible. So perhaps a team that has excess BA or OBP needs steals and I have a surplus of steals from a guy who is otherwise not helping me (runs, RBIs, HRs, BA or OBP). Or maybe it is saves that I can trade. Point is–it is one category for one category with a trade partner who has the need where my surplus can help. That is who I want to trade and the trade partner I want to target. Hypothetically speaking.

Jeff Erickson (Rotowire, @Jeff_Erickson): Step 1 – excise Javy Baez. Step 2 …. Step 3 – Profit!

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): Ha! *checks to see if I have Javy Baez active anywhere*

Chris Clegg (Pitcher List, @RotoClegg): I think improving your batting average or OBP is always easier said than done. It does take work and effort. As many have mentioned, doing the math is important. See what you actually need rest of season and make moves that push you toward that goal. If your ratios seem bad right now, know it’s not to late to make moves to help your team via trade or waiver wire.

Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): I am disappointed I missed the dumping on Javier Baez by a few minutes, but I swear I was going throw him under the bus. Javier Baez makes Rob Deer look like Tony Gwynn. Batting average or OBP are difficult to significantly improve for all the reasons stated before. Trades are definitely the best way to go about improving. You could also make a conscious choice to bench everyday players who have low BA or OBP and opt for a part-time player who may not hurt you as much. This only works if you are solid in the other categories.

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): Either by exercising excruciating patience if your roster is filled with unlucky BABIPers, or by trading for Luis Arraez.

Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): I think that it is obvious to everyone that if you stopped playing the lowest OBP players on your roster, in favor of the higher OBP players – you would theoretically improve your OBP going forward. There isn’t much wisdom in telling you that. I think the question becomes – which is it is the more efficient approach to make up points in the category by A) Using your own roster alone B) By looking on the waiver wire, or by C) Trading. And by efficient, I mean which compromises your other categories the least, and is the better use of fantasy capital (FAAB, player capital, etc.) for the largest potential improvement? Now, the answer is inherently roster and format dependent. However, I will say that I believe that the waiver wire option will be the least efficient of the three. The players capable of altering your ratios off the wire may be a larger drain on your team’s overall value than using options within (small gain for medium loss). And a for trading – although this option costs the most fantasy capital – it also tends to have the best chance at team improvement (medium gain at a cost). So the bottom line of what I’m saying here for advice – is that it is roster and format dependent, but trading or managing your active roster more closely may be more efficient than heading to the waiver wire in June for OBP improvement.

Andy Behrens (Yahoo Fantasy Sports, @andybehrens): Well, I’m giving Ryan Noda a test drive. Here’s hoping it works. It would be great if I could just stop using Jorge Mateo, but someone has to steal these bases.

Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ, @BrentHQ): The random fluctuation thing is what makes improving BA/OBP challenging IMO. Trading/lopping off offenders is a great way to do it, but if you’re stuck with picking up a free agent to try and help, I stick to skills and cross my fingers. BB/K for BA (especially combined with a poor BABIP; and double-digit BB% (either historical or projected) for OBP.

Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): Lots of goodies so far, I’ll throw in Park Factors as something else you might use to gain an edge. We usually think of ballpark (dis)advantages in terms of home runs, but each track can play differently for batting average as well. BaseballHQ’s Park Factors, for example, has Wrigley Field boosting batting average for LHB by 11% despite it being a tough park for homers. To nobody’s surprise, Coors Field is MLB’s best batting average park with +13% and +19% BA gains for LHB and RHB, respectively. Play guys hitting in good parks!

Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): I hate echoing everyone else but unless you’re in a shallower league, trades are the way to go here. Focus on another team that’s also low in the category and see if you can get them to give up in AVG/OBP in exchange for more power or speed. If it’s a team lower in the standings than you that needs to make a Hail Mary to contend, all the better.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): For me, the first step is identifying the reason for the deficiency. Keep in mind, batting average (OBP) is the most tightly bunched category. Plus, you can gain points if those above you drop in average. The point being, you may not have to do anything if you have a few players hitting into bad luck, with regression likely. If the shortfall won’t take care of itself, the first place I look is catchers. Sometimes replacing a batting average crusher with a guy who doesn’t play much, but hits for a reasonable average can help the category without hurting counting stats. Past that, looking for unlucky players on the waiver wire, or an opponent’s roster is a nice pathway, since cost of acquisition may be reasonable. Players with a big delta between their xBA and BA are clear targets, though xBA can be misleading since it is essentially a park neutral stat and may be different per home venue. Still, it’s a good place to start. I’ll also look for players hitting the ball harder, or fanning less, without commensurate results.

Grey Albright (RazzBall, @razzball): Trade for players who have been unlucky on BABIP, or trade for Javier Baez and pay him not to play.

Dylan White (Baseball America, @the__arrival): It’s extremely difficult to make up ground – especially at this point in the season. For example, my Tout team, as currently constructed, is projected to end up with a .330 OBP. I drafted a number of counting stats guys who weren’t the greatest from an OBP standpoint: players like Willy Adames, Nick Castellanos, and Austin Hays. At this point in the season, taking currently accrued stats, if I replaced Nick Castellanos (ROS projection of .321 OBP) with, say, Christian Yelich’s projected ROS OBP of .363, my overall team’s OBP would only be projected to rise to .332. An improvement no doubt (+0.002). But there is certainly not a player of Yelich’s caliber on the wire. Looking at the best OBP projections available: Brandon Belt (.331), DJ LeMahieu (.344), or, for this Castellanos-replacement example, Jesse Winker (.348), my team’s overall projected seasonal OBP only goes up by +0.001…and that doesn’t even consider the loss in other categories. All this to say: the math isn’t in your favor to make up ground in OBP (or BA). You need to set an appropriate foundation during the draft (in my experience) or make sure all of your waiver wire transactions incrementally move upward in OBP/BA.

Scott Chu (Pitcher List, @ifthechufits): This is tough, because streaming batting average is really difficult outside attacking the 81 games in Coors field. If I was going to stream AVG, my approach would be to exploit platoons to the extreme. Guys like Gabriel Moreno and Rob Refsnyder aren’t appealing most of the time, but finding a spot for them when they’ll see 3+ lefties in a week can make an impact. Against righties, Kevin Kiermaier and Mauricio Dubon can do some damage. It’s not sexy, but at this point of the season you’re likely streaming a position or two anyway. Of course, in head-to-head formats, the easier play is to ignore the category entirely – your roster’s weekly batting average is impossible to predict. Even the streaming options won’t do much for you week-to-week as it’s their season-long cumulative impact than you’re chasing.

Paul Sporer (Fangraphs, @Sporer): Cutting the chaff with the guys who are hurting you most as many have mentioned is a major piece as well as patience on the hitters you believe in. You can stream hitters, but they won’t fix it in a week, so make sure you’re not expecting instant results with your pickups.

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): Sometimes the best way to improve batting average is not by adding player but by subtraction. Case in point this season is Kyle Schwarber, if you need to make up point in BA and have enough power just replacing him with a .265 hitter will help your team gain a few points.

Frank Ammirante (The GameDayHQ, @FAmmiranteTFJ): You can improve your OBP by targeting a hitter with a high walk rate who has gotten off to a slow start this season. The perfect example of this is Triston Casas, who has a 15.7 BB%, but his OBP is only .318 due to his .194 batting average. Casas will eventually start performing more like a .230 to .240 hitter, which would make his OBP much better. There’s a good chance that he’s widely available due to his struggles so far.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Project your whole league’s standings using a couple of stats sources to see how much gain you can make with the various tactics discussed above. It might be that someone ahead of you in the cat will move past you going backwards, if they’ve had an unsustainably hot BA start.

Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): It honestly depends on league context. In LABR, we can’t just bench guys so if you didn’t properly account for OBP risks, it’s an uphill slog. At least in Tout, we can cycle slumps out of our lineup to help manage the OBP risks. I do work to look at expected stats and look to take chances on trades or pickups while look to proactively bench folks over their skis. For example, I benched Brandon Lowe in another league before this current slump (even before the injury) got too bad. I wish I would have done the same with a slumping Taylor Walls.

Ian Kahn (, @IanKahn4): Baseball is a game of talent, skill, and most importantly confidence. I am looking at the guys on the wire who have been hot over the last 7 days. They will continue getting at-bats and might at least help a bit. Also, just sit Gallo some weeks. I know I do.