Shadow-Drafting Tout Wars Mixed Auction PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ryan Carey   
Monday, 25 March 2013 00:00

This Saturday, I was privileged to be invited by Peter Kreutzer to run the online spreadsheet for this year’s Mixed Tout Auction. I had expressed a desire to work at some point over the weekend at the Sirius XM studios and was excited about the prospect of being in the room as the Touts built their rosters for the upcoming season. Of course I was there to work, and typing over 400 names and prices into a laptop over the course of 5 hours can become almost mind-numbing, so I decided prior to the auction that I would try my hand at shadow-drafting as we went along.

For those of you not familiar with the term or practice, shadow-drafting is when you sit in a fantasy auction as an observer and build your own roster of players as the auction unfolds. You “purchase” your players by deciding which ones to bid an extra dollar over the final price. For example, in this draft Mike Trout was the first player sold and went for $43 to Scott Swanay. If I had been willing to go $44, then I would add him to my roster at that price.

All I had was a piece of paper with the roster spots to fill and a column to keep track of my shadow-draft budget as I went along. I would “buy” my players as the draft went along, and as much as possible would engage in bidding in my mind, rather than decide to buy a player after the fact. If I “won” a bid, I wrote the player down on my sheet and subtracted the price from my running budget. Running the spreadsheet meant that I would have a good grasp at which players were off the board, since I would not be scratching names off a list like normal.  I tried to mentally prepare to target at least a few players going in, like I would if I was actually participating, and actually ended up with many of them on this mythical roster.

It was a fun exercise that definitely kept me mentally involved in the proceedings throughout. It was fun to decide which players I would be in on before auctioneer Jeff Erickson announced “sold” and I felt like I easily gained more from the experience than I would have otherwise. One caveat to shadow-drafting any auction is the fact that when you buy your player for that extra dollar, it assumes that the owner who actually bought them wouldn’t continue to bid them up. In many cases they would do exactly that. Also, multiple owners end up with the players you “buy”, so your shadow-draft results need to be observed in the proper context.

So here is the “team” I ended up with followed by the owner who actually bought them at the auction:

C –  John Jaso - $7 (Ray Flowers)

C –  A.J. Ellis - $8 (Scott Swanay)

1B - Paul Goldschmidt - $27 (Cory Schwartz)

3B – Mike Moustakas $10 (Paul Singman)

CI – Allen Craig $22 (Scott Swanay)

2B – Brandon Phillips $20 (Patrick Davitt)

SS – Josh Rutledge $11 (Patrick Davitt)

MI –Erick Aybar $8 (Tim Heaney)

OF – Melky Cabrera $16 (Cory Schwartz)

OF – Austin Jackson $18 (Patrick Davitt)

OF – Hunter Pence $10 (Seth Tracthman)

OF – CoCo Crisp $7 (Fred Zinkie)

OF – David Murphy $3 (Cory Schwartz)

UT - Michael Brantley $2 (Nick Minnix)

P   - Matt Moore $17 (Tim Heaney)

P  -  Brandon Morrow $14 (Ray Flowers)

P  -  Alex Cobb $8 (Nick Minnix)

P  -  Trevor Cahill $9 (Patrick Davitt)

P  -  Jarrod Parker $8 (Cory Schwartz)

P  -  Alexi Ogando $7 (Al Melchior)

P  -  Wade Davis  $3 (Derek Van Riper)

P  -  Joe Nathan  $15 (Zach Steinhorn)

P  -  Casey Janssen $7 (Fred Zinkie)

Overall, I finished with $3 left over. My players came from the rosters of 12 of the participants with Cory Schwartz and Patrick Davitt accounting for 4 players each. As a tip of the hat to the three owners not represented above, we’ll cherry-pick a favorite reserve off each roster and then my favorite undrafted player.

RES – Justin Masterson (David Gonos)

RES – Al Alburquerque (Eric Mack)

RES – Stephen Drew (Nando DiFino)

RES -  Drew Smyly

There were obviously some players I wished I had either bid on early or had money to get later. Yu Darvish ($24), Jordan Zimmerman ($14), C.J. Wilson ($6) and Ryan Vogelsong ($6) were some pitchers whose names I jotted down as guys I liked but either had no room or money for. B.J. Upton ($23), Adrian Beltre ($27), Aaron Hill ($20), Yoenis Cespedes ($24), Lorenzo Cain ($6) and Dexter Fowler ($10) were names of hitters I added next to the names of guys I actually bought as some I would have also liked to have found room for. Want to try and come up with your own alternate roster? Go to the Tout Wars site, click on the link to the live spreadsheet and construct your own team. Feel free to post your own in the comments below.

Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanpcarey

Last Updated on Monday, 25 March 2013 08:02
Mastersball at KFFL BAD Experts league PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Monday, 18 February 2013 17:06

As in the past, KFFL has invited Mastersball to join their Baseball Analysis Draft (BAD) Expert league. The league details, rules and participants are here:

   KFFL BAD distinguishes itself from other leagues by requiring participants to provide a written analysis of each pick explaining why that player was selected. The write-ups are posted by KFFL here:

   I want to encourage you to take a look at the analysis and post your comments in the Sound-off area located at the bottom of the page of each draft round.

   Randomized draft order gave Mastersball the 12th and last pick, that is, the last pick of the first round and the first pick of the second round. Todd and Lawr also had the 12th pick at the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) draft. They picked Buster Posey. I picked Josh Hamilton and Jose Reyes. Are these two selections an indication that I am a traditionalist unable to think as creatively and smartly as Todd and Lawr? Before you reach any conclusions, allow me to explain the rationale behind the picks. Since most of Mastersball readers are math wizards, a formula will do the job.

   We know that Josh Hamilton will not have the full 620 ABs in 2013. That’s given. How many ABs will he have? Let’s assume 500. Hence:

   (Production of Josh Hamilton’s 500 ABs) + (Production of 120 ABs of my first bench OF)

   Is greater > than

   (Production of any other player that was still undrafted at the end of round 1)

   To put it succinctly, when Josh Hamilton is on, HE IS ON.

   Jose Reyes is a tad more difficult to explain because I do not draft for position scarcity. If I did, I would have selected Troy Tulowitzki here. Jose Reyes will bat at the top of a Toronto lineup that appears to be powerful this year. He will score many runs and runs are a roto category. With Jose Reyes, my team is getting a twofer: runs at a scarce position. Will the reward outweigh the risk of injury?

   Please feel free to comment.

Last Updated on Monday, 18 February 2013 18:03
Pronk Lands in the Bronx PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ryan Carey   
Thursday, 07 February 2013 12:58

The Yankees quietly signed Travis Hafner last week to a one-year $2 million dollar deal to become their primary designated hitter against right-handers for the upcoming season. So what does the signing mean for Hafner and the Yankees? Well, any discussion about the former All-Star begins with the obvious questions about his ability to stay healthy. The last time he played a full season was way back in 2007, which also was the year the Indians signed him to the now infamous $57 million contract extension. Since then, here are his games played totals for the next five years: 57, 94, 118, 94 and 66 last year. So it came as no surprise to anyone that the Indians walked away from his $13 million option this year, paying him $2.75 million to officially close the book on a contract that has hamstrung the franchise in recent years.

Last season, the Yankees waited until the end of Spring Training before signing Raul Ibanez at the bargain basement price of $1.1 million. There was a reasonable expectation that after his post-season heroics and a season that saw him fill in admirably in LF after Brett Gardner went down that the Yankees would bring the fan favorite back to town. Well, it didn’t happen. The Yankees have been forced to take a harder stance this year with their impending free agents, and as such Ibanez followed Nick Swisher and Russell Martin out of the Bronx, and the Yankees set their sights on finding a replacement. The recent news swirling around Alex Rodriguez, including another hip surgery and connection to the latest PED scandal brewing in Miami, put even more emphasis on the Yankees trying to bring in someone who could provide some power from the DH spot. I haven’t seen it talked about much, but the Bombers are slated to start the year with Ichiro Suzuki in RF and Brett Gardner in LF. While both bring a lot to the table, they don’t provide very much pop.

Hafner, for all his injury concerns, can still do one thing pretty well and that is hit righties. Since 2008, almost 75% of his home runs have come against RHP. He also likes to pull the ball, which makes his move to Yankee Stadium a positive, as he should enjoy taking aim at the short porch, much the way Ibanez did last year. This is in a lot of ways a perfect marriage of team, player and ballpark. It’s a low-risk signing for the Yankees, who at the very least hope that Hafner can fill the void until a potential return of A-Rod around mid-season. The best case scenario is that Hafner thrives in a part-time roll, mashes RHP and puts up his first 20-homer season in six years.

So what does it all mean to you the fantasy player? Well, the downside to Hafner is he is a man without a position, and unlike David Ortiz, he can’t be counted on to play every day even if he somehow manages to stay healthy. It’s hard enough to burn a roster spot on a UT-only eligible player, but even less attractive when the guy can’t be counted on to provide regular AB’s. As such, I can’t really recommend Hafner in anything but the deepest of mixed leagues for the upcoming season. In AL-only leagues, he will have a little more value as an endgame pick because he should still be able to deliver some power and production until he breaks down yet again.

 Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanpcarey

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 February 2013 14:05
Breaking Down the Upton Deal PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rob Leibowitz   
Friday, 25 January 2013 16:11

The motivation for the Braves is the easy part. They now have three outfielders 28 years of age or younger, each with 25-plus if not 30-plus home run power potential. Both Justin Upton and Jason Heyward are under contract through the end of 2015 while B.J. is signed through 2017. So this could be or quite frankly already is a dynamic outfield that will make the Braves a force in the NL East for several years to come.

Justin Upton still managed to hit .280 with 17 HRs in a down year.  The change in power production appears to be the result of a thumb injury. Upton experienced a 9% drop off in fly balls whereas his actual HR/FB production dropped only 3%. In other words, there is nothing in the numbers that indicates that the regression in power production will become a long-term trend. At 25 years of age, there is plenty of room for optimism regarding a rebound.

The Braves also received third baseman Chris Johnson as part of the deal. The righty is coming off of possibly a career year that saw him produce 15 homers and bat .281. However, the result looks rather BABIP inflated given his still rather aggressive (strikes out a quarter of the time) approach. It looks like the Braves may utilize Johnson in a platoon with ultra-aggressive left-handed power hitter Juan Francisco. That could be an ideal situation for both of these players.

In return, the Diamondbacks received Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Zeke Spruill, Nick Ahmed, and Brandon Dury.

Prado slots in as Chris Johnson’s replacement at third base. The 29-year-old remains a modest ceiling player that controls the strike zone with low double-digits home run power. As long as the lefty continues to make contact and hit line drives, he’ll continue to be a .300 hitting threat.

The Braves have a deep minor league system with respect to pitching, so Randall Delgado was not hard to part with, nor was Zeke Spruill. The nearly 23-year-old Delgado is a hard thrower with multiple plus-pitch potential. Control and effective command of his secondary pitches is the issue and the Diamondbacks are deep enough in the rotation to send him back to Triple-A for more seasoning. For a 22-year-old in the Majors last year, he held his own fairly well and his future is still quite encouraging.

Zeke Spruill will be joining Delgado in Triple-A. The righty does not have Delgado’s upside and is a control, pitch-to-contact, groundball type who was unable to strike out even 6 batters per inning in the Minors in 2012. Think fourth or fifth starter tops.

Nick Ahmed is a shortstop noted primarily for his glove work and throwing arm, so at a minimum Ahmed should make the Majors as a utility guy. The former second-round pick is not a complete slouch with the bat though, possessing gap power, above average speed (stole 40 bags in A+ ball) and a reasonable understanding of the strike zone. The drop off in contact at A+ ball is a trend that will need some reversing though. He’ll start 2013 in Double-A.

Finally, Brandon Drury is a 20-year-old third baseman and 2010 13th round draft pick. The righty plays good enough defense to stick at third and makes consistent contact but is a very aggressive hitter who has yet to tap into the power projected of him. Time is on his side, but at the moment it is tough to say whether he’ll end up organizational filler or a MLB player.

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 January 2013 22:31
Slow Draft Saves Sleepers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ryan Carey   
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 14:55

The NFBC Draft Champions (DC) format is one of the more innovative developments to hit the fantasy world in the past year. This style of play was created to provide a unique challenge for draft-hungry players, while making it easier to manage the extra teams by making these leagues 50 Round drafts with no in season pickups. What you draft is what you have to work with all season long.

These leagues continue to grow in popularity this season, and many of the Mastersball staff has a few of these leagues on the books for 2013. One of the keys to success in these leagues is making good use of your late round picks. One category owners always try to mine at this point will be closers-in-waiting, since in DC leagues there will be no FAAB to use to grab emerging saves. You need to speculate at the draft table on who may emerge, and that means looking at who has the skills and situation best suited to potentially providing saves at bargain rate prices. Last year for instance, I used this approach and was able to snag Tom Wihelmsen in the 47th Round in my DC league.

So, as you look to the 2013 Drafts, here are three guys I drafted late in my recent Draft Champions league:

A.J. Ramos, MIA – Ramos is a 26 year-old reliever who has spent the last three years working as a closer in the Marlins system, moving up each year to AA last season.  His numbers in the minors are impressive, with 288 strikeouts in 211 innings, to go along with 83 saves over those three seasons. He got a late cup of coffee in the majors last year and racked up another 13 punch-outs in his 9 innings of work.  The Marlins are a team in transition, and as such have one of the more unsettled bullpens this draft season. Steve Cishek is the favorite to open the year as the closer, but after him there is no real clear successor.  Mike Dunn is a lefty; Ryan Webb and Jose Ceda have been injury prone and ineffective. All this uncertainty points to Ramos getting a chance to work himself into the mix for saves at some point this season, and as such he is one of my favorite sleeper saves targets in Draft Champions leagues this year.

J.J. Hoover, CIN – Hoover came over from the Braves last season in the trade for Juan Francisco. He appeared in 28 games, totaling 31 strikeouts in his 30 innings pitched. With the proposed move of last year’s closer Ardolis Chapman moving everyone else in the Red’s pen up a notch, Hoover now only finds himself behind Jonathon Broxton and Sean Marshall for save opportunities. Broxton will open the year as the closer, but he could have a shorter leash than normal on a contending team. If Broxton falters then Hoover could find himself in a committee with Marshall for saves. I drafted Broxton in my DC league and scooped up Hoover in Round 45. Another name to have on the radar is Tony Cingrani, but I like Hoover a little more for this season.

Pedro Strop, BALJim Johnson was one of the best surprises last year for fantasy owners, as his league-leading 51 saves came at bargain basement prices. What made the achievement even more impressive was that he did it with a rather pedestrian 5.37 K/9 rate and only 41 strikeouts in 68.2 innings pitched. He was able to do this with a 62.3 GB%. It isn’t that big of a stretch that Johnson is one of this year’s prime candidates for some regression simply with some more bad luck on all those ground balls and the fact that it is unlikely the Orioles will be able to provide as many opportunities as they did in last year’s charmed campaign. Add in some recent trade rumors that have the O’s possibly shipping their incumbent closer to the Tigers and you have all the reasons you need to take a chance on Strop when looking for this year’s version of, yeah that’s right, Jim Johnson.  Strop has the fastball that most managers like coming out of the bullpen in the ninth inning, and actually saw an increase last year with an average of 96.4. He actually had a better GB% than Johnson last year at 64.3%. If I had to pick one name today with the best chance to be this year’s Wihelmsen for your DC team, Strop would be that guy.

Do you have your own late round saves sleepers for this year? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 22:07
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