The Clutch Chronicles - 2015
Written by Don Drooker
Friday, 20 November 2015 00:00
The Urban Dictionary defines Clutch as, "To perform under pressure." For decades, baseball pundits and fans have extolled the virtues of players who supposedly had this trait. Their evidence, however, was only visual and anecdotal. Back in the 1970's, most people considered Tony Perez of the "Big Red Machine" one of baseball's best clutch hitters. After all, he had over 100 RBIs in six seasons between 1967 and 1975. In fact, some would argue that his election to the Hall of Fame was based on this reputation.
Now that baseball is in the age of statistical analysis, our old observations may be called into question. Even a math-challenged fan understands that you can't get a plethora of RBIs without baserunners. And, boy, did those Reds teams have baserunners!
Statistics on RBI Percentage (RBI-HR/Runners On) now go back to 1974, so let's see how our legendary clutch hitter fared in a season where he was an All-Star. Perez had 101 RBIs, 28 homers and 489 runners on base for a RBI percentage of 14.93%. That didn't even crack the top 50 for the major leagues in '74! He finished behind household names such as Reggie Smith, Richie Zisk, Jimmy Wynn, Cesar Cedeno and Ted Simmons. The leaders were Jeff Burroughs at 21.18% and Sal Bando at 21.15%.
Our Hall-of-Famer improved considerably in 1975 as he accumulated 109 RBIs with 20 home runs and 489 runners on base (again). His percentage improved to 18.20% and he just snuck into the top ten for that season. The only hitters at 20% or higher were Willie Stargell at 20.48% and Thurman Munson at 20.00%.
As a fan, you certainly have an opinion on today's clutch hitters but do the stats back you up? In 2015, there were 15 hitters who exceeded the 18.20% that Perez posted in '75. We'll only include players who had at least 200 baserunners during the season to eliminate the "small sample size" outliers. These are "Quacker's Clutch All-Stars" and we'll see how well their performance aligns with their reputation.
1) Nolan Arenado, Rockies 3B, 21.4% - This is in addition to winning his 3rd Gold Glove at age 24.
2) Danny Valencia, Athletics OF, 19.8% - Somewhat misleading because he's essentially a platoon player, but still impressive.
3) Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays 3B, 19.7% - Another statistic to validate his MVP honor.
4) Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins OF, 19.3% - What we wouldn't give for an injury-free season.
5) Kendrys Morales, Royals DH, 19.1% - If you weren't already convinced of Kansas City's smarts, Billy Butler's number was 13.1%.
6) Adam Lind, Brewers 1B, 19.1% - His second consecutive year on this list, but remember his .221 BA and zero homers against left-handed pitching.
7) Matt Kemp, Padres OF, 19.0% - Another great second half helped produce 100 RBIs for the season.
8) Justin Smoak, Blue Jays 1B, 18.8% - Part-time role but a big-time contribution to this playoff team.
9) Andrew McCutchen, Pirates OF, 18.8% - Just because he didn't have another MVP season doesn't mean he didn't have a great season.
10) Jose Abreu, White Sox 1B, 18.6% - Second straight year in the top ten...not a bad way to begin a career.
11) Ryan Braun, Brewers OF, 18.6% - Finished 2nd in 2014 and this is a nice follow-up...the post-PED numbers are solid.
12) Mookie Betts, Red Sox OF, 18.6% - This is how good your rookie season can be when you're also an avid bowler.
13) Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals 1B, 18.6% - Came through in the clutch...when he was on the field.
14) Caleb Joseph, Orioles C, 18.3% - Another part-timer who excelled in 2015...and he won't cost $15.8 Million.
15) Matt Carpenter, Cardinals 3B, 18.2% - A player who looks like he needs a decent meal turns into a power-hitting clutch performer.
Last year's leader, Miguel Cabrera, finished 17th despite an injury-plagued season. Rookie of the Year winners Kris Bryant (17.2%) and Carlos Correa (17.9%) were both solid in this category. Bryce Harper (14.2%) and Mike Trout (14.4%) were surprisingly low while Torii Hunter finished 20th (17.9%) in his final season.
The three worst clutch hitters in baseball were Mike Zunino at 6.6%, Anthony Gose at 7.5% and Marcus Semien at 7.6%.
Hope all your fantasy players come through in the clutch. For more information on RBI Percentage, go to baseballmusings.com.
Written by Don Drooker
Friday, 13 November 2015 00:00
In 30 years of playing auction-style Fantasy Baseball, winning over 25 championships can be good news and bad news. The good news is that you've proven your skills by establishing strategies and methods for success. The bad news could be that you're hesitant to adjust and make significant changes because you're afraid to mess with the baseline that has achieved positive results. That was the quandary that presented itself last year as the 15 owners in the Xperts Fantasy League (XFL) gathered in Phoenix for their 13th annual draft.
As a quick refresher, the XFL is the only experts keeper league within the fantasy industry and the names of many of the owners are familiar to those who have viewed the landscape of fantasy sports over the years. These brilliant guys produce websites, magazines, newsletters and blogs that help guide you in becoming a better player in your league. The league is a 5x5 format (with on-base percentage replacing batting average), a 23-player live auction draft in early November with a $260 budget and a supplemental snake draft in late March to round out the 40-man rosters (23 players are active each week during the season). Donald's Dux (my squad) has captured four championships and holds the best overall performance record over the first 13 campaigns.
The Dux adjusted their long-time strategy of sticking with a 70/30 spilt for hitting and pitching because the team's offensive keepers last November were statistically valued much higher than their salaries. That allowed the shifting of money to pitching and the Dux ended up spending about 43% on pitchers in an attempt to balance the roster. Unfortunately, injuries to Yasiel Puig, Devin Mesoraco and Carlos Gomez somewhat derailed the offense. On the pitching side, Tanner Roark lost his rotation spot during the off-season, Kyle Lohse imploded, Ervin Santana got suspended and Addison Reed and Steve Cishek lost their closer gigs early in the season. The Dux were in last place in April and spent the entire campaign trying to make up ground. With that back story, 90 points (56 in hitting, 34 in pitching) and a 7th place finish doesn't look that bad, but after finishing 1st, 1st, 2nd and 2nd over the previous four years, it was certainly a disappointment.
So, as we approached the November Draft for the 2016 season, the first question was whether the strategy was flawed or was it just the player choices. Objectively, it seems like the answer is the players because despite the attempt to balance the roster, only 38% of the team's points came from the expensive pitching. This is a key question, as the Dux keeper list falls into a similar category once again.
Here's the keeper list for the Dux that was frozen on October 23rd:
C - Devin Mesoraco $11
C - Francisco Cervelli $6
1B - Jose Abreu $7
3B - Matt Duffy $10
1/3 - Anthony Rizzo $23
SS - Brandon Crawford $6
2/S - Eugenio Suarez $10
OF - Yasiel Puig $10
OF - Colby Rasmus $6
OF - Andrew McCutchen $22
OF - Michael Brantley $17
P - Jacob deGrom $15
The 11 hitters had a salary total of $128, while the one pitcher equaled $15, leaving $117 to buy 11 players at the draft table. Historically, under the 70/30 strategy, the allocation would have been $54 for the three hitters and $63 for the eight pitchers. Realistically, however, the hitters on the keeper list could be worth $50+ more than their salary, while the single pitcher didn't have a plus side of more than $10. The answer of course, was to set aside 30 years of success once again and try to balance the roster. The decision was to shift at least $10 from hitting to pitching at the draft, leaving approximately $44 for the three hitters and $73 for the eight pitchers. So, the draft strategy was as follows:
> Find a consistent base-stealing OF in the $20 range, a regular 2B for $15-$20 and one end-gamer at Utility.
> On the pitching side, allocate $45 for four starting pitchers, $20+ for two closers and two end-gamers for the final pitching spots.
Not much research needed to be done on the offensive side, as I could bid on any position player and was only concerned about getting regular playing time and some stolen bases. On the pitching side, the plan needed to be a little more precise. My advice to players has always been to not "chase" any particular player. Find a group of players that fit your need and focus on getting one of them. Based on that criteria, three starting pitching tiers were established with a goal of getting one from each of the top two tiers and two or three from the third tier. Here's the basic list that was generated:
Tier 1 - Cole Hamels, Jordan Zimmermann, Jon Lester
Tier 2 - Tyson Ross, Francisco Liriano, Andrew Cashner
Tier 3 - Gio Gonzalez, Alex Wood, Jason Hammel, James Shields, Mike Leake, Garrett Richards, Julio Teheran, Jaime Garcia and others.
For the $20 allocation on the two closers, the list included David Robertson, Kenley Jansen, Hector Rondon, Francisco Rodriguez, Craig Kimbrel, Zach Britton and A.J. Ramos. The end-gamer list had Arodys Vizcaino, Anthony DeSclafani, Brett Anderson, Jimmy Nelson, Jose Quintana, Collin McHugh, Andrew Heaney, Dellin Betances, Drew Smyly, Ian Kennedy and Roberto Osuna along with every other available pitcher.
Before reviewing the results of the draft, there's one other important league rule for readers to understand. Even though the word "list" is being used in this discussion, the really unique aspect of the XFL is that team owners can bring nothing to the table...no lists, no projections, no research, no draft software, no laptops, no tablets and no smart phones. When you sit at the table, major league depth charts are handed out with the names of keepers crossed off and that is your only reference material during the auction. Even the depth charts are as neutral as possible with players listed by position and alphabetically. You don't get any help, as the typical MLB team could have 12 relief pitchers on the sheet and you need to know which one might get (or be next in line for) saves.
The actual approach at the draft table needed to be somewhat passive-aggressive. Passive in the sense of being patient, as eight of the teams had more money to spend, and aggressive in the sense of acquiring solid starting pitchers. It became apparent early on that the available dollars at the table were going to impact pitching prices dramatically. When Jon Lester went for $22 and Tyson Ross for $20, the Dux needed to start being aggressive. Francisco Liriano was my first target and while the $18 price tag was steep, he had solid numbers in '15 and is under contract with the Pirates for 2016.
Zach Britton was the last cut on my keeper list because his salary of $15 was justified based on performance. For my second acquisition, Britton came back onto the squad for that exact $15 figure at the table. In essence, it was like getting an extra keeper.
Looking for a second closer, I put Arodys Vizcaino on the table for $1 and figured he might go in the $5-$6 range because he's not yet totally established in the job. When the bidding went beyond that plateau, I backed off and was surprised that the eventual price was $11. Not much later, the Dux paid the same $11 for A.J. Ramos. For perspective, Kenley Jansen, David Robertson and Craig Kimbrel were $16 each while Huston Street and Roberto Osuna were sold for $14 each.
With $44 spent on three pitchers, it was time to address the speed issue. Ben Revere was on the Dux last year and produced an $18 statistical season in this format. There's a reasonable expectation that he could have even better numbers in 2016 hitting ahead of Donaldson, Bautista and Encarnacion, so when I got him at the table for $18, it fit perfectly on my squad.
Back to pitching for their 5th pick, the Dux rostered Jeff Samardzija for $11. Despite a lousy '15 season, he's still a power-arm free agent who will hopefully land in a better spot than U.S. Cellular Field.
With four pitchers taken for $55, it was time to focus on 2B. I did make some lower-end bids on players like Howie Kendrick (went for $10), Dustin Pedroia ($13) and Ben Zobrist ($23) and didn't get involved in Neil Walker at $13, Daniel Murphy at $18, Ian Kinsler at $19 or Robinson Cano at $31. My brain was still telling me to add some speed at this position, leaving more options for my Utility spot. Cesar Hernandez of the Phillies had 405 at-bats in 2015 with a .339 OBP and 19 steals, creating $8 worth of value in this format. With Chase Utley gone, the 2B job (and lead-off spot) is his to lose. The Dux put him on the table for $2 but were prepared to bid up to $8-$10 for the upside potential. The fact that this bid was answered with the sound of "crickets" indicates that the Old Duck is either really smart or really stupid.
Getting Hernandez for $2 impacted my budget for the remainder of the draft. With $24 still allocated for the Utility spot, it was obvious some additional money could be shifted to pitching. That allowed me to win the bidding on James Shields for $15. While 2015 wasn't a great season for this veteran, he was durable and had a good K/9 rate. At this point, inflation was impacting the bidding significantly as evidenced by prices like Joe Ross for $15, Jaime Garcia for $16 and Michael Pineda for $19.
Using more of the new-found pitching dollars, another SP was added in John Lackey for $8. He produced $14 worth of value on 2015 and could end up back in St. Louis again next season. This gives the Dux squad five rotation starters who pitched a total of 1,012 innings in 2015.
Now the end-game began in earnest, as the Dux had $19 remaining for the Utility spot and two pitchers. The offensive slot was the priority and the decision came down to choosing between power (HR and RBI) or the best player available. As often happens in this situation, the choice may fall in your lap when a particular player is brought up by one of your rivals. In this case, it was Phillies centerfielder Odubel Herrera. Taken in the Rule 5 Draft, but still only 23 years old, he posted a .344 OBP with eight home runs and 16 stolen bases in his rookie season...and earned $10 in this league's categories. The price was $11 and the pick seemed even better 72 hours later when the report came across the wire that Michael Brantley had shoulder surgery and may not be ready for opening day. As for the needed power, there are always low OBP players with pop who don't get taken in November but will be available in our supplemental draft in March. This time around, the list includes names like Mark Trumbo, Nick Swisher, Andre Ethier, Domingo Santana, Ryan Howard, Matt Adams and others.
With $8 left for two pitchers, another unique aspect of November drafting came into play. With the previous season so fresh in our memories, we can be easily fooled by a player's most recent performance. For example, Edinson Volquez going for $9 in this draft was certainly influenced somewhat by his postseason heroics, as was the spirited bidding for Zobrist. On the other end of the spectrum was Jason Hammel and his short stint in a key playoff game. I brought him up and closed the deal for $5 even though his 2015 stat line of 10-7, 3.74 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 172 K's in 171 IP earned $7 in Roto value. In addition, he's under contract with the Cubs for '16 with a $10 Million salary. Even one of my friends watching the proceedings questioned my pick by saying, "He was lousy in the playoffs." In the 1981 World Series, Dave Winfield went 1-for-22.
The final pitching slot was a crap shoot and the Dux added Jerad Eickhoff of the Phillies for $1. The team will be terrible, but in eight starts at the end of '15, he posted a 2.65 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP and had a 49/14 K-to-BB ratio in 51 IP. A more interesting pick than pitchers left on the board such as Jeff Locke, Matt Cain, Brett Anderson, Tom Koehler, Wily Peralta, Jonathon Niese or Charlie Morton.
The final math was $258 spent and a 62/38 percentage split between hitting and pitching. Realistically, you can't go into a league with this type of inflation thinking that your $117 can buy $117 in value. However, looking at the 11 players drafted, it's reasonable to assume that their worth is right at $100. Added to the $202 estimated value of the keepers, that's $300+ of value in a $260 league. That seems like a reasonable start for the 2016 season. Of course, many additions in the March Supplemental phase will improve numerous rosters and fill gaps due to November draft mistakes, injuries and role changes. Thanks to their 7th place finish, the Dux have the 6th pick in March, so there may be an impactful player available in that spot.
Just to keep your mind percolating during the off-season, here are a few prices from last weekend that might surprise you in either direction:
> The most expensive hitter was Miguel Cabrera at $45...close behind was Adrian Gonzalez at $42.
> The most expensive pitcher was Cole Hamels at $26.
> Troy Tulowitzki was $33 while Jose Reyes was $13.
> Justin Bour ($11) was only two bucks less than Ryan Zimmerman ($13).
> Brett Gardner ($24) went for more than twice the figure of Jacoby Ellsbury ($10).
> Roto players still believe in Hanley Ramirez ($19) but not Pablo Sandoval ($1).
> Teams were also more than willing to take chances on players coming back from injuries like $11 for Zack Wheeler, $3 for Homer Bailey and $1 bids on Hyun-Jin Ryu and Jurickson Profar.
You can peruse additional league information at fantasyxperts.com
Last Updated on Friday, 13 November 2015 09:27
Written by Don Drooker
Friday, 06 November 2015 00:00
"Wins Above Replacement" (WAR) has been discussed in this space on multiple occasions, and the complete definition and calculation formulas can be found at baseball-reference.com as well as fangraphs.com. In essence, it is an attempt by baseball analysts to come up with a player's overall contribution to their team in one statistic. The key question is "If this player got injured and was replaced by an available minor-leaguer or Quad-A bench player, how much value would the team be losing?" The answer is shown as the number of wins a player is worth to his team over the course of a season. If you're an "old school" fan, this type of stat might not be your cup of tea, but over the years it has become much more mainstream and is certainly taken into consideration by writers who vote on post-season awards.
With that background, let's look at the real MVP's of each major league team for 2015.
> Blue Jays - Josh Donaldson's WAR rating of 8.8 is league MVP caliber...Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista were both at 5+, the former for his defense and the latter for his offense.
> Yankees - For the second consecutive year, this highly compensated squad didn't have a player with a WAR of 4 or better...Mark Teixeira at 3.9 and Dellin Betances at 3.7 led the way.
> Orioles - Manny Machado's mark of 7.0 made him one of the best players in baseball...Chris Davis chipped in with 5.2.
> Rays - Modern defensive metrics indicate that Kevin Kiermaier was the best defensive player in the game and his WAR of 7.3 makes him the best player you've never heard of.
> Red Sox - The Beantowners are re-building again but Mookie Betts (6.0) and Xander Bogaerts (4.6) give them a young foundation.
> Royals - Lorenzo Cain is a five-category Fantasy player and a real-world force on offense and defense...his WAR of 7.2 puts him in elite company.
> Twins - This team's playoff run is even more amazing when you realize that their best WAR player (at 3.2) was SP Kyle Gibson, whose record was 11-11.
> Indians - Think about this when considering young stars in the making - Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis tied with a WAR rating of 4.6...Lindor only played 99 games in his rookie season at age 21.
> White Sox - Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana and Jose Abreu all produced WAR numbers just under 4.
> Tigers - Ian Kinsler ended up at 6.0 while Miguel Cabrera added 5.2 in only 119 games.
> Rangers - Adrian Beltre overcame a slow first half to post a 5.8 WAR at age 36.
> Astros - Dallas Keuchel will get bunches of Cy Young votes and his 7.2 number tells you why.
> Angels - No surprise here, as Mike Trout continues to put up unheard of numbers....his 9.4 WAR was higher than Donaldson, higher than his MVP season in 2014, and his four-year total of 37 comes at age 24.
> Mariners - The 5.2 rating for Nelson Cruz was the best on this under-performing squad...Robinson Cano was 4th at 3.4 but he only made $24 Million.
> Athletics - Sonny Gray's great season on the mound yielded a 5.8 WAR and will put him near the top in the Cy Young balloting.
> Mets - Curtis Granderson at 5.1 was the best position player while Jacob deGrom's 5.0 led the hurlers.
> Nationals - A most disappointing season for this team, but you can't blame Bryce Harper and his league-leading 9.9 WAR, which should net him the NL MVP award. Max Scherzer won't match up with the top three in Cy Young votes, but his 7.6 WAR was outstanding.
> Marlins - 20 games under .500 wasn't what they had in mind and no player exceeded a WAR of 5...Dee Gordon was closest at 4.9.
> Braves - Working toward 2017 with an eye on their new stadium, the only player at 4.0 was Andrelton Simmons and that was mostly generated through defense.
> Phillies - A sorry lot in a re-building mode, rookie centerfielder Odubel Herrera led the way with a rating of 3.8.
> Cardinals - A 100-win season for the Redbirds and Jason Heyward was the top contributor at 6.5.
> Pirates - 98 wins but only one post-season game, their best number went to Starling Marte at 5.4...last year's NL MVP, Andrew McCutchen, was close behind at 4.9.
> Cubs - Nothing but excitement from this young roster and Jake Arrieta's stunning season equaled a 9.0...the offense was led by Anthony Rizzo's 6.2 and Kris Bryant's 5.9.
> Brewers - The fact that Ryan Braun at 3.8 WAR was their best player tells you everything you need to know about this team's 94-loss campaign.
> Reds - 98 defeats with a big payroll isn't the formula...even Joey Votto's outstanding 7.6 WAR season couldn't help.
> Dodgers - Don Mattingly took the fall, but beyond Zack Greinke's 9.9 and Clayton Kershaw's 7.5, they really weren't very good.
> Giants - A little off-season tweaking could put them back in the mix because they have a nucleus of Buster Posey (6.1), Madison Bumgarner (5.9) and Brandon Crawford (5.6)...even rookie Matt Duffy added 4.9.
> Diamondbacks - They have one of the best players in the game with Paul Goldschmidt and his 8.8 WAR and keep an eye on A.J. Pollock with his 7.4 rating, which was better than many established stars.
> Padres - All the pre-season hype went up in smoke and their best player (Justin Upton, 4.4 WAR) is a free agent.
> Rockies - Nolan Arenado (5.8 WAR) is a star in the making but until they develop some homegrown pitching, the cellar is where they'll be found.
Overall, the five best position players were:
1) Bryce Harper 9.9
2) Mike Trout 9.4
T3) Josh Donaldson 8.8
T3) Paul Goldschmidt 8.8
5) Joey Votto 7.6
And the top five pitchers:
1) Zack Greinke 9.9
2) Jake Arrieta 8.8
3) Clayton Kershaw 7.6
4) Max Scherzer 7.5
5) Dallas Keuchel 7.2
As the developers of this gauge point out, you shouldn't get too bogged down in decimal points. Over the course of a season, one player with a 6.4 WAR and another player with a 6.1 WAR cannot really be distinguished from each other. However, a 6.4 WAR player and a 4.1 WAR player are significantly different when calculating their value to a team in any given season. If you had no other information available and had been in solitary confinement since March, your MVP ballot with Trout or Donaldson in the AL and Harper in the NL along with a Cy Young ballot listing Keuchel in the AL and Greinke in the NL certainly wouldn't put your BWAA membership card in jeopardy.
Last Updated on Friday, 06 November 2015 09:17
Jeepers Creepers Where'd You Get Those Keepers?
Written by Don Drooker
Friday, 30 October 2015 00:00
Don't lie to me! At some point, you've been in a relationship where you thought of the other person as a "keeper". What exactly did you mean by that? Could the objective definition be someone whose value is worth the cost...both emotionally and financially? For those of us who are fortunate enough to play keeper-league Fantasy Baseball, the definition is even more telling. As with Sandy Alderson and Daniel Murphy or Dan Duquette and Matt Wieters, we must make those tough calls when it comes to our roster. Of course, our decisions don't involve a $15.8 million qualifying offer, but they are nonetheless difficult and heart-wrenching.
Every keeper league has its unique characteristics, but 99% of the time, keeper decisions are being made within a few weeks of opening day, when information and advice is plentiful. For the owners in the Xperts Fantasy League (XFL), their keeper list is due in late-October for an auction draft that takes place just as the World Series is ending. The XFL is a 15-team mixed keeper league with a $260 auction draft for a roster of 23 players (14 hitters + 9 pitchers). It has a standard 5x5 format with On-Base Percentage (OBP) replacing Batting Average (BA) and each team can keep up to 15 players, including minor league prospects. So, for example, if three of your 15 keepers are Farm players (less than 50 AB's or 20 IP in the Majors), you still need to draft 11 players at the table. To give you some understanding of the challenges involved, here's a quick review of the salary structure.
November Draft - Player salaries are determined by the winning bid at the table and increase $5 each season. So, unless a team finds a breakout player in the end-game, there's a reasonable chance that expensive veterans will only be on your team for one season.
March Supplemental Draft - A 17-round snake draft gets all the squads up to a 40-man roster from which you determine 23 active players each week. All players chosen in this phase have a $1 salary. For current major-leaguers, the increase each season is $5 so the annual keeper lists have a smattering of $6 players that were great choices the previous year. Examples this time around could include Carlos Martinez, Curtis Granderson, Stephen Vogt, Josh Reddick, Luke Gregerson and Brandon Crawford. Minor-leaguers taken in this phase also have a $1 starting salary, but once they get to "the show", their salary only goes up $3 per year. This is what might be described as the "dynasty" component in this particular league. An example would be Andrew McCutchen, who was taken as a minor-leaguer by Donald's Dux (my squad) in 2007 and now enters his 8th season on the roster at a salary of $22.
In-Season Monthly Free Agent Selections - Teams can choose free agents once a month and drop someone on their roster in a corresponding move. The salary is $5 with a $5 increase in subsequent seasons, so you'll see a few of these players scattered on keeper rosters at $10 each year. Current examples include Kevin Pillar, Matt Duffy, Randall Grichuk and Jackie Bradley Jr.
As with all keeper leagues, draft inflation is an important factor and some of the bargain salaries put the percentage beyond the scope of my abacus. This creates an atmosphere where one of the difficult decisions regarding keepers is not just their value versus cost, but what the estimated price will be at the draft to get them back. This makes those marginal keepers even more valuable as you pare your roster down to 15. As an instructive exercise for keeper-league aficionados, we'll look at each roster and choose a "no-brainer" keeper (the team's MVP) and a marginal keeper in the classic "bubble" category. That way, you can drool over the former and see if you agree with the latter.
* MVP - Bryce Harper $13 - Lots of choices from this championship squad, but Harper earned more dollars in this format than any other player.
* Bubble - Jose Altuve $30 - An outstanding player at a scarce position, but is the salary too high?
* MVP - Nolan Arenado $10 - Earned almost $30 and he'll only be 24 in 2016.
* Bubble - Cameron Maybin $10 - Earned $15 and still in his prime, but there may not be room in the OF on this roster with Christian Yelich, Chris Davis and Byron Buxton.
* MVP - Giancarlo Stanton $19 - Despite the late-season injury, this is the slugger everyone wants.
* Bubble - Justin Upton $28 - A solid player going into his age-27 season, but maybe not the superstar that was originally advertised. What would he go for in the draft?
* MVP - Lorenzo Cain $13 - Earned more than double his salary and is a five-category player.
* Bubble - Mitch Moreland $10 - Came off the scrap heap to hit 23 home runs and contribute 85 RBI. Was it a fact or a fluke?
* MVP - Curtis Granderson $6 - Went undrafted last November and then produced a $25+ season.
* Bubble - Adam Eaton $19 - Had a very productive year where he earned over $20, but can he do it again?
* MVP - Manny Machado $13 - Came back from an injury-plagued season with a vengeance and earned $35. Of course, age could catch up with him at 23.
* Bubble - Khris Davis $15 - On August 1st, the answer was definitely no. Watching the last two months could make you hesitate.
* MVP - Jose Abreu $7 - Two impact seasons with more to come for a slugger under age 30.
* Bubble - Eugenio Suarez $10 - Came out of nowhere to hit 13 home runs in less than 100 games at SS (Troy Tulowitzki hit 17 homers in 486 at-bats), but what happens if the Reds give the job back to Zack Cozart in 2016?
Peter Kreutzer & Alex Patton
* MVP - Mike Trout $16 - Another of those dynasty players, he'll be on this roster when Elroy Jetson is running against Ivanka Trump for President.
* Bubble - Brandon Phillips $13 - Produced a $17 season at age 33. Do you take the 2015 profit and run?
* MVP - A.J. Pollock $11 - Was one of the top ten players in Fantasy this season...earned as much as Jose Bautista.
* Bubble - Danny Salazar $15 - Came back from the Minors to post a good season, but he's not as valuable as Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco.
* MVP - Josh Donaldson $16 - A $40 season for the presumptive AL MVP.
* Bubble - Zack Wheeler $10 - Is it worth waiting until mid-season for a return on investment or do you throw him back and try to get him for less?
* MVP - Brian Dozier $15 - 28 homers and double-digit steals is great production at middle infield.
* Bubble - Brad Boxberger $9 - Had 41 Saves in 2015, but will he still have the job in 2016?
Perry Van Hook
* MVP - Dee Gordon $11 - Was the only middle infielder to earn over $30 in this format.
* Bubble - Evan Gattis $10 - Provided 27 home runs and 88 RBI but no longer gets the bump of being eligible at Catcher.
* MVP - Nelson Cruz $28- The move to Seattle didn't phase him at all, as he clobbered 44 homers and had a .369 OBP.
* Bubble - Patrick Corbin $6 - Will he come all the way back from TJS?
* MVP - Gerrit Cole $10 - Always nice to have a reasonably-priced ace to lead your staff.
* Bubble - Neil Walker $16 - Will his "walk" year be a boom or bust?
* MVP - Yoenis Cespedes $13 - This free agent will be in the middle of the order somewhere wearing a large money belt.
* Bubble - Matt Kemp $31 - Once again, his second half was much better but the salary is steep.
While you're sorting out all the Halloween candy in early November, these 15 (or 16 if Alex makes an appearance) hearty fellows will be bidding in Arizona and enjoying the camaraderie of the XFL's 13th annual draft. More information and the league history can be found at fantasyxperts.com
Last Updated on Thursday, 29 October 2015 21:15