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RotoAuthority League Update: The Mother of All Blockbusters

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 3 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he’s not one of them.

In June I analyzed a blockbuster in which Reedy dealt Jean Segura to Gramma Nutt Crushers forGiancarlo Stanton. Well, this past week in the RotoAuthority League a deal took place that makes that one seem inconsequential. The best player in baseball by WAR this season? The best pitcher in baseball by WAR this season? Another consensus top-5 fantasy player? This deal had it all. Let's take a look at the trade and see what each owner involved may have had in mind.

08/08 - E-Z Sliders trades Mike Trout and Matt Harvey to Say It Ain't So Cano for Carlos Gonzalez, Jay Bruce, and Eric Hosmer

E-Z Sliders

Current Position: 6th

Strengths: K, ERA, WHIP

Weaknesses: R, W, SV

Entering this week with a double-digit lead over the bottom four of the league, the E-Z Sliders don't have to worry too much about being kicked out the of league. With this trade, this owner showed he has greater aspirations in mind, namely a possible third place finish. All season long this squad has had an average offense. The staff has been stellar in the ratio categories, but poor luck in wins coupled with the choice to punt saves have kept this team in middle of the standings.

Let's first discuss the players E-Z Sliders shipped out of town. After some fantasy experts forecast a sophomore slump, Mike Trout has somehow actually been better this season. It's just scary how good this guy is at 22 years of age. Since the Angels called him up in late April last year, he ranks 1st in runs (by far), 12th in HR, 20th in RBI, 3rd in SB, and 3rd in AVG. While he's currently second on the ESPN Player Rater, he'll be my at the top of my draft board next season. Don't get me wrong: Miguel Cabrera is awesome. Still, there's really no such thing as a true talent .360 hitter, and Miggy has been a tad lucky in the batted ball department. Whether you have him 1st or 2nd, the fact remains Mike Trout is a Roto stud, but I realize this isn't anything new here.

In addition to trading the top fantasy hitter, E-Z Sliders also dealt the top fantasy pitcher. I'm not sure that Matt Harvey will be my #1 pitcher going into next season, but this young stud has displayed the top skills of any starting pitcher this year. So why would E-Z Sliders want to move Harvey? Well, we do know that he's going to be shut down at some point. As of late-July, Manager Tim Collins indicated that Harvey has about ten starts remaining. Since that statement, Harvey has started seven games. If Collins sticks to his word then, Say It Ain't So may only get a few more outings from the Mets phenom. It's also worth pointing out that E-Z Sliders are near the top of the league in innings, so this is one owner who may be able to afford moving an ace. 

Say It Ain't So Cano

Current Position: 4th

Strengths: R, HR, RBI

Weaknesses: SV, K, WHIP

Like E-Z Sliders, Say It Ain't So Cano shouldn't fret too much about finishing in the bottom four. In fact, this team currently stands just outside the money. As you can see, this owner had some incentive to trade for an ace like Harvey. This team has had one of the top offenses much of the year, but the staff has been mediocre. Unlike E-Z Sliders, Say It Ain't So Cano is behind the innings pace, so this owner was wise to acquire another arm.

In order to obtain a pair of fantasy studs, Say It Ain't So Cano shipped a trio of players who all currently lie inside the top 55 on the ESPN Player Rater. First, this owner acquired Carlos Gonzalez, who should go in the top 5 in drafts next spring. In fact, from a fantasy perspective CarGo is probably the closest thing we have to Mike Trout in the MLB player pool today. Unfortunately for Say It Ain't So Cano, CarGo is currently on the DL with an injured finger. In making this deal then, this owner took on risk not only in that a return date remains up in the air but also in that the stud outfielder may not be 100% upon his return. Injury expert Stephania Bell is particularly pessimistic when it comes to the latter. 

Jay Bruce has always been a tad overvalued among fantasy pundits. Despite a top-notch pedigree, here's a player who's only hit above .256 once in his career. Even so, in an environment in which power is markedly down, Bruce has become a rare source of consistent production in HR and RBI. E-Z Sliders made a prudent choice in acquiring Bruce not only in that the power categories are closely stratified but also in that this is one of the streakiest players in the game. Bruce tends to get his home runs in bunches; in a sample size of just seven weeks remaining, it's a wise gamble to roll the dice in hope of a homer binge from Bruce.

Finally, Eric Hosmer got off to a slow start this season. At the end of May, his triple-slash line was just .261/.320/.333. Coincidence or not, on May 30th the Royals hired George Brett as hitting coach. Whether the reason for Hosmer turning around his season is due to Brett or his own brother, the fact remains this future star is finally hitting like we anticipated in the preseason. Since the calendar turned to June, he's hitting .326/.359 /.519 with 11 HR and 6 SB. In doing so, Hosmer's stock has risen from mid-level first basemen to a borderline elite one. This loooks like a player who's finally figured things out and will be taken in the first 5 rounds of fantasy drafts for many years to come.

Overall then, each owner here addressed some needs. It's a bit strange to see a team that needs runs trading away the best source of that category in the game in Trout; however, E-Z Sliders did beef up their offense with the additions of CarGo, Bruce, and Hosmer. Meanwhile, Say It Ain't So Cano can afford the dropoff in offensive production while receiving some quality innings from Harvey. I've written previously that the focus when assessing a trade should no longer be on value but instead on the categories. From a pure value perspective, though, I think Say It Ain't So Cano overpaid here in acquiring Trout and Harvey, but the name value of superstars tends to do that. Ultimately, however, the number of at-bats for CarGo as well as the number of innings from Harvey will determine who moves up the most in the standings as a result of this trade.

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