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RotoAuthority League Update: Strange (but True) Statements at the Halfway Point

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 4 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.

We haven't quite reached the All-Star break, but we've arrived at the halfway point based on the number of games played thus far. With that in mind, I'd like to have some fun with the ESPN Player Rater and present ten declarative statements that are indeed true at the moment.

1. Two of the top five catchers could have been yours for a buck in March.

Back in March, I opined that the elite catchers were staying on the board a tad too long for my taste. Well, that sure looks like a silly statement thus far. Quite the contrary, only Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy have really lived up to the billing to date. In fact, Devin Mesoraco and Derek Norris have each been more than twice as valuable as any of the following: Joe Mauer, Brian McCann, Wilin Rosario, and Carlos Santana. It's paid to wait on catcher this year.

2. Eric Hosmer and Joey Votto are outside the top 30 at 1B.

And that's really saying something! A quick scan of some of the names ahead of this duo is quite staggering. We're talking about waiver wire fodder like Casey McGehee, Garrett Jones, and Mark Reynolds. To be fair, Votto does have a trip to the DL to use as somewhat of an excuse. The same can't be said for Hosmer, though. If you invested in either one of these "big bats," you're surely kicking yourself with every home run hit by sluggers Jose Abreu and Brandon Moss, both of whom were far cheaper on Draft Day.

3. Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, and Jason Kipnis are all outside the top 5 at 2B.

Are we witnessing a changing of the guard at 2B? It's still too early to say for sure, but this trio was supposed to be clearly ahead of the pack in March. Now it looks like the new elite is composed of Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve, and Brian Dozier, as that trio has been far and away the best at the position. At this point, only Cano really stands a chance of catching the current top three.

4. Todd Frazier is giving Miguel Cabrera a run for his money as the top 3B.

No, I'm not pointing this out to say that Miggy has been a disappointment. I think he's safely held onto his title as the best hitter on the planet. Having said that, Frazier has been an absolute boon for fantasy owners thus far. I'm very curious to see how he performs in the second half. After all, with Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion set to lose their 3B eligibility, one can make the case that Josh Donaldson will enter next season as the top player at the position. If that's the case, then Frazier probably has to rank inside the top five.

5. Dee Gordon is neck and neck with Troy Tulowitzki as the top SS.

If you own Tulo, you know he's been so good this year that he's singlehandedly carried fantasy rosters. What you may not know, though, is Gordon has been virtually as valuable to date. Sure, that value has come in a far different way, but it's worth noting that no player has been more impactful in any category than Gordon has in his contribution to the SB column. Yes, power is down in today's game, but it's not like speed is all that plentiful either. If the Dodgers speedster can keep this up, he's a legitimate top 25 player entering next season, as crazy as that may sound.

6. Charlie Blackmon is (still) in the top 10 at OF while Corey Dickerson is in the top 25.

After his incredible April, I haven't heard Blackmon's name come up much lately. Sure, his production has dipped since that incredible first month, but it's not like he's hurt fantasy owners in May and June. The outfield is filled with some of the top fantasy players overall; the leaderboard reads as a "Who's Who" of fantasy baseball. And yet, there's Blackmon, still among the top ten at the position. Meanwhile, despite having to compete with Blackmon and others for playing time, Dickerson has been one of the top fantasy performers to date on a per-game basis. Sure, the average is going to dip eventually with more at-bats, but this is a highly productive player as long as he can crack the lineup. With both Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer on the DL, Dickerson looks like a sneaky player to look to acquire for the second half.

7. Justin Verlander has been worse than an any empty roster spot to date.

We all know Verlander has struggled this season. If you don't own him, though, you probably don't realize just how disastrous he's been to fantasy owners, especially in today's run environment. As pitching continues to dominate, the thresholds required to compete in the pitching categories have become more and more pristine. In effect, subpar results are even more damaging in today's game. As a result, it's rather astonishing, but Verlander has been worse than replacement-level thus far. Keep in mind I recently traded Doug Fister and Martin Prado for Verlander and Pedro Alvarez in the RotoAuthority League. Did I just make a big mistake?

8. Even without a save, Dellin Betances has been a top-10 reliever.

By any metric you wish to use, Betances has been the best reliever in baseball this season among pitchers who currently aren't closing for their clubs. Dominant setup men have long been undervalued in the Roto game; however, it's been awhile since we've witnessed a non-closer be this valuable to fantasy owners. Now it's worth pointing out that Yankees closer David Robertson has also quietly been lights-out thus far. In fact, this duo remarkably ranks ahead of all other relievers in strikeout percentage. While he may not usurp the closer role from Robertson this season then, this is still a highly valuable fantasy commodity. Heck, I'd take Betances over about a dozen closers going forward.

9. A hitter with a 0.260 AVG is helping a fantasy roster.

Maybe it's just me, but I still think of an AVG around .260 as poor. In today's game, however, that's simply not the case. In reality, this is actually above the new baseline in the category. If your league hasn't caught up on this trend, you might want to look to acquire so-called "AVG killers" who project to hit around .250. There's a lot to be said for de-emphasizing the AVG category as HR and SB have become so difficult to find in today's game.

10. A pitcher with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP is waiver wire fodder.

I love James Shields. The guy just doesn't ever seem to get the attention he deserves. With a 3.79 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, however, Shields is the very definition of replacement level in today's game. Once again, maybe this is just me failing to come to terms with just how different the run environment is in baseball today, but it's crazy that a 4.00 ERA is damaging to a fantasy roster. Five years ago, you could win the league with a 3.60 ERA, and now that may only get you a few points in the category. It's about time I accept this new reality.



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