RotoAuthority League Update


RotoAuthority League Update: Standings Rundown

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.

It's been a month since we last analyzed the standings. Let's see how things have changed over July.

The Favorites

1. E-Z Sliders 94

2. Men With Wood 88.5

E-Z Sliders have moved up a dozen points over the last five weeks to vault into first place. When you take a look at this owner's roster, it's no wonder why this club has risen to the top. Jose Altuve has been the most valuable hitter over the past month while David Price has been the best pitcher; yes, both studs are members of this roster. In addition, Adrian Beltre, Jacoby Ellsbury, Max Scherzer, and Jon Lester continue to be excellent while Torii Hunter and Neil Walker have been particularly helpful lately. In short, this owner has no worries about finishing in the top two, at the very least. Meanwhile, just like seemingly every other year, Men With Wood is still right in the thick of things. We already knew Mike Trout was elite, and now we know Carlos Gomez is as well. Anthony Rizzo has made the leap to stardom while Sonny Gray and Tyson Ross are rising up next season's SP rankings with every start. On paper, I still have to give the edge here to E-Z Sliders, but Men With Wood could easily make up this deficit with a hot week.

The Race for Third Place

3. Smell the Glove 77.5

4. Guitar Masahiro 75

5. Pulling Brzenk 74

Well, well, well. Guess who's shot up the standings over the past month? None other than our Commissioner, Tim Dierkes. The Commish's squad, Smell the Glove, has jumped from seventh place all the way to third in five weeks. Tim's staff has been truly fantastic led by an estalished ace in Cole Hamels and pair of newly anointed studs in Corey Kluber and Garrett Richards. Guitar Masahiro is holding strong but will need Troy Tulowitzki to get healthy soon to make a run at the title. It doesn't hurt to own Clayton Kershaw, though. Lastly, this is a zero-sum game; it's only logical that just as Smell the Glove has made a double-digit net gain of points in the standings, Pulling Brzenk has made a move of similar magnitude in the opposite direction. This owner has unfortunately been hit by the injury bug lately with Edwin Encarnacion, Starling Marte, and Gerrit Cole all on the DL.

Just Hoping for an Invitation Next Year

6. A Century of Misery 63.5

6. Spirit of St. Louis 63.5

8. The Jewru 56.5

9. The Bombers 55.5

10. Cobra Kai 50

11. Brewsterville Bruins 45.5

12. Gramma Nutt Crushers 36.5

A month ago, I pointed out that I didn't consider my team to have the ceiling to win the league. Well now, we're getting to the point where I don't know if my team even has the upside to finish in the money. I still feel relatively comfortable I can escape the bottom four, though. I also speculated that the Bombers could shoot up the standings due to a low innings total. Well, that shows how much I know, as that squad has fallen about fifteen points to the bottom four. On the other hand, Spirit of St. Louis has been able to make up significant ground and can breathe a tad more easily at the moment. Finally, Cobra Kai, Brewsterville Bruins, and Gramma Nutt Crushers don't seem to be making much progress in the standings. At this stage in the game, it will be interesting to analyze the tactics of these owners as they look to make up any points possible to avoid the boot from the league.

Standings as of Saturday, July 26th



RotoAuthority League Update: Midseason To-Do List

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've passed the All-Star break in the RotoAuthority League, and I'm still hovering in the middle of the pack in the standings. I'm confident my team will avoid finishing in the bottom four and thus a boot from the league; however, at this point I'm unsure if my team is capable of taking home the title. Still, I'm a firm believer that every move upward in the standings is a worthy endeavor. Even taking money out of the equation, I fight for every point in the standings. A fourth-place finish won't get me any money in this league, but it still means more to me than fifth place -- just as seventh place is worth more to me than eighth place, and so on. With that in mind, let's look at what fantasy owners should be doing at this stage in the season.

1. Analyze the standings

The key here is to determine how many points you can gain in each category. It's important to be realistic with those goals. Even though we're at the All-Star Break, we've already passed the halfway point; in fact, the season is roughly 60% done. What really matters is how closely stratified each category is in your league. In the RotoAuthority League, for instance, the rate categories of AVG and WHIP are tightly packed. While randomness may play a critical role in a small sample size of just twelve weeks, hitters who project to hit for a good AVG are a tad more valuable in this particular league. Meanwhile, it's just as important to identify the categories in which you're unlikely to gain many points for the balance of the season. I've actually been punting saves since April, so closers are worthless to me at this point. The plan may burn up in flames, but at this point you must have a plan as to how to approach the standings.

2. Speculate with the MLB trade deadline in mind

Some player values can change quite drastically as a result of trades, so fantasy owners must be quick to respond to the news in July. Unfortunately, in the RotoAuthority League the Commissioner just happens to be the creator of MLB Trade Rumors, so I don't stand a chance of learning about a trade in time to act upon it. For the rest of you out there, though, keep in mind that relievers lie at the top of the list of players whose value may change in the next couple weeks. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs recently created a custom Trade Chip leaderboard and listed the following closers as potential trade candidates: Joaquin BenoitLaTroy Hawkins, Jonathan Papelbon, Chad Qualls, Addison Reed, and Joakim Soria. The primary setup men for these closers appear to be Dale ThayerAdam Ottavino, Ken Giles, Jose Veras, Brad Ziegler, and Neftali Feliz, respectively. Depending on the size of your league, some of these guys should be plucked off the waiver wire in preparation for the deadline.

3. Send out trade offers

During the season I try to avoid having many trade offers on the table for one main reason. That is, another fantasy owner could accept a trade shortly after a player leaves a game with an injury without giving me a chance to withdraw my offer. To me, any such trade should be reversed, but I've played in leagues that have a rationale of tough luck in that situation. One benefit to the All-Star break is that you don't have to worry about any players getting hurt. I sent out offers left and right in my leagues last week, and the responses were quicker than usual. My theory is that fantasy owners often wish to make sure that no players involved get hurt when games are in progress, but that's not a problem during the break.

So what kinds of offers should you be sending out? Well, it's all about gaining points in the standings. Don't worry too much about value at this point. Consider the needs of other owners first, and then make an offer that makes sense for both sides. You'll be amazed at how much easier it is to get deals done when you're only focused on particular categories.



RotoAuthority League Update: One Man's Midseason Trade Advice (Part 2)

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.

To continue last week's theme, let's take a look at hitters and pitchers whom I view as Buy Low and Sell Low candidates going forward.

Buy Low

Jed Lowrie

The Coliseum still ranks in the bottom half of the game in runs. Accordingly, it's not surprising that several Athletics can be found among the list of hitters with the lowest BABIPs. Given Lowrie's high hard-hit ball rate, however, we can safely say that the Oakland shortstop has been unlucky in the batted ball department this season. In terms of power, he's actually increased his flyball rate, but his HR/FB% has cut in half. Lowrie hasn't ever hit even 20 HR, but he'd certainly emerged as a legitimate source of power relative to other middle infielders. If you're looking to acquire a SS or a 2B, Lowrie makes for a good target, as he qualifies at both slots. Depending on the size of your league, he might even be available on the waiver wire. If not, the good news is he certainly won't cost much given his lack of production this year. In short, send out a feeler offer to the Lowrie owner in your league; I'm quite bullish on the A's shortstop for the stretch run.

Alex Cobb

A popular target in the middle rounds, Cobb has failed to live up to the expectations of fantasy owners who drafted him this spring. After missing a month with an oblique injury, the young Rays right-hander has been decent but not exceptional in 76 innings this season. With a 4.14 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP, Cobb has surface statistics that are rather mediocre in today's game. At this point, he's unowned in about a quarter of ESPN leagues, so he shouldn't cost a ton to acquire via trade. I still view this as a highly talented arm, and he still hardly ever induces hard contact. There's a reason he's posted an ERA right around 3.50 with over 400 MLB innings under his belt. Upon closer examination, his peripherals aren't all that different from those he posted in his breakout campaign last season. Overall then, I'd expect a performance more in line with his 3.38 SIERA.

Sell Low

Shin-Soo Choo

I viewed Choo as undervalued this preseason, so I guess I'm lucky to only own him in one league. After all, the Rangers outfielder has been one of this year's greatest disappointments, fantasy or otherwise. Given that he'd gone 20/20 three of the past five seasons, I viewed Choo as a relatively safe option to contribute in four categories. The power isn't down all that much, as he's still on pace for 16 HR; however, he's also on pace for just 5 SB. Meanwhile, the career .285 hitter is hovering around .250 this season. The runs are still there, but I honestly thought he could challenge among the league leaders in that category. Going forward, I really don't expect things to get much better. For one, Choo could see more and more days off as the Rangers give more playing time to the kids. In addition, the veteran outfielder just isn't hitting the ball hard very often these days.  I expected big things for Choo in Arlington, but now I'm rather bearish on his outlook in the future.

Shelby Miller

Miller entered this season as one of the fantasy arms many thought could take the leap to borderline elite status. Well, the young Cardinals right-hander has certainly struggled in his sophomore campaign. The strikeout rate is significantly down while the walk rate has noticeably spiked. Oddly enough, one can make the case that things will only get worse for Miller in the second half. After all, only Chris Young had a worse SIERA among qualified starters entering the weekend. It's premature to give up on this former top prospect in dynasty leagues, but I'd sell this arm for anything of value in the short term. At this point, Miller is all name and no value in redraft leagues. Try to shop him to the owner in your league who overvalues the upside of young players.



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.



RotoAuthority League Update: Standings Analysis

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.

The Favorites

1. Men With Wood 89.5

2. Pulling Brzenk 86.5

3. E-Z Sliders 82

4. Guitar Masahiro 81

These four teams have separated from the pack, and it's highly likely that this year's champion is among this group. Long-time league participant Men With Wood is looking to take home the title for a second time. Even more impressive, Pulling Brzenk has a chance to repeat as champion, unprecedented thus far in the short history of the league. Both of these owners have ridden stellar offenses to the top of the standings. Meanwhile, E-Z Sliders and Guitar Masahiro are enjoying their best seasons so far. Like the two teams ahead of them, the E-Z Sliders have significantly more hitting points than pitching points. On the other hand, Guitar Masahiro is in the top five of all of the pitching categories; this owner is being held back  by lying in the basement in steals.

Lurking

5. The Bombers 71

6. A Century of Misery 70

7. Smell The Glove 64

I can't speak for the other managers in this tier, but I don't consider my team to have the upside to win the league. At the same time, given that we haven't even reached the halfway point, the Bombers and Smell The Glove could certainly still finish in the money. If I had to bet on one team from this group to make a run at the title, I'd take the Bombers, as this squad has accumulated the fewest inning pitched thus far; as such, they should shoot up in the wins and strikeouts categories. 

Just Hoping for an Invitation Next Year

8. Spirit of St. Louis 56

9. The Jewru 53.5

10. Cobra Kai 50.5

11. Brewsterville Bruins 40

12. Gramma Nutt Crushers 36

The best part - yet also the most agonizing part - about this league is that the bottom four are kicked out each season. All of these owners are feeling some pressure at this stage in the season. If you're near the bottom of the standings in your league, it's easy to gain some points by simply punting a category and strategizing to make up ground elsewhere. Could any of these owners do something along those lines to live to fight another year in the league?

Spirit of St. Louis doesn't have a ton of categorical weaknesses, but there aren't really any strengths, either. Punting then might not be the best course of action for this manager. On the contrary, the Jewru is dead last in three categories; it will be interesting to witness the tactics of this owner going forward. Along those same lines, Cobra Kai, Brewsterville Bruins, and Gramma Nutt Crushers have the three worst pitching staffs by ERA and WHIP. Accordingly, it may be wise for these owners to focus on the counting statistics while de-emphasizing the ratio categories going forward.

Standings as of Sunday, June 22nd



RotoAuthority League Update: Fantasy All-Stars, Hitters Edition

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've reached that time of the season when fans vote for whom they would like to see play in the All-Star Game. Now clearly the value of a player in real baseball can be quite different from his worth in fantasy baseball. You didn't come here for advice on how to fill out your All-Star ballot, though. Accordingly, let's see which players have been the fantasy All-Stars in the RotoAuthority League. As usual, it's not about overall production but rather profit relative to the investment.

Catcher

Devin Mesoraco

Owner: Brewsterville Bruins

Investment: 24th Round Pick

Current 5 X 5 Value: $16

It's easy to forget that Mesoraco was viewed as a top prospects just a couple years ago, ranking 16th on Baseball America's Top 100 list in 2012. With everyday playing time, the post-hype sleeper is flourishing this season with 9 HR despite spending time on the DL. The talented Reds backstop has been worth $16 so far this season on a paltry Round 24 investment. Mesoraco narrowly beat out Miguel Montero in the midst of a bounceback campaign as well as breakout performer Derek Norris.

First Base

Michael Morse

Owner: Smell the Glove

Investment: Free Agent Pickup

Current 5 X 5 Value: $21

After struggling miserably last season, Morse has bounced back in a big way this season with 13 HR entering the weekend. Power is down yet again this season, and it's become the toughest tool to find on the cheap in today's depressed run environment. Fortunately for Commissioner Tim Dierkes, Morse cost a measly free agent pickup. Hitting in the heart of a solid Giants offense, Morse has performed at a $20 level. It's no wonder, as Morse leads all of MLB in batted ball distance. Barring injury, this should continue all season long.

Second Base

Brian Dozier

Owner: Cobra Kai

Investment: 22nd Round Pick

Current 5 X 5 Value: $30

If you invested significantly on second base this season, you're probably disappointed thus far. While Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, and Jason Kipnis have failed to live up to expectations, others like Dozier have far exceeded their Draft Day investments. Cobra Kai found a gem in Round 22 with this fantasy darling. No, the Twins second baseman won't help in the AVG category, but Dozier entered the weekend as one of just three players with double digits in both HR and SB. With a patient approach, he'll also rank among the league leaders in runs this year. As it turns out, Dozier just barely beat out another second baseman, but I've opted to place him at shortstop. That leads us to our next Fantasy All-Star...

Shortstop

Dee Gordon

Owner: The Bombers

Investment: 18th Round Pick

Current 5 X 5 Value: $32

The top value at shortstop is also the second-best at the position overall, trailing only Troy Tulowitzki. Few players this spring garnered as much preseason hype as Billy Hamilton. Fantasy pundits all around suggested that Hamilton could win you a category on his own. Well, as it turns out, Gordon is doing just that, and he's eligible at both SS and 2B to boot. I, for one, certainly didn't see thing coming. We all knew Gordon was fast, but I never thought he could hit around .290. In effect, no player has been more valuable to a particular category than Gordon has in the SB column. The Bombers turned a $4 investment into a first-round performer to date.

Third Base

Todd Frazier

Owner: Smell the Glove

Investment: 21st Round Pick

Current 5 X 5 Value: $21

Like Morse, Frazier is capable of hitting the ball far on a consistent basis. Tim Dierkes spent the equivalent of $2 on Frazier, who's turned nearly a $20 profit so far. The Reds third baseman has good pop and plays in one of the top offensive ballparks. I actually think this is for real; at the very least, this looks like a top ten 3B going forward. Frazier narrowly beat out MVP candidate Josh Donaldson.

Outfield

Charlie Blackmon

Owner: Guitar Masahiro

Investment: Free Agent Pickup

Current 5 X 5 Value: $35

The award for best free agent pickup to this point in the season goes to Guitar Masahiro with his early grab of Blackmon. Like Dozier, Blackmon is already in the double digits for both HR and SB. With offense continuing to dwindle from one season to the next, yet Coors Field providing otherworldly park factors, speculating on Rockies hitters may be the best place to look for preseason sleepers. Along with Blackmon, Justin Morneau and Nolan Arenado have also turned a profit for their fantasy owners. Heck, Corey Dickerson has been helpful, and he can't even crack the lineup everyday.

Nelson Cruz

Owner: The Jewru (acquired by A Century of Misery in exchange for Madison Bumgarner)

Investment: 12th Round pick

Current 5 X 5 Value: $42

Cruz entered the weekend as the top player overall on the ESPN Player Rater. He's the only player in the game in the top five in both hard-hit contact and batted ball distance. Simply put, Cruz is locked in at the plate right now. The Jewru cashed in on his $10 investment by trading him to me for Mad Bum a couple weeks ago. That's certainly a steep price I paid to acquire the services of the Orioles slugger. At this point, though, I'm convinced this hot start is for real. While fantasy experts constantly recommend Buying Low, it seems to me that Buying High has become the real opportunity to make a good deal in today's market.

Melky Cabrera

Owner: Guitar Masahiro

Investment: 24th round Pick

Current 5 X 5 Value: $27

Let's see, Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera. I know I've heard those names linked together previously. Look, we play this game to win, plain and simple. I really could care less what kind of person any player on my roster is; it makes no difference to me what life decisions he's made. At the end of the day, it's all about value. Well, fantasy owners are missing the boat on the single greatest market inefficiency in today's Roto game: "post"-PED users. Maybe Cruz or Cabrera is still artificially enhanced, but I don't really care; only the numbers matter to me. Cruz and Cabrera are enjoying career years; David Ortiz and Jhonny Peralta continue to be productive. So here's the deal - next spring, make a list of every player who's been linked to PED use. No, this won't serve as your Avoid list; quite the contrary, this will form your Target list.



RotoAuthority League Update: A Lesson in Fantasy Remorse

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 isn't one of them.

Let's be honest. There's nothing more annoying than hearing someone talk about his or her fantasy team, but you'll have to excuse me this week, readers. With all due respect to the other owners in the league, I'm going to be selfish this week and focus on my squad, A Century of Misery. Don't worry; I do think there's a larger point here.

First, though, I need to present a little backstory. In January I provided my own personal top 12 as I analyzed how I'd approach drafting in the first round of a fantasy draft this spring. One of the rankings that stood out to some readers was placing Edwin Encarnacion at tenth overall. It was certainly a bullish ranking, and you'd be hard-pressed to find any other website that had the Blue Jays star any higher. Heck, I'll admit it; even I was worried I was getting carried with my Man Crush when I saw other sites had him outside the top 25. When I removed the names and focused simply on the skills, however, I just couldn't get past the rosy outlook for Edwin heading into this season.

Now flash forward to the RotoAuthority League Draft in March. Once I found out I had the twelfth pick, I knew I'd be taking Encarnacion at the turn, and I even wrote about it in my draft preview. Sure enough, I ended up grabbing Edwin along with Chris Davis with my first couple picks in the draft. I was quite satisfied with a foundation built around power at the corners, as the Blue Jays star is eligibile at third base in Yahoo! leagues.

Well, that brings us to mid-April. In my first deal of the season, I traded Encarnacion along with Cody Allen to Pulling Brzenk in exchange for Stephen Strasburg and Martin Prado. You can read my rationale behind the move here, but it boils down to a couple of things. For one, Encarnacion was striking out a ton early on this season. One of the first statistics to stabilize each season is strikeout rate, and he had one of the most significant spikes after a couple weeks. I'll admit it: I was worried he wasn't fully healthy coming off offseason surgery. Meanwhile, Strasburg was flashing elite skills despite getting poor results. He made for a sabermetrician's ideal Buy Low target at the time, and I felt compulsed to get relatively fair value for Encarnacion if by chance he was indeed hurt and his early season struggles continued.

Well, if you've been paying to baseball in May at all, you know how this story ends. Edwin Encarnacion just tied Mickey Mantle for most HR in May in the history of the American League. The Blue Jays first baseman is completely locked in and now ranks as a truly elite commodity in fantasy baseball. Going forward, I'd take Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Troy Tulowitzki, and Giancarlo Stanton over him. That might be the full list, though. I should say it's not as if I've been disappointed by Strasburg. He's been great and should be one the best pitchers going forward. In today's game, you have to take the elite hitters over the top pitchers.

The lesson in all of this is that if I clearly preferred Encarnacion to Strasburg at the outset of the season, I really shouldn't have let two weeks of games change my valuations all that much. We hear it all the time, but the fantasy baseball season is a grind. More often than not, the best action in April is no action at all. This trade will certainly sting for awhile, especially given that I actually loved E5 going into the season. My team has risen out of the bottom four of the standings, but I'm not sure my roster has what it takes to take home the title. If I never would have made this trade, though, I'd be right in the thick of things. Excuse me while I go get drunk...



RotoAuthority League Update: Trades Galore... Again

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 isn't one of them.

Once again, the RotoAuthority League doesn't fail to disappoint. It was yet another incredibly active week on the trade front in this league. Let's take a look at all of the deals that went down this past week.

05/20 - A Century of Misery agrees to trade Zack Greinke to Pulling Brzenk for Victor Martinez

As you'll see, I made a concerted effort over the past week to trade a surplus of excellent starting pitchers for quality bats. My roster has been quite unbalanced so far this season with a lights-out staff and a miserable offense. Accordingly, I made up my mind to address my offensive needs sooner rather than later. In a vacuum, I certainly don't love this deal, as I'm actually quite bullish on Greinke in Dodger Stadium. Even so, few hitters outside of Troy Tulowitzki have displayed better skills than V-Mart so far this season. Entering this week the Tigers DH has 12 HR and 13 K; that's just plain silly in today's game. As long as he can stay healthy, V-Mart should be highly productive all season long. With the league's top offense, Pulling Brzenk had some impetus to deal for Greinke, as an improved staff in the second half could be precisely what this owner needs to repeat as champion.

05/22 - The Jewru agrees to trade Nelson Cruz to A Century of Misery for Madison Bumgarner

For all intents and purposes, this deal is a carbon copy of the previous one. Once again, I dealt a highly skilled arm for a veteran hitter off to a great start this season. Once more, I don't love this trade on paper. Mad Bum is a bona fide fantasy ace at this point, and I thought I could get more in return for him. As it turned out, however, few owners wanted to move power, and Cruz was the best bat I could acquire in exchange for Bumgarner. Similar to V-Mart, Cruz should be a Roto monster, barring injury.

05/23 - The Jewru agrees to trade Julio Teheran to Brewsterville Bruins for Matt Carpenter

Looking to acquire a quality arm, the Bruins moved one of last season's top breakout performers in Carpenter in exchange for the talented Teheran. It's tough to make sense of the young Braves right-handed at this point. His skills have been good but not spectacular, yet only Jeff Samardzija and Adam Wainwright had a better ERA entering play Monday. Meanwhile, Carpenter has been fine from a real baseball perspective but is off to a slow start in fantasy. Ultimately, though, each owner dealt a player that he had placed on the block and acquired another player that addressed a need. As such, this was a rare win-win for both parties involved.

05/23 - Men With Wood agrees to trade Giancarlo Stanton to A Century of Misery for Stephen Strasburg and Carl Crawford

My third and final pitching-for-power move of the week was arguably the most exciting of all. It's tough to part with Strasburg; his skills have been elite thus far. By including Crawford, I also probably overpaid a tad. Then again, trades aren't won or lost in a vacuum; they're won or lost in the standings. Stanton is precisely the type of hitter that my offense needed. Full disclosure: he's also kind of a Man Crush. Overall, I'm not sure I won this deal on paper, but I'm confident my team should gain points in the standings as a result of it. The same can also be said for Men With Wood, whose fate likely lies in the performance of his staff going forward.

05/23 - Men With Wood agrees to trade Sean Doolittle and Mark Melancon to Brewsterville Bruins for Homer Bailey and Lorenzo Cain

With Jason Grilli set to return from the DL, Men With Wood opted to move Melancon as well as a highly skilled arm who recently was named closer in Doolittle. For my money, Cain is somewhat of a throw-in. If we assume Melancon is simply a setup man going forward, this deal ultimately boils down to Doolittle for Bailey. Make no mistake: Doolittle is an elite closer if he has the job. The sabermetricians have been waiting for a good month now for Bailey's results to begin to catch up to his peripherals, but that hasn't happened yet. Unless the Red right-hander returns to last season's form, I think the Bruins did quite well here to grab Doolittle, especially given the premium placed on saves in this league. Then again, Men With Wood is first in the league in saves by a wide margin, so this owner really isn't losing anything.

05/23 - The Bombers agree to trade Adam Dunn to Men With Wood for Emilio Bonifacio

A clear categorical move, the Bombers sought to acquire some speed while Men With Wood boosted the power on its roster. If you were to make lists of players who can address specific categorical needs yet don't cost all that much, Dunn and Bonifacio would certainly be good targets for power and speed, respectively.

05/24 - The Jewru agrees to trade Matt Carpenter and Trevor Rosenthal to Spirit of St. Louis for Wil Myers, Ryan Howard, and John Axford

Just a day after acquiring Carpenter, the Jewru flipped him along with the third baseman's teammate in Rosenthal to add some pop to roster from Myers and Howard. I guess Axford has a chance to reclaim the closer role in Cleveland, but I don't really see that taking place. Accordingly, this is by and large a two-for-two deal. After a strong Rookie campaign, Myers is in the midst of a sophomore slump; still, he's just too talented to keep hitting as he has thus far. Howard, meanwhile, has established himself as a decent source of power at the expense of AVG at this stage of his career. To me, that doesn't seem like a sufficient haul for an elite closer in Rosenthal as well as a solid middle infield option in Carpenter. Then again, Myers could just as easily catch fire as he did last season and carry the Jewru  out of the bottom four.

05/25 - Brewsterville Bruins agree to trade Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon to E-Z Sliders for Alfonso Soriano and Wade Davis

Yet another deal with saves on the move, the Brewsterville Bruins shipped Melancon out of town a couple days after acquiring him as part of a deal that also included the man who usurped his closer role in Grilli. In essence, E-Z Sliders landed one closer, as it remains to be seen whether Grilli will be able to hold onto the job all year long. In return, the Bruins got a cheap power bat in Soriano as well as one of the game's top setup men in Davis. The return does seem a tad light, given how this league values saves. Ultimately, though, it's all about the standings. A long-time league member, the Bruins find themselves with their league mortality on the line, as the squad is in last place at the moment. Trading a closer is virtually always a good proposition if you're in that position.



RotoAuthority League Update: Quarter Pole Update

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 isn't one of them.

It feels like Opening Day was just a week ago, but we've already reached the quarter pole of the season. Let's see what the standings currently look like in the RotoAuthority League.

E-Z Sliders 90

Men With Wood 82

Pulling Brzenk 77

Spirit of St. Louis 75

Guitar Masahiro 73

The Bombers 71.5

Smell the Glove 59

Cobra Kai 57.5

A Century of Misery 57

Gramma Nutt Crushers 51

The Jewru 48.5

Brewsterville Bruins 38.5

Led by several players who were undervalued this spring like Alexei Ramirez and Neil Walker, E-Z Sliders continue to lead the pack atop the RotoAuthority League. At this point the only glaring weakness on this roster is the bullpen. In fact, this squad ranks among the top half in every category except saves.

Right behind E-Z Sliders are the teams with the most offensive points in the league, Men With Wood and Pulling Brzenk. The offenses on both of these rosters are scary good, and I don't see either team falling much in the hitting categories. If either of these owners can turn around their pitching staffs, E-Z Sliders's lead will trim in short order.

Rounding out the top six we have a couple of new owners in Spirit of St. Louis and the Bombers. While it may be the first year in the league for each owner, there's no denying that each squad looks to have some staying power. Experience isn't everything in this game. Meanwhile, Guitar Masahiro is also right in the thick of things, seeking to cash for the first time.

After the top six there's a pretty clear schism between the haves and the have-nots at this stage in the season. While the top six have their eyes on prize, the rest of us in the bottom half simply don't want to get booted from the league.

After a strong start, Commissioner Tim Dierkes's Smell the Glove has struggled recently. Newbies Cobra Kai and the Jewru aren't enjoying the same early success as Spirit of St. Louis and the Bombers. Meanwhile, veterans like the Gramma Nutt Crushers, the Brewsterville Bruins, and my own squad may have our work cut out if we wish to receive an invitation back next year.

Upon closer examination of the standings, one interesting revelation sticks out to me. The three teams atop the power categories of HR and RBI are the very same three teams atop the standings as a whole. It seems that in today's depressed run environment, the ability to find power just might be the secret to success in fantasy baseball.

As home run rate continues to decline in this post-steroids era, it's become more and more challenging to find consistent producers in the power categories. Oddly enough, I actually had this in mind as I planned for my drafts this spring. I even thought I had begun to execute my plan when I drafted Chris Davis and Edwin Encarnacion at the turn in this league.

So where do I currently lie in HR and RBI? Well... dead last in each. I guess it's only a good strategy if you pick the right players.



RotoAuthority League Update: Blockbuster Week

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 isn't one of them.

Just about all of the trades covered last week were one-for-one deals. This past week, however, we witnessed several trades featuring multiple players on each side of the transaction. In general, I prefer to make moves that are smaller in size, as it's simply easier to analyze the categorical effects on my roster. Moreover, the greater the scope of a deal, the increased chance of highway robbery. Then again, I guess that's not a bad thing, assuming you're the one committing grand larceny. Let's take a look at the big deals from this past week.

05/05 - Men With Wood agrees to trade Ryan Zimmerman and Corey Dickerson to the Bombers for Everth Cabrera and Eric Young

The Bombers currently lead the league in the SB category, so they could afford to ship Cabrera and Young out of town. Before checking the full standings, I assumed Men With Wood must have had a need for speed; however, the former champion actually lies in third place in that category right now. Accordingly, this may have been a value-based move for Men With Wood, at least to a certain extent. Although Dickerson had a big day at the plate on Saturday, he still doesn't crack the lineup everyday. In effect, this trade will ultimately come down to the return date for Zimmerman. Overall then, the Bombers are gambling on Zimmerman's health while dealing from a surplus of speed.

05/07 - Pulling Brzenk agrees to trade Justin Verlander, Ervin Santana, and Joe Smith to Brewsterville Bruins for Alex Cobb and LaTroy Hawkins

As I mentioned, the more players included in a deal, the greater the possibility that the trade swings more and more in one direction. Well, for my money this was a great move by the Brewsterville Bruins. I have a ton of respect for Pulling Brzenk; after all, he won the league last year and is currently in second place. Clearly this owner is doing something right. Moreover, I'm very bullish on Cobb; in fact, I've made an effort to acquire him in all my leagues while he's on the DL. I also understand that you have to overpay to acquire a closer via trade in the RotoAuthority League; that's just how the market has been set.

Concessions aside, however, I still think the Bruins did very well here. I know Verlander's early skills are worrisome, but he's still viewed as a no-doubt ace on the fantasy marketplace. Santana, though, may be the true prize of this haul. The move to the NL has done wonders for the verteran right-hander, as his skills thus far have been electric. If we break this deal down, I think it's safe to say that Santana is at worst equivalent in value to Cobb, especially given that the Rays right-hander will still be out a couple more weeks.

That leaves a swap of Hawkins for Verlander and Smith. I'm sorry, but that just doesn't pass the smell test to me. If Hawkins were an elite closer, I think you could justify the move for Pulling Brzenk; however, the Rockies closer is actually harmful in the strikeout category, as he's currently fanning just 10% of batters. Smith picked up a save on Saturday and still may be the closer for the Angels. Even if we assume Frieri usurps the role eventually, Smith still has to rank as one of the most valuable middle relievers going forward. After desconstructing this deal then, the Bruins practically acquired Verlander for free.

05/09 - Smell the Glove agree to trade Jonathan Lucroy and David Robertson to Pulling Brzenk for Matt Wieters, Daniel Murphy, and Nathan Eovaldi

Another trade, another closer acquisition for Pulling Brzenk. Given that Wieters was placed on the DL yesterday, you might have a slight preference for the Lucroy over the Orioles backstop. Overall, though, I think Lucroy and Wieters are virtually interchangeable commodities when healthy. As I mentioned last week, I'm a fan of Robertson and feel he has what it takes to be a borderline-elite closer. Still, I think Commissioner Dierkes did well here in acquiring Murphy and Eovaldi. At this point Murphy has established himself as a solid middle infield option who contributes a little bit across the board. Eovaldi, though, looks like the hidden gem here. He's always thrown hard, but now the results are catching up to the stuff. The early skills are truly elite: he currently ranks seventh in the game in SIERA. In a pitcher-friendly park, Eovaldi should be able to put together a solid season. Ultimately then, I prefer this deal in a vacuum for the Commish assuming Wieters isn't out too long, but Pulling Brzenk did well given league context.





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