RotoAuthority League Update


RotoAuthority League Update: A Fortnight to Go

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 Race for First Place

1. E-Z Sliders 102

2. Men With Wood 92

Is it still premature to declare a champion? I'd hate to jinx the E-Z Sliders, but it sure looks like this club will be drinking Yoo-hoo in a couple of weeks. Led by stellar weeks from Carl Crawford and J.D. Martinez in hitting as well as Mike Fiers and Jacob deGrom in pitching, this squad has all but locked up first place. Team MVP Jose Altuve continues to pave the way offensively, as he picks up multi-hit games seemingly everyday. Meanwhile, Tigers aces Max Scherzer and David Price have once again put in strong campaigns to help lead a strong staff. Given the stratification of the categories in the standings, this double-digit lead with two weeks to play is nearly - but not quite - insurmountable. I'm sure I'll have more kind words to say about the excellent job this owner has done managing once the league championship is officially decided.

Men With Wood isn't going down without a fight, but this squad is simply running out of time at this point. Mike Trout has changed his game this year, but he's still the best in the business. In addition, Carlos Santana and Shelby Miller have begun to turn around their disappointing seasons. Where this owner has really shined, however, has been on the waiver wire. Chris Young has been very productive in pinstripes while Carlos Carrasco has been lights-out down the stretch. As usual, this diligent owner has found a good number of gems from the free agent pool this season. It looks like there's too much ground to make up for this owner to take home the trophy, but that doesn't take anything away from another successful season for Men With Wood. This will be the third time in the past five seasons this club has finished in the money, a truly impressive performance.

The Race for Third Place

3. Smell the Glove 83.5

4. Guitar Masahiro 80

5. A Century of Misery 74

6. Pulling Brzenk 63

Little by little, Guitar Masahiro continues to cut into Commissioner Dierkes's lead in the race for the final spot that receives a payout. While I feel confident declaring E-Z Sliders the inevitable league champion this season, this race is still too early to call. These two clubs are neck and neck in innings, but it's worth noting that Guitar Masahiro is next-to-last in strikeouts. Accordingly, this owner could pass up some teams simply by volume if other bottom-dwelling clubs fail to reach the innings maximum. We have a race on our hands then, but I still view Smell the Glove as the more likely to finish in third place. Like Men With Wood, that would prove to be Dierkes's third finish in the money in the league's seven-year history.

The Race to Avoid the Bottom Four

7. Brewsterville Bruins 56.5

8. The Jewru 56

9. Spirit of St. Louis 47

10. The Bombers 46

11. Cobra Kai 40.5

12. Gramma Nutt Crushers 39.5

I'd hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there's now a clear line between eighth place and ninth place at this point. It looks like the veteran owner of Brewsterville Bruins will live to see another day after spending much of the season in last place. First-time participant, the Jewru, also would be safe if the season ended today, but it sure hasn't been a kind year for the other newbies to the league. After all, Spirit of St. Louis, the Bombers, and Cobra Kai may all be one-and-done as owners in this league. Finally, one of the league's most successful owners, the Gramma Nutt Crushers, will unfortunately have to say goodbye in a couple of weeks.

 Standings as of Saturday, September 13th



RotoAuthority League Update: 3 Weeks to Go

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 Race for First Place

1. E-Z Sliders 97.5

2. Men With Wood 94

Well, it's safe to say we have a legitimate race for the title at this point. Once again, Men With Wood made incremental gains in the standings to trim away at the lead held by E-Z Sliders. Given that there are only three weeks remaining, one can quite easily analyze each category in the standings and determine both the ceiling and the floor for each team in the league.

Let's start with the current leader, E-Z Sliders. This squad could still gain a point each in R and HR on offense as well as a point each in SV, ERA, and WHIP in pitching. Oddly enough, the wins category could ultimately decide this title, as E-Z Sliders could actually net two additional points in the Wins column. Accordingly, the high-water mark for this club is roughly 104 points. On the other hand, it's possible this squad loses a point each in R and HR and potentially two points in WHIP. It follows then that this team has a floor around 93 points. At the very least then, we can safely say E-Z Sliders has locked up second place at worst.

What about the best and worst case scenarios for Men With Wood? This club has dominant leads in R, HR, and SB; as such, this squad can really only gain a point in AVG offensively. Due to the way the pitching categories shake out, however, this owner still has a chance to win the league. Specifically, Men With Wood could gain a point in SV, K, and ERA as well as two points in WHIP. The ceiling for this club then is about 100 points. On the flip side, Men With Wood could lose a point each in RBI, ERA, and WHIP. Ultimately, though, if this owner doesn't take home the title this season, it can truly be chalked up to bad luck - at least to a certain extent. After all, not only does Men With Wood have just three points in the category at the moment, but this squad could acually fall to the bottom of the Wins column and lose two points, assuming the Bombers and the Gramma Nutt Crushers reach the innings cap. Therefore, the floor for this club is roughly 89 points. That should still ensure second place, but E-Z Sliders remains the favorite at this stage in the game.

The Race for Third Place

3. Smell the Glove 80.5

4. Guitar Masahiro 77.5

5. A Century of Misery 74

Both Guitar Masahiro and my squad made slight gains in the standings this week, but Commissioner Dierkes still would finish in the money if the season ended today. The power categories are particularly key for Smell the Glove, as the Commish could gain a couple points each in HR and RBI. I actually don't see a ton of room for upward movement in the standings from Guitar Masahiro. It's worth pointing out, however, that the ERA and WHIP categories are very closely stratified. If the pitching staff for Guitar Masahiro is lights-out down the stretch, this owner just might be able to finish in the money. Along those same lines, I'd really need luck on my side with my pitching results going forward, but there's still a slim chance my club could rise to third.

The Race to Avoid the Bottom Four

6. Pulling Brzenk 63

7. Brewsterville Bruins 59

8. The Jewru 56.5

9. The Bombers 50

10. Spirit of St. Louis 49

11. Cobra Kai 42

12. Gramma Nutt Crushers 37

Other than the Brewsterville Bruins and the Jewru swapping spots, this is precisely the same order of the standings as we saw last week. It's worth noting that the Bombers are in slightly better shape that what this seems to suggest. After all, this club has accrued the fewest innings pitched in the league. On the other hand, the Jewru has the second-most innings in the league. Accordingly, those squads could easily switch places at that ever-pivotal eighth place spot in the standings. Unfortunately, time's running out for the Spirit of St. Louis, Cobra Kai, and Gramma Nutt Crushers.

Standings as of Saturday, September 6th.



RotoAuthority League Update: The Final Month

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 Race for First Place

1. E-Z Sliders 99.5

2. Men With Wood 94

This two-horse race was separated by double digits as recently as a week ago. Well, don't look now, but Men With Wood made up half that deficit over the past week, thanks in part to a nice week by recent Cubs call-up Jorge Soler. Upon closer examination, though, this club been able to stay near the top of the standings through good, old-fashioned hard work. One of the most underappreciated elements of Rotisserie fantasy baseball is simply reaching games played maximums. Most squads in contention for a title have no problem making it near 162 games at the majority of offensive positions, and it isn't too challenging for those in the hunt to reach the innings pitched maximum.

There's one position in fantasy baseball, however, for which it's a rather daunting task to even approach the games played cap: the catcher slot. Unlike any other team in the league, Men With Wood will approach the games played limit at this position. As I noted last week, this owner has made far and away the most transactions in the RotoAuthority League, and nowhere is that diligence more evident than in the total offensive games played category. Entering the weekend, Men With Wood had accrued 1874 games played among offensive players, 44 games more than any other team in the league. Given that there are 14 offensive rosters slots in this league, that's the equivalent of three extra days of baseball compared to any other team. While that may not sound like much, that can add up to an additional 150 at-bats, potentially the difference between winning and losing.

The Race for Third Place

3. Smell the Glove 80.5

4. Guitar Masahiro 74.5

5. A Century of Misery 72

Commissioner Dierkes continues to be the favorite to finish in the money among this group, but now it looks like we might actually have a race here. My squad, A Century of Misery, finally had a stellar week and was able to make up eight points, no small feat this late in the season. Having said that, most fantasy owners typically have realistic outlooks about the ceiling of their clubs at this pointin the year, and for me it's no different. I've just about locked up my invitation to the league next season by avoiding the bottom four, but I still don't see my team making it to third place. The fact that I'm dead last in both SB and saves will ultimately prove to be my Achilles' heel.

The Race to Avoid the Bottom Four

6. Pulling Brzenk 65.5

7. The Jewru 61

8. Brewsterville Bruins 57

9. The Bombers 50

10. Spirit of St. Louis 50

11. Cobra Kai 43.5

12. Gramma Nutt Crushers 36.5

 

I've relegated Pulling Brzenk to this tier of teams, although I still think that club will be around next year. The Jewru climbed out of the bottom four over the past week while the Bombers fell a half-dozen points into that cluster of teams at risk of losing their spots. There's now a seven-point gap between eighth place and ninth place, so the bottom four certainly have their work cut out at this point. The Bombers and the Gramma Nutt Crushers are well below the innings pitched pace, so they should be able to make up a few points by simply plugging in spot starters each day. It remains to be seen if that will prove to be enough, though.
 
Standings as of September 30th



RotoAuthority League Update: The Stretch Run Has Begun

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.

With the trade deadline behind us in the RotoAuthority League, the only transactions going forward will be waiver wire acquisitions. As such, sadly there will be no more trades for me to analyze down the stretch. For the rest of the season then, you can expect a similar format here from me.

Each week I'll first provide an update of the league standings. Given how the league has played out, I'll break things down into the race for first place, the battle for third place, and the fight to avoid the bottom four (and a boot from the league). Let's see how things stand at the moment.

The Race for First Place

1. E-Z Sliders 99

2. Men With Wood 89

Unless Commissioner Dierkes makes a run some time soon, the RotoAuthority League looks like a two-horse race for the title. I don't know whether to call it remarkable or boring, but these two clubs have been at the top of the standings for nearly two months now. As further evidence that success can result from a variety of strategies, it's worth noting that these managers have gotten the job done in far different ways. On the one hand, E-Z Sliders have made the second-fewest transactions in the league with just 43. On the other hand, Men With Wood works the waiver wire to death, far ahead of the league with 189 moves. Along those same lines, the manager of Men With Wood has made six trades whereas the owner for E-Z Sliders has completed just two deals. Having said that, both teams not only have dominant offenses but also excellent staffs. The deciding factor at this point is that Men With Wood has been subjected to truly awful luck, currently sitting last in the league in wins.

The Race for Third Place

3. Smell the Glove 81

4. Guitar Masahiro 77

5. A Century of Misery 66

6. Pulling Brzenk 65.5

Commissioner Dierkes is still the favorite to finish in third place, but Guitar Masahiro has certainly gained some ground over the past couple weeks. My squad, A Century of Misery, seems to hover in the middle of the standings day in and day out, as my hopes to finish in the money continue to dwindle. Lastly, Pulling Brzenk has really fallen on hard times due to countless injuries, but this sharp owner should be able to avoid the boot from the league.

The Race to Avoid the Bottom Four

7. Brewsterville Bruins 57

8. The Bombers 56

9. The Jewru 55

10. Spirit of St. Louis 53

11. Cobra Kai 45

12. Gramma Nutt Crushers 36.5

 

It's now or never for these clubs at the bottom of the standings. The Brewsterville Bruins are making a valiant effort to survive yet another season. At this point, it appears the Bruins are competing with the Bombers, the Jewru, and Spirit of St. Louis in a four-way race for two spots. Given the stagnant nature of the standings at the top of this league, this might just be the most exciting race over the next month. It's still premature to say goodbye to Cobra Kai and the Gramma Nutt Crushers, but they sure need to make up some ground and soon.



RotoAuthority League Update: Deadline Deals

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.

The trade deadline passed yesterday in the RotoAuthority League. Let's take a look at the deals that went down in the week leading up to the deadline.

08/10 - Men With Wood agrees to trade Chris Carter and J.P. Arencibia to A Century of Misery for Salvador Perez

Sitting in second place, Men With Wood is naturally looking to do anything possible to pass up current leader E-Z Sliders and take home the title. The long-time league participant has had a dominant offense all season; in fact, this squad leads the league in HR, SB, and runs while sitting in second in RBI. The one weakness offensively for this club is the AVG category. With this deal, though, Men With Wood addressed that need in more ways than one. Not only is Perez a skilled batsman and a reliable contributor in AVG relative to other catchers, but removing Carter and Arencibia from the roster should also benefit this owner in the category.

For me, this was purely a speculative deal for upside. I'm taking a chance that the recent hot streak by Carter is mostly for real. On a recent episode of the BaseballHQ podcast, Cory Schwartz of MLB.com suggested that Carter has made legitimate changes in his approach and may no longer be a killer in the AVG column. Given that I currently reside in the middle of the standings, I'm looking to swing for the fences with a (very) slim chance at third place.

08/16 - Brewsterville Bruins agree to trade Doug Fister, Denard Span, and Danny Santana to Guitar Masahiro for Clayton Kershaw, Charlie Blackmon, and Yangervis Solarte

This one certainly caught my eye. At first glance, it sure seems like the Bruins acquired Kershaw at a discount. Blackmon has really slowed down since May, and Solarte was released immediately after the deal was processed. Accordingly, this trade really boils down to a consolidation move for Kershaw. Guitar Masahiro does get a highly underrated arm in return in Fister as well as some speed from both Span and Santana. Even so, I'm surprised this is the best return Guitar Masahiro for the incomparable Kershaw. One can make the case the Dodgers ace should go second overall in drafts next spring.

08/16 - A Century of Misery agrees to trade Johnny Cueto and Chase Utley to Guitar Masahiro for David Ortiz and Hunter Pence

With six weeks to play, it's all about gaining points in the standings when it comes to assessing deals. I sure have enjoyed owning Cueto this season, but I'm willing to cash in my chips at this point. As I analyzed the standings, it became clear that there was a greater opportunity to gain points in the offensive categories compared to the pitching ones. Along those same lines, I tend to devalue AVG as the end of the season draws near with a smaller sample size of at-bats, so I was more willing to deal Utley than I would have been at the outset of the season. In return, Ortiz remains a highly skilled bat and a personal favorite of mine while Pence is having yet another quietly productive campaign while contributing a little bit all over the place.



RotoAuthority League Update: Midsummer Trades

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's been awhile since we took a look at the trades in the RotoAuthority League. The owners haven't been as hyperactive as they were in April and May, but there were still several deals processed in June and July.

06/03 - Men With Wood agrees to trade Corey Dickerson to Brewsterville Bruins for Trevor Bauer

At the outset of June, Men With Wood and Brewsterville Bruins exchanged a couple of players who have received a good deal of praise in the fantasy community. The Bruins have gotten the better end of this deal in retrospect, as Dickerson has been highly productive this summer. Some may view the Rockies outfielder as a Sell High candidate; however, no player in the game has a higher xBABIP. As long as he can get at-bats, Dickerson is a legitimate fantasy option in Mixed Leagues.

06/13 - Brewsterville Bruins agree to trade Justin Verlander and Pedro Alvarez to A Century of Misery for Doug Fister and Martin Prado

Looking to discard Verlander from their roster, the Brewsterville Bruins actually had some trouble finding a taker for the Tigers right-hander. Maybe I'm the sucker in the league because I proved to be the one who took on the struggling ace. Since this deal, Fister has clearly been the more valuable pitcher from a fantasy perspective, and now Alvarez may be a bench player. Here's one I regret in hindsight.

06/23 - Smell the Glove agrees to trade Jonathan Papelbon and Michael Morse to The Bombers for Jason Heyward and Kole Calhoun

Prior to the trade deadline, there was speculation that the Phillies might ship Papelbon out of town. Commissioner Dierkes may have had that in mind; in reality, though, the primary objective here was to boost his offense, as his pitching has been superb. Ironically, it's been Calhoun and not Heyward who's proven to be the true prize of this trade. The Angels leadoff man has been quietly productive since returning from the DL and emerged as a solid OF3 in Mixed Leagues.

07/10 - Brewsterville Bruins agreed to trade Devin Mesoraco to A Century of Misery for Gregory Polanco

In need of a power bat, I chose to move the uber-hyped Polanco for a catcher enjoying a breakout campaign in Mesoraco. I was ecstatic to make this deal at the time, and I expect it to continue to look prudent going forward. Given that the Bruins got the better of the Verlander deal, this helps me sleep a tad easier.

07/16 - Guitar Masahiro agrees to trade Curtis Granderson to Smell the Glove for Joe Smith

Yet again, Commissioner Dierkes dealt a closer in preparation for the MLB trade deadline. In this case, that move proved to be truly prescient. After all, just a couple days later the Angels traded for Huston Street, relegating Smith to a setup role. After a slow start, Granderson has been decent for the Mets. Sure, he doesn't help in the AVG category, but a .230 in today's game isn't as disastrous as it was five years ago.

07/16 - Pulling Brzenk agrees to trade Jose Bautista and Derek Norris to Brewsterville Bruins for Alex Rios, Sean Doolittle, Casey Janssen, and Oscar Taveras

Looking to make up ground in the saves category, Pulling Brzenk acquired a pair of closers in Doolittle and Janssen along with a couple of struggling bats in Rios and Taveras. In return, the Bruins landed a pair of All-Star power bats. You have to admire the effort of this squad as it seeks to avoid the boot from the league. The Bruins may not be invited back next season, but they're certainly not going down without a fight. If only every fantasy manager put forth this type of effort in all of our leagues...

07/28 - Guitar Masahiro agrees to trade Mark Trumbo to A Century of Misery for Alex Gordon

Last week I chose to Buy (Very) Low on the struggling Trumbo, who clearly has been subjected to a good deal of misfortune this season. I had high hopes for Gordon this season, but he's been underwhelming up to this point. With Billy Butler also struggling and Eric Hosmer now on the DL, the Royals offense will struggle to score going forward. In short, this is a classic exchange of underperforming players each owner is tired of seeing on his roster. With only two months remaining, we're really just throwing dice at this stage in the game anyway.



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.





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