RotoAuthority League Update


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.



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...





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