RotoAuthority League Update

RotoAuthority League Update: The Early Leader

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 still very early, but it's worth pointing out that E-Z Sliders entered yesterday with a 12-point lead atop the RotoAuthority League standings. It's always interesting to see what leads to success in a fantasy league, so let's take a look at how this squad been able to get off to a good start this season.

First of all, it says something about the psychology of fantasy owners that the E-Z Sliders currently are in first place despite the fact that this owner has made the fewest pickups in the league with a mere eight thus far. That's rather unusual for this highly active league; for instance, Commissioner Dierkes is already over 60 transactions. I guess it's a tad easier to sit on your roster when you're comfortably atop the standings.

You might assume that while this owner has made just eight moves, they have probably paid dividends. However, that couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, this squad has gotten virtually all of its production thus far from the draft. Given that's the case, let's focus on the  draft results for this team:

1. Adrian Beltre (11)

2. Jacoby Ellsbury (14)

3. Justin Upton (35)

4. Max Scherzer (38)

5. David Price (59)

6. Kenley Jansen (62)

7. Yoenis Cespedes (83)

8. Jose Altuve (86)

9. Anibal Sanchez (107)

10. Brandon Belt (110)

11. Alfonso Soriano (131)

12. Mike Napoli (134)

13. Alexei Ramirez (155)

14. Jim Henderson (158)

15. Miguel Montero (179)

16. Torii Hunter (182)

17. Alex Wood (203)

18. A.J. Pierzynski (206)

19. Nick Castellanos (227)

20. C.J. Wilson (230)

21. Kolten Wong (251)

22. Dan Haren (254)

23. Angel Pagan (275)

24. Corey Hart (278)

25. Kevin Gausman (299)

26. Neil Walker (302)

27. Junichi Tazawa (323)

As you might expect, many of these names have far exceeded their Draft Day cost. A quick look at the ESPN Player Rater reveals a whopping total of six members of E-Z Sliders inside the top 50. Jacoby Ellsbury may not have a HR, but he's still been very productive with eight SB thus far. Justin Upton has been a monster; Scherzer is proving that last year's Cy Young campaign was not a fluke. Brandon Belt is taking his game to another level with a spike in power. Alexei Ramirez has been the most valuable SS to date, and Alex Wood has been lights out.

It's also worth noting, however, that things have been far from perfect for this owner. Adrian Beltre missed a couple weeks on the DL. David Price has been subjected to a good deal of misfortune from the batted ball department. Kenley Jansen has incredible skills thus far, but an absurd .467 BABIP has limited his fantasy value. Yoenis Cespedes has been underwhelming, and Anibal Sanchez just got placed on the DL. Finally, this owner was the victim of the Brew Crew's surprising decision to make K-Rod the closer on Opening Day, so Round 14 pick Jim Henderson has been practically worthless. I only point this out as a reminder that you don't need a perfect draft to win a league.

OK, so yeah, it's still really early. Having said that, I'd much rather be in this owner's position than hovering near the bottom, as I am now. What do you think? Does this squad have the staying power to compete for a title this year?

RotoAuthority League Update: Early 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.

04/11 - Smell the Glove agrees to trade Homer Bailey to the Brewsterville Bruins for Jason Heyward

Here we have a swap of a pair of players who both look like excellent Buy Low candidates to me. As Mark Simon of ESPN notes, Jason Heyward has still been making hard contact but just hasn't been getting results. His plate discipline metrics look fine to me, and I fully support the idea of looking to acquire him.

Meanwhile, few SPs make for better trade targets than Bailey right now. The ugly 8.16 ERA on the surface masks the same great skills the right-hander displayed last year. Maybe we shouldn't expect a league-average HR/FB rate for Bailey in the Great American Ballpark; however, the current 60% rate is simply laughable. I'd expect a performance more in line with his 3.17 SIERA going forward.

04/15 - A Century of Misery agrees to trade Edwin Encarnacion and Cody Allen to Pulling Brzenk for Stephen Strasburg and Martin Prado

Here we have my first trade of the season in this league. If you've been following my work this year, you know I have a Man Crush on Encarnacion. Accordingly, it's rather surprising that I received a trade offer in which I was willing to move Edwin. It's possible I'm overreacting to small sample sizes; however, given his slow start, I've begun to worry about the offseason wrist surgery affecting his power. Edwin should be fine eventually, but it still may be awhile before he's back to his old self.

Like Bailey, Strasburg looks like a prime Buy Low candidate. Despite his poor results thus far, his skills have actually improved. I really could care less about results in April, and he's striking out one in every three batters. Needless to say, I think he's on the verge of a special campaign.

I'm not sure I would have dealt Edwin straight up for Strasburg. By adding in Prado, though, last year's champion ensured that he'd get Encarnacion from me. I certainly could see Cody Allen usurping the closer role from John Axford later this season, but I wasn't going to let a middle reliever deter me from agreeing to the deal.

04/17 - Smell the Glove agrees to trade Buster Posey, Sonny Gray, and Hector Rondon to the Jewru for Greg Holland, Yan Gomes, and Edward Mujica

Commissioner Tim Dierkes has been looking to acquire a closer ever since news broke that Bobby Parnell would be out for the year. In this deal he downgrades from Posey to Gomes at catcher while adding an elite closer in Holland in exchange for a quality arm in Gray. Rondon may very well prove to be the guy to close out games on the North Side in Chicago, but the Commish recently dropped him anyway. Lastly, given that Koji Uehara is certainly an injury risk, Mujica is a sneaky piece for Dierkes to acquire.

Overall, I prefer the haul for the Jewru purely from a value perspective. Context always needs to be kept in mind, though. This league places a significant premium on the value of closers. In trading for a closer, you practically know going in that you're going to get the short end of the stick. With that in mind, I don't think Dierkes lost all that much here.

04/18 - Gramma Nutt Crushers agree to trade Junichi Tazawa to Pulling Brzenk for Shawn Kelley

It's always a tad exciting when a big trade goes down in one of your leagues. This is not one of those deals. I'm not exactly sure why either owner felt the need to make this trade. I'd understand a little more if the Gramma Nutt Crushers owned David Robertson, or if Koji Uehara were a member of Pulling Brzenk; however, neither is the case. At any rate, it's possible both of these relievers adds a handful of saves while posting good ratios.

RotoAuthority League Update: Early Surprises

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.

We hear it all the time, but it’s worthy of repetition: the MLB season is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re just finishing up the first couple miles on this marathon, yet many fantasy owners respond to the first weeks as if they mean something. In reality, though, we’ve learned hardly anything at this point. Indeed, the best course of action for a fantasy owner in early April is probably no action at all.

Having said that, now may be the time to speculate on players off to fast starts while their market prices are down. If these players prove to be for real, the asking price of their owners will never be lower. With the Buy Low/Sell High mantra on the minds of most fantasy owners, Buying High may be the optimal route for a true heist today. Just ask anyone who traded for Jose Fernandez last April. Let's take a look at a few interesting names among the top 25 on the ESPN Player Rater and see if any may be for real.

The Bombers - Dee Gordon (2)

Yes, believe it or not, only Giancarlo Stanton has been more valuable than Gordon entering play Monday. It doesn't hurt that he stole four bases yesterday. That now gives him nine on the season, or three times the output of Billy Hamilton. Will it be Gordon, not Hamilton, who dominates the SB category this season? I still don't think Gordon can hit, so I wouldn't count on a positive contribution in the AVG category. Still, the Dodgers seem set on giving him everyday playing time. Given his speed, Gordon will certainly rank among the leaders in the SB column. That's not too bad for a Round 18 pick out of the Bombers.

Guitar Masahiro - Charlie Blackmon (10) 

Coors Field truly does wonders for the stock of hitters in fantasy. It's gotten to the point that if you know a player is going to get consistent at-bats for the Rockies, you might as well speculate on him. Blackmon appears to be on the better side of a platoon in center field and has made the most of time thus far, hitting an absurd .488. Blackmon should be able to make enough contact to continue to provide a positive contribution in AVG.  Hitting atop the order will also help him in the runs category even if it he's not in the lineup everyday. My concerns would be that he lacks the tools to produce much in power and speed. Even so, the park effects of Coors Field cannot be overstated. Accordingly, this is a Mixed League outfielder whom I'd rank among the top 50 at the position going forward. At this point, no pickup has been more valuable than this one by Guitar Masahiro.

Men With Wood - Emilio Bonifacio (11)

Few players possess such a wide discrepancy between real value and fantasy worth than does Bonifacio. This is a fringy MLB player who probably should be no more than a bench player at this stage in his career. Then again, if the Cubs are going to give him playing time, the speed will play in today's Roto game. Men With Wood took Bonifacio in the last round of our draft; given that our league allows for daily lineup changes, that pick looks quite clever in retrospect. After all, Bonifacio is eligible at 2b, 3B, and OF in Yahoo leagues, so Men With Wood can plug the speedy utility player into his lineup if any of his regular starters are getting a day of rest. If you can find an owner in your league who thinks Bonifacio is for real, I'd sell as soon as possible; after all, the Cubs are likely to see what players like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant are made of after the All-Star break. Still, this is a valuable option in the short term.

Cobra Kai -Brian Dozier (14)

Out of all these names, Dozier just might be the most legitimate. It speaks to just how early we are in this season that the Twins second baseman can be hitting .191 yet still rank among the top 15 overall on the ESPN Player Rater. Much of that has to do with the fact that other than Alexei Ramirez, Dozier is the only player with at least three HR and three SB. At this point, however, I think it's safe to say that this is what we should expect out of him. After all, he did have 18 HR and 14 SB over 147 games last year. The AVG won't be pretty, but a middle infielder who's a rather safe bet to go 15 / 15 is valuable today. It's safe to say Cobra Kai will return a profit on this Round 22 pick.

Guitar Masahiro - Adam Eaton

Another wise selection by Guitar Masahiro, Eaton may also hold staying power. Few players were as popular on sleeper lists last spring. Unfortunately, fantasy owners were left waiting and waiting for the outfielder to return from injury. This spring, Eaton didn't get quite the buzz, perhaps due to the crowded White Sox outfield. Well, he's clearly the guy in center field for the Pale Hose. Like Coors Field, U.S. Cellular Park can significantly boost the fantasy worth of hitters. The team may not be great, but the offense should be fine. If Eaton can approach double-digits in HR and SB, he'll provide enough value in AVG and runs to continue to be a Mixed League option. Like Blackmon, this looks like roughly a top-50 outfielder going forward who shouldn't be on any waiver wires at this point.

RotoAuthority League Update: Closer Chaos

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.

Over the next six months, I probably won't write about closers all that often. Here at RotoAuthority we already have great work put forth by my colleague Luckey Helms in the weekly Closer Update as well as the must-follow @CloserNews on Twitter. Given what we witnessed over the first week of the season, however, I feel no choice but to discuss how bullpens in flux have impacted the league.

Since the RotoAuthority League Draft two weeks ago, we've already seen an astounding total of five changes in who's getting the ball (or who we thought would get the ball) in the ninth. At this rate, it's possible we could be looking at unprecedented turnover in closer roles this season.

A Century of Misery

Demotion - Nate Jones

My squad comes first alphabetically, so I'll reluctantly have to start here. Jones displayed excellent skills last season, and he was a preseason target of mine. I thought I had gotten decent value when I grabbed him at the end of Round 15, given that only five closers were still on the board at the time. Well, I guess this is Exhibit A in support of the notion that roles matter in drafting closers. Even though we as a fantasy community had all assumed that Jones would be the guy, Manager Robin Ventura had yet to make a decision. Now Jones is on the DL, and my squad doesn't have a single closer. This isn't exactly the start I had in mind.

Brewsterville Bruins

Promotion -  Jose Valverde

Demotion - Casey Janssen

I think it says a lot about the volatility of closers that Valverde wasn't even in the Yahoo player pool until March 27th. The Brewsterville Bruins wisely picked up the veteran reliever just a few days later, and now he's the closer for the Mets. In Toronto Janssen may be on the DL, but it sounds like he could be back as soon as he's eligible to return. Overall then, the Bruins have witnessed a net positive from the recent closer turmoil.

E-Z Sliders

Promotion - Josh Fields

Demotion - Jim Henderson

The Astros were said to be going with a closer-by-committee, and that still may prove to be the case. Most fantasy pundits, though, believed Chad Qualls would be the first one to get a shot a the job. Instead, it was Fields who came in for the first save opportunity for the Astros. It doesn't take a whole lot to be a successful closer, so the young reliever could certainly hang onto this job all season long. That's not too bad for a player who went undrafted in this league. Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, fantasy owners were surprised when K-Rod, not Henderson, came in for the first save chance on Opening Day. Manager Ron Roenicke has indicated that Henderson could regain the role , but for now the E-Z Sliders are left patiently waiting to get any value of their Round 14 pick.

Men With Wood

Promotion - Francisco Rodriguez & Sergio Santos

Perhaps no owner has benefited more from the early-season closer madness than Men With Wood. First, this owner skillfully drafted Santos in Round 25, and then he grabbed K-Rod minutes after the veteran entered the game in the ninth on Opening Day. Santos may not have the job much longer, but he could certainly be closing once again this season should Janssen struggle or be traded. I personally don't have much faith in K-Rod, but that doesn't matter all that much. He's the guy right now in Milwaukee, and role takes priority when it comes to closers.

Smell the Glove

Demotion - Bobby Parnell

Tim Dierkes will be without his Round 15 selection for the rest of the season, as Parnell is set to undergo Tommy John surgery. Dierkes's two other closers, Ernesto Frieri and Jonathan Papelbon, are also off to poor starts. Accordingly, the bullpen for Smell the Glove doesn't look all that great right now. Still, few owners are as active on the waiver wire as Tim, and I'm confident he'll be just fine in the saves category.

Spirit of St. Louis

Promotion - Matt Lindstrom

Like Men With Wood, Spirit of St. Louis was on the ball when he grabbed Lindstrom just minutes after news broke that Robin Ventura had named the veteran reliever as his closer. If you count Aroldis Chapman on the DL, that gives this owner a total of four closers, a true luxury when it comes to trade negotiations in this league.

RotoAuthority League Update: Draft Recap

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 RotoAuthority League draft took place a week ago. As always, it was a grueling three hours that really put our decision-making skills to the test. Full draft results can be found at the link at the bottom, but here's a quick look at how each team turned out in order of draft slot.

1. Men With Wood

Previous Finishes: 2008 – 8th, 2009 – 4th, 2010 – 2nd, 2011 – 1st, 2012 – 5th, 2013 - 8th

It's a luxury to own Mike Trout in any league, and it's always interesting to see how an owner chooses to build around the closest thing to a perfect fantasy player. Intended or not, Men With Wood placed a premium on quality outfielders early when he selected Carlos Gomez and Giancarlo Stanton once the draft snaked back to him. Offense was clearly a priority for this owner, as he didn't take a pitcher until Jordan Zimmermann in the seventh round. The bullpen is deep with three closers in Addison Reed, Steve Cishek, and Fernando Rodney as well as three quality setup men in Rex Brothers, Danny Farquhar, and Sergio Santos. As usual, I expect Men With Wood to be a contender this year.

2. Yu at the Animal Zoo

Previous Finishes: 2013 - 1st

Like I said last week, it's a tad scary that last year's champion gets to build his team around Miguel Cabrera once again. This owner chose to follow up Miggy with the currently red-hot Jose Bautista and then a pair of aces in Stephen Strasburg and Justin Verlander. The reigning champ continued to stockpile power with picks of Wilin Rosario, J.J. Hardy, and Matt Wieters. In addition to that dynamic duo at the top of the staff, this manager has a pair of arms with sky-high ceiling in Gerrit Cole and Yordano Ventura. The one weakness on this roster may be relief pitching, but this owner is incredibly active on the waiver wire.

3. Brewsterville Bruins

Previous Finishes: 2011 – 5th, 2012 – 2nd, 2013 - 4th

I projected this squad to draft Paul Goldschmidt with the third pick overall, but instead the Brewsterville Bruins selected a relatively safer option for my money in Andrew McCutchen. After grabbing the dominant Yu Darvish on the way back, this manager continued to load up on across-the-board contributors like Dustin Pedroia and Alex Rios. If you subscribe to the theory of drafting last year's bums because regression is a powerful force, then this roster is for you. The Bruins envision bounceback campaigns from Albert Pujols, Jason Heyward, and Starlin Castro. As always, the Bruins have a very reliable roster that should be right in the thick of things come September.

4. Spirit of St. Louis

Previous Finishes: N/A

Spirit of St. Louis built a strong offensive foundation by drafting just one pitcher over the first nine rounds. This owner places at least some value in scarcity, as he owned a player at every infield position by the end of the seventh round. Homer picks or not, this manager somehow ended up with five Cardinals by Round 20. Overall, I expect this squad to do well in the offensive categories, so the fate of Spirit of St. Louis will ultimately come down to its pitching staff.

5. Smell the Glove

Previous Finishes: 2008 – 1st, 2009 – 6th, 2010 – 5th, 2011 – 12th, 2012 – 11th, 2013 - 2nd

After all these years of playing with Tim Dierkes, I was virtually certain that he'd take Carlos Gonzalez with the fifth pick overall, so I for one was certainly surprised when he chose to go with Ryan Braun instead. Dierkes is clearly on the side of "steroids, schmeroids" when projecting Braun for this season. As usual, Tim then built his roster inside-out by filling up most of his infield with Evan Longoria, Buster Posey, Eric Hosmer, and Elvis Andrus. Dierkes is on record that he's a believer in Masahiro Tanaka, and he put his money where his mouth is by taking the new Yankees starter in the sixth round. Smell the Glove then continued to add power with middle-round picks of Jonathan Lucroy, Domonic Brown, and Aaron Hill. Finally, I like what Tim did late with high-upside plays like Khris Davis, Avisail Garcia, and Javier Baez. Ultimately, this roster will be fine offensively, so the true test will be the performance of Tanaka coupled with the health of Cole Hamels.

6. The Jewru

Previous Finishes: N/A

Perhaps no owner spoke louder with his picks than this one last Monday night. Right from the start, the Jewru swung for the fences with Bryce Harper at sixth overall. This owner then calmed down for a bit with relatively safe picks of David Wright, Jay Bruce, and Cliff Lee. However, the Jewru then took the player who embodies high risk / high reward more so than any player in this game with the selection of Billy Hamilton in Round Five. And yet, this manager was far from finished with highly volatile picks. From Xander Bogaerts to Anthony Rendon and Taijuan Walker, this roster is loaded with upside. Let's face it, though: Billy Hamilton is going to win or lose leagues this year. If the Reds speedster proves he can hit well enough to stay in the Bigs all year, this owner may get first round value out of that fifth round pick. Then again, Hamilton could easily bust and wind up in the Minors by May. One thing is certain: the Jewru could care less about finishing in the bottom four and getting booted from this league; he's in it to win it.

7. The Bombers

Previous Finishes: N/A

If you look at the first five picks for the Bombers, one is clearly not like the others. Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Felix Hernandez, and Matt Holliday put up numbers year in and year out. At pick 42, however, the Bombers couldn't pass up the chance to draft the ultimate wild card in Yasiel Puig. Some fantasy pundits view Puig as an elite top-15 player while others consider him to be a risky top-50 option. For the most part, this is a safe roster that I'm confident will avoid the bottom four. If Puig proves that last year was no fluke, though, this squad will have just what it needs to finish in the money.

8. Guitar Masahiro

Previous Finishes: 2012 – 8th, 2013 - 6th

Well, the owner who went by the name of Say it Ain't So Cano last year opted against drafting Robinson Cano in Round One, choosing Clayton Kershaw instead. Guitar Masahiro then selected Troy Tulowitzki for the third year in a row. This manager took an interesting approach to drafting pitchers. After grabbing Kershaw, Guitar Masahiro didn't select another starting pitcher until Matt Moore in Round 12. Instead, this owner drafted four closers in Koji Uehara, Glen Perkins, Jim Johnson, and Huston Street. That should come in handy, as there's always an owner in need of saves. Just a speculation: we might have a Boston sports fan here, as this owner drafted a grand total of eight Red Sox.

9. Gramma Nutt Crushers

Previous Finishes: 2010 – 1st, 2011 – 8th, 2012 – 4th, 2013 - 3rd

I really like how the Gramma Nutt Crushers started the first three rounds of this draft with picks of Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder, and Shin-Soo Choo. That's about as safe as it gets. On the pitching side, this owner chose to embrace a tad more risk with Danny Salazar and Michael Wacha behind staff ace Chris Sale. After loading up on power early, the Gramma Nutt Crushers picked up some speed later on from Desmond Jennings, Brett Gardner, and Rajai Davis. In general, this looks like a balanced roster without any real categorical holes.

10.  Cobra Kai

Previous Finishes: N/A

Last week I gave my best guess as to which player each owner would select in Round One. Well, outside of the first two picks (which probably shouldn't even count), this is the only other pick I predicted correctly. Cobra Kai took five-category stud Adam Jones and then came back with last year's best player on a per-game basis, Hanley Ramirez. This owner clearly buys into the idea that elite catchers are worthy investments, as he not only took Joe Mauer in the third round but also Brian McCann in the fifth round. This manager also made a couple interesting selections with the well-hyped Jose Abreu in Round Six followed by the enigmatic Matt Kemp in Round Seven. In addition, Cobra Kai made it known that he doesn't care about a player's age. This roster has plenty of youth in players like Jose Fernandez, Zack Wheeler, and George Springer. There are all sorts of ways this squad could go this year, but it's certainly not short on talent.

11. E-Z Sliders

Previous Finishes: 2013 - 5th

I haven't seen Adrian Beltre go in the first round of 12-team leagues all that often this year, but I view the Rangers third baseman as worthy of Round One. After grabbing the consistent Beltre, E-Z Sliders drafted a pair of outfielders with first-round talent in Jacoby Ellsbury and Justin Upton followed by a couple of aces in Max Scherzer and David Price. This pitching staff could be special, as this owner also was able to get lights-out closer Kenley Jansen and the electric Anibal Sanchez. In general, the E-Z Sliders took a value-based approach. There seemed to be quite a few "look at me" picks throughout the draft, and this owner skillfully scooped up undervalued veterans like Alexei Ramirez and Torii Hunter when they fell too far. Given that I had to follow this owner, I know there were several times in which he drafted the player I had at the top of my rankings.

12. A Century of Misery

Previous Finishes: 2009 – 5th, 2010 – 4th, 2011 – 4th, 2012 – 3rd, 2013 - 7th

And finally we get to my squad. I wanted to play it safe at the turn, but I couldn't pass up the power of Chris Davis. I actually consider Davis to be overvalued this season, yet I somehow own him in four out of nine league this year. After Davis, I came back with Edwin Encarnacion; if you've read my work at all, you know by now he's a personal favorite, especially with third base eligibility in Yahoo leagues. I’m only guessing when it comes to the strategies of other owners in this league, but I can tell you my plan was to simply trust my rankings and draft the best player available as often as possible. In the past I've loaded up on offense, but I'm not so sure that's a recipe for success anymore in today's game. I can't say I'm happy to have only one closer, but I'm usually able to grab one or two off the waiver wire over the course of the season. I also have several next-in-line setup men in Mark Melancon, Cody Allen, Carlos Martinez, and Tyler Clippard. On paper my squad is rather boring, but I feel better about this one than how I felt about my team from last year.

So who's going to take home the title this season? Which squad do you like best?

Download RotoAuthority League 2014

RotoAuthority League Update: Draft Preview

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.

Tonight the RotoAuthority League snake draft will take place. Due to the fact that the four teams that finish at the bottom of the standings get booted each year, this league is always competitive from start to finish. I've played against some of these owners for a few years now, so I have a decent idea of their personal preferences in players. That being said, there are always new faces to the league each year, so I'm also working with incomplete information.

Let's take a look at the owners in the order in which they'll be drafting tonight. Along with a brief introduction, I've provided my best guess as to which player each owner will select in Round One.

1. Men With Wood

Previous Finishes: 2008 – 8th, 2009 – 4th, 2010 – 2nd, 2011 – 1st, 2012 – 5th, 2013 - 8th

Projected Pick: Mike Trout

Aside from Commissioner Tim Dierkes, this owner is the only one who's been around since the beginning of the league. Given that we kick out the bottom four every year, that's no small feat. After four consecutive finishes in the top five, Men With Wood just barely avoided the boot last year. Over the years, this owner has shown a preference for the rare five-category contributors in Round One with previous picks including Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, and Andrew McCutchen. Well, this year he'll get the best power-speed option of all in Mike Trout. In fact, this isn't even a prediction on my part, as this owner made it known he'll be taking Trout immediately after the draft order was announced.

2. Yu at the Animal Zoo

Previous Finishes: 2013 - 1st

Projected Pick: Miguel Cabrera

Last year this owner drafted Miguel Cabrera in Round One and wound up winning the league. Could we see a repeat this year? Well, I'm fairly certain we'll at least this owner select Miggy in the first round again. It's tough to make a case for anyone over Cabrera at pick two. I know this owner has only been in the league for a year, but he clearly knows his stuff. I have to say - it's a tad scary that he'll get to build his team around the rock-solid Cabrera again.

3. Brewsterville Bruins

Previous Finishes: 2011 – 5th, 2012 – 2nd, 2013 - 4th

Projected Pick: Paul Goldschmidt

One of the most consistent performers in the league's brief history, Brewsterville Bruins have yet to finish outside the top five. During his three years in the league, this owner has drafted a power-hitting corner infielder in Round One every time. First, it was Evan Longoria with the fifth pick in 2011; next, it was Prince Fielder with the 11th pick in 2012; then, it was Fielder again with the tenth pick last year. I'll project that trend to continue and put this owner down for Goldy at third overall.

4. Spirit of St. Louis

Previous Finishes: N/A

Projected Pick: Andrew McCutchen

One of four new faces to the league this year, the Spirit of St. Louis has drawn a good pick in a year in which there's a pretty clear top four among the fantasy community. Clearly I have no information to work with here, but I'd be surprised if this owner let Cutch fall past the fourth pick. If by chance Brewsterville opts for the Pirates superstar with the third pick, then I'd have to think this owner would go with Goldschmidt.

5. Smell the Glove

Previous Finishes: 2008 – 1st, 2009 – 6th, 2010 – 5th, 2011 – 12th, 2012 – 11th, 2013 - 2nd

Projected Pick: Carlos Gonzalez

Smell the Glove is run by Tim Dierkes, creator of MLB Trade Rumors. Perhaps you've heard of it? After winning the league in its inaugural season, Tim finished in the middle of the pack for a couple years and then struggled for two years. Now that I’ve drafted with Tim for six years, I have a good feel for his general draft approach. He values multi-categorical production in the early rounds. Assuming the consensus top four is off the board, CarGo is precisely the type of player whom Tim typically selects to serve as the foundation for his teams. 

6. The Jewru

Previous Finishes: N/A

Projected Pick: Clayton Kershaw

Another one of our newbies, the Jewru won his way into the league by taking home the Silver League last year. Once again, I'm really only guessing here, as I have nothing to go off when it comes to this manager. I'll go with the data here and put this owner down for the player being selected after the consensus top four according to NFBC ADP, Clayton Kershaw. It's certainly possible that this owner is the type of fantasy owner who refuses to draft a pitcher in Round One, and I'm actually hoping that's the case. After all, I'd love to see the Dodgers ace fall all the way to my pick at the turn, but I'm probably just dreaming.

7. The Bombers

Previous Finishes: N/A

Projected Pick: Chris Davis

The Bombers won their way their ticket into the league through random selection after participating in the RotoAuthority Mock Draft. Accordingly, I'm working with a sample size of exactly one mock draft when it comes to information on this owner. Still worse, this owner had the second pick in that mock draft and naturally selected Miguel Cabrera, who clearly won't make it to pick seven tonight. As such, I'm mostly throwing darts here when it comes to projecting a Round One selection; however, this owner does appear to value power in the early rounds (even at the expense of AVG) with early picks in the mock like Yoenis Cespedes and Mark Trumbo, so I'll put the Bombers down for Chris Davis. Of course, that's really just a guess.

8. Guitar Masahiro

Previous Finishes: 2012 – 8th, 2013 - 6th

Projected Pick: Robinson Cano

While the name Guitar Masahiro may look unfamiliar to those of you who read about this league last season, this is the same owner who managed Say it Ain't So Cano last year. Naturally then, there's really only one player to project for this owner to draft in Round One, Mr. Cano himself. The manager of Guitar Masahiro enters his third season in the league still looking for his first finish in the money. It's worth noting that this manager drafted Troy Tulowitzki in the first round in 2012 and then in the second round last year. Should I pencil in Tulo for this owner in Round Two this year?

9. Gramma Nutt Crushers

Previous Finishes: 2010 – 1st, 2011 – 8th, 2012 – 4th, 2013 - 3rd

Projected Pick: Ryan Braun

Outside of 2011, the Gramma Nutt Crushers have finished in the top four every other year they've been in the league, including a title in 2010. That's an impressive resume for this league. Over the years we've seen this owner draft a Who's Who list of some of the most talented players in modern baseball history in Miguel Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, and (dare I say) Bryce Harper. I know there are some question marks revolving around Ryan Braun, but I just don't see this owner passing on the Brewers star at nine.

10.  Cobra Kai

Previous Finishes: N/A

Projected Pick: Adam Jones

Like the Bombers, Cobra Kai took part in the RotoAuthority Mock Draft and was randomly selected to join this league. Once again, we have a whopping sample size of one mock draft at our disposal. Once more, even that single mock draft isn't all that useful, as this owner had the first pick in the mock. While Mike Trout won't make it to pick ten in any league this year, this manager should be able to get another five-category outfielder in Adam Jones here. Cobra Kai did take Jason Kipnis in the second round in that same mock, so this owner appreciates the power/speed options at least to a certain extent.

11. E-Z Sliders

Previous Finishes: 2013 - 5th

Projected Pick: Bryce Harper

After winning the Silver League in 2012, E-Z Sliders finished just outside the money in fifth place last season. This owner drew the third pick in last year's draft and chose none other than Mike Trout. I'd say that pick worked out pretty well. This manager came back with Justin Upton in Round Two, so the E-Z Sliders aren't afraid to swing for the fences with a young player with a sky-high ceiling. Well, outside of Trout, perhaps no player in the game has a higher ceiling than Bryce Harper, so I could certainly see this owner going with Nationals phenom tonight. 

12. A Century of Misery

Previous Finishes: 2009 – 5th, 2010 – 4th, 2011 – 4th, 2012 – 3rd, 2013 - 7th

Projected Pick: Edwin Encarnacion

And that brings us to my pick at the turn. If you've read any of my work this offseason, you know I prefer to play it safe in the early rounds. Well, if the draft goes as I've projected, some highly talented yet relatively risky players like Hanley Ramirez and Jacoby Ellsbury will be potential options for me here. I'm on record that I'd rather opt for safer options like Edwin Encarnacion, Joey Votto, and Adrian Beltre. Given the state of third base, I can practically guarantee that I'll draft either Encarnacion or Beltre with one of my two picks at the turn. As I look at how I've finished over the years, however, I can't help but think I need to embrace some risk if I want to win this league anytime soon. Should I break free from my norms and swing for the fences tonight?

Check back here next week for an extensive draft recap.

RotoAuthority League Update: Final Standings

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

Final Standings

1. Yu at the Animal Zoo 104

2. Smell the Glove 100

3. Gramma Nutt Crushers 86

4. Brewsterville Bruins 65.5

5. E-Z Sliders 64

6. Say It Ain't So Cano 63

7. A Century of Misery 62

8. Men With Wood 59.5


9. Philly Cheez 58.5

10. Reedy 49

11. UP 41.5

12. Forty 2 Twenty 4 27

Well, it turns out I wasn't premature when I projected Yu at the Animal Zoo to be the champion a week ago. While Tim Dierkes and his Smell the Glove put up a valiant effort all season long, ultimately the roster for Yu at the Animal Zoo was simply too good. When I analyzed the draft way back in the spring, I immediately identified this pitching on this squad as potentially electric. In the end, though, I was actually underselling this staff. Yu at the Animal Zoo came within 0.02 in WHIP of posting a perfect score in pitching points. An offense led by a certain Tigers third baseman was certainly strong in its own right, too.

I can't say enough about the quality of management by this owner. As I pointed out last week, it's an understatement to say this owner was active. In fact, the manager for Yu at the Animal Zoo made a grand total of 286 moves. For reference, my team was next at 221. Sure, a solid draft put this squad in a good position to win the league. In-season management, however, proved to be the deciding factor in this owner taking home the title. 

Commissioner Tim Dierkes deserves some attention for finishing runner-up and in the money. After landing in the cellar in 2011 and then next-to-last in 2012, Smell the Glove enjoyed a tremendous bounceback season. On a personal level, it's a pleasure to play in a league with such a respectable commissioner. Like Smell the Glove, the Gramma Nutt Crushers cashed for a second time. The fact they're both previous champions is Exhibit A to those like me who feel this is mostly a game of skill over time.

With the thrill of victory, of course, also comes the agony of defeat. Last year's champion, UP, unfortunately got the boot from the league. Newcomers Reedy and Forty 2 Twenty 4 could only last one season. Finally, one of the league's original members, Philly Cheez, will have to say goodbye to the league. With two cashes during his time, this owner surely deserves some credit for avoiding the bottom four for so many years. We're now left with Men With Wood as the lone original member aside from Commissioner Dierkes. 

RotoAuthority League Update: Last Mile of the Marathon

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

The Race for First Place

1. Yu at the Animal Zoo 102.5

2. Smell the Glove 96

With just a week to play, it still may be premature to announce the 2013 RotoAuthority League champion. For the first time all year, however, I feel rather confident in stating that Yu at the Animal Zoo will take home the title this season. Let's see how the standings are likely to shake out over the final seven days.

First of all, Yu at the Animal Zoo and Smell the Glove won't move up or down in any of the following categories: R, HR, RBI, SV, and K. The offensive point totals for each squad are more or less set in stone. While each owner could lose a point in SB, each may also gain a point in AVG. It's on the pitching side, though, where we're more likely to witness some movement in the standings. Smell the Glove has been subjected to bad luck all season long in the wins category, and manager Tim Dierkes could still move either direction in the wins column over the final week. Along those same lines, Dierkes could still move up or down in the closely stratified ERA and WHIP categories.

Overall then, I expect Yu at the Animal Zoo to rank atop the standings a week from now. If that proves to be the case, it would certainly make for a worthy champion. For my money, no owner acquired more value on Draft Day. Oddly enough, during the season I'd argue this owner actually lost more trades than he won in terms of value accrued thereafter. Where this manager really shined, however, was on the waiver wire. Woody Allen once said, "80% of life is showing up." Well, this owner has showed up and then some throughout the daily grind of the MLB season. All told, he's made over 230 moves, 40 more than any other team in the league. There are numerous variables that lead to success in fantasy baseball, but hard work ultimately can still make the difference.

The Race for Third Place

3. Gramma Nutt Crushers 82

Yep, that's right. I've opted to place the Gramma Nutt Crushers in a tier by themselves, as they've clinched third place and a finish in the money. If you take a look back at my Draft Day recap, you'll see that no owner was more audacious than this one. While Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton have failed to live up to their top-15 price tag, other bold picks like Max Scherzer and Chris Davis have catapulted this team up the standings. There's something to be said for consistent results in the top half of the standings of any fantasy league. In a league with a top-heavy prize structure like this one, however, maybe the Gramma Nutt Crushers had the right idea with this strategy, emphasizing upside at all costs. That's something I'll have to keep in mind next spring...

The Race to Avoid the Bottom Four

4. Brewsterville Bruins 69.5

5. E-Z Sliders 66

6. A Century of Misery 63.5

7. Men With Wood 60

7. Say It Ain't So Cano 60

9. Philly Cheez 57



10. Reedy 52.5

11. UP 42.5

12. Forty 2 Twenty 4 28.5

While some may feel safer than others, at this point the majority of the league only cares about avoiding the bottom four and a boot from the league. Over the past week we witnessed a shift in the standings at that ever-important eighth-place slot. The only two original teams aside from Commissioner Tim Dierkes's Smell the Glove, Philly Cheez and Men With Wood, are battling it out with their league mortality on the line. Philly Cheez actually climbed past Men With Wood this past week, but Men With Wood was able to move out of the bottom four over the weekend. Given that each owner is slightly behind the innings pace, the fates of these squads could come down to the performances of spot starters over the season's final week. It should be interesting, as other squads like Say It Ain't So Cano will also surely be picking up starting pitchers on a daily basis with next year's invitation to the league at stake.

That's all for this week. Good luck to those of you still in contention in your leagues over the randomness that is one week's worth of games.

Standings as of Sunday, September 22nd

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 3 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he’s not one of them.

The Race for First Place

1. Yu at the Animal Zoo 105

2. Smell the Glove 103

Another week of play, another week of this pair of teams going back and forth atop the standings. We also continue to see similar waiver wire strategies from each owner. Tim Dierkes made just a lone acquisition, grabbing the improving Ivan Nova for the struggling Lance Lynn. Meanwhile, the manager for Yu at the Animal Zoo has exhibited a consistent pattern of picking up a spot starter and a hitter on a daily basis. In fact, Yu at the Animal Zoo now has made over 100 transactions more than Smell the Glove has made. It seems like these two teams alternate as the league leader literally everyday, so clearly, one point could make the difference. Upon closer examination, the league champion actually could be decided by whose closers are able to get more saves over the final three weeks. Yu at the Animal Zoo has a slight edge in that regard with five closers compared to three for Smell the Glove.

The Race for Third Place

3. Gramma Nutt Crushers 76

4. Say It Ain't So Cano 69

I considered placing the Gramma Nutt Crushers all alone in this tier, as this team had separated itself from the rest of the pack by 15 points earlier in the week. With the Brewsterville Bruins losing a dozen points in the standings, there's a new squad trying to catch the Crushers, Say It Ain't So Cano. Like Yu at the Animal Zoo, Say It Ain't So Cano has been very active on the waiver wire each day during the stretch run. In particular, this owner has prioritized catching up on the innings pace by grabbing countless spot starters. This stands to reason, as Say It Ain't So Cano is last in the league in WHIP but could accumulate several points in the closely stratified categories of wins and ERA.

The Race to Avoid the Bottom Four

5. A Century of Misery 63.5

6. Brewsterville Bruins 61.5

7. E-Z Sliders 61

8. Philly Cheez 59

9. Men With Wood 58

10. UP 50.5

11. Reedy 49.5

12. Forty 2 Twenty 4 24

It's a shame this league doesn't have incrementally decreasing payouts across the entire league standings, a policy some leagues employ to maintain interest among owners until the very end. After all, we see changes in who occupies this region of the standings seemingly everyday. Given that I spent the majority of this season hovering in 11th or 12th place, I'd consider it a victory of sorts if I'm able to finish in 5th. Like everyone else in this tier, though, I really just hope to avoid the bottom four. Just a week ago, it looked like the Brewsterville Bruins could finish in the money; however, after a disastrous week in the standings they suddenly have to worry about getting booted from the league. A week after dropping Justin Verlander, UP again made a couple interesting moves, releasing Domonic Brown and Patrick Corbin. While Brown is currently hurt, Corbin is healthy and still producing. Perhaps the manager for UP had the schedule in mind when making the move, as the southpaw must face the Dodgers twice in a row and then go to Coors Field.

Standings as of Sunday, September 8th.

RotoAuthority League Update: Wait, Verlander Was Dropped?

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

The Race for First Place

1. Yu at the Animal Zoo 103

2. Smell the Glove 102

This race continues to be a joy to watch on a daily basis. While Smell the Glove began the week in first place, Yu at the Animal Zoo took over the lead on Thursday. It's interesting that these owners have taken widely divergent strategies in utilizing the waiver wire. The owner for Yu at the Animal Zoo made about 20 pickups over the past week, constantly grabbing spot starters as well as hitters with some pop. Meanwhile, Manager Tim Dierkes of Smell the Glove picked up... well, nobody. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, as there's something to be said for going with the players that got you there when making a championship run.

As someone who keeps track of every move in all my leagues, I always find the last few weeks of the RotoAuthority League to be a fascinating case study in psychology. There are two types of owners during the stretch run. On the one hand, you have the owners who still want to assemble the best roster of players possible, even if some of the players may slumping. Sure, owners may have specific categories in mind, but this group of owners could care less about how a player has performed recently. On the other hand, there are owners who seem to have one question in mind when evaluating the players on their rosters: what have you done for me lately? Any experienced fantasy baseball player knows that rash decision-making like this would be a recipe for disaster in April, as hot streaks are not necessarily predictive. While I certainly don't fall into this category, sometimes I can't really blame owners who opt for this route. It sure feels like there are non-elite players every year who catch fire in September and decide fantasy leagues in the process; however, this is probably just anecdotal.

The Race for Third Place

3. Gramma Nutt Crushers 81

4. Brewsterville Bruins 70

You'll notive that I've altered this tier to include just two teams. While some other squads that I chose to place in the final group may still have an outside shot at third place, I feel it's slightly more likely they end up in the bottom four. The Gramma Nutt Crushers hovered about five points ahead of the Brewsterville Bruins for most of the past week but then increased their lead over the weekend. Oddly enough, each of these two teams has been relatively quiet on the waiver wire. The Brewsterville Bruins made just three pickups this past week while the Gramma Nutt Crushers didn't make a single acquisition. The one move that stood out to me was that the Bruins lost patience in Starlin Castro and finally cut him. Castro has been simply miserable all season long, and the fact that he's going to finish outside the top 20 at the thin shortstop position has to make him one of the top fantasy disappointments this year. 

The Race to Avoid the Bottom Four

5. Philly Cheez 63.5

6. Say It Ain't So Cano 61

7. E-Z Sliders 60

7. A Century of Misery 60

9. Men With Wood 56.5

10. UP 50

11. Reedy 49.5

12. Forty 2 Twenty 4 23.5

The daily nail-biting continues for those of near the bottom of the standings. We're really starting to see some interesting late-season strategies among this group. Like I've been doing as Manager of A Century of Misery, the owners of Say It Ain't So Cano and Forty 2 Twenty 4 have been picking up spot starters just about every morning. More so than any other owner, though, UP has taken the most unique approach to avoiding the bottom four. If you take a look at this owner's pitching staff right now, you'll find a grand total of just three pitchers, and one of them is the injured Jason Grilli! Yes, UP is currently rolling with Stephen Strasburg, James Shields, and two dozen hitters. The transaction that certainly caught every other owner's eye was the release of Justin Verlander on Thursday. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. While we don't usually see such extreme moves like that until the final week, it actually does make sense for UP to do this, as no other team has accrued more innings pitched. 

Standings as of Sunday, September 1st.

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