When I’m determining what I’m going to spend on players during my leagues’ FAAB runs, I think about the long term. We all do, right? In my experience, however, most fantasy players tend to base their bids on the here and now: The players on hot streaks fetch the most dollars. The exceptions include recently named closers and promoted prospects of great esteem, among others, but you get the idea.
I’ll talk more about FAAB strategy in future columns, I’m sure, but I wanted to plant the seed: Bid according to what kind of returns you figure to receive from the player for the rest of the season, regardless of recent performance. A player’s latest feats can factor in a little, sure, especially if characteristics of them indicate skills growth. In the latter instance, though, you’re already wisely influenced by possible long-term gains.
One of the two players I list here Jason Collette and I discussed in Sunday’s podcast, so I’m a little ashamed that I’m dropping his name in this column. But only a little, because both of these cats:
1) are interesting players, at worst, for mixed leaguers;
2) provide examples that will help me to discuss aspects of FAAB strategy.
SP Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians
Ownership: ESPN 0.5% | Yahoo! 6% | CBS 30%
He’s arguably the Tribe’s top pitching prospect. When this season is finished, the argument may look quite silly in retrospect. As many know, Bauer was one of the game’s top-rated talents just a couple of years ago, but control problems and makeup concerns, among other things, dropped his stock considerably. “Control problems” is putting it mildly, really, at least when it comes to his limited major league exposure.
The organization has invested a lot of time and effort in Bauer’s development. This past winter saw the right-hander consolidate the mechanical changes that Cleveland has tried to instill and his natural delivery. The spring training results were no good, but his first four regular season starts have been eye-opening. He’s fanned 21 and walked only six in 18 2/3 innings (three starts), yielding only 13 hits and two runs, for Triple-A Columbus. He made a spot start for the Indians on April 9, and in it he allowed four hits, two runs (one earned) and two walks, with eight K’s, in six frames against the San Diego Padres.
Bauer, 23, is a pitcher of remarkable intellect, particularly when it comes to his craft. The April struggles of both Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar have already forced the club to answer questions about their places in the rotation. If either of their stumbles last into May, then it can’t be long before Cleveland makes a change.
Bauer’s potential return is immense. His past failings and his roster status should keep his price down, but I wouldn’t wait. I scooped him up in Tout Wars (15-team mixed league) and had to pay $4 ($100 budget with a Vickrey bidding system) only because one other person bid on him (for $3, naturally). This is a 12-team mixed league stash, too, in my book.
OF Corey Dickerson, Colorado Rockies
Ownership: ESPN 0.7% | Yahoo! 4% | CBS 13%
We must have interest any time a position player in Colorado gains playing time. We don’t have to like or want the player, but we have to investigate. Of course, most fantasy owners are familiar enough with Dickerson because he was one of 37 outfielders in competition for the team’s starting spot in center field this past spring training.
Dickerson, 25 in a month, is the same intriguing hitter who for some warranted a late-round flier in mixed leagues this past March. He can hit for a quality average, belt 15 or so homers and swipe roughly the same number of bases if he plays a full season. In his first start after Michael Cuddyer’s placement on the disabled list for a strained hamstring, on Monday, Dickerson went yard for one of his three hits and thieved a base.
We know that Dickerson’s foray into fantasy relevance is in all likelihood going to be short-lived. He’ll probably platoon with Brandon Barnes in right until Cuddyer returns. It appears that Charlie Blackmon has sold his soul in exchange for Ted Williams’ powers, so the job is his for the foreseeable future.
But Dickerson is the kind of minimum-bid add in a mixed league about which you can feel good, as opposed to the one of several bucks it may have taken to land David Murphy. Similar type of production, probably similar shelf lives. Come on, we’ve seen the Tribe’s right-fiend platooner have good stretches for a month or six weeks. Is there reason to expect more?
Besides, Cuddyer could have a setback. Carlos Gonzalez is never that far from a DL stint. Justin Morneau is healthy, but are we certain that’ll last? Can we be sure that Blackmon’s success will? There are multiple ways that Dickerson may maintain significance, and you would have saved some dough in the process if any of them comes about.
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