Roster Doctor: keeper edition

Mike writes in,

14 team league. We get to keep 11 players, any combination. I mention SP, RP because we use “Holds” and I like to put them in when I have a opening at SP.

I will have the first pick when we have our draft (won the consolation bracket).

Roster positions: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF, Util, Util, 3 SP, 2 RP, 3 P, 11 BN, 3 DL

Batters stat categories: runs, triples, home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases, walks, OPS

Pitchers stat categories: wins, saves, strikeouts, holds, ERA, WHIP, quality starts

Nick Hundley C
Victor Martinez C,1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Robert Andino 2B,3B,SS
Jimmy Rollins SS
Nolan Reimold LF
Vernon Wells LF,CF,RF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Josh Hamilton LF,CF
Juan Pierre LF
Shelley Duncan 1B,LF,RF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Mike Carp 1B,LF

Wesley Wright SP,RP
Alfredo Aceves SP,RP
Phil Coke SP,RP
Jim Johnson RP
Brandon League RP
David Robertson RP
Brian Fuentes RP
Francisco Rodriguez RP
Joe Smith RP
Frank Francisco RP
Joe Saunders SP
Ervin Santana SP
Fausto Carmona SP
Jason Vargas SP
Cory Luebke SP
Bruce Chen SP,RP
David Aardsma RP (DL)
Alex Cobb SP
Brandon Lyon RP (DL)


Even for a 14-team league, your keeper options are rather thin. Obviously Cano and Martinez should be kept. However, Martinez should be your catcher. You need to find a better option through the draft (maybe target someone like Ike Davis who isn’t likely to be kept) or via trade for first base. If need be, trade Martinez for a solid first base option.

Rollins and Ramirez are strong keepers too. In a 14-team league with no corner infield or extra outfield spots, strong players at weak positions are particularly valuable (though this is somewhat mitigated by the extra utility spot).

Josh Hamilton should be kept even with any injury concern because of his center field eligibility. Pierre and Suzuki both kill your OPS. But they help you with stolen bases and triples (though last year was not a good triples year for either). They are both getting long in the tooth and there are always some doubts Pierre’s playing time. But as of now, I’d look to keep them.

Four spots remain. The only remaining batters who warrant consideration are Reimold, Carp and Wells. Your pitching, as far as keepers are concerned, is particularly thin. The only two starters worth looking at are Santana and Luebke.

Santana is enigmatic, but at least this past season was one of his good ones. His low 3’s ERA isn’t supported by his peripherals—a decent but unspectacular strikeout to walk ratio provokes yawns. His ground ball rate leaped from a career norm of mid 30’s percent to 43.5 percent this season but I’m not sure why. He is basically a fastball-slider pitcher and hitters are making more contact against him, not usually a great combination.

Luebke’s peripherals, on the other hand, certainly support his performance this season. He’s in a better park and in a better league than Santana. He’s on the weaker team, but quality starts don’t care about how many runs your team scores (though obviously wins do). So I’d keep Luebke first.

Even though your league counts holds, I wouldn’t target any pitchers purely for holds. Relief pitchers, especially setup men, change roles more than any other player – in part because any change in team or manager can radically change how that player is used. Holds really vary season by season. One name to consider though, because the rest of his stats are so strong, is Robertson. I’d keep him.

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Francisco Rodriguez will likely be closing next season and if he’s not closing, I imagine he’ll be setting up for someone. Even with the uncertainty over where he ends up, Rodriguez remains your best likely source of saves. So I’d keep him. If something drastic befalls him—like another domestic blowup—you can cut him closer to the keeper deadline.

So that leaves one spot for the following names: Wells, Santana, Reimold and Carp. We all know the disappointment that is Wells. This past season he had an Adam Dunn-like .220 batting average and an equally low BABIP. The low BABIP points to a likely recovery for his batting average next season, though his high flyball rate means that I’d expect something like .255-.260 and not .275. Still, his power is probably decent enough to make him the best keeper option among the batters.

I’d look at the rest of the league and see what is likely to be available in the draft next season. Wells would be a utility spot for you at this point, so if there are going to be some good power hitters (which is where you need help) available, I’d consider Wells expendable and keep Santana instead. On the other hand, if it looks like there’s going to be abundant starting pitching available to draft, then maybe Wells is the better bet.

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Brad Johnson
Brad Johnson

Is there any benefit to not keeping the full slate of 11?

I think I’d try to keep Carp and Cobb but both of those guys obviously fall outside of the top 154 players and could potentially be re-drafted.

One other point of note, you essentially have the option to keep 12 since you have first pick. Not that I would want to keep 12 of your guys, but it is an option.