Seyf's Big Year Continues: Newlywed Captures Second Serious League Championship As Brewers (And Bears?) March Into Postseason
Inaugural Champion Andrew Seyfer, charter member and elder statesman of the Serious League, has finally returned to the top of the standings after an eleven-year absence.
It is, of course, the longest stretch between titles in league history. Much changed during the drought, including the champion himself. As the league evolved, shedding dead weight and growing more competitive, Seyf openly wondered if he would ever be able to compete the same way he did during our undergraduate days. His time in law school was spent holed up in hidden libraries, absorbing knowledge thinking critically about important issues (whenever he wasn’t running home from bars). Middling finishes coincided with his studious lifestyle. A post-graduation move to Chicago (and the robust social scene that came with it) led to 6th, 7th, 9th, and even one last-place finish. Just a few years removed from dominance, Seyf earned a reputation as a fantasy has-been, a former great whose accomplishments occurred so long ago fully half the league members hadn’t even witnessed them. Indeed, their eyes rolled as the Commissioner told tall tales of the man who snatched next-in-line closers before Twitter existed — and in some cases, before real-life managers even made their decisions.
But something special happened last season. Seyf abandoned the big city lifestyle in favor of his hometown, our hometown, and a more reasonable work-life balance. The move may have (definitely) contributed to a strong second-place finish, a return to the podium after a six-year absence. There were whispers, some might say rumblings, that the Inaugural Champion was once again a force to be reckoned with. Others were skeptical of the buzz. A man of his former stature, they argued, must win it all before he is to be considered “back”.
Folks, Seyf is back. After a very slow start in 2018, he led for most of May before ceding major ground to two-time champion Mike Olson throughout June. On July 10, Seyf took a four-point lead over Ols — and never relinquished it. There was a brief scare in late August (believe it or not Seyf forgot to start Kevin Gausman the day after his wedding), but for the most part it was smooth sailing down the stretch.
Like all championship rosters, Seyf’s was balanced throughout. (Only once in league history has the winner finished in the bottom third of a category — AB with a 3.5 in saves in 2016.) Unlike most title teams, he made zero trades along the way. Seyf simply drafted the best team and held on to it. This is an indisputable fact.
Consider this: The top three contenders for National League MVP — Christian Yelich, Javier Baez, and Nolan Arenado — were drafted by the Cashmoneyplayaz for a total of $76. That has to be a first in Serious League history, certainly in the 12-team era. He also drafted Blake Treinen, somehow a top-10 fantasy player but only the second-best reliever, for $9. Gerrit Cole, his staff ace and another top-20 player, was had for just $13 (through jeers from owners Cole had burned before). An astonishing 13 players remained on Seyf’s roster the entire season. The league average was 7.2, and much lower among contenders.*
* Other owners: Bayz - 12, MNC - 11, Mitch - 11, Nolan - 8, Maloof - 7, Kyle - 6, Mil - 6, Pat - 5, AB - 5, Ols - 4, Tim - 4
It was the dynamic Baez who sparked Seyf’s rise in the standings, but Yelich’s Triple Crown push on a playoff-bound Brew Crew makes him the most valuable Cashmoneyplaya. Joey Votto, a stalwart of Seyf’s teams over the years, had a miserable season by his standards, but fellow Redleg Jose Peraza stepped up in other areas. Peraza maintained his stolen base totals from last season but boosted his average by 30 points, helping Seyf win the category. And there’s a case to be made for Patrick Corbin as the second-best waiver pickup behind Blake Snell. (Both guys were added the morning after the draft.)
It should be noted that Seyf finished with just 163 starts, well short of our 180-start limit (credit to me for suggesting with decrease that number from 200). With the best WHIP, the fourth-best ERA, fourth-most wins, and, somehow, the most wins, Seyf’s pitching staff is an argument for quality over quantity. With (53 points) and without (44) saves, Seyf had the most pitching points in the league.
It was, from start to finish, a tour de force in research, patience, strategy, and persistence. All hail the new Serious League Champion, the first Serious League champion.
MVP: $20 Christian Yelich, Mil OF
Active stats: 144 GP, 117 R, 36 HR, 109 RBI, 21 SB, .323 AVG
The Lewis Brinson-for-Yelich trade this offseason was regarded as a great deal for the Brewers at the time, and even moreso now that Yelich exploded under more favorable hitting conditions. He’s signed through 2022, his age-30 season, at a suddenly very affordable price. He led Seyf to a championship in 2018 and may soon do the same for the Brewers.
It’s unlikely Seyf will choose to retain Joey Votto for $40, though don’t discount the sentimentality there. Still, the champion has several other great options for 2019.
Javier Baez, ChC SS - $10, $12
Christian Yelich, Mil OF - $24, $29
Gerrit Cole, Hou SP - $16, $20
Patrick Corbin, FA SP - $10, $12
Blake Treinen, Oak RP - $11, $14
(Side note, the bullets aren’t as close together as they usually are and I can’t figure out why. Driving me nuts. Thanks for reading.)
Baez is a no-brainer. His season was a true breakout by any metric, and I don’t expect any backslide in 2019. He’ll be just 26 years old.
Yelich also seems like a safe pick. He provided about $50 in value this year and, given his pedigree, looks poised to contend for several more MVP awards. He turns 27 in December.
Cole and, to a lesser degree, Corbin are options if Seyf is tempted to secure a good pitcher at a reasonable price. (Corbin is a free agent and will likely leave the manipulated confines of Arizona.) I mostly put Treinen on here just to show how many keepable guys are on this roster.
Hey, Mil Also Had A Big Year!
Though it went unmentioned on this page, Mil and his wife Tiffany welcomed a baby daughter this summer! Congratulations to the Millers!!
Based on what some of you fellas have told me, having your first child is an exciting and stressful experience. In most other areas of life — work, socializing, video games, doing alcohol — the event would be a reasonable excuse for a drop in productivity. But as AB proved during his wife’s pregnancies, creating a human from scratch is no excuse for a poor Serious League season. In fact, it may even boost your focus. Double Kill Mil followed that trend.
(By the way, Double Kill Mil is a hilarious nickname. [For the cool guys among us, it’s a Halo reference.] Double Kills aren’t even that rare! He might as well call himself Three Point Mil, or Base Hit Mil. Obviously the rhyming makes it ten times better than those, but still. Great nickname.)
Mil spent most of 2018 in the middle of the standings before a June surge put him in the top-third mix for good. But it wasn’t until September 19 that he reached second place, gaining rapidly as Ols remained steady. Where he fell short, the difference between his season and Seyf’s, were saves and — surprisingly — average.
Despite top-three finishes in all four offensive counting stats, Mil finished with a dreadful .252 AVG. For this I place the blame on veteran sluggers Brian Dozier and Nelson Cruz. Cruz hit just .241 in 64 games before Mil traded him in July, well below his .292 number for 2015-2017. And Dozier’s anemic .215 AVG in 145 games (including .182 down the stretch with the Dodgers) sunk Mil’s chances of competing in the category. He finished second-to-last, ahead of only Pat.
Mil’s previous four finishes are 4th, 3rd, 7th, 4th, and 3rd. It’s clear now that the only thing that can stop him from threatening for a podium spot is a major early-season injury.
MVP: $12 Trea Turner, Was SS
Active stats: 162 GP, 180/664, 103 R, 19 HR, 73 RBI, 43 SB, .271 AVG
The number of available stolen bases increased steadily for the first six years of the Serious League before taking a sharp dive in 2013. With just 2,473 steals in all of MLB, this season represents the lowest total since 1973, when there were just 24 teams in Major League Baseball. Quality steals are incredibly valuable, and Trea Turner, a $12 keeper, single-handedly helped Mil win this category.
Turner and heads back to the player pool, 2019, where he’ll be drafted for the first time. Mil will likely keep Severino despite his abysmal second-half (5.37 ERA, 1.43 WHIP).
Luis Severino, NYY SP - $12, PP
Victor Robles, Wsh OF - $10, $12
Didi Gregorious, NYY SS - $10, $12
Starling Marte, Pit OF - $22, $27
Robles, not Juan Soto, was the Nationals’ top prospect heading into 2018, a candidate for early-season promotion before a diving catch sidelined him for three months. I gotta think Mil added him in late September for the sole purpose of keeping him. Marte, who finished 29th on the player rater, seems like a good option, but the 29th-most expensive player at the draft this year went for $25. Plus he turns 30 years old this month. Gregorious came out scorching hot in April with 10 home runs, but hit just .253 the rest of the way. He finished 79th on the Player Rater, though he did miss time in August and September.
Ols Is Also Back, Thanks To Sheer Guile
If you asked me to deliver Mike Olson’s fantasy baseball scouting report, I’d say he’s one of the absolute best, a top-three contender year-in and year-out. Then Pat would say, “That’s a given” in the background. Mike is one of the greats. That’s a given!
But would you believe me if I told you Mike Olson has finished better than fifth place just once since 2012? Well you have to believe me, because it’s a fact.
Mike’s great season is due not to a few great players, but rather a deep roster loaded with good ones, in true Ols fashion. Guys like Eddie Rosario, Justin Upton, Kenta Maeda, Tommy Pham, and Charlie Morton don’t often get their photos in the pages of fantasy magazines (please note I’m not talking about covers, I’m talking about color photos in the position sections of the magazines), but they pile up predictable numbers and don’t significantly hinder competing in any categories. Death by a thousand cuts.
Ols also did well for himself in trades. He made 20 of them (second only to my 23), so I won’t break down the net gain here, but one assumes he came out on top in most of them given his finish. One in particular stands out, but you’ll have to scroll down to my Bad Trade Power Rankings to find out which one.
MVP: $21 Jacob deGrom, NYM SP
Active stats: 129.2 IP, 156 K, 6 W, 1.80 ERA, 0.85 WHIP
If you want to read a bunch of wacky stats in the tone of a breathless Tim Kurkjian, look no further than Jacob deGrom’s 2018. Here are a few of my favorite:
If the Mets scored 4 runs during deGrom’s starts, he’d be 30-0. Three runs, he’d be 26-1.
Lucas Giolito (who I thought was going to have a breakout season) had an MLB-worst 6.18 ERA. The White Sox went 14-18 in his starts and Giolito won 10 games. The Mets went 14-18 in deGrom’s starts and deGrom won 10 games.
The 1.80 ERA deGrom put up while on Mike’s team is a chunk higher than Mil’s active stats, when he delivered a 1.55 ERA!
deGrom had 29 straight starts allowing 3 runs of fewer. He only gave up 4 runs once, in his third start of the season.
deGrom threw 2,438 pitches with the score within 1 run in 2018, the most of any pitcher in baseball (obviously)
To hear Michael Wilbon tell it, Jacob deGrom STINKS! HANG TOUGH AND WIN THE BIG GAME YOU LOSER DOOFUS! I KNOW MICHAEL JORDAN AND YOU KNOW WHAT HE DID?? HE WON THE GAME. SO DID EARVIN JOHNSON. YOU PEOPLE MIGHT KNOW HIM AS “MAGIC”. EIGHTY-FIVE BEARS, EVERY HEARD OF ‘EM? LISTEN TONE, WIN THE GAME, OKAY? WIN THE GAME. I USED TO WRITE FOR NEWSPAPERS.
Tommy Pham and Yoan Moncada enter their final years of keeper eligibility, but Pham dropped off a bit in his age-30 season, and Moncada’s flashes of stardom don’t erase the residue from the uninspiring final product. (Guy led the league in strikeouts with 217.) Might be best to let someone else (Maloof) take the bait next year.
Juan Soto, Wsh OF - $10, $12
Jacob deGrom, NYM SP - $26, $32
Mallex Smith, TB OF - $10, $12
Tommy Pham, StL OF - $12, PP
Yoan Moncada, CWS 3B - $12, PP
Mike has some interesting options here. One would assume he plans on keeping 19-year-old Nats sensation Juan Soto, especially after trading George Springer straight up for him. If the Mets bothered scoring a run or two on days Jacob deGrom started, he probably would have finished second on the Player Rater, just ahead of Max Scherzer.
Mallex Smith finally looked like minor league Mallex Smith on the base paths and is now just a good version of Billy Hamilton.
A God-Awful, Forgettable, Miserable Year (By AB’s Standards)
Two-time defending champion Alex Bradford, in the birth year of his second daughter, finished fourth in the standings. It is tied for his worst finish since his rookie season (2011).
This is astonishing. I would kill to finish fourth. I haven’t finished in the top four in the 12-team era. Meanwhile AB, who for years was held out of the Serious League because he was perceived to not be that serious of a baseball fan, just completed his seventh-straight season in the top third of the standings. If not for his team’s hilarious litany of injuries in 2011, he’d probably be shooting 100% in that regard.
Look at this!
2011: 10th (last)
This run looks like Tiger Woods’ 2000 season, when a rare fourth-place finish was grounds for embarrassment.
AB, the Girl Dad (he has two daughters), was in the mix for a top-three finish from early August through mid-September, when half his roster just decided to stop hitting. Six guys — Joey Gallo, Matt Carpenter, Gary Sanchez, Billy Hamilton, Kendrys Morales, and CR’s own Scott Schebler — each hit .205 of below over the final month of the season. Amazingly, Hamilton led this group by going 15-for-73. The contact outage sunk AB’s chances of rising into the realm of contenders.
MVP: $42 Freddie Freeman, Atl 1B
Active stats: 161 GP, 190/617, 93 R, 22 HR, 97 RBI, 10 SB, .308 AVG
While the rest of the league exchanges hits for home runs, Freddie Freeman’s average continues to rise. His 2018 was absolutely rock solid, playing all 162 and leading the league in hits and doubles. Only three players — probable NL MVP Christian Yelich and AL MVP contenders Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez — had more fantasy-friendly averages. His home run rate dropped significantly, but Freeman was still worth every penny.
Keeper possibilities: Honestly, maybe none. AB dealt stud keeper prospect Blake Snell at the deadline. Gary Sanchez, who stinks, goes back to the player pool in 2019. Matt Carpenter had a nice power year, but he’ll be 33 next season and probably won’t suddenly return to his All-Star days. The options below are not provocative, nor do they get the people going.
Scooter Gennett, Cin 2B - $10, $12
Mike Clevinger, Cle SP - $10, $12
Noah Syndergaard, NYM SP - $10, $12
After roasting yours truly for keeping nobody in 2018, Alex might be wise to do the same in 2019.
Never Really In The Mix, But Never Out Of It, Maloof Settles For 5th
Other than the relatively short-lived Shohei Ohtani Mania, it was an uneventful season for the (former?) Evil Empire. There were no calamities to speak of, no threatening rises or abrupt falls. Just a pretty good team, weighed down by starting pitching, puttering along to a solid finish. Ho-hum.
But Ohtani Mania was anything but ho-hum! He only started ten games, but his pitching peripherals were in line with some of the best starters in the league. Even if you take away his pitching stats, he would still finish 33rd on the Player Rater, tied with Luis Severino. And he only hit in 104 games! It boggles the mind.
When I think of Maloof’s season, I’ll think of those early days of Shohei Ohtani, the only player to receive both bomb emojis and diamond emojis in our group thread.
(Side note: Despite a string of unimpressive finishes, this is the ninth straight year Maloof has ended the season ahead of me in the standings. They may no longer be terrorizing the league with their arrogance and success, but they remain my personal Vietnam.)
MVP: $9 Trevor Bauer, Cle SP
Active stats: 170.0 IP, 216 K, 12 W, 1 SV, 2.22 ERA, 1.08 WHIP
After six years of causing more headaches than he was worth, Trevor Bauer finally lived up to his top-pick and top prospect status with an All-Star season from start to finish. Bauer’s walk rate declined for the third straight year, and his K/9 jumped all the way to 11.3, good for 7th among full-time starters. Without Bauer anchoring their staff, Maloof likely would have dropped into the bottom half of the standings.
Bauer seems to be an obvious, low-risk choice. Locking down an ace for $11 would soothe the soul. Miguel Andujar’s value depends heavily on whether or not the Yankees sign Manny Machado — and if they send Andujar packing. Max Muncy, a revelation launch angle guy, hit homers more frequently than anyone else in baseball this season. Acuna isn’t “cheap”, but he’s good enough to warrant a $20 price tag. Same goes for Bregman.
Trevor Bauer, Cle SP - $11, $13
Ronald Acuna Jr., Atl OF - $20, $24
Alex Bregman, Hou SS - $30, $36
Miguel Andujar, NYY 3B - $10, $12
Shohei Ohtani, LAA SP, DH - $23, $28
Max Muncy, LAD 1B, 2B, 3B - $10, $12
It’s tempting to consider keeping Ohtani. Even though he won’t pitch next season, he’ll almost certainly go for at least $23 in the 2019 auction, and he’ll likely provide at least $29 in value as a keeper in 2020. But in Maloof’s case, the risk might be too high to use him as a keeper when there are two better options staring you in the face.
Wade Is Now The Real Jerry: A Whole Lot Of Noise And A Bunch Of Big Names, But A Bottom-Half Finish
In our last set of Power Rankings, published on July 5, I said this about Kyle’s remade roster:
“Kyle put himself in position to compete in every category. … This team has absolutely everything now -- it is a roster straight out of an eight-team video game fantasy snake draft in which one kid is rotating all four controllers. … The question now becomes, is the pitching damage already done?”
Indeed it was. Despite a hilarious collection of big names (he later added Justin Verlander and Corey Kluber by giving up mostly hitters), Kyle remained comfortably in the bottom half of every pitching category except for saves. Strasburg, Kershaw, Bumgarner, Verlander, Hamels, Kluber, and of course Zack Godley each tossed big innings for the Horsemen, but it just wasn’t enough to compete.
There’s plenty of blame to go around. Strasburg, ostensibly the ace of this roster, posted the worst ERA (3.74) and WHIP (1.20) of his career — right in line with his team’s final numbers. Godley? More like God-awful! In 58 innings for Kyle’s team he threw up a 6.05 ERA and 1.72 WHIP. Truly, madly, deeply atrocious. Wade Davis went to Colorado and his ERA floated away like Balloon Boy folks.
But my favorite example of Kyle’s bad pitching luck this season is Cole Hamels. A dollar pickup at the very end of the draft, one of the 7 frenzied picks Kyle made while the rest of us set up the beer pong tables, Hamels was just a year and a half removed from a 3.32 ERA All-Star season. Worth a flier for sure!
Unfortunately for Kyle, in 78.1 innings Hamels mustered just a 4.48 ERA and a killer 1.34 WHIP. Kyle cut him loose on July 7 in favor of Jose Leclerc. Three weeks later, Hamels was traded to the Cubs and picked up by Maloof, who rode him for 76.1 innings, a 2.36 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. Life ain’t fair.
MVP: $30 Francisco Lindor, Cle SS
Active stats: 158 GP, 183/661, 129 R, 38 HR, 92 RBI, 25 SB, .277 AVG
There’s a case to be made for Manny Machado here, especially after Kyle held onto him through a dreadful first half. But Lindor was a horse all year, and his 129 runs tied Mookie Betts for the league lead. Just eyeballing it, I’d bet that number accounts for the highest percentage of any one team’s category total from one player. Not sure if that sentence made sense (it’s late) but you guys feel me on that I’m sure. Lindor had a bunch of runs and Kyle’s team as a whole did not. SabeRIMtrics (play on sabermetrics). Rimvanced stats. Statcast. Rimcast.
Kyle infamously traded Aaron Judge ($12 in 2019), Cody Bellinger ($12), and this year’s diamond in the rough, Mitch Haniger ($10), in exchange for the win-now monster names that failed to bring him a podium finish. Still, there are a few decent options. Aguilar (acquired in a trade, amazingly) could build on his breakout first full season in the majors, though he’ll be 29 in June. Lindor could be a top-five player for top-15 price.
Jesus Aguilar, Mil 1B - $10, $12
Francisco Lindor, Cle SS - $36, $44
Manny Machado, FA 3B, SS - $46, $56
Khris Davis, Oak DH - $27, $33
Machado would basically be full price to keep in 2019, but if he signs with the Yankees, 40+ homers could be in play and that is very tempting for a shortstop. At $27, Davis probably isn’t an option since he’ll only be DH-eligible next season.
Nolan Narrowly Escapes 2018 Season With His Life
Nolan provides our first clear example of shooting oneself in the foot. His 163 starts were the lowest in the league, a deficiency he really never bothered to address. By my estimation, he left 8 or 10 points (and possibly three spots in the standings) worth of strikeouts and wins on the table. My guess is he didn’t want to harm his sterling WHIP. A silly rationale, in my opinion, and not worth missing out on the strategic thinking and thrill of spot-starting guys down the stretch.
Nolan was also the victim of some quirky streaks from his starters. James Paxton put up a 4.69 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 71 innings, worse than Sean Manaea. Justin Verlander threw just 46.1 innings for Nolan but posted a 4.27 ERA, more than a run and a half higher than his full-season number. I’m not going to bother looking this up, but my guess is Nolan owned Verlander for the worst 46.1-inning stretch of his season.
Anyway, enough droning on about mundane pitching oddities. Everybody knew soon as Corey Seager walked out the got damn door that Nolan’s season was over. He briefly entered the top half late in the season, but he never swindled anyone in a trade to make up for the loss of his second-most expensive hitter. Nolan’s first three seasons — in which he finished 10th, 12th, 10th — were disastrous. After a strong 5th-place finish last year, many people were saying a breakout season could be in the works from the former auctioneer. It was not to be.
MVP: $36 Chris Sale, Bos SP
Active stats: 158.0 IP, 237 K, 12 W, 2.11 ERA, 0.86 WHIP
Sale’s preposterous 0.86 WHIP was the lowest among starters and maybe the sole reason Nolan didn’t finish in the bottom three. Though he missed five starts, Sale increased his strikeout rate and posted the lowest home run rate of his career. A bargain at any price.
(I know that’s not Chris Sale but there are just too many good photos of Miles Mikolas to pass up.)
Last year, during the Great Wade Trade Trials, I compared Trevor Story’s terrific rookie year to that of Aaron Judge in an effort to demonstrate the unpredictability of young, unproven keeper prospects. Story disappointed in his second season, and many of you rolled your eyes at the idea of Story being as valuable as Judge, the modern-day Babe Ruth. Story finished 11th on the Player Rater this year, just ahead of Francisco Lindor. Just something to think about idk.
Anyway Nolan has several good keeper options for 2019:
Trevor Story, Col SS - $18, $22
Ozzie Albies, Atl OF - $14, $17
James Paxton, Sea SP - $12, PP
Justin Verlander, Det SP - $20, $24
Miles Mikolas, StL SP - $10, $12
Kyle Freeland, Col SP - $10, $12
Jack Flaherty, StL SP - $10, $12
Against his better judgement, Nolan might be considering Mikolas. I think that’s a fool’s errand. Since he doesn’t strike anyone out, a lot of his fantasy value came from 18 wins. Story, Albies, Paxton, and Verlander are all better options.
Corridor-Area Newscaster Mitch Fick Finishes 9th, His Best-Ever Performance; Some Companies Still Know How Business Is Done
Technically, ninth is not Mitch’s best finish. In his rookie season (2015), Mitch ended up in eighth place. But points-wise, 54 is by far his most impressive output. The question now becomes, after four years, is this Mitch’s ceiling? Yes! I’m not gonna beat around the bush here, 54 points is the guy’s ceiling. Sorry to tell everybody the truth.
The most batshit thing about Mitch’s team is that he had not one, but two top-five players — a starting pitcher (Max Scherzer) and a hitter (J.D. Martinez). When your team is anchored by superstars contributing in eight categories, it really shouldn’t take much to get into the top half. League champion Seyf had two top-ten players, and one of them was a closer. Third-place Ols finished the season with just one player in the top 40.
So where did Mitch go wrong? Where he always goes wrong, of course: Identifying both droppable players on his roster and valuable free agents. More than half of his final roster finished outside the top 150 spots on the Player Rater. Only one free agent pickup — German Marquez — finished in the top 110.
Unfortunately this isn’t a case riding hot streaks for a few weeks in August in September. Nor are we talking about a group of call-ups or potential keeper who hadn’t accumulated enough stats to finish very high on the Player Rater. Mitch just picks up bad players and holds on to them for too long.
For example, the day after David Bote hit that walk-off homer to beat the Nats at Wrigley, Mitch bid $8 FAAB for the instant folk hero (eight dollars!!). Bote proceeded to hit .170 in his final 38 games for Mitch. At some point you gotta just drop guys like David Bote!
MVP: $17 Whit Merrifield, KC 2B, OF
Active stats: 158 GP, 192/632, 88 R, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 45 SB, .304 AVG
I guess you could say Martinez and Scherzer split the vote here. Merrifield’s second-half surge propelled him ahead of Baez, Turner, Machado, and others on the final Player Rater rankings. The Royals lost enough on offense to limit Merrifield’s run and RBI totals, but he more than made up for it fantasy-wise by leading the league in hits and steals. Both Mitch and the Royals were wise to rebuff trade offers for him all season.
As you might expect, the cupboard is quite bare. These are the only three keeper prospects worth considering.
If Ozuna returns to 2017 form, $14 is a steal. Berrios was an All-Star this year and his strikeout rate jumped into the top-40 among starters with at least 100 IP.
Early Tastes Of Success Leave Matt And Casey Hungry For More
If you glance at the standings and see first-year duo Matt and Casey down in 10th place, you might be tempted to think Rim brought two more Xavier busts into the fold: Nice guys who simply can’t hack it in the big time. But the final scoreboard doesn’t tell the whole story.
The new guys got off to a solid start, taking the lead in the first week and lingering the top six throughout the first half. They were in first place on May 4 with an 8.5-point lead over Seyf. On July 9 they were still in third place, and as late as July 30 they remained in the top five. The guys hung around for a while!
There is not one obvious reason for Matt and Casey’s post-All-Star Break descent. Jake Arrieta let them down in August in September. Eugenio Suarez saved his worst month for last. Jose Abreu played just 24 games in August and September combined. Andrew Benintendi slowed down the stretch, and Mike Trout missed 19 games in August. You can’t really cut bait with any of those guys — it’s just a tough hand to be dealt in your first season.
But also, them’s the breaks! Bolster your bench with bats, spot-start a few guys here and there, load up on high-K relievers to make up for some of your contact starters. Glad to have you in the league and all that, but you wont find any sympathy from the veterans. Better luck next season.
MVP: $23 Andrew Benintendi, Bos OF
Active stats: 148 GP, 168/579, 103 R, 16 HR, 87 RBI, 21 SB, .290 AVG
If Matt and Casey hadn’t traded Kluber and Foltynewicz (pronounced “shuh-CHEF-ski”), this spot would belong to one of them. Mike Trout missed too many games and finished too far below his expected production. Benintendi was a little better than last year, I guess. Good player. Really a lot of hustle, I liked it.
Eloy Jimenez is one of two owned players who has yet to play a major league game, so it’s a good bet Matt and Casey will retain him in 2019.
Eloy Jimenez, CWS OF - $10, $12
Eugenio Suarez, Cin 3B - $10, $12
Lorenzo Cain, Mil OF - $17, $21
Mitch Haniger, Sea OF - $10, $12
Mike Foltynewicz, Atl SP - $10, $12
Among the others, Eugenio Suarez stands out as the best option. His average, RBI, and home runs have all jumped each of the past three seasons.
With An Eye On The Future And Surrounded By A Grumbling Observers, Patrick Jeter Dismantles His Team
If you’ll recall, in mid-May Pat shifted his focus from competing in 2018 to securing the best possible keepers for 2019. He was protected from himself initially through our bulletproof trade review process, but a month later he traded for Aaron Judge and a month after that he acquired Blake Snell. He quit on 2018, yes, but he did not give up on the league. In August and September, Pat was there adding, dropping, and modifying his roster with the best of them.
But Pat’s drastic actions will likely result in some rule tweaks for 2019. For example, if my calculations are correct, he finished the year with just $91 in salary. That’s less than half the second-lowest team salary total. $16 Ryan Braun was his most expensive player for the final two months of the season. His roster was an insult to the fantasy baseball virtues we hold dear.
And yet, some would argue it was worth it. Pat is now better positioned to win in 2019 than just about every other owner, not just because he has two stellar keepers, but because he kept a few others out of the hands of the rest of us. They tried to put Galileo in jail for saying Earth revolved around the sun, but folks that bearded man was on to something.
MVP: $1 J.A. Happ, NYY SP
Active stats: 170.2 IP, 183 K, 17 W, 3.74 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
This selection is not a troll, though it is very funny. J.A. Happ was Pat’s most valuable player this year. By a significant margin. That’s what happens when you dump half your team salary in trades.
I do want to take a moment to acknowledge the last few years of Happ’s career. As some of you may recall, I named my 2009 team after this man (“That Just Happened!” — pretty unforgettable if you ask me). He was fantasy irrelevant from about 2010 through 2014, but in each of the last four seasons he’s posted ERAs below 3.70 (this season was actually Happ’s highest ERA of the four). His fantasy rise over the last three years is due almost exclusively to his increasing strikeout rate, from 7.5 in 2016 to 8.8 in 2017 to 9.8 this season, the best full-season number of his career. Happ made his first All-Star Game at age 35. Pretty cool! Good for J.A. Happ.
Pat’s persistent trading netted him two of the most coveted keeper prospects for 2019 in Aaron Judge and Blake Snell. They came at a hilarious price: Judge cost him Paul Goldschmidt and Dee Gordon, Snell was worth Jose Altuve and Joey Gallo. So he better keep those two guys. ::wraps chains around wrists in preparation for a back alley brawl::
Aaron Judge, NYY OF - $12, PP
Blake Snell, TB SP - $10, $12
Gleyber Torres, NYY SS, 2B - $10, $12
Tim Anderson, CWS SS - $10, $12
Nomar Mazara, Tex OF - $10, $12
Rafael Devers, Bos 3B - $18, $22
Because Pat went out of his way to grab Judge and Snell, a handful of would-be keepers will be freely available to the rest of us at next year’s auction. Several teams would love to have Torres, Anderson, or even Mazara, all likely to be ranked in the preseason top 100, for $10 going into 2019.
Bayz Finishes Outside The Top Five — Waaaay Outside The Top Five — For The First Time
Every season, one team gets off to a piss-poor start and stays at or near the bottom of the standings all summer. After three years mixing it up with the contenders, it was Bayz’s turn to dip his toe into the cellar.
Except he slipped and fell all the way in! On April 29, he was 23.5 points behind 11th place. After a brief surge in early May, Bayz returned to last place for good on May 22. His team never reached 37 points again, and only had company at the bottom after Pat sold the farm.
Injuries can be blamed for the terrible start. At one point, Anthony Rendon, Rougned Odor, Manuel Margot, Justin Turner, and Elvis Andrus were all on the disabled list. He was forced to trade Odor in April just to get a warm body in the lineup. By the time the infirmary ward closed, it was too late. The hole was far too deep.
But next season doesn’t look so bad. Bayz has maybe the best keeper for 2019, and he can rest easy knowing there’s simply no way the injury bug can chew through an entire April like that again.
MVP: $14 Jose Ramirez, Cle 2B, 3B
Active stats: 148 GP, 151/549, 105 R, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 32 SB, .275 AVG
Ramirez boasts the best power-speed combo in fantasy, ahead of Turner, Merrifield, Story, Betts, Lindor, Trout, Yelich, Marte … you get the idea. His power jumped at the expense of his average this season, but if he can get back above .300 it’s entirely possible he finishes 2019 (his age-26 season) as the number one player in fantasy.
Ramirez is a no-brainer. Bayz kept both him and Elvis Andrus in 2018, so both will be back in the player pool come 2020. This makes Ross Stripling’s two-year minimum price very intriguing.
I Broke The Starts Limit Again
Eagle-eyed observers (looking at you, Ols) may have noticed that yours truly finished the season with 181 starts. It’s not the first time I’ve broken the limit, and apparently I can’t even promise that it will be my last. But I have a good excuse!
After heavy spot-starting in August, I obviously kept a close eye on the limit down the stretch. As my team crept closer to 180, I sat a few bums to maximize usage of Aaron Nola and Zach Greinke. Greinke’s September 26 start was supposed to be my 180th of the year, but Jace Fry threw the first inning of the White Sox’s bullpen game an hour prior. Fry was announced as the “starter” (the Rays use the term “opener”) the day before, and I didn’t think to sit him in my lineup. So yes, I broke the starts limit again. But it was just one inning! Plus he gave up a run, two hits, and a walk. Did me no favors.
And if it makes you feel any better, Fry’s fiance left him because he’s a cheater.
Tim’s Worst Trades Power Rankings
I love trading fantasy baseball players! It’s fun to concoct the deals, it’s fun to think about why another owner might be interested in a certain player of yours, it’s fun to talk about trades with other owners, it’s just fun. In fact, I proposed 128 trades this year. Love it!
Having said that, there might be no worse trader in the league than yours truly. And I’m not just talking about the first deals involving FAAB (given how recklessly I used that FAAB, it’s safe to say I overpaid for it in every instance of a FAAB deal). We’re also talking straight-up, player-for-player abominations. Here’s a rough set of power rankings to illustrate this point.*
(*Note: This is a list of only the worst deals I made. Lord knows there were plenty of repulsive trades (i.e. Zach Godley for Scott Kingery) not listed here. The few trades I won, I won narrowly. The trades I lost, I lost big. The lesson here is, always trade with me.)
6) Thurs May 17: DJ LeMahieu to Maloof for $17 FAAB
This deal was made because I convinced myself LeMahieu’s wrist was more severely injured than it actually was, and that he would miss significantly more than the minimum 15 days. (I had a few other injured players at the time.) Turned out LeMahieu’s wrist was fine. Whoops.
LeMahieu active stats on Tim’s roster (before deal): 32 GP, 36/129, 20 R, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 3 SB, .279 AVG
LeMahieu active stats w/ Maloof (after deal): 91 GP, 108/383, 68 R, 9 HR, 47 RBI, 3 SB, .282 SB
5) Thurs May 17: Mike Clevinger to AB for $16 FAAB
I was very pleased to pick up Mike Clevinger for $1 late in the draft. Nice ratios, decent K/9. Why I abandoned him after a good start is beyond me. AB rode his improved ERA and K/9 all the way to fourth place. I can’t even imagine what dumb shit I spent that $16 FAAB on.
Clevinger active stats on Tim’s roster (before deal): 33.2 IP, 26 K, 2 W, 3.21 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
Clevinger active stats on AB’s roster (after deal): 140.1 IP, 157 K, 10 W, 3.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
4) Wed Aug 1: Miguel Andujar for Maloof for $5 FAAB
At the time, I was hellbent on acquiring FAAB. Don’t really remember why. Plus I thought I was selling high on Andujar. I was not!
Andujar active stats on Tim’s roster (before deal): 55 GP, 61/203, 28 R, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 0 SB, .300 AVG
Andujar active stats w/ Maloof (after deal): 49 GP, 59/193, 34 R, 14 HR, 44 RBI, 1 SB, .306 AVG
3) Wed Mar 14: Nelson Cruz to Kyle for Lucas Giolito and $50 FAAB
Another trade where I predicted injury. Cruz was his normal self in 2018, and Lucas Giolito was the worst starter in the major leagues.
Nelson Cruz: 144 GP, 70 R, 37 HR, 97 RBI, 1 SB, .256 AVG
Lucas Giolito: 173.1 IP, 125 K, 10 W, 6.13 ERA, 1.48 WHIP
All that FAAB: Probably wasted
2) Thurs May 17: Ian Desmond to Mil for $3 (!) FAAB
This one is actually pretty defensible. Even though I spent $9 on him at the draft, I was ready to drop Desmond six weeks into the season. On Mil’s team, he played nearly as well as his 2016 All-Star campaign. I gave away a top-100 player for nothing.
Desmond active stats on Tim’s roster (before deal): 40 GP, 27/147, 18 R, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 4 SB, .184 AVG
Desmond active stats on Mil’s roster (after deal): 112 GP, 101/394, 62 R, 15 HR, 65 RBI, 16 SB, .256 AVG
1) Thu Jul 11: Juan Soto to Ols for George Springer
Man, fellas. Let me tell you what it’s like to own the two most exciting 19-year-olds in baseball: It’s pretty great! I mean I’m tellin’ ya, I was riding high with Juan Soto tearing it up and Vlad Jr. hitting .400 in the minors. Talk about sexy keepers!
But when my team started to rise a bit in the standings, and Aaron Nola looked increasingly like a fantasy ace, I thought maybe the time was right to sell the rookie sensation Soto and make a push for the top three (or four). Bidding’s open, I said, and the offers came flooding in. Ols, with whom I have a decade-long no-nonsense trading relationship, immediately brought the heat with George Springer. The only reason I didn’t accept right away is because I wanted to give him a chance to cancel the offer. Top-30 player for the young rookie riding a hot steak? No one’s going to offer more than that. I thought some guys might even veto the deal.
Welp, it turns out Juan Soto is already better than George Springer. In fact, on ESPN’s early 2019 rankings, Soto comes in at #35, seven spots ahead of two-time All-Star and World Series MVP Springer. If I had simply not made this trade, I would have finished with five more points and possibly as high as fourth place. If I had a one-time-use time machine, I go back to the moment before I accepted this deal. Heartbreaking in every way.
Springer active stats on Tim’s roster: 45 GP, 49/165, 36 R, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 0 SB, .297 AVG
Soto active stats on Mike’s roster: 66 GP, 68/241, 46 R, 13 HR, 42 RBI, 4 SB, .282 AVG