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Behind the Numbers: April NFBC FAAB Review

Derek VanRiper

Derek VanRiper

Derek is the Senior Baseball Editor for RotoWire.com, where he's been a two-time finalist for the FSWA's Baseball Writer of the Year award, and winner of the Best Football Article on the Web (2009) and Best Baseball Article on the Web (2010) awards. Derek also co-hosts RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (XM 87, Sirius 210) from 11a-2p ET on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

If you haven't figured it out already, I am a nerd.

My favorite fruit snacks when I was a little kid were Numbers - not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Garfield, but eatable integers.

This pattern of behavior hasn't really changed over time.

Maybe you have heard this anecdote before, but I suspect it will become a story that my future grandchildren eventually get sick of hearing too. During college, I was zoning out during a marketing lecture, working on a spreadsheet with projections for my upcoming fantasy baseball draft.

A girl in the seat next to me leaned over toward my screen.

"Hey, what class is that for?"

To my younger readers, the correct answer to that question is not, "Oh, it's for my fantasy baseball league."

Please learn from my mistakes. I didn't even get her name.

Fortunately, my fascination with Excel has been more beneficial in other settings.

Pinch-hitting while usual Behind the Numbers columnist Dave Regan is off this week, I had two goals.

1. Bring numbers.
2. Don't ruin his column - the bar is high when you win FSWA awards regularly.

As a site, we dedicate a lot of resources toward making suggestions each week regarding waiver-wire and Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) pickups. Interestingly enough, we don't spend a proportional amount of time tracking where the money is actually going. Jeff Erickson started posting the weekly bidding results from his NFBC leagues a couple of years back, but it seems like a good time to look back as we wrap up the first full month of the regular season.

For this exercise, I have taken the winning and second-place bids from the first five weekly bidding periods of my NFBC Main Event League.

As promised, we have numbers:

DATETEAMPLAYERPOSBID2ndDIFF
04/13/14MacedawggsMark Reynolds (1B)1B23344189
04/06/14OaktownJesus Guzman (1B)1B14140
03/30/14deadmoney3Tommy Medica (1B)1B1111
04/13/14OaktownDanny Espinosa (2B)2B432815
04/27/14deadmoney3Scooter Gennett (2B)2B341915
04/27/14Da Giant BumsGordon Beckham (2B)2B15132
04/27/14OaktownBrian Roberts (2B)2B1349
04/20/14OaktownSteve Lombardozzi (2B)2B33
04/13/14MANKIND & SSMaicer Izturis (2B)2B11
04/20/14It's Gonna Happen!Alberto Callaspo (3B)3B1115259
04/20/14It's Gonna Happen!Yangervis Solarte (3B)*3B893752
04/06/14Scoring FlyballsCasey McGehee (3B)3B49472
04/06/14MacedawggsConor Gillaspie (3B)3B21219
04/27/14Team VanRiperMike Olt (3B)3B19613
04/20/14Da Giant BumsKevin Kouzmanoff (3B)3B15510
04/20/14OaktownJuan Francisco (3B)3B936
04/06/14deadmoney3Yangervis Solarte (3B)*3B22
04/06/14It's Gonna Happen!Ryan Hanigan (C)C7676
04/13/14Moose an SquirrelKurt Suzuki (C)C2121
04/06/14**51**Tyler Flowers (C)C1616
04/13/14Fighting KoiJohn Jaso (C)C1010
04/27/14ALL-IN MainRobinson Chirinos (C)C77
04/27/14deadmoney3Jose Lobaton (C)C44
04/27/14HeartbreakersCorey Dickerson (CF)OF26234228
04/06/14deadmoney3Charlie Blackmon (CF)OF15413816
04/13/14Scoring FlyballsJackie Bradley Jr. (CF)OF1396475
04/06/14ALL-IN MainChris Colabello (RF)OF1266759
04/27/14ATLANTA 0-FERSCarlos Quentin (LF)OF6767
04/13/14ALL-IN MainNate Schierholtz (RF)OF46145
04/20/14**51**Jon Jay (CF)OF38236
04/27/14MANKIND & SSLorenzo Cain (CF)OF3434
04/20/14vincebarnesJarrod Dyson (CF)OF34268
03/30/14Fighting KoiNate McLouth (CF)OF3333
04/13/14deadmoney3Craig Gentry (CF)OF2828
04/27/14ALL-IN MainSam Fuld (CF)OF2727
04/06/14ALL-IN MainDavid Murphy (RF)OF2626
04/27/14OaktownMichael Choice (LF)OF2626
04/20/14ALL-IN MainJose Tabata (RF)OF2121
04/06/14Scoring FlyballsTravis Snider (RF)OF2121
04/06/14MacedawggsRyan Raburn (LF)OF1313
03/30/14Moose an SquirrelJuan Lagares (CF)OF1111
04/27/14Team VanRiperBrandon Barnes (RF)OF99
04/20/14Scoring FlyballsJustin Ruggiano (RF)OF99
04/13/14deadmoney3Cody Ross (RF)OF88
04/13/14Da Giant BumsJ.B. Shuck (LF)OF88
04/20/14HeartbreakersChris Heisey (LF)*OF55
04/13/14MANKIND & SSChris Denorfia (RF)OF33
04/27/14Scoring FlyballsDavid DeJesus (CF)OF33
04/06/14deadmoney3Chris Heisey (LF)*OF22
04/20/14deadmoney3Jordan Danks (CF)OF22
04/27/14Da Giant BumsDavid Lough (LF)OF11
04/06/14Team VanRiperSeth Smith (LF)OF11
04/06/14vincebarnesFrancisco Rodriguez (MR)RP408301107
04/27/14MANKIND & SSJoe Smith (MR)RP337233104
04/20/14Team VanRiperKyle Farnsworth (MR)RP19116724
04/13/14Team VanRiperEdward Mujica (MR)RP18966123
04/27/14MacedawggsHector Rondon (MR)*RP1778493
04/27/14ALL-IN MainDaisuke Matsuzaka (MR)RP871869
04/13/14ALL-IN MainLuke Gregerson (MR)RP86851
04/06/14It's Gonna Happen!Ryan Cook (MR)RP5252
04/20/14It's Gonna Happen!Daniel Webb (MR)*RP522725
04/13/14vincebarnesShawn Kelley (MR)RP48444
04/13/14OaktownHector Rondon (MR)*RP47443
04/06/14It's Gonna Happen!Jeurys Familia (MR)RP3636
04/13/14Fighting KoiGonzalez Germen (MR)RP302010
04/06/14ALL-IN MainDaniel Webb (MR)*RP2626
04/13/14ALL-IN MainAnthony Bass (MR)*RP261115
04/27/14It's Gonna Happen!Anthony Bass (MR)*RP1818
04/20/14ALL-IN MainJ.J. Putz (MR)RP17413
04/27/14Fighting KoiJosh Fields (MR)RP1616
04/27/14**51**Danny Duffy (MR)RP1414
04/06/14ALL-IN MainSean Doolittle (MR)RP1313
03/30/14MANKIND & SSDarren O'Day (MR)RP44
04/27/14Scoring FlyballsJuan Carlos Oviedo (MR)RP33
04/20/14**51**Ryan Webb (MR)RP22
03/30/14Scoring FlyballsWill Harris (MR)RP22
04/13/14Moose an SquirrelAndrew Heaney (SP)SP8181
04/13/14ALL-IN MainJosh Collmenter (MR)SP762848
04/20/14vincebarnesTrevor Bauer (SP)SP583028
04/20/14ATLANTA 0-FERSJuan Nicasio (SP)SP5757
04/27/14**51**Brandon McCarthy (SP)SP551738
04/20/14Fighting KoiKyle Gibson (SP)SP524012
04/13/14Scoring FlyballsAlfredo Simon (MR)SP443410
04/13/14deadmoney3Aaron Harang (SP)SP382612
04/20/14OaktownTom Koehler (SP)*SP361818
04/27/14Da Giant BumsCollin McHugh (SP)SP35629
04/06/14deadmoney3Jason Hammel (SP)SP34133
04/20/14vincebarnesColby Lewis (SP)SP34322
03/30/14Moose an SquirrelRoenis Elias (SP)SP2828
04/27/14ALL-IN MainTyler Chatwood (SP)SP27621
04/27/14Da Giant BumsTyler Lyons (SP)SP23149
04/20/14deadmoney3Matt Harrison (SP)SP2020
04/20/14ATLANTA 0-FERSRoberto Hernandez (SP)SP19136
04/13/14deadmoney3Dustin McGowan (SP)SP1818
04/20/14**51**Erik Johnson (SP)SP1818
04/27/14Fighting KoiDavid Hale (SP)*SP16610
04/06/14**51**Mark Buehrle (SP)SP15150
04/06/14MANKIND & SSJason Vargas (SP)SP1414
04/06/14**51**Scott Feldman (SP)SP14410
04/06/14MANKIND & SSKyle Kendrick (SP)SP14140
04/27/14vincebarnesBronson Arroyo (SP)SP1212
04/20/14Moose an SquirrelChris Young (SP)SP1111
04/13/14Da Giant BumsDavid Hale (SP)*SP1111
04/06/14Da Giant BumsEdwin Jackson (SP)SP1111
04/27/14OaktownDavid Phelps (MR)SP88
04/06/14Da Giant BumsEdinson Volquez (SP)SP77
04/20/14Da Giant BumsTaylor Jordan (SP)SP77
04/27/14vincebarnesDerek Holland (SP)SP66
04/13/14Da Giant BumsDallas Keuchel (SP)SP11
04/06/14Team VanRiperTom Koehler (SP)*SP11
04/20/14Moose an SquirrelAlcides Escobar (SS)SS1386672
04/06/14It's Gonna Happen!Adeiny Hechavarria (SS)SS76472
04/06/14Moose an SquirrelAlex Gonzalez (SS)SS1111
04/06/14vincebarnesBrandon Crawford (SS)SS44

*denotes player purchased in more than one FAAB period

There are many ways to slice up the information from the table above, but I want to focus first on the distribution of the money with respect to the entire FAAB pool.



Through five periods, the 15 teams in my league have spent a combined $4,984 of their $15,000 of allotted FAAB money. In my estimation, the range here is most likely 30-35 percent for many leagues, with a few that might check in as high as 40-45 percent if a particularly aggressive set of owners are involved, or if a late-round pick in many others leagues happened to go unselected in a league or two. I would project a similar level of spending in May (25-30 percent) and a little bit less in June (20-25 percent) before there are only a handful of owners capable of making triple-digit bids in the second half of the season.

While there may not be a significant actionable takeaway for this season, looking at the year-by-year trend of your league, or leagues that are similar might be helpful in future years when you are trying to determine how much you want to bid on a particular player, at a particular time of year.

Position Breakdown

Of that $4,984 spent, $1,881 (37.7 percent) went toward relievers. Overwhelmingly, those dollars were spent in the pursuit of saves, and the ROI to this point has not been great, but with a handful of those purchases in position to close games for their respective teams, the investment could begin to pay off over time.

PLAYERTEAMWSVIPK/9BB/9HR/9BABIPGB%ERAxFIP
Francisco RodriguezBrewers01215.013.22.40.0.22248.10.001.85
Luke GregersonAthletics1313.25.90.70.0.25656.12.633.13
Shawn KelleyYankees0411.19.52.40.0.31330.02.383.37
Danny DuffyRoyals108.111.92.20.0.25050.00.002.15
Hector RondonCubs0112.110.22.90.0.25858.10.732.74
Joe SmithAngels1111.09.02.50.0.29071.03.273.04
Sean DoolittleAthletics0111.210.00.01.5.33329.76.173.09
Daisuke MatsuzakaMets016.213.55.40.0.16745.51.352.67
Josh FieldsAstros029.111.63.91.0.38534.69.644.07
J.J. PutzD-Backs109.211.25.60.0.27363.63.723.14
Kyle FarnsworthMets0211.16.41.60.8.32431.42.383.70
Ryan WebbOrioles009.09.02.01.0.33353.65.002.62
Ryan CookAthletics007.111.17.40.0.12543.81.234.51
Edward MujicaRed Sox118.16.53.21.1.35538.78.644.60
Daniel WebbWhite Sox1014.26.14.90.6.25652.33.074.63
Juan OviedoRays003.110.88.10.0.25025.00.005.34
Will HarrisD-Backs008.114.03.22.2.44435.09.722.30
Darren O'DayOrioles018.26.23.11.0.34648.11.044.44
Jeurys FamiliaMets109.23.75.60.0.31445.74.666.05
Gonzalez GermenMets0015.18.22.41.8.26233.34.114.08
Anthony BassAstros0212.22.12.81.4.20552.24.265.03

Table generated at Fangraphs with games played through April 28.

K-Rod added his 13th save of the season at the time of this writing while Joe Smith struck out a pair of batters during a clean ninth against the Indians on Tuesday night to earn his second save of the season. Adding those two saves to the pile (they're not included in the table), we have 33 saves generated by the 21 relievers that been added via FAAB this season.

Of course, not all of those saves have been earned while these relievers were on rosters and in the lineup for their respective owners. Drilling down further, we can get a feel for what each save purchased through FAAB has cost through the first month of the season.

PLAYERCOSTSAVESFOR OWNERFAAB$/SV
Francisco Rodriguez (MR)4081311$37.09
Luke Gregerson (MR)8632$43.00
Shawn Kelley (MR)4841$48.00
Kyle Farnsworth (MR)19122$95.50
Joe Smith (MR)33722$168.50
Edward Mujica (MR)18910N/A
Hector Rondon (MR)* (177/47)17710N/A
Daisuke Matsuzaka (MR)8710N/A
Anthony Bass (MR)* (26/18)2620N/A
Sean Doolittle (MR)1310N/A
Josh Fields (MR)1620N/A
Darren O'Day (MR)410N/A
Ryan Cook (MR)5200N/A
Daniel Webb (MR)*5200N/A
Jeurys Familia (MR)3600N/A
Gonzalez Germen (MR)3000N/A
Daniel Webb (MR)*2600N/A
J.J. Putz (MR)1700N/A
Danny Duffy (MR)1400N/A
Juan Carlos Oviedo (MR)300N/A
Ryan Webb (MR)200N/A
Will Harris (MR)200N/A

In many leagues, K-Rod and Charlie Blackmon have been the greatest sources of production purchased from the waiver wire. Of the relievers in the group above, K-Rod, Smith, Farnsworth and Rondon appear to have the ninth-inning role for their respective teams, but K-Rod has an unmatched level of job security while the situations for the Mets and Cubs figure to be much more fluid.

At what point should you be happy with your investment in a closer? Further research on this topic is needed, but I am willing to speculate that Shawn Kelley is a useful guide here. Kelley was purchased nearly a full week after getting a very clear temporary opportunity to close games for the Yankees while David Robertson was on the 15-day DL. At $48 for the one save he earned after being purchased before Robertson returned to his role, that might be in the neighborhood of a reasonable per-save cost. To be certain, a much larger data set should be examined, while determining the value of each save with the respect to Standings Gained Points (SGP) in a 15-team NFBC Main Event League (and the overall standings) would serve as my preferred methodology.

Alternatively, this exercise could be done using bid results from the entire season at the end of the year, as closers purchased in July or August when the top bids are lower due to the limited spending power of the league could yield more per-save value. That is, overpaying may not be as much of an option, so the Kelley-types purchased later in the year might go for less than $48, and even the top options may go for less than $150 then if most teams have spent 80-85 percent of their budget.

The spending at other positions is much less interesting by comparison, but it falls this way:

POS$ SPENT% of $ SPENTEST./ROSTER% of ROSTER
C1342.728.7
1B2585.21.757.6
2B1092.21.56.5
SS2294.61.56.5
3B3156.31.757.6
OF115723.25.523.9
SP90118.1626.1
RP188137.7313.0

Even though relievers make up 13 percent of a team's active roster spots (less for owners who only have two closers and lean on seven starters to pick up more innings, extra wins and strikeouts), the race for saves and the simple fact that in a 15-team league, there are only 30 closers to go around at any given time during the season, pushes extra money toward relievers each week.

One of the commonly used strategies in the NFBC is to be more aggressive with starting pitching - often by taking at least two starting pitchers over the first five rounds. The leagues also have notorious closer runs, where two-thirds of the closer pool might be drafted before the end of the 10th round.

Looking at the comparably low price of acquiring starting pitchers - many times to obtain a pitcher for a two-start week, or very favorable spot start before turning them loose - perhaps it would be more prudent to aggressively seek an elite closer, at the expense of making a slightly smaller draft-day investment in starting pitching in the early rounds.

In the first table above, you might have noticed that the most spent on a starting pitcher in this league so far as the $81 bid made on Andrew Heaney on April 13. There have been a number of intriguing buys, and some have already returned more value than expected at discounted prices, including the speculative adds of Trevor Bauer ($58), Colby Lewis ($34) and Derek Holland ($6), along with the dart throws at Alfredo Simon ($44), Aaron Harang ($38), Jason Hammel ($34) and Edinson Volquez ($7), among others.

Perhaps the preferred approach is owner specific. If you think you can reliably identify useful pitchers in the dumpster and consistently execute the sit-start decisions based on matchups without suffering too many blow-ups, it might afford you the ability to make a bigger push when useful position players (i.e. Blackmon, Chris Colabello) become available. From a cost standpoint, it seems like a more viable way to build the bottom end of the roster, as opposed to waiting too long on closers during the draft and being forced to chase saves due to attrition, which subsequently limits the ability to spend aggressively elsewhere.

Looking at the results above, or by reviewing where the money has gone in your own league, does anything stand out? Please chime in with your thoughts and ideas about how to potentially utilize this (or similar) data in the comments below.
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