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AL FAAB Factor: Climbing the Hill

Andrew Martinez

Andrew Martinez writes about baseball and football. He is a native Texan and roots for the Astros, Rockets, Texans, and Rice Owls.

This is our weekly look at American League free agents. We have two goals for this article:

  1. Identify likely free agents and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Estimate how much of your free-agent budget you should bid on them.

One size does not fit all, and we could never hope to encompass all league structures, so bids are based on:
  • 12-team league (either AL or Mixed, we'll specify)
  • 5x5 categories
  • $100 FAAB budget

Starting Pitcher

Cody Anderson, Indians Anderson has a 1.69 ERA (3.77 FIP) this month to go with 18 strikeouts and 10 walks, as hes trending back in the right direction after a poor July (5.09 ERA) and wretched August (7.24 ERA). Hes tough to trust in mixed leagues, as he doesnt miss many bats. His last start came against the Twins on the road and he had four strikeouts with no walks, but gave up 10 hits over 6.2 innings. Hell get the Twins again this week and the Red Sox at home to finish things up. Mixed: $3; AL: Owned.

Rich Hill, Red Sox The Rich Hill revival tour has made three stops and the reviews have all come back positive, as hes got a 1.17 ERA (1.68 FIP) with a whopping 30 strikeouts to just two walks over 23 innings. Non-believers are being converted, as hes striking out 10 batters in every start. At Triple-A Pawtucket, he had a 2.78 ERA (3.64 FIP) with 29 strikeouts and nine walks over 32.1 innings, so this isnt out of nowhere. Still with one more start left this season (against the Yankees on the road), grab a ticket to see if he can keep the magic alive. Mixed: $5; AL: $15.

Daniel Norris, Tigers Norris gets two starts this week (on the road against Texas and the White Sox) as he looks to continue to work deeper into games coming back from a strained oblique. So far hes gone 8.2 innings with eight strikeouts and no walks to go with a 1.04 ERA. Traded from the Blue Jays as part of the David Price deal, Norris has a bright future ahead of him. On the season he has a 3.88 ERA (4.56 FIP) with 42 walks and 17 strikeouts over 53.1 innings. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.

Adam Warren, Yankees Since coming back to the Yankees rotation, Warren has a 4.05 ERA (2.32 FIP) with 13 strikeouts and four walks over 13.1 innings. Hes been building up his stamina and working deeper into games after being in bullpen since late June. On the season as a starter he has a 3.66 ERA (3.93 FIP) with 67 strikeouts and 30 walks over 96 innings. This week he gets the Red Sox at home. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.

Relief Pitcher

Neftali Feliz and Alex Wilson, Tigers Bruce Rondon blew back-to-back saves and then had a clean appearance before being sent home by the team because of his lack of effort. Its a weird situation, but his 5.81 ERA (4.17 FIP) likely didnt help matters. In his place the team has gone with Wilson and Feliz to end games down the stretch. Wilson has a 2.19 ERA (3.60 FIP) with 38 strikeouts and 11 walks over 70 innings. Hes likely to keep his role as setup man, as Feliz has converted two save chances last week. Unfortunately though, Feliz just isnt very good, with a 7.33 ERA (3.78 FIP) since joining the Tigers. Hes done better to cut down on the walks and his fastball velocity has spiked up, but hes been beaten up quite a bit this season. He has a 2.53 ERA this month, which is enough for him to keep getting the ball to end the season, but dont bid on him with plans for 2016. Feliz Mixed: $4; AL: $12. Wilson Mixed: $2; AL: $6.

Darren ODay, Orioles ODay has been filling in as the Os closer while Zach Britton deals with a lat injury and remains day-to-day. ODay has a 1.44 ERA (2.56 FIP) with 78 strikeouts and 13 walks over 62.1 innings, so hes certainly capable of ending games if Britton needs to miss more time. If youre speculating for saves or even just making sure other owners arent getting the saves that could help them in the standings, make sure ODay is owned in your league. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.

Robbie Ross, Red Sox Ross last three appearances have all been converted into saves, as he has taken over the ninth inning for the Red Sox. Hes a lefty with a 4.06 ERA (4.19 FIP), 50 strikeouts, and 19 walks over 57.2 innings. Considering it was him or Jean Machi, its a little surprising that Ross wasnt used against just the lefties and Machi saved for the righties and to end things, but maybe Machis 5.20 ERA (4.61 FIP) had something to do with it. That said, Ross has a 4.56 ERA (3.62 FIP) in the second half and has given up three earned runs over his last three appearances, so were not talking about some great savior to cure the Red Sox bullpen woes. Mixed: $5; AL: $15.

Fernando Salas, Michael Morin, Trevor Gott, and Cesar Ramos, Angels Huston Street injured his groin Saturday night and is very likely done for the season. That leaves the Angels and owners looking for someone to step up as the closer as the season winds down. Joe Smith would be in line to take up that role, but hes out with a sprained ankle, which means the team will need to go closer-by-committee with Gott, Salas, Ramos, and Morin. This isnt exactly the best bunch to draw from, but of the four, Morin has been the teams best reliever in the second half with a 2.87 ERA (0.60 FIP), 23 strikeouts, and one walk over 15.2 innings. Salas has experience closing from his days with the Cardinals (24 saves in 2011), so Id bid on him first and most, but it really could be any or all of these guys that see high-leverage opportunities as the Angels continue to fight for a spot in the playoffs. Salas Mixed: $3; AL: $9. Morin, Gott, Ramos Mixed: $1; AL: $3.

Catcher

Max Stassi, Astros Stassi started just one game last week but made good use of it, going 2-of-4 with a run. He also pinch hit a few times and connected for a home run, showing hes worthy of more playing time despite being third on the depth chart. At Triple-A Fresno this season, he hit .211 with 13 home runs over 328 plate appearances. Jason Castro is back from the DL after dealing with a quad injury, but hes hitting only .212 this season and Hank Conger has barely been used lately, so theres at least an opportunity here for Stassi to earn more at-bats. Mixed: No; AL: $1.

First Base

Jonathan Singleton, Astros Singleton was recalled after his season finished up at Triple-A Fresno last week. He hit .254 with 22 home runs over 448 plate appearances with Fresno, but has been unable to carry over any of that success to the majors in his previous promotions. The team has a slew of options at first base ahead of him, so dont be surprised to see his playing time limited as the season closes. Hes potentially of value in keeper leagues, where you can get on him on the cheap, and he could be traded to another club that can give him a real chance to see what he can do. Mixed: No; AL: $1.

Jesus Montero, Mariners Montero hit another home run last week, but he continues to see limited playing time. On the season hes hitting .233 with five home runs over 107 plate appearances after hitting .355 with 18 home runs over 430 PA at Triple-A Tacoma. Logan Morrison continues see more at-bats, but hes a known product at this point and it would serve the team better to get Montero more playing time to see if they want to keep him in their 2016 plans. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.

Second Base

Dustin Ackley, Yankees Ackley started five games at second base and saw a start at first base heading into the weekend, as hes been able to put his back injury behind him. Hes hit .357 over the last two weeks with two home runs, and team is using him a little bit everywhere defensively. Itd be nice if he used his speed to steal bases, but at least getting playing time. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.

Johnny Giavotella, Angels Back from being diagnosed with fourth-nerve palsy which affected his vision, Giavotella has returned to starting at second base for the Halos again. Hes already gone 3-for-6 with two triples, so his vision seems to be just fine. On the season hes hitting .268 with three home runs and two stolen bases over 475 plate appearances. He wont fill up the box score, but hes good for a handful of runs. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.

Carlos Sanchez, White Sox Sanchez hit a home run last week, and hes starting to see the majority of at-bats at second base again for the Pale Hose. Micah Johnson came up and was getting playing time, but that seemed to have ended just as quickly as it began. Sanchez has hit .228 with five home runs over 396 plate appearances this season. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.

Shortstop

Dixon Machado, Tigers Andrew Romine has been dealing with a sore groin that has opened up more playing time for Machado, as former starter Jose Iglesias (finger) is out for the season. Machado hit .261 with four home runs and 15 stolen bases over 567 plate appearances at Triple-A Toledo this season, but he only has two doubles over 57 PA with the Tigers and hasnt stolen any bases yet. Hes really going to have to heat up to have any value the rest of the way. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.

Third Base

Deven Marrero, Red Sox Marrero has started to see more regular at-bats at third base, as Pablo Sandoval (pneumonia) is out for the season. He has yet to do anything with his opportunity, as he has no extra-base hits and is just 8-for-24 this season. He does have two stolen bases though; this after hitting .256 with six home runs and 12 stolen bases over 419 plate appearances at Triple-A Pawtucket this season. If every steal matters to you, Marrero could help out. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.

Jose Ramirez, Indians A middle infielder by glove, Ramirez has slid over to third base, as Giovanny Urshela deals with a shoulder injury and Lonnie Chisenhall has moved to right field. Ramirez has had his ups and downs this season and is currently on the upswing, as he has four extra-base hits in his last three games and is hitting .371 over his last two weeks. Eligible at multiple positions, find a place for him if youre scrapping for a fill-in. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Outfield

Max Kepler, Twins Kepler was brought up from Double-A Chattanooga, where he hit .322 with nine home runs and 17 stolen bases over 482 plate appearances. Hes unlikely to appear in many games, but serves as a decent player to bid on in keeper leagues, where you can hold him on the cheap going into 2016. Kepler was the MVP of the Southern League and can play the outfield and first base, so hes an intriguing prospect going into 2016. Mixed: No; AL: $1.

Mikie Mahtook, Rays Mahtook hit a home run last week, and hes getting playing time in right field and DH down the stretch. Hes done well in his time up, hitting .287 with five home runs and three stolen bases over 96 plate appearances. Hes an interesting blend of power and speed, but doesnt really have a regular spot in the lineup, so its tough to trust him every day. Mixed: No; AL: $2.

Rico Noel, Yankees Noel has stolen two bases over the last week as a pinch runner, which may be of use to those clawing for every last stolen base. In the minors this season between the Padres and Yankees and Double-A and Triple-A, he stole 23 bases over 143 plate appearances, so hes got some wheels. Unfortunately he also hit .181 over that stretch, so hes going to need to be used as a pinch runner to have a shot at taking a base. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.

Trayce Thompson, White Sox Thompson hit third in the lineup last week, as the White Sox are seeing just how much the youngster can handle at the major league level. Hes hitting .306 with five home runs and one stolen base over 107 plate appearances and looks to be in the teams plans for 2016. This season at Triple-A Charlotte he hit .260 with 13 home runs and 11 stolen bases over 417 PA. Hes going to need to work on his pitch recognition and contact skills to survive in the majors as a full-time player. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.

Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop a line in the comments section.