The save may be the the scarcest statistic in fantasy baseball, but the closer position is also the most volatile in the game.
So, what's the point of spending big on that scarcity if it's largely negated by the turnover at the position?
In "only" leagues – NL-only or AL-only – that scarcity is magnified, leading to great inflation in auctions and drafts. I got to see this again first-hand Wednesday night, as I was invited to rep RotoWire in the Triple Crown NL league, put on by the kind folks at eXpertLeagues.com. It is a 12-team, 5x5 rotisserie league with each active roster consisting of 14 hitters (including two catchers) and nine pitchers. Each owner had $264 to spend in the auction to fill the 23 active spots as well as four bench spots.
Now, I didn't enter the auction with a clear intent to punt saves, despite doing so in a recent AL-only auction, but as closers kept going far above market value, I again decided to avoid them altogether and stock up elsewhere.
Here are the notable prices on closers, with the price paid listed first in parenthesis followed by the RotoWire recommended price for that player in this format.
Aroldis Chapman, CIN ($25, $19.38)
Craig Kimbrel, ATL ($25, $20.03)
Trevor Rosenthal, STL ($21, $11.73)
Drew Storen, WAS ($21, $11.86)
Mark Melancon, PIT ($20, $17.16)
Kenley Jansen, LAD ($19, $10.98)
Steve Cishek, MIA ($17, $14.47)
Jonathan Papelbon, PHI ($17, $12.63)
Francisco Rodriguez, MIL ($16, $11.23)
Hector Rondon, CHC ($16, $10.70)
Total "overspent" on those 10 closers: $56.83
I think paying a premium for Chapman or Kimbrel is justified given just how good those players are, but with guys like Rosenthal and Papelbon, there's potentially crippling downside at those prices.
The money I saved on closers I used primarily to bolster my offense, stacking up on premiere players who surprisingly came at or below market value. Admittedly, there are some glaring holes on my roster, and I probably should have better distributed the money I spent on my pitching staff to form a more well-rounded bunch, but I'm happy with how my team turned out. Out of curiosity, I plugged each team's roster into the RotoWire Draft Software after the draft in order to see where I stood in the projected standings. Despite emerging from the auction with just ONE projected save, I'm projected to finish fourth out of 12. I know it won't be easy given the sharks in this league, but if I can land a closer or two in FAAB and get better-than-expected contributions in the other pitching categories, I should be able to close the gap. I'm projected to finish in the top half in each offensive category, and first in both average and runs.
Before I get to the breakdown of the projected standings, I'll lay out my roster in its entirety. Here she is:
C: Francisco Cervelli, PIT ($8)
C: Anthony Recker, NYM ($1)
1B: Joey Votto, CIN ($18) – I couldn't believe I didn't get bid up more on him. Looks completely healthy, RW estimated price was $23.49.
2B: Dilson Herrera, NYM ($2)
SS: Jimmy Rollins, LAD ($18)
3B: Nolan Arenado, COL ($21) – Slight overpay maybe, but the two home runs today made me feel good about the price.
MI: Yunel Escobar, WAS ($2)
CR: Matt Carpenter, STL ($16)
OF: Yasiel Puig, LAD ($32) – Hopefully I can get more than the 15 steals we estimate for him, but I'm high on him regardless.
OF: Corey Dickerson, COL ($28)
OF: Gregory Polanco, PIT ($19)
OF: Jayson Werth, WAS ($12) – Market overreaction to shoulder injury, age.
OF: Cameron Maybin, SD ($1)
UT: Justin Morneau, COL ($17)
P: Zack Greinke, LAD ($26)
P: Matt Harvey, NYM ($25) – Pretty hefty overpay according to our projections ($18.22), but I think there's still some room for profit.
P: Jake Peavy, SF ($5)
P: Josh Collmenter, AZ ($4) – As Derek VanRiper pointed out on the Fantasy Baseball Podcast, an underrated option.
P: David Buchanan, PHI ($1)
P: Travis Wood, CHC ($1) – I'm not a huge fan, but his xFIP last year was just one point higher than it was in 2013, when he had a 3.11 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over 200 innings, plus his strikeout rate was up.
P: Dale Thayer, SD ($1) – Elite 'stache profile.
P: Brandon Maurer, SD ($1)
P: Oliver Perez, AZ ($1) – Probably not an option to close, but good strikeout rate, induced a lot more groundballs last year. Needs to improve control.
Bench: Jon Gray, COL ($1) – Looking really good this spring.
Bench: Eric Stults, ATL ($1) – Seems to have the inside edge at a rotation spot. Would have rather had Wandy Rodriguez actually, but Stults will do.
Bench: Chris Stewart, PIT ($1)
Bench: Mike Foltynewicz, ATL ($1)
So, yes, I had to fill out my pitching staff with five $1 players, but I'll live with that considering how many great offensive options I landed. I'll also need to get another middle infielder right away, unless Daniel Murphy's hamstring issue proves more serious than the team is letting on and Dilson Herrera returns sooner than expected.
Here are the projected standings for the league, with the hitting and pitching categories separated but the teams listed in both tables according to their projected roto points total:
|Triple Crown Myers||86||190||8.5||738||7||112||8||754||5||270||9|
|The Fantasy Sports Brain||76||206||12||795||11||103||4||814||9||262||2|
|BB Professor Nodiff||70||178||7||701||4||115||9||784||8||274||11|
|Triple Crown Myers||86||43||7||83||10||1104||9||1.151||12||3.282||10|
|The Fantasy Sports Brain||76||8||2||86||12||1115||10||1.219||6||3.368||8|
|BB Professor Nodiff||70||40||5||84||11||1156||12||1.266||1||3.537||2|
For your consideration...
Elite speed guys:
Dee Gordon, MIA ($30)
Starling Marte, PIT ($28)
Billy Hamilton, CIN ($26)
Ben Revere, PHI ($19) – Only one of these players to go under market value ($20.36).
Most surprising prices:
Johnny Cueto, CIN ($21)
Josh Harrison, PIT ($21)
Jon Lester, CHC ($20)
Doug Fister, WAS ($12)
Mike Fiers, MIL ($9) – This was Wednesday night, before he got scratched with shoulder discomfort. Doesn't look like it's anything serious, so this should still be a really profitable buy.
Kyle Hendricks, CHC ($7) – Great control, big WHIP asset.
Jace Peterson, ATL ($7) – Appears to have the leg up in Braves' second base competition. Has three seasons in the minors with 39 or more stolen bases, .870 OPS at Triple-A last year.
Jon Jay, STL ($6) – Much like James Anderson did during the SKL2 auction, I was cursing myself for not having the ability to bid Jay up. Absolute steal.
Yangervis Solarte, SD ($2) – Wasn't even an endgame pickup, was the 166th player put up for nomination. Great contact skills.
What do you think? If you have a comment or question, feel free to contact me on Twitter @claywlink.