Crowdsourcing–Fantasy Baseball Keeper Decisions

With pitchers and catchers only a few weeks from reporting, I’ve begun to start thinking about fantasy baseball again.  In 2012, I will be in three leagues, but this discussion will focus on a ML Universe, Mixed League that is transitioning from a traditional non-keeper draft to a  H2Hkeeper/auction format.   Scoring is a points system and details on scoring and lineups is here.

For this upcoming season, dollar values have been assigned to each player based on fantasy baseball averages across CBS Sportsline in 2011, total salary cap is $300 and future inflation will be $4 per year per player.  This season, each team may keep up to 8 players off its roster, and we will conduct an auction in late March.  In subsequent years, our entire roster will be kept.  The 12 contenders for keeper status on my roster are as follows

Player (Position) 2012 Salary
Jose Bautista (3B/OF) $32
Jon Lester (P) $27
Jaime Garcia (P) $3
Mike Minor (P) $1
Aroldis Chapman (P) $1
Martin Perez (P) $1
Dustin Ackley (2B) $1
Lonnie Chisenhall (3B) $1
JJ Hardy (SS) $1
Ian Desmond (SS) $1
JP Arencibia (C) $1
Mark Trumbo (1B/OF) $1

The No Doubters

Dustin Ackley (1), Mike Minor (1), JJ Hardy (1).   In my mind, “no doubters” are going to be dictated either by position eligibility, an unbelievably aggressive price, or otherworldly production.  Ackley and Hardy are both strong producers in the middle infield, obviously challenging to find at any price, never mind $1 each.  Mike Minor is a great young left arm pitching in the NL and at $1, could be a keeper for 4-5 years down the road.  All three of these players would be expected to be auctioned at prices in the double digit range.

The Almost No Doubter

Jose Bautista (32)

Bautista finished a 685 points, 5th overall in scoring and 1st amongst 3B-eligible players by a wide margin (Michael Young was 2nd at 560) despite missing a month of the season.  Despite the price tag Bautista is about as easy a decision as exists.  The $32 price tag is a valid reason to evaluate the decision, but he is certainly not overpriced so there is no reason to risk losing him at auction.

The Rest

Given those players, I’ve got 8 players competing for 4 spots – 4 pitchers (Lester, Garcia, Chapman and Perez) and 4 hitters (Trumbo, Chisenhall, Desmond and Arencibia).  Desmond is the easiest cut – he struggles to get on base, and though his production would be profitable at $1, we’ve already committed to Hardy at SS – so Desmond is out. 

Our 2nd cut looks like Mark Trumbo – his 2nd place in the AL ROY voting and 29 HRs obscures an otherwise underwhelming 254/291/477 triple slash.  Combine this with reports of a setback in his recovery from a stress fracture in his foot means we’re throwing Trumbo back into the free agent pool.  1B and OF are typically the most straightforward positions to fill in fantasy baseball, so this cut shouldn’t haunt us. 

Down to 6 players for 4 spots:  Lester (27), Garcia (3), Chapman (1), Perez (1), Chisenhall (1), Arencibia (1)

I think Garcia is our next man up, and he makes the cut.  Garcia has yet to turn 26, but has posted back to back seasons with xFIP in the mid 3s and K/9 over 7.  Garcia may not be a true ace, but he’s clearly a solid #2 and entering his prime – at auction this season Garcia would be bid far above $3.  Garcia stays.

JP Arencibia is also a keep in my mind – he has tremendous difficulty making contact, but when he does he hits with power.   Arencibia just turned 26, but he’s posted a career ISO of .218 over his 140 career games, and 25 HRs.  With Victor Martinez out for the season, Jorge Posada retired and Joe Mauer perpetually injured, production at C is at a premium, and Arencibia’s price tag makes him too good to pass up. 

6 Keepers Down;  Two Left.

At this point, we’ve got 6 kept (Bautista, Hardy, Ackley, Minor, Garcia and Arencibia).   From a starting lineup perspective, we’ve covered C, 2B, SS, 3B (though we an shift Bautista to OF if we keep a 3B) and two starting pitchers.   Our remaining decision is two of Lester, Chapman, Perez and Chisenhall.  As painful as it is, I think Lester is the first cut from this group – I think he’s a top 10 SP, but at $27, we can probably go ahead and buy him back at auction near that price, and there exists the possibility that we can get him at a slight discount given his slightly disappointing 2011. 

That means we’re cutting one of Chapman, Perez and Chisenhall.  Honestly, I have no idea.  Perez and Chapman clearly present more upside than Chisenhall, who probably doesn’t hit with enough power to be elite.  On the other hand, Chisenhall should play this season and certainly projects as a good (if not elite) hitter at a position where production is scarce.  Martin Perez consistently ranks near the top of the Rangers prospects lists and has rocketed through the system – but his minor league results have yet to match his lofty prospect status.   Finally, Chapman routinely hits triple digits on the radar gun, and over his 63 career IP, has struck out nearly 13 per 9IP, while walking over 6.  The Reds held him out of winter ball this off season due to arm trouble, but are committed to Chapman as a starting pitcher in 2012 (though many think that commitment may soften as the start of the season approaches).  The Reds are set to contend this season and may have the best team in the NL, which may indicate a short leash on the SP experiment.  Though Chapman is electric, a move back to a setup role would significantly diminish his value in this league.

SO that’s where I am right now – thankfully, I don’t have to submit my keepers until the end of February.  Please let me know who your vote is on the final keeper – or where my analysis is wrong on the other 7. 

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About Bill Porter

Bill is an aspiring sportswriter (attorney by day) born in Washington DC, raised in New York, and currently living in San Francisco with his wife Kirsten and two spazzy labs, Fletch and Bear. Follow me on Twitter at @wfporter1972
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