MASTER NOTES: First-half Net Value All Stars

As we come out of the All-Star Break and look ahead to the second half, let’s take one last look at the first half, so I can tell you about my first-half fantasy value all-stars and some lessons we might get from them.

My method is purely about net value, which is Production + Profit:

  • Production value was 5x5 15-team mixed, as calculated by the BaseballHQ.com Custom Draft Guide
  • Salary was each player's auction price at the Tout Wars Mixed Auction, with undrafted and reserve picks given salaries of zero.
  • Profit, of course, was production minus salary.
  • And, as I said, net fantasy value was production value plus profit.

We all want profit, but we also want actual production.

After ranking the players from the highest value down, I took the best value at each of the 14 hitting positions. Batters eligible at more than one position were slotted where they provided the most value. For instance, we had a lot of middle infielders near the top of the value list, so Ian Desmond was ranked as an outfielder.

For pitchers, I took the top six starters, two closers and one non-closer reliever.

That’s enough explaining. Let’s get to those first-half fantasy all stars!

Catchers and DH (YTD Value, Tout Sal, Profit, Net Value)

  • Wilson Ramos, WAS ($20, $3, $17, $37)
  • Jacob Realmuto, MIA ($18, $0, $18, $36)

Lesson: You don’t need to pay top dollar for Buster Posey. These two showed high ct% and decent sock last season, and Realmuto had enough speed to make him at least intriguing, especially in a season when SBs are harder to come by.

Corners

  • 1B Wil Myers, SD ($27, $8, $19, $46)
  • 3B Eduardo Nunez, MIN ($29, $0, $29, $58)
  • CI Jake Lamb, ARI ($19, $0, $19, $38)

Lesson: Be on the lookout for the failed prospect. Myers’ $8 salary reflected his decline from top prospect to major suspect over his past three injury-plagued years. Myers got two votes in the recent BaseballHQ Radio mid-season roundtable as the fantasy MVP for the first half. And little wonder: He was top-10 in SBs with 15, and top-20 in all other cats (19-60-.286- 61). He’s already had more PA in the 1H this year than in any previous full season. Sometimes it just takes more time than we think.

Lesson: Sometimes you just can’t see it. Nunez was impossible to see coming.

Lesson: Dont always assume that the Bonus Baby gets the gig. Lamb was picked in Reserve in Tout-Mixed because everyone assumed that $68-million Cuban signee Yasmany Tomas would get the hot corner role with the D’backs. But he had no MLB-level track record.

Middles

  • Daniel Murphy, WAS ($27, $8, $19, $46)
  • Jonathan Villar, MIL ($28, $1, $27, $55)
  • Jose Altuve, HOU ($38, $31, $7, $45)

Lesson: Good hitters often stay good. Murphy drew a scant $8 bid from the Tout experts. Perhaps they were wary of his ability to repeat his 2015 playoff heroics. Perhaps they were concerned about his well-known iron-mitt defensive difficulties. Perhaps they were scared off by the injuries that have dogged him throughout his career. But starting in 2011, Murphy's worst fantasy year was $13, and he notched a $30 season as recently as 2013 and a $22 in ’14. This year, 17 HR, 66 RBI and 53 runs and .348 later, maybe ya gotta believe.

Similarly, Altuve has been over $30 each of the last two full seasons, but drew only a $31 bid. In supporting Altuve for MVP on the HQ Radio Roundtable, Todd Zola said he is the kind of hitter a fantasy team can be built around, providing useful stats across the board and especially laying a solid foundation in the speed categories.

Lesson: Don’t always assume that the hot prospect gets the gig, either. Villar went for a buck in the Tout endgame, as the experts thought he was only keeping a seat warm until May, when the Brewers would call up super MI prospect Orlando Arcia. Instead, Villar is second only to Nunez on the net value list at $55, he’s leading MLB with 31 SB, and he’s batting .298. And Arcia? Still in the minors, where he has a PCL-average .270 BA, a .734 OPS (in Colorado Springs, no less) and a SB success rate under 60 per cent.

Outfielders

  • Ian Desmond, TEX ($31, $13, $18, $49)
  • Melvin Upton, SD ($22, $0, $22, $44)
  • Rajai Davis, CLE ($21, $0, $21, $42)
  • Jackie Bradley, BOS ($20, $0, $20, $40)
  • Mark Trumbo, BAL ($23, $10, $13, $36)

Lesson: Don’t pay big bucks for OFs. Three of these guys were reserve picks or undrafted, and the other two were $13 and $10. The near-misses in this position group were all also under $15 bids, with many more endgame and reserve picks among them as well.

Lesson: Look for OFs who deliver narrowly focused—but BIG—results. Desmond, Upton and Bradley have been pretty useful across-the-board contributors, but don't forget about the Rajai speedster or the Trumbo-style bopper. Together, these two guys have provided the equivalent of two OFs with 19-51-13-.278-51 lines. Not too shabby.

Utility

  • Jean Segura ($23, $3, $20, $43)

Lesson: Plenty of talent in the MI. The UT spot went to the best leftover, and ended up being one of six (!) middle-eligible fantasy value all-stars on the net-value list.

Starting Pitchers

  • Drew Pomeranz, BOS ($15, $0, $15, $30)
  • Johnny Cueto, SF ($21, $16, $5, $26)
  • Steven Wright, BOS, ($13, $0, $13, $26)
  • Rich Hill, OAK ($13, $0, $13, $26)
  • Michael Fulmer DET, ($12, $0, $12, $24)
  • Marco Estrada TOR, ($12, $1, $11, $23)

Lesson: Big bucks for starters has meant big losses for owners. Nineteen starters went for $20 or more at the Tout auction, and though they all had positive stat value, every one of them lost money on his salary investment. The “best” results, at -$4 or -$5, were from Madison Bumgarner, Jose Fernandez and Stephen Strasburg—the latter two, of course, the subject of injury concerns that depressed their bidding.

Things weren’t a lot better in the next tier of starters, either. Of the nine auctioned for between $11 and $19, only Cueto returned a profit; the rest lost between -$3 (Danny Salazar) and -$21 (Sonny Gray, whose 5.16/1.47 made him a negative stat value).

By contrast, Pomeranz (a 2H sleeper pick in the podcast roundtable), Wright, and Fulmer were not chosen in the draft at all. Hill was a reserve pick. Cueto was the top bid in the group at $16, and Estrada was a $1 endgamer.

Closers

  • CL1: Jeanmar Gomez, PHI ($12, $0, $12, $24)
  • CL2: Roberto Osuna, TOR ($11, $2, $9, $20)

Lesson: We hear it every year, but in unsettled bullpen situations, wait as long as you can, and don’t gamble. Gomez was one of about 86 guys in the running to close in PHI after Ken Giles was traded. And in fact, he didn’t get the job. After the Phillies had lost a few early games with the other candidates blowing saves and generally underperforming, Gomez carped the diem, with 3 wins, 24 saves in 26 tries, 2.59/1.10, 26 K. The concern here is that he gets so few Ks, although his 53% GB rate helps.

Lesson: In a two-closer showdown, don’t be afraid to stick with the incumbent. Despite 2015 breakout success, Osuna started the year with some uncertainty as to his role. The Blue Jays had traded for Drew Storen, who appeared to have the inside track to the closer role because of his experience and $8+ million contract. Because this auction was held about 10 days before Opening Day, owners were reluctant to go in on Osuna (Storen went for $7), but he won the race in ST, came out firing and hasn’t looked back, with 2 wins, 18 saves in 20 tries, 2.27/0.96, 48 Ks in 39.2 IP. Storen has been awful.

Non-closing Reliever

  • RP, Brad Brach, BAL ($12, $0, $12, $24)

Lesson: Even if he doesn’t have a shot at closing, a good reliever can help more than a middling starter—even in a mixed league, where these guys are seldom rostered except as backstops or speculations on shaky closers.

Brach was not taken at any point in the Tout auction, in large part because he was in a bullpen anchored by Zach Britton, one of the most effective closers in MLB.

But Brach has actually been more valuable than all but 23 starters. His $12 in actual production (not even considering profit or net value) has been better than, for instance, John Lackey, Rick Porcello, J.A. Happ, Chris Tillman, Jacob deGrom, Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, Masahiro Tanaka, David Price, Carlos Carrasco, Cole Hamels, Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, Vince Velasquez, Taijuan Walker, Joe Ross, and Jordan Zimmermann.

To name but a few.

Yes, the limited innings mean a shortfall in Ks, but I did a quick calculation of a pretend team in the Tout-Mixed league, sitting sixth in Wins, Ks, ERA and WHIP, and assumed this team had Jason Hammel. When I replaced Hammel’s stats with Brach’s, the team gained a net two points (plus, as it happens, Brach’s two saves get an extra point in that category). And considering his 0.91/0.83 line, who do you think gets first dibs if Britton goes down?

Plenty to think about. Have a great second half and keep plugging.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.