The Bootu Inc. Fantasy Baseball Extravaganza!

It’s finally here! The very first Bootu Inc. sponsored venture! I have recently undertaken a new fantasy baseball league and decided to give it the official Bootu Inc. stamp of approval. What this means for you, dear reader, is that you’re going to have to put up with my randomly written articles discussing the team, moves I’m considering, and all around angry rants when applicable.

First things first: the league details. This a 16-team 5×5 roto dynasty league. The 5×5 categories are a bit different than what you’re used to seeing, with OBP, HR, SB, R, and RBI comprising the hitting side and QS, Ks, ERA, WHIP, and Sv + Hd on the pitching side. I joined this league via the prospect361.com Facebook page, comprising mostly of members from that group, with the exception of friends Brian Vaughan of theslowdescent.com and Justin Hughes of snack cake fame. We keep any major league player indefinitely, and have a 16-man minors which we keep indefinitely as well.

We are doing a slow auction draft with the caveat that in order to allow for minor leaguers to be drafted, we have doubled the budget to $520 per team. This has resulted in some crazy costs for players, and inflated value as well. Since it’s a keep forever situation, young superstar-caliber guys are worth even more than you would think. Each of the 16 teams nominate two players to be bid on, thus making the number of players at any given time at auction be 32. A player is initially set up for a 24 hour bid clock, and when that players time slips below 10 hours each higher bid resets the clock to 10 hours.

While there are many ways to ultimately attempt to handle this kind of draft, I knew going in that I wasn’t particularly enamored with spending money on minor league players. I would, am, and certainly will do it, but it’s not really my focus. Prior to the start of the draft I ranked and tiered a group of players into ‘franchise’ guys, where I knew I wanted to get at least one or two of them on my team virtually regardless of cost (though I knew and had my limits… I knew that I would go to $90+ on Trout, my darling, but that I likely wouldn’t go over $100 for any player at all). I feel so far that I have accomplished this feat.

Before I get into my team, here is a list of players who have been won and their final dollar amount:

$37 Troy Tulowitzki
$60 Freddie Freeman
$52 Corey Kluber
$39 Eric Hosmer
$58 Xander Bogaerts
$35 Yasiel Puig
$51 Justin Upton
$49 Anthony Rendon
$34 Danny Salazar
$52 David Price
$24 DJ LeMahieu
$83 Anthony Rizzo
$42 Francisco Lindor
$69 Max Scherzer
$85 Kris Bryant
$26 Michael Wacha
$10 Brady Aiken
$62 Jake Arrieta
$87 Josh Donaldson
$73 Jose Altuve
$58 Chris Sale
$74 Jose Abreu
$22 Billy Hamilton
$49 Zack Greinke
$53 Edwin Encarnacion
$48 Dallas Keuchel
$36 Carlos Gonzalez
$90 Manny Machado
$89 Giancarlo Stanton
$77 Andrew McCutchen
$49 Kyle Schwarber
$92 Paul Goldschmidt
$27 Kolten Wong
$32 Julio Urias
$46 Chris Davis
$108 Mike Trout
$26 Adam Wainwright
$77 Nolan Arenado
$44 Yoan Moncada
$70 Madison Bumgarner
$65 Corey Seager
$18 Brandon Crawford
$37 Lucas Giolito
$69 A.J. Pollock
$88 Clayton Kershaw
$15 Corey Dickerson
$33 Felix Hernandez
$34 Sonny Gray
$44 Noah Syndergaard
$100 Carlos Correa
$106 Bryce Harper
$81 Mookie Betts

So as you can see there is a lot of money being thrown around. Guys like Arenado at $77 and Betts at $81 stand out as big overpays to me. I have certainly not tried to hide my disdain for the opinion that Betts is going to be a 20-40 guy, and Arenado is a guy who walks (ironic choice of words!) a fine line between being elite and being just ok with his inability to take a free pass and that career power year that he will have a hard time replicating. That’s not to say I don’t like either of them, I just don’t care for them at that price.

I spent a good deal of time trying to land Trout, only to be outbid and taken into the over $100 territory I had no interest in visiting. He ultimately went for $108, which I believe the owner proclaimed a “bargain.” I’m not so sure I agree that any player, even the best player in baseball is worth 1/5th of your budget. I totally understand it, I just have zero interest in treading that territory myself. The slugging duo of Bryce Harper and Carlos Correa rounded out the top three costly players at $106 and $100 respectively. Justin Hughes was notably the owner to nab Correa.

Now onto my players. After being outbid on Trout I pumped up the cost of many guys including Stanton and Schwarber (the latter of which I really had no interest in owning and topped out my bid at $39). After being bumped out of my price range I began to focus on a guy that if we did this draft next year, would likely be in the $85+ range: Corey Seager. I have been a major fan of his going back to early last year when I started noticing just how good his minor league numbers were, and how highly thought of he was by scouts and teams alike. He offers a blend of power and bat control plus a little bit of speed at a premium position that I simply drooled at.

The cost for Seager had kind of platooned at roughly $58, when a few guys starting making small bids and I ultimately put in my max bid of $70. I didn’t necessarily want to go that high on an “unproven” player, but I was willing to do it considering the format of the league. He stopped at $65 and ten hours later, he was mine. The pick itself offers a deal of risk, but after an elite 98 at-bat run in the majors last year where he produced a .337/.425/.561 line with 4 homers and 2 steals along with a phenomenal minor league record, I was sold. And as Justin had already won Correa at $100, I felt the $65 spent on Seager was a solid bargain (of which Justin agreed).

bob seager.jpg

Corey Seager, seen here belting out his 1976 hit “Night Moves”

Next I turned my attention to Anthony Rizzo, who I firmly believe is one of the better players in the game right now that doesn’t get the love he deserves. In an OBP league like this one, his value is even more inflated as he’s a perennial .380-.400 guy. He was quickly priced out of my range and ended up going to Brian Vaughan as his first pick at $83, something I still claim as a major bargain (he’s only 26 years old! Which in prospect hound’s eyes is something like being 45 and struggling with retirement). When that didn’t work out I noticed the decent cost on Atlanta’s mobster-named Freddie Freeman.

While not initially being on my short list, Freeman is a guy who like Rizzo holds a higher value in OBP formats. His career triple slash of .285/.366/.466 (and .296/.385/.478 since 2013) is more than serviceable, and bordering “superfine.” He’s also only 26, and before a wrist injury derailed his 2015 season, had over 600 plate appearances each season since 2011. While the wrist injury is still scary, he’s claiming to be pain free as of mid-January and presents immense future value for now. I ended up winning him with a final cost of $60.

While bidding on Freeman was ongoing, there were two other players that I had my eye on and hoped to land, including a very cheap (again, for this format) Troy Tulowitzki and a fairly pricey but still undervalued José Fernandez. Tulo was hovering around the $32 mark, and after a few late bids, settled for me at $37. While I would obviously prefer the former price, the latter represented a decent cost for a guy who just last year would have likely commanded a $65-75 contract. I firmly believe that reports of his demise are premature, and am expecting a decent return. While his line last year of .280/.337/.440 was a far cry from his days of slugging .500, he still hit 17 homers from a very shallow position, and now calls one of the best lineups in the game his home, thus helping to pad his counting stats.

Fernandez sat around the $58-60 mark for quite some time before someone finally bid him up to my currently leading $65. I have set my max bid at $69, and am going to hold myself at that amount. If I get him at that cost, I’m thrilled, but if I don’t it isn’t the end of the World either. Though I’m not a proponent of bidding any kind of money on pitchers, I do want to have one really good guy on my team, and that begins and ends with two names: Clayton Kershaw and Jose Fernandez. Kershaw went earlier in the draft for $88, a reasonable price but not one I’m comfortable matching. Fernandez is coming off of a shortened season after returning from Tommy John surgery, and will likely face an innings limit this season (maybe around the 180 mark). These things only drop the cost of the just now 23-year old, and I firmly believe he has the most upside of any pitcher in the game today. Remember that prior to his surgery, this is a guy that had a K/9 rate of 10.3, a BB/9 of 2.8, and a H/9 of 5.9.

I have had a strategy of nominating top pitchers that I have no interest in (Kershaw, Sale, Felix Hernandez), and some mid-tier pitching prospects (Brady Aiken, Mark Appel). I’m doing this because I want to see guys throw their money at the top guys, and either throw money at the prospects or have them slip to me for a decent cost. As of writing this, I have Appel at $6, with a max bid of $9. Aiken went for $10 to Brian, which is not at all an unreasonable cost.

Because I have allocated more than anticipated ($162 in the books, a potential of $240 if Fernandez and Appel go to me), I’m going to be taking a step back and letting some more guys go. I’d love to get in on George Springer who will probably finish in the mid-$70 range, but won’t due to my current commitments. Another player I have interest in is Addison Russell who is currently at $33. I would happily go to $35-37 but won’t considering the structure of my team. I have Seager who may not provide immediate full value, Freeman who might have lingering injury issues, Tulo who just might be done, and possibly Fernandez facing an innings limit. Russell himself has a decent amount of question marks, and though I think he becomes very good to elite, I don’t need to be taking on much risk for any decent chunk of change.

This means that I may have to stray from my “take guys in the 23-27 year old range,” and settle on some undervalued older guys. Maybe someone like an Evan Longoria who is unspectacular and 30 years old. He still presents some power and counting stats as well as a not team killing OBP. I do have to keep telling myself that there are plenty of guys that I really want still out there. And if I am patient enough I could be in a really good position to nab some of them at decent prices considering the money being thrown around. Even if I end up with $240 spent, I’ll still be in the top 50% of teams in terms of money remaining.

Overall this has been a ton of fun, and I’m looking forward to how things shape up. Keep in tune here at Bootu Inc. dear readers, as I will try and keep everyone updated semi-regularly on the draft and the league!

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