Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 8b: Know Your Waiver System and Draft Rules

Let’s be realistic, when you’re rebuilding a dynasty league roster, you’re going to be near or at the bottom of the standings – and that’s the point. There’s not much to be gained by trying to sneak up an extra 10 points in the standings or eek out another 2-3 wins. In fact, it may be to your advantage not to do so.  By making that statement, I’m not saying that you should specifically tank in a way which will upset other league owners – that’s a good way to get kicked out of a league. But by knowing the constitution and settings of your league, you can take even further advantage of ways to accumulate talent.

There are two main aspects of your league rules you are looking for: rules on waiver priorities during the season and rules on determining draft order for after the season.

We’ll start with waiver priority. I’ve seen many different ways for this to be set up in long-term leagues, and first I’ll go into the league which I’m using as an example. In this particular league, waiver priority is determined by record and does not reset – that way the worst team always has the best shot at a newly minted free agent. Now, as the team with the worst record in the league (3-18 at season’s end), this is a great thing for me – and I took advantage of it. From the time of the trading deadline to the end of the season, I constantly had the #1 priority, so I used it any time a player was released by a competing team that I felt to be an upgrade over what I had. The important thing to remember when dealing with this is not to fall in love with your sleeper prospects – in fact, I had to drop a few in order to make these moves. Here are the waiver claims I made in the last two months of the season:

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Drafting a Dynasty League Roster: Minor League Draft, Rounds 7-9

The Context –

I signed up for a newly-formed 20-team dynasty league so that I could write about building a roster the old-fashioned way (as opposed to the series on my rebuilding project). It is a 7×7 H2H league that uses all of the standard 5×5 categories, plus OPS/Total Bases for hitters and Quality Starts/Holds for pitchers. The active rosters are one player per position (OF are broken out by LF/CF/RF) plus a Utility player on offense, and nine pitchers (2 SP, 2 RP, 5 P). On top of that, there are 7 reserve spots, 3 DL spots and 20 minor league spots. So, all in all, it’s a very deep league with an active lineup that skews a little towards pitching and deep minor league rosters (400 total prospects will be rostered). Oh, and by the way, I’m the Minnesota Twins.

So here is a review of rounds four through six of the draft. I’m going to look at who I picked and why (along with others I was considering) and who the best/worst picks of the round were (mine excluded). Hopefully this helps with either your valuations of these prospects or the preparation for your own dynasty league draft.

Round Seven –

7.1     Texas Rangers: Marcell Ozuna (OF, Miami)
7.2     Colorado Rockies: Brad Miller (SS, Seattle)
7.3     Toronto Blue Jays: Sonny Gray (SP, Oakland)
7.4     Seattle Mariners: Ronald Guzman (OF, Texas)
7.5     San Francisco Giants: Alex Dickerson (OF, Pittsburgh)
7.6     Oakland Athletics: Aaron Hicks (OF, Minnesota)
7.7     Cincinnati Reds: Joc Pederson (OF, Los Angeles NL)
7.8     Houston Astros: Stefen Romero (3B, Seattle)
7.9     Detroit Tigers: Victor Sanchez (SP, Seattle)
7.10  Chicago Cubs: Arodys Vizcaino (RP, Chicago NL)
7.11  *Minnesota Twins: Dorssys Paulino (SS, Cleveland)*
7.12  Washington Nationals: Cory Spangenberg (2B, San Diego)
7.13  Los Angeles Angels: Brandon Nimmo (OF, New York NL)
7.14  San Diego Padres: Bruce Rondon (RP, Detroit)
7.15  Pittsburgh Pirates: Michael Wacha (SP, St. Louis)
7.16  Baltimore Orioles: Jairo Beras (OF, Texas)
7.17  Milwaukee Brewers: Luis Sardinas (SS, Texas)
7.18  New York Mets: Brett Jackson (OF, Chicago NL)
7.19  Arizona Diamondbacks: Kyle Gibson (SP, Minnesota)
7.20  Boston Red Sox: Christian Bethancourt (C, Atlanta)

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The Dynasty Guru’s Crystal Ball: 2017’s 5×5 Category Leaders

This is a fun exercise I’ve wanted to do for a while now. Right now, Opening Day 2017 is four and a half years away, but there’s absolutely no reason I can’t start speculating about who will lead the standard 5×5 rotisserie categories that season. Who knows if the 5×5 format we use now will still be the most commonplace scoring system that far into the future anyway? Maybe a standard ESPN league will be using OBP and QS instead of AVG and W. For the purposes of this post, we’re going to assume that the categories are remaining the same.

Now, this isn’t an all-prospect list – although there are some prospects on here. And if you think I’m understating the impact of prospects in this exercise, here’s a fun fact for you. If we did this exercise after the 2007 season, looking at the 2012 category leaders, guess how many of the categories would be led by players who had not played a game in the majors at the time? The answer is 5 out of 10. And if you expand out to the top-3 in each category (including ties), you get 13 out of 33, which is 39%. Of those 13 top-3 category finishes, 7 were from players that debuted in 2008, 2 were from players that debuted in 2009, 2 were from players that debuted in 2010 and 2 were from Mike Trout, who was a junior in high school when the 2007 season ended. In fact, Trout and Buster Posey were the only two players who finished in the top-3 of any 5×5 fantasy category in 2012 to be drafted AFTER the 2007 season.

Anyway, that’s enough of an introduction – let’s go to the Future Dynasty Guru for the breakdown of what happened in 2017:

Batting Average: Miguel Cabrera (.341)

It feels like Miguel Cabrera’s been around forever, but he only turned 33 on Opening Day 2017. While his power has started to wind down (this was his first season with under 30 HR in over a decade), Cabrera continues to maintain a high batting average. The two main reasons for this are: 1) he’s still a fantastic hitter to all fields and 2) by the laws of physics, it’s been impossible for him to get any slower than he was back in 2012. Runners up: Oscar Taveras (.334), Starlin Castro (.328)

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Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 8a: The Challenge Trade

Let’s take a brief moment to go over something which doesn’t come up very often, but is exhilarating and scary when it does: The Challenge Trade. There’s a good reason why you almost never see two MLB teams trade a prospect for a prospect – neither team wants to be the one that misevaluated their own guy. Probably the closest thing we’ve seen to this in recent memory was the Yankees/Mariners trade last off-season which sent Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to Seattle for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. But still, not the same, since Pineda, Montero and Noesi had all logged major league time.

As the trading deadline approached in the league which is the focus of this series, I pulled off a challenge trade with another rebuilding team. When this happens in dynasty leagues, it’s almost always with guys whose stocks are falling – and this was no exception to the rule. You just have to keep the faith in your own evaluations and hope that the chips fall right for you. Here’s my challenge trade:

I dealt Brett Jackson and Ethan Martin for Shelby Miller and Brian Goodwin. (7/31/12)

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Trade Analysis: D’Backs, Marlins and A’s Exchange Unwanted Parts

Here it is, the first trade of the 2012-2013 off-season. My goal is to try to post something like this for all trades of even mild significance (and same with free agent signings) as they happen. Now, this first deal may sound uninteresting, but there’s a lot of fantasy value shuffling going on for those in deep mixed and single-league formats. As you’ll notice a pattern of going forward, I’m going to break the players involved out into three groups: value up, value down and unchanged. Those categories are going to be on a general going-forward basis and is not solely focused on 2013. Seems pretty straight-forward, right? Right. So without any further ado, here’s the full trade:

Arizona receives Heath Bell, Cliff Pennington
Oakland receives Chris Young
Miami receives Yordy Cabrera

Value up:

Cliff Pennington

Meet your new Diamondbacks starting SS. Pennington has stolen 29 bases over the past two seasons after stealing 29 in 2010 alone, but his arrow is pointing back up again. The 15 SB he had in 2012 came along with a .278 OBP — meaning he had fewer opportunities than usual to steal. A reversal in his BABIP fortune (and a switch to the NL) should get him back up to a .320 OBP, and when combined with the change in park factors, should make him a sleeper for 10 HR and 20 SB in 2013.

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Drafting a Dynasty League Roster: Minor League Draft, Rounds 4-6

The Context –

I signed up for a newly-formed 20-team dynasty league so that I could write about building a roster the old-fashioned way (as opposed to the series on my rebuilding project). It is a 7×7 H2H league that uses all of the standard 5×5 categories, plus OPS/Total Bases for hitters and Quality Starts/Holds for pitchers. The active rosters are one player per position (OF are broken out by LF/CF/RF) plus a Utility player on offense, and nine pitchers (2 SP, 2 RP, 5 P). On top of that, there are 7 reserve spots, 3 DL spots and 20 minor league spots. So, all in all, it’s a very deep league with an active lineup that skews a little towards pitching and deep minor league rosters (400 total prospects will be rostered). Oh, and by the way, I’m the Minnesota Twins.

So here is a review of rounds four through six of the draft. I’m going to look at who I picked and why (along with others I was considering) and who the best/worst picks of the round were (mine excluded). Hopefully this helps with either your valuations of these prospects or the preparation for your own dynasty league draft.

Round Four –

4.1     Boston Red Sox: Kaleb Cowart (3B, Los Angeles AL)
4.2     Arizona Diamondbacks: Robert Stephenson (SP, Cincinnati)
4.3     New York Mets: Trevor Story (SS, Colorado)
4.4     Milwaukee Brewers: Matt Davidson (3B, Arizona)
4.5     Baltimore Orioles: Joey Gallo (3B, Texas)
4.6     Pittsburgh Pirates: Eddie Rosario (2B/OF, Minnesota)
4.7     San Diego Padres: Adam Eaton (OF, Arizona)
4.8     Los Angeles Angels: Jackie Bradley Jr (OF, Boston)
4.9     Washington Nationals: James Paxton (SP, Seattle)
4.10  *Minnesota Twins: Max Fried (SP, San Diego)*
4.11  Chicago Cubs: Jesse Biddle (SP, Philadelphia)
4.12  Detroit Tigers: Tony Cingriani (SP, Cincinnati)
4.13  Houston Astros: Matt Adams (1B, St. Louis)
4.14  Cincinnati Reds: Noah Syndergaard (SP, Toronto)
4.15  Oakland Athletics: Austin Hedges (C, San Diego)
4.16  San Francisco Giants: Gregory Polanco (OF, Pittsburgh)
4.17  Seattle Mariners: Albert Almora (OF, Chicago NL)
4.18  Toronto Blue Jays: Mason Williams (OF, New York AL)
4.19  Colorado Rockies: Kevin Gausman (SP, Baltimore)
4.20  Texas Rangers: Grant Green (OF, Oakland)

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Kyle Gibson and the Long Road to Recovery

It’s not very common for a 25-year old pitching in the Arizona Fall League to still be a very real prospect, but that’s exactly what Kyle Gibson will be next week. I say next week, because this coming Tuesday is his 25th birthday. So how did Gibson get to the point where, more than three years after being drafted out of the University of Missouri, he’s not only yet to debut for the Twins, but still owns a career ERA at AAA of over 5.00? And what’s a realistic expectation for him going forward?

Long a favorite of Baseball America’s Jim Callis coming out of the 2009 draft, Gibson profiled as a safe, college arm without the upside of a frontline starter. That profile took a bit of a hit in the weeks leading up to the draft, as it was discovered that Gibson had a stress fracture in his forearm. This caused the once potential top-10 pick to slide all the way to the Twins’ selection at #22. Due to both the late signing deadline and the injury, Gibson did not make his professional debut until April 2010, where he dominated the Florida State League for six weeks before being moved up to Double-A. Ninety-three solid innings later, Gibson was given a late-season promotion to Triple-A and his future was looking bright. He was ranked 34th on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospect list, and even Kevin Goldstein at BP (who tends to give more weight to velocity and upside) ranked him 55th.

However, the portended successes of 2011 were not meant to be. Gibson struggled much of the season at Triple-A, posting a 4.81 ERA and allowing 109 hits and 11 HR in 95 1/3 IP (after allowing 136 hits and 7 HR in 152 IP during 2010). On top of that, scouting reports circulated that his velocity was down and his command was wavering. The icing on the cake was when it was discovered that Gibson had been pitching with a torn ligament in his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. He had the surgery on September 7, 2011 and was reasonably expected to miss all of the 2012 season. However, Gibson had other plans.

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Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 8: The Waiting Game

You might think that Phase 1 (the initial trades/adds) is the most difficult period of your rebuilding process, but it’s not. Once you get used to that fast-paced, exciting time of new prospects and sleepers and guys you’re looking to dump, it’s tough to slow down – but that’s exactly what happens in Phase 3 of the process. You wait. Settling on the time horizon is one thing, but to then have to sit back while your time horizon gets here is an entirely different monster.

It’s the waiting game that can make even the most experienced of owners feel antsy. And when you’re antsy, you make bad decisions. You make decisions that are not focused on your long-term goal. And this is what can get you off-track. I’ve been guilty of this in the past as well, but one of the positives about being in 10 leagues (like I am right now) is that I don’t have as much time to get myself into trouble. Of course, I also sometimes don’t have time to set my lineups correctly in all 10 leagues, but that’s a different story altogether.

But, don’t take this advice to mean that you should be sitting still – there are always more ways to improve the makeup of your roster while keeping with the goals that you have in mind. For example, since I wrote about the initial trades in Part 4 of this series, I’ve made three more trades and even more adds/drops. As you’ll see below, they are still in the greater spirit of the rebuilding project as I’ve been able to unload four players I was not banking on to be integral parts of the 2014 roster for prospects and draft picks. The three trades were:

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Drafting a Dynasty League Roster: Minor League Draft, Rounds 1-3

As I mentioned last week, in my Plan for the Off-Season post, I signed up for a newly-formed 20-team dynasty league so that I could write about building a roster the old-fashioned way (as opposed to the series on my rebuilding project). It’s been a couple of years since I drafted a dynasty league team from scratch, and participating in this draft has been a welcome challenge. So before I delve into what has happened so far, I want to lay out the details of this particular league for context.

It is a 7×7 H2H league that uses all of the standard 5×5 categories, plus OPS/Total Bases for hitters and Quality Starts/Holds for pitchers. The active rosters are one player per position (OF are broken out by LF/CF/RF) plus a Utility player on offense, and nine pitchers (2 SP, 2 RP, 5 P). On top of that, there are 7 reserve spots, 3 DL spots and 20 minor league spots. So, all in all, it’s a deep league with an active lineup that skews a little towards pitching and very deep minor league rosters (400 total prospects will be rostered). The league is starting off with the a 20-round minor league draft for any rookie eligible players (130 AB, 50 IP), and will have the major league draft later in the off-season. Oh, and by the way, I’m the Minnesota Twins.

As far as my philosophy goes with a draft like this, I went into it wanting my first couple of picks to be players who are advanced enough have a reduced risk of flaming out. Just like it’s tough to contend when your first or second round pick in a redraft league flops or gets hurt, it’s a sizable set back if one of your top prospects busts. Of course it’s not quite the same, since minor leaguers are much less predictable, but it’s something you want to avoid. For that reason, I was hoping to get good value on a couple of hitters to start the draft, as they have more predictive value than their pitching brethren. On top of that, I’d probably try to be less of an upside whore since the league is so deep.

So here is a review of the minor league draft’s first three rounds. I’m going to look at who I picked and why (along with others I was considering) and who the best/worst picks of the round were (mine excluded). Hopefully this helps with either your valuations of these prospects or the preparation for your own dynasty league draft.

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Six Players Who Could Improve Their Stock Greatly in the Arizona Fall League

Play started yesterday in the 2012 Arizona Fall League, kicking off another season of extremely localized scouting. For those of you unfamiliar with the AFL, it is an extracurricular league that plays for six weeks after the minor league playoffs have ended. Each major league team sends around six representatives there, making up six total teams that all play within about 45 minutes of each other, in and around the Phoenix area. The players who comprise these rosters are usually top prospects or players that MLB teams want to get a longer look at – either because they want to make 2013 roster decisions or the player missed some time due to injury in 2012. It’s a big offensive environment, as these top prospects are rarely of the pitching variety and the desert air is a comforting mistress.

When a player impresses in the AFL, it does wonders for his prospect status, as the whole league is littered with scouts. Last year, Wil Myers blew up the AFL to the tune of a .360/.481/.674 line – his 1.156 OPS was third in the league behind Jedd Gyorko and Mike Olt. Myers had come off a poor 2011 season, but used the AFL to show everyone he was back. Same with Mike Olt, who had suffered a major injury during 2011 as well. As a result, both of these guys placed very high on pre-season prospect lists. It’s essentially a way for players to hit the accelerate button on their timeline or hit the reset button on their falling stock, and this year has plenty of players who are capable of doing either one.

Here are six hitters, one on each AFL team, who could greatly raise their prospect status with strong performances in the desert:

Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs (Mesa Solar Sox)*

Baez got off to a great start yesterday by going 2-4 with a HR, 2B and 3 RBI. Some scouts and prospect prognosticators believe that the AFL will be Baez’s coming out party – where he takes his place among the very top prospects in the game. If he can rake offensively and show more scouts that his actions at shortstop really have improved to the point that we don’t have to assume he’ll move off the position, he very well could be an easy top-10 prospect in all of baseball when play wraps in November.

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