The Dynasty Guru Experts’ League — May 2015 Update #TDGX
As you know by now, some of the writers here at TDG have been playing in an epic 20-team dynasty league with fantasy baseball writers from all over the Internet. Nearly every major fantasy baseball website is represented in this league. Matching wits with some of the best players in the country has proven to be quite a challenge and a ton of fun — exactly the way a fantasy league should be. It is time to share an update on how things are going. Below you will find the complete standings as well as plenty of enlightening comments from the team owners themselves.
I will summarize the league setup here, but for a more in-depth overview of how it all got started read this: Welcome to The Dynasty Guru Experts’ League. The league is a dynasty league of course, with 30 man rosters plus a 10 man minor league roster. We can keep 35 players each year. There are 20 teams owned by experts (20 teams x 40 players = 800 rostered players plus about 60 on the DL, now that’s a deep league!). It is a 5×5 roto league with weekly lineups and transactions. We start 14 batters and 9 pitchers each week.
Our goal is to share all of our strategies with our readers. We want to let you know not only what we did but why we did it. It is great to get inside the minds of the experts as their strategies unfold all season long. There have been lots of articles here on TDG and on several other websites as well. You can also follow the league on Twitter by searching #TDGX to see us brag and bellyache about our teams’ trials and tribulations.
The league began last year, with the inaugural championship going to Team McKahn, owned by Tim McLeod and Ian Kahn. Both are great fantasy baseball experts. Tim writes for Patton & Co and can be heard on SiriusXM radio and the Prospect361 podcasts. In addition to winning TDGX Tim also won the Tout Wars Mixed Draft league last year. Ian portrays George Washington on AMC’s drama “Turn”. Team McKahn scored 191 points out of a possible 200. That qualifies as domination.
My team managed to take second place with 171.5 points, followed by Wilson Karaman in 3rd place with 149 points. For the complete results of the first season of TDGX read this: We Have a Winner! Team McKahn Claims the Dynasty Guru Experts’ League 2014 Championship.
The standings this year look much different. No matter how thoroughly a team dominates a season, the next season always looks different. Here are the fantasy points standings:
James Anderson of Rotowire took over the team that finished 11th last year and he already has them in 1st place with 174 points. His team is led by Anthony Rizzo, Johnny Cueto and Gerrit Cole. He has benefitted tremendously from the long-awaited emergence of Eric Hosmer and his teammate Lorenzo Cain. Jimmy Parades has also come out of nowhere to lead this team from obscurity to prominence.
Second place is currently held by our esteemed Dynasty Guru himself — Bret Sayre. Bret’s team finished a respectable 6th out of the 20 teams last year, but he made some adjustments and is riding high with 172.5 points one quarter of the way through the season. Team Sayre has been led by another great start from Justin Upton. King Felix has done what King Felix always does. He has also gotten great production from Jason Hammel (ranked #43 player overall) and Brad Boxberger.
My team sits in third place with 145 points, 26.5 fewer than I finished last season with. Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Donaldson have been awesome for me. After a brutally bad season last year, Kendrys Morales is finally justifying the 12th round pick I spent on him in the original draft last Spring. I traded two closers for Jake Arrieta this offseason and that has paid off in spades for Team Doran. Even Aaron Harang has been unexpectedly awesome. I am hoping to make a run when Yasiel Puig comes back from injury.
4th place belongs to Nick Shlain of Baseball Prospectus, who was battling for the title last year until Paul Goldschmidt and Edwin Encarnacion went down with injuries. Those two along with Matt Carpenter are crushing baseballs for Team Shlain thus far. Nick is also riding along with Dallas Keuchel’s deal with the Devil. The loss of Adam Wainwright presents a challenge to his pitching staff.
Last year’s champs Team McKahn are lurking in 5th place in the early going but present a looming threat to leap up the standings. Their 130.5 points is way below their 191 at the end of last year but nobody is counting them out by any means. Dee Gordon is their highest-ranked player at #21 overall. Mark Teixeira’s bounceback season has helped a lot. Victor Martinez was awesome last year but has not helped much this year. Their team has also been hurt by injuries this year with VMart, Tanaka, Cain, Ryu and Josh Hamilton all going down for extended periods.
Mike Rosenbaum’s team is tied for 5th at 130.5 points after finishing ninth last year. Breakout sensation Devon Travis is a major reason why his team has improved. A.J. Pollock and Josh Reddick are playing much better than last year.
That’s it for the top five, or six with the tie. Those are the main contenders for the championship this year, but it is certainly possible a dark horse will emerge from the pack to mount a challenge down the stretch.
Let hear from some of the team owners themselves:
1st — Team Anderson — James Anderson (Rotowire)
After taking on my team I was pretty confident that the pitching would be able to handle it, but I also saw a gaping hole in the outfield so I tried to make some moves to address that (traded for Pagan and Cain) and so far so good. I think a decent amount of my hitters have been overachieving so it’s hard to say how much of this is for real but the fact that I have guys like Jose Fernandez and Jake McGee coming back from injuries is nice. Right now it’s all just kind of a blur because I didn’t expect to be where I’m at right now so it’s a lot of hoping that Jose can come back and just be awesome because I don’t have many more pieces to move and I want to push Bret for the title. — James
2nd – Team Sayre — Bret Sayre (Baseball Prospectus, The Dynasty Guru)
The first six weeks have been going about as well as could be expected from my squad, which is a nice change of pace from last year, when I had to really squint to see myself as a contender. I spent the off-season trying to fill offensive holes on my roster, as I was spread relatively thin at multiple positions. The names I brought in haven’t been setting the world on fire, but the great thing about a league of this depth is that they don’t need to. Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes and J.D. Martinez are all going to make positive contributions to this team, and while I had to give up the most interesting prospects I had (Tim Anderson, Clint Frazier, and Rafael Devers), I still have a few left in the coffer to use as trade chips as the season goes along–with Manny Margot and Chi Chi Gonzalez being the two biggest names.It’s been an all-category attack so far this season on offense, surprisingly enough, as my biggest concern heading into the season was that I didn’t have enough speed. So far more curious than leading the league in HR/RBI is the fact that I sit sixth in steals after being near the bottom in 2014. The 16 steals I have combined from Nori Aoki and Justin Upton are getting close to the 25 they provided combined throughout all of last season. My pitching is led by Felix Hernandez and my four-headed closer machine of Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, Brad Boxberger and Jonathan Papelbon. Their collective awesomeness has me way out in front in saves, highly competitive in strikeouts and lagging in wins–not surprisingly. I’m going to have to get more bulk out of the back-end of my rotation going forward if I want my pitching points to start with an eight. — Bret
3rd – Team Doran — Nick Doran (The Dynasty Guru, Fake Teams, Redleg Nation)
My pitching staff is not quite as good as last year. I traded away two closers to get Jake Arrieta so instead of leading the league in Saves like I did most of last year I find myself scrambling for relievers. I spent my 2nd round draft pick on Jenrry Mejia just before he got himself busted for PEDs. I got Aaron Harang off the waiver wire and he has been great, although I don’t expect that to last. Matt Shoemaker has been a big disappointment, but I don’t expect that to last either. My stalwarts Jordan Zimmerman, Collin McHugh and Scott Kazmir are holding their own if not blowing anyone away just yet.
My hitting has also taken a small step back. Part of that is the loss of my 1st round pick in the original draft to injury — Yasiel Puig. He should be back soon and that will help. I also lost a hot-hitting Alex Rios. My biggest weakness remains a lack of stolen bases. Kennys Vargas’ horrible start has canceled out the gains from Kendrys Morales’ miraculous start.
Despite trading away a ton of prospects last year (Winker, Berrios, Blair, Foltynewicz, McKinney, Guerrero, Guerrieri and more) I am starting to have some of my minor leaguers graduate to the majors. Michael Lorenzen, Preston Tucker, Mike Bolsinger and Nick Tropeano have all played in the big leagues with good results. — Nick
4th – Team Shlain — Nick Shlain (Baseball Prospectus, RotoWire)
5th – Team McKahn — Ian Kahn (Actor — George Washington in AMC channel’s “Turn”), Tim McLeod (Patton & Co, Prospect361, SiriusXM)
A tough beginning to our season relative to last year when everything clicked, and injuries seemed like a nasty rumor. Tanaka, Cobb, Cain, and Ryu have been either largely or completely absent, and we’re feeling the pinch. Kershaw and Kimbrel have underperformed expectations, while Quintana and Cashner also are struggling. Odd to note that it was the early season pickup of Ubaldo Jiminez that is even keeping us in the chase. Our bats are still largely going strong with Dee Gordon an early standout. It’s still early, but the Magical Mystery Tour of 2014 is in the past. We changed some tires with a spending spree this past weekend spending $14 on a minors eligible Billy Burns, $12 on a desperately needed Colby Lewis, and $9 on Kyle Blanks. We better get our bus moving to have a chance in 2015. — Ian
5th – Team Rosenbaum — Mike Rosenbaum (Bleacher Report, RotoWorld)
My #TDGX team has gotten off to a nice start this season behind an offense that currently ranks fifth in the league, and, overall, features a healthy blend of young and veteran players. Specifically, I really, really dig my outfield, as it’s loaded with multi-category contributors, the oldest of whom is 29 (Adam Jones). My situation on the infield isn’t nearly as deep, but I like to think I have a good thing going with second basemen Kolten Wong and Devon Travis—both acquired during the 2014 season—who have collectively hit more home runs (11) than my three corner infielders (9). I do worry that my club’s current level of production is unsustainable, but at the same time, I think there’s enough there to remain a top-10 offense.
My pitching staff currently ranks 11th in the league, which is more or less what I expected given the arms on my roster headed into the season. While none of my starters sport an ERA under 4.00 as of this writing, they’ve pitched well enough as a whole to keep me in the middle of the pack in the standings. I’ve grabbed some serviceable arms via FAAB, but nobody I view as a potential long-term piece. That’s mainly because I have a crop of reinforcements on the way in prospects Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Raisel Iglesias, and Matt Moore is expected to return from TJ surgery next month. — Mike
7th – Team Karaman — Wilson Karaman (Baseball Prospectus, Minor League Ball)
One of the great truism’s of deep league play is that you have to get at least a little lucky where injuries are concerned to be able to compete, and my season has been a bit of a disaster to that end, quite frankly. My #2 starter (Iwakuma) pitched terribly for three starts before going down for 4-6 weeks with a shoulder issue. My ostensible #3 starter (Cliff Lee) probably won’t ever throw another Major League pitch. Mesoraco’s likely out ’til September, and one of my two closers is going to have Tommy John surgery. Dumping more gasoline on the tire fire, I’ve also gotten poor performances from just about all of my key healthy players to date as well, notable among them Corey Kluber, Evan Longoria, Jason Heyward, Josh Harrison, Ryan Braun, and Mike Napoli. Finding solid value at the back end of my rotation from guys like J.A. Happ, Wei-Yin Chen, and David Phelps has really been my only positive thus far. That I’ve settled even into the middle of the pack is a testament to my squad’s depth, but every inch of it has been tested already and for a team that had aspirations of making another run at the podium I’ve dug myself a frustrating hole already and left little margin for error in trying to climb out of it. — Wilson
8th – Team Short — D.J. Short (Rotoworld)
This is my first year in the league, so I’m still feeling everything out. I inherited a pretty good team and have only done some minor tweaks since. Going into the year, I had a handful of weaknesses and they have played out pretty much as I expected. I didn’t have much speed at all on my roster and it’s one of the biggest reasons for my current place in the standings. I also have a lack of middle infield and corner infield depth. The injury to Ben Zobrist has really hurt me so far, as I have been unable to find a suitable replacement. Hence, I have Eric Sogard at second base. Not ideal at all. Losing Carl Crawford, John Jaso, and the recently-DFA’d Jarrod Saltalamacchia has also tested my depth, as I’m relying on players like David Murphy and Jordan Schafer as regulars in my lineup. Hopefully Jayson Werth gets things turned around here soon and Blake Swihart is productive during his first taste of the majors. I could definitely do a better job of combing the waiver wire, both for my active roster and with minor leaguers. That is something I would like to improve. — D.J.
9th – Team GoldRubio — Craig Goldstein (Baseball Prospectus, The Dynasty Guru, SB Nation), Mauricio Rubio (Baseball Prospectus, Cubs Den)
When you sent the original email for this, I was jockeying for third place on the backs of an impressive pitching start that allowed me to league the league in strikeouts. While that’s still the case, a disastrous run as has taken me from a top-five ERA/WHIP team to a middle of the pack team. A congruent dryspell at the plate led my team to sit at 9th overall at present. I’m still looking for saves and speed, but with Rusney Castillo finally healthy and the Red Sox cycling through outfield options, I might get some speed from within. Getting Jon Lucroy back would be a huge boon to my stagnant offense, as would any reason to dump Matt Joyce on the bench. As for what’s worked – Chris Archer has been stellar until recently, and the trade that brought Nelson Cruz, Dustin Pedroia, and Yangervis Solarte to my team in exchange for Jason Kipnis continues to pay dividends. — Craig
10th – Team ChateSonn — Luke Chatelain (The Dynasty Guru), Adam Sonnet (The Dynasty Guru)
Team Luke Chatelain/Adam Sonnett, TDGX, limped out of the gates to start this year but as of this writing we’re climbed back up into 10th place and will be fighting for a top finish for all of 2015. After cashing in Byron Buxton for Buster Posey and Khris Davis in the offseason we signaled to our squad and the league that we’re in it to win it this year. Our pitching, which we felt was a strength, has really faltered in the early going with both Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzjia underperforming, Homer Bailey and TJ House going on the DL, and our lack of SP depth immediately coming to bite us. To help offset this we’re going to be going after another quality SP, hopefully moving some of our excess bats and potentially an injured player Bailey to a non-contender for win now parts. In reality our teams in an OK place so far, some bounce backs from our SPs and continued success from our hitters should allow us to easily stay within the top 5 and compete for a top finish this year. — Luke
11th — Team Melchior — Al Melchior (CBS Sports)
12th – Team RotoX — Chris Mitchell (RotoExperts, FanGraphs)
13th – Team Breen — J.P. Breen (Baseball Prospectus, Disciples of Uecker)
14th – Team Lone Wolf — JD Sussman (FanGraphs, Bullpen Banter), Nathaniel Stoltz (FanGraphs)
15th – Team Carsley — Ben Carsley (Baseball Prospectus)
16th — Team Zimmermann — Jeff Zimmermann (FanGraphs), Chad Young (FanGraphs)
We took over a team in the off season with a no stars (Billy Hamilton is our best hitter). We took a major hit when we lost Yu Darvish for the season. With several other injuries, we figured we needed to build for the future. We drafted some near MLB ready players like Kyle Kubitza and A.J. Cole.
Currently, we are 16th in the league which has amazed us. We have done OK in hitting with an overall ranking of 8th mainly because of a resurgence of Mike Moustakas. Our pitching has been horrible. We are 16th with our Save total currently at 2 helping to keep us down. It’s going to be a long season with this group of players, but with a little bit of work we may be able to get in the top half. — Jeff
17th — Team BaseballHQ — Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ), Jock Thompson (Baseball HQ)
As our first year in the league, we’re still feeling our way a bit. Our team is in major rebuild mode, so there is less a sense of urgency. We’ve had several trade inquires about Jeurys Familia, who was one of those roster afterthoughts that has hit big. The emergence of Michael Pineda obviously has been promising, but after a great spring , Taijuan Walker’s struggles sort of even that out. We’ve taken some DL hits—but again, given our long-term view, we’ve been able to just ride those out. A couple great minor-league performances by Corey Seager, Phillip Ervin, Lance McCullers and Trevor Story give us some hope as we look down the road. — Brent
18th – Team Glaseau — Craig Glaser (Bloomberg Sports, MLB.com), Tom Trudeau (Bloomberg Sports, ESPN, MLB.com)
Craig and I quickly embraced a playing-for-the-future strategy in the inaugural draft. In building a perennial contender, our strategy has been to hoard excellent young hitters, believing that they both appreciate in and retain value better than any other asset. We also suspect that the fantasy community has yet to properly discount starting pitching. Andrew McCutchen, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Mookie Betts and Joc Pederson highlight what we hope will be a dominant offense for years to come.
At present our only MLB pitcher is Jared Cosart. Trading is quite common in this league, so when we are ready to compete (hopefully next year with our stacked offense) we’ll look to flip hitting prospects for pitching.
We’ve had missteps — one miscalculation has been the lack of opportunities to generate surplus future value by trading for injured stars. The owners that have lost stars to injury have asked for hitting prospects, rather than the lesser-but-healthier vets we preferred to sell.
(Very) aggressive bids on early-season waiver darlings has proved fruitful both this year and last. Most recently, Jason Grilli and Cameron Maybin fetched a first round draft pick for us within 24 hours of placing the winning bid. Even in a weak draft class, a first round pick is likely better than the expected value of our FAB budget in a 20-team league. — Tom
19th – Team Kantecki — Alex Kantecki (Baseball Prospectus, The Dynasty Guru)
20th – Team Mike — Mike (Razzball), Paul Clewell
It’s dark and cold down here in the cellar, but I make the best of it. There are many bugs to eat and boxes of old books to read through. I must keep my mind sharp. One of my favorites thus far has been Yoan Moncada and You: A Guide To Tanking. At one point, the cellar door opened and a man threw something down the steps. It turned out to be Jorge Alfaro. There was much rejoicing. — Mike
That’s hilarious Mike! A prisoner in the cellar. I hope your captors release you soon.
Here are the actual stat totals in case you are curious:
To view more articles discussing The Dynasty Guru Experts League (#TDGX) just click here: TDGX Articles
That’s it for this update. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Got any advice? Want any advice? Ask all your questions below!