2017 AL LABR Review
Once more into the breach... once more I strive for the title in LABR. I’ve had success before but never to the level of taking home the championship. The 2017 campaign brought forth a successful effort for my squad, but alas the championship still eludes me. Moreover, a down final week dropped me out of the money as well. Here’s what went down in the AL-only, 12-team league for the Oracle this season.
Here is the writeup for Tout Wars.
AL-only, 12 teams
$260 auction for 23 starters
5x5 scoring (AVG, HR, RBI, RUNS AND SB WITH WINS, ERA, WHIP, K AND SV)
14 hitters, nine pitchers, six bench spots (rostered by a snake draft)
In season we run FAAB for bolstering our roster with a total of $100 units to spend.
There is no disabled list. An injured player is merely placed on a team’s bench.
All of that is pretty standard stuff. However, there's one significant difference with LABR.
You draft 23 starters, per usual. However, the only way to remove any of those players from your starting lineup is to do one of the following.
(1) Drop a player into free agency.
(2) Put him on the DL if he is hurt.
(3) Put him on your reserve list if he is sent to the minors.
I’ve argued for years to change this setup, it really crushes your flexibility and allows you to get hammered if a player has a bad month since you can’t release a starting pitcher, or everyday player, as there’s no way to replace that player on the wavier-wire.
*NOTE: Free agents are eligible to be drafted, though if they sign in the other league you cannot keep them on your roster. If a player is dealt to the other league in-season he can remain with the team that drafted him but he cannot be traded or added off waivers if released.
* Number in parenthesis is the $ amount spent.
C: Brian McCann ($11), Geovany Soto (2)
1B: Mitch Moreland (11)
2B: Devon Travis (17)
3B: Pablo Sandoval (9)
SS: Manny Machado (38)
MI: Whit Merrifield (2)
CI: Kennys Vargas (5)
OF: Justin Upton (26), Byron Buxton (19), Ben Revere (9), Avisail Garcia (6), Hyun-Soo Kim (3)
UTIL: Tyler Saladino (6)
PITCHERS: Marcus Stroman (18), Danny Salazar (16), Andrew Miller (14), Ian Kennedy (13), Jake Odorizzi (11), Dellin Betances (9), Alex Cob (7), Trevor Bauer (5), Santiago Casilla (3)
RESERVES: Clint Frazier OF, Tim Beckham SS, Ryan Howard 1B, Tyler O’Neil OF, Josh Hamilton DH
June 20th: I sent out Pablo Sandoval and received Matt Olsen in return. Remember the strange rules here. Players who were drafted with a salary, i.e. Sandoval, have to be in your active lineup if they are healthy and on a big-league roster. I couldn’t drop Matt Davidson, so I had to deal Sandoval for the best hitter I could get that I could put on reserves. Hello Mr. Olsen in what turned out to be a dynamic move (well, kinda. Because of the restrictive rules I wasn’t able to get Olsen into my lineup nearly as much as I should have. He was out there 31 games with 15 homers and a .679 SLG).
August 21st: I woke up in second place, half a point behind the NFBC/Stats squad with a surging offense that had pushed my point total up to 75.5 points (34.5 points on offense, 41.0 in pitching). With a returning Andrew Miller, I thought what the heck and dealt Alex Cobb for Melky Cabrera. At the time of the deal I was using Hyun Soo Kim as my utility player, and that just wasn’t getting it done with his .215/.300/.266 slash line that was pathetic. The guy who went .302/.382/.420 in 2016 just hadn’t shown his face this season. It was a power move for my offense while dealing a pitcher at any point in this topsy turvy season required me to sleep on things overnight. Cobb was up to .147 innings a season after Tommy John surgery. He wasn’t missing bats at all (his swinging K-rate was under seven percent) and was just coming off the DL with a toe injury.
August 22nd: In a perfect encapsulation of my fantasy baseball season... the day after I deal away a pitcher, two of my arms head to the DL in Miller and Salazar. About 29 hours after making the deal to add Melky Cabrera to help the offense I’m down three pitchers with no possible way to plug that whole off waivers. Plus, I wanted to be aggressive and bid on Juan Minaya, but with Miller off the DL, and the need to get him back into my lineup next week, I would have had to cut whichever pitcher I added this week because of the odd LABR rules (and I didn’t have enough cash left to simply toss out big amounts knowing I was looking at a short term fill-in only). The result was a losing $3 bid on Minaya (he went for $4) as I rostered Ryan Tepera for $2. So, I lost three pitchers AND a closer in 29 hours. Tis the 2017 in a nutshell for the Oracle.
KEY WAIVER-WIRE ADDITIONS
Matt Belisle ($17 out of $100): I picked up eight saves, a 2.70 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP and 18 strikeouts in 16.2 innings from Belisle. A solid add.
Parker Bridwell ($1): The rookie went 8-3 with a 3.79 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 17 starts. He only struck out 61 in 99.2 innings, but overall, he was a tremendous addition to the squad.
Matt Chapman ($37): Not wanting to wait until the trade deadline to make a splash, I added the Athletics young third sacker when he was called up. In 73 active games for the squad he hit .250 with 14 homers, 37 RBI and 37 runs scored. Give him 150 games at that level and he’d be rocking a .250-28-75-75 season. Another strong addition.
Matt Davidson ($2): Yahtzee. Bridwell was my stupendous cheap add on the hill while Davidson was at the dish. In the 85 games he was active for my squad he hit .235 with 21 homers and 48 RBI.
WHAT WENT RIGHT?
*Everything in italics is quoted from the preseason writeup of the league.
All four waiver-wire moves were Rockstar.
McCann was solid even if he appeared in only 97 games (.241-18-62-47).
Mitch Moreland didn’t do anything up or down, but he gave me exactly what was hoped for (.246-22-79-73).
Whit Merrifield was an epically fantastic $2 add. He was one of the breakout stars of the season with a .288-19-78-80-34 season. He earned about 11/12 times his cost.
Upton had one of his finest seasons doing what he always does – offering across the board production and consistency. Upton went .273-35-109-100-14. Fantastic work.
“... I think a worst-case scenario for Buxton this season is a Melvin Upton like .235 season with 15 homers and 15 steals.” Buxton just about earned his draft day bid (.253-16-51-69-29), but his overall game was pretty poor.
“Garcia got in better shape this offseason and reworked his swing a bit. At one point, he was compared to Miggy. I’m not going mental on you and suggesting anything like that here. I’m merely pointing out that he’s a talented fella who could be a nice addition if he can start off well.” Avisail was a massive hit and he actually outproduced Miggy, and it wasn’t even close (.330-18-80-75-5). Remarkable really.
Think about that. I rostered Merrifield/Garcia for $8.
“I need a waiver add, a trade, or one of my reserve rounds picks to “hit” to help the offense.” Hello Mr. Beckham, who was a phenomenal reserve round add (.278-22-62-67-6), while Frazier was a solid one (four homers, 17 RBI, 16 runs in 142 plate appearances).
Stroman was a solid top of the rotation arm (13-9, 3.09 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 164 strikeouts over 201 innings).
Cobb had a strong season his first year back from Tommy John surgery (12-10, 3.66 ERA, 1.22 WHIP with 128 strikeouts in 179.1 innings).
“He was just sitting there at $4… so I went to $5. Given that I have Bauer being worth potentially twice that cost, it was a great buy.” Bauer started slowly, but those were some impressive numbers for a $5 bid (17-9, 4.19 ERA, 1.37 WHIP with 196 strikeouts in 176.1 innings).
“Casilla is a nobody at the moment, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him lead the Athletics in saves.” Casilla saved 16 games for $3. He led the A’s by the way.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
Machado was fine (.259-33-95-81-9), but I didn’t pay $38 dollars expecting him to be fine. He didn’t earn close to the cost I paid.
The $17 bid on Travis hurt big-time.
Vargas didn’t take a step (.253-11-41-33).
Sandoval was a disaster.
Revere didn’t do anything but swipe some bags (21 steals but a .275 average and just 37 runs in 308 PAs).
Kim was trash (.599 OPS).
Saladino forgot how to hit (.484 OPS).
The $16 bid on Salazar didn’t quite work out. He had a massive 12.67 K/9, but he won only five games while throwing just 103 innings.
Kennedy was a failure. The stability he brought for years vanished this season (5 wins, 5.38 ERA, 1.32 WHIP over 154 innings). I noted my concerns about this selection in the preseason. “The one ‘mistake,’ was paying full price for Kennedy. I really like him, a nice target in an AL-only league, but with so many other arms going for the $6-9 range, I should have let Kennedy go and showed a bit more restraint.”
Odorizzi was himself for about six starts. He just couldn’t find his groove on his way to mediocrity (10 wins, 4.14 ERA, 1.24 WHIP with a 1.88 HR.9 rate).
I also missed out at the draft in the reserve rounds – they go snake style. “...you will notice that I took a bunch of gambles on hitters in the reserve round (especially after Lawr Michaels snaked me with Peter O’Brien and Joey Gallo was taken three picks before me in the reserve round as well).” Oh, what would have been had I rostered Gallo.
I’ve been close, finishing second and third the last couple of years in LABR, before falling to fifth last season. As you can see from the results below, I was lined up to finish in third place before a final week collapse (Beckham was hurt and barely played with six at-bats, Odorizzi had four shutout innings before suffering an injury, Salazar was pulled an out short of a win as he tossed 4.2 shutout innings, Leake wasn’t allowed to make his second start etc.). In the end I finished fourth. I never like being out of the money, and have a bit of a sore spot thanks to the final week free fall.