During the season, ottoneu managers can add players to their roster via 48 hour auctions. Any manager can nominate any free agent at any time, the rest of the league is notified, and everyone has 48 hours to get in their max bid, with the player being awarded to the highest bidder at a price of the second highest bid + $1. Every once in a while, I like to look at two things to help me see who is being added. The first is the “Add %” columns on the ottoneu player search:
Those are the last four columns in the search results and give you a sense of how popular a player is (Roster% = percent of all leagues in which the player is rostered), how that popularity is changing over time (Add% is the number of leagues in which the player has been added in the last 7 or 30 days), and how much you can expect it to cost to add them (Average Salary).
The other thing I like to look at is which players are being auctioned across the most leagues at the moment. Today, I want to look at players who pop based on “Add% Last 7” and current auctions. All numbers are as of noon on Sunday when I wrote this.
Kwang-Hyun Kim (41.7% Add % over last 7 days) – Kim was named the Cardinals closer-of-the-moment and fantasy players will always chase saves, even when they don’t need to. In the RP Preview episode of the Ottobot Podcast, Justin Vibber harped on focusing on skills over role, and while I pushed for not ignoring role, in most ottoneu formats (all except 5×5), role isn’t a primary focus. Kim paid off for 5×5 owners immediately, with an Opening Day save, but he also gave up two hits and an ER without getting a K, and appears to have given up a lot of hard contact. I am not putting bids in on Kim – I don’t think he flashes the elite skills I want in a RP, I don’t weigh the role that highly, and I doubt he holds that role once the much more talented Giovanny Gallegos is back.
Ryan Helsley (20.5% Add % over last 7 days) – You can mostly just read what I wrote about Kim and repeat it here. Helsley appeared to maybe have that job until he didn’t and Kim did. And, like Kim, the boost in his roster % was all about owners chasing saves. At this point, I expect that Add % to turn negative quickly. And I would be moving on too.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa (36.5% Add % over last 7 days, 25 current auctions) – Kiner-Falefa brings together three things that often lead to spikes in auctions: 1) a new swing/change in approach that is paying off in small samples (even small samples of “Summer Camp”), 2) bench guy who seemed to not have value suddenly getting a job, 3) positional eligibility that boosts his value. A great camp moved Kiner-Falefa from backup C/IF to start 3B for Texas, but he still holds that all important “C” next to his name. Suddenly he is a catcher who will play far more often than other catchers. That, alone, makes him interesting, and I have grabbed him in one H2H league just so I can confidently start a C everyday, even if he is my backup. But those Spring/Summer results are also just hanging out there and have me salivating at the possibility he might put up top 5-10 catcher numbers in fantasy while playing 50+ games this year and 150+ next year. If you can grab him for <$3, his floor is “highly valuable second C” and the upside is much higher.
Nick Burdi (28.0% Add % over last 7 days) – Burdi is like Kim and Helsley in that there is noise that he might be pulling down some saves this year. He is unlike them in that the skills are enticing. He ranked 9th in Justin Vibbers ranking of RP without Saves or Holds and it isn’t hard to see why. He struck out nearly two hitters per inning in 8.2 IP last year and while the ERA was an ugly 9.35, the FIP was just 1.83. Everything with Burdi is a small sample size, unless you want to look at his 63.2 IP across two levels in 2015 (which were very good BTW), so the bet here is on skills translating to results, and Burdi staying on the field. I want to roster Burdi everywhere I can and if you can still get him, you should.
Tyler Rogers (24.1% Add % over last 7 days) – Stop me if you have heard this one before, but Rogers appears to be one of the guys with a shot to get saves for his team, but the skills aren’t that exciting. Also, he is NOT Taylor Rogers. This is important. Taylor: lots of K’s no walks, established closer with a team that should win a lot of games. Tyler: not a lot of K’s, though also no walks, might be a closer (but maybe not) on a team that will…uh…well they will play lots of games, right? Tyler got knocked around Opening Day and came back out Saturday to get an out and give up a hit facing three hitters, getting a hold before turning things over to Trevor Gott for the save. I feel like a broken record, but the skills aren’t that exciting, given the lack of K’s, the hold on the role is tenuous (or worse) – I am out.
Brady Singer (21.5% Add % over last 7 days, 43 current auctions) – The key with Singer, in my opinion, is to buy what he has looked like over his career, not what you think you saw Saturday. As a Cleveland fan, I watched most of Singer’s start and he looked great. He stymied a solid lineup to the tune of 2 ER over 5 IP with 3 H, 2 BB and 7 K. But this is also a guy who struck out less than a hitter per inning in 148.1 IP across A+ and AA last year, skipped over AAA, and is being thrown into the fire. The performance was impressive and I am buying, but he is basically a two-pitch pitcher who is likely more a backend SP with #3 type upside and not a #2/#3 with Ace-upside. Don’t let one start suddenly make you choose him over Nate Pearson or Spencer Howard – but I am placing bids in these auctions where I have cuts I can make. There are a bunch of guys over 60% rostered that I would drop to give Singer a shot, including Spencer Turnbull, John Means, JA Happ, Carlos Rodon and Kyle Gibson.
Vince Velasquez (21.5% Add % over last 7 days) – This is an annual occurrence. Someone notices that Velasquez has some live pitches and the ability to pile up K’s, he has a good start (or Summer Camp) and we start here rumblings that maybe, just maybe, he is putting it together. But we have a pretty long track record on him now (525.2 MLB IP after today) and we sorta know what he is. He’ll get you some K’s (not elite strike out rates, but enough) but he gets hit hard, the HR come in bunches and the total package isn’t that exciting. Sure enough, he just threw 3 IP today and struck out four (not bad!) but walked 2 and gave up 3 hits, two of which left the yard. At some point this year, enough of my pitchers might get sick or opt out and I might get desperate and give him a start in the right matchup, but we’re not close to that point yet.
Oliver Drake (38 current auctions) – By now, when you see a RP pop up on this list, you have to be asking yourself if this is all about role or skills. With Drake, it might be both. We talked about Drake’s skills on the Ottobot pod, and then he went out and got a Save for the notoriously hard to pin down Rays. Drake seemed to come out of nowhere last year, and still flew under the radar, but he flashed skills in 2017-18, as well – he just didn’t get the results to match his K, BB and HR, and he did it with six different teams, never really holding a spot. Then, last year, he was excellent for the Rays but not the most visible guy in a deep pen. The skills are real – 11.25 K/9 and a 3.21 xFIP last year – and I expect him to be more of a backend guy in Tampa this year. I’m buying – I think he is a top 30 RP in Points and 4×4 leagues.
Austin Nola (32 current auctions) – Nola got a bump when Tom Murphy went down with an injury, turning over the starting catcher spot in Seattle to Nola. But Nola deserved some attention even before that. As noted in Paul Sporer’s bold prediction, Nola had a top 10 wRC+ for a C last year. Like Kiner-Falefa, Nola isn’t a pure catcher, and in ottoneu he qualifies at C, 1B and 2B. While he is a full-time catcher for Seattle right now, he’ll be back in a utility role before long, which will benefit fantasy managers. I like Kiner-Falefa more, because I think the upside is higher, but Nola is another guy who you can plug in at C everyday and who will play far more games that your other choices for the spot. He’s a near ideal choice for a second catcher, as a result.
Kiké Hernandez (26 current auctions) – This isn’t the first time Hernandez has popped up. In fact, he is the 61st most auctioned player in ottoneu history. Which makes sense – he is a part-time player who performs enough to stay on the radar but his inconsistent playing time means he is also often a cut. He’s off to a blistering start this year, but this increase in auctions is heavily based on Gavin Lux getting optioned to the alternate site. I am interested in Hernandez short-term, but I expect he’ll be part of a platoon short term and maybe less than that long-term, so I am not overdoing it. If you need MI depth (he qualifies at both 2B and SS) or OF help for the next couple weeks, jump on him and ride the hot streak. But don’t hesitate to let him go when Lux is back or when he starts losing playing time.
Greg Holland (26 current auctions) – Skill or role? Role. Presumed closer Ian Kennedy appeared in the 6th inning of a tie game Saturday and Holland ended up getting the save, hence a big jump in interest. Holland can still strike people out (27% K rate last year and 33.3% in two appearances for far this year), but he also puts basically everyone on base all the time (15.8% BB rate last year and back at it at 22.2% this year). KC seems to be going to a committee for saves and Holland is probably part of that, but I am not expecting a return to his years as an elite closer for the Royals.
Jose Peraza (25 current auctions) – Peraza apparently had an excellent Summer Camp and convinced the Red Sox to give him the starting 2B job, bumping Michael Chavis to a utility role. With a couple doubles in the early going, that is continuing and giving fantasy owners hope. In 5×5, I am buying. If he runs more like he has in the past he stole only 7 bases last year), he provides a solid floor, but in other formats, he’s basically unplayable unless he has a meaningful breakout, and I am not ready to bet on that. He did have 14 HR in 2018, so he can hit for more pop, and his 4.92 P/G in FanGraphs points leagues that year is nothing to sneeze at. I just think it is more likely that was his career year rather than something he will build on. That 4.92 makes him a borderline play at your MI spot – I would rather gamble on bigger upside or a higher floor.
Victor Caratini (25 current auctions) – Caratini can hit. That should go without saying, after his .338 wOBA in 279 PA last year. It wasn’t a huge sample, but there is reason to be excited about the 26 year old C. The issue, of course, is that Willson Conteras isn’t a bad catcher in his own right, so who knows how much Caratini will even play? Well, if opening weekend is anything to judge by, playing time won’t be an issue. Caratini had the honor of being the first ever Cub to DH in Wrigley (Unless something weird happened previously) on Friday night, and followed that up by catching Saturday, while Contreras was a DH. Sunday, they swapped back, with Contreras back behind the plate and Caratini at DH (thought he was pulled for a PH). If Caratini is basically an everyday player (or even a 75% player) and you can plug him in at C, you should go get him.