2019’s Fantasy Baseball Auction Bargains at Mid-Season – The Value Drainers

Previously, I looked at the hitter and pitcher auction bargains of 2019 at mid-season. These were the players that have earned the most rotisserie value, net of their cost to roster.

Now let’s turn our attention to the players who have lost the most profit in the first half of 2019, who I will refer to as the value drainers. These are the largest under-performers (to date), relative to their pre-season auction values.

To remind everyone:

  • $Value refers to the accumulated 5×5 rotisserie value of each player, scaled to a full-season.
  • $AAV refers to the average auction cost to purchase the player pre-season.
  • $Bargain is the difference between the $Value and the $AAV.

For this exercise – In order to calculate $Value, I use NFBC roster settings and scoring parameters. Actual $AAV data is used to determine the opportunity cost. For the full methodology of how these player bargains are calculated, please refer to my introductory post.

Capped Values

Before I unveil the largest “rip-offs” of the first half of 2019, there is one additional concept that we should discuss, namely the capping of values. When a major league player performs so lousy in a season (or is injured for that matter), fantasy owners cease to play him any longer; they either bench him from their active lineups, or outright cut him from their roster.

Let’s take Orioles pitcher Dan Straily. Straily has been quite lousy this year. In fact, Straily is the worst player of the first half according to the accumulated auction values, earning negative $29.94, denoted by ($29.94). In other words, if a fantasy owner was to have him active each and every week of the season, he would have lost that squad nearly $30 of rotisserie value. Straily has pitched 47.2 innings to date, yielding 52 earned runs – for an astronomical 9.82 ERA. Additionally, he has pitched to a 1.99 WHIP, striking out just 33 batters, while earning only 2 wins on the season.

That 9.82 ERA over a fairly large number of innings is incredibly awful. Straily would have to throw over 77 perfect innings in a row in order to get his ERA down to 3.75 – to come somewhere close to a rosterable level.

Dan Straily 2019 + Additional Perfect Innings
IP ER ERA
Dan Straily 2019 47.7 52 9.82
Additional Innings 77 0 0.00
Straily + Addt’l IP 124.7 52 3.75

Can you guess how may perfect innings it would take to get Straily’s ERA down to Hyun-Jin Ryu’s major league leading figure of 1.78?

Dan Straily 2019 + Additional Perfect Innings
IP ER ERA
Dan Straily 2019 47.7 52 9.82
Additional Innings 215 0 0.00
Straily + Addt’l IP 262.7 52 1.78

It would take over 215 innings.

Let’s look at it yet another way. Can you guess how many earned runs in a row Hyun-Jin Ryu could give up without recording a single out, and yet still have a better ERA than Dan Straily’s current mark?

Hyun-Jin Ryu 2019 + Additional Earned Runs
IP ER ERA
Hyun-Jin Ryu 2019 116.0 23 1.78
Additional Innings 0 104 INF
Ryu + Addt’l IP 116.0 126.6 9.82

Ryu could give up 103 straight runs without reaching Straily’s ERA of 9.82.

So, if Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched to Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. in this year’s homerun derby – letting all of Vlad’s homeruns (91 of them) count towards Ryu’s ERA – he would still have a better ratio than Straily.

That was a fun exercise, but let’s move on back to the original point. If a fantasy owner owned Dan Straily (unless their league rules did not allow) – they would have placed him on the bench or cut him off of the team’s roster at some point in the season.

On May 21, Straily’s ERA sat at 8.51. Following yet another disastrous start where he gave up 6 earned runs on May 22, Straily’s ERA went up over a half a run to 9.09. There isn’t a decent fantasy player alive who reads this site that wouldn’t elect to cut him off of their roster after that start. Forget AL only … even if you were in an Orioles only league, you would have cut him. In fact, you likely would have cut him long before May 22.

I have certainly picked on Dan quite a lot here. My point in all of this, is the idea that for value draining players – we shouldn’t be counting a player’s entire season as part of his accumulated value, because after a while – he wouldn’t be on fantasy rosters. Once a player earns a certain amount of negative value (well below replacement level value), he would not be actively rostered on fantasy squads, would cease to accumulate any more negative stats, and would be replaced with another active player.

Therefore, when looking at full-season player auction values, it is appropriate to cap values at some threshold. Technically, each player could be capped at a different threshold. For this exercise and for simplicity, we will assume the same dollar cap for all players. Whether we choose $1, or ($10) or $0 or ($20), etc. – that is a debate on its own.

To that end, and for this particular analysis, I am choosing to cap player values at a negative $10 threshold.

The Value Drainers

For hitters, below are the top value drainers of 2019 at mid-season:

2019 Top 40 Hitter Value Drainers at Mid-Season
No. Player R HR RBI SB AVG $Value Capped $Value $AAV Capped $Bargain
1 Giancarlo Stanton 4 1 7 0 .290 ($16.37) ($10.00) $34.0 ($44.00)
2 Aaron Judge 19 7 17 2 .299 ($3.87) ($3.87) $37.0 ($40.87)
3 Jose Altuve 27 10 24 1 .255 ($1.12) ($1.12) $34.0 ($35.12)
4 Jose Ramirez 32 5 30 18 .214 $3.97 $3.97 $38.0 ($34.03)
5 Trea Turner 32 6 19 17 .274 $8.63 $8.63 $41.0 ($32.37)
6 Paul Goldschmidt 46 14 31 0 .246 $5.24 $5.24 $34.0 ($28.76)
7 Mookie Betts 66 13 37 9 .261 $19.86 $19.86 $48.0 ($28.14)
8 A.J. Pollock 15 2 14 0 .223 ($13.20) ($10.00) $16.0 ($26.00)
9 Travis Shaw 18 6 13 0 .164 ($17.43) ($10.00) $16.0 ($26.00)
10 Jesus Aguilar 16 5 26 0 .205 ($10.65) ($10.00) $15.0 ($25.00)
11 Justin Upton 5 3 4 0 .273 ($15.95) ($10.00) $15.0 ($25.00)
12 Jose Peraza 22 5 20 5 .220 ($6.84) ($6.84) $18.0 ($24.84)
13 Robinson Cano 18 4 18 0 .238 ($11.29) ($10.00) $12.0 ($22.00)
14 Ender Inciarte 13 2 9 3 .218 ($13.62) ($10.00) $12.0 ($22.00)
15 Khris Davis 35 16 43 0 .249 $1.21 $1.21 $23.0 ($21.79)
16 J.D. Martinez 49 18 47 1 .298 $20.07 $20.07 $40.0 ($19.93)
17 Andrew Benintendi 40 7 36 8 .275 $10.32 $10.32 $29.0 ($18.68)
18 Daniel Murphy 24 6 42 1 .282 $2.48 $2.48 $21.0 ($18.52)
19 Garrett Hampson 17 1 8 3 .206 ($14.04) ($10.00) $8.0 ($18.00)
20 Mike Trout 63 22 57 8 .297 $33.42 $33.42 $51.0 ($17.58)
21 Bryce Harper 50 15 59 4 .250 $17.95 $17.95 $35.0 ($17.05)
22 Corey Dickerson 10 2 16 0 .310 ($11.71) ($10.00) $7.0 ($17.00)
23 Francisco Lindor 41 12 27 12 .291 $15.20 $15.20 $32.0 ($16.80)
24 Aaron Hicks 24 6 24 1 .217 ($5.78) ($5.78) $11.0 ($16.78)
25 Carlos Correa 26 11 35 1 .295 $4.81 $4.81 $21.0 ($16.19)
26 Joey Votto 43 8 21 2 .268 $1.85 $1.85 $18.0 ($16.15)
27 Brandon Nimmo 20 3 14 1 .200 ($12.35) ($10.00) $6.0 ($16.00)
28 Matt Carpenter 42 10 28 6 .216 $1.21 $1.21 $15.0 ($13.79)
29 Lorenzo Cain 48 5 29 10 .248 $6.30 $6.30 $20.0 ($13.70)
30 Dee Gordon 23 3 24 14 .268 $3.54 $3.54 $17.0 ($13.46)
31 Rougned Odor 36 10 37 7 .187 $1.64 $1.64 $15.0 ($13.36)
32 Harrison Bader 24 6 19 4 .206 ($7.05) ($7.05) $6.0 ($13.05)
33 Jung Ho Kang 10 7 18 0 .162 ($16.80) ($10.00) $3.0 ($13.00)
34 Brian Dozier 30 12 29 1 .230 ($0.91) ($0.91) $12.0 ($12.91)
35 Billy Hamilton 28 0 9 16 .217 ($3.87) ($3.87) $9.0 ($12.87)
36 Wil Myers 40 11 24 9 .218 $4.60 $4.60 $17.0 ($12.40)
37 Wilmer Flores 13 2 14 0 .281 ($11.08) ($10.00) $2.0 ($12.00)
38 Yonder Alonso 23 7 27 0 .178 ($11.08) ($10.00) $2.0 ($12.00)
39 Kyle Seager 16 5 15 1 .218 ($11.92) ($10.00) $2.0 ($12.00)
40 Odubel Herrera 12 1 16 2 .222 ($13.20) ($10.00) $2.0 ($12.00)

Similarly, below you will find the top pitching value drainers of 2019 at mid-season:

2019 Top 35 Pitcher Value Drainers at Mid-Season
No. Player K W SV ERA WHIP $Value Capped $Value $AAV Capped $Bargain
1 Corey Kluber 38 2 0 5.80 1.65 ($8.96) ($8.96) $33.0 ($41.96)
2 Carlos Carrasco 79 4 0 4.98 1.31 ($1.75) ($1.75) $32.0 ($33.75)
3 Aaron Nola 118 7 0 3.89 1.33 $1.21 $1.21 $34.0 ($32.79)
4 Noah Syndergaard 98 5 0 4.56 1.24 ($0.27) ($0.27) $31.0 ($31.27)
5 Blake Snell 117 5 0 4.87 1.28 $1.00 $1.00 $31.0 ($30.00)
6 Mike Clevinger 31 1 0 5.89 1.09 ($1.97) ($1.97) $25.0 ($26.97)
7 Jacob deGrom 128 4 0 3.32 1.11 $13.50 $13.50 $40.0 ($26.50)
8 Jack Flaherty 101 4 0 4.90 1.29 ($0.48) ($0.48) $26.0 ($26.48)
9 Chris Archer 80 3 0 5.50 1.47 ($10.44) ($10.00) $15.0 ($25.00)
10 Chris Sale 148 3 0 3.82 1.03 $13.50 $13.50 $38.0 ($24.50)
11 Jameson Taillon 30 2 0 4.10 1.13 ($0.06) ($0.06) $24.0 ($24.06)
12 James Paxton 84 5 0 4.09 1.45 ($0.27) ($0.27) $23.0 ($23.27)
13 Yu Darvish 105 2 0 4.98 1.36 ($7.48) ($7.48) $13.0 ($20.48)
14 Nick Pivetta 48 4 0 5.63 1.52 ($8.96) ($8.96) $11.0 ($19.96)
15 Trevor Bauer 140 7 0 3.74 1.18 $13.29 $13.29 $33.0 ($19.71)
16 Cody Allen 29 0 4 6.26 1.91 ($10.87) ($10.00) $9.0 ($19.00)
17 Zack Wheeler 123 6 0 4.42 1.25 $1.21 $1.21 $20.0 ($18.79)
18 Blake Treinen 36 2 16 4.08 1.53 $1.42 $1.42 $19.0 ($17.58)
19 Miles Mikolas 69 5 0 4.34 1.25 ($1.12) ($1.12) $16.0 ($17.12)
20 Mike Foltynewicz 50 2 0 6.37 1.42 ($12.98) ($10.00) $7.0 ($17.00)
21 Rick Porcello 76 5 0 5.07 1.40 ($8.96) ($8.96) $8.0 ($16.96)
22 Edwin Diaz 54 1 18 4.64 1.36 $3.12 $3.12 $20.0 ($16.88)
23 Archie Bradley 50 2 0 5.21 1.76 ($10.65) ($10.00) $6.0 ($16.00)
24 Yusei Kikuchi 68 4 0 5.12 1.51 ($13.83) ($10.00) $6.0 ($16.00)
25 Wade Davis 26 1 12 5.76 1.76 ($4.93) ($4.93) $11.0 ($15.93)
26 J.A. Happ 66 7 0 5.23 1.28 ($3.24) ($3.24) $11.0 ($14.24)
27 Kyle Freeland 49 2 0 7.13 1.57 ($18.49) ($10.00) $4.0 ($14.00)
28 Nathan Eovaldi 16 0 0 6.00 1.52 ($7.90) ($7.90) $6.0 ($13.90)
29 Zack Godley 48 3 2 6.61 1.56 ($16.59) ($10.00) $3.0 ($13.00)
30 Corbin Burnes 63 1 1 8.31 1.82 ($21.67) ($10.00) $3.0 ($13.00)
31 Patrick Corbin 118 7 0 3.55 1.14 $11.38 $11.38 $24.0 ($12.62)
32 Gerrit Cole 161 8 0 3.28 1.04 $23.67 $23.67 $36.0 ($12.33)
33 Eduardo Rodriguez 102 8 0 4.79 1.36 ($1.12) ($1.12) $11.0 ($12.12)
34 Michael Wacha 62 5 0 5.30 1.60 ($11.71) ($10.00) $2.0 ($12.00)
35 Jakob Junis 92 4 0 5.53 1.48 ($12.14) ($10.00) $2.0 ($12.00)

Assorted Assumptions & Notes (in no particular order):

  • All data is as of July 2, 2019 – to be consistent with my previous mid-season auction bargains columns.
  • The methodology inherently assumes that each player is a part of a team’s active roster each and every week of the season (prior to capping values).
  • Players who played poorly over a substantial amount of time in 2019 will rate as a high value drainer. Players who were acquired for a large cost pre-season that were injured for a substantial amount of time in 2019 will also rate a high value drainer.
  • In general, poor performance affects the pitchers more than hitters. Poor ratios account for 2 of the 4 effective scoring categories for starting pitchers, whereas for batters – poor ratios affects only 1 of 5 scoring categories. Injuries would affect hitters more than pitchers because of the numerous counting stat categories for batters.
  • In general, and aided by the ($10) cap, the top few value drainers will all have extremely high pre-season AAVs.
  • Giancarlo Stanton leads all hitters in lost value over opportunity cost – mostly due to injury. For the $34 paid at the auction to acquire him, he has only provided fantasy owners with 1 HR.
  • Corey Kluber is the top pitcher value drainer with a capped bargain of ($42). Kluber has been injured for most of the season, and prior to that, he amassed an awful 5.80 ERA with a dreadful 1.65 WHIP.
  • The only pitcher who had lost owners more than $22 of capped value yet cost under $22 to acquire – was none other than Chris Archer. My readers already know the pitfalls of rostering him.
  • The first pitcher on this list to have less than a $10 AAV is Cody Allen. It is quite common for closers to be high up on this list. The fact that Allen was not a premium closer at the auction table, and the fact that there aren’t too many closers high up on the list in general – means that closers have had a good relative year in terms of return on investment.
  • The first hitter on this list to have less than a $10 AAV is Garrett Hampson. Hampson is one of many projected speedsters to appear on this list. Others include Trea Turner, Jose Peraza, Ender Inciarte, Lorenzo Cain, Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton. This was not a good relative year for speedsters in terms of hit/bust frequency.
  • Ace pitchers Jacob deGrom, Chris Sale and Trevor Bauer all appear on this list despite earning over $13 of value. I wouldn’t call these ace pitchers busts, however, there certainly were many wiser pitcher investments in 2019.
  • Mike Trout – who has earned the 6th most roto value of all batters at $33, is the 20th player on the value drainers list for hitters. This disconnect highlights one of the differences between auction and snake drafts. For serpentine drafts, selecting him at #1 overall this year was absolutely beneficial. However, for auctions, where one can choose to skip over high priced players (and alter the distribution of acquisitions up and down the player pool) – his cost was prohibitive. A near ($18) capped bargain confirms that buying Trout at an auction was not the most efficient use of fantasy capital.
  • The hitter distribution of capped bargains (at this negative end) seem to mimic the pitcher values. I interpret this to mean that the NFBC players did a nice job of getting the Hitter/Pitcher% split correct in terms of assessing the risk between the top valued hitters and pitchers.
  • The average cost of the top 10 hitter value drainers to roster was $31. The average returned value of the players was ($.75).
  • The average cost of the top 10 pitcher value drainers to roster was $30.5. The average returned capped value of the players was $0.50.

We hoped you liked reading 2019’s Fantasy Baseball Auction Bargains at Mid-Season – The Value Drainers by Ariel Cohen!

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Ariel was a finalist for two 2018 FSWA Awards - Baseball Article of the Year, and Baseball Writer of the Year. Ariel is the creator of the ATC (Average Total Cost) Projection System. Ariel also writes for CBS Sports and Sportsline, and is the host of the Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational - Beat the Shift Podcast. Ariel and his fantasy partner, Reuven Guy, have used the ATC system projections to finish in the money in several NFBC, RTSports, Doubt Wars and other national leagues, racking up several division titles. Ariel is a member of the inaugural Tout Wars Draft & Hold League. Ariel Cohen is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA). He is a Vice President of Risk Management for a large international insurance and reinsurance company. Follow Ariel on Twitter at @ATCNY.

newest oldest most voted
Sellys
Member
Sellys

Those guys in the top 6 do a pretty good job of answering the question of why my team is not doing so hot this year. Not that anyone cares about my team.

FrodoBeck
Member
FrodoBeck

I care about your team because my team feels the same way. Having Stanton, Ramirez, Upton, and Khris Davis (number 1, 4, 11, and 15 on this list) all on the same team has destroyed me in one league.

Sellys
Member
Sellys

Altuve and Goldschmidt as keepers for me, and trading for Stanton, Ramirez, Benintendi, and Carpenter. I really need to reevaluate my theory that baseball is a long season and trading for guys that were good last year and off to slow starts will provide value.

FrodoBeck
Member
FrodoBeck

I think it’s a good theory. Stanton is just a fluke injury guy (which is a major bummer) and nobody really should have expected Ramirez to remain terrible after one bad month.

Benintendi is just a little worse off than normal so that’s not awful. Honestly haven’t owned Carpenter this year or even looked at him so no opinion there.