Big Kid Adds (Week 1)

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

While the NFBC Main Event garners most of the attention, there are a handful of leagues with even a larger entry fee ($2.5K to $15K). They got originally named “High Stakes Leagues” and this year there are nine of them. With so much money on the line, these fantasy managers are going to try to gain any advantage. Most of the time, these managers will be a week or two ahead of everyone else on their adds. Here are the players and some information on the ones added in four or more of these leagues.

Overview: Not a ton of movement besides with closers as managers generally like their teams at this point in the season.

Hitters

Oswaldo Cabrera (9): With DJ LeMahieu out for a few weeks, Cabrera is filling in at third base. So far this season, he’s hitting .438/.471/.875 with 2 HR. On top of the power, he’ll add third base (3 games so far) to his position qualifications within a couple of weeks.

While the 25-year-old had a great four games, I’m not sure he’s a good baseball player. Even with the great stats, he’s still striking out 35% of the time. Projections value him as .237/.301/.400 … serviceable but not amazing.

Simply, the hope is that he can outperform his projection and become a decent contributor this season.

Travis d’Arnaud (6): All but one of these leagues is a 15-team, two-catcher league. To say the catcher pool is thin would be an understatement. When Sean Murphy headed to the IL, his manager and probably a half dozen other ones jumped at the opportunity of rostering d’Arnaud.

Elehuris Montero (6): The Rockies will be at home half the time over the next two weeks, so Montero should be started in those games. Coming into the season, he was projected for 20 HR and a .250 AVG. So far this season he’s hitting (.182/.357/.182). Just a streamer at home.

JJ Bleday (6): Bleday is starting in center field, batting between 2nd and 6th in lineup, and hitting .294/.294/.471 on the season. No talent breakout, just a playing time one.

Tyler Freeman (5): Freeman has been a surprise by batting between 5th and 6th in the Guardians lineup with a .250/.400/.333 and 1 SB stat line. Freeman will gain some position flexibility once he gets OF qualified in a week or so (4 games so far). Projections have him with 10 HR, 15 SB, and .275 in a full season of plate appearances. Fine bench bat.

Jon Berti (5): I don’t understand these adds. Since being traded from the Marlins to the Yankees, Berti had played in only one game. It’s obvious Oswaldo Cabrera is now the third baseman. Berti should remain on the wire.

Michael A. Taylor (5): Taylor’s been on fire (.471/.476/.588, 1 SB) and playing (five starts). Solid hot hand play.

Starters

Emerson Hancock (7): Hancock has a two-step this week as he fills in for Bryan Woo (IL). Projections aren’t a fan (4.69 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 7.2 K/9).

He didn’t show much last season. In 13 IP, he allowed 6 ER while striking out six batters.

Not showing much continued into his Monday start where he struck out one batter, walked a batter, and hit two. He did make it 5 IP while allowing 3 ER. His fastball averaged 92.8 mph and he threw it 62% of the time. None of his secondary pitches missed enough bats to be relevant.

He easy to ignore at this point.

Alec Marsh (5): Marsh’s two-step starts tonight and I’m intrigued to see how it goes. Marsh is trying to move from the bullpen to the rotation. No Spring Training StatCast information was available on him, so it’s tough to know where his fastball sat and his current pitch usage.

From last season, we did know his fastball averaged 94 mph and he generated some swing-and-miss from his secondaries.

    Pitch: SwStr%

  • Slider: 20%
  • Change: 12%
  • Curve: 12%

The 25-year-old’s biggest issue has always been walks. Since 2021, the lowest walk rate he’s posted at a single level is 4.2 BB/9. In Spring Training, he was down at 3.6 BB/9 with a 29% Ball%.

This was the perfect week for a stash-and-monitor. Two starts to determine his talent level before moving on or moving in.

Matt Waldron (5): Waldon had two starts this week (vs StL, at SF). The first start was with mixed results. Over four innings, he struck at seven batters while walking only one. The problem was that he allowed nine hits (.615 BABIP) and four runs.

One reason he might have been hittable was his fastball dropping from 91.4 mph to 90.2 mph. Also, he threw his knuckleball 41% of the time and hitters posted a 1.250 OPS against it even though it generated a 15% SwStr%. Finally, he threw his cutter and slider a combined 15 times and they didn’t generate a single swing-and-miss.

My take is that his knuckleball isn’t good enough to stand on its own. It’s better at mocking a changeup that works off his fastball. The problem is that a 90-mph fastball is well below-average and he doesn’t have a second secondary. To become relevant, he needs to add velo or find that third league-average pitch.

Relievers

Jason Foley (9): Foley was the guy everyone dropped their FAAB dollars on this past week as he seems to be the Tigers closer (2 Saves). I’m suspect he’ll remain the closer for the entire season.

First, he’s struggled against lefties in his career with a 4.43 xFIP against them. If a team has several lefties up, the Tigers might go with another bullpen option.

Second, he’s not been much of a strikeout pitcher with his career high being 7.2 K/9. Foley has added ~2 mph to his fastball, so his strikeout rate will increase some but probably not to the level of other closers.

Kevin Ginkel (8): With Paul Sewald on the IL for one to three months, Ginkel will get the first shot to be the Arizona’s closer. Last season, he posted a 2.48 ERA (3.60 xFIP), 9.6 K/9, and 0.98 WHIP with 4 Saves and 8 Holds.

Chris Martin (5): With Kenley Jansen’s back acting up, fantasy managers are betting that Martin might get the first opportunity for Saves.

Giovanny Gallegos (4) and John Brebbia (4): Unstable situations in St. Louis and Chicago (White Sox) have managers speculating on a possible change.

Players Added in NFBC High-Stake Leagues
Name Leagues Added Max Bid Min Bid
Jason Foley 9 535 146
Oswaldo Cabrera 9 143 41
Kevin Ginkel 8 337 173
Emerson Hancock 7 36 3
Travis d’Arnaud 6 49 6
Elehuris Montero 6 42 2
JJ Bleday 6 37 1
Tyler Freeman 5 61 3
Chris Martin 5 45 3
Jon Berti 5 27 3
Alec Marsh 5 22 1
Matt Waldron 5 15 10
Michael A. Taylor 5 11 2
Giovanny Gallegos 4 129 4
John Brebbia 4 37 5
Jared Triolo 4 29 7
Harold Ramirez 4 16 7
Kyle Gibson 4 16 3
Nick Martini 4 16 3
Eddie Rosario 4 12 7





Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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LightenUpFGmember
14 days ago

Honestly, in 15 team 2-catcher leagues I’m shocked that d’Arnaud was even available. He’s an easy 12-15 home run guy in a good offense *if* he stays healthy.