Ottoneu Hot Right Now: Most Active Auctions

As we come down to the final weeks of the season, auctions shift from being primarily about this year to, at least for some teams, a full-on 2023 focus. That makes the bidding less straight-forward and for some of the players being auctioned right now, contenders and rebuilders will have very different values.

The Rookie InfieldersJordan Groshans and Rodolfo Castro don’t share a ton in common, but they are both rookie infielders in the top five of most active auctions at the moment.

Groshans has some prospect pedigree, having appeared on top 100 lists in the past, but lost some shine over the years, as his power never developed. His hit tool looks better than expected, even if the power is less than expected, and he still projects to be a solid big leaguer. The problem for me is that hit-over-power CI types don’t usually carry much weight in Ottoneu.

That said, Groshans has a couple of things playing to his advantage. First, he has SS eligibility for 2023 locked up. That lowers the standard he needs to hit to be useful by quite a bit, and while it seems likely he is 3B-only by 2024, you get a full-season of using him as a SS before you have to decide if he plays at 3B.

The second is, at least right now, 3B is pretty weak. Among 3B-eligible players with 400+ PA in 2022, the top 10 by points per game include low-power guys like Yandy Diaz and Luis Arraez. Six of the top 15 have less than 20 HR. Groshans needs to walk and hit for a pretty high average to make that work, but his plate discipline suggests that is in play, and a power breakout isn’t impossible. I would love to have him for $2-$3 to hold through the off-season; if I am desperate for 3B/SS on a contender, I could easily pay more than that with an intention of cutting in the off-season.

Castro does not have the pedigree, but he has legitimately intriguing power potential if he can just get to that power. Scouting reports suggest issues with swing-and-miss and issues with breaking pitches, but his K-rate has stayed below 30% – not good but manageable – and he now has 21 homers across two levels this year and is walking at a decent rate, as well. His line looks even better if you just focus on his most recent call-up, since August 9.

Castro feels more to me like a “ride the hot streak” candidate than a guy I want to build with long-term. If you need the depth now, don’t worry about the price, just focus on how much space you have and how much you need him. Then, worry about his future value in the off-season. Maybe we learn more about him and his role and his value jumps? Maybe someone else is willing to trade for him? Or maybe you just let him go.

The Diamondback Rookies – The Diamondbacks promoted twin aces, at least if their first three combined starts are to be believed. Ryne Nelson came first and has now thrown 13 innings without allowing a run across two starts with 13 strikeouts and two walks (one of which was intentional). Drey Jameson came next and threw seven shutout in his debut, with five strikeouts and a walk. Interestingly, neither was very good in the minors, though league and park factors may be obscuring their talent in those numbers.

Both pitchers are fastball-heavy, as Jameson threw 42% four-seamers and 30% sinkers in his debut, while Nelson is at 68% four-seamers overall. Nelson, however, mixes three other pitches – a slider, curve and change – while James leaned on just two others – a slider and change – throwing just one curve.

Jameson, however, didn’t feature the same control as Nelson. While he was able to keep his sinker, slider and change in the zone at above league average rates, his four-seamer was in the zone just 36.8% of the time (league-average is 50.5%). For Nelson, his slider was out of the zone more than you’d like, but with a 71.4% whiff rate, he is getting what he needs from that pitch.

I have a bit more interest in Nelson and if I am going to bet on one of them, it’s him. The DBacks have the Padres, Dodgers, Giants, Astros, Giants and Brewers to finish the season, so there is risk of some really bad matchups. For me, that means I am buying these guys – and Nelson specifically – for the future, not because I expect to use him this year.

Realistically, I want to target these two at auction in 2023, rather than buying them now. If I have cash and they’ve been nominated, I might bid $5-$7 just to make sure the price stays high, pushing them back into the auction next year. If I happen to get one at $2? Maybe I reconsider keeping them at $4 for 2023.

The VetElvis Andrus has never been a big piece for Ottoneu, but he’s popular right now and it is not hard to see why. While he has been his usually glove-first self for the season, ever since coming to Chicago, he has been crushing the ball, posting a 153 wRC+. And it’s not just batted ball luck, as his BABIP is just .317.

That said, his 22% HR/FB rate does not seem like something he can support. He simply doesn’t hit the ball hard enough for that to be sustainable.

I get why people are buying in, and I understand riding the streak, but we have more than 8,000 PA telling us who he is and the last 2,200 of them (other than this recent streak) have been really bad. If I need IF help, I would rather gamble on Castro or Groshans developing – especially since they could theoretically have long-term value – than use a roster spot hoping Andrus keeps this up.


A long-time fantasy baseball veteran and one of the creators of ottoneu, Chad Young's writes for RotoGraphs and PitcherList, and can be heard on the ottobot podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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