Ottoneu Hot Right Now: Most Auctioned Players

Welcome back to our semi-regular feature, which dives into the players with the most auctions currently active across all leagues. There is a good chance someone in your Ottoneu league will be adding one of these players to their roster in the next 48 hours. The question at hand: should it be you?

Bobby Bradley
The Cleveland 1B prospect is getting his second shot at MLB pitching and it is going much better than his first.
Much better. In 15 games and 49 PA in 2019, Bradley slashed .178/.245/.356 for a solid 52 wRC+. He struck out in 40.8% of his plate appearances, which goes a long way to explaining that atrocious slash line. There is only so much damage you can do while never making contact.

Through 10 games and 35 PA this year, however, he is slashing .375/.429/.813 for a 232 wRC+. Even after striking out twice in four trips Thursday night, his K-rate is 22.9% which is, needless to say, much lower than 40.8%. The other big change is in his HR/FB rate, which was merely 12.5% in 2019 (not great for a power hitter) and is 44.4% this year. He won’t sustain that, of course, but it is nice to see.

If this new strikeout rate is legitimate, Bradley is going to be a very solid hitter. And he has looked the part since his callup. But it’s a very small sample (strikeout rates don’t stabilize until 60 plate appearances) and his Triple-A numbers are a lot less exciting: .196/.266/.485 for a 92 wRC+ with a 32.1% K-rate. Even in his last week of games with Columbus, he was striking out 34.6% of the time, so it isn’t like there is a trend suggesting he had turned a corner.

At this point, I think it is worth taking a shot at Bradley, but I’m not looking to spend more than $3-$4 to take that shot, unless I have a significant amount of cap room. With enough cap space, gambling $7 or more on his upside isn’t terrible, but I think more than likely the strikeouts jump and the HR/FB rate falls, the BABIP drops (.400 at the moment) and he settles in as a decent backup 1B/Util option.

Austin Gomber
Austin Gomber seems to have found a way to fool Coors Field, posting better numbers at home (0.95 ERA) than on the road (5.06). But digging a little deeper, he is getting more Ks on the road and allowing fewer walks on the road, just like we would expect. So what explains the ERA difference? His .171 BABIP at home is part of it. His 59% strand rate on the road is part of it. The fact that his road HR/FB rate (17.8%) is more than 4x his home rate (4.3%) explains the rest. And that last part is just mind-blowing.

Gomber’s road HR/9 is 1.50, which isn’t terrible, but his 0.32 mark at home is crazy. And I just don’t think it can continue.

This leads me to my issue with Gomber – despite the success at Coors, 28.1 successful home innings don’t convince me he’s the Coors Whisperer. Maybe he is! Maybe he has found a way to make the air more resistant or something. But I am not ready to start him at home, particularly when he has division opponents like San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, who are all hitting well. And on the road, he really hasn’t been that great. Not as bad as his ERA, but the 4.02 FIP is more good than great.

So now I have a starting pitcher who I won’t use at home and who I like but don’t love on the road. I am not using him at San Diego or LA, for example. Which is nearly a quarter of his road games. So what do I do with him? Put simply, I stay away. If you are in desperate need of pitching (and certainly plenty of people are), I don’t blame you for considering him.

And if you are going to use him, maybe now is the time. After they finish their current home series with Milwaukee on Sunday, the Rockies are at Seattle, at Milwaukee, home for Pittsburgh (ok, maybe there are some home games I trust him to start), home for St. Louis, then at Arizona before finishing the first half at San Diego. Starting Tuesday, he could have three useful starts before the break. But after that they are home for 5, then play 7 of their next 10 at the Dodgers and Padres, and then are home for six more. I want no part of that.

Shane Baz
I am no scout and so I don’t often wade into prospect valuations. But Baz forced his way into this article with all his active auctions and it is not hard to see why. In 32.2 innings of Double-A, Baz struck out 40.8% of batters faced and walked 1.7%. Then in his first Triple-A start, he went four innings with 5 K and 1 BB (and a HBP). The skillset I look for in pitching prospects is control and command – give me a guy who can hit his spots and limit walks, and I am intrigued by the upside. Take that profile and drop in a giant pile of strikeouts and I just can’t help myself, I am entering a bid.

I just bid $5 on Baz in a league yesterday (winning him for $3) and I would do the same elsewhere. In that league, I had nearly $30 in cap space and I am in the midst of building for 2022, factors that nudged my bid upward, but I would bid on Baz in almost any situation. There are some teams where I literally don’t have a spot for him – between injuries, needed bench bats, and prospects I prefer, he won’t fit everywhere. But in general, I think he is the kind of guy you want in a rebuild and who will likely have meaningful value at the Ottoneu trade deadline if you are a team that is trying to win.

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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Joe Wilkey
Joe Wilkey

“If this new strikeout rate is legitimate, Bradley is going to be a very solid hitter.”

Narrator: It was not legitimate.

Bradley is swinging at out of zone pitches at a slightly above league average rate, but his contact rate on those pitches is an abysmal 43.3%, his zone rate is a hilariously low 37.5%, which leads to a swinging strike rate of 18.1%. There are only 4 qualifiers (out of 142) that have a higher SwStr%, and they are Salvador Perez + 3 guys who have K% of 31.4% or higher.

As for Gomber, he absolutely should have allowed more HR. I mean, he literally had one miss by inches: and he has allowed 58 FB per StatCast, including 8 of 100 MPH exit velocity or more. Can’t get away with that for long in Coors.