Ottoneu Hot Right Now: Most Live Auctions

As of Thursday afternoon, there were four players up for auction in more than 10% – a prospect, a guy finally getting a clean chance, a power hitting 1B, and a reliever. And all four of these players are legitimately interesting and worth rostering.

Juan Yepez – Juan Yepez got the call to join the Cardinals this week and it’s no surprise he is being widely auctioned now. First of all, dude can mash, and Ottoneu managers like dudes who can mash. Second, as a 1B prospect, he was less likely to be stashed pre-season than other bats with similar potential.

So far this year, Yepez has destroyed Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .409 wOBA in 93 plate appearances. That’s not a huge sample, but he had a .413 wOBA in 357 Triple-A PA last year, too. For a guy with big-time power (.299 ISO last year in Triple-A), he controls the zone well, striking out under 20% of the time while walking more than 10% of the time across two levels in the minors last year.

The problem for Yepez is there didn’t appear to be space for him in the Cardinals lineup. He’s primarily at 1B, but Paul Goldschmidt is there; he could be a DH, but the Cards brought back Albert Pujols and have been platooning him with Corey Dickerson; he has played a little 3B and LF, but neither is a natural fit.

But the Cards found room, plugging him into their lineup Wednesday and, as of my writing, he is slotted to DH and bat fifth Thursday, as well. If Yepez grabs that DH job, even in a part-time role, he is well worth a roster spot in Ottoneu. While there is obviously risk in any prospect, his profile is perfectly suited to Ottoneu points and 4×4 formats, where his high OBP/30-HR profile plays up.

I would easily bid $5 or more on Yepez where I have the cap space and the need for a part-time 1B/Util bat. If he hits the ground running, you’ll have a long-term piece. If not, he’ll get sent back down and you can cut him if you need the cap space back.

Edward Olivares – Olivares was bounced around by the Royals last year and ended up with 111 PA over 39 games spread over four months. Not the best way to let a guy get into a rhythm and show what he can do. 2022 looked like more of the same as, three weeks in, Olivares had appeared in eight games and had only 15 PA.

But since April 29, Olivares has made five starts in six games and has now been the Royals leadoff hitter for three straight, hitting .500/.524/.650 over that stretch.

The case for Olivares is strongest in 5×5, but it isn’t bad in the other formats. He has 25 HR potential but is more likely to run lower OBPs and probably comes up short of that 25 HR power. And his 25-SB potential isn’t that meaningful in points or 4×4.

I am less excited about Olivares than Yepez, but would take a $2-$3 flyer on him hitting enough to stay atop the Royals lineup, which will give him plenty of value. I would go a bit higher in 5×5.

Rowdy Tellez – Tellez hits the ball real hard and doesn’t have major plate discipline issues, so it is no surprise he pops up on lists like this often. The problem is he has never managed to put up consistently strong results. His high max exit velocity and high average exit velocity have not translated into high production. He’s never had a season of more than 130 PA and a wOBA over .310, despite a career .329 wOBA.

Part of the problem historically is that he has run middling fly ball rates, limiting his ability to take advantage of his hard contact. Not the case this year, as he is posting a 56.1% flyball rate. And while he is not pulling the ball more than he has in the past, he is going the other way less which should help him hit the ball harder and farther. Add to that a career-low chase rate and career-low swinging-strike rate and you have a recipe for a breakout.

I can imagine putting up as much as an $8 bid on Tellez, perhaps going higher where I have a ton of cap room and a ton of need at 1B/Util. I can also imagine bailing on him quickly if things go south, as we have seen these flashes from him before, and they haven’t been sustained.

Drew Smith – If you are a regular reader of Ottoneu content, you are likely familiar with my reliever strategy, which is to grab anyone who looks interesting and hold them until they stop looking interesting, while never paying premium prices.

Enter Drew Smith. He came into 2022 with a career 21% K-rate, but has brought that up to 34.9% in 10.1 innings this year. His walk rate is up a touch, too, but not nearly enough to concern me given the strikeouts.

Even better – we have an explanation for why he suddenly became a relief ace! While his fastball remains his primary pitch, he is now throwing a new pitch – a slider – 23% of the time. How has that slider performed? In a very small sample, it is getting swinging strikes at about a league-average rate, while getting an elite 60% ground ball rate. He has yet to give up a baserunner off his slider.

Could that just be noise as the league figures out this pitch and adjusts? Sure! But I will gladly take a shot on a RP showing a big jump in K-rate and great results, particularly when based on the development of a new pitch. I am not bidding more than $1-$2 for any RP, but Smith would be near the top of my list of targets.

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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