Want A Little Defense With Your Reality Fantasy Baseball?
Deep dynasty fantasy baseball leagues are a valuable tool for prospect writers. To be competitive, one is forced to research hundreds of prospects and keep that knowledge up to date. Now, add another wrinkle. What if defense mattered as well? In Reality Fantasy Baseball, it’s a wrinkle owners are still working to adjust for.
In recent months, I’ve placed multiple free agent bids on infielders including White Sox Marcus Semien, San Francisco Giants Ehire Adrianza and New York Mets Wilfredo Tovar in Reality Fantasy Baseball. Each player qualified for free agency due to being unowned at the time of his MLB debut. In a 24-team league with 80-man rosters, positional depth is key. Utility players are at a premium and owners plead poverty when it comes to the shortstop position.
Of the three players mentioned, Marcus Semien is the most valuable asset. In a deep league utilizing a linear weighted scoring system, his balanced set of skills will play up. Plus, the infielder is Major League ready. The White Sox have a number of infield options, but Semien is talented enough to compete for playing time in spring training. With Brewers Jeff Bianchi as our utility infielder, I coveted Semien as a utility upgrade at multiple positions, capable of filling in for starters Jason Kipnis (Indians) and Evan Longoria (Rays).
With multiple teams bidding in Reality Fantasy Baseball, I dropped out long before Semien’s free agency period ended. In a league where teams have a 120-million dollar salary cap, he’ll receive a Major League deal and earn a guaranteed $15,200,000 with an option which would up the total to $18,500,000+. It’s quite an investment for a player who posted a 22/1 strikeout to walk ratio in his first 71 Major League plate appearances.
Meanwhile, Tovar’s free agency period was much less active. The light hitting shortstop considered to be a plus defender signed a minor league deal with my team for $900,000. This means we can stash him in Triple-A for 2014 and then add him to the 40-man, gaining the full six years of cheap control with three options. Tovar certainly won’t hit like Semien, but a Stephen Drew-less shortstop position for New York means he’ll have a chance to break camp as the Mets’ utility infielder.
Adrianza didn’t receive a second free agent bid and signed a minor league deal for $500,000. Like Tovar, he’s a stash and hold option considered to be a defensive wizard with little pop.
Tovar/Adrianza Or Semien In Reality Fantasy Baseball?
I’d be crazy to say Tovar or Adrianza will be more valuable than Semien over the course of a career. But in a format where defense matters, it’s safe to say owners who were in on Semien, but avoided both shortstops weighed offense heavily, while placing considerably less value on defensive chops and positional scarcity.
A better argument would be how many millions more valuable is the White Sox prospect than both shortstops in Reality Fantasy Baseball. In one respect, it’s impossible to say considering Semien is guaranteed money while the shortstops can be released at any time. However, we can project pre-arbitration years and surmise Tovar and Adrianza will earn five million combined, or a third of Semien — excellent value when the format mirrors MLB and cheap assets are king.
This morning, it looks as if we’ll also be adding Nationals catcher Sandy Leon to the mix on a minor league deal for $500,000 too. He’s the catching version of Adrianza as an older prospect whose standing within his organization has taken a hit.
In Major League baseball, sites like FanGraphs and Baseball Reference helped highlight the value of defense. The natural progression is for fantasy baseball to follow suit. It’s exciting to be on the cutting edge of that playing Reality Fantasy Baseball.
12 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman /
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