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Happy New Year everybody! I’ve been in hibernation for the most part this offseason, aside from this, but decided to awaken from my slumber to tell you a little secret. Although it’s not really a secret since I repeatedly made it clear last year when I professed my love early and often. And it wouldn’t be a secret anymore once I typed it here, would it? Nevertheless, I’m doubling down on my Josh Donaldson star-gazing and, for those of you who didn’t read the title, proclaim that he’ll be a top tier third baseman for 2014 in OPS leagues.

Did you know this his .883 OPS last season ranked third among regular third basemen (behind Miguel Cabrera and David Wright)? In fact, he finished ahead of guys drafted much earlier than him, including Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria, and Ryan Zimmerman. So, what makes me confident in Josh for 2014?

Well, everything really. Compared to the rest of the league, he’s the proud parent of an above average walk rate and a below average strikeout rate. Also, he’s managed to improve nearly all of his underlying offensive statistics since 2012, when he first started receiving regular at bats. Whether it’s the fact that he moved off the catcher position or the magic dust of Billy Beane (don’t ask me to clarify what that is), he seems like a better major league player than his minor league numbers would suggest. Speaking of which, if it is the fact that he permanently moved off the catcher position, does that mean that Joe Mauer is in for a spectacular season? I wish my fortune cookie would simply say, “Signs point to yes” but my last one literally read, “Behind an able man. There are always.” I guess it’s still better than the time I got one without a fortune…

If you’ve made it this far you deserve a projection, so here you go: a .290/.370/.490 line with similar counting stats to last year. In my mind, this isn’t even an outlandish projection when considering what he’s produced in the last season and a half. These numbers would place him somewhere between Longoria and Zimmerman, without the frustrating injury risk. I think he may even have a more valuable season than Wright this year, since Donaldson will likely have more home runs. He can be considered a Beltre-lite, with less counting stats and age.

I’m crossing my fingers that he’ll be undervalued in 2014, with people not trusting his 2013 performance. Seems like his numbers indicate that he could provide third round value in an OPS league 12-teamer, but where would you take him?

 

Tom Jacks is sporadically on Twitter @votetomjacks

  1. Jay_0321 says:
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    Question for ya. We are finally moving our existing snake format keeper league to an auction format. What are common fixed dollar amounts for inflation of players kept? Do pitchers vary from hitter with respect to inflation percentages? Also, I have dredged up a formula for keeping the existing players with a predetermined value.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Jay_0321: I typically see $2-5 inflation and I’m used to seeing hitters and pitchers treated equally, but I guess that can vary by league and format. Hopefully some others can chime in on this one…

      • Jay_0321 says:
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        @Tom Jacks: Yeah, I’d definitely like to initiate a conversation in regards to auction considering I am new to it.

        • s_t_w says:
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          @Jay_0321: I’m in three live auction keeper leagues and all of them use zero inflation.
          Guy is kept for the duration of his contract at his original auction price.
          One of the leagues has a max of 10 keepers with two year contracts.
          The other two leagues have a max of 15 keepers with 3 year contracts.

          Both have farm systems as well…3 or 4 players who may graduate to the major league roster with a salary of $2.
          All are AL only leagues. You draft your team for $ 130.00, but after the draft, the team salary cap rises to $ 150.00 or $155.00.
          There is a schedule of fees for all adds and drops and all are weekly leagues so streaming is prohibitively expensive. Two of three leagues have no bench and the other has a one player bench.
          We pay $200.00 up front..the extra $70 towards transaction costs.
          Works well. Your $ 200.00 will get you back about $1150.00 if you win the league. Prizes go down to 5th place. We also have a throwback league.
          2013 was quite the year. Cost me $800.00 to buy in. Three wins and a second later, I had a nice little tax free return of just over $ 4000.00.
          Won’t see a year like that again!
          Hope there is a nugget or two in here that helps you set up your league.
          Good Luck.

          • Tom Jacks

            Tom Jacks says:
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            @s_t_w: Great feedback. Congrats on your winning streak!

          • Jay_0321 says:
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            @s_t_w: Thanks for chiming in. Ok so here is the deal with our league. We have an existing keeper pool and managers do not want to lose their keepers. So converting the snake format to auction is the main focus, and how to do it fairly and most of all, fun. Why no inflation? Also, contracts are similar to what we currently have, but everyone really hates it, however they all voted for it…go figure. We currently have keep 8 total, of which a maximum of three players are categorized as red whom can be kept indefinitely. Orange means a player has been kept twice and will be red the following year. Green means a player has been kept once and so on. The problem here is that team who have built dynasties have to cycle players constantly, I guess its what the league wanted, but it sucks for the managers like myself who took awhile to build from the bottom floor up. This year we added an implemented a blue rule which allows certain rookies to be kept as 9,10 keeper slot respectively. Players like Jo-Fer, Puig, Gray, Profar, Cole, Miller etc. I feel that an honest way of calculating inflation would be anywhere from $3-$5 per year. We are thinking of adding the auction league, but making it a trial run to see how it goes. This is a mixed h2h league.

            • s_t_w says:
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              @Jay_0321: OK. Sounds good.
              So everybody gets to keep 8 at whatever salaries your inflation policies dictate. Your league statistician, or Commish if you prefer, calls for everyone to post their keeper lists at some designated time. We post a week before the draft. Everyone else goes back into the free agent pool and is available to be drafted at auction. If an owner keeps a guy who does not make the team, goes to Japan or whatever, he can be dropped prior to the draft beginning. After drafting our 23 player roster at auction we hold a snake draft (reverse order of standings) to fill vacancies on the farm (some leagues would have bench spots for these and continue to sell at auction.) If guys have drafted players who are on the MLB DL or on the suspended list, they are allowed to move those players to reserve (at the normal transaction costs) in a snake replacement draft replacement draft that ends the whole thing. Sounds like you could combine the current polices that you value with some of these ideas to come up with something quite workable. Good luck with it.
              As for why no inflation, I don’t know. That’s the way it had been since I’ve been involved and I guess if it ain’t broke we ain’t gonna try to fix it. I’m closing in on 70 and am about the median age for our group. With a group like ours, short contracts are a good thing…lol.

            • s_t_w says:
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              @Jay_0321: If you need an initial starting salary for your 8 keepers, maybe the league members would agree to a set percentage of the Razzball auction value as listed for the type of league you run. If the player’s initial salary was 50% or 60% or 75% of that number, the owner may get a bargain in year one but your inflation rules would take care of it in due course. The other way would be to do what the poster below suggests and just start from scratch.

        • Brian says:
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          @Jay_0321: My two cents- we allow 7 keepers per year, you get them at the same price year two, then + $5 each of the next two years. Players can only be kept three years max (plus the year of being drafted), players not drafted are ineligible to be kept. We maintain the same number of bench spots that we allow kept players (currently 7).

          Biggest problem we face is attrition and trying to attract replacement owners. If your leagues too keeper-heavy its tough to incentivize a new owner from joining in. The three year keeper max has worked out well for us as it doesn’t lock up a player for their entire prime to one person.

          Some other rules we have that work well for us (I understand not everyone here would like these ):
          - we have a salary cap for trades- you can’t add more than $80 in value in trades in a season (ie if you trade for Fielder and he was drafted for $40 that is a $40 hit against the cap- undrafted players count as $1). This rule came into place to prevent lopsided keeper trades (ie someone’s entire team for the best keeper) which decided the league outcome in July. It’s worked really well for us, as you really have to strategize the moves you make given the limitations, and emphasizes the importance of the draft
          - we do the auction for our starting lineup only. The 7 bench players are drafted via a non-snake draft order when the auction is over. These players are all keeper-eligible at $1.
          - players that don’t achieve rookie status during the year don’t “start the clock” on the keeper limits. For instance if someone drafted Taillon last year in the snake draft, he’s $1 this year and next, then +$5 for the following two years. Makes it so the keeper limits don’t start until they reach the bigs, which promotes everyone carrying prospects on their rosters.

          Good luck with your league- my auction league is by far the most fun fantasy league I play in, and I’m sure you’re not going to ever consider a snake draft again!

          • Jay_0321 says:
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            @Brian: Do you play h2h or roto?

    • philthebluntman says:
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      @Jay_0321: if you switch the type of draft you do the best thing to do is start this year from scratch. That way it gives everybody equal chance to get the players they want and the values determined would be more legitimate then adding made up values .

      • Jay_0321 says:
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        @philthebluntman: But the main concern is that managers do not want to lose their keepers. We have been in establishment since 05 and tons of work have been put in by every manager. My example of a player is Andrew McCutchen. He was added via FA in 2009 by a manager and that year his opening auction value was nil, however since he has been kept and traded (I am his current owner) at anywhere from $3-$5 y/y inflation, he would cost anywhere from $15-$25, $15 obviously being a steal, but $25 also being relatively close to his current auction value. This also being said, I was also kicking the tires on the idea of the first year he was kept which was 10′ and his opening value was $13, therefore, again, $3-$5 inflation would run him 2014 at $28-$33 which is BAM spot on. The only problem with assigning first year keeper value is that I feel it penalizes the manager for savvy drafting or waiver wire tapping. I.e, Chris Davis opens up this year at $40, but this is the first year he’s kept. I need to come up with a formula that makes it fair. I mean he did come off of a 33 HR year, so maybe his 2012 opening value would be his starting point. Thoughts?

  2. Brown L says:
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    I tried to move Donaldson around the trade deadline last year, and got no interest whatsoever. Turns out to have worked for me, anyway, but it gives me hope that most folks aren’t buying this year. Fingers crossed for a sub-50 ranking from Yahoo!

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @Brown L: Yahoo could just as easily rank him in the top-5. They cray-cray.

      • Tom Jacks

        Tom Jacks says:
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        @Jay: Doing an early mock draft at Yahoo is always entertaining.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Brown L: Yeah, I think he’s clearly getting a higher ranking relative to last year, but it is still less than where his production says that he should be ranked.

      • James says:
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        @Tom Jacks:

        As someone who managed to get a trade done last year of donaldson, it is a mixed bag. I ended up with Andrus (a very over valued SS on a team deep at 3rd and weak at SS). I think you will get more for him now than i did then.

        Either way Andrus will plug in as my every day SS for another 10 years, too bad in fantasy he is only roughly an average starter.

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @James: Right. For the type of player Andrus is, that ballpark and lineup really help him retain his value.

  3. jerry says:
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    Love Donaldson too and just moved him from the fourth round to the third round on my draft sheet.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @jerry: Good times. It’s for a league that uses OPS (or some form), right? I’d probably keep him in the fourth round for standard leagues…

      • Jerry says:
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        @Tom Jacks: Not OPS, so will keep him 4th round. Thanks.

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @Jerry: No problem.

  4. Shultz says:
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    Keeper help, please

    Can keep up to 7

    Kershaw $35
    Au shizz $25
    Freeman $21
    Beltre $35
    Lucroy $7
    Holland $12
    Heyward $4
    Gyorko $4
    Rosenthal $4
    Chris Davis $7

    Au shizz, Davis and heyward seem obvious…thinking about lucroy, Rosenthal as well. Biggest indecision…kershaw? Freeman?

    • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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      @Shultz: don’t keep catcher, do keep cheap gyorko.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Shultz: I’d definitely keep gyorko, like Aubrey said, and I’m optimistic about freeman so I’d keep him too. Depending on the size of the league, I’d keep Kershaw since it seems like a very reasonable price for him. I wouldn’t mind keeping Rosenthal either.

      • Shultz says:
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        @Tom Jacks: thanks. 12 team league. Won last year frustrated I can only keep 7…didn’t even include players like minor, Jansen, werth, and Craig.

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @Shultz: No problem… Think of it as a good problem to have since it means that you’re doing things right, and there’s no reason to think that should change. The only other thing to do would be to try a 2 or 3 for 1 deal with a team who needs keepers, if a team like that is out there.

  5. Curt says:
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    Like the post…
    I just offered cashner(14th round keep), Jim Henderson(16th), Andrew Cashner(13), and Desmond Jennings(11th) for Josh, his 19th rounder….too much?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Curt: Thanks. I like that trade for you, assuming that the second time you listed cashner was a typo and isn’t another decent player.

      • Curt says:
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        @Tom Jacks: My bad…..thanks…..sometimes its good to proofread…LOL

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @Curt: Ha, no problem

  6. rotorankers.tumblr.com says:
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    Glad to hear some Donaldson love. I traded Papi and Gio for him in a dynasty league. I gave up a ton but 3B is dry with Hanley and E5 losing 3B eligibility and Miggy soon to lose it.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @rotorankers.tumblr.com: Yeah I agree that 3b is weaker, at least at the top. I like that trade in a dynasty. Papi has to decline one of these years, right?

  7. Justin says:
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    Tom Jacks what’s up man. It has been a while since I have seen an article of yours good to see you back, Happy New Year and all that jazz!! I have an OPS keeper question for you.

    Its a 12 team 7 player keeper league ops and QS are extra cats in this league. Took over a team, decided to blow it up and basically get a ton of picks while getting some good young guys to win for multiple years. Who would you keep?

    Rizzo,Kinsler,Taveras,Yelich,A.Garcia,S.Castro,Granderson,MattAdams,A.Sanchez,Cobb, Iwakuma.

    Call me crazy but im leaning toward Rizzo,Taveras,Kinsler,Yelich,Sanchez,Iwakuma,cobb

    I have 12 picks in the first 7 rounds. With a lot of the picks being back to back or 2 out of 3 or 4 so rebuilding should be awesome. Thanks in advance for the insight. Good to see you back.

    Also are you going to be covering the big “pert” drafts razzball is a part of this year via twitter or something?? I would def tune in and I know im not alone on that.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Justin: Hey Justin – Since you’re going younger, I’d look to trade Kinsler because I think there’s a good chance he declines quickly in the next year or two. If you are able to trade him then I’d probably keep Garcia. I’d also consider drafting Castro because I’m expecting a rebound, but I don’t think you have to keep him since his stock took a big hit.

      Another option would be to try to package Kinsler with one of your pitchers to get an even better guy.

      Good question on the drafts, but I don’t know what the plan is yet. I’m assuming Grey or Jay have a better idea, so I’ll have to check with them.

  8. Justin says:
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    Thanks for the time! The problem is the league is not set up to trade in the offseason. Right before the deadline I had an offer of prince for kinsler. I didnt check in time and I wasnt able to accept. Im going to offer that deal right after the draft. Do you think keeping those 3 sp would be a bad idea? And I think it would be awesome to have a live podcast of the drafts.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Justin: No problem… Then I’d keep Kinsler, keeping in mind that it might make sense to trade him this year. I don’t have a problem with keeping those three pitchers, since I think they’re all top 20ish. I guess if pitching is easy to find, then I might be less inclined, but it seems fine in a 12 teamer.

      Yeah, feel free to mention the podcast idea to Grey. That would be fun to have.

      • Justin says:
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        @Tom Jacks: I will do that. Thanks again for the advice and time. When is the next ops post?

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @Justin: Cool, and no problem. The next one probably won’t be until next month, but hopefully towards the beginning.

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