If you had to choose one word to describe the 2017 fantasy baseball season, where would your imagination take you? ‘Disastrous’ for all the ESPN leagues you’re in that don’t have enough DL spots to let you breathe? ‘Unexpected’ for one guy in the history of the universe that selected Ryan Zimmerman and Aaron Judge at the turn of the first round? Or what about ‘covfefe’ for all the unbelieveable coverage Razzball’s fantastic hub of writers has bestowed to the masses?
My darkhorse pick is ‘superteam.’
With Trout hitting the DL for six to eight weeks after shredding his thumb on the home run statue in centerfield of Marlins Park, we’ve stumbled into a glorious window of time where the construction of superteams is possible without the complaint of collusion. Imagine this window for superteam construction as the parallel universe where all those Crawford-esque Red Sox contracts actually worked themselves out. I’ve done my best impression of what I’d like to call “rational Dave Stewart” and wheeled my way into one more share of Mike Trout, with aspirations for more. The titan of baseball is now embodied in all his thumb-less glory on two of my most coveted teams (I detailed my portfolio of fantasy baseball assets back in March). My intention with this column is to breakdown the rationale behind that acquisition and help all of you not only acquire Trout, but understand the thought process around acquiring any injured player of this caliber in the future.
Here is the deal in my lone hosted Razzball Commentator League (5×5 roto, 12 teamer, 4th place before the trade).
This was a fun one to make. My relatively uninspiring team with MMA amateur Bryce Harper sat with an outfield so deep I had daily decisions to make on starting Max Kepler, Gregory Polanco, and Matt Holliday in my utility spot (don’t laugh – Holliday sneaks in as top 40 outfielder in front of players like Adam Jones and Christian Yelich so far in 2017). In rationalizing this Trout trade, I mulled over a few rest of season lines and came to a few points of interest.
Here at Razzball we have Trout playing another 54 games with a .304 average, 13 HR, 8 SB, 39 R, 38 RBI. An assumption that if Trout plays every game for the rest of the season, he comes back the first week of August against the Phillies, nine weeks from the day that Trout had successful surgery (5/31), and technically a week longer than the maximum on the given six to eight week timetable we’ve been presented. After reading this piece by Angels’ beat writer Pedro Moura (great follow on Twitter), two things were apparent.
First is the process Trout underwent can allow him to resume training within one week of surgery. Yeah, my eyes widened too. Second is that fellow teammate Andrelton Simmons found his thumb to be sore after resuming play, but mentions that it didn’t affect his swing, noting particularly he was hesitant to dive for balls as a shortstop. Trout does dive for balls, but not exactly like a shortstop does with conscious effort in mind to spring back to their feet and make a throw. If it isn’t – in Simmons I trust – affecting his offensive production, in fantasy terms, I’m really not worried at all about it affecting Trout upon his return to field.
Back to that nine week timetable we’ve assumed, which places the “Melville Meteor” as the 78th most valuable player on the rest of season big board. Nine weeks is Pessimistic you say? That’s the opposite of the optimistic guile that I carry in the fantasy half of my brain (I said James Paxton would win the Cy Young for Manfred’s sake!). While I was tempted to go just over five weeks for Trout’s return, I’m speculating the ability to watch Angels’ baseball emerges from hibernation right after the all star break, July 14, six weeks and two days from the successful surgery. Reasonable? Absolutely.
Here is the scaled projection off Razzball’s numbers if we assume Trout plays every game remaining for the Angels upon this adjusted July 14th return, minus two games for a buffer, attributed to rest or the stomach bug of your choosing.
.304 average, 16.0 HR, 9.9 SB, 48.1 R, 46.9 RBI (67 games)
If that looks really good, you’re very correct. Wil Myers is projected for 16 homers, 11 bags, 48 runs, 49 RBIs, and a .256 average, placing him 51st on the rest of season big board. Completely excluding the 50 point difference in average and merely being optimistic that Trout comes back in the six week time frame he still remains a top 50 player rest of season and more important a top 25 outfielder. Taking that 50 points of average into account, Trout starts to push into top 30 player territory, and would almost still be considered an OF1, top 12 outfielder.
It seems like something out of a fairy tale. Trout plays 25-30 games less than your typical OF2 yet still projects to produce comparable numbers to the outfielders right in that window. Yes, Trout is that good and we haven’t even considered factoring in your replacement for that slot. If we assume about on average 72 outfielders are owned in your league (12 teams, 6 OFs each), guys falling just outside of that number for rest of season production are as follows…
My “Trout-less” window is the expected production from a waiver wire OF between now and my golden date of July 14, given that they play about 75-80% of their team’s games between Monday June, 5th and Trout’s return. It’s pessimistic to balance out a bit of my optimism with Trout’s recovery, and also to show you why you should be using Razzball’s Hittertron for your batter streaming needs. Adding the “Trout-less” window back to my July 14th Trout projection, we end up with this production.
.291 average, 18.9 HR, 11.4 SB, 59.7 R, 58.3 RBI
Trout is very good, and I already find myself favoring his side of trades I’ve seen more times than not.
Keep in mind another philosophy that might linger in the mind of owners with extremely valuable assets – like Trout – that go down at any point of the year. It’s the ‘sunk cost’ theory, familiar to many of you I’m sure. As the tale goes with Trout, the owner may perceive the injury and effect of the injury that Trout has incurred as already taken into account, pushing them to the “do no harm” philosophy of trading which would indicate holding onto Trout. The emotional investment one has in Trout may have accumulated so much, they’re completely fine with leaving Trout in their DL slot and running through some other waiver fill-ins. This is particularly true in head-to-head category or points leagues if the owner is confident they can make the playoffs. In scenarios like this, where your league isn’t a running roto tally, I see very little reason to consider trading Trout if you’re the owner, and every reason in the world to try and acquire him if you’re not the owner.
Closing thoughts after a column like this always circle back to whether you should trade for Trout. First, keep in mind all the factors that can be different between my situation and your leagues’ Trout owner. Trades, as we all know, can be a fickle beast. My inclination in a head-to-head league where you’re confident you’ll make the playoffs is to go all in. Try to package an OF2 with another negligible piece in your attempt to coax the Trout owner to the dark side. With roto, as you can see above it’s a bit different. The big takeaway is even when it may seem like you’re giving up too much, take a step back and understand the relative value that Mike Trout has the potential to give you back. Conforto and Zimmer rest of season compared to Trout? Give me Trout eight days a week.
I currently have Trout ranked 67th overall in roto, but after doing all this digging, I will have no problem moving him inside the top 35-40 overall.
Get well soon Trouty! The fate of my seasons depend on it.
Throw Lance a follow on Twitter if your heart desires @LanceBrozdow. He’s always tweeting about baseball and fantasy.