Crawfish Fantasy: The Value of the Astros

Ezra Shaw

This week, Robert and Chris discuss the current and future Astros' fantasy relevance.

To: illinibob
From: CRPerry13

Hi Robert,

Last year, the Astros were almost completely unrosterable in fantasy formats. Only Jose Altuve warranted a starting spot on most clubs, and Jed Lowrie served as a pretty good bench player when he wasn't making his annual appearance on the disabled list. This year really isn't much better. The starting pitchers are too inconsistent and aren't backed by offense enough to contribute in Wins or Losses, the bullpen is among the worst I've ever seen, and the offense rotates platoon players too much for dependable lineup use. This year, the only player I've added to my teams besides Altuve is Chris Carter, who could post 30 homers and 90 RBI and has eligibility at two positions.

The present is depressing, so let's talk about the fantasy future of the Astros. I'm in one long-term keeper league, and Yahoo just added a dedicated NA roster spot for stashing minor leaguers, which has helped fantasy keeper owners a lot this season. Since the Astros now boast one of the youngest everyday rosters and a top farm system, who do you see who would make a good keeper in short-term and long-term dynasty leagues? I have a list, but I'll just give you one name, then let you start us off. Jose Altuve - I think he's going to be a top 10 fantasy second baseman for a long time, particularly because as batting average becomes devalued in real life, having a guy who can hit for a high average becomes that much more important in fantasy due to its rarity.

Who are you eyeballing in your keeper leagues?

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To: CRPerry13
From: illinibob

Hi Chris,

Altuve is the obvious choice, but he's no secret, of course. In my long-standing 12 team AL only keeper league (23 starters, 5 minor leaguers), he went for 30 bucks at this year's auction. (Note, I calculated draft inflation in this league at 32.8%). So, the word is out on Altuve.

It was a unique situation this year, obviously, as an entire team became eligible for drafting at one time. (Except for Carter and Peacock, who were retained from last year's Oakland team, Carter at 10, peacock at 5). So what did this 24 year old roto league think of Astros at the draft? Let's look at the prices:

Maxwell 13

Pena 10

Veras 7 (Me)

Castro 6 (me)

Norris 5

Harrell 5 (me)

Dominguez 3

Wallace 2

Bedard 2

Ankiel 2

F-Mart 1

Corporan 1

Also, in the minor league portion of our draft (player must be in the minors on opening day), there was a lot of interest in future Astros. Correa, Singleton (by me), Springer, DeShields and Cosart were all drafted pretty early. In fact, the first 4 went in the first 12 picks.

You can tell by my picks, who I like. I think Castro is primed for a breakout year, Harrell is the best of the fantasy pitching options, and Veras?.......well, i was fishing for a few extra saves. Who do you think is fantasy worthy, now and down the road?

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To: illinibob
From: CRPerry13

I bet it was an interesting situation to have an entire team come on the market at once. I think you overpaid for Veras and somebody got a steal on Norris. The TCB leagues all drafted most of the Astros, not surprisingly. The prices on the auction draft were downright hilarious in cases. I'm still trying to understand $9 for Matt Dominguez. Defense doesn't matter in fantasy baseball! I'm with you on Jason Castro though - I drafted him as well, though I subsequently dealt him in a trade for Salvador Perez. In my friends-and-family keeper league, of the 320 players kept or picked, only Altuve, Carter, and Veras were rostered the morning after the draft. Since then, I believe only Norris has been picked up via Free Agency. That's pretty sad if you think about it, but probably typical of how most fantasy leagues view the Astros and accurate to their fantasy value.

Back to keeper leagues, not a one of those guys you listed above is a keeper in any typical fantasy format (unless it's a true dynasty where almost everybody is kept, I guess). In my league, each team gets ten keepers, which is far more than even most leagues. In a standard 12-team league, with six keepers per team, one would have to think that a player will be top-72 at some point in the next couple seasons or a top performer at a shallow position. Even when considering minor leaguers who are close to the bigs, there's not a name in the Astros' system beyond Altuve that I'd consider in that situation.

Some keeper leagues do minor league drafts though, like yours. In those, I'd certainly target Correa, Singleton, Springer, and DeShields (those are the obvious ones). To me, Singleton actually has less value than the other three in because 1B is such a ridiculously deep position in fantasy; he's likely to be no better than an average performer in a 12- to 20-team league. If I'm looking deeper for some gambles though, I'm starting to enjoy what Nolan Fontana has been up to, particularly if he sticks at shortstop. Correa or no Correa, he could find himself with a highly productive fantasy career if his development continues. Aside from him, I'd take gambles on some high-octane pitchers like Foltynewicz and McCullers (if I'm patient), and a high-ceiling guy like Domingo Santana or Rio Ruiz.

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To: CRPerry13
From: illinibob

One could argue that anything over a buck was an overpay for Veras! But, he was the last "closer" on the board, and he still might be good for 20 saves. Or not. In my league, up to 15 players can be kept, as per the original Waggonner-Okrent rules for roto.

Minor leaguers have salaries of 5 bucks when they come up, and that salary is good for 3 years, plus, players can be extended at a cost of 5 additional bucks for every year added. So, Singleton will be presumably valuable for a few years, as long as he's not Justin Smoak! Correa and DeShields (!) went before I took Singleton, and Springer went soon afterwards.

Folty, McCullers and even Wojo ,if they continue on their current paths, may be roster worthy someday soon.

One owner, based in Cincinnati (our league spreads across the country), texted me this morning, bemoaning the fact that he now has 4 Astros on his roster ( he picked up Marwin as a replacement for Jose Reyes). He figures that's the end of his fantasy season all by itself. He is licking his wounds today after Norris' implosion yesterday.

I really think Harrell is the better cheap, end-game fantasy play over Norris, K's notwithstanding.

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Readers - is there a fantasy-related question or topic you would like us to discuss next Friday? Please post your ideas in the comments section!

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