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Call Up Chaos - Carter Kieboom & Waiver Wire Hype


We all knew a couple of days ago that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was set to make his major league debut on Friday. After a grueling few weeks in the minors, his defense is finally deemed fit for public consumption or whatever crap rationale Toronto trotted out there. Very special thanks to the Blue Jays for protecting their bottom line at the expense of the public good. That's a popular strategy these days!

What we didn't know is that another top prospect would be joining him in debuting that day. Not one so feted as to carry a top-40 ADP despite having yet to debut, as with Vladito, but a highly regarded youngster nonetheless. Carter Kieboom, in addition to having an excellent name, is a 21-year-old shortstop who has risen steadily through the ranks since being drafted at the tail end of the first round back in 2016's draft. He split last year between High-A and Double-A. Despite not lighting the world aflame at the latter level, the Nationals moved him to Triple-A this season, where he's slashed a robust .379/.506/.636 in 18 games.

The fantasy baseball community is alight with a frenzied discussion of what owners should do with the news that Kieboom is coming to The Show. In this space, as usual, we'll concern ourselves more with the general process than the details of this specific situation. However, you may find my personal thoughts on the details of this specific situation here. (Always remember I sit not in judgment, but in observation. None of us are without fault or foible.)

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Youth in Revolt

We obviously didn't have this experience with Vlad Jr., but most prospects aren't drafted in redraft leagues as though they're an established star like he was. The majority of the time, you're going into a waiver wire war, assuming the prospect wasn't stashed in advance.

I answer hundreds of questions from fantasy owners each week, and there are few more challenging to answer than, "How much should I bid on this guy?" As usual, context is important, but even more emphatically so in this instance. Navigating the FAAB jungle effectively requires a reasonably thorough understanding of your rivals' favored strategies, roster construction, and bidding histories. That's at a minimum. If you're talking about keeper, contract, or dynasty leagues? Now you've got to weigh how those rules impact your decision.

You also need to understand both the player himself and his situation. Is this call-up in response to an injury that will heal quickly and thereby banish this shiny new toy back to the farm? How long of a leash does the kid have? How sure are we that he's actually good? Et cetera.

There are a lot of angles, and you're attempting to consider them in circumstances one might call sub-optimal. The crest of a prospect's hype wave typically comes in the frantic hours between the news of their promotion and its actual arrival.

You will hear escalating absolute values and percentages. You will read at least a couple of articles proposing that this player will be a disappointment. There will be backlash to that backlash, and so on until we are all destroyed. This is the way that we communicate now, in matters great and small. It is easy to be swept up into the moment, and make decisions from a place of emotion rather than one of truth.

But really, how much should you bid on that guy? We ran through the practical concerns above, but those aren't the only factors. You also have to consider yourself.

Namely, how pissed off are you gonna be if you a) miss out on the next big thing and watch a hated rival ride the wave to victory or b) dropped half your FAAB on a dude who struck out 20 times in a week and got hustled onto the bus to Pawtucket in short order, the little "NA" or "MiLB" next to his name now a cruel reminder of more innocent and optimistic days? Those are the extreme outcomes, of course, but you have to be honest with yourself about which of the two feels worse - and which one is more likely to actually happen.

Glad we got that cleared up. Happy hunting!

The Friday Meta is Kyle Bishop's attempt to go beyond the fantasy box score or simple strategic pointers and get at the philosophical and/or behavioral side of the game. It is hopefully not as absurd, pretentious, or absurdly pretentious as that sounds.

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