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RotoBaller Experts League Breakdown: Two Months Down

Welcome to the inner circle, as we here at RotoBaller invite you to peek behind the veil and look at the state of our Experts League as May comes to a close. As a quick reminder, this is a traditional 5x5 roto league with two catchers, a CI, an MI, five outfielders, nine pitchers and five bench spots.

As such, the waiver wire isn’t the prettiest, with many teams struggling to roster two decent catchers. Heck, even my team is still waiting for Yan Gomes and Yasmani Grandal to turn around their fortunes (both are batting below .200, woo). Kyle would like it to be known that two-catcher leagues are the devil.

It’s been a hotly contested year thus fa—haha I can't even finish that sentence. I’ve been holding down first place since the initial turbulence of the first 10 days of the season settled. Everyone is supremely jealous of my mad skills. Let’s give y'all the full standings as of May 27 so that you can get your bearings (league viewable here):

Standings 5-27

Let’s go on down the standings, peeking in at the teams before checking out some notable transactions:


Team-By-Team Breakdown

1st Place: Nick Mariano – YouLikeKrabbyPatties (the GOAT team name when paired with the face Spongebob makes at Squidward as your avatar)

It really helps that outside of my catchers, my lowest ranked regular is my MI, Marcus Semien, ranked at 175 in our format. It’s also a general rule this season that if you paid for David Ortiz this season then you are turning a profit. I’ve got 55 out of 60 possible offensive points, with a nice blend of big bats with those versatile speed guys who aren’t zeroes in the power department (like Dexter Fowler, Odubel Herrera, Ryan Braun, Francisco Lindor). This strategy has paid off handsomely.

My staff is anchored by Jake Arrieta, Stephen Strasburg and Jose Quintana along with three solid closers, though my depth is a bit concerning. This leads to my “-123” in the projected innings slot, which normally would alarm me except I still have a 9.5 in wins and saves (I do have a one in Ks), beating out plenty of teams that have burned over 100 more innings than me. In other words, I’m sitting pretty in case I need to hit the afterburners to catch them later.

Outside of that, I tried to let my preseason beliefs play out and have only made eight moves thus far (which, ask any of my friends, is really weird). I’m not above stating that luck plays a factor too of course.

2nd Place: Tom Bellucco – The Searage Effect

Tom has rolled out several trades and is now sitting on many buy-low bats like Joey Votto, Jose Bautista, and Justin Upton to go with Jason Heyward (J names taking an "L" here). He's built himself quite a nice point cushion in most of the pitching categories, currently holding 52 out of 60 possible pitching points. This must have prompted him to deal Noah Syndergaard for a big power bat in Jose Bautista, but beware the innings cap.

As of this writing, 463 innings is the “bar” with our 1,600 cap and Tom sits 100 innings over that. Will his counting stat leads hold as others catch up? Time will tell. He has fought through plenty of adversity to be here though, as he so eloquently puts it: "I tried to drop Jason Heyward but the waiver wire spit him back at me." Say it ain’t so J-Hey (It’s so).

3rd Place: Max Petrie – Bitches On My Joc

Max has a healthy 45 offensive points out of 60 despite having a two in steals (thought he is just three steals away from overtaking four others), thanks to a very strong infield. His statement regarding his outfield is a bit more pessimistic: "I don't know how my outfield is surviving". This is kind of hilarious because only a few hours later one of his outfielders, Leonys Martin, was placed on the 15-day DL. Sorry bro.

He also has a 12 in wins, tallying one more than Tom despite having 85 less innings pitched. A closer look reveals that Max also only has one true closer in Aroldis Chapman, so more of his innings have been used by starters. Always keep this in mind when breaking down standings.

4th Place: Jeff Kahntroff – Jeff’s Majestic Team (Love that he stuck with the Yahoo generated name)

Jeff’s team almost mirrors Max’s, with strong offensive stats but a one in steals coupled with average pitching stats and a 12 in saves. His offense is anchored by two Orioles, Mark Trumbo and Manny Machado, leading the way alongside breakout stud Gregory Polanco and spry veterans Carlos Beltran and Victor Martinez. Those of you who own those players know that Jeff's offense must be doing okay with those folks. The hindrance so far has been pitching, with Jon Lester as his only SP ranked within the top 200. No matter what else you do, that’s going to present an issue.

5th Place: Sam Nedimeyer – Fascist Nerds

Sam has five offensive players in the top-35 (Mike Trout, Ian Kinsler, Daniel Murphy, Trevor Story and Aledmys Diaz) to have some solid numbers, though steals and RBIs are lacking. You can tell most of those players are “high in the order” types, so the RBIs won’t flow if they’re your anchors. His top two pitchers are Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, as he looks to capture that San Francisco even-year voodoo. Piggybacking black magic is always an encouraged strategy, though his other starters pitchers will have to step up if he wants to break through. That said, his relief corps is in fantastic shape even with Joe Smith presumably relinquishing the closer role back to Huston Street soon.

6th Place: JB Branson – Dee’s Shriveled Nuts (Requisite name for Dee Gordon owners)

JB was the preseason favorite (according to FantasyPros). He’ll say this is due to AJ Pollock and Dee Gordon, but let’s be real. He has plenty of speed (despite the loss of Dee Gordon) but the one in homers hurts, as that category is a tough one to make up ground in. Outside of Yoenis Cespedes (whom he traded for in late April to address the power need), his next biggest bat is Justin Bour with nine homers.

His pitching houses Chris Sale, Max Scherzer and Steven Matz, and his bullpen boasts one closer (David Robertson) and four solid setup men to help with ratios and K/9. A solid strategy, but again it is tough to win when four pitcher spots aren't contributing real wins or saves.

7th Place: Alex Roberts – Sonny Gray Pubes

Alex’s team is impressively average, scoring between 5-7.5 in seven out of ten categories. To go with this, most of his players rank within the 100-300 range (as opposed to studs buoying struggling players). While the production floor is high, the ceiling is also rather low as a result. This is exemplified by having Jason Hammel as his top ranked starter, which means you can only fly so high with 2016’s elite pitching class. It should be noted that having a decent foundation in all categories means that a couple of "lightning in a bottle" streaks can really shoot you up the rankings though, consistency is underrated.

8th Place: Uncle Leo – Uncle Chico

Uncle Leo actually has two catchers ranked within the top 350 (impressive in this league). Despite a slow start from Paul Goldschmidt, he’s got a solid core of all around contributors trying to pick up the slack. Trading for Noah Syndergaard to go with Madison Bumgarner at the top is a good 1-2, and bringing in Drew Pomeranz helps offset reality setting in on Kenta Maeda (though still solid, just not a fringe-ace).

Uncle does own Sonny Gray though, which has been proven to limit winning and happy feelings in 2016. Can he battle back from a rough start with a flurry of moves? Always love seeing people try.

9th Place: Kyle Bishop – Bird Person

Kyle, whose 22 out of 60 offensive points is weak despite having six offensive players ranked inside the 30-50 range. Slow starts from guys like Miguel Sano, David Peralta and Yasiel Puig have really stung, though Nomar Mazara is doing his best to make Kyle smile. His pitching numbers are healthy, as he has dynamite ratios and a great K/9 with the lowest innings total in the league. This is primarily due to owning Clayton Kershaw and some studly relievers, but the corresponding 1.5 in wins and 2 in Ks shows the tradeoff of being selective with a shallow rotation.

10th Place: Real Talk Raph – Byron BUSTon (Guess who he drafted)

Raph has very strong power totals but only eight points between runs, steals and average. This is what happens when you own Giancarlo Stanton alongside both Chris and Khris Davis though. The starting pitching looked very strong heading into the season, but only Jose Fernandez has followed through. Corey Kluber, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom have all underwhelmed thus far, but things should be A-OK for Raph there. He hasn’t recorded a save all year though, which can work in H2H but I’m never taking that route in roto myself as too many other things absolutely must break right for success.

11th Place: Bill Dubiel – DirtyJosh&TheBoys

Bill is here mostly thanks to a league-worst average and WHIP, ratios are not his friend. He sums it up pretty well here: "I'm going to just name my team the Fighting Corey Dickersons...they might go 1-for-7 on the day, but that 1 will be a magnificent solo shot."

His team name is accurate, as Josh Donaldson is filthy (and hit two more homers as I’m writing this) but the rest of his team are merely boys. Okay, okay, Jose Altuve is the exception, as he is playing so out of his mind (even with a bit of a cool down lately) that no classification can hold him. I'll be curious to see if Bill trades either of them for depth moving forward (cough, call me, cough).

12th Place: Ed Sutelan – Sutelans of Swing

Finally we have Ed’s team. Nearly a third of his team’s points come from his 12 in steals, with six of the 12 categories scoring a three or lower, but he has done well to cut troubled players loose and has a roster that should improve his standing moving forward. So when Ed says: "My team is going to be okay…eventually…” I believe him. That said, he's still eating a lot of slumps. Bryce Harper batting .185 over the past 30 days isn’t going to continue, but it's really hurting him with guys like Eugenio Suarez and Kolten Wong scuffling.


Notable Trades

April 3: Before the season started, Bill sent Noah Syndergaard and Ketel Marte to Tom for Dallas Keuchel and Cory Spangenberg. You don’t need me to tell you how that’s turned out, but I will: Bill is sad, along with Keuchel owners everywhere.

April 15: Tom then trades Bryce Harper and Jerad Eickhoff to Ed for Kris Bryant, Aaron Nola and Luis Severino. Pretty solid swap, though Severino’s continued floundering really hurts the overall line.

April 25: Alex trades Yoenis Cespedes to JB for Starling Marte straight up, swapping elite power for elite speed. Fair enough.

May 6: Tom trades Prince Fielder, Denard Span and Vince Velasquez to Ed for Justin Upton and Joey Votto. The ultimate buy-low of 2016, though it hasn’t yielded profits yet for either side really. Who would’ve thought that Vince Velasquez would be the best player in this trade?

May 8: Bill trades Felix Hernandez and Jeff Samardzija to Sam for Andrew McCutchen and Roberto Osuna, which was a fair deal based on needs.

May 21: Tom trades Noah Syndergaard to Unc for Jose Bautista, even though I offered Tom a much better deal involving JD Martinez (*grumble grumble*).

May 22: Bill trades Andrew McCutchen and Drew Pomeranz to Unc for Charlie Blackmon, Yasmany Tomas and Adam Wainwright. Even deal with potential and volatility for both parties, with one side gaining depth and the other consolidating talent.



That’s where we stand folks, thanks for reading this breakdown of a league that you’re not in, but hopefully it helps you better understand us (and see some strategy). For the record, I offered many times to let someone else write this. I didn’t just want an excuse to write about my team’s dominance to date (honestly this feels like a jinx if anything), but I hope you enjoyed anyway. I personally find the trades most interesting (feel free to roast us via Twitter or something if you disagree), and I'll be interested to see how this piece looks when the All-Star Break rolls around. Here's hoping the Krusty Krab is still flying high!


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