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Chat: Mike Gianella

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday December 12, 2018 5:00 PM ET chat session with Mike Gianella.


Mike is the lead fantasy writer and valuation guru at Baseball Prospectus. He also co-hosts our flagship fantasy podcast, Flags Fly Forever.

Mike Gianella: I was trying to put together a funny introduction to this chat that involved the 1990s sitcom "Family Matters" and Steve Urkel's "did I do that?" catchphrase but like the New York Mets in recent years came up short. Let's talk about baseball.

Rick (Home Depot): When is this chat starting? I took my lunch break for this

Mike Gianella: Right now, Rick.

Corbin martin fan (Hip): He project as a number 1 or number two for you, excited about the future

Mike Gianella: He had a great year, but I see him as closer to a #2.

Keith (Brazil): Do you have a "go to" dessert?

Mike Gianella: I have such a sweet tooth that I'll eat almost anything put in front of me, and anything with chocolate in it is tied for first.

Moss (Tinley Park): What's your favorite baseball movie?

Mike Gianella: It's probably Major League.

jcarhart17 (Chicago): Saw this earlier on Twitter - thoughts on a bounceback year from Byron Buxton, especially fantasy-wise?

Mike Gianella: He looked like a complete mess last year. The Twins didn't do Buxton any favors by bringing him back before his toe healed, but he wasn't lighting the world on fire before that. I could see him hitting .240 with a little power and a lot of steals, but I'm not optimistic he'll return the 3rd or 4th round value some (including me) were expecting in '18.

Buddy (Peoria): Any chance Harper stays with the Nats?

Mike Gianella: There's always a chance, but it's extremely slim. The market would have to collapse and Harper would have to take something in the $28-30 MM year range.

Victor Victor Mike (NATO Phonetic Alphabet): Hopefully Victor Victor is fantasy worthy, because I can't wait to hear "Victor Victor Mesa going once, Victor Victor Mesa going twice, SOLD!"

Mike Gianella: I wish Shooty Babbit had put together a Hall of Fame career.

Yusei Tomato (Tokyo): If you look up Wander Franco (TB) on MILB website, his bio says "son of Wander Franco, brother of Wander Franco, brother of Wander Franco, nephew of Erick Aybar." That is all.

Mike Gianella: I Wander why the Francos did that.

Buddy (Peoria, IL): Are the Cubs and Andrew Miller close?

Mike Gianella: I'm the wrong person to ask about rumors. I'd be looking up the same Twitter accounts you're already following and trying to figure out where he's going.

Adam Ottavino (Bout to get that cheddar): Babe Ruth ain't got shit on me! (In the Denzel Training Day voice of course)

Mike Gianella: A Denzel/time traveling Training Day movie into the 1920s where he meets up with Babe Ruth and stops Al Capone from doing crimes would be awesome.

Dusty (Colorado): What's Wander Javier's ultimate upside?

Mike Gianella: Mike Trout plus.

Jake (State Farm): What would you do with Yu Darvish in a keeper league? Is he worth hanging onto because he should be a #2 when he comes back? Or does the risk outweigh the reward? Thanks

Mike Gianella: Depends on price. I'd keep him as an 12th rounder or later in draft formats and maybe as a $12 player in auction formats. I don't want to hang on at last year's draft price because of the unknown unknowns.

Dave (DC): I'm in a 12-team, keep-5 league, and my usual strategy is to keep a mix of truly elite guys regardless of price (think Scherzer as a first-round pick) and other top-100 guys with good value (say, Bogaerts in the 16th), but the decision is usually all feel. Any suggestions on how to systematize this process-- how to create a formula for identifying where excess value lies?

Mike Gianella: I'd try to use the PFM (or another pricing system) as a rough guideline to figure out where the bargains are and then use your league preferences to go from there. I do agree with you that some of this is feel, but league context matters a lot more than the mechanical formulas in many cases.

nschaef (NYC): Any recommendations for simple keeper formats you've found work well to introduce to a group who hasn't tried it before?

Mike Gianella: I'd start with a draft format, a small quantity of keeps (maybe 3-4) and avoid rules that make who you can or can't keep complicated. You could probably up the keeps by one or two every year if people like it. I'm guessing you're going to have a fantasy football population in there, so I'd try to mirror those kind of rules...maybe even allow a "franchise player" who you can keep forever.

Rick (Tampa): Hi Mike, Any reservations about drafting Blake Snell as the ace of your staff or do you think he's a safe pick despite the limited track record?

Mike Gianella: I'm a little wary of innings/pitch count but not of stuff. You can take him easily as a Top 10 starter.

Gary Mack (in the back): Struggling to identify some potential post-hype pitchers to target for cheap this season - you have a couple that you might be scooping up?

Mike Gianella: I've never been a big fan, but Steven Matz is slipping so far in early drafts. I still believe in the stuff. Collin McHugh is going to start this year barring an off-the-wall move by Houston and is really solid.

TC (Cincinnati): Hi Mike. Thanks for the forum. You have tough acts to follow in Darius and Aaron. I have a challenging choice with my final keeper spot in a 12-team, NL-only, roto auction 5x5 league, standard $260 salary. We keep 12 players. I am debating keeping Manuel Margot at $6 or Ben Zobrist at $6. Franchy Cordero's presence in a crowded OF scares me off Margot a bit, but as you know, SBs are like gold and Margot's upside is great. I don't like keeping older players, but Zobrist has been very steady and appears to be in line for good PT in a prime lineup spot again and will have multi-position eligibility, which is always a plus in deep leagues. 1) Who would you keep and why? 2) What are the $ value floors/ceilings for each. Thanks for the insight!

Mike Gianella: I'd go Margot. He's been somewhat disappointing but I really like the upside with him. Zobrist was solid last year but he's getting long in the tooth and could lose playing time in '19. In only, I like buying playing time. Margot could earn $25 if everything breaks right. His floor is $10 as a part-timer. Zobrist is in the $5-18 range.

Mike Gianella (Sitting in your chair): Inception

Mike Gianella: Was that you who farted?

Steve (Brooklyn): Curious about your approach to drafting closers this year in mixed leagues. Do you think it's important to grab at least one top-10 guy or are you more inclined to wait until the late rounds and draft two or three fliers and then just be aggressive on the waiver wire early in the season? Thanks Mike!

Mike Gianella: In 10 or 12-team mixed I don't mind waiting...there are so many closers who pop up on the wire and easily return value. In deeper mixed I like to try to get one top-tier closer (without stretching on price)...it's not as easy to get those waiver closers. A lot obviously depends on if you're in a FAAB league or if you're in a waiver league with daily claims. In the latter, getting a top tier closer isn't nearly as important.

6'11" Bottom (Getting butt surgery): Let's say Rutschman goes #1 to Baltimore. KC will likely take Witt, but shouldn't they consider taking Andrew Vaughn instead? After the Bubba Starling debacle, I would say it's safer to bet on Vaughn's bat, and not worry about defensive position.

Mike Gianella: They should consider it, yes.

Jason (Houston): Are there any hitters who you are more optimistic about compared to most fantasy pundits?

Mike Gianella: This is a difficult question to answer as I haven't seen too many fantasy rankings yet. Going by early NFBC, Dee Gordon is being discounted far too much for last season...even if he repeats his down year 30 steals with an OK batting average outside of the Top 100 plays for me. Going deeper, Jesse Winker's injury really depressed his price. The dude just gets on base. Good things are going to happen for him this year.

Matt Damon (Film Actor's Guild): MATT. DAMON.

Mike Gianella: BEN AFFLECK

Trout Lover (Somewhere): I've Mike Trout for two more years, not sure I can resign him. If I try to move him now, what can I expect in return? Is Vlad Jr.(6 yrs control) too much or not enough? What about Eloy?

Mike Gianella: I'd take 6 years of Vlad for two years of Trout. I'd want more than Eloy.

Anais Keister (Butte, MT): How comfortable are you guys using DRC+ in BWARP given the recent regression-related concerns raised?

Mike Gianella: I'm always cautious about new metrics, including DRC+. Keep in mind that Jonathan Judge has pointed out the relative error bars with DRC+/DRA. Consider a +/- one win MOE when using BWARP and DRC+

Mr. Fister (Arlington): Do you think Amed Rosario continues to improve on offense, or is 2018 production what we should expect moving forward?

Mike Gianella: He'll improve in 2019, although it will more incremental/a step forward than a breakout.

Klein (Capn coke): Is kelenic right on about the same path as soto at this point for you as well? Excited

Mike Gianella: No, although he could take a big step forward in 2019. It's difficult to compare almost any prospect to Soto.

Ned (Nabisco): I stock cookies, but in my down time I love fantasy baseball. Just want to say thank you for all the hard work you guys do!#gooreos

Mike Gianella: I really appreciate it. And thanks for all the delicious cookies!

Michelle (Chanahon): My husband is on these baseball chats every night and doesn't pitch in around the house. Why are you guys so good at your job?

Mike Gianella: I can talk to Brian if you think it would help, Michelle.

Mr. Fister (Arlington): For fantasy, which LAD catcher do you prefer, Will Smith or Keibert Ruiz?

Mike Gianella: Ruiz

Bauer (Texas): What did you have for lunch?

Mike Gianella: Penne vodka, a salad and a cookie.

Rich (Willow Springs): I hate to quibble, but this chat started a little bit late. Fair?

Mike Gianella: It was a little late. I was crafting a Steven Urkel joke that didn't coalesce. Story of my life.

Rex (Miami): Do you take your shoes off in other people's houses? My friend does not, but demands others take theirs off in his. Is he a hypocrite?

Mike Gianella: I generally ask, although if it's a party you can look by the front door to see if others have taken their shoes off already. Your friend is a bad man.

Hansen (Vegas): Quintana a top 20 arm still for you, or should i move him for a david peralta type bat?

Mike Gianella: No, but I'd want better than Peralta.

Kurt (Tecmo bowl): With the improvements to the breaking stuff to end the season, just how good can Antonio senzatela be next season and beyond?

Mike Gianella: I could see him as a strong #3. Coors makes me reluctant to get too aggressive on any pitcher there...slumps mess with pitchers' heads to begin with, and Coors adds to that.

Kevin (Chanahon): Recommend anything simple I can make for dinner for my family? It's a family of 6, but I don't cook often.

Mike Gianella: when you want a hot meal without a big deal. what u gonna pick? HOT POCKETS!

Strelow (Lockport): What kind of mid rotation arm should I target as I try to deal DJ Lemahieu and Jaimer Candelario?

Mike Gianella: format dependent (i'm assuming this is a deeper league with these two), but i'd go with Alex Wood.

cracker73 (Florida): What are your thoughts on Franmil Reyes? If given the playing time, can he be a star?

Mike Gianella: I love the raw power. I don't know if he's going to be a star because I don't trust the contact abilities enough to predict more than a .250 AVG but if Khris Davis is the ceiling that ain't bad.

Salty MFer (Mom's Basement): I have Miles Mikolas at $10 in a 12 team head to head 5x5 dynasty. (ERA, WHIP, W, K, SV) Is he worth keeping because of his high floor or does his lack of K's make him a risky keep? Already keeping Verlander, Nola, Morton, Buehler, Clevenger, Pivetta, and Greinke. Thanks!

Mike Gianella: I don't know how many keeps you have but I think you have to keep Mikolas at that price.

Ric Flair (Atlanta ICU): Ric Flair drip go Whooooooo! on a b#tch!

Mike Gianella: baseball fans do love their wrestlers.

David (Atlanta ): Thoughts on the staying power of Jurickson Profar? Seemed to really blossom in the 2H this year.

Mike Gianella: I like him as a solid regular, although in fantasy I don't see a big carrying tool. Should be a high teens/low $20s earner in only, and a second tier middle infielder in mixed.

Turd Ferguson (Jeopardy): Banning shifts is like telling NFL teams that they can only play a base 4-3 defense or telling NBA teams that they can only play man on man defense. If the offense is going to employ strategy, the defense should be able to do so as well. Change my mind!

Mike Gianella: Hey Turd!

I agree with you (I don't think they should be banned) but some rules, like the shot clock in college basketball, seemed like an anathema to the game and are an integral part of it now. I don't want MLB to change this but I won't stop watching if they do.

Anon (--): Liking tweets bashing Steve Urkel is a great way to lose folowers

Mike Gianella: I couldn't agree more.

Baseball player (Iowa corn field): What on earth do us Dynasty leaguers do with Kris Bryant?

Mike Gianella: What choice do you have but to keep him and hope for the best. Unless you're in an Ottoneu league where he's at a really high salary, hang on and hope the shoulder is healthy.

Sean99 (Orland Park): Should I burn my number 1 waiver on Yusei Kikuchi? It's either him, or 17-18 year old prospects that will be newly added to the player pool.

Mike Gianella: I'd go for Kikuchi.

Kevin (Chanahon): What kind of pitcher will Mitch Keller eventually be?

Mike Gianella: He's going to be Mitch Keller. Who else would he be?

Mr. Fister (Arlington): Better pro career...Joey Bart or Adley Rutschman?

Mike Gianella: somebody asked Jarrett Seider this question a few days ago and he wasn't confident enough to comment on a college bat and he has much more prospect experience than I do. As Little Nicky once said in the 2001 classic film "Little Nicky" "I'm going to take a mulligan on this one."

Reggie (Beloit): Are dynasty leagues in baseball on the rise? I feel like they are

Mike Gianella: yes, there has been a spike in dynasty baseball, for sure.

Alex (Detroit): Why doesn't Isaac Parades get more attention? Ok he won't steal bases, but gosh I see a lot of Willy Adames in him.

Mike Gianella: Players like Paredes never get the attention they deserve. It's a solid profile, and if it works he's a solid MLBer. But so many of the questions here are gushing about 18-19 year olds with high ceilings. What hath we wrought? (stares blankly into space/smashes mirror)

Kevin (Chanahon): I'm pretty excited about Jon Gray this year too. Other than him, who are your other favorite bounce back candidates this year?

Mike Gianella: Jose Quintana and Yu Darvish. Go Cubs!

Felix (55th and Kedzie 1 bedroom apt above liquor store): How excited should I be about Dustin May?

Mike Gianella: As excited as you want to be. On a scale of 1-10, it's a 7 for me.

Billy (St. Charles): I think this is the year Lucas Giolito becomes the pitcher we all thought he would be. Agree or disagree?

Mike Gianella: I don't see it. Showed some flashes last year, but still very inconsistent. I predict a future in the bullpen for him at some point.

Mr. Fister (Arlington): KC affiliate in Wilmington is going to be stacked. For future fantasy purposes in a deep dynasty league with farms, am I crazy to prefer Daniel Lynch over Singer and Kowar? Thanks!

Mike Gianella: you are not.

Seanmiller99 (New lenox): Giolito basically a reliever at this point?

Mike Gianella: No. Was talking more long term.

Seanmiller99 (Walking rusty): Tell us just how good Vidal brujan can be please?

Mike Gianella: D.J. LeMahieu with the bat? It's a tough profile to rate, although he's in the top 101 conversation, which tells you something.

6'11" Bottom (Still getting butt surgery): If you could only keep one of these two prospects in a deep dynasty, which would you keep between Alex Faedo and Logan Gilbert? Or would you cut both, and hope for two players with higher upsides?

Mike Gianella: Gilbert but, yes, I'd cut both depending on your league's depth.

Kevin (Chanahon): Is Kyle Freeland for real?

Mike Gianella: well, he's unlikely to post another sub-3. Solid pitcher, but I see him as more of a 3.50-3.75 ERA arm.

Seanmiller99 (Napping): Vidal brujan blossoming into a top 10 talent next season perhaps?

Mike Gianella: that's a stretch for me. Top 75 maybe.

6'11" Bottom (Still getting butt surgery): What's your take on Ottavino's Babe Ruth comments? Does hitting ability transcend era, or would today's pitchers eat him up? I think he would still hit, but not be dominant in today's game due to the quantity of elite pitchers today, what say you?

Mike Gianella: I'm inclined to agree with Ottavino. We're generally healthier today/eating better/have superior access to medical care, and this is particularly true for major leaguers who have access to the best diet/health care/etc.

The Old Professor (New York): Wander Franco a fair compmfor Acuna, Soto and Little Vladdy?

Mike Gianella: that's not fair at all!

Seanmiller99 (Hip): Vlad capable of 300 380 580 next year at least?

Mike Gianella: it's possible, but my guess is he falls a little short of that.

Zamzow (Sunset Grill): Other than Dylan Bundy (who I see you're high on) who are some of your other mid 20 year old breakout pitching candidates?

Mike Gianella: I like Joe Musgrove and Sean Newcomb is a big breakout guy for me if the command improves.

The Old Professor (NEw York): Kelenic, or Kirilloff or Casey Miss w my 1st pick in a dynasty Prospect draft?

Mike Gianella: Kelenic

Keith (Everglades): Is there any hope for Carson Kelly? I'm excited about the trade

Mike Gianella: He's going to play. I see him as a power potential/low AVG guy this year.

Dusty (Colorado): Any chance to expand upon the short entry in the Twins Top 10 about Wander Javier? Thanks.

Mike Gianella: He is going to save us from the scourge that is ourselves. Look in the mirror. There is a little Wander Javier in all of us. Yes, you. And you. And even you. We are all Wander Javier. Yet no one else can be Wander Javier. He is the chosen one. Thank you for attending my TED talk.

Mike Gianella: I had a great time. I hope you did too. Until next time... (strains from the theme song to the 1983 ABC sitcom "Reggie" starts playing in the background)...goodbye

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