2018 Mixed Tout Wars Draft
The annual trek to New York in March for Tout Wars. It’s one of two main events in the month, the other is LABR, that help to highlight the upcoming fantasy baseball season. As has been the case the past few seasons, I’m fortunate enough to be part of the 15-team, Mixed League Auction. The event, held at Richmond County Bank Ballpark (home of the Staten Island Yankees), was a wild affair of baseball, cabs, subways, ferry’s and planes for the participants. It was quite the trip just to get out there to be part of the event. Let’s see if the trip paid off in a strong fantasy squad.
The weekend consisted of four drafts, all of which were carried on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio on the day of March 17th, yes, St. Patrick’s Day (I wore my bestest SF Giants hat to celebrate).
Tout Wars Party: Friday March 16, 2018. 7pm at Foleys NY, at 18 West 33rd Street. Come one, come all.
Tout Mixed Auction: Saturday March 17, 2018. 9am at RCBB. Auctioneer: Jeff Erickson
Tout NL: Saturday March 17, 2018. 10am at RCBB. Auctioneer: Brian Feldman
Tout AL: Saturday March 17, 2018. 3pm at RCBB. Auctioneer: Joe Pisapia
Tout H2H: Saturday March 17, 2018. 4pm at RCBB. Auctioneer: Todd Zola
$260 auction for 23 starters: 14 hitters, nine pitchers
six bench spots (rostered by a snake draft)
5x5 scoring (we replace batting average with on-base percentage)
*We use 15 games, not 20, to be eligible at a position.
Jeff Zimmerman 2017 Mixed Auction Champion, 2016 H2H Champion
Fred Zinkie 2011, 2013, 2015 Mixed Auction Champion
Zach Steinhorn 2016 Mixed Auction Champion
Ron Shandler 1998 and 2000 AL Champion. 1998 NL Champion
Bret Sayre 2015 Tout X Champion
Tim McLeod 2014 Mixed Draft Champion, xfer from Mixed Draft
Derek VanRiper 2014 Mixed Auction Champion
* Number in parenthesis is the $ amount spent.
C: Travis d'Arnaud ($3), Matt Wieters (1)
1B: Miguel Cabrera (20)
2B: Robinson Cano (17)
3B: Eduardo Nunez (10)
SS: Carlos Correa (38)
MI: Xander Bogaerts (20)
CI: Todd Frazier (7)
OF: Justin Upton (27), Andrew McCutchen (18), Ender Inciarte (11), Gregory Polanco (9), Odubel Herrera (5)
UTIL: Brad Zimmer (6)
PITCHERS: Aaron Nola (21), Marcus Stroman (7), Dinelson Lamet (6), Blake Treinen (8), Alex Colome (8), Alex Wood (4), Julio Teheran (4), Michael Fulmer (3), Jameson Taillon (7)
RESERVES: Drew Steckenrider, Greg Holland, Mike Leake, Nick Senzel, Nick Williams, Chad Pinder
I don't know how the other participants felt, but this was a wild draft to me.
I know the folks in the room love to be proactive and to spend on the big-name players. I know the "Stars and Scrubs" approach is the one many favor. They bid aggressive, and early, to get the stars, and knowing that I planned to do something I never do. I too would join the fray, bid away, and get the players I wanted, regardless of the cost. This was going to be a new Ray Flowers. No more waiting for bargains to come. Nope, I was going full bore to get the elite level players.
Then, something strange happened.
The draft went bonkers.
Early on it seemed like every player was going for $40. We had Mike Trout go for more than $50 at a whopping $56. Multiple pitchers went in the $40's. All the stars were going anywhere from $3-6 more than I had budgeted for them. I was able to grab Carlos Correa, a potential MVP candidate that I simply love, but even he went for a few bucks more than I wanted to spend. There was just no letup in the money spent either. The dollars just kept flying, you know, like when you're making it rain in the club after drinking half a bottle of your favorite vodka on a Saturday night.
So, poor Ray was left to do what he always does and that is wait, feeding off the leftovers of others.
About 55 minutes in I had one player (Correa). I looked up and most teams had 4-5 players, with others having even more players. Again, I had one. I will admit that I was growing nervous that the draft was passing my by. Then a strange calm came over me. I glanced at the board and noticed two key facts that caused me to relax. (1) Everyone had blown so much money that I was sitting pretty in terms of the funds I had to spend on players. (2) They players I wanted, the ones that I had committed to targeting prior to the draft, the majority of them were still on the board. I sensed, despite the sheer panic at the start, that things were about to go my way.
I had planned to spend about $75 on pitching, and in the end I didn’t even hit that mark despite rostering more talent than I thought I would be able to. I spent $68 and I ended up with a staff filled with the guys I tell you all to draft. Here is a list of the price I paid, and what I have each listed at. Each player was had at a bargain rate (besides Nola and Lamet), each offers substantial upside, and frankly, this is the best starting pitching staff I have ever drafted in Tout Wars.
Nola paid $21 (listed at 19), Age 24.
Stroman paid $7 (10), Age 26.
Lamet paid $6 (5), Age 25.
Treinen paid $8 (11), Age 29.
Colome paid $8 (15), Age 29.
Wood paid $4 (13), Age 27.
Teheran paid $4 (8), Age 27.
Fulmer Paid $3 (7), Age 25.
Taillon paid $7 (10), Age 26.
I rostered talent.
I rostered youth.
I rostered, say it with me folks, upside.
For the cost, this is a strong staff. Nola was my breakout pitcher of 2017. Taillon is my breakout pitcher of 2018 (see his Player Profile). I've done Player Profiles for Teheran and Wood extoling their talents. There's some risk with Fulmer and Wood in terms of health, but when you pay $7 for two guys that earned $35 last season despite those health concerns, I don't know how you wouldn't feel good about that. Oh, and for those of you who love to say that I hate young players, that I only love old guys, look at the youth on the staff listed above. Yes, a whole starting group without a 30 year old. I grabbed Mike Leake in the reserve rounds, but he's just a nice guy to have around to round out a staff, and he seems to end up on all my teams in the reserve rounds anyone as my unofficial team mascot.
I rarely end up with big name closers in Tout Wars as the room tends to overbid on their services. Can't say that I got any big-name closers this year either, but it's pretty rare to walk out of that room with two surefire closers for a total of $16. I was very pleased with that fact. However, because of all the smoking deals on starting pitchers I had only two relievers in my top-9, a very un-Ray like situation since I usually have three or maybe even four relievers frequently. I couldn't pass on the deals though, and since I was able to get Treinen and Colome I didn't sweat it too much. I did address the thinness of my bullpen in the reserve rounds. Steckenrider, my prediction to lead the Marlins in saves this season way back in January, was the first addition. Then I took a gamble on Greg Holland, no team and all. He'll eventually sign and you watch - he's getting 20 saves for someone this season (at least) with obviously the potential for more.
All and all, I really love the staff.
Let's talk offense.
Realize how I noted that closers were less expensive than normal? Because of all that early spending folks just didn't have the funds late to pay full price to fill out their rosters. This was readily seen at catcher where folks just couldn't spend like they normally do. For $4 my duo is perfectly acceptable. Note that I would have preferred Austin Hedges for his power upside, but do to the timing of players being called out I ended up with DA/Wieters who were nominated earlier in the draft.
At first and second, I have old men in Miggy and Robbie. You might know them as Cabrera and Cano. There was a time just a few seasons ago when it would have taken $37 just to get Cabrera on your roster. This year, that cost brought them both. Cano is stable and consistently one of the better run producers in baseball at his position. Miguel is entering his mid 30's and coming off a season marred by off the field distractions and a bad back. It's a legitimate concern, the back, but at my investment point if he's only back to the level of an Eric Hosmer like performance I will be fine.
Correa is one of the best in the business at shortstop, and when the bidding stalled on Bogaerts I jumped in there too. Some people are sleeping a bit on Xander this season, a fact that I detailed in his Player Profile. Cano/Correa/Bogaerts is a fantastic trio up the middle, but I wasn't able to take advantage of some later bargains at second/shortstop because I had filled the positions early.
Nunez was added to play third, even if he's a less than ideal option since he lacks power. He has hit .299 the last two seasons while averaging more than 30 steals a year, and even if this is an OBP league (he’s just average in this category), as it is, his consistency at the dish is commendable. He will find a way into the Red Sox lineup frequently this season, he probably plays 4-out-of-5 games, and in Tout with the 15-game qualification for a position he brings massive flexibility with second base, third base, outfield and shortstop eligibility.
Frazier was tabbed as my corner infielder. He barely hit .210 last season, but he did post a career best .344 OBP. In a league of this type, his OBP says he's at least a league average performer which is akin to him batting .255, and a .255-25-75-75-5 season ain't at all bad for a corner infield option in a 15-team mixed league.
In the outfield, I needed to make sure I added some speed. I accomplished that by rostering Zimmer, Inciarte, Polanco, McCutchen, Upton and Herrera. All six men could reach double-digit steals, with Zimmer perhaps pushing for 30+ (see his Player Profile). I was particularly pleased with the additions of Inciarte and perennial 20/20 option Gregory Polanco. The duo cost me $20 and I've got them listed as $19 and $18 players. So, duh, the duo is a substantial bargain. Honestly, I love the cost of those three outfielders and never thought that they would go for the such a small cost. More than that, Inciarte brings commendable consistency while Polanco drips with the potential we all crave to buy at a discount.
I rounded out the offense with Senzel, Williams and Pinder. Senzel will perform at some point in Cincy this season, and while his game my not feature a truly elite skill, he's a leader, the hardest worker on the field, and he has one the highest floors of any upper end prospect in the game. He has the approach that could lead to success as a rookie. Williams could star if he wins the gig in Philly, though it's certainly possible he will lose the opening spot to Aaron Altherr or be asked to share work. Hey, that's what the reserve rounds are for, taking a risk. That's also what I did with Pinder. In Tout he qualifies at second, shortstop and outfield, and we know how teams can be crushed by DL stints. He provides an under the radar power bat while bringing that positional flexibility to the party. He could be this year's Paul DeJong with playing time.
From awe, to panic, to calm, the Tout Wars 15-team mixed league auction had all the emotions. Despite entering the draft with the plan to spend big, I found myself back on familiar ground instead bargain hunting. This time, however, I think, that was an astute reading of the room and not just a plan to take into the draft. Bargains were everywhere given the way the draft played out, and I think the patience I displayed allowed me to take advantage of those undervalued assets in an appreciable way that led to a pretty solid squad. We'll check back in 6+ months and see how it all played out.
Note: You can find the reviews of other participants here.
SIGHTS/SOUNDS FROM THE WEEKEND
My tour of the fascilities in New York.
Just who is Shohei Ohtani in 2018?
Mike Trout for more than $50? Why so much more than Jose Altuve?
Pitcher prices were also out of control.
What happens in points leagues to the price of pitchers?