This article is part of our Rounding Third series.
AL Tout Wars Recap - Value 2.0
Over the years my approach to the AL Tout Wars auction has evolved. Rather than be tied to a certain plan, or a way to structure my team, I've tried to find value wherever I can, especially at the beginning of the draft. If I have a bias, it's to try to get as many full-time players as possible. I find that's the best way to get good performance in the counting stats categories, which are the toughest to trade for during the season. Nearly every source of power is a three-category player, if not five-category player, and carries a higher cost of acquisition. But I am trying to get away from needing specific players to fill a need, or finding a particular time in the draft to buy. Perceived bargains pop-up at random spots in the auction, and I believe in the notion of "never letting a bargain go by." It might seem tempting to try to find $5 bargains, and let those $2-3 discounts go by, but those bigger windfalls infrequently occur at higher-skilled auctions.
If there's anything I'd change to my approach, it's that I'd like to better track the extent to which a room is running over or under, to better gauge if those opportunities are coming. But my general sense Saturday was that the room never swung too much in either direction. Unlike the AL LABR draft, where Chris had to wait forever to start adding players, or the NL Tout draft, where Gene McCaffrey went nearly 100 players before buying a hitter, the owners in this room added players fairly evenly. Not too many $1 players were left at the end, and as Fangraphs' Mike Podhorzer observed, there were no "Nick Punto's" either. For those that haven't heard the story, Ron Shandler once paid $19 for Nick Punto in AL Tout Wars, as he was the last perceived stolen base source, and both he and another owner had saved their budget late and both needed that commodity. The late-auction scarcity battles were pretty tame this year.
In the course of value-seeking (Value 2.0), here's my squad, along with the full results.
C:Yan Gomes $18, James McCann $2
1B/3B/CR:Eric Hosmer $18, Alex Rodriguez $8, Joe Mauer $15
2B/SS/MI: Rougned Odor $16, Jose Ramirez $11, Danny Santana $15
OF:Adam Jones $26, Adam Eaton $19, Michael Bourn $9, Shane Victorino $3
UT/SW:Mark Teixeira $12, Nick Swisher $6
I tend to be an active drafter - frequently I'll bid at least once on a player early in the auction, unless of course an opposing owner nominates the player beyond my comfort level, or another owner jump-bids before I can. Usually that's Liss that will beat me to the punch when that happens. Not only is it enjoyable, but it has a purpose. It's the best way to land the unintended bargain - a player that stops way too low with my number on him, especially after I've jumped a few units on that guy to advance the bidding in the first place. I get a better feel for how the rest of the room is bidding, too - if I'm engaged in the bidding and paying attention to how others are bidding, maybe I'll get a better sense or an earlier sense when I can sneak in a bid on a guy I like. Finally, it helps disguise my intentions. That's important - I don't want the room to know when I'm really on a player (well, besides the times when I blabbed about the player on the radio show, podcast, blog or the site overall ...), when I need a certain commodity, etc... Any marginal savings I can get in a tight auction can go a long way.
But a consequence of that method is that it purposefully makes me agnostic. I have to be prepared to land guys that aren't my pet players, and to be able to change my rough outline as the auction proceeds. For example, I purchased Adam Jones in the first orbit of players nominated. I'm not huge on Jones, especially in an OBP league, but because it's an OBP league rather than a BA league, the room gives him a discount. In my opinion, $26 was too much of a discount - he's worth $28-29 in this format. When the bidding stalled at $25, I knew that I could end up with him at $26, but (a) it was early and I was bargain-hunting rather than adhering to a certain plan, and (b) I'd rather not let someone else have a $4 windfall than hold out for a windfall greater than $3 later on, without knowing it would come. With him on my roster, however, that also meant that later on I had to find at least one OBP-counterweight - see also, Joe Mauer $15! (Cue comments from frequent commenter and friend of the site Jeff Tumanic about my perceived soft spot for Mauer - I don't have one, just that he fit the program well here.)
- I was happy about the start to my pitching staff (Sale, Betances, McHugh, Pineda), but not everyone seemed to agree:
— Fantasy Sports Radio (@SiriusXMFantasy) March 21, 2015
Chris and I discussed the commentary from our buddies Kyle Elfrink, Ray Flowers and Adam Ronis on the show this morning. I understand the hesitation about Sale, but he's had good progress reports since suffering the injury just a couple of days before LABR. That he went for $2 more here than there is perfectly logical, given the timeline. Pineda and Betances were the focus of those remarks, however. Here's my line of thinking - even if Betances doesn't close full-time and Andrew Miller steals a few saves, he's still going to come pretty close to earning that auction price or even exceed it still. That would necessarily entail that he throws more innings than a standard closer, get more strikeouts, add a couple of wins, and make a bigger impact in the ratio categories. So let me face the peril! Besides, Jon Heyman said he'd be the closer, so I'm totally fine here. Pineda is riskier, I acknowledge, but he could still earn that $13 in 125 innings with his ratios, even with a healthy regression off of 2014. He walked a measly *seven* batters in 76.1 innings last year!
- Alex Rodriguez wasn't one of my targets, insomuch that I have targets, but he was among the dwindling number of third basemen that interested me late in the draft. I have to say I'm encouraged by his spring training so far, particularly his opposite field homer off of the Tigers' Bruce Rondon. That said, I made sure to get another third baseman in the reserve rounds. I landed A-Rod after bowing out on Lonnie Chisenhall at $11 to Larry Schechter.
- There were only two players where I went over my auction values, each by $2 - Jose Ramirez and Adam Eaton. I was chasing speed about two-thirds of the way through the draft, and those were the two best options on the board at their respective positions. I could have instead tried to go with Dalton Pompey ($11) and saved a lot of money, but I don't know if $12 would have gotten him, and Pompey's potential outcomes are all over the map. Eaton has a better chance to break out.
- The Astros haven't named their closer yet, but the industry (or, at least the drafts I have participated in) seems to prefer Luke Gregerson for the job, even though Chad Qualls is the incumbent. Qualls is also stingy in the strike zone, walking just five batters all season last year. I think there's a 50% chance I'll get the closer for a lower price. The Astros also are going to be better this year, meaning there's more saves to chase.
Here is where you can see the other AL Tout Reviews.