On Saturday, I took a ferry to Staten Island, the first time I’d been to that borough since 1976 when at five I went to a bi-centennial celebration there, bought a cap-gun cannon and a pack of baseball cards with Tom Seaver in it. The occasion this time was the Tout Wars auctions, set up in the Staten Island Yankees locker room. I got there early to broadcast the Mixed-League and NL Auctions for SXM and had time to take a little batting practice in the cage.
I found hitting against live pitching to be rough on my hands – seriously felt like I had torn some skin off on a couple of mis-timed foul balls. But between the broadcast and the auction, I went back in by myself and grabbed a hitting tee. While a real man doesn’t use a tee, I have to say it was enjoyable. Crushing the ball to dead center almost every time, no blistering when you hit the ball cleanly on the barrel. You can crunch all the numbers you want in a spread sheet, but if you really want to get ready for your auction, get in the cage and rake!
In any event, it’s a standard 12-team, AL-only, $260 auction format with OBP substituted for batting average. Here are the results:
Heading into the auction, I had a few different ideas, one of which was to go heavy on pitching (Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman) and punt OBP. Another was to get Giancarlo Stanton who I think is woefully undervalued. I split the difference and got the elite starters and Stanton, who I threw out at $39 to crickets. I’ll never know whether I could have gotten him for $38, but I think he’s a $45 player in OBP.
No matter what I did, I knew I was going to be aggressive early and spend about 60-70 percent of my budget quickly on four or five players. After that, I’d stay out of it as long as I could, bidding only to price enforce (I almost got caught on Miguel Sano at 19) and move things along unless a major bargain came along. Eventually, everyone else would get lower on money than me, and I’d fill in with bargains late. In my opinion, the strategy worked to a tee.
Not only did I have Stanton, Alex Bregman, Byron Buxton, Kluber and Sale, but I was able to get Tim Beckham, Yuli Gurriel, Hanley Ramirez and Christian Vazquez at what I considered good discounts. Actually, Bregman was an accident, as I was bidding only to troll Larry Schechter, who is Bregman’s uncle. That Larry didn’t go to 29 is the height of cowardice in all of human history.
I also bought a ton of injured players who I felt were unduly discounted too. Dustin Pedroia is due back in May, but he went for just $3. Sure, there’s a chance he’s not himself or has a setback, but he’s $19 if healthy. Troy Tulowitzki is a 20-HR player if healthy, and while I wouldn’t bet on more than 100 games, he was also only $1. I made a similar gamble on Zach Britton whose non-save numbers can easily be replicated by middle relievers from my reserve squad. I also bought Danny Salazar, Eduardo Rodriguez and Gurriel who are likely to open on the DL too. One advantage in Tout is there’s an unlimited amount of DL slots, so it doesn’t cost you precious bench space to speculate the way it would in the NFBC for example. One regret I have actually is not getting Carlos Rodon for $1. I filled my last pitching spot with a $3 Nate Jones and didn’t have room.
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Overall, I couldn’t be happier with this team. While I have some holes in the middle infield early, I rostered productive players at catcher who can largely make up the difference, and I’ll have a lot of roster room for pickups, albeit from a very thin free agent pool. The team would have been even better but for Jeff Erickson’s presence in the league. He knew who I liked and maliciously bid my players up like the nutless monkey he is. I think he cost me about $10 over the course of the auction.