The photograph above features a frequent facial expression of the author, but that is merely a coincidence.
I’ve played in the 15-team mixed auction since becoming a regular player in Tout Wars in 2012, with one very successful year (a 2014 title) and three bottom-half of the league finishes.
In each of the past three auctions, I have taken a very aggressive approach in roster construction, each time ending up with a “stars and scrubs” build. While that is not necessarily a strategy I will adhere to every year, the market for player pricing in this particular auction will have to change considerably for me to take a more balanced approach.
This league is a mostly standard 5×5, with the only change being OBP replacing AVG. Additionally, the Tout Wars leagues require only 15 games played at a position during the previous season for a player to qualify — I had forgotten about this until I saw Prince Fielder manning a 1B spot during Friday night’s H2H auction. Oh, and Fred Zinkie, who has won the league three times in his five-year stint in the league, is back, so there is a well above average number of trades throughout year.
Within the first nine players sold, I owned three, opening with a foundation of Clayton Kershaw ($38), Paul Goldschmidt ($47), and Max Scherzer ($30).
Prior to the auction, I thought there was a good chance I would end up with Kershaw, as there are models that value him well above the $38.29 he’s listed for in the RotoWire Draft Software. If you subscribe to the theory that Kershaw is actually the No. 1 player on the board, his dollar value (depending how you allocate resources toward pitching, etc.) should more closely resemble that of Goldschmidt or Bryce Harper. In this format, the software had Goldschmidt as a $54.27 player, and Harper at $51.61.
It seemed highly unlikely that I would land Scherzer, who should be within approximately five dollars of Kershaw’s price in a league like this.
A significant block of time passed before I was buying players again, as I couldn’t reasonably spend more than $30 for my next building block, but I stayed active in the bidding with the hope of catching another key piece for $2-3 below projected value.
RotoWire has the best fantasy baseball tools on the web.
Get Our 2019 MLB Draft Kit Now
Before the first break approximately 90 minutes after the start of the auction, I had picked up Carlos Gomez ($26) and Yasiel Puig ($21). By this time, it was already becoming clear that the top 30-40 bats and top 20 starting pitchers were consistently being targeted at and above the projections I was using, as several owners appeared comfortable with the stars-and-scrubs path.
If you are able to spot a trend like that early (and if it holds up), there is often exceptional value in the endgame, which makes discipline throughout the middle two-thirds of the auction critically important.
Here’s the final result (the full results of the auctions this weekend can be viewed here):
C – Stephen Vogt $9 – The simplest takeaway on Vogt from 2015 is the production he carried prior to his elbow injury (which eventually required surgery) vs. his struggles after it. Until having a cortisone shot for the ailment in late June, Vogt was hitting .294/.393/.545 with 13 homers and 51 RBI through 68 games.
C – Miguel Montero $3 – Part of the endgame discounts, Montero has drawn walks at a rate of 10.0% or better in four consecutive seasons. Given the lineup he’s in, he should have little trouble serving as a viable second catcher in a league this size.
1B – Paul Goldschmidt $47 – He just needs to land on a definitive nickname. A question that popped up over the weekend: How much more would we fawn over him if he were mashing like this in New York?
2B – Anthony Rendon $19 – Sure, the injury history is lengthy, but this time last year, he may have cost $15 more than he did this time around. Are the skills radically different? I’m not expecting him to run a lot, but the production in the other four categories should be above average, if not well above.
SS – Marcus Semien $7 – I still see room for growth in the plate discipline department, but even if he largely repeats 2015, this isn’t a bad price for the combination of power and speed Semien offers.
3B – Martin Prado $1 – My strategy in dollar days was to find guys with high volumes of playing time, in part to offset some of the risk associated with Rendon, Gomez, and Puig. If the Marlins’ offense is the rising tide many expect it to be, Prado’s value in terms of runs, RBI, or perhaps both, should rise with it.
CI – Prince Fielder $24 – Another OBP anchor, Fielder was a great fit for my team as I needed stable power with the potential for high-20s/low-30s in home runs.
MI – Jedd Gyorko $1 – Ruben Tejada probably chews into the time Gyorko would have seen at short, but he’ll play at least three times per week and may have a prominent run-producing spot in the order against left-handed pitching.
OF – Carlos Gomez $26 – I’m chalking 2015 up to health issues throughout the year. Is a 15-30 season his healthy floor?
OF – Yasiel Puig $21 – Remember, he does not have to be better than he was in 2014 to be profitable at this price (and his current NFBC ADP).
OF – Ender Inciarte $2 – Last season may be as good as it gets for Inciarte, but I can afford a potential OBP hit if he’s active on the basepaths again.
OF – Brandon Moss $2 – A somewhat regrettable buy, it’s not surprising that he struggled last season coming back from major hip surgery (this is a big reason why I’m passing on Devin Mesoraco for 2016). His versatility should allow him to play even if Matt Adams is the player many thought he could be prior to last season.
OF – Nick Markakis $1 – Speaking of health, Markakis entered last season recovering from neck surgery, which sapped his already limited contributions in the home-run department. He still managed to play a ton. Thinking about where he’ll be in the Atlanta lineup, he should exceed expectations in RBI and be a profitable accumulator (albeit, with a very low ceiling).
UT – Adam Lind $1 – The move out of Miller Park will almost certainly lead to a drop-off in home runs, but this was a surprisingly low price for a guy capable of earning $15 in a league this size.
P – Clayton Kershaw $38 – Is this peak Pedro again?
P – Max Scherzer $30 – The ratios and strikeouts accumulated by adding Scherzer to a roster with Kershaw already on it made it very easy to sit back on the rest of my pitching staff.
P – Kenta Maeda $7 – If he follows the usual arc of pitchers coming to MLB from Japan, this will be the best year to own Maeda.
P – Mike Leake $5 – Nobody likes a Mike Leake buy. Nobody, but if the Cards coughed up $80 million for him, I am (perhaps to my detriment) very interested. Watch him go good Kyle Lohse for five years, help the Cards make a deep postseason run in 2020, and contribute to the removal of a GM in 2022 or 2023.
P – Alex Wood $1 – He burned me last year, but it turns out that a foot injury caused his mechanics to fall apart after he was traded to the Dodgers. With the rash of injuries in the Los Angeles rotation, Wood has plenty of job security if he can rebound from last season’s disappointment. Even if it’s a more grounder-heavy approach built on efficiency, instead of a strikeout-heavy one, I can live with it.
P – Vincent Velasquez $1 – His innings will be closely monitored, but I see Velasquez offering a higher ceiling (per start in 2016, and in years beyond) than Aaron Nola.
P – Sean Doolittle $7 – Fortunately, he did not require an MRI on his strained triceps, and he appears to be OK after a brief scare. I was leaning toward punting saves when several closers were coming in $5 or more above my projected values, but the prices were reasonable enough late to take the chance on two guys I really like.
P – Jake McGee $6 – I’m getting a lot of shares, in large part because his light use of breaking pitches makes him better suited to find success at Coors.
P – Hunter Strickland $1 – Fading Santiago Casilla makes a lot of sense, but it will be interesting to see if Bruce Bochy turns to the guy who has done the job before in Sergio Romo if he makes a change.
R – Blake Snell – Has very little left to prove in the minors at this point.
R – Jorge Soler – I regret passing on Orlando Arcia in this spot.
R – Derek Holland – As a man named Derek VanRiper, it only seems appropriate for me to roster Derek Holland in as many leagues as possible.
R – Rich Hill – The A’s success with Scott Kazmir after his rebirth with Cleveland a few years back has made me more inclined to see if they are also right about Hill.
R – Matt Adams – In case it’s Adams over Moss by a landslide.
R – Taylor Jungmann – Nobody seems excited by the possibility that he figured it out last year.
As another fantastic Tout Wars trip draws to an end, I owe a quick Thank You to the powers that be — Peter Kreutzer, Lawr Michaels, Ron Shandler, and Jeff Erickson — for putting on a first rate event.
Additionally, thanks to Matt Deutsch and Sirius-XM for hosting the drafts, and to the great folks and Foley’s for their hospitality. (Even though I’m convinced we have at some point over the years led them to sigh and say ‘Aye, the Touts.’)
Follow me on Twitter @DerekVanRiper.