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AL Tout Wars Review

The AL Tout Wars auction took place Saturday morning at the Stewart hotel in Manhattan, a fantastic location (see photo above) for the draft. We had a private room with plenty of space for spectators in the back, and the ability to hear all the bids, which is surprisingly not a given when you're in New York. It was a whirlwind trip for me this year - usually I'm in the city for 3-4 days, but I got in Thursday night / Friday morning (around 2:00 a.m.) and left immediately after the auction on Saturday, leaving the city around 1:45 in the afternoon*.

* I was worried about making it to JFK for my flight after the draft today, due to the mass of humanity in the city because of the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Instead of sweating traffic in a cab in the city, I decided to take the subway out there. Very good decision - I got there in just about an hour, and it only cost $7.75 to do so. If you're traveling light, I'd highly recommend going that way over a cab and save a ton of money in the process.

Hopefully this wasn't the only good decision of the day. I'm pretty happy with the results of the auction, but as I always say, if I'm not happy, then there's real trouble. Full results after the jump:

If you want to sort through the full results you can see the google doc or go to

And here's my team:

After a moving tribute to our friend Lawr Michaels, first by Ron Shandler in announcing the Lawr Michaels "Now and Zen" Award, and then by defending champs Rick Wolf and Glenn Colton, who paid tribute both to Lawr Michaels and Steve Moyer, our first player out of the chute was the A's Khris Davis.

Aroldis Chapman was my trial bubble - I nominated him to see what the closer prices would be like, and whether I'd be investing in them. Punting closers didn't quite work out for me last year, and the year I did win Tout I had two closers, albeit at lower prices (Jonathan Papelbon and J.J. Putz both at $16, to give you an idea of how long it's been since I've won the damn thing.). I wanted to get one from each of the top two tiers from my closer tiers article (note - it's for all of MLB, not just AL), because in a mono league the lower tiered closers still get priced up. Well, as it turns out, I thought that the better closer prices were at the top. I got Chapman for $19, a little over a dollar in value according to my projections/values (using a 65-35 split), and Treinen for $23, more than $2 under my projected earnings. My original plan called for me to spend $36 on the two, so immediately I had to make some adjustments to other slots to make up the $6 difference.

That was a continuing theme for the day. I kept finding prices that I liked on players, albeit without the perfect price slot to put them in, though Treinen was the only pitcher where I made that exception. Alex Bregman was the big adjustment. I had him worth $37, and I saw him stalling out to Larry Shechter at $34. I was loathe to give Larry a bargain in the first place, and then considering that Larry is Bregman's uncle, out of general principle I had to go to $35. You'll note the lack of $20-25 hitters on my roster - that's a natural consequence. Fortunately, I thought that the tier generally was overpriced, with perhaps 2-3 exceptions. I think that Rick/Glenn made out with Nick Castellanos, for example - that's a bid I would have pushed higher if he had come out before Bregman.

And that's something to remember with auction results. First, ordering bias is a real issue. It's not always that a later player goes for less - but the order in which a player comes up in the auction inevitably affects his price. If he's the last of a commodity he can often go way over budget, if two drafters are holding out for him especially. Or sometimes you can get lucky and wait out the early spending if the room is spending heavily. Secondly, all of these values have a layer of subjectivity. The room decides the value, and you can get caught one way or another if you're not attuned to what the room is doing.

That leads me to another observation. I'm out of step with the price of speed, not just here in Tout Wars, but also generally. I'm consistently lower than the pack in pure stolen base types of players. This should surprise you, if you read my "Avoiding Speed Traps" blog. But I was *way* out of step with the rabbits in AL Tout, though I'm not the only one - SBs were hardly distributed evenly. I have Mike Podhorzer not just first in projected steals, but in first by nearly 30 bags with 157 total. He bought Mike Trout (at $51, probably a bargain), Whit Merrifield ($30), Billy Hamilton ($19), Ramon Laureano ($16), and Cedric Mullins ($11). He'll absolutely need to trade to add some power or starting pitching help. Fortunately, stolen bases are pretty easy to trade, even in an industry league where trades are little harder to come by. So are saves, which I should have built up pretty well by midseason, making a swap likely.

A few other notes:

  • I didn't plan on buying Ohtani, but I'm not unhappy with the purchase. I often jump-bid players in auctions. I have Ohtani valued at $15 in an AL-only OBP format, so when he was brought up at $2, I jumped him to $11, and that's where he stopped. So maybe I should have jumped him to a lower amount, but that's how you also get bargains in auctions.
  • If I have a regret it's spending $6 on Hicks. He's nothing special but at least he should get decent playing time without killing me, but I think I would have been fine with two cheap catchers and maybe upgrading elsewhere.
  • Andrus is potentially another overpay, if he doesn't start running more like he did prior to last year. I would have preferred Ramon Laureano, who went to $16 to Mike Podhorzer, but Mike also said he probably would have gone an extra bid or two had I kept on going.
  • After buying Treinen as my third pitcher behind Chapman, Snell and Treinen, I hit my other pitcher price slots. I was especially thrilled to get Brad Peacock at $8, as I have him valued at $14. My other cheap pitchers all have tangible upside, though I worry about their team context.

As always, the draft software likes the results, as it should.

A few caveats - everyone is using their own projections (if they're even using projections at all), or at the very least their own set of assumptions about what certain players will produce. Moreover, the standings projection won't account for players on reserve or replacement value from players inserted when others are on the Injured List. So for instance, I'll get production from whoever I have in there in place of Ohtani, the Luis Severino will do the same, etc... So I wouldn't read too much into the standings here - only that if you happen to be using draft software, and it's stocked with your projections, you'd better be showing up well. I'm sure that those using their own work show up well in their projected standings, too.

I'd love to hear your take. What are your reactions to my team, the draft as a whole, and other rosters? Hit me up on Twitter.