The Tout Wars auction took place Saturday morning. It's a 12-team 5x5 AL-only format with 23-man rosters and $260 budgets. Two oddities are instead of batting average with use on-base-percentage (OBP), and instead of a fifth OF, we have a swing man who can be any hitter or pitcher. Here are the results:
The first thing that struck me was the prices on top starting pitchers were through the roof. There have been years where no pitcher fetched even $30, and here Chris Sale went for $39, Justin Verlander $36, Gerrit Cole $35, Corey Kluber $34 and Trevor Bauer and Blake Snell $30. This put me in a tough spot because my preference is to pay up for elite pitching and then save money for cheap options late. I don't love Carlos Carrasco this year, but I felt relatively lucky to get him for $28 in this environment. Even Mike Clevinger ($26) and Jose Berrios ($25) got pushed up to a level that used to be reserved for the elites.
As a result, I didn't spend as much as usual on pitching - just $57 total or 22 percent. The league average was 31 percent, and my team was by far the lowest. That said, if Craig Kimbrel, who I bought for $8, signs with an AL team in the next two weeks, you can add $12 to my pitching staff. If he doesn't, you can subtract another eight.
My hitting should be pretty strong though. I got Mookie Betts for $44, price-enforcing after Mike Trout went for $51. Trout is a good deal more valuable in an OBP league, but I was fine with Betts for that price. I liked getting Francisco Lindor for $32 - he might not miss time after all. Otherwise, I mostly just picked my favorite targets - Miguel Cabrera, Eloy Jimenez and Carlos Correa. Of course, I got Byron Buxton for $18, and people think I'm "the Buxton guy", but it's not my fault if the rest of the room is virulently anti-Buxton. (FWIW I didn't get Buxton in either NFBC draft this weekend, though I was in on the bidding in the NFBC auction.) That said, if Buxton goes 20-30, then of course I was the Buxton guy all along. But for now, I am definitely not "The Buxton guy" whether or not I take him in my final two drafts this week.
One player I never hear anything about is Clint Frazier who I took in the reserve rounds. He's a former prospect who was the Yankees fourth outfielder even before Aaron Hicks got hurt. Maybe Giancarlo Stanton plays the outfield and both D.J. LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki get into the lineup with one of them at DH, but Frazier doesn't need a lot to happen to find some at-bats in a top hitter's park and great lineup.
I'm fairly happy with this team. I might need to deal for a pitcher at some point, but this isn't an overall league like the NFBC where you need to be strong everywhere - I can live with a five or six in wins and Ks and score big in the hitting categories if I manage things right.
Incidentally, here's a link to Jeff Erickson's writeup of the same league. His team is garbage obviously, but I appreciate him taking the headline photo which I lazily stole from him above. And unlike him, I'm actually in the picture.