Tout Wars H2H Review

Thirteen dollars.

That’s how much I left on the table in last Friday’s Tout Wars mixed head-to-head auction. It’s something I’ll have to live with. Maybe I should just go ahead and get a “$13” tattoo because this is who I am now.

But seriously, $13 left on the table should not prevent me from winning this league. Yes, I should have better gauged the auction dynamics and paid up for some top-end talent as it was drying up (going to $33 for Starling Marte, $30 for Charlie Blackmon are two examples of missed opportunities), as I then could have gotten in on the fun of dollar days. However, having more money than anyone else late allowed me to get a lot of the players I like this season, and really, I could have paid one additional dollar for any 13 players on my roster and I’d still be happy with the relative values.

This is a 12-team mixed league with the standard 23-player active rosters (14 hitters, nine pitchers) and seven bench spots. Each owner had $260 to fill their 23 active spots. It’s a H2H categories league with OBP replacing batting average and K/9 replacing strikeouts.

Those categorical changes played more of a role in my strategy than the H2H aspect. With K/9 replacing Ks, cumulative strikeouts totals are devalued, meaning a lot of the mid-tier starters are pushed down and high-strikeout back-end relievers (even if not in the closer role) get pushed up. I knew others would be doing the same, but I wanted to several of those back-end bullpen guys with elite skills as they can be three-category studs (ERA, WHIP, K/9) in this format.

Where the H2H aspect came in for me was in knowing that I wanted to focus on building a strong pitching staff, getting either Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer to lead the pack. It’s my opinion that pitching is generally more reliable (in terms of performance) on a game-by-game, week-to-week basis than hitting. With a really strong pitching staff, I think I give myself the best chance to win on any given week. If I’m winning four pitching categories most weeks, I will only need to win two offensive categories to come out ahead in my head-to-head matchup.

What went wrong for me was that I tried to chase speed late. I should have just punted speed. Punting categories is something you can do so much more easily in H2H formats. By chasing speed, I gave back to a rather significant extent in OBP, HR and RBI. I should have just tried to reinforce my strengths on the hitting side instead of going after Kevin Kiermaier (who I like, but not as much when I’m already in a big hole with speed in this H2H format), Manuel Margot and Travis Jankowski. Thankfully, with this being a 12-team league, I should be able to land a couple of outfielders through free agency or trades who do reinforce my strengths.

Full Active Roster:

Gary Sanchez, C, NYY ($18) – I have Sanchez as my No. 1 catcher this year but he was not a target of mine in this 12-team auction. It just happened that I had money to spend and the price was right. Most seem to be expecting Sanchez’s walk rate to come down from the 10.5 percent mark he posted last year, but he’s walking at a similar clip this spring and even if the walk rate does fall to eight percent or so, he should still get on base somewhere close to my projected team baseline OBP of .350.

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Willson Contreras, C, CHC ($13) – Another player I had no intention of buying coming into the auction, but by getting two top-six catchers in this format, I think it will help me close the gap with other owners who spent big on hitting but ended up with the likes of Chris Iannetta (looking at you, Sporer), Sandy Leon or Austin Hedges.

Greg Bird, 1B, NYY ($11) – I knew I’d get Bird given where we were at in the auction and the amount of money I had remaining, it was just a question of how much he would cost. It turned out that I got pushed up to $11. I’m fine with that — Bird should have a big power season and strong counting stats playing nearly every day and batting out of the three-hole. Surprisingly, he went for $4 less in the following day’s mixed roto Tout Wars auction, going to our own Derek VanRiper for just $7, and that’s a 15-team league.

Matt Carpenter, 1B, STL ($24) – I’ve said it several times on RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, but Carpenter is being criminally underdrafted on a whole. He should be going 20 spots higher at least than his current NFBC ADP (69.72) in standard 15-team mixed leagues. As Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs noted in his piece entitled “Don’t Forget Matt Carpenter was David Ortiz,” Carpenter was performing like a top-five hitter last season before he went down with the injury, and of course he has three-position eligibility. In OBP leagues, Carpenter is an extremely valuable asset.

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, LAD ($3) – Not a sexy pickup late in the auction, but he’s a guy who can get on base close to my team target of .350 or so while still providing a bit of pop and useful counting stats.

Robinson Cano, 2B, SEA ($22) – Sure, Cano doesn’t walk much, so he’s devalued in a format like this, but he’s such a big plus in three categories (HR, RBI, R). This was a no-brainer going to $22 for me.

Dansby Swanson, SS, ATL ($9) – Perhaps he won’t be a great option in a 12-team H2H league, as he won’t really stand out in any of the five hitting categories, but I think he’ll be a plus player in the counting stats. I don’t expect him to post a .361 OBP over the course of a full season, but I also don’t think I’ll have to sacrifice much in terms of OBP for those counting stats.

Brandon Drury, 2B, AZ ($5) – The cutoff for positional eligibility in this league is 15 games from the previous season, so Drury is eligible at second base to begin the year. Of course, he’s also eligible at third base and outfield. I’m strongly considering moving Drury to the outfield in place of Margot and slotting Asdrubal Cabrera into my middle-infield spot to begin the year. As I said, I tried to make up speed late but should have just punted the category entirely. I think that’s the direction in which I’ll be heading through FAAB and trades.

Yoenis Cespedes, OF, NYM ($20) – I was hoping to get several shares of Cespedes this draft season but this is just my second. He’s another player who was discounted because of OBP over AVG, but who’s to say he can’t maintain most of those gains in walk rate. At least he’s continuing to walk at a nice clip this spring.

Joc Pederson, OF, LAD ($15) – Pederson is not a player I’m targeting in standard leagues, but in OBP leagues, he’s a quality option. He finished last season with a 129 wRC+, which ranked 31st among hitters with at least 400 plate appearances. OK, so he should probably sit against most lefties, but he’s very good against right-handed pitching, and there’s still upside at age 24.

Kevin Kiermaier, OF, TB ($9) – Kiermaier is one of my favorite standard 5×5 league value picks, but he’s a low OBP guy and as I said, I was already so deficient in terms of speed I should have just gone after a power hitter. He’s going to be on the trade block.

Nomar Mazara, OF, TEX ($3) – There were a lot of good outfielders remaining on the board but I couldn’t let Mazara go for $2. While there is a dropoff in terms of top talent in the outfield, there are also a lot of useful options late in 12-team mixed leagues, so don’t get carried away with chasing mid-tier outfielders.

Manuel Margot, OF, SD ($3) – Another guy I may be looking to trade or perhaps drop if he gets off to a slow start. “I should have just committed to punting steals in H2H” – perhaps another tattoo (a sprawling back tat?).

Victor Martinez, DH, DET ($7) – Old and boring, like Adrian Gonzalez, but still plenty valuable. Lack of positional eligibility is only real negative for me, although at 38 years old, his skills could fall off a cliff soon.

Max Scherzer, P, WAS ($30) – Again, I wanted either Kershaw or Scherzer to head my pitching staff, and looking back, I should have just paid up for Kershaw. I have no real concerns with Scherzer, but apparently not everyone feels the same way. He’s still being discounted because of the knuckle.

Matt Shoemaker, P, LAA ($3) – Fine option for ratios and wins, and he’s not dinged as much as many starters in this format given his quality K rate.

Jameson Taillon, P, PIT ($5) – My bold prediction on the Drive Debates on SXM was that Taillon will be the most valuable pitcher in the Pirates’ rotation and a top-20ish starting pitcher for fantasy purposes. All in, baby.

Vince Velasquez, P, PHI ($5) – My ratios base was good enough to where I could afford some giveback. Velasquez brings a great K/9 rate and I should be able to extract quite a bit of value by avoiding potentially dangerous matchups with him.

Taijuan Walker, P, AZ ($5) – This is where having money late was beneficial, as I was able to induce some frustrated groans with this purchase. He has given up four homers this spring and the new home park is terrible, so I may need to pick my spots with him too early on, but the 28:2 K:BB is highly encouraging. I’m convinced the struggles last year had a lot to do with health.

Nate Jones, P, CWS ($4) – Even if he’s not closing, Jones will be a three-category asset in this league. If he does move into the closer role, he’s an elite option.

Koda Glover, P, WAS ($3) – Dusty Baker loves #moxie, and Glover has all of the #moxie. The team hasn’t named him the closer, but like with Jones, he’s valuable in this format even if he’s not closing.

Andrew Miller, P, CLE ($10) – Miller was one of my only real targets (besides Kershaw or Scherzer) coming into the auction. I knew there was a chance others would underestimate his value in a league like this.

Kenley Jansen, P, LAD ($20) – I wanted Aroldis Chapman but Jansen at $20 was a good consolation prize. He’s my only proven ninth-inning guy, but I’m confident I can get another closer via waivers in a 12-team mixed league if Jones or Glover aren’t seeing saves by June or so.

Reserves: Robert Gsellman, Travis Jankowski, Michael Wacha, Asdrubal Cabrera, Luke Gregerson, Matt Andriese

You can view all of the teams and dollar values from this league, and all of the teams and dollar values from every Tout Wars league, here.

Let me know what you think of my team on Twitter @claywlink.