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Tout Wars - Mixed League Team Review

For most of this spring, Jeff and I have been running mock drafts during the radio show, often replicating the 15-team mixed league formats utilized by The National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Part of that process allowed us to determine where we would like to draft in the main event, as draft slots are chosen Kentucky Derby style where the first choice simply affords an owner to pick their own seat.

The consensus for us was that picking in the back half of Round 1 is the preferred option because when the draft order snakes back in Round 2, there is a significant drop-off in talent after the first 20 or so players are taken. Subsequently, this leaves a large group of as many as 30-35 players who will be selected in the middle and late part of Round 2 through the early picks in Round 5 with very little to separate them.

Entering Saturday's mixed league Tout Wars auction, I was primed to use a "stars and scrubs" strategy to stockpile elite bats and take advantage of the excellent depth in the pitching pool on the cheap. Admittedly, the potential inflation of second-tier players did not influence my selection of that approach, if only because every auction generates its own unique market. The takeaway is that there is a very good chance that the second-tier gets inflated in instances where the elite players do not, and quickly indentifying the marketplace allows for any strategy to be executed to in a way that maximizes its relative effectiveness.

The first 10 players came off the board at the following prices:

Roy Halladay, $26 - Scott Swanay ($1 above proj. earn value)
Justin Upton, $40 - Zach Steinhorn ($2 above proj. earn value)
Hanley Ramirez, $39 - Nando DiFino ($9 above proj. earn value)
Curtis Granderson, $33 - Paul Singman ($6 above proj. earn value)
Clayton Kershaw, $30 - Gene McCaffery ($4 above proj. earn value)
Jacoby Ellsbury, $37 - Nando DiFino ($4 below proj. earn value)
Ryan Braun, $40 - Eric Mack ($3 below proj. earn value)
Adrian Beltre, $30 - Gene McCaffery ($5 above proj. earn value)
Dustin Pedroia, $36 - Seth Trachtman ($5 above proj. earn value)
Matt Kemp, $40 - Derek VanRiper ($4 below proj. earn value)

To be fair, I was surprised that the bidding stopped at $40 on Kemp and I would have gone to at least $42 (still lower than most, in my opinion) before backing off a bit given my expectations for him this season. Instead, I won a player I wasn't previously targeting at a price $4-6 cheaper than I expected and saw a clear path to top-10 players being potentially undervalued. Put simply, stars and scrubs became locked in.

Although I did not hit the gas pedal on Miguel Cabrera when he was purchased by Nando at $41, I built around players who will deliver something in all five categories by getting Carlos Gonzalez at $40 and Jose Bautista at $37 to secure the first, fifth and 10th-ranked players on my board.

Meanwhile, the second-tier of players often drafted in that aforementioned 25-50 range regularly commanded bids well above the projected earn values, taking plenty of cash off the table and increasing the number of quality players available for $5 or less in the later stages of the auction.

My complete roster with prices rounded out as follows:

C - Josh Donaldson ($4)
C - Tyler Flowers ($1)
1B - Paul Konerko ($20)
2B - Ryan Roberts ($5)
SS - Jose Reyes ($27)
3B - Jose Bautista ($37)
MI - Ryan Raburn ($1)
CR - Justin Smoak ($1)
OF - Carlos Gonzalez ($40)
OF - Matt Kemp ($40)
OF - Shin-Soo Choo ($21)
OF - Colby Rasmus ($5)
OF - Vernon Wells ($5)
UT - Nolan Reimold ($1)
P - James Shields ($15)
P - Brandon League ($10)
P - Derek Holland ($7)
P - Edwin Jackson ($6)
P - Hiroki Kuroda ($4)
P - Francisco Liriano ($3)
P - Bud Norris ($2)
P - Vinnie Pestano ($2)
R - Rafael Furcal
R - Joel Peralta
R - Brett Anderson
R - Danny Duffy

Instead of spending a traditional 70 percent of my budget on hitting and 30 percent on pitching, I pushed that split to 80/20. Strikeouts should not be an issue, though, and if the younger arms - specifically Holland and Norris - make strides with their ERA and WHIP marks, it should be a group that returns a nice collective profit. In line with a steady part of my strategy throughout the spring, I punted the catcher spots and only paid $4 for Donaldson because I was saving a few extra dollars for Smoak in the endgame and surprisingly slipped him through for $1.

Hawking the waiver wire for saves will be a crucial FAAB priority with League in place as my only closer to begin the year, although Pestano was my first choice as a next-in-line setup man even before Chris Perez suffered an oblique injury this spring. If Perez's declining strikeout rate is any indication, performance could strip away the ninth-inning role even if he's healthy.

Comments

By: Chris Liss
On: 3/26/2012 1:23:00 PM
Love the Cargo/Reyes/Kemp/Smoak/Bautista buys. Don't like Wells, Ed Jackson, Roberts, Kuroda, Think you could have done better with two full time catchers for that money and $1 OF/SP. Catcher's the one position where there aren't enough good $1 options in 15-team mixed. Might have preferred to use one of the big star bids on an elite SP. Halladay strikes me as pretty cheap - maybe instead of Choo and Ed Jax. Still, the hitting will compete. SP could be a challenge, unless Liriano and Holland blow up.
 
By: Derek VanRiper
On: 3/26/2012 2:17:00 PM
Jackson was a case of price enforcing, but still $4-6 under value. Probably would have drafted a better catcher with that money, but may have just invested it into other cheap pitchers. Other than that, not as concerned with Wells/Roberts/Kuroda as you are. League change hurts, but check out his career home/road splits.
 
By: jtopper
On: 3/26/2012 2:34:00 PM
I think you stayed pretty true to your top 350 listed rankings for the players, getting Bautista (1) and Cargo (5). Surprised you went with Kemp based on your stated feelings toward him in prior articles/XM. I understand how the auction is a rolling process. How much was Pujols? I'd take a team of Hiroki Kuroda's $4 all-day long.
 
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 3/26/2012 2:38:00 PM
You have Kemp ranked #11 in your round table ranks yet you are willing to make him the top ranked player??? 1+1=3??? Thought you could of done better at C but the rest of your bats are great. Smoak for a buck! :) I like your staff for what you paid for them. Health and trade value look solid, you should be able to manage this team near the top. Good Luck!
 
By: lvtdude
On: 3/26/2012 2:45:00 PM
I'm willing to bet Ryan Raburn will easily earn that buck you spent on him.
 
By: Derek VanRiper
On: 3/26/2012 5:13:00 PM
My point with Kemp is that I believe he should have cost more than he did and I wanted to make sure it happened. I don't think he's going to be a colossal flop, but there's still an excellent player there. I believe Pujols only went up to 42 -- very surprising that there wasn't more in the $45-range based on similar auctions I've seen.
 

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