Tout Wars - Mixed League Team Review
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.