Round 1 of the ADL Reserve Draft 2017 Revisited

2017 ADL Reserve DraftThe American Dream League held its auction on Opening Day. 12 teams took (or kept) 24 players each (14 hitters, 10 pitchers) by bidding, and then, after a 10 minute break, had seven rounds of drafting. I came upon the sheet on which I wrote the reserve claims on that fateful day. My own reserve draft was very weak, which got me thinking about how much value was in our auction, and who got it.

The number in parentheses is their 5×5 earnings so far this season.

ROUND 1

Lucas Giolito: Future ace, right? Has a 4.47 ERA in Triple-A this season, with 59 walks in 129 innings.

Rowdy Telez: Young power hitter making the jump to Triple-A, didn’t click. Hitting .222 with only six homers in Triple-A.

Brandon Guyer ($2): Veteran role player never really found a role. 112 AB with two homers and two stolen bases with Cleveland.

Bradley Zimmer ($11): Guyer’s loss was Zimmer’s gain. Our first solid contributor. Only hitting .246 in 240 AB, but with eight homers and 14 stolen bases. He has struck out 77 times, but walked 25.

Guillermo Heredia ($8): Fourth outfielder has seen more playing time because of the Vogelbach failure and Gamel injuries. Hitting .287 in 286 at bats with six homers and one steal.

Eduardo Escobar ($9): Solid utilityman benefits from Jorge Polanco’s struggles. Hitting .250 in 280 at bats with 10 homers and four steals.

Sam Travis ($1): Only Hanley Ramirez ahead of him. Hit .278 in 43 at bats with no homers and one steal in a brief time in Boston, and is back in the minors in Triple-A, where he is having a mild season.

AJ Reed: Everybody’s hot choice for 2016 seemed like a good reserve pick, but even with Houston injuries he’s seen just six AB this year, but does have 25 Triple-A homers.

Byung Ho Park: Big swing for a big power hitter, who has spent a meek year in Triple-A, striking out 115 times in 355 at bats.

Yoan Moncada: Last year’s big failure won a big arm in trade for Boston. Now up with Chicago he’s hitting .186 and has struck out 36 times in 81 at bats. He’s still young and was solid in his time in Triple-A.

Jose De Leon: Future ace has been hurt all season, but did earn a W in his one appearance in relief for Tampa, despite allowing three earned runs in 2.2 innings.

Jose Berrios ($9): Future ace started the year in Triple-A, but has now made 17 starts for the Twins. The results have been a little up and a little down, with a 4.27 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, which with 10 wins for the surprising Twins is enough to have earned $9. My projection for him before the season was 4.25 and 1.31 with fewer wins.

$40 in earnings for this group. Four contributors.

How much in earnings in Round 2? F Martes ($3), Jacob May (-$2), Whit Merrifield ($22, on the first place team), Rey Lopez ($1), Franklin Berretto ($1), Nick Franklin ($0), Dan Vogelbach, Michael Kopech, Clint Frazier ($3), Joe Jimenez (-$3), Cody Asche (-$2), Tyler O’Neill.

$23 in earnings for this group. One contributor.

 

ASK ROTOMAN: Impossible Keeper League Question

Dear Rotoman:

I am in a 12 team fantasy baseball league, rotisserie style, with 4 keepers. You can keep 1 player for a maximum of 5 seasons. I finished 5th in the league last year and have the 1st overall pick of the year. It so happens that Mike Trout was kept the last 5 years and will be available to be drafted this year. Is there any deal out there that would make you think about trading that pick? Perhaps the other person’s number 1 and 2? Something more than that?

“Fishing for Improvement”

Dear FFI:

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27)There are many questions about your rules that are hard to deduce. For instance, how many of the typical first-round picks are available in this draft?

And, do the keepers clog the round they’re taken for the teams that keep them? Or are they merely gone?

So, you may have technical issues with my answer, but I think the answer is fairly obvious (though the execution may not be).

First point: In shallow leagues, as you have, the best most hardest to replace players are worth a premium. Having the first pick and taking Trout is valuable in any startup league. In a league where much of the first two rounds of talent are kept, as I imagine yours is, having Trout has extra valuable.

Second point: There isn’t much you can do about the kept players. Your job is to maximize your haul in the pool. So, Trout is clearly No. 1. Whom of the available players is going to be your second pick? I think that player is your baseline.

Third point: If you can swap Trout for two players better than your second pick, you may have the makings of a deal. But that isn’t a sure thing. Remember: In shallow leagues top talent has an outsized value. And you certainly wouldn’t trade Trout for two players worse than Trout and your No. 2.

Fourth point: In shallow leagues, position scarcity matters a bit more than some expect. So, trading number one for two positions before No. 24 may make sense if you can see a way to score a top SS and a great 2B or, given your league size, a top catcher.

But: It’s hard to tell without specific information about all this stuff. Which is your job. I think it’s possible for someone to buy Trout off you and make you a good deal, for them or for you, but you need to go both for quantity and for position advantage when analyzing your league. That’s where your real advantage is going to be found.

It’s a tough deal to make, but it can be made.

Ruggedly,
rotomansignature

ASK ROTOMAN: Getting Ahead in Head 2 Head

Dear Rotoman:

I have played in a head to head league on CBS sports for the past five years.  The first year, I followed fantasy advice and skewed heavily towards hitters rather than pitchers.  I got destroyed that year.

Mat_Latos_01In this league, pitchers go first and often.  By the time I started drafting pitchers I was left with Mat Latos, Kyle Lohse, and downwards from there.  The best teams in the league had 12 starts for their pitchers each week because they had so many pitchers, while I had 5-8 starts.

Since then, I have sought the best bat available in the 1st round, two aces in rounds 2-3, and a decent player with position scarcity in round 4.  In the next 18 rounds, I target middling pitching, youth (ages 25-32) and OBP.  I don’t draft relievers until late and usually punt 2nd base and catcher.

Any ideas how I can improve my draft philosophy this year?

“Trying To Get Head 2 Head”

Dear Trying:

I guess after taking the standard fantasy advice, things didn’t go much better the next four years. Am I right? So you’re back.

I will not give you standard head 2 head advice, because you didn’t tell me your scoring system, so I can’t get to much into that. But I do have some suggestions I’m sure are worth taking a look at.

Take A Look At History: If the team that wins every year takes an ace starter early, and teams that don’t take an ace starter struggle, it’s probably worth giving the winning way a try. Not only will you end up with a better pitcher than usual, but your opponents will end up with lower-ranked pitchers in their later slots.

Take A Look At Categories: Different providers have different point values for different stats, so it is dangerous to get too specific about values from provider to provider. But CBSsports has a good stat download service, allowing you to download last year’s stats (I think) and definitely this year’s projections. You can then multiply the category values  by the player’s stats or projections in a spreadsheet, add them up, and see which players have real value across the season. One reason starting pitching often has a extra value is because points are given for a Win and a Quality Start and Strikeouts. That makes an ace on a good team a huge contributor when he pitches. Closers usually get a nice bump for a Save, too, though you can often find guys who get saves in the later rounds.

Take The Best Player Available: In auction leagues, you can concoct different strategies for your team by deciding how to budget your money, but in a draft league you want to focus on the best available player with each pick. Early on this is easy, the only questions will be whether you should take players at the less hitting-rich positions ahead of similarly rated guys at 1B and the OF. The answer is almost always yes, but you should always be looking at your next two picks, trying to find the best available talent for those two spots combined. I’m not sure how you’re dumping 3B and C, but my guess is that at some point you’d be better off taking better guys at those positions and scrambling at the end for your last outfielder.

Take Fun Guys Late: The last few rounds are the time to look for high upside risky players. There will always be boring productive guys on your waiver wire, so use those last spots to take erratic starters with high strikeout rates, and the home run hitting prospect who may not be called up until June, or the overall bum who has amazing splits against lefties or righties (or maybe at home versus the road). These types will vary depending on the size of your league and how aggressively owners chase this sort of talent. Just remember that you don’t have to be the most aggressive to score big here, if you study up before your draft.

The bottom line is that you’re going to win if your accumulate the most talent, so the only trick is knowing who has the most talent so that you make the best pick each time your turn comes. Good luck.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

The First Round (and the second): Some Thoughts

Tim McLeod wrote me yesterday:

A funny thing happened today while I was testing some strategy play in a mock. I’m taking the first slot so as to get a better feel for Tout (Wars Mixed Draft) and drafted Kershaw first. The gentleman in the second slot just hit McCutchen by reflex without evening looking at the board. The comments were pretty fast and furious. Not only was I one of the few to take someone other than Trout first, he actually fell to the No. 3 pick. It was worth the price of admission for everyone other than the McCutchen owner, who wasn’t overly thrilled at the turn of events. We’re so conditioned to seeing Trout, McCutchen, one-two that it really did create some havoc. More testing to follow. Tim

This reminded me of Ron Shandler’s study of first round picks a few years back, showing that most of the talent taken in the first round doesn’t earn first-round value. He seemed to be suggesting that this meant you should go for the player you think most likely to earn first round talent, even if they’ll probably go later in the draft.

andrewmccutchenDepending on what draft position you’re in, that might be completely wrong or just plain wrong or possibly a little right.  In other words, if you have the first pick, you want to take the player among the top 29 you think is going to have the best year. While if you have the 10th pick, you want to take the player from the pool of players between the 10th and 19th pick you think is going to be best this year.

In a draft, you’re constantly assessing the talent available for your pick against the rest of the talent that won’t be available the next time you pick. While it’s possible to outthink yourself, for instance by not taking Mike Trout with the first pick, the fact is that Trout probably won’t be the top-rated player this year. Last year Trout was selected No. 1, but was the ninth best player in 5×5 BA, behind Jose Altuve (77), Michael Brantley (299), Victor Martinez (184) and Jose Abreu (86), on the hitting side, and Clayton Kershaw (9), Felix Hernandez (41), Johnny Cueto (159) and Adam Wainwright (34).

So, while Trout was the ninth best pick last year, only one player in the Top 29 beat him, so a perfect draft board powered by hindsight would have had Kershaw atop it, followed by Trout.

But should it have? You have to remember that you are not only drafting the best available player, but you’re also trying to set up the best available match in the second round. Here it gets tricky to evaluate, since hindsight gives us an answer that isn’t all that meaningful at this point. But last year, if you took Kershaw with the first pick, you would have ended up with Freddie Freeman or Elvis Andrus or Jose Reyes, while if you took Trout first you would have ended up with Max Scherzer (or Freeman et al, or Jose Fernandez, Stephen Strasburgh, Adam Wainwright or Madison Bumgarner).

These two points are the crux of snake-drafting good teams, and which is why I find it silly to mock somebody who ended up taking McCutchen over Trout, even on purpose.

For the record, here’s where the Top 30 players from 2014 finished the season (Top 29 finishers are in BOLD):

Mike Trout (9)
Miguel Cabrera (11)
Paul Goldschmidt (76)
Andrew McCutchen (10)
Carlos Gonzalez (358)
Ryan Braun (87)
Adam Jones (22)
Prince Fielder (580)
Clayton Kershaw (1)
Bryce Harper (238)
Joey Votto (424)
Edwin Encarnacion (58)
Jacoby Ellsbury (28)
Hanley Ramirez (102)
David Wright (140)
Chris Davis (295)
Jose Bautista (19)
Robinson Cano (18)
Jason Kipnis (220)
Shin-Soo Choo (268)
Yu Darvish (335)
Troy Tulowitzki (88)
Yasiel Puig (44)
Justin Upton (38)
Adrian Beltre (23)
Giancarlo Stanton (13)
Evan Longoria (98)
Dustin Pedroia (133)
Carlos Gomez (15)
Max Scherzer (126)

I’m sure Tim has more to say about this, too, and hope he chimes in.

By the way, the rankings are based on 5×5 BA prices, while Tout Wars uses 5×5 OBP. So these rankings aren’t definitive, but rather suggestive, and sure represent (roughly) the dynamic of roto values.

Why There Will Never Be A Rotoman 250. B/w The Rotoman 250.

the250-copyI’m asked sometimes why there isn’t a Top 250 player list in the Fantasy Baseball Guide. I wrote about this last year, explaining why, so I won’t repeat myself too much here.

But an interesting thing happened this year while putting together this year’s Mock Draft for the magazine, and I thought it might be helpful to talk about it.

Now that the Guide is back to an early printing schedule, the Mock happens in mid November, and no draft service has updated draft-ranking lists loaded on their sites. We used CouchManagers.com this year, and they were glad we were using the service so early, hoping it would help them develop and fine tune their rankings.

Rankings are an important part of a draft service, because they help drafters find the players most likely to be drafted when their turn comes, which makes the whole process move more smoothly. But rankings, like ADP, also serve as a powerful suggestion for who to take in any given round. Not only do they suggest who ranks most highly, but they’re like an advertisement shown to everyone else pitching that player. If you want a player who appears near the top of the list, you better take him now because he isn’t going to fall once he’s atop the ranking list.

The fact is, playing the ebbs and flows of demand that ripple through the draft software and its lists are one of the skills of drafting a fantasy team. And another reason why a Top 250 not based on your draft sites list is of limited utility.

But this year, for the mock, I decided to take my Dollar Values and turn them into a draft list.

To each price I added .4 for catchers, .3 for shortstops, .2 for second basemen and .1 for third basemen.

I didn’t change the prices of pitchers, but I knew I would have to manage when to take them by using my sense of the draft. I wanted an Ace and I wanted a solid closer, and after that I was willing to scramble. My strategy was to take a pitcher in the later rounds when there was no standout hitter available.

(Note: I think one could simulate approximate pitcher draft slots by subtracting a certain number of places from each of them, but I think we’re better served knowing where pitchers rank in value–remember, at these prices they’re only getting 30 percent of the draft budget–and make decisions based on that.)

The list I made for that night is a bit out of date, so I’ve made a new one based on my current prices. Enjoy.

THE ROTOMAN 250
1: M Trout, LAA, OF
2: A McCutchen, PIT, OF
3: C Kershaw, LAD, P
4: J Abreu, CHA, 1B
5: M Cabrera, DET, 1B
6: P Goldschmidt, ARI, 1B
7: J Altuve, HOU, 2B
8: G Stanton, MIA, OF
9: F Hernandez, SEA, P
10: R Cano, SEA, 2B
11: C Sale, CHA, P
12: A Jones, BAL, OF
13: R Braun, MIL, OF
14: D Price, DET, P
15: C Gomez, MIL, OF
16: M Brantley, CLE, OF
17: M Bumgarner, SF, P
18: A Rendon, WAS, 2B
19: S Strasburg, WAS, P
20: I Desmond, WAS, SS
21: B Posey, SF, C
22: J Bautista, TOR, OF
23: J Ellsbury, NYA, OF
24: B Harper, WAS, OF
25: H Pence, SF, OF
26: A Gonzalez, LAD, 1B
27: F Freeman, ATL, 1B
28: A Beltre, TEX, 3B
29: P Fielder, TEX, 1B
30: C Gonzalez, COL, OF
31: S Marte, PIT, OF
32: A Rizzo, CHN, 1B
33: J Upton, SD, OF
34: J Zimmermann, WAS, P
35: C Kluber, CLE, P
36: J Reyes, TOR, SS
37: T Tulowitzki, COL, SS
38: M Scherzer, WAS, P
39: J Donaldson, TOR, 3B
40: E Encarnacion, TOR, 1B
41: V Martinez, DET, 1B
42: A Pujols, LAA, 1B
43: Y Puig, LAD, OF
44: A Wainwright, STL, P
45: Z Greinke, LAD, P
46: K Seager, SEA, 3B
47: D Wright, NYN, 3B
48: B Hamilton, CIN, OF
49: M Kemp, SD, OF
50: J Cueto, CIN, P
51: I Kinsler, DET, 2B
52: A Chapman, CIN, P
53: D Gordon, MIA, 2B
54: D Murphy, NYN, 2B
55: E Longoria, TAM, 3B
56: C Hamels, PHI, P
57: M Holliday, STL, OF
58: J Votto, CIN, 1B
59: C Yelich, MIA, OF
60: H Iwakuma, SEA, P
61: J Lucroy, MIL, C
62: C Kimbrel, ATL, P
63: D Pedroia, BOS, 2B
64: B Revere, PHI, OF
65: H Ramirez, BOS, SS
66: S Castro, CHN, SS
67: A Gordon, KC, OF
68: T Frazier, CIN, 3B
69: R Zimmerman, WAS, 3B
70: Y Cespedes, DET, OF
71: N Cruz, SEA, OF
72: C Dickerson, COL, OF
73: M Ozuna, MIA, OF
74: J Werth, WAS, OF
75: H Kendrick, LAD, 2B
76: W Rosario, COL, C
77: G Richards, LAA, P
78: A Ramirez, CHA, SS
79: E Andrus, TEX, SS
80: M Machado, BAL, 3B
81: B Belt, SF, 1B
82: G Holland, KC, P
83: Y Darvish, TEX, P
84: J Samardzija, CHA, P
85: P Sandoval, BOS, 3B
86: N Arenado, COL, 3B
87: C Davis, BAL, 1B
88: B Gardner, NYA, OF
89: A Rios, KC, OF
90: M Adams, STL, 1B
91: J Heyward, STL, OF
92: W Myers, SD, OF
93: D Span, WAS, OF
94: M Cabrera, CHA, OF
95: L Martin, TEX, OF
96: J Kipnis, CLE, 2B
97: E Aybar, LAA, SS
98: M Carpenter, STL, 3B
99: B Butler, OAK, 1B
100: S Choo, TEX, OF
101: E Hosmer, KC, 1B
102: J Bruce, CIN, OF
103: J Morneau, COL, 1B
104: J Teheran, ATL, P
105: M Tanaka, NYA, P
106: D Santana, MIN, SS
107: N Walker, PIT, 2B
108: N Castellanos, DET, 3B
109: K Calhoun, LAA, OF
110: A Eaton, CHA, OF
111: A LaRoche, CHA, 1B
112: J Martinez, DET, OF
113: B Zobrist, OAK, 2B
114: C Blackmon, COL, OF
115: C Crawford, LAD, OF
116: S Gray, OAK, P
117: A Jackson, SEA, OF
118: D Mesoraco, CIN, C
119: Y Molina, STL, C
120: H Street, LAA, P
121: A Escobar, KC, SS
122: M Prado, MIA, 2B
123: C Utley, PHI, 2B
124: S Perez, KC, C
125: L Chisenhall, CLE, 3B
126: J Harrison, PIT, 3B
127: M Pineda, NYA, P
128: R Castillo, BOS, OF
129: B Dozier, MIN, 2B
130: J Loney, TAM, 1B
131: G Springer, HOU, OF
132: L Duda, NYN, 1B
133: D Betances, NYA, P
134: A Cobb, TAM, P
135: J Arrieta, CHN, P
136: F Rodney, SEA, P
137: K Jansen, LAD, P
138: A Wood, ATL, P
139: J Peralta, STL, SS
140: C Santana, CLE, 1B
141: Y Gomes, CLE, C
142: S Gennett, MIL, 2B
143: K Wong, STL, 2B
144: L Cain, KC, OF
145: A Craig, BOS, OF
146: D Ortiz, BOS, DH
147: M Trumbo, ARI, 1B
148: J deGrom, NYN, P
149: R Odor, TEX, 2B
150: B Moss, CLE, OF
151: J Hardy, BAL, SS
152: C Headley, NYA, 3B
153: S Cishek, MIA, P
154: D Fowler, HOU, OF
155: M Wieters, BAL, C
156: P Alvarez, PIT, 3B
157: C Johnson, ATL, 3B
158: C Carter, HOU, DH
159: A Garcia, CHA, OF
160: K Davis, MIL, OF
161: M Morse, MIA, OF
162: G Polanco, PIT, OF
163: D Stubbs, COL, OF
164: J Fernandez, MIA, P
165: D Fister, WAS, P
166: J Lester, CHN, P
167: C Carrasco, CLE, P
168: J Shields, FA, P
169: M Shoemaker, LAA, P
170: D Smyly, TAM, P
171: J Papelbon, PHI, P
172: T Roark, WAS, P
173: A Sanchez, DET, P
174: E Gattis, HOU, C
175: H Ryu, LAD, P
176: J Rollins, LAD, SS
177: J Segura, MIL, SS
178: D Jennings, TAM, OF
179: B Phillips, CIN, 2B
180: T Plouffe, MIN, 3B
181: A Ramirez, MIL, 3B
182: A Cabrera, TAM, SS
183: A Lind, MIL, 1B
184: O Arcia, MIN, OF
185: M Betts, BOS, OF
186: C Crisp, OAK, OF
187: A De Aza, BAL, OF
188: J Hamilton, LAA, OF
189: B Lawrie, OAK, 2B
190: J Mauer, MIN, 1B
191: J Jay, STL, OF
192: A Pagan, SF, OF
193: P Hughes, MIN, P
194: D Robertson, CHA, P
195: A Cashner, SD, P
196: M Fiers, MIL, P
197: M Melancon, PIT, P
198: B McCann, NYA, C
199: J Lowrie, HOU, SS
200: J Mercer, PIT, SS
201: J Gyorko, SD, 2B
202: T Yasmany, ARI, 3B
203: D Ackley, SEA, OF
204: M Bourn, CLE, OF
205: C Cron, LAA, 1B
206: R Davis, DET, OF
207: T Hunter, MIN, OF
208: J Lagares, NYN, OF
209: N Markakis, ATL, OF
210: J Soler, CHN, OF
211: D Salazar, CLE, P
212: J Weaver, LAA, P
213: M Cain, SF, P
214: G Cole, PIT, P
215: D Viciedo, CHA, OF
216: R Martin, TOR, C
217: C Allen, CLE, P
218: Z Britton, BAL, P
219: Y Ventura, KC, P
220: F Rodriguez, MIL, P
221: T Rosenthal, STL, P
222: X Bogaerts, BOS, SS
223: B Crawford, SF, SS
224: A Simmons, ATL, SS
225: D Freese, LAA, 3B
226: C Gillaspie, CHA, 3B
227: K Morales, KC, 1B
228: S Pearce, BAL, 1B
229: C Rasmus, FA, OF
230: M Cuddyer, NYN, OF
231: C Granderson, NYN, OF
232: R Howard, PHI, 1B
233: G Parra, MIL, OF
234: J Pederson, LAD, OF
235: A Pollock, ARI, OF
236: M Wacha, STL, P
237: Y Solarte, SD, 2B
238: D LeMahieu, COL, 2B
239: J Panik, SF, 2B
240: C Tillman, BAL, P
241: M Montero, CHN, C
242: W Ramos, WAS, C
243: E Cabrera, FA, SS
244: T Watson, PIT, P
245: N Feliz, TEX, P
246: S Kazmir, OAK, P
247: A Sanchez, TOR, P
248: M Stroman, TOR, P
249: J Verlander, DET, P
250: S Casilla, SF, P

I hope this is a good start for you in your draft.

In The News: Lord Zola Proclaims 2-20-14

Todd Zola and I were members of the alt.rec.fantasy.baseball usenet group back when George Clinton was president. We knew what was coming.

And now, today, umpteen years later, we both published charts linking draft order to auction prices, which seems to be the new orange. Make of it what you will.

I think Todd’s story does a fine job pointing out that using ADP for your mixed draft analysis is not enough. And I’m happy to embrace Todd’s perfectly independently concluded idea that draft value is akin to auction value.

FWIW Todd and I are talking about sharing data and working on some new ideas, too.

ASK ROTOMAN: Calculating Inflation

Rotoman,

Years ago The Fantasy Baseball Guide had a section where there was a formula for inflation in keeper leagues. I think maybe the article was from maybe seven to nine years ago? It may have been even 10 years ago. Would it be possible to have that formula again?

Thanks in advance,
Charles

Dear Charles:

To calculate inflation:

Subtract the bid prices of the frozen players from your total league budget. That leaves you with how much money will be available to spend in your auction.

Subtract the projected value of the frozen players from the total league budget. That leaves you with how much talent will be available to spend in your auction.

For instance, in a 12 team league the total budget is $3120. Let’s say the price of all the kept players is $500. Your league will have $2620 to spend.

If the projected value of the frozen players is $1000, your league will be chasing $2120 worth of talent with $2620 of money. Divide the talent into the money and you discover that your inflation rate is 24 percent.

Note that the inflation is usually not distributed evenly in the auction. You should allocate the $500 inflated dollars to players you want (being realistic about what other players might go for and distributing inflation to them, too). The danger is backing off the best players because their price is 24 percent over the “book” value, letting them go at par, and then getting stuck spending your inflated dollars in the endgame so you don’t leave money on the table.

Largely,
Rotoman

Measuring Up to the Rules: Mea Culpa

“A rule is a rule.” –Common Sense

“It’s not a rule if you can’t break it.” –Schoolyard Sense

“Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.” –Henry David Thoreau

Fantasy baseball is a game, and games have rules. Rules are the way we limit behavior in the game play, to shape the competition in some foreordained way that makes the game fair. And fun. The funny thing is that not everyone agrees on what the rules mean, or when the rules should be followed, or when common sense says a rule should be ignored. Sorting out these ambiguities can be a pain, but they’re also part of the game. A good constitution can help settle most disputes, but you’ll be surprised how often your rules will be subverted by good intentions and misunderstandings.

Some examples of the rules coming into play from some recent drafts I was involved in.

1. Tout Wars AL

I was running the live blog of the Tout Wars AL auction, which at this point in the story was into the endgame. An owner nominated: “Peacock, ah, $3.” There was a titter.

Almost immediately the nominating owner said: “Oops. I mean Trout. (laughter). Um, 3.”

Read more…

Tout Wars NL Draft: The Askrotoman Team

Ah, the best laid plans.

I really thought I had a shot at buying the team. No problem on Posey, Aramis Ramirez, Stephen Strasburg and the young and blooming starting pitchers, but either I didn’t play the auction right on Ian Stewart, Aaron Hill, Willie Bloomquist, and Jordan Schafer, or the dynamics of this particular auction doomed me.

What I know for sure is that Nate Ravitz spent a lot of money early and then repeatedly tried to pick off guys off the lower auction tiers by surprise, and thus I lost Jesus Guzman.

I thought I had Loney at my price for him, but then Phil Hertz blurted $17 and I let him go. Phil didn’t love the purchase. I would have been happy at $16.

And that was the point of this exercise. To try to identify soft spots and get players who play at prices below par. The problem was that I lost Hunter Pence to Lenny Melnick, who adopted a My Guys at Any Price approach. So I ended up with Drew Stubbs and Jason Heyward rather than Pence and Jose Tabata.

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Getting Ready for Tout Wars: What I’m Going to Do.

I am participating in Tout Wars NL auction this Sunday. I think it’s my 13th NL draft and I’m sorry to say that I’ve never won. I’ve finished second once, fourth once and fifth five times. I’ve had a few very bad years, too, usually because of injuries, though it is fair to say that the good years were at least in part because of lack of injuries.

Tout Wars drafts are the toughest. The pace is unrelenting. Keeping up on the live blog, which you’ll find during the auctions on Saturday and Sunday at toutwars.com, is tough. But the pace actually makes the auction fun. It is go, go, go, time only for action, when your moment comes. And then you are brushed aside, like a newspaper in a strong wind, and the room is onto something new, and maybe you are, too.

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