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 moreMeasuring Up to the Rules: Mea Culpa

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.

Read moreTout Wars NL Draft: The Askrotoman Team

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, 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.

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

LABR Results

The AL spreadsheet is here. The NL spreadsheet is here.

Chatter about both over at

There is a new special edition of the Patton $ Online with Rotoman’s projections in the works at It will include full results from the CBS Sports Experts 5×5 AL and NL drafts, and full results from LABR AL and NL drafts, as well as bid prices from me, Alex Patton and Mike Fenger. I’ll post a notice here and at the software site when it’s posted.

RotoWire magazine mock–sneak preview

I was invited to participate in a 15 round NFBC style mock draft. I had the 10th pick and took Carlos Gonzalez (over Adrian Gonzalez and Robinson Cano). I share my whole team over at, in the Carlos Gonzalez comment. But here is a taste of the endgame (last 10 rounds)…

14) Justin Masterson–Like this.
15) Lonnie Chisenhall–I’ve never been that sold on this guy, but he was a funner pick than Danny Valencia.
16) Ryan Doumit–Yes, two Twins catchers in 16 rounds.
17) Johnny Giavotella–A bit of a risk but the alternative was Maicer Izturis, no knock on him.
18) Dayan Viciedo–A young star or a wipeout, it’s hard to tell. My other needs were pitchers, and it seemed like there were a bunch of similar ones.
19) Edwin Jackson–Veteran stability in the clubhouse.
20) Dan Bard–I certainly don’t know if that’s a good pick.
21) Phil Hughes–I think this is a very reasonable bet.
22) Francisco Liriano–Same here.
23) Gerardo Parra–With the Kubel signing maybe Parra’s PT is endangered, but that’s crazy. Parra is a great defender and produced with the bat and feet last year. Push him aside for a star, but for Jason Kubel? I have no idea about the D’backs’ plans.

It’s a fun group. The magazine comes out in the middle of February.
I really like my team, blah blah blah.

LABR AL results are out!

A paper in Tucson, I assume a Gannet paper, has posted the LABR AL results.

The list is here.

A quick perusal reveals that Tom Trudeau, from Bloomberg News, appears to have overpaid for nearly every dude on his team. Oh, you can argue a few cases, but my prediction is that this is a last place team, unless the thousands of Saves points saves him.

The Accuracy of Projections–the hitting optimizer

I participated in my first auction last night, the Cardrunners League, and because we’re using to run the league, you can easily get a chart with the projected stats for each team. I did that and learned that according to the CBS projections my hitting is mediocre (uh-oh, and they’re not as negative on Grady Sizemore as they probably should be) and my pitching is pretty good. Overall, it looks like 75 points or so for my team, which I’ll take.

But then I found on the site, a story by Al Melchior and a widget that lets you graphically compare the CBSsports projections and the Accuscore projections. The differences are striking, and a good reminder that projections give you a very limited amount of information.

You can find out more about my draft at Patton and Co, in the Kevin Gregg discussion.

The Rotoman’s Regulars Draft

One of the ultimate oddball formats: 20 teams, Mixed, Draft, Yahoo Rules.

I came in third in year one, and have been near or in the basement ever since. I can say that this is one of the smartest groups of players I know. So this list may be of help, if you draft 5×5.

Cardrunners: My first auction of the year

I joined a new high-stakes 5×5 AL only auction league this year. Some of the prize money is put up by a poker education site,, and some by the participants, who are a mix of fantasy experts, professional poker players, and financial pros. There are only 10 teams, but you can spend your money on all 28 of your rosterable players (you don’t have to, there is a draft when all teams are out of money). This changes the endgame some, as Rotowire’s Chris Liss notes in his post at Rotosynthesis (where he also posted the draft results).

Another wrinkle is that you can buy NL players. I spent some time trying to figure out what Adrian Gonzalez would be worth, and considered throwing him out early, but someone (I don’t remember who) beat me to it. My back of the envelope calculation was that a 50/50 chance for half a season of Gonzalez was worth a blank $8, though that calculation would change as the auction progressed. As teams recognize their strengths and weaknesses it might make sense to bid more for the high risk play. The gambit of coming out early could mean a bargain. In fact, I bumped a $3 bid to $4 and Daniel Dobish, Dave Gonos’ partner, muttering “I’m not letting him go to someone for free,” bid $7 and won him. Not a huge risk, but a nick in his budget he’ll feel if Gonzalez doesn’t come over.

There was a similar calculation in my most uncharacteristic moment in the auction. After adjusting my prices for the smaller league I was pleased in nearly every case but one (there was also a blip in the late early part of the auction where the price of outfielders who steal, namely Ichiro and Denard, went for scandalously low prices) that they were accurately describing the action. The difference came with the catchers, where huge draft inflation persisted all night. The action players, at least the guys who won the high-priced catchers through most of the auction, were the non-experts. They took Mauer to $40 and Victor Martinez to $35, and Napoli and Suzuki to $18. Even at the low end, guys I had listed for $2 were going for $5. Matt Wieters name was called fairly late, but there was still plenty of money around. His price surged past my $16 bid limit, but I had money to spend and when the bidding slowed at $20 I bid $21 and won the sophomore backstop. The move effectively changed my team from Nolan Reimhold and two scrub catchers to Wieters, Jose Guillen and a scrub who turned out to be Brayan Pena.

I don’t remember who had the penultimate bid on Wieters, but if it was one of the Cardrunners boys my brash reach means I wrecked the purity of a position-scarcity experiment, with the so-called experts buying cheap catchers and the so-called amateurs buying the pricey ones. All of them, as noted before, were inflated.

This morning I ran the projected stats of all the teams using the CHONE projections, mostly because I have Chone Figgins on my team. The key is to avoid testing your team using your own projections, since they naturally flavor the players you pick up. I don’t want to give up any competitive edge this exercise offers in its details, but I’m delighted to share for posterity the final standings, which surely won’t look anything like this next October.

Phipps 62
Carty 56
Rotoman 53
Hastings 51
Chad 50
Gonos 49
Wiggins 49
Eric 46
Liss 40
Sheehan 38

Since these include active rosters and reserves, and NLers Gonzalez and Ricky Nolasco, and Chone’s projections are generous with the playing time, upping the value here of guys who may not even play, they should be taken with a grain of salt. But they’re a start while we wait for games that matter.

Is your auctioneer a joke?

Evan Gallahou is a standup comic looking for gigs as a fantasy baseball auctioneer. I’m not kidding!

The following clip starts with a baseball joke, but it was the bit about the weather broadcaster at the end that made me think Evan might be a really good auctioneer.