We held Tout Weekend as planned back in March, though not in person and with no party at Foley’s and before many of us knew what Zoom was. We drafted online, on Fantrax, hoping baseball would be back in a month or two or, many of us expected, around the Fourth of July.
That guess was better than most of my draft day picks. Baseball resumed on July 23rd, and with one day of the postseason under our belts, the expanded playoffs will continue for the next month. But Tout Wars is done, as was my team, it turns out, the moment the draft ended.
In that draft I bought a stars-and-scrubs style team. A couple of the scrubs, Dominic Smith and Tony Gonsolin, worked out. If the core of my team had been average those two would have pushed the team toward contention. But the rest of the team wasn’t average. Let’s take a look why:
Ronald Acuna Jr. $44 ($47 value): Earned $29, all prices for OBP 5×5. Obviously didn’t earn out, but compared to Yelich ($19) he was a better buy at the same price, in spite of the time he missed. You pay great players a lot because even when they aren’t great they contribute a lot of stats. Acuna and Yelich showed that in 2020, small consolation to me and Justin Mason, Yelich’s owner who finished 2 points ahead of me in the standings.
Walker Buehler $30 ($29 value): Earned $8. When your ace is a tres you’re going to have problems. It doesn’t appear that there was anything wrong with Buehler when he was on the mound, but he missed some starts with a blister in September, and was unlucky in wins when he got five innings in pitching for a team that led baseball in runs scored.
Ozzie Albies $27 ($33 value): Earned $10. He came on at the end, showing why it wasn’t madness to expect a lot. Missing a month of a two-month season puts you in the hole, to be sure.
Nolan Arenado $35 ($40 value): Earned $13. His auction price was depressed because of the threat he might be traded to a less commodious ballpark. My bet was he wouldn’t, and he wasn’t. Alas, he was not having a great season when he hurt his shoulder in early September, and he struggled after that until he was shut down. Players slump at times, and in the short season there was scant time to get a second chance to fix things.
Will Smith $14 ($14 value): Earned $12. He got on at a good clip, missed 10 days with a neck injury, and will have better seasons than this one, which was fine.
Wilson Ramos $13 ($17 value): Earned $6. A bad season for Ramos.
Reisel Iglesias $13 ($13 value): Earned $17. Finally, someone who performed as expected, maybe a little better.
Yasiel Puig $5 ($3 value): Did Not Play. Tantalizingly close to signing with the Braves in July, he got the Covid and did not get another chance. He was one of two shots at picking up a significant producer for cheap for a think outfield.
Mike Moustakas $22 ($22 value): Earned $9. All my stars tanked. Moustakas, like Albies, was hurt for much of the season. In my notes after the draft I said that I really wanted Corey Seager, a switch that would have helped my team quite a bit.
Dylan Carlson $8 ($8 value): Earned $2. There were two risks here. One, that he wouldn’t get a chance, the other that if given the chance he wouldn’t produce. I felt certain enough that he’d get the chance that I’d take the risk he wouldn’t produce. He didn’t. Given my needs I went for it and took a shot that didn’t pan out. If the rest of the team was working this wouldn’t have mattered.
Mike Foltynewicz $12 ($12 value): Earned -$9. I was going to get either Folty or Lamet for $13, I thought. I didn’t get Lamet, was pleased to have Folty, until the season started. Another close call.
Ender Inciarte $6 ($6 value): Earned $4. Part of the reason he got as many at bats as he did was because Acuna was hurt. Still, it was Markakis’s decision to come back and play that cost Inciarte playing time. Well, that and his own limited offensive production.
Freddy Galvis $7 ($7 value): Earned $8. As expected, the poor OBP offset most of his offensive contributions, but not all.
Chris Archer $5 ($7 value): DNP. Had season-ending neck surgery in June.
AJ Pollock $7 ($14 value): Earned $23. I was pleased as punch to get him at $7, and he came through. Too bad it was wasted.
Wade Davis $2 ($4 value): Earned -$9. He only lost so little because he only pitched 4.1 innings. A calculated risk that he’d be a saves source. Didn’t count on the return of Daniel Bard, or Davis’s shoulder going out.
Sean Newcomb $2 ($4 value): Earned -$12. Rounding out a pitching staff, you throw your darts and hope for the best. Sometimes you get the worst.
Of my reserve picks, Dominic Smith earned $19 and Tony Gonsolin earned $23. A winning year is when your core team does okay and you’re able to augment with good pick-ups.
Notable waivers pickups were Ben Gamel ($4), Andres Gimenez ($12), Donovan Solano on August 3 ($15 for the season), and David Peterson ($9), all good, but at the end of August I sprung for Jose Israel Garcia, Julio Mateo, Taylor Clarke and Trevor Rogers, all with potential but in the end hurtful, not helpful.
In the end, I finished with 50 points. My draft day roster finish was similar, next to last, but with only 40 points, so I improved. For now, that’s the positive message I take away from this weird season.
For 17 years I’ve played with a bunch of friends in a quirky keeper 5×5 (OBP) fantasy league called the XFL. We hold a $260 auction in the fall at First Pitch Arizona, keeping up to 15 players off the previous year’s rosters with a $5 increase (+$3 for players picked up before they had ML playing time). Then, in March, usually, we have a 17-round supplemental draft to round out our 40-man rosters.
Only this year, you know, we didn’t have that supplemental. We first put it off until April 20, and then as that date approached we collectively realized that it made no sense to spend time on something when conditions in the majors this year may be totally different, or that there may not even be a this year, so we postponed.
Which led to the idea of doing something. Anything. What that turned out to be, under the direction of Ron Shandler, was a draft of the major league players from 1982. I’m not sure why Ron chose ’82. I pushed for 1980, since that was the first year of our game and Dan Okrent’s piece about the Rotisserie League the following winter in Inside Sports magazine was called “The Year George Foster Wasn’t Worth $36.” But 1982 was fine, it was the first year I played the game, joining the Stardust League that Matthew Berry wrote about recently, in its second year.
There are things about a retrospective draft that are different than they are in a prospective draft. Our regular drafts and auctions before the season is played are shaped by our expectations–our projections–of what players may do, what chances there are that they will do more, or less, and how we put a price on that range of outcomes.
In a retro draft you know what a player has actually done, and you know the context in which he did it. That makes it fairly easy to come up with a value for each player and a ranking of player values. But it turns out that the math only gets you so far. Here’s why.
The Split: Many years ago, in the early ’90s, Les Leopold and I developed the idea that each player actually had two prices. One was his actual worth in the fantasy season just played (that’s his retro price), and his draft price, which was based on his projection and market expectations, what I call in The Guide The Big Price. We theorized that in a retrospective auction you would allocate 50 percent of your budget to pitching and 50 percent to hitting. This was something I tried to test for a long time, but there wasn’t much interest until everyone had to stay at home for months on end.
But alas, in preparing for this retro draft, it quickly became clear to me that allocating 50 percent to pitching didn’t solve all the problems. The one problem it did solve is that of pitcher injuries and unreliability, which are one and the same for the most part. Pitchers who stay healthy are reliable, but pitchers get hurt a lot. So while we discount pitching in our draft price, splitting our budgets about 65/35, spending half on pitching for half the points seemed like a good strategy.
But if you do that, I soon realized, you’re going to have to compete in all five pitching categories, and if you do that you’re going to bump into the fact that in a draft you can’t really load up your staff with aces. If you have the first pick and take Steve Carlton by the time you pick again all the other high strikeout, high wins starters will be gone. Drafts, obviously, are different than auctions, so once again we’re not testing the split.
Dumping: A draft is a linear playing field. The difference between the price of each successive pick is the same. But the value of the player pool is not the same. So, when you graph, say, the auction prices in a mixed league and compare it to the line of selections in a similarly configured mixed draft, you’ll see that the value of the first 50 or so picks is higher than the line, while after the third round most picks are under the line.
I prepared by running the available players through my pricing spreadsheet, adjusting for a 12 team mixed league. Absolute prices weren’t important for this exercise, it was a draft, but I tried to jigger the balance between the categories so that I didn’t overvalue low-ERA low-production pitchers. The danger of doing that is because you’re (I) using computed prices for the player’s season. When we’re ranking players prospectively, we don’t price their optimal performance but rather one that’s in the middle of the range of possibilities. Drafting retroactively, you know what Joe Niekro’s optimal performance was worth, but if the value of his ERA and Ratio outstrip Steve Carlton’s monster strikeouts and wins in your formula, are you putting together a roster that can win?
As it turns out, Brian Feldman (fantasybaseballauctioneer.com) led off with Carlton as the first pick. I had the wheel and took Andre Dawson with the 12th pick and Joaquin “Donde Esta Mi Cabeza” Andujar for some reason. Niekro was still there, higher on my sheet, but at that point my sheet was too big, too many columns, and I misread hits allowed for strikeouts in Andujar’s case and typed his name into the sheet. It was fine, they were close enough, but I had already deviated from my pricing.
At the next turn I took Dave Winfield and Goose Gossage, creating my own mini Yankees run which also set off a closer run. But I didn’t really mean to turn this into a play by play. There are a few other points about this exercise.
If you love baseball and play fantasy baseball this is potentially a great way to get together virtually with friends and spend some hours with a new way to play and talk about baseball. Some of us played fantasy baseball in 1982, some of us weren’t even born in 1982, but we all knew how great Robin Yount’s season was, how bad George Foster’s was. There was lots to talk about while selecting teams.
Zoom allowed us to see the excellent drafting spreadsheet that is part of the Mastersball.com package. A handful of us were also on camera, though the demands of keeping up with our lists meant we weren’t watching each other. The rest were on audio feeds, which was filled with banter and reminiscing.
The spreadsheet updated after each pick with revised standings, but we didn’t start checking that (Todd Zola was updating the sheet and he’d have to be asked to show that page) until more than halfway through. If I’d been paying attention to it earlier I would have seen that by not taking Ricky or Timmy or Willie my pursuit of steals was doomed, which would have changed some of my later picks as I vainly pursued the bottom of the steals pack and failed. This came to a head fairly deep in the draft when I selected Dickie Thon’s 37 saves and didn’t make a dent.
Position scarcity is something I didn’t think about in advance and though I was in the lead for a number of the first 20 rounds my team faded at the end. I don’t think that was caused by scarcity because when you know everyone’s value the math tells you the tradeoffs. If you take Gary Carter in the third you’re getting fewer stats than if you take Gary Ward, do you get that back later? You might, but that’s not a sure thing. A properly formed price list would have the exact 168 hitters with the positions necessary to fill 12 team rosters and prices rejiggered to reflect the fact that some of those catchers are of negative value when you price all players. They’re not negative valued when you have to pay for them, the prices have to change.
In the end, Jeff Erickson pulled out to a good lead in the last round, optimizing his categories. I failed at optimizing, wasting value by buying too much average, wasting money on steals, and having too low an ERA and WHIP. We’ll be playing again in a couple of weeks, Jeff picked the 1990 season, and you can be sure we’ll all be paying more attention, not necessarily balancing the categories, but more effectively managing the categories we dump. Or not.
After five years or so playing in Tout Head 2 Head and Tout Mixed Draft, this year I returned to the National League version of Tout Wars, to compete against old friends, joined by some new faces (for me), including Fred Zinkie and Justin Mason.
With Tout Weekend canceled because of the ongoing pandemic crisis, we decided to have the auctions now as scheduled, rather than moving them to nearer the start of the season for two reasons. We knew everyone already had the time blocked now, just the location would be changing, and we figured that while there certainly will be news between now and when the season starts, the player evaluations we’ve done this spring will be just as valid now as in the future. Later we’ll scramble to fix bad luck, or take advantage of good fortune. That’s part of the game.
I haven’t gone back to read all of the auction write ups I’ve done for Tout NL over the years, but I’m afraid (since I’ve never won) that many of them start the same way. My goal was to bargain hunt in the middle range all auction long, but the bargains at the top were too enticing, so I went where the (extra) money was. This year was no different than any other. Here’s what happened.
Ronald Acuna Jr. $44 ($47 value): Some say he’s not an OBP guy, but why not? Sure, he’s no Yelich, who I had valued at $51, but he hits the ball hard, should have a decent average and walk 10 percent of the time. That’s an OBP guy. He also has power and runs. I was very pleased. Yelich, by the way, also went for $44, which was the superior buy. I almost bid $45. Maybe I should have.
Walker Buehler $30 ($29 value): I pressed the +$1 button on the auction site on a $28 bid, but a flaw in the auction software allows a momentarily earlier bid to take precedence and then bump your bid another dollar. That happened here. Buehler came out early enough that I might not have actually bid $30, there were still plenty of other pitchers to be bid on, but at this price a $1 difference is insignificant. $29 is my median value for Buehler, there’s plenty of ways he could beat it. An equal number he could fall short.
Ozzie Albies $27 ($33 value): You know how you have your guys? I don’t know why, but you have your reasons for your guys. Well, I have my guys, and my guys are the players who consistently rank higher than the prices the experts seem to be willing to pay for them. Albies is one of those this year. He has power, he has speed, he will hit for a decent average and while he’s not a base on balls machine, he walked more last year than the year before (and struck out a little less), which may be normal fluctuation but may also be improvement. If he earned $29 last year and $25 the year before and he’s just 23 years old with 1360 plate appearances, why would you expect him not to do just as well again? Maybe it’s the seven percent walk rate. Looking at my value for him, I’ll admit that I’m probably giving him a little too much OBP credit. If he hits .270 instead of .295 he’ll be worth $27 this year, all other stuff being equal. And really, he could also get better. That’s my guy.
Nolan Arenado $35 ($40 value): After buying three of the first 16 players nominated I was determined to hold off, but 15 picks later the bidding stalled on Arenado. I bid $35, expecting to be topped, but I wasn’t. The only thing I can figure here is that folks are scared of a trade. I’m not scared of a trade. First of all, there’s no guarantee he’s going to plotz if he is traded. Sure, he’s been a much better hitter in Colorado than on the road, but it isn’t as if he’s been terrible on the road. Just an ordinary guy hitting .285, which right there isn’t an ordinary guy these days. Plus, he might not be traded. Plus, who knows how trades are going to go in this weird season. So, I’m willing to take something like an eight percent discount on the chance to have the best third baseman in the game. By far.
Will Smith $14 ($14 value): I’m a believer in Will Smith, so paying the ticket price just made sense. Smith wasn’t a top prospect most of the time coming up, but a look at his play through the minors showed plate judgment and growing power. I don’t see any reason why that should stall at this point. Might he be a low-average guy? Could be, but he walks more than nine percent of the time. His OBP may not be big, but for a guy with his power and quantitative stats, he’ll get on base enough to be much better than most catchers.
Wilson Ramos $13 ($17 value): Ramos is another one of my guys. Three-time Tout NL champion Mike Lombardo, who passed away recently, thought having two good catchers was the center of any winning strategy. Don’t overpay, but get good catchers he’d say, because a lot of teams are going to be playing with garbage. The homage wasn’t intentional, but very appropriate.
Reisel Iglesias $13 ($13 value): I hate buying closers, but when you plan on only buying one expensive starter you can’t afford to punt saves. Iglesias wasn’t quite as reliable last year as in the past, but the top-line numbers are more dramatically negative than the underlying ones. As with nearly all closers not called Mariano, pretty much a dart throw at a pretty good strikeout rate.
Yasiel Puig $5 ($3 value): That value is a little bogus. If you figured Puig was 50/50 to play in either AL or NL, he’d have an $11 value in both leagues. But that’s complicated by the fact that he hadn’t signed when ST camp ended. So there’s some chance he won’t play at all in the majors this year. Calling that a 50/50 shot seems fair, which means his real value should have been $5.50. Not a great bargain, but a little one, and if he does land in the NL he should be a great profit center.
Mike Moustakas $22 ($22 value): I was getting nervous about shortstops, that’s why I bought Moustakas (one of my guys) here. The real guy I wanted was Corey Seager, who was the next guy nominated after Puig. He’s another of my guys. He even went cheap, for $21 ($23 value), but I was feeling cash poor and didn’t pull the trigger on $22. 22 picks later I was feeling like I needed another bat, and when I could get Moustakas at my price I took it. He has valuable position flexibility, can cover corner or middle, so I wasn’t jamming myself up, and he’s moving to a good park. Might one be optimistic even?
Dylan Carlson $8 ($8 value): Taking another risky guy boom or bust guy here probably is a mistake. If either of them works out I’ll have a profit, but the chance neither of them will are good enough that a safer choice might have made more sense. But heck, you have to take chances to win, don’t you?
Mike Foltynewicz $12 ($12 value): I was hoping to pick off him or Dinelson Lamet as ($13 value) my No. 2, but I didn’t get to $13 first on Lamet so I settled for Folty. He had a great second half, which coming off injury may or may not mean something. But if he returns to 2018 form and luck I got him at about a 50 percent discount. That’s at the high end, but I think there’s a better than fair chance there’s profit here.
Ender Inciarte $6 ($6 value): There were better outfield bargains, but most cost more. Or I thought would cost more. Inciarte has a low price because he was awful last year while battling injuries and fighting for playing time, but he should play more this year and isn’t that old and gets on base, even if he doesn’t run as much as he did (though I hope he does). And most importantly was not that costly. I have a weird outfield, for sure, that’s really all I can say.
Freddy Galvis $7 ($7 value): Budget limited, I had to let my guy Dansby Swanson go for $17. This is going to happen in NL only, you can’t have great players at every position. Galvis has some power but he doesn’t walk much and his batting average isn’t going to be average, which makes him an OBP liability. On the other hand, he has some power which is more than can be said of the other guys I could have picked up. I had hopes of landing Johan Camargo, who would not get as many at bats but could be a more productive hitter, in the endgame. That didn’t work out, so there is work to do here.
Chris Archer $5 ($7 value): It hasn’t gone well for him in Pittsburgh, but he’s earned $7 the last two years. He strikes out more than a batter an inning. At this price I’m throwing darts.
AJ Pollock $7 ($14 value): Okay, here’s one of those outfield bargains I was talking about earlier. He’s not likely to see 500 plate appearances, but he projects out at $18 of earnings for me. LABR paid $13 and I should probably adjust my bid price down to $10 or so, still he’s a good price for a good player who could play more if there’s an injury or trade. Historically he has no platoon split.
Jon Lester $2 ($4 value): Veteran grit, of course, and he’s earned $12, $16 and $7 the last three years. It could be the end of the line, he’ll be on a short leash, but he’ll also be looking to prove something. That he’s ageless.
Wade Davis $2 ($4 value): A second closer? Maybe. Scott Oberg went for $2 as well, to Tristan Cockcroft. One of us might be right.
Sean Newcomb $2 ($4 value): There’s a reason he’s only $2. He doesn’t have the big strikeout pitch, he’s been better in relief than as a starter. He’s also a good age to make some change that either wins him the starting role or not. The bet here is maybe.
Dominic Smith: I needed a first baseman. I know, I know. Smith has real upside if he can find at bats.
Jose Osuna: Technically $2 because he was on my mind in my first base misery and I clicked +1 when I shouldn’t have. Not as much talent as Smith, and no greater chance to play. A mistake, my mistake.
Brian Dozier: He hit 20 homers last year and he walks a lot. Discounted because his batting averages are bad and he has no path to obvious at bats.
Tony Gonsolin: Talented arm in a crowded rotation. Not a huge strikeout guy, but throws ground balls. Could be Ross Stripling, if only Ross Stripling wasn’t still on the team.
Touki Toussaint: Talented arm in a crowded rotation, was terrible as a starter in Triple-A last year and not much better in relief in the big leagues. But he’s young and he’ll always have 2018.
Of course I like my team!
The bones are good, the talent for the most part young and exciting or middle aged and moving into good situations. The big risks are having no first baseman, three risky outfielders, and a lot of arms with some pedigree, but one or two of the five will have to step up. But it’s a long season, unless it turns out to be a short one, and this is the price to pay for having some top talent.
This is the third year of the Tout Wars Head to Head League and the third new scoring system.
Year one we went with a roto scoring system for 22 head to head contests, and then a real roto scoring standings system for the remaining 36 contests. First place was 12-0, second was 11-1, and so on. It was an interesting idea that earned Jeff Zimmerman a win over Brent Hershey, despite Brent’s better direct H2H record, but it was cumbersome to track in season.
Year two we went with 22 head to head contests, using a variety of roto categories. Vlad Sedler edged out Andrea LaMont on the season. It was fine.
In both the first two years I finished third.
For Year three we’re moving to a traditional points scoring system. The idea has been pushed by Jake Ciely since day one, and the point that finally won the day was this one: More people play head to head points than any other game.
Of course, they don’t play head to head auction, and here is why that matters.
H2H points games are usually run with snake drafts. Teams pick in whatever order they’re assigned, with picks reversing each round. In a points league your goal is to amass the most points, and in a points draft the best player to take is the one you think is going to score the most points. Always.
In an auction, your goal is to buy the most points you can, but there are a variety of ways to get there. You can be creative in how you score your points. The creative approaches teams in the H2H league used this past weekend were two.
1) You could go stars and scrubs, buying expensive players and then filling in with cheap ones at the end. Every team but Clay Link did this, averaging less than three players who went in the teens (Link bought seven such).
2) You could go stars and scrubs, with all your stars pitchers, and spend only $59 on hitters. Only Justin Mason did this.
You can read about Justin’s team here. He basically cracked the code. He zigged in a way that gives him a pretty big advantage over every other team. Week after week. The reason is because in points leagues two-start pitchers generally earn a lot of points in their weeks, and stud pitchers, who go deep into games (like, say, Justin’s Kershaw and Scherzer) earn a lot of points every start. So in any given week pitchers are going to earn a lot of points, giving Justin’s team a win in pitching.
As long as he scores enough hitting points so that he loses hitting by less than he wins pitching by, he’ll go home each week a 6-2 winner. (Each contest gives two wins to the hitting winner, two wins to the pitching winner, and four wins to the overall winner, and corresponding losses.)
Because this is a 12-team league, there are plenty of replacement players out there. Lots of decent hitters on the waiver wire. The rest of us have a lot of work to do.
For my part, I didn’t come up with a very clever way to take advantage of the rules. Having never played in a points league before, I took my projections, converted them to points, and tried to buy the highest scorers. I figured the most expensive players would be a little overpriced, because they didn’t really score that many more points than others, and I went for guys on the next tier. I like my team, who doesn’t like a 12-team league team, but have no idea how to measure it against the others, all of which have a similar mix of costly hitters, costly pitchers and cheap everything else.
I think we’re going to have to play this one out, and hope that Justin doesn’t run away with it early.
C: Sal Perez, Yasmani Grandal
MI: Brian Dozier, Elvis Andrus, Whit Merrifield
CI: Paul Goldschmidt, Josh Donaldson, Eric Hosmer
OF: AJ Pollock, Billy Hamilton, Domingo Santana, Ian Happ, Manny Margot
UT: Yuli Gurriel
SP: Stephen Strasburg, Jake Arrieta, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda
RP: Jeurys Familia, Arodys Vizcaino, Alex Colome
RES: Willie Calhoun, David Robertson, AJ Minter, Amed Rosario, Carlos Rodon, Zach Britton
This is a team that’s probably light in power and innings, that will need a breakout season for Taijuan Walker to push it over the top.
A reader writes: “How would you equate or gauge the Big Price to a 12 man 5X5 mixed league auction with $260. We play keepers too but that’s really not my issue. The Big Number seems to be about right as most other magazines I’ve seen will list auction prices using that format.”
I’ve answered this question before, and published an article showing how to do the math in 2014. Click here to read that.
But before you do that, you may want to read this.
The prices in The Guide are for a 24-team mixed league, and are intended to emulate the pricing of a deep AL and NL only leagues. The reason I don’t publish AL and NL only prices—the leagues are a little different, which makes the values of their stats a little different—is because when we put together the Guide in December there are usually hundreds of free agents out there. We don’t know who is going to be in which league.
The important thing to remember about deep prices is that the value of the stats, be they homers, RBIs, runs, hits, steals, are linear. That means that every home run a batter hits has the same value. Every stolen base has the same value. Et cetera. The reason for this is because the vast majority of stats that are produced in the whichever league one is playing in are counted in your roto standings. The replacement level is pretty close to nil for any stat category.
In a 12-team mixed league, you’re playing with just 12 of baseball’s 30 teams. You’re only using the half the available stats overall, roughly (this varies by category). This means that a player has to hit a bunch of homers before those homers have any value. And if he doesn’t hit them, there will someone available for free who will.
What this means, practically, is that in a AL or NL only league, the last player taken costs $1. And in a 12 team mixed league the last player taken cost $1. But the last player taken in the mixed league would have cost about $13 in the only league. The chart below shows the prices for players taken in a 15-team mixed auction, likely Tout Wars in 2016, from most expensive to least.
The thing to notice is that the graph goes pretty straight at about the 50th player taken, which supports the observation that after the third round in a mixed draft the players in each round are pretty interchangeable. No matter who someone takes, there’s another player like him still available. But this isn’t so among the best players. They are not interchangeable, and their value drops quickly, as the left side of the graph shows.
When someone takes Mike Trout, there isn’t another Mike Trout out there. There is Jose Altuve, but when he’s gone there isn’t someone similar. By the time you get to the sixth or seventh player the options are not nearly as appealing as the early choices were. In a draft, the compensation is the earlier pick in the next round. In an auction there is no compensation. Those irreplaceable players can only go to the person who pays for them, and that drives their prices up. Hence the steep curve in the graph showing the prices of the best players.
This situation is even more extreme in a 12-team league than a 15-team league. The bottom line is that if you convert the magazine prices to your mixed league size, it is important that you then reallocate money from the least expensive end of the list to the most expensive end, so that you have realistic prices for the Trouts, Turners, and Scherzers in your game.
Your draft day goal is to have a list that shows the prices you’re willing to pay for each available player, and have that add up to the amount of money available in your auction.
You don’t have to buy those most expensive players. In this year’s Guide, Tout Mixed Auction 2017 winner Jeff Zimmerman talks about how the prices for the top guys in that auction were overinflated. He complains that people always inflate the prices of the top guys in mixed auctions, as if that’s a mistake. I think Jeff is such a numbers guy that he only looks at what people earned to determine their price, and from his success you can see that his price list can work. But I think his list worked in spite of his error, rather than because of it.
The 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.
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.
The setup: 12 team 5×5 head to head auction. Cats: BA, R, HR, RBI, Net Steals, Quality Starts + Wins, ERA, K/9, WHIP, Net Saves.
There are 22 periods, so each team plays each other team twice. Most are one week, but four are two weeks, so that all 26 weeks are included. There are also three Roto scoring periods (first 13 weeks/last 13 weeks/all 26 weeks), after each of which the team that finishes first goes 12-0, next team is 11-1, and so on until the last place team is 0-12 (no team finishes 6-6, so there are 12 outcomes). Each half season has a minimum innings requirement of 475, while the full season is 950, just like the other Tout leagues. There is no weekly minimum IP.
The first thing I did to prepare was run straight prices using the 10 categories, as if it was a Roto league. What the numbers said was that three hitters towered above everyone else, both hitters and pitchers. You don’t need me to name them. And one pitcher, who also doesn’t need to be named, ranked far above all the others. What was surprising to me, at least a little, was how many hitters had higher prices than that pitcher.
I decided on a few strategic approaches:
This is a 12 team mixed league. I know that the top players, the players without peer, go for more than their projected value. I was going to price enforce on these sorts of players. I didn’t want to overspend to acquire them, but I wasn’t afraid of paying a good bit to buy them. And I would pay a premium for Clayton Kershaw, who I was sure would go some bit higher than the $33 the program had him at.
This is a head to head league, and it was important to load up on Steals and Saves.
I was not going to roster innings eater type starters who have average or worse K/9 ratios.
The roto component represents 36 of the 168 total points (21 percent), and can’t be ignored. Assuming other teams are trying to find six good categories, and ignoring five, I resolved to be as strong overall as possible across the board, and try to build flexible management into the reserve roster. I wasn’t afraid of Stars and Scrubs in this context, because there are everyday players available in the endgame, and replacements on waivers if someone gets hurt.
How did it go?
Starting pitching went for much more than my pricing model showed. I think this has to be a result of adjustments owners made to reach the IP limit that my model didn’t have programmed in. Kershaw came out early, and I bid him into the high $30s, but he busted into the $40s and I dropped out. I hadn’t yet figured out the impact of the IP limit, and feared that alternative aces, while not as good, might go a good deal cheaper. They went for less than Kershaw, but at a decided premium over my expected prices for starters, who really contribute only in QS+W and IP.
The rush to starting pitching had to take it’s money from somewhere, and that turned out to be mostly relief pitching, and steals. A few owners charged in on top closers, like Kenley Jansen and Wade Davis, but soon after the market collapsed, and we all picked up cheap closers.
The top hitters all went for their straight line prices or better, except for the two stars I bought. That is, they cost as much or more as the value of their projected stats. Since I know the top guys are worth more than their projected stats, I picked off players who were costing less than their projected earnings (which made them good bargains), which is how I ended up with Mike Trout and Paul Goldschmidt.
C: Yasmani Grandal $12. He has some power and gets on base a lot, which makes him a fine choice in an OBP league. He has battled forearm issues all spring, but has had about 440 plate appearances each of the last two years, so there is hope he’ll get over it.
C: Yan Gomes $4. I waited and waited, out of money for a long time, and then went on a streak picking up $4 players. Gomes was one of those. He’s the opposite of Grandal, and will have a poor to ghastly OBP. But he has 20+ homer potential if healthy, and he is healthy right now.
1B: Paul Goldschmidt $47. He was on my sheet at $54, so this feels like a bargain. The fact that Anthony Rizzo also went for $47 makes Goldy feel even cheaper.
3B: Manny Machado $37. In my pregame planning, I’d focused on guys I saw priced in the high $30s, like Machado and Kris Bryant, George Springer and Starling Marte. When Machado didn’t reach his price, I plucked him. There are some solid third basemen down the list, but also quite a few problematic ones. Getting the best, a mere child coming off a massive season, is a treat. Also, OBP hounds, like Machado and Goldschmidt, help offset a guy like Gomes.
CI: Chris Carter $2. His bad contact skills makes him problematic, but he will take walks and hit homers if he can figure out a way to get on the field again. Milwaukee is a team that should be ripe for opportunities, and $2 didn’t cost me elsewhere. If he flounders or loses his job, there will be someone else out there, maybe someone on my reserve.
2B: Dee Gordon $22. No, I don’t believe he’ll hit .333 again. No one does. But given his speed and contact skills he could hit .300. That doesn’t make him a big OBP contributor, but he shouldn’t hurt too badly. Of more concern are all the caught stealings. He’s not that efficient, but if he nets out at 40 or so I think I can live with that at this price.
SS: Brad Miller $3. With a Stars and Scrubs approach, you inevitably have some scrubs. The idea is get ones who have some potential to be really helpful, to ideally bloom on your watch. Miller isn’t a star about to bust out, but he should be a regular presence on the field who hits some homers and takes some walks, plus he will steal a few bases.
MI: Daniel Murphy $2. Another scrub, and one to monitor closely. He usually doesn’t have a lot of homer power or speed, doubles are his game, and he doesn’t walk as much as you would like. Probably fine as a fill in in the odd week, I hope he doesn’t end up spending too much time on my active roster, unless he plans on hitting a homer every day.
OF: Mike Trout $49. He was on my sheet at $51, and, as with Goldschmidt, I would have gladly taken him there or a few bucks higher. That’s the way to play it in shallow mixed leagues. I’m of two minds about whether I would like him to run more again. First mind says, sure! Load up on steals! Other mind says stop sliding headfirst! Stop running, hit more homers!
OF: Jay Bruce $4. This is where one pays for buying superstars. Bruce’s bad average and refusal to go the other way against the shift makes his okay walk rate a little dicey. I’m hoping that he figures things out, a way to compromise between his powerful younger self and his stubbornness of late, since there used to be a power hitter in there. In any case, rooting for a rebound, without a ton of confidence, and will be looking for a replacement. Now.
OF: Wil Myers $4. I had him targeted. He’s post hype at this point, and coming off tough wrist injuries. He could, to be honest, once again disappoint, but what if he gets healthy and reaches some part of his potential? We’re waiting, hoping, praying.
OF: Ender Inciarte $2. Waiting, waiting, gone. I didn’t think he’d come to me at $2, but no one raised, so here he is. The price justifies the buy, really. He’s a contact hitter with good wheels. He may not play against lefties, and that will be a good reason to check matchups closely each week, but at this price he should be a good contributor most weeks. At the same time, I’m hoping I end up not needing him.
OF: Jorge Soler $7. I had a couple of options at this price. Billy Hamilton went for $7 (steals were devalued generally), as did Billy Burns and Delino Deshields. I was looking for power, however, and those prices didn’t fall quite so much. There are some issues with Soler. He was fine last year, but not the explosive breakout the Cubs had hoped for. He’s now in a crowded situation and could platoon with Kyle Schwarber, not because he’s shown weakness either way, but because Schawarber may, and both need to play some. My feeling is that last year’s learning turns into this year’s realization, if the chances come his way. They may not.
UT: Nick Castellanos $2. He’s another young guy who has shown he can hit in the majors, but not yet at the level and with the power that was expected of him. Unlike Soler, he has a line on playing time. He’ll take a walk and I hope he hits more homers, but even if the power doesn’t erupt this yeara he should contribute solid production at a bargain basement price.
P: Jake Arrieta $28. I kept waiting for the price of one of the top line pitchers to drop, but none did. Arrieta was the last one out and he cost just as much as all the rest of them. I’m as happy to have him as any of them, he outearned Kershaw last year, but I would have preferred a little cheaper.
P: Jonathan Papelbon $6. I called him out at $6 and Paul Sporer said in a low voice, “$5.” The room cracked up and nobody had the nerve (or perhaps desire) to bump him. Crickets. Fine by me. He’s not a big strikeout guy anymore, but he’s got the job, it seems, and will earn saves as he has every year since forever. And he does strike guys out.
P: Taijuan Walker $3. He was a target for me because his numbers last year didn’t look that good, but he pitched much better after a rugged start to the season, is young and I would expect him to grow up to be the pitcher he was always expected to be. Maybe this year. He has a pretty good chance to break out, if he can keep the ball in the yard better.
P: David Robertson $11. I had him as the fifth best reliever, The ones ahead of him went for $20, $25, $17, and $8. Oops. Melancon was the $8 buy, and was perhaps punished for having a below-average K/9 and chatter that his job is not secure. Robertson’s job is secure and his ERA last year appears to be inflated by a less than normal strand rate. Now, that could be his fault, but since his velocity and control seem to be undiminished, I look for him to bounce back.
P: Trevor Rosenthal $8. Here’s my counterpart to Melancon, with many more strikeouts. He reined in some of his wildness, and the strikeout punch is still there. Looks like I have three closers.
P: Shelby Miller $2. Last year’s most unlucky breakout returns this year in a worse situation for a pitcher because of Chase Field, his new home. Chase is a bit of a help to lefty hitters and Miller has struggled slightly against lefties, but he has also been strong against righties throughout his career, and last year Chase played tough for righties. He probably won’t have quite as good an ERA this year, but he’s going to win more games. I’m sure of that.
P: Kevin Gausman $3. He has electric stuff at times, and hasn’t always known what to do with it, which has led to too many homers and too many runs. But he’s still learning his trade. More worrisome is shoulder tightness, which emerged on Sunday, after I bought him. He’s the former phenom most dissed this year, for not showing obvious improvement last year after a promising 2014. I see the electric stuff and say, I hope he figures out how to use it this year. There’s a pretty fair chance he will.
P. Brandon Finnegan $1. He showed flashes of dominance and vulnerability in his less than 50 innings in the majors last year, so he represents another flyer with upside potential. The biggest problem for him is his team, which isn’t very good and isn’t likely to get better this year. And his home ballpark is not a friendly one for pitchers, 12 percent more runs are scored there than the average NL park. There’s a good chance this pickup is a year early, but for $1 there’s a big payoff if the timing turns out to be right.
P. Hunter Strickland $1. I’ve been talking about him all winter as a breakout closer in San Francisco, if Santiago Casilla reverts to form (becomes an effective short man in the seventh and eighth innings) and the team prefers Sergio Romo in the eighth, where he has been brilliant most of his career (and very much so in the second half last year, after struggling early). Even if that doesn’t happen he should strike out lots of guys and serve as a replacement during certain weeks when other pitchers have tough matchups.
Reserve: Eddie Rosario. He’s not a huge guy, but the ball jumps off his bat and he’s fast. He makes decent contact, but doesn’t walk enough to help in OBP, which is why he lasted to the reserve round. Since his drug of abuse suspension a while back he’s make solid and consistent strides forward as a player. Here’s hoping that continues.
Reserve: Wilmer Flores. Power-hitting middle infielder who may start the year as the starter because Asdrubal Cabrera is hurt. But Cabrera will likely get healthy, and Flores isn’t a great defensive shortstop anyway. But perhaps more importantly he’s also the backup third baseman, behind the deteriorating David Wright. Not enough walks to use every week, probably, but potentially a lot more valuable with a change in role.
Reserve: Trea Turner. Speedy shortstop was expected to start the season with the Nats until they signed Daniel Murphy to play a position Murphy isn’t very good at, second base, and then hired the youth-phobic Dusty Baker to manage the team. Thus, Turner lasted to the third reserve round. High upside pick, but could end up in the minors for most of the year, too.
Reserve: Jared Eickhoff. He looked very solid in about 50 innings last summer for the Phillies, far better than he had at Triple-A Round Rock before his trade from the Rangers (for Cole Hamels). He wasn’t expected to be an ace, but he starts the season in the rotation coming off that excellent major league stint. He’s got a chance to contribute to my team, because the strikeouts are there.
Reserve: Jesse Hahn. Was pretty solid until he was shut down in August with forearm and shoulder tightness. He says he’s scrapping the slider and will go with more change ups, which could make him a better pitcher or could turn him into a batting practice pitcher. I’m not worried, he’s on reserve.
Reserve: Matt Adams. For now, he’s my power-hitting alternative to Chris Carter and Nick Castellanos. He has to fight his way through a crowd, but don’t expect him to gather any moss.
How is this team? I really have no idea. I haven’t played a 12-team mixed in 13 years, and mocks don’t count for this.
I like my power, like my youth, think I have speed but that’s all relative (meaning it may not be enough), have lots of potential power pitching and good relievers. I look at my opponents and I’m glad that they don’t have Trout, Goldschmidt and Machado, nor Gordon, but they all have some talented players.
It’s nice to see Tristan Cockcroft (with trophy) enjoying himself.
I had one plan going into this year’s auction. If I was to land either Aroldis Chapman or Craig Kimbrel, I would eschew an ace, buy one aspiring ace and then fill in with all the attractive young NL starters available near the end.
On the hitting side, I ticked all the OBP guys up a buck and the anti-OBP guys down a buck, rather than fully price in the OBP difference. The reason was my observation last year that buying OBP won me the category, but cost me a bit in countables. My goal was to be cognizant of OBP, but to buy homers and RBI foremost and scramble later.
The auction opened with four straight pitcher nominations, and then—with just a few exceptions—a heavy stream of the game’s best players. The pace was brisk and I bought the players who came in well under my bid prices. This landed me Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Braun in the early part of the game, as well as Craig Kimbrel.
Shortly thereafter, Troy Tulowitzki and Buster Posey joined Team Rotoman, and when the bidding stalled at $26 later on Anthony Rendon, I had to bid, and once again I was playing Stars and Scrubs style, as I did last year to disastrous second-half results.
The thing about last year’s first half was it showed the power of Stars and Scrubs. My guys were in second place late in June, even though I’d lost Joey Votto for a month. The second half, when six of my seven 20+ guys did DL time, was the flip side. Once I started sliding the only thing that stopped me was the end of the season.
The problem is that prices in this league at the top end are usually a touch soft. Not a lot soft, but a buck or two on each of the Top 50 hitters adds up to $75 or $100 that later gets redistributed to the attractive players later on. If you don’t spend early, you spend late.
The problem is that if you spend your money early on the chalk, and add all those big players, the teams with a little more scratch pick off the attractive endgame buys. On the pitching side, the guys I wanted for four were going for five, the guys I wanted for three went for four, and so on. Which is how one ends up with perhaps the least appealing pitching staff of all time.
And I’m not bummed out about that. But it surely didn’t go the way I hoped. Here’s a chart to see the problem:
Pitchers who cost $20 or more whose draft price differed by $2 or more from my expected price:
There were 11 pitchers priced $20 or above. Five were more or less dead on. Five were off by two bucks, and one was off by $3. Nobody got a great deal here, but as a group the 11 cost $8 less than expected.
There are 19 in this group. Eight were more or less dead on. Only one was within $2. Only five were within $3. As a group, bidding exceeded my bid prices by $12.
Alas, this was the group from which I hoped to walk away with Matt Cain and either Mike Fiers or Lance Lynn and, I hoped Shelby Miller. Lynn blew up, but I guess I blew it on Fiers. He had the biggest discount other than Cain in the group and I can only think my bankroll was so depleted at that point that I simply couldn’t buy him. But from this side of the ledger I absolutely had to. Too late.
I should point out that there is operator error here. In the next group, of $5-$9 pitchers, I had Homer Bailey at $7 even though he went for $11 in LABR. His $12 on Sunday was aggressive, but not crazy.
In that same group, I wanted Jenry Mejia ($9 $8), Kyle Lohse ($8 $7–I got beat to $7 and couldn’t real afford it, much less $8), Kyle Hendricks ($7 $6), Wily Peralta ($7 $9), Jimmy Nelson ($6 $6) and Carlos Martinez ($5 $8).
I know this recitation is dry as toast, but the point here is sweet as salty butter. This group doesn’t spend on the big pitchers, but only by a little, and uses their savings to pay for the cheaper guys with upside. Not outrageously, but just enough for a small bankrolled guy (like me) to lose out on every one.
This was my decision, based on my evaluation that it would be better to have Martin Prado rather than one of those mid-level pitchers. That’s not a sure thing, but it is a fairly sure thing that I will have more opportunities to find pitching help during the season than hitting help.
So, I stuck to my values, wherever they might take me, and I’ll try to fix the team composition in season. That is always part of the process. The game is rarely won in the auction. What I have now is a nice group of hitters, one and a half comeback pitchers, a fair amount of saves and closer strikeouts, and a budding closer in waiting behind two injured relievers.
There is work to be done.
Here’s my team with Bid Price and Cost:
Buster Posey $27 $27
Yasmani Grandal $12 $13 (paid extra because he’s a 1B, too)
Sean Rodriguez $1 $1
C. Johnson $12 $7
Martin Prado $15 $15
Anthony Rendon $29 $27
Troy Tulowitzki $31 $29
Alberto Callaspo $4 $3
Andrew McCutchen $43 $39
Ryan Braun $34 $30
Gerardo Parra $5 $3
Melvin Upton $8 $4
Will Venable $4 $3
Nate McLouth $3 $1
Matt Cain $12 $8
Jose Fernandez $10 $9
Tom Kohler $1 $2
Mike Minor $4 $2
Tsuyoshi Wada $3 $1
Evan Marshall $1 $2
Bobby Parnell $3 $5 (thought he was worth more to pair with Mejia)
Jenry Mejia $9 $8
Craig Kimbrel $22 $21
That’s a net positive of $33, if anyone’s counting. It may not be pretty, but there are pieces here to work with.
5X5 , NL only, 10 team auction league. Have rule where we can keep toppers and at draft can keep them if we bid one more dollar where bidding stops. Am thinking about punting HRs and RBIs.
Have Grenke, Wainwright, Bumgarner, A.Wood, Wacha, all as toppers. Have deGrom at $10, Melencon at $5, Cishek at $17, and hitters Span, Revere, Carpenter, D. Murphy, J. Upton, Polonco, E. Young all as toppers. Suggestions on punting HRs and RBIs and are toppers worth keeping?
I have one point. Toppers are fun, but they are almost never bargains.
The process of topping in your league turns a 10-team auction into a nine-team auction. That should make little difference, if any, on the prices paid for players in your auction.
This is important because it means you should not plan your auction strategy around your Topper list. Feel to hold onto as many Toppers as you’re allowed. Sometimes the bidding will stop early and you’ll save a buck or two, but more often, at least in the leagues I play in, someone else will bid the extra dollar, knowing that it makes the Topping decision that much harder.
It is your keepers that should determine your how you approach your auction.
deGrom at $10 is a decent keep. Melancon at $5 is a very good one. Cishek at $17 is keepable, but he’s no bargain. Your strength going into auction is that you won’t need to buy any saves.
Your weakness is that you’re going to have to buy everything else. Which brings us to your second question: Should you dump power? Or, as we say, should you Sweeney?
The decision to dump one category, much less two, is predicated on the competitiveness of your league. In a league where all the teams are relatively equal, the expected total points of the winning team will be relatively modest. In that case, dumping may be a way gain an advantage. Win the eight categories other than HR and RBI, you end up with 82 points, which can win a competitive league.
Is that the situation in your league? There’s no way I can know that.
What I can say for sure is that the best time to Sweeney is when you have great closer keepers, and an otherwise weak hand. That’s you, though I would say your closer keepers are just okay, since Cishek is at market value. Still, that’s a fair place to start.
The Sweeney Plan was invented in a 4×4 league. It is very hard to dump HR and RBI and win the Runs category. Here’s why:
Carpenter, Span, Reyes and Yelich didn’t hit that many homers, but they didn’t score that many runs either, compared to the leaders. Nine of the top 11 positions in this list of major league runs leaders went to guys who get paid to hit homers.
Fantasy experts generally say, Never dump a category in the auction! Never!
I’m a little less doctrinaire than that. There are times it makes sense to face reality before you auction. But I’m not sure it ever makes sense to Sweeney in the auction in 5×5, at least if you are trying to win. There’s just too thin a margin for error for the Sweeney to make sense.
Since your team is wide open, since your keeper list is weak, it makes sense for you to look for a competitive edge. I would suggest deemphasizing batting average. Not dumping, exactly, but disregarding BA as a category when you’re evaluating players.
Try to accumulate as many at bats as you can, getting regulars at every hitting slot. In your league, look for top of the lineup types who aren’t stars, obviously.
You’ll still have a tough road ahead. I’m sure you have competitors with much better freeze lists going in. But if you are able to buy enough at bats and a couple of those guys have career years, especially with the batting average, well, ya never know.
I had the two highest bids in Tout Wars this week. $8 each for the Mets Eric Campbell and the Diamondbacks Chase Anderson. I would be lying to you if I said that either were close to my radar on Friday, so I thought it might be helpful lay out some of the reasons for going after these two. You can find Mastersball.com’s analysis of all the FAAB moves here.
First off, I went with a Stars and Scrubs team in Tout Wars, and my team is currently very near the bottom of the standings. Why? Because I’m not getting enough at bats. The injury to Ryan Zimmerman has cost me perhaps 100 at bats, and even with those I would be last in the league in PA. This is a huge burden which has come about because once productive part timers like Gregor Blanco and Nate McLouth and Ryan Doumit have been nearly shut out this season. This is my own fault, the risk with the strategy, the curse of the $3 players.
It also calls for aggressive action.
So, I’m looking for hitters. This week the other options were Josh Harrison, Tyler Colvin, and Joaquin Arias. I had $2 on Harrison as my backup if I didn’t get Campbell, but it seemed to me that Campbell was the belle of this ball. The Mets sent downÂ Josh Satin and might (emphasis, might) give Campbell some AB. They might also send him back to Las Vegas,Â since Lucas Duda is once again healthy.
Campbell was hitting .355 in Las Vegas, which has a major league equivalency of about .260. I’ll take it, if he plays. He’s shown a little power and a little speed and he was replacing Stephen Souza, who had alreadyÂ returned to the minors, so the bar wasÂ as low as can be. I’m not looking for a home run here, but our $100 FAAB budgets in Tout can be used for home run swings and for picking off the best available guys each week and hoping you find a keeper. That’s what this play was.
Phil Hertz bid $4, so I ended up paying $5 for Campbell because of our Vickrey auction system.
In Vickrey, the team with the highest bid wins the auction, but pays $1 more than the second highest bid. Â I bid $8 on Anderson because I was willing to pay that for a minor league pitcher who was showing extraordinary control, decent power, and had a solid major league debut on Sunday. He allowed one run in 5.3Â innings, with one walk and six strikeouts.
Last year and this year Anderson has looked brilliant in Double-A. Last year in Triple-A he got killed, in the PCL, for 60 innings. Anderson is not a top prospect. He threw 92 yesterday, tops, and showed a curve and a change. He had a good outcome andÂ may not get another chance this week because the White Sox have two days off.
I bid $8 thinking I might be outbid, but I wasn’t. No other money was bid, and Anderson cost me a $1. I’ll take it.
There is much to be afraid of looking at his 2013 Triple-A results, but pitching in the PCL and failing is not necessarily an indication that a pitcher is doomed. The parks are small, at altitude and in the desert’s dry air. It is a league that punishes pitchers, and sometimes that isn’t fair.
Whether or not it’s fair to Chase Anderson there is no way to know. We do know he wasn’t a top prospect, he’s not a power pitcher, he throws strikes, has good control, and even last year in the PCL wasn’t a homer monkey (though he did allow more than one per nine innings).
I have a staff that isn’t doing too badly, all things considered. This week I felt I had to get rid of Carlos Torres, who got me a save early but who has not been sharp lately, often pitching in the sixth inning. Auditioning another arm is worth the risk of spending $8 and monitoring closely. Between Anderson and Campbell it would be very helpful to catch some lightning in a bottle, but not crippling if neither pans out.
I love the weekly FAAB process. It is a little mini-auction, a chance to weigh risk and reward and do the right thing. At least sometimes.