Let Me Count The Ways.

Screenshot 2014-03-24 10.38.34 In my prep for Tout Wars this year, the biggest question was what sort of impact the switch to On Base Percentage from Batting Average was going to have.

After all, we have years of creating player values based on BA and some players change value quite a lot–up and down–with the change. Mike Gianella said he didn’t think prices would change much, while my research showed that players who walked a lot saw a big increase in value. Why wouldn’t prices go up? Especially since a player’s walk rate is relatively predictable compared to batting average.

I decided to price the top OBP guys a step lower than my calculated price for them using OBP, deciding to buy whoever I was able to buy under my listed price. The idea being that I would buy bargains, and if guys like Joey Votto and Andrew McCutchen didn’t get the full bump up in price they logically should have, then they represented real bargains.

That is what happened.


Early in the draft, I just kept buying. Votto came out first. I had him on my sheet at $39, but he was the player with the biggest OBP value because of his incredible eye. I bid $38 and won him. We were off. ($paid/$budget)

Joey Votto, $38/$39. The premier OBP player. I couldn’t let him go to someone else for $37. I couldn’t. And maybe he’ll have a few more runners in scoring position, if the $22 Billy Hamilton proves a bargain.

Andrew McCutchen, $38/$40. The premier OBP outfielder. Remember, I considered these bid prices to be fairly conservative.

Hanley Ramirez, $30/$36. Big OBP boost, yet he went for his 5x5BA price. The big thing is he’s one of 10 good shortstops.

Troy Tulowitzki, $30/$36. I was ecstatic about adding the top two shortstops, both with no bump up of price for their good OBP skills. Each brings a certain amount of injury risk and a certain amount of ability to produce big numbers in limited playing time.

Madison Bumgarner, $25/$26. The pitching prices were pretty fair. My plan was to buy one ace or maybe two near aces. I did not want to get caught up buying midlevel guys. Buy a closer, and then round out the rotation and the reserve list with <$5 guys. I chose Bumgarner, though when Jordan Zimmermann went for $18 I regretted not taking him and Matt Cain, who went for $20. Those were the two best bargains by my lights. But that would have driven up my pitching budget a little. My goal was to spend as little on pitching as I could get away with, and use the extra dough for hitting.

Ryan Zimmerman, $24/$30. I was kicking myself for letting David Wright go at $29 (I had him at $33), but I decided I couldn’t buy them all. Still, that was an excellent price. But I also knew that after Wright and Zimmerman the NL third basemen are a motley group. Who is Chase Headley? How long can Aramis Ramirez last? Is Pablo Sandoval going to show up? Can Pedro Alvarez make enough contact? There are a few guys eligible at both second and third, like Martin Prado and Matt Carpenter, who are less dicey if not much more talented. And that’s it. The bidding on Zimmerman made it easy. He went for his BA price, but he’s a OBP contributor.

Martin Prado, $22/$23. At this point I didn’t need Martin Prado necessarily, but I did need a second baseman, and I liked that Prado qualified at both second and third. But I didn’t really think I was getting him. Usually the bidding moves quickly until it slows, and then it inches forward a few more dollars. In this case, there was a flurry and didn’t expect my bid to stand, but suddenly the room went quiet.

Yasmani Grandal, $10/$11. We really don’t know what Grandal can be, because of the injuries and drug suspensions, but we do know he’ll take a base on balls. Catcher is a position that drops off so suddenly that I prefer to not scrape the bottom of the barrel (though that works sometimes). I had identified Grandal as a guy with a strong OBP, which should be a plus even if he doesn’t play as much as I hope he does.

Ryan Doumit, $7/$9. He should play regularly, has some power, and was relatively inexpensive. Only a star in comparison to my scrubs.

Rafael Soriano, $13/$13. I never used to buy closers because I thought they were overpriced, which works out great if you’re able to pick off one of the closers that emerge early in the year. But if you miss out on that, not buying a closer means that if any other category becomes an issue, you’re suddenly tanking two, which is not a very comfortable position to be in. So last year I bought a closer, but Kyuji Fujikawa fell apart shortly after gaining the role. I’m hoping Soriano fares better. He’s certainly better established, though he struggled at times last year.


Nate McLouth, $5/$11. His batting average hurts you in the BA game, but in OBP his value increases. He set a career high in steals last year, but is devalued because he’s getting older. I’m hoping for 450 at bats, with some homers. I’ve seen projections for 250 AB, but why sign him for two years if that’s the expectation? At this price, he fit my team.

Gregor Blanco, $2/$8. He doesn’t have much power, but he runs and he takes walks, so whatever his batting average he contributes. Like McLouth, he’s not a regular but should fill in regularly and put up 400 at bats or so.

Brian Bogusevic, $1/$1. He bats lefty, and could get a fair amount of play until Marcel Ozuna is called up. He has a little power and speed, and I certainly hope I can improve on him soon.

Derek Dietrich, $1/$4. Earlier last week I mocked him. He doesn’t have the contact skills to hit for a high average, but he does have some power and, more importantly, he seems to be ahead of Donovan Solano on the Marlins’ depth chart backing up Rafael Furcal. What I wasn’t aware of was that he took a ball in the face last week and suffered a fracture, which will have him wearing a plastic face guard for some time.

Kris Bryant, $1/R1. I’m not convinced he’s going to hit, at least not at first, but he was the blue chip third base prospect available in dollar days. There will be some guys available on waivers to replace him. The biggest issue is that I also took a minor league pitcher as Swingman, and with four reserve slots it will be a challenge to manage this productively.


Wily Peralta, $4/$5. Hard-throwing sinkerballer hasn’t put it together yet, which is why he was available for $4. At this part of the auction I was looking for arms that might get a fair number of innings with some potential to break out or surprise a little. If Peralta realizes a bit of his potential he’ll be a big plus for my team.

Tanner Roark, $3/$7. This was a tough situation. I really wanted Jenry Mejia, but I had no way to gauge the temperature of the room. I had Roark ranked similarly, which was high enough to expect half a year of solid pitching with questions about his role to start the season. He’s had a good spring, and I’m hoping to hit with all my lottery tickets.

Vic Black, $2/$2. A good young arm is the likely Closer in Waiting to Bobby Parnell. This was off plan, but seemed like a good bet despite his bad spring.

Jake Arrieta, $1/$4. My AL-only friends will tell you how long I’ve been waiting on Arrieta. He pitched pretty well once he landed in Chicago and the National League last year, but was cheap because there isn’t a clear rotation slot for him.

Edwin Jackson, $1/$2. His FIP has been below 4.00 forever, while the ERA bounced around. Not an elite strikeout guy, but good enough to earn some profits.

Freddy Garcia, $1/$1. There really isn’t much justification for this pick here, except that he pitched well in short spurts last year, especially in the NL, and has a shot at the rotation in Atlanta to start the season. But realistically he’s a placeholder, especially since he was released while I was writing this.

Paul Maholm, $1/$1. Another back of the rotation veteran starter, though he has the first third of an inning pitched for my team in relief, down under, and has delivered a 0.00 ERA. Obviously, I hope one of these three veterans comes through.

Andrew Heaney, $1/Res. High upside arm, will start the year in the minors. It’s going to be hard to hang onto him and Kris Bryant on reserve, as I try to improve me team, but after a good spring, he’s a fair shot at a callup in June. He’s got great stuff and could succeed immediately.


Arodys Vizcaino. Another great arm, he’s coming back from TJ two years ago and is almost ready.

Will Smith. I love his arm and he showed last year that he can pitch, at least out of the pen. Not sure about the role going forward, but he’ll throw lots of strikeouts and has the potential to push himself forward.

A.J. Cole. He was brilliant in Double-A last year, and it’s hard to see a clear line to the majors right now, but he’s a big mature-for-his-age talent.

Tyler Colvin. I circled Pedro Strop on my sheet, but when it was my turn I called Colvin. He’s really a bad player, but both times I’ve had him he’s been a big money maker. A bad player having a bad spring is not an inspiration, but rarely is a fourth round reserve an inspiration.


It’s hard not to like all those stars, and while it wasn’t my plan to buy them all, I did go in aware that this might happen.

And I’m not unhappy with the outfielders. They are a serviceable lot considering the strength of my middle infield.

The challenge will be to convert the “undervalued” OBP into counting stats and at bats, plus improving the pitching staff. If one or two of these guys doesn’t end up pitching well, I’m going to have to find some value out there by trade or FAAB.

In other words, I have a valuable and solid foundation, but there is a lot of work to do to get the structure built.

LINK: Tout Wars Mixed Draft Results

A spreadsheet of the draft results and eventually, hopefully, transcripts of the chat room, are available at http://www.toutwars.com/?p=2446.

Thoughts about LABR 2014.

I looked at the AL LABR results and had a sense of deja vu all over again. Hitters were expensive, top pitchers were cheap, and some midlevel aspirational pitchers got bid up beyond their risk level because they throw strikeouts or have yet to prove vulnerable or both. I’m looking at Danny Salazar, Sonny Gray, Alex Cobb and Dan Straily, who Steve Gardner cites in his roundup at usatoday.com.

What’s interesting about this Groundhog’s Day expert league auction experience is that there is not a surefire counter to it. Try to beat it on values and you end up with too many pitchers. Adjust your values properly (this year the AL split 69/31, the modern classic split, after going 71/29 last year), and you squeak out a nice-looking but uninspiring team, as Larry Schechter did.

Larry’s potential downfall is a pitching staff that lacks a clear standout starter. I like all his pitchers and their prices, but when David Price is $23 you need to keep pushing. It sounds like I’m blaming Larry here, and I’m not. Just saying that if David Price is $23 then Masuhiro Tanaka should be $13, not $19. But the real thing is that Price should be more, and it’s a mistake he isn’t.

But that AL mistake is a common one, and reflects everyone’s wariness about pitching (except when they’re excited about a shiny new toy, like Salazar, or able to push up his price because there is unspent money). In the NL LABR auction, Gardner chronicles the air coming out of the top tier hitters as well as pitchers. Cargo was the top price at $36.

At the end of his story, Steve points out that there are three new owners in the league, as a way of perhaps explaining this bizarre turn, which made me think about the decline of auction fantasy. With more people playing mixed leagues and daily games, the hands-on familiarity of the auction is diminished. But the LABR NL field, it turns out, is full of grizzled veterans of rotisserie play. These guys didn’t just hop over from a Yahoo league. So what happened?

I made two charts to show where the money went. The first shows, from left to right in descending order, what was spent for each pitcher in each league and each hitter in each league. If you want to see it larger you can click on the image.

Screenshot 2014-03-05 12.33.29The chart shows that the highest priced pitcher in the NL cost much more than the highest priced pitcher in the AL, but the NL was outspent on pitchers who cost from $27 down to about $10. The NL spent more in the high single numbers, the AL a bit more in the low singles.

In hitting the AL clearly outspends the NL on hitters above $27 and is clearly outspent on hitters from $22 down to $15 (the prices are the y axis). The NL then crushes the AL between $8 and $3.

Another way of looking at it is to line the grafs up so they show cumulative money spent starting with the highest priced player and adding on down to the lowest priced player. The chart moves from left to right. You can click it to see a larger version.

Screenshot 2014-03-05 12.39.33To give you an idea of the difference in the two streams, at the $500 mark, where the AL it seems to be most outspending the NL on high priced players, the AL has spent $515 to the NL’s $483. That’s $32, or six percent. Not a huge amount, but obviously a distinctive difference if the talent pools are equal.

Also notable that by the end, the NL outspent the AL in hitting by $28. So that’s a $60 difference on players who cost less than $27.

Screenshot 2014-03-05 13.41.23I made an ugly little chart that tracks how much ahead or behind the NL is in spending at various points.

The red line, series 2, shows the pitching cumulatively, while series 1, the blue line, shows the hitting. The x-axis is the rank of players from most expensive to cheapest. If the quality of the two leagues were the same it seems like these lines would be flatter, but we’ll have to look at other leagues to know what to make of that.

If the pools are congruent and the NL pays more money for the $3 to $8 players than they’re worth because it has money to burn, that has to be a mistake. Then a team like Ambrosius/Childs, last year’s champs, which spent widely on expensive players and picked off useful pieces in the later stages of the less heralded, has a big advantage.

But what if the pools aren’t equivalent. Certainly the A/C team is risking a lot building around the oft-injured Troy Tulowitzki, Bryce Harper and Hanley Ramirez, with the leaden Ryan Howard to boot. So, if these guys are too risky at these prices ($28, $32, $31 respectively), what would have happened if less money was spent on them?

And if the expensive guys are mostly risky (I’m not sure Paul Goldschmidt is that risky, for instance), then doesn’t it make sense to spread money across the board, buy at bats and cross your fingers (as the NLers seem to have done, a little)?

I don’t have an answer. I dove into this to find out just how different the results were of these two apparently dissimilar expert auctions. It turns out that even though they look different, the dynamics are pretty close. The split for both leagues was similar. Either 68/32 and 69/31 (AL/NL) if you count the money left on the table, or 69/31 and 70/30 based on all the money available. These crusty auction vets are trying to get a foothold, a bit of advantage, but apart from Billy Hamilton’s fast feet the surface is pretty crumbly.

The Fangraphs Mock Draft: Live Blog

I’m posting here as it goes along, on Monday night, about my picks. I’m sitting in the 17th seat in an 18-team league, mostly because I didn’t realize that the hammer was available. Now, every seat is taken but first. Interesting.

UPDATE: You will find the whole draft results at Couch Managers. There is a discussion going on over at Fangraphs.

Music: Holy Modal Rounders 1+2
Beer: Six Points Sweet Action (with dinner)

Bring it on at 9pm. See you then.

8:51pm: With the 17th pick, I’m hoping for scraps. That someone really good will fall. This isn’t really a year for such a thing. After Trout and Cabrera, I would argue, everyone is a little suspect (or perhaps better said, interchangeable). For instance, I don’t know if I’d take Cano over Hanley Ramirez, and yet there is some small chance that Ramirez will fall to 17th, while no chance at all that Cano will. So, I wait.

9:01: Derek Van Riper took Mike Trout.

Jason Kipnis9:11: Hanley Ramirez didn’t fall, didn’t come close. I took Jason Kipnis, even though I had Adrian Beltre ranked higher, hypnotized by the colors of Couch Manager’s software.

9:12: Beltre was still there on the way back. Brilliant. Now I have to wait 34 picks. The guy on the turn took Ellsbury and Fielder, perfectly fine picks ahead of Beltre, but I’ll suggest that position aside (which is an advantage for Beltre), he’s been a better and more consistent offensive player than those two. But he’s getting older, and any of these guys can have a great year that beggars all the others.

9:31: Third round I took Elvis Andrus, whose youth outweighs his struggles last year. In the fourth after the turn I took Joe Mauer, filling out my skill positions. I would have taken Jason Heyward ahead of Mauer, but he was taken just before it got back to me. I didn’t really set out to take skill position guys, but in each case the available outfielders and first basemen seemed wanting. But now it’s time to change focus. I’m still waiting on pitchers unless someone prime falls to the next spot.

Music: Acid Tongue, Jenny Lewis

9:52: Fifth round goes to Josh Hamilton, my first outfielder. The timing is right, though my confidence of a rebound isn’t strong. But it is possible. Sixth round to Mike Napoli, rounding out my infield. Last year is repeatable, which would be just fine here.

10:06: Seventh round I had to turn to pitchers. The only offensive players who attracted were JJ Hardy and Leonys Martin. I took Mike Minor, hoping Martin would fall, but he was grabbed. I took Shelby Miller next, not Hardy, because it seemed like a time to take pitchers. Not sure there was a right or wrong choice, just my preference to build somewhat symmetrically, if I can.

10:20: Ninth round went for Addison Reed, a closer. This is unusual for me, but in keeping with my determination that it is good to have a closer. With the 10th pick I was going to take Will Venable, but he was snatched, so I took Brett Gardner instead. I’m now a little speed heavy. The alternative was Johnny Cueto, who might be great again but comes with some risk. Adding an outfielder felt like it made more sense.

Music: Off. The rest of the house is in bed.

10:36: 11th and 12th round went to my top two picks in queue, while I was chatting about Tout Wars and the new auction location, which will be open to the public. Details to come. Hello Justin Masterson and RA Dickey. I couldn’t be happier.

10:52: 13th round had Dayan Viciedo and Carlos Quentin atop the queue, and I gladly grabbed Viciedo, who will have a very big year someday soon. But I had second thoughts on Quentin and took George Springer instead. Some power, more speed than I need, but more health and excitement, too. The guy after me took Quentin with the next pick.

11:07: 15th Round I took Mike Moustakas, who is a hard worker and will succeed if he’s physically capable. He should get another solid chance to try. I consider him sold post-hype speculation. In Round 16 I took Gerardo Parra, who is probably better defined by his limitations so far than his excellent baseball skills. I hope for some sort of breakout.

11:13: Round 17 goes to Joe Kelly, who could be a potent starter but qualifies as a reliever in this league. Erasmo Ramirez, who should be healthy and has the skills to succeed if he can get the rest of it in place, is my 18th pick. In a regular mixed league these seem like reaches, but at this point in an 18 team league we’re all grasping a little.

11:26: In the 19th I took Rickie Weeks for middle infield. Maybe he’s done, but he was by far the most potentially potent MI available. In the 20th I took Archie Bradley, who isn’t a sure thing either, but has the skills to step into the rotation and succeed immediately.

11:39: It’s late and the pickin’s are very slim. My hitting is mostly reliable, so I added Byron Buxton, who will have to be replaced for the first half of the season (at least), but at this point there will be reserve guys who can fill in. At 22 I take Tanner Roark, who I’m surprised has lasted this long. The idea is the same: Big upside, if they play, and replaceable in the near term if they don’t.

11:49: At 23 I take Jeremy Hellickson, coming off an awful year after showing years of great potential and modest results. I still see success coming, but I’m glad it’s the reserves. In the 24th round I go for Michael Pineda, a great arm coming back from potentially career-ending surgery (and some shoulder woes last summer during rehab), which is exactly where he should go.

11:54: Final pick, last reserve pick, is Felix Doubront, who had a good run last summer, sandwiched by a terrible start and an awful ending. He’s still young with good stuff. Fingers crossed and I hope I don’t have to use him once Bradley makes the bigs.

The Overachievers (or are they?): What to expect from the first half’s most surprising hitters

The challenge on draft day is to buy a guy at his price, what everyone expects him to earn, and then get all the production that comes with a breakout season. In other words, much more than you paid for. This year, the biggest breakouts on offense have been Jean Segura, Chris Davis, Josh Donaldson, Nate McLouth, Everth Cabrera, Daniel Nava, Manny Machado, Domonic Brown, Matt Carpenter and James Loney (with honorable mention to Yasiel Puig and Carlos Gomez). What should you expect from them going ahead?

Jean Segura. He cost $15 in Tout Wars and earned his owner $41 in the first half. After a hot start hitting with power his SLG has declined each month, but his July BA is .314 after a .277 June. It was expected his wheels would earn him his pay, and they have, but it was the power surge that bumped him to the top of this list. He’s got 24 steals with only four CS. Given our expectations going into the season versus his red hot first two months, it seems reasonable to expect about a .300 BA with four homers and another 15 steals. That’s a very good shortstop.

Chris Davis. Cost $20 in Tout Wars, and earned $45 in the first half. After a couple of promising seasons in Texas, Davis failed for long enough that just about everyone became skeptical about him, but now after proving himself as capable last year, he’s pushing into new territory for just about everyone this year. He was on pace for 62 homers at the midway point, and has hit six more since. The big issues here are gravity and opportunity. Can he remain aloft for much longer? And will he get fewer chances to hit, as teams work around him? He’s hitting more fly balls than ever, and hitting homers on 36 percent of his fly balls. That’s not sustainable in the long run. Still, even if his homer per rate falls to last year’s rate he’s got something like 20 homers coming the rest of the way. (Note: He tore a callous during the HR Derby, an event which has a history of messing up power hitters. The injury isn’t supposed to be a big deal, but anything that affects a hitter’s hands shouldn’t be ignored.)

Josh Donaldson. Went for $10 in Tout Wars, was earning $22 at midseason. Expectations were low because he really didn’t produce last year and with the addition of Jed Lowrie playing opportunities appeared to be limited in Oakland. Instead, Donaldson has confidently established himself as a power hitter, with an increased walk rate and a decrease in strikeouts. His BABIP and HR/FB are higher than ever before, and it seems likely he’ll end up hitting .280 rather than .310, but it also appears he’s made the adjustment to big league pitching. Now it’s up to the pitchers to block him back. Unless they succeed, look for 12 homers and a .275 BA the rest of the way.

Nate McLouth. Only $3 in Tout Wars, at the midway point he was earning $25. For those who noticed his strong September in 2012 and picked him up for a song this spring, April was very sweet. Since then, he’s been a bargain for the price, but not one of the best offensive players in the game. That’s the player you should expect the rest of the way. His past history has a $30 and $20 season in it, but those were a long time ago. Expect him to hit less than .260 with four homers and 14 steals.

Everth Cabrera. He went for $17 in Tout Wars, and was earning $33 on July 1 despite spending time on the DL. Last year he had a low BA with a high BABIP, which seemed to be a warning, but this year he has the same BABIP and a good BA. His basestealing skills are for real and are rare. He still led the league in steals after missing three weeks with a hammy strain. He’s stolen three bases in the week since he returned, so all seems to be okay on that count. Expect 25 to 30 steals and a BA somewhere between .250 and .300.

Daniel Nava. Was taken in the reserve round in Tout Wars, by Larry Schechter, and at midseason was earning $20. When he was pressed into action in 2012 he impressed at first, but then inevitably slumped some and his season ended in injury. Nava, who is 30 years old, was forgotten after the Red Sox signed Victorino and Jonny Gomes. We would do well to remember that when teams sign someone like Gomes, a power platoon player, they also create an opportunity for someone else. Nava got his chance and ran with it this year, with additional chances because of Victorino’s injuries. Nava has been much the same player this year as last, a mature hitter without special skills, who will hit with a little power (figure six homers) and post a .765 OPS (and .265 BA).

Manny Machado. He cost $14 in Tout Wars last March, and was earning $32 after the first half of the season. Promoted aggressively last year, he’s bloomed this year as a hitter. He’s a free swinger who makes plenty of contact, which thus far has led to a high BABIP and nice BA. The danger here is not that he isn’t capable of making contact and running for a good BA, at least for a while, but it’s a hard thing to pull off for an extended period because pitchers are always looking for a way to exploit your aggressiveness. He should hit another 6-8 homers, with a batting average that could range from .250 to .300 or so, though I would plan on the lower end of the range and hope to be pleasantly surprised.

Domonic Brown. He went for $14 in Tout Wars, and had earned $31 at the halfway point this season. He was a can’t-miss prospect, the scouts said a few years ago, but to those of us who saw him hit (and didn’t see the projectability), he looked like a looming bust. And that’s the way he continued to look the last two years, with dismal stints in Philadelphia punctuating not-great stints in Triple-A. But when I saw him in spring training early in March he struck me as a different hitter, with a shorter stroke and a willingness to go the other way. Others saw the same thing, and though his role was entirely clear he went for a decent price for a guy who had lost his prospect luster. A slow start got everyone doubting, but when he exploded he blew up and by the end of May he was earning $28. He’s improved that in June, and though July has been quieter one senses we’re simply waiting for the next hot streak. If has just one more, look for 14 or so homers the rest of the way, but he’s a prime candidate for a huge September when rosters expand in September.

Matt Carpenter. Tout Wars went to $14 for him, and in the first half he’s earned $25. Questions about playing time kept his price down a little, and had some of us thinking his Tout price was an overbid. Wrong. Carpenter was rightly given the job at second base (when David Freese is able to play) and he’s pretty much performed as he did last year, only with middle infield eligibility. He’s got a higher batting average and a smidge more power, but that should be expected with more experience, shouldn’t it? Figure the BA will come down to .290-.300 the rest of the way and otherwise expect more of the same.

James Loney. Tout Wars price: $8, with midseason earnings of $25. Please indulge my personal grouse here: The last two years I bought Loney for what seemed like discount prices given his history of earnings, and he failed me. This year I let him go for cheap to the Tampa homer, and Loney’s back to being the dude he always was (and the Tampa homer is in first place by a lot). I hate that. Actually, Loney has been more than he’s been in the past, showing more power in Tampa than he had in LA all those years. He’s actually hitting fewer fly balls and more line drives this year, but his percentage of balls leaving the yard is up to a healthy 11 percent. My guess is that this reflects a better more aggressive approach, and as long as he stays focused and motivated earnings in the $20-25 range are sustainable. That means another six or seven homers, but probably with an average closer to .290-.295.

Two Short Notes:

Yasiel Puig‘s hot start is an illusion. It’s fantastic fun, but obviously he’s not going to hit .391 while striking out 24 percent of the time. It’s really hard to tell where he’s going to land, however, and how hard he’s going to fall. Based on the strikeouts and ground balls, I’d expect him to hit .270 the rest of the way, with 10-12 homers, but that’s really just a WAG. If the pitchers figure out the swing sooner he could be in the minors just like that.

Carlos Gomez has added power the last two years, is still fast, and is way over his head right now in BA. Line drive percentage suggests he should perhaps be hitting for a slightly higher average, but he’s currently got a BABIP .040 points above his career number. The power and speed are real, but his batting average should come down closer to .260 the rest of the way.

Bad K’s American Dream League Team

At dinner after our annual American Dream League draft, Hacker owner Steve Levy asked me if Tout Wars was tougher than our neighborhood league, the American Dream League, which started in 1981. The ADL is not an experts league, but between Alex Patton, Les Leopold, Peter Golenbock, and moi, I doubt any league has gotten more books and magazines published about fantasy baseball over the years. And that is a disservice to the creds of the other members, who have written professionally about baseball for longer than the league’s 33 year tenure.

But therein lies the crux of my answer. The ADL is as chock full of canny baseball and fantasy analysts as any league, but the pace is different. In the ADL we go seven rounds deep on reserve, and no one struggles to come up with viable names, but during the auction the ADL lopes, with plenty of patter, recaps, and counting of the money. The Tout Wars auctions are played at a gallop. And time matters, because time pressure undermines those with poor organization.

That, of course, is one way to look at it. The other is to say that an AL only auction that takes six hours to complete is full of time for chatter, banter, badinage and riposte. It also offers plenty of time to consider what’s going on and try to adjust and beat it. In an auction where the bidding proceeds quickly there’s plenty of pressure and opportunities to make mistakes. In this slower format, mistakes may be made, but it’s also possible to discern trends and strategies and counter them.

Which leads us to my 2013 American Dream League team.

Read moreBad K’s American Dream League Team

The Solid, the Shifty and the Fungible

[Cue Ennio Morricone music here.]

The long and fun Tout Wars weekend is over. Drafts were held, summaries will be written (and posted at toutwars.com), and eventually games will be played. At no other time will more people write the words, “I like my team,” more often.

You can find the spreadsheet with all the leagues’ results here.

I spoke on Sirius XM after the auction and was asked about some of the players I bought, and while I was talking I couldn’t help thinking that this was for the most part a boring draft. Relentlessly and with few exceptions players (even starting pitchers this year) went for something close to my bid price. I, for the most part, bought the guys whose price stopped at or below the price I’d put to paper for them. My strategic goal was to buy stats and to acquire risky guys who might make an impact.

The goal for every fantasy team is to establish a powerful enough base that the breakout guys put you in contention to win. That’s what might happen out of the draft, but the real work is massaging the roster all season long to maximize in each category. Some combo of work, good timing and utter luck are what puts teams over the top. But first, they have to get into contention.

Here are my purchases with some notes on the players and their prices. As you’ll note, mostly boring, but I like my team.


Rob Brantly ($7, $6) He’s the cleanup hitter! On a really crummy team! He’s got some power and shouldn’t crush my BA, and has the potential to do more.

Joey Votto (My Bid Price $37, I paid $37) Hey, he’s Joey Votto. Is he not a power hitter anymore? I don’t believe that, but if it’s true he will then be the most awesome hitter for average ever. There is the chance for profits here, he earned in the 40s in 2010, but mostly I want him to stay healthy all season.

Ryan Zimmerman ($27, $27) Third base is a ghost town once you get past the top five, and with Headley’s injury even he’s suspect. So, a solid producer at his price is a win. Every other third baseman who cost more than $10 exceeded his bid price, demonstrating the league’s sensitivity to getting shut out at the hot corner.

Zack Cozart ($12, $14) Having three $25+ guys at the time, I didn’t feel comfortable pushing Starlin Castro and extra buck. He went at my bid price. And Jimmy Rollins went for one under. As I pushed Cozart $2 past my price I regretted not going the extra dollar for the much better players, but he was the last full time SS available. His job is secure and even if he isn’t the best hitter in the world he has a bit of power/speed production. A bit.

Hunter Pence ($22, $21) One of the places where the Touts try to save money is in the midlevel outfielders, the guys who are not dominant either in power or speed. Pence is one of those guys, and capable of having a bigger year than this bid pays for.

Angel Pagan ($21, $19) Another Giant outfielder? Yes, but one who runs a lot. Guys like Cameron Maybin went for $25. Maybin’s like Pagan but younger with a worse batting average.

Denard Span ($15, $14) Another boring outfielder at the slightest of discounts, but Span has never had a season like the best he seems like he might be capable of. On a new team, despite a weakish spring, one hopes for more than what he’s done in the past. But if he does just that, I’m okay with it.

Scott Hairston ($7, $4) Once the prices drop below $10 the comparison doesn’t mean much. Hairston earned $18 last year in 350 AB. It wouldn’t take a lot to get him more playing time in Chicago (or released for that matter), so consider him cheap and likely to earn a bit of a profit with the chance of something more.

Yorvit Torrealba ($1, $1) A catcher in Colorado backing up a guy who is a bad catcher. Yorvit has some productive years behind him, and having taken a catcher who will start the year in the minors, I was looking for a puncher’s chance with a catcher in dollar days. Hello son.

Cliff Lee ($28, $26) I’ve knocked my starting pitching bids down quite a bit in prep for this draft, and was glad to see that pitcher prices were generally on par. Any of the top six or seven starters will earn out, unless he gets hurt. I chose Lee for no particular reason.

Zack Greinke ($21, $19) Maybe he was a little cheaper because of injury concerns, though he appears to be healthy at this point. He’s in a good ballpark in a lineup that costs a lot. Irresistible.

Mike Minor ($14, $12) I would have gladly gone to $14 on Minor, who seemed to put it all together in the second half last year. CBS and LABR landed in the $12 range, so I’m not claiming this is a bargain, but given the potential upside I was happy.

Marco Estrada ($10, $11) He’s a guy for whom my projection outpaces my bid price. He throws strikeouts and homers and if he can rein in the one he could have special upside.

Lance Lynn ($11, $11) Like Estrada, plenty of strikeouts. He’s kind of the opposite of Minor, in that he stumbled in the second half, but was overall just fine. While it would be great if all three of Minor/Estrada/Lynn were solid this year, you have to figure one will fail. But which one? That’s why I have three.


Travis D’Arnaud (Minors, $5) One can argue that the money spent on D’Arnaud and Matt Adams could have been better spent buying Starlin Castro rather than Zack Cozart. I won’t argue with that, but once the barn door is open you have to adjust. I didn’t buy Castro. D’Arnaud isn’t a lock for the big leagues this year, but indications are he’ll get a chance come June or July. He’s a free-swinging power hitter, who may get off to a slow start offensively, but will quickly outearn his price here if he has any success at all. If he turns into Devin Mesoraco this year, I’ll be disappointed, and not all that surprised.

Matt Adams ($5, $5) He may or may not make the team at the start of the season, and doesn’t seem to have a regular job if he does, but they’re not going to let him languish. He’s too potent a hitter for that. Is he a big league star hitter? Borderline at that level, for sure, but he will hit for power if he gets the playing time. The other guys available at this price were Gaby Sanchez and Todd Helton. Either could be better, but neither could be much better.

Dee Gordon ($9, $8) As spring training winds down it looks like Gordon could end up marginalized despite Hanley Ramirez’s injury. My thought was that in 100 AB in the next month or so Gordon could steal 15 bases, but I paid too much given his shortcomings as a hitter and the possibility he’ll end up in Triple-A later this week. My fingers are crossed to ward off buyer’s remorse.

Jonathan Broxton ($5, $5) On my sheet I still had Broxton down at $10, his pre-Aroldys Chapman-as-closer price, but I didn’t pay up here out of confusion. He was my last buy and I had $5 left. He surely would have cost $3 if I hadn’t nominated at $6 (whoops, tiny print on the spreadsheet, adjusted down a buck) and spent my last $5. He was the best available pitching choice at that point by far, as a Closer in Waiting.

Kyuji Fujikawa ($9, $8) If I had bought Alfonso Soriano, who I dropped out too soon on because I wanted Carlos Quentin who was then bid out of my price range, I wouldn’t have had money for Fujikawa. But I did. I actually preferred Steve Cishek, but when he was bid up to his price I had to shift my sights to Fujikawa. Chris Liss spent $8 on Marmol (and bid $7 on Fujikawa, saying one of us is going to be glad he couldn’t bid more or didn’t have to). Given the situation, I’m fine with this, but it is no discount and is certainly risky. And I would have preferred Michael Fiers, who went for $7 (but might have gone higher because Derek Carty had the scratch at that point), but decided to get it settled earlier.

Drew Storen ($6, $2) Again, in the endgame the expected bid price doesn’t mean much. But Storen throws strikeouts and has a history as a closer, making him the Closer in Waiting (and likely to vulture a few as well).


Daniel Descalso ($4, $3) I wanted Jordany Valdespin or Donovan Solano, but Valdespin’s price spiraled and when Descalso was nominated before Solano I pounced rather than being shut out. That’s how weak second base is. When Solano went for $2 I was full of regrets and remorse. Still am.

Tyler Moore ($2, $2) He was the best power threat (tee hee) on board at this point in the draft, with no clear path for any playing time at all except as DH during interleague.

Chris Capuano ($1, $1) Coming off a fine year, but lacking a clear role in the Dodgers rotation, let’s call him Best Available Arm and hope some team in a good ballpark that needs a pitcher trades for him.


Gregg Dobbs ($3, reserve) Because T’Arnaud is starting in the minors, and I drafted Torrealba, his replacement, into my utility slot, I wanted the best available hitter for some power with a big league job to fill that hole. That’s Dobbs, probably, which isn’t saying a lot. Can’t have too many Marlins.

Kolton Wong (minors, reserve) If he’s called up he’ll have more value than Daniel Descalso fer sure.

Alex Castellanos ($2, reserve) I was going for the best young hitter who might make an opening day team, looking for offensive options.

Freddie Galvis ($1, reserve) When I saw the Phillies play in spring training, Freddie led off the game with a sharp single to left field that he turned into a double. The crowd of Phillies phans went crazy. It turns out they love him after seeing him play sort of regularly last year. I was looking for another shot at 2B.

FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (a conclusion)

When a league plays the game as tightly as this one does your options are limited. I’d targeted Domonic Brown after seeing him play in spring training, but his success meant everyone knew what I knew, and Phil Hertz bumped him a buck or two past my price. Early on I might have pushed, but at that point my budget was stretched.

Mike Gianella had the most interesting draft, spending just $34 on pithcing. The problem with that is that his pitching isn’t very good, but he does have a lot of hitters at decent prices. He’s got talent, now he needs to rearrange it.

Lenny Melnick and Phil Hertz were the reason I stopped targeting guys. They both have their buys, and aren’t afraid to push their budgets to get them. When you collide you usually lose, one way or the other. I’d hoped to pick off Julio Teheran for a few bucks, but Phil took him all the way to $8. Playing agnostically, a phrase I think originates with Liss, let’s you find the bargains where they fall. For Gianella that meant on offense. For me, I worked to find them on both sides of the aisle.

The danger is that I will confuse bargains for my overreaches. That may be what happened with Dee Gordon, D’Arnaud and Adams, or those could each turn out to be a robust embrace of risk that pays off. I’m looking forward to finding out.

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 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.

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 pattonandco.com.

There is a new special edition of the Patton $ Online with Rotoman’s projections in the works at software.askrotoman.com. 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.