ROTISSERIE: A trio of HQers in AL Tout Wars

This wasn't quite the "draft room" we envisioned, but the auctions went on.

This weekend's live Tout Wars events were canceled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; all auctions were instead moved online to the Fantrax platform. A huge THANK YOU to the Tout Wars board—Todd Zola, Jeff Erickson, Ron Shandler, Peter Kreutzer, and Brian Walton—for their efforts in navigating us through uncharted waters, and for making the whole operation run as smoothly as possible under far-from-ideal conditions.

Three writers—Doug Dennis, Patrick Davitt, and yours truly—locked virtual horns on Saturday during the Tout Wars AL auction. Rather than do our traditional write-ups separately, we figured it'd be fun to mix things up and do a little postmortem conference call shortly after the auction.

Full draft results (Tout Wars is a 5x5, OBP league) can be found HERE.

Our postmortem podcast

After the five-hour online auction—Doug and I took an hour break to eat while PD went on a wildflower honey (?) run—we reconvened via conference call to recap the auction while things were still fresh in our heads. Here's a link to that call, branded as a Special Edition of BHQ Radio (also available on Apple Podcasts and other podcatchers):

We hit on a variety of topics and tried to keep things relevant for your own leagues: 

  • Switching from an in-person auction to online.
  • Strategies for dealing with a shortened season.
  • Bidding wars between the three of us.
  • Unique strategies from other owners.
  • Our own favorite/least favorite buys.

Here's how our teams shook out, with some additional thoughts below:

Team Dennis:

Pos  Name                $$
===  ==================  ==
  C  Astudillo,Willians   1
  C  Maldonado,Martin     1
 1B  Santana,Carlos      29
 CI  Gonzalez,Marwin      2
 3B  Guerrero,Vladimir   24
 2B  Biggio,Cavan        29
 MI  Lopez,Nicky          1
 SS  Adames,Willy        13
 OF  Reyes,Franmil       23
 OF  Jimenez,Eloy        24
 OF  Benintendi,Andrew   25
 OF  Garcia,Leury         2
 UT  Haniger,Mitch        5
SUT  Reyes,Victor         3
 P   Montas,Frankie      16
 P   Minor,Mike          13
 P   Boyd,Matthew        16
 P   Urquidy,Jose        11
 P   Chirinos,Yonny      10
 P   Fulmer,Michael       1
 P   Pena,Felix           3
 P   Montero,Rafael       1
 P   Hirano,Yoshihisa     7
RES  Paredes,Issac
RES  Fisher,Derek 
RES  Clase,Emmanuel 
RES  Javier,Cristian

Doug's takeaways: 

I decided that a cheap pitching staff wasn’t going to work in the AL. I spent too much time scrambling for innings with terrible ratios. So I played it straight with a typical 180/80 split, decided I would grab a core of power hitters, and then go from there. No grand strategy beyond that.

I really wanted Montas. I really wanted Guerrero. I am taking a leap of faith that both outperform projections. I am good with rostering Santana, Biggio, Benintendi, Jimenez, and F. Reyes in addition to them. I got the starters behind Montas. But after that, I was cash poor and it shows. I have work to do.


Team Davitt:

Pos  Name               $$
===  =================  ==
  C  McGuire,Reese       4
  C  Garver,Mitch       18
 1B  Encarnacion,Edwin  25
 CI  Choi,Ji-Man        14
 3B  Ramirez,Jose       40
 2B  La Stella,Tommy    10
 MI  Castro,Willi        1
 SS  Bichette,Bo        33
 OF  Hernandez,Teoscar  13
 OF  Hays,Austin         6
 OF  Frazier,Clint       1
 OF  Martinez,Jose       2
 UT  Vogelbach,Daniel    7
SUT  Lewis,Kyle          1
 P   Giolito,Lucas      24
 P   Ryu,Hyun-Jin       19
 P   Manaea,Sean        10
 P   Gonzalez,Gio        1
 P   Manning,Matt        1
 P   Bummer,Aaron        3
 P   Givens,Mychal       9
 P   James,Josh          7
 P   Colome,Alex        11
RES  Skubal,Tariq
RES  Kittredge,Andrew
RES  Richards,Trevor
RES  Toro,Abraham

Patrick's takeaways: First, I should explain that the above-mentioned "wildflower honey run" wasn't a euphemism for a Tinder experience. My wife was preparing a Spicy Thai Noodles recipe, and believe me, it was worth the trip to the grocery, the standing in lines longer than the Harry Potter ride, and the customer at the checkout who thought there could be no better time to cash in and replace her mittful of lottery and scratch tickets ("No, not that one, the third one ... No! No! The third one this way..." etc. etc). The noodles were great.

Back to business ... I thought the auction went OK. Like Doug, I had a broad strategy, but with flights abroad canceled, I focused on auction strategy, and went 180-80 (69-31%) for my split, and I loaded 69%-31% into RotoLab for market valuation purposes. That split turned out fairly accurate for the overall draft, but I could have moved the "Stars and Scrubs" slider way to the right, because there was fairly rampant aggressive bidding on almost all the players early. I ended up spending 175-85, about a 67-33 split.

Hitters I liked: Getting Jose Ramirez ($40) and Bo Bichette ($33) gave my roster a good five-category base, although it cost a few shekels more than I was hoping, partly because stablemate Ryan Bloomfield, whose insane ramblings are also in this article, bid me up on J-Ram. I also liked getting Edwin Encarnacion for $25. I have these three hitters in all of my drafts. My best bargains were Jose Martinez in TAM for $2, Kyle Lewis for $1, and a 4-ounce bottle of Purell for $46.50 on eBay. I also liked Reese McGuire for $4, especially if Danny Jansen’s hot start turns out to be Tuffy Rhodes-like in its staying power. Dan Vogelbach ($7) could double my money, although buying two Mariners was not optimal. I profited a few bucks each on Teoscar Hernadez ($13), Ji-Man Choi ($14, also a guy I have in other drafts), and Austin Hays ($6), but nothing I’m high-fiving anyone about, especially given the hand sanitizer situation. (Health hint: Soap and water is better anyway.)

Hitters I didn’t like: I liked having Mitch Garver, but I didn't like spending $18 for him. I ended up with Tommy La Stella for $10, which could be OK but adds a degree of injury and regression risk that makes me uncomfortable. The reason I ended up with La Stella is that I quite bungled the draft by waiting way too long to land a 2B, blowing money on the small gains from some of the above guys instead of focusing on my actual positional needs. It’s an old reference, but my roster management was like the old Dragnet TV show—dumb-dumb-dumb-dumb…

Pitching: I like my staff. My “ace” is Lucas Giolito, who cost me $24 because Ryan (again) was bidding me up. Then, rubbing salt into the wound, he got Zack Greinke for $25. I would way rather have Greinke—I have him elsewhere and I really like him in 2020. The rotation rounds out with Hyun-Jin Ryu (a slight overpay at $19, but worth it since I have him in all my leagues), Sean Manaea ($10, also owned in another league), Josh James ($10), and Gio Gonzalez ($1). I wanted one solid closer and one cheaper "meh" closer, and got Alex Colome ($11), who is not solid at all IMHO, and Mychal Givens ($9), who will have to improve a lot to grade out as "Meh." My last pitcher was Aaron Bummer, a really solid LIMA guy, and, more importantly, an insurance policy for Colome. Overall, seven dollars of profit here, despite a $5 loss on Giolito.

How did it all work out? According to RotoLab, which uses HQ projections, I have a third-place team, behind leader Larry Schechter and deranged bid-upper Ryan. Oddly, despite a second-place HR total, my team is just eighth in Runs. I’m well back in SB, since I didn’t build on my foundation, but six more SBs would add five points. My pitching counting stats are weak, but the decimals are good, and if Manning gets innings, I could make up ground.

Now all we need is a baseball season.


Team Bloomfield:

Pos  Name               $$
===  =================  ==
  C  Romine,Austin       7
  C  Perez,Salvador     12
 1B  White,Evan         11
 CI  Lowe,Nate           1
 3B  Dozier,Hunter      15
 2B  Schoop,Jonathan    13
 MI  Simmons,Andrelton  11
 SS  Andrus,Elvis       19
 OF  Meadows,Austin     29
 OF  Grichuk,Randal     13
 OF  Bradley,Jackie      6
 OF  Fraley,Jake         5
 UT  Cruz,Nelson        29
SUT  Piscotty,Stephen    1
 P   Rodriguez,Eduardo  17
 P   Greinke,Zack       25
 P   Paxton,James       14
 P   Kopech,Michael      5
 P   Shoemaker,Matt      4
 P   Lopez,Reynaldo      5
 P   Poche,Colin         1
 P   Petit,Yusmeiro      2
 P   Robles,Hansel      15
RES  Goodwin,Brian
RES  Duffy,Danny
RES  Pinder,Chad
RES  Zimmer,Bradley

Ryan's takeaways: After days of being in a rut with everything going on, it felt great to suspend reality and just draft. Even if just online; even if just for a few (well, five) hours.

Hitters I liked: I had to back up my "UP: 2021 first-rounder" call on Austin Meadows from the Baseball Forecaster, right? I was stoked to grab Meadows and Nelson Cruz for $29 each. A few cheap, non-sexy buys include Andrelton Simmons, Jonathan Schoop, and Randal Grichuk. Stephen Piscotty ($1) seemed like a steal, as he should be ready to go whenever Opening Day begins. Oh, and #FreeNateLowe!

Hitters I didn't like: I mentioned this on the podcast, but it looks like I misjudged the catcher market. I thought taking Romine at a $2 "discount" early would pay off, but as the auction went on, it was obvious my catcher values were a bit inflated. That's the risk/reward of dipping into a new market early on (Romine was the first catcher nominated). I also overspent by a few bucks on Hunter Dozier ($15; projected $11), as I had the most money on the table at the time and overreacted to missing out the last remaining mid-tier bats. Elvis Andrus ($19; projected $17) was a slight overpay in an OBP league, but steals were hard to find. 

Pitchers: I really liked James Paxton at $14 (check the pod for my strategy on projecting injured guys), while two ratio stabilizers (Poche, Petit) for $3 should play as well. I loved my Kopech buy ($5) at the time, but his impact in a shortened season might be diluted should CHW elect to start him in the minors. How teams handle call-ups is one of the many unknowns right now, so I'll be watching this Subscriber Forums thread closely over the coming days/weeks: COVID Suspension Impact on Call Ups?

How did it all work out? Given that PD just called me a "deranged bid-upper," I'd say pretty well! There are always going to be some buys you don't like in an -only league—this thing moved fast and you can't nail every split-second decision—but I feel this squad checks several boxes: some top-end pitching, an established closer, and a spread-the-risk hitting profile.

Can't wait for these two words: Play Ball!


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.