Zach’s Mixed Auction Tout Wars Draft Recap
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If I had not occupied first place every single day from late-April through late-July, maybe I would have been satisfied with last season’s fourth place finish in the Mixed Auction Tout Wars league. Instead, I arrived at the SiriusXM headquarters in midtown Manhattan this past Saturday determined to do better. Third place in 2014, fourth place last year, what does it take to finally win this thing?
I prepared for the auction in much the same way that I prepared for my previous four Tout Wars auctions, mapping out an ideal team that I projected to fit under the $260 cap, assigning a rough maximum dollar amount for my top choices at each position. I then listed several backup names at each position that would cost less, in order of preference. If the bidding for my top choices exceeded my maximum by more than a buck or two, I’d work my way down the priority list and use the savings to upgrade my targeted player for one or more of the other positions. While it is important to decide on top choices prior to the draft, it is just as important to be flexible and be prepared to go after a second, third or fourth option.
So, how did it go? Let’s see. Here’s my squad, in order of purchase.
Pedro Alvarez ($7) – I threw out Alvarez’s name early, figuring that I could get him on the cheap while there were still plenty of power-hitting corner infielders on the board. It all worked out as expected, as I was able to land Pedro for two bucks less than my budgeted price. Now that he will be playing half of his games at cozy Camden Yards, I’m thinking that 30 homers are likely. Plus, his typically low batting average doesn’t hurt as much in this league, since Tout uses OBP instead of AVG. Alvarez’s OBP last season was .318, not great but not overly damaging.
Jose Altuve ($31) – I’ll admit it, I have a soft spot for this guy. I just love watching him play. Altuve provides my team with a strong foundation in steals, runs and OBP. And if he can reach double-digits in homers (expecting 15 home runs again might be unrealistic), well, that would be an added bonus. I was prepared to drop out of the bidding if it exceeded $34, so I was quite happy to draft him for this price.
Jose Abreu ($38) – I might end up regretting not going to $40 for Anthony Rizzo. But at the time, I figured that I could get Abreu, my second choice, for considerably less, maybe $33. Not quite. Still, I’m fine with Abreu, who should post similar counting stats to Rizzo despite perhaps a lower OBP.
Justin Upton ($30) – I was hoping to draft Upton for no more than $27 but Tim Heaney squashed those plans, forcing me to spend the extra few bucks. But Upton was the guy I wanted for my OF1 slot, and I wasn’t about to let $3 get in the way. Maybe it’s because so much was initially expected from him as a former elite prospect, but the younger Upton remains one of the more underappreciated fantasy commodities. He should greatly benefit from hitting in a lineup that includes Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez and Victor Martinez, and his steady walk rate enhances his value in OBP leagues.
Zach Britton ($17) – I wasn’t planning on drafting Britton and I don’t expect him to sustain his dramatically improved strikeout rate from last season. But he was the final upper-tier stopper available at the time, so I ended up paying list price for his services. Looking back, I would’ve rather had Cody Allen and his exceptional strikeout rate for a few bucks less, but this is fine.
Jon Lester ($21) – Lester posted ace-caliber numbers last season but he’s being valued more like an SP2 heading into 2016. He was my primary SP1 target partly for this reason, though as it turned out, he didn’t come at much of a discount. Of course, the day after I drafted him, it was revealed that he’s pitching with a bone chip in his elbow that could require surgery at some point. But as of now, neither the team nor the player seem overly concerned.
Danny Salazar ($17) – After making great strides with his consistency last season, the 26-year-old Salazar appears poised to enter fantasy ace status sooner rather than later. I’m hoping that sooner means 2016.
Yasmani Grandal ($12) – I was aiming to land either Brian McCann or Russell Martin for my No. 1 catcher slot, but the math didn’t work out. Grandal has been plagued by injuries throughout his young big league career, but the talent is undeniable. A healthy season could result in 20 homers, and he’s an OBP specialist.
Francisco Rodriguez ($10) – I had budgeted $10 for my No. 2 closer slot and K-Rod was at the top of my priority list. When searching for a second closer, my primary focus is job security, and job security will not be an issue here. The 34-year-old has yet to show any signs of decline, and I expect him to continue performing at a high level this season.
Elvis Andrus ($10) – After getting off to a slow start last season, Andrus picked up his game in the second half, batting .277 while recording 16 of his 25 steals following the All-Star break. He doesn’t carry a ton of upside, but Elvis does offer stability at a position lacking many stable options.
Curtis Granderson ($15) – Maybe it’s unrealistic to expect a repeat of 2015, but the price was fair and I am buying into the improved plate discipline, which should once again lead to a solid OBP. As for the counting stats, are 20 homers, double-digit steals and 85 runs too much to ask from the Mets leadoff man? I think not.
Trevor Plouffe ($6) – Plouffe is far from an ideal starting 3B, but after reluctantly allowing Ray Flowers to grab Evan Longoria for the bargain basement price of $13 and pulling out of a bidding war with Cory for Kyle Seager, my top choice, I had little choice but to settle for Plouffe. Although it is unlikely that he can duplicate last season’s 22 homers and 86 RBI, if he can just match the 14 home runs and 80 RBI he compiled in 2014, the Twins third sacker will more than earn the six bucks.
Ketel Marte ($7) – Considering the growing buzz surrounding Marte, I was surprised to land him for only $7. While it’s risky to rely on a player with only 219 big league at-bats under his belt to hold down my starting MI spot, Marte’s minor league track record in addition to his strong stint with the Mariners last season gives me confidence that he can at least post a quality OBP to go along with 25-plus steals in 2016. And I’ll gladly take that. Anything more would be pure profit.
James Shields ($8) – Everyone is so down on Shields this year that I actually think he’s a bargain. The guy pitches 200 innings every year and despite delivering a disappointing ERA and WHIP last season, he struck out well over a batter per inning and pitched to a 3.29 ERA in 16 starts at Petco Park. Eight bucks isn’t a huge bargain, but there’s still some room for profit.
Julio Teheran ($6) – Wins might be hard to come by for Teheran, but he was one of the undervalued arms I had my eye on to fill the middle of my rotation. After two straight superb seasons, Teheran kicked off his 2015 campaign in shaky fashion before registering a fine 3.42 ERA in the second half. Still just 25 years of age, there’s a lot to like here.
Jose Quintana ($9) – One of my favorite discounted starting pitchers heading into the 2016 season, Quintana is fresh off a 2015 campaign in which he posted a similar stat line to that of 2014, the main exception being an improved walk rate. He fits in nicely as my SP3, behind Lester and Salazar and ahead of Shields and Teheran.
Jay Bruce ($6) – I honestly don’t know what to expect from Bruce this year. But despite the low OBP, where else are you going to find 25-30 homers for $6? Combine the Bruce purchase with the Alvarez buy and I’ve secured 50-60 home runs for the total cost of $13. That’s pretty good.
Jason Castro ($2) – Nothing special. A worthy No. 2 backstop who could hit 15 homers.
Nori Aoki ($3) – Expected to serve as Seattle’s primary left fielder and leadoff hitter, Aoki is certainly capable of swiping 20 bags while scoring a healthy dose of runs and providing a helpful OBP. Health has been an issue over the past couple of years but for three bucks, there isn’t a whole lot of downside.
Aaron Nola ($1) – Nola’s first taste of the big leagues last season was largely a success, and he will look to carry that momentum into his first full major league season. While it might be too soon to count on Nola in 12-team mixed leagues, in 15-team mixed leagues like Tout Wars, he’s an acceptable back end of the rotation starter.
Carlos Beltran ($2) – No, I’m not expecting 162 games, but on a per game basis, Beltran is still a productive player. And who knows, maybe he will manage to stay healthy for the entire 2016 season. Either way, he’s my fifth outfielder, so the risk is minimal.
Colby Rasmus ($1) – Cheap power to fill my Utility slot.
Anibal Sanchez ($1) – If healthy, Anibal has the ability to return mid-rotation value. For $1, I consider him to be a sound investment.
RESERVES (six-round snake draft)
Kevin Quackenbush – Even if he opens the season as San Diego’s closer, does anyone really think that Fernando Rodney will hold onto the job for long? Didn’t think so.
Trea Turner – Even if he opens the season in the Minors, does anyone really think that Turner will stay there for long? Didn’t think so.
Brandon Finnegan – High upside arm is competing for a spot in the Reds’ Opening Day rotation, and the organization isn’t exactly loaded with quality starting pitching options.
Brandon Drury – Could open the season on the big league roster thanks to a red-hot spring.
J.P. Crawford – Top prospect will likely make his big league debut in 2016, though roster constraints might force me to drop him before that time comes.
Jesse Winker – Similar situation to Crawford, and I’ll probably be a little more patient with Crawford.
On the whole, I think I’ve assembled a very balanced roster, and I’m confident that this team can be competitive. I’m especially pleased with the starting rotation, and I might even have an SP to spare should I decide to trade for an upgrade at another position. The weakest areas are at third base with Plouffe and the outfield, where I feel that I’m lacking a reliable OF2. Granderson is more of a high-end OF3. But I was able to land many of my top targets, and I’m thankful for that.
Here’s my complete starting roster:
C – Yasmani Grandal
C – Jason Castro
1B – Jose Abreu
2B – Jose Altuve
SS – Elvis Andrus
3B – Trevor Plouffe
CI – Pedro Alvarez
MI – Ketel Marte
OF – Justin Upton
OF – Curtis Granderson
OF – Jay Bruce
OF – Nori Aoki
OF – Carlos Beltran
UT – Colby Rasmus
SP – Jon Lester
SP – Danny Salazar
SP – Jose Quintana
SP – James Shields
SP – Julio Teheran
SP – Anibal Sanchez
SP – Aaron Nola
RP – Zach Britton
RP – Francisco Rodriguez
And you can view the full draft results for all of the Tout Wars leagues by clicking on the link at the very top of this post.
As always, your feedback and questions are welcome.