Pitch or Ditch for Friday, April 10

***NOTE: If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to this blog by hitting the Follow button on the right panel. You will then get an e-mail as soon as each new post goes up.

CLICK HERE to listen to our latest podcasts (Thursday, 4/9 is most recent)

Check out Cory’s Tout Wars recap and Zach’s Tout Wars recap

Plus, our overrated and underrated teams for 2015

And finally, Cory’s article on the evolution of fantasy baseball

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MLB: Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins

CORY’S PICKS

Buehrle @ B. Norris

Simon @ McAllister – keep an eye on McAllister, but sit vs. DET

McHugh @ Holland

Milone @ Noesi – Milone is on my list to consider only in home games

T. Wood @ Matzek

Miley @ Eovaldi – Eovaldi had a lot of hype this spring but not enough for me to use him vs. Boston

G. Gonzalez @ Williams

Lackey @ Marquis

Geltz @ Haren Tampa’s offense is unimposing and Haren has the favorable home venue

Niese @ Stults

Locke @ Fiers – Locke is also on my watch list

B. Anderson @ C. Anderson – gotta use Brett Anderson while you can!

Vargas @ Santiago

Walker @ Pomeranz

Lincecum @ Morrow – a double PITCH in 2012, but no longer!

***ZACH SAYS “Maybe I’m higher on Holland than most, but I’d pitch him here versus a young Astros lineup that tends to strike out a lot. Agree on rest.”

Pitch or Ditch for Thursday, April 9

***NOTE: If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to this blog by hitting the Follow button on the right panel. You will then get an e-mail as soon as each new post goes up.

CLICK HERE to listen to our latest podcasts (Thursday, 3/26 is most recent)

Check out Cory’s Tout Wars recap and Zach’s Tout Wars recap

Plus, our overrated and underrated teams for 2015

And finally, Cory’s article on the evolution of fantasy baseball

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MLB: Houston Astros at Detroit Tigers

ZACH’S PICKS

Burnett @ DeSclafani – Burnett scares me here. I’ll take a wait and see approach.
Harvey @ Strasburg – Nice!
Gibson @ Greene – Favorable matchup for Greene, who has been a popular sleeper pick for 2015.
Danks @ Volquez – I don’t think I’ll ever fully trust Volquez.
Bauer @ Wojciechowski – I’m expecting big things from Bauer this season.
N. Martinez @ Graveman – Graveman a decent option in deeper formats but I need to see at least one strong regular season outing before I can trot him out there.
Hudson @ Kennedy – Hudson not a slam dunk pitch but the matchup is right.
D. Norris @ Sabathia – Not feeling too good about either.
Masterson @ Buchanan

Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, April 8

***NOTE: If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to this blog by hitting the Follow button on the right panel. You will then get an e-mail as soon as each new post goes up.

CLICK HERE to listen to our latest podcasts (Thursday, 3/26 is most recent)

CLICK HERE for our 2015 Composite Projections

Check out Cory’s Tout Wars recap and Zach’s Tout Wars recap

Plus, our overrated and underrated teams for 2015

And finally, Cory’s article on the evolution of fantasy baseball

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MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Dodgers

CORY’S PICKS

Nolasco @ An. Sanchez
Lynn @ Arrieta
Porcello
@ Harang – the Phillies are going to be a PoD target this year
Dickey @ Pineda
deGrom @ Zimmermann
Cole
@ Leake
S. Miller @ Koehler
M. Gonzalez @ Odorizzi
Quintana @ Duffy – Duffy is a regression risk but still worth using
Butler @ W. Peralta – the Rockies can’t blow up in EVERY road game, right?
Carrasco @ Feldman
Heston @ Hellickson – Hellickson is one to watch, but not yet start
Cashner @ McCarthy – lovelovelove McCarthy’s early season matchups
Detwiler @ Kazmir
Shoemaker @ Iwakuma

***ZACH SAYS “I’ll give the underrated Leake a shot at home, where he posted a 3.26 ERA last season. Agree on rest.”

Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, April 7

***NOTE: If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to this blog by hitting the Follow button on the right panel. You will then get an e-mail as soon as each new post goes up.

CLICK HERE to listen to our latest podcasts (Thursday, 3/26 is most recent)

CLICK HERE for our 2015 Composite Projections

Check out Cory’s Tout Wars recap and Zach’s Tout Wars recap

Plus, our overrated and underrated teams for 2015

And finally, Cory’s article on the evolution of fantasy baseball

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MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at San Francisco Giants

CORY’S PICKS

Al. Wood @ Latos – Latos is risky but the Braves offense must be picked on

Chen @ Karns – lots of helium on Karns this spring but I’ll wait and see

Lynn @ Arrieta (PPD)

Lyles @ Garza – Rox offense served notice on Monday, but I’ll bet on Garza for now

Vogelsong @ R. De La Rosa

Lewis @ Hahn

Wilson @ Paxton

Ross @ Greinke

Opening Day Pitch or Ditch

***NOTE: If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to this blog by hitting the Follow button on the right panel. You will then get an e-mail as soon as each new post goes up.

CLICK HERE to listen to our latest podcasts (Thursday, 3/26 is most recent)

CLICK HERE for our 2015 Composite Projections

Check out Cory’s Tout Wars recap and Zach’s Tout Wars recap

Plus, our overrated and underrated teams for 2015

And finally, Cory’s article on the evolution of fantasy baseball

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

MLB: Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners

ZACH’S PICKS  (Bold = Pitch)

Hutchison @ Tanaka
Hughes @ Price
Kendrick @ Lohse
Buchholz @ Hamels
Tillman @ Archer – Nice Opening Day matchup for the underrated Tillman.
Colon @ Scherzer – Colon strictly an NL-only option in tough matchup.
Samardzija @ Ventura
Weaver @ King Felix
Liriano @ Cueto
Shields @ Kershaw
Teheran @ Alvarez – We’ll be picking on the Braves quite a bit this season.
Kluber @ Keuchel
Bumgarner @ Collmenter – Collmenter an appealing option going forward but I’m waiting and seeing for now.
Gallardo @ Gray – I’ll give Yovani a shot here.

Cory’s Fantasy Evolution Article

***NOTE: If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to this blog by hitting the Follow button on the right panel. You will then get an e-mail as soon as each new post goes up.

CLICK HERE to listen to our latest podcasts (Thursday, 3/26 is most recent)

CLICK HERE for our 2015 Composite Projections

Check out Cory’s Tout Wars recap and Zach’s Tout Wars recap

And finally, our overrated and underrated teams for 2015

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hey everyone,

With the first pitch of the 2015 season a mere hours away, be sure to read this article written by Cory on the evolution of fantasy baseball. This is a longer version of a piece that appeared in the MLB.com Fantasy digital magazine.

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It’s only appropriate that, like baseball itself, no one knows really when fantasy baseball was born.

It may have been in 1951, when the APBA board game was first introduced, or 10 years later, when Strat-O-Matic baseball made its debut. That same year, a random game generator was programmed into an early supercomputer in the IBM lab in Akron, Ohio.

Or maybe it was in 1968, when Robert Coover’s fantastic novel, “The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop.” described a game with contrived players competing in a league formed of its namesake’s own imagination.

But in reality, fantasy baseball’s Big Bang happened in 1979, when a New York City writer and editor named Daniel Okrent filled his time on a flight from Hartford, Connecticut to Austin, Texas by devising the rules that would forever change baseball fandom.

Jotting down basic rules on a piece of paper, Okrent devised the first 4×4 scoring system, choosing categories based on stats that were easily found in the box scores published in daily newspapers. Remember, this was before the Internet, mobile devices, or even USA Today!

By studying the standings of recent seasons, Okrent determined that seven categories — batting average, home runs, RBIs and stolen bases for batters, along with wins, ERA and saves for pitchers — best correlated with teams’ final division finishes.

For the eighth and final category, Okrent selected a stat he had concocted while playing Strat-O-Matic (there’s that name again) games during his youth, a stat he coined IPRAT, or “Innings Pitched Ratio.” That unfortunate name didn’t stick, as it later became known as “walks and hits divided by innings pitched,” or “WHIP.”

Okrent soon gathered with several friends from the publishing business for their regular lunch at La Rotisserie Francaise restaurant in New York, proposed his new game, and the Rotisserie League — and the modern fantasy baseball industry — was born. Its first draft took place on April 13, 1980, at the Manhattan home of legendary book editor Cork Smith.

“It felt like you were in a men’s club,” recalled Peter Gethers, co-owner, along with Glenn Waggoner, of the leagues’ first champion. “You felt like you should be smoking cigars and sipping brandy. Instead we were drafting overpriced relief pitchers.” Yep, some things never change!

Many early fantasy players were introduced to the game by the well-connected publishing figures who populated that league, particularly after a 1980 article in The New York Times and another the next year, by Okrent himself, for Inside Sports magazine. With little else to write about during the 1981 strike, many baseball writers authored columns about the Rotisserie League, spreading its notoriety even further.

By 1985, this big-city phenomenon had spread sufficiently that this baseball-obsessed teenager from the suburbs earned his first introduction to fantasy baseball, a welcome progression from the solitary seasons I had constructed playing APBA at my desk. My uncle, a New York attorney and fantasy early adapter, shared his roster with me, and I co-opted the name that I’ve used since for most of my teams: “The Schwartzstops.”

By 1988, I had joined my first-ever league, an NL-only keeper league with my best friend Rod, who had joined a league with his college friends at Washington & Lee University. I opened the 1989 season by making my first-ever trade via snail mail — yes, we wrote trade offers in letters delivered by the USPS because, as college students, we couldn’t afford the long-distance phone calls over our dormitory pay phones — when I acquired a mid-tier starting-rotation booster named Bryn Smith in exchange for a little-known outfield prospect named Larry Walker. In a cruel twist of irony, it was Walker from whom I stole the simple axiom “hitters hit,” which has informed much of my fantasy strategy since.

Meanwhile, the popularity of fantasy baseball continued to soar, driven by the early Sabermetric concepts of the Bill James Abstracts, and in 1986 Ron Shandler published the first edition of the Baseball Forecaster, the first publication to apply more sophisticated data analytics to fantasy.

Fantasy baseball eventually infiltrated actual Major League front offices, and I spent the 1992 season working for the Yankees and talking fantasy in the press box with early pioneer John Benson, while the club stumbled to its last losing season before the birth of the dynasty that would win four World Series rings in five years. That was the year I learned the “no cheering in the press box” rule, earning a withering glare on Opening Day from my boss Jeff Idelson after I celebrated too noticeably when my fantasy first baseman — Mo Vaughn of the visiting rival Red Sox — clanged a homer off the right field foul pole.

The concept of the “experts league” was introduced in 1994, as John Hunt of USA Today recruited some of the biggest names in fantasy baseball — including Waggoner, James, Shandler, Greg Ambrosius and then-ESPN anchor Keith Olbermann — to join him in the brand-new Leagues of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR).

Olbermann and ESPN were can’t-miss viewing for fantasy owners in the 90’s, as we eagerly huddled around our televisions at 10 p.m. each night to see which of our hitters earned mention in the “Daily Dinger Diary” on Baseball Tonight.

Hunt, of course, had earned his place among the fantasy baseball founding fathers when, as the head fantasy sports writer at USA Today Baseball Weekly, he led the publication of its annual Fantasy Preview, affectionately known as “The Leviathan.” Now, of course, fantasy preview publications are numerous — available online and in mobile apps — and updated daily.

Shandler departed LABR in 1998 to form Tout Wars, which today pits industry experts in five different competitions, many of them using rules and stats categories that would’ve been completely foreign to Okrent less than 20 years earlier. In recent years, Shandler has launched monthly leagues, enabling fantasy owners to challenge themselves with entirely new teams throughout the season.

By the turn of the century, the growth of the Internet had spurred an explosion of new leagues, and those of us who used to update our league’s standings by copying the AL and NL stats published in USA Today on Mondays and Tuesdays could now choose from a variety of web-based league-hosting and stat services.

In 2001, MLB.com was born, and with it, Beat the Streak was introduced. In this contest, you need only to pick a new player every day, and your streak grows if that player gets a hit. Get a hit every day for 57 straight days to beat Joe DiMaggio’s 1941 record streak of 56 games, and win what has grown to a $5.6 million grand prize. No one has won in the 14-year history of the contest, though one user put together back-to-back streaks of 31 and 27 in 2006, meaning the record would’ve been broken if Joe Crede had managed a hit on June 27 of that year. Michael Karatzia holds the current record with a 49-game streak in 2007.

In the 14 years since the introduction of BTS, fantasy baseball has continued to grow and spread in new directions and new formats, offering nearly unlimited opportunities for competition: high-stakes national competitions, monthly, weekly and daily fantasy sports, and even a survivor-style “pick ‘em” contest on MLB.com. Daniel Okrent’s original 4×4 format has been widely replaced by 5×5, with runs and strikeouts added, and many leagues use customized categories and arcane scoring formats.

But for all of fantasy baseball’s evolution, one aspect has remained constant: all leagues crown champions. At the end of that inaugural season in 1980, the very first Rotisserie League gathered in honor of its triumphant co-owners and introduced another fantasy tradition: the “Yoo-Hoo shower.”

“It was particularly sweet and disgusting and gooey,” said Gethers.

That ritual still occurs today, but — like many other aspects of fantasy baseball — it has been honed. Apparently, the first Yoo-Hoo shower nearly ruined the carpet, so subsequent ceremonies usually take place in bathtubs.

411 Listener League Draft Results

***NOTE: If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to this blog by hitting the Follow button on the right panel. You will then get an e-mail as soon as each new post goes up.

CLICK HERE to listen to our latest podcasts (Thursday, 3/26 is most recent)

CLICK HERE for the results of our completed 12-team mixed league expert mock draft

CLICK HERE for our 2015 Composite Projections

The MLB.com Fantasy 411 Cheat Sheet is a must-have for all of your drafts

Check out Cory’s Tout Wars recap and Zach’s Tout Wars recap

And finally, our overrated and underrated teams for 2015

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MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers

Zach here,

One longtime 411 tradition is the assembling of our overrated and underrated teams for the upcoming season. You can read yesterday’s blog entry for that. Today, it’s time for another longtime 411 tradition, that is the posting of the listener league draft results! This year, we have four satellite listener leagues, but this listener league is the original one, and being that it’s a daily transaction league, the level of waiver wire activity is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. You’ve got pitching and ditching galore in addition to Monday/Thursday hitter pickups (there’s no games played maximum for hitters). Oh, and the competition is stiff, as the league includes ten rather accomplished old school 411 fans in addition to Cory and myself (I took over for Siano this year). Anyway, here are the full results from last night’s draft. My picks are marked with asterisks while Cory’s team name is self-explanatory. The league format is a standard 12-team mixed with a mere two bench spots.

Feel free to share your thoughts. Are there any picks that you especially like? Are there any picks that seem weird to you?

Round 1

(1) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Mike Trout CF

(2) The Canexicans – Andrew McCutchen CF

(3) Schwartz Stops – Giancarlo Stanton RF

(4) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Miguel Cabrera 1B

(5) Bloo Meenies – Paul Goldschmidt 1B

(6) FantasyBBJay Jay – Jose Abreu 1B

(7) mancrushes united – Anthony Rizzo 1B

(8) Manhattan Marauders – Edwin Encarnacion 1B

** (9) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Carlos Gomez CF

(10) KFred inCal – Clayton Kershaw SP

(11) Team Gluttons – Jose Bautista RF

(12) Havalina  Lumber Co – Robinson Cano 2B

Round 2

(13) Havalina  Lumber Co – Troy Tulowitzki SS

(14) Team Gluttons – George Springer RF

(15) KFred inCal – Max Scherzer SP

** (16) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Adam Jones CF

(17) Manhattan Marauders – Yasiel Puig RF

(18) mancrushes united – Ian Desmond SS

(19) FantasyBBJay Jay – Josh Donaldson 3B

(20) Bloo Meenies – Felix Hernandez SP

(21) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Jose Altuve 2B

(22) Schwartz Stops – Hanley Ramirez SS

(23) The Canexicans – Stephen Strasburg SP

(24) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Buster Posey C

Round 3

(25) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Jacoby Ellsbury CF

(26) The Canexicans – Jose Reyes SS

(27) Schwartz Stops – Evan Longoria 3B

(28) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Ryan Braun RF

(29) Bloo Meenies – Adrian Beltre 3B

(30) FantasyBBJay Jay – Justin Upton LF

(31) mancrushes united – Bryce Harper LF

(32) Manhattan Marauders – Michael Brantley LF

** (33) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Freddie Freeman 1B

(34) KFred inCal – Corey Dickerson LF

(35) Team Gluttons – Jordan Zimmermann SP

(36) Havalina  Lumber Co – Starling Marte LF

Round 4

(37) Havalina  Lumber Co – Chris Sale SP

(38) Team Gluttons – Matt Harvey SP

(39) KFred inCal – Adrian Gonzalez 1B

** (40) Greenwich  Village Gurus – David Price SP

(41) Manhattan Marauders – Madison Bumgarner SP

(42) mancrushes united – Carlos Gonzalez LF

(43) FantasyBBJay Jay – Corey Kluber SP

(44) Bloo Meenies – Anthony Rendon 2B

(45) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Johnny Cueto SP

(46) Schwartz Stops – Aroldis Chapman RP

(47) The Canexicans – Greg Holland RP

(48) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Starlin Castro SS

Round 5

(49) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Zack Greinke SP

(50) The Canexicans – Matt Kemp CF

(51) Schwartz Stops – Kyle Seager 3B

(52) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Albert Pujols 1B

(53) Bloo Meenies – Jon Lester SP

(54) FantasyBBJay Jay – Nolan Arenado 3B

(55) mancrushes united – Craig Kimbrel RP

(56) Manhattan Marauders – Mark Melancon RP

** (57) Greenwich  Village Gurus – David Robertson RP

(58) KFred inCal – Chris Davis 1B

(59) Team Gluttons – Todd Frazier 3B

(60) Havalina  Lumber Co – Victor Martinez DH

Round 6

(61) Havalina  Lumber Co – Yoenis Cespedes LF

(62) Team Gluttons – Mookie Betts CF

(63) KFred inCal – Carlos Santana 3B

** (64) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Jason Kipnis 2B

(65) Manhattan Marauders – David Ortiz DH

(66) mancrushes united – Ian Kinsler 2B

(67) FantasyBBJay Jay – Billy Hamilton CF

(68) Bloo Meenies – Cole Hamels SP

(69) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Nelson Cruz LF

(70) Schwartz Stops – Kole Calhoun RF

(71) The Canexicans – Evan Gattis C

(72) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Prince Fielder 1B

Round 7

(73) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Adam Wainwright SP

(74) The Canexicans – Jason Heyward RF

(75) Schwartz Stops – Chris Carter DH

(76) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Matt Holliday LF

(77) Bloo Meenies – Jeff Samardzija SP

(78) FantasyBBJay Jay – Cody Allen RP

(79) mancrushes united – James Shields SP

(80) Manhattan Marauders – Brian Dozier 2B

** (81) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Jay Bruce RF

(82) KFred inCal – Dee Gordon 2B

(83) Team Gluttons – Leonys Martin CF

(84) Havalina  Lumber Co – Trevor Rosenthal RP

Round 8

(85) Havalina  Lumber Co – Jonathan Lucroy C

(86) Team Gluttons – Brandon Moss 1B

(87) KFred inCal – Brian McCann C

** (88) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Pablo Sandoval 3B

(89) Manhattan Marauders – Kris Bryant 3B

(90) mancrushes united – Gio Gonzalez SP

(91) FantasyBBJay Jay – David Wright 3B

(92) Bloo Meenies – Sonny Gray SP

(93) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Kolten Wong 2B

(94) Schwartz Stops – Kenley Jansen RP

(95) The Canexicans – Jake Arrieta SP

(96) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Dustin Pedroia 2B

Round 9

(97) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Joey Votto 1B

(98) The Canexicans – Ryan Zimmerman 3B

(99) Schwartz Stops – Drew Storen RP

(100) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Alex Gordon LF

(101) Bloo Meenies – Julio Teheran SP

(102) FantasyBBJay Jay – Jorge Soler RF

(103) mancrushes united – Manny Machado 3B

(104) Manhattan Marauders – Gerrit Cole SP

** (105) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Steve Cishek RP

(106) KFred inCal – Elvis Andrus SS

(107) Team Gluttons – Huston Street RP

(108) Havalina  Lumber Co – Matt Carpenter 3B

Round 10

(109) Havalina  Lumber Co – Christian Yelich LF

(110) Team Gluttons – Michael Pineda SP

(111) KFred inCal – Jonathan Papelbon RP

** (112) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Mark Trumbo 1B

(113) Manhattan Marauders – Alexei Ramirez SS

(114) mancrushes united – Masahiro Tanaka SP

(115) FantasyBBJay Jay – Jacob deGrom SP

(116) Bloo Meenies – Hunter Pence RF

(117) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Dellin Betances RP

(118) Schwartz Stops – Melky Cabrera LF

(119) The Canexicans – Zach Britton RP

(120) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Carlos Carrasco SP

Round 11

(121) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Koji Uehara RP

(122) The Canexicans – Devin Mesoraco C

(123) Schwartz Stops – Howie Kendrick 2B

(124) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Glen Perkins RP

(125) Bloo Meenies – Tyson Ross SP

(126) FantasyBBJay Jay – Michael Wacha SP

(127) mancrushes united – Brett Gardner CF

(128) Manhattan Marauders – Fernando Rodney RP

** (129) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Jimmy Rollins SS

(130) KFred inCal – J.D. Martinez LF

(131) Team Gluttons – Hector Rondon RP

(132) Havalina  Lumber Co – Garrett Richards SP

Round 12

(133) Havalina  Lumber Co – Marcell Ozuna CF

(134) Team Gluttons – Hisashi Iwakuma SP

(135) KFred inCal – Francisco Rodriguez RP

** (136) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Lance Lynn SP

(137) Manhattan Marauders – Yan Gomes C

(138) mancrushes united – Salvador Perez C

(139) FantasyBBJay Jay – Xander Bogaerts 3B

(140) Bloo Meenies – Alex Cobb SP

(141) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Homer Bailey SP

(142) Schwartz Stops – A.J. Pollock CF

(143) The Canexicans – Gregory Polanco RF

(144) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Matt Adams 1B

Round 13

(145) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Alex Wood SP

(146) The Canexicans – Daniel Murphy 2B

(147) Schwartz Stops – Joaquin Benoit RP

(148) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Joe Nathan RP

(149) Bloo Meenies – Chris Archer SP

(150) FantasyBBJay Jay – Brett Cecil RP

(151) mancrushes united – Ben Zobrist 2B

(152) Manhattan Marauders – Josh Harrison RF

** (153) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Neil Walker 2B

(154) KFred inCal – Adam LaRoche 1B

(155) Team Gluttons – Alcides Escobar SS

(156) Havalina  Lumber Co – Anibal Sanchez SP

Round 14

(157) Havalina  Lumber Co – Neftali Feliz RP

(158) Team Gluttons – Adam Eaton CF

(159) KFred inCal – Lucas Duda 1B

** (160) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Ian Kennedy SP

(161) Manhattan Marauders – Charlie Blackmon RF

(162) mancrushes united – Mat Latos SP

(163) FantasyBBJay Jay – Luke Gregerson RP

(164) Bloo Meenies – Jayson Werth RF

(165) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Yadier Molina C

(166) Schwartz Stops – Joc Pederson LF

(167) The Canexicans – Pedro Alvarez 3B

(168) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Doug Fister SP

Round 15

(169) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Alex Rios RF

(170) The Canexicans – Yordano Ventura SP

(171) Schwartz Stops – Sean Doolittle RP

(172) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Addison Reed RP

(173) Bloo Meenies – Chase Utley 2B

(174) FantasyBBJay Jay – Curtis Granderson RF

(175) mancrushes united – Jenrry Mejia RP

(176) Manhattan Marauders – Andrew Cashner SP

** (177) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Russell Martin C

(178) KFred inCal – Ben Revere CF

(179) Team Gluttons – Santiago Casilla RP

(180) Havalina  Lumber Co – LaTroy Hawkins RP

Round 16

(181) Havalina  Lumber Co – Martin Prado 3B

(182) Team Gluttons – Mike Napoli 1B

(183) KFred inCal – Danny Santana SS

** (184) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Jose Quintana SP

(185) Manhattan Marauders – Erick Aybar SS

(186) mancrushes united – Eric Hosmer 1B

(187) FantasyBBJay Jay – Collin McHugh SP

(188) Bloo Meenies – Rusney Castillo CF

(189) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Francisco Liriano SP

(190) Schwartz Stops – Brandon Belt 1B

(191) The Canexicans – Justin Morneau 1B

(192) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Brad Boxberger RP

Round 17

(193) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Aramis Ramirez 3B

(194) The Canexicans – Alex Rodriguez 3B

(195) Schwartz Stops – Wilson Ramos C

(196) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Jose Fernandez SP

(197) Bloo Meenies – Wil Myers RF

(198) FantasyBBJay Jay – Edward Mujica RP

(199) mancrushes united – Matt Wieters C

(200) Manhattan Marauders – Jered Weaver SP

** (201) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Austin Jackson CF

(202) KFred inCal – Phil Hughes SP

(203) Team Gluttons – Andrew Miller RP

(204) Havalina  Lumber Co – Shin-Soo Choo LF

Round 18

(205) Havalina  Lumber Co – Jhonny Peralta SS

(206) Team Gluttons – Mike Zunino C

(207) KFred inCal – Avisail Garcia RF

** (208) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Tyler Clippard RP

(209) Manhattan Marauders – Lorenzo Cain CF

(210) mancrushes united – Jake McGee RP

(211) FantasyBBJay Jay – Travis d’Arnaud C

(212) Bloo Meenies – Oswaldo Arcia RF

(213) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Jean Segura SS

(214) Schwartz Stops – Brett Lawrie 3B

(215) The Canexicans – Taijuan Walker SP

(216) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Dallas Keuchel SP

Round 19

(217) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Hyun-Jin Ryu SP

(218) The Canexicans – Joakim Soria RP

(219) Schwartz Stops – Yasmani Grandal C

(220) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Joe Mauer 1B

(221) Bloo Meenies – Rougned Odor 2B

(222) FantasyBBJay Jay – Khris Davis LF

(223) mancrushes united – Matt Cain SP

(224) Manhattan Marauders – Steve Pearce 1B

** (225) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Shelby Miller SP

(226) KFred inCal – Wilin Rosario C

(227) Team Gluttons – Asdrubal Cabrera SS

(228) Havalina  Lumber Co – Bobby Parnell RP

Round 20

(229) Havalina  Lumber Co – Mike Fiers SP

(230) Team Gluttons – Andrelton Simmons SS

(231) KFred inCal – Marlon Byrd RF

** (232) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Desmond Jennings CF

(233) Manhattan Marauders – Jake Odorizzi SP

(234) mancrushes united – Michael Cuddyer RF

(235) FantasyBBJay Jay – Drew Hutchison SP

(236) Bloo Meenies – Aaron Sanchez SP

(237) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Nick Markakis RF

(238) Schwartz Stops – Brandon McCarthy SP

(239) The Canexicans – Micah Johnson 2B

(240) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Scott Kazmir SP

Round 21

(241) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Wade Davis RP

(242) The Canexicans – Daniel Norris RP

(243) Schwartz Stops – Brett Anderson SP

(244) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Justin Verlander SP

(245) Bloo Meenies – Coco Crisp CF

(246) FantasyBBJay Jay – Marcus Semien 3B

(247) mancrushes united – Carl Crawford LF

(248) Manhattan Marauders – Adam Ottavino RP

** (249) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Sergio Romo RP

(250) KFred inCal – Drew Smyly SP

(251) Team Gluttons – C.J. Cron 1B

(252) Havalina  Lumber Co – Joel Peralta RP

Round 22

(253) Havalina  Lumber Co – Rajai Davis LF

(254) Team Gluttons – R.A. Dickey SP

(255) KFred inCal – Trevor Bauer SP

** (256) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Adam Lind 1B

(257) Manhattan Marauders – Steven Souza RF

(258) mancrushes united – Mark Teixeira 1B

(259) FantasyBBJay Jay – Arismendy Alcantara 2B

(260) Bloo Meenies – Miguel Montero C

(261) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Chase Headley 3B

(262) Schwartz Stops – Jason Hammel SP

(263) The Canexicans – Ryan Howard 1B

(264) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Jedd Gyorko 2B

Round 23

(265) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Carlos Beltran RF

(266) The Canexicans – Dalton Pompey CF

(267) Schwartz Stops – Chris Tillman SP

(268) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Yasmany Tomas RF

(269) Bloo Meenies – Billy Butler DH

(270) FantasyBBJay Jay – Derek Norris C

(271) mancrushes united – Michael Morse 1B

(272) Manhattan Marauders – Lonnie Chisenhall 3B

** (273) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Derek Holland SP

(274) KFred inCal – Kevin Gausman SP

(275) Team Gluttons – Everth Cabrera SS

(276) Havalina  Lumber Co – John Jaso C

Round 24

(277) Havalina  Lumber Co – Jon Jay CF

(278) Team Gluttons – Robinson Chirinos C

(279) KFred inCal – Travis Snider RF

** (280) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Jarrod Saltalamacchia C

(281) Manhattan Marauders – Jason Castro C

(282) mancrushes united – Denard Span CF

(283) FantasyBBJay Jay – Billy Burns CF

(284) Bloo Meenies – Javier Baez SS

(285) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Tyler Flowers C

(286) Schwartz Stops – Dexter Fowler CF

(287) The Canexicans – Eric Young Jr. LF

(288) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Torii Hunter RF

Round 25

(289) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Carlos Ruiz C

(290) The Canexicans – Pat Neshek RP

(291) Schwartz Stops – Chris Coghlan LF

(292) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Carlos Martinez SP

(293) Bloo Meenies – Christian Bethancourt C

(294) FantasyBBJay Jay – Michael Taylor CF

(295) mancrushes united – CC Sabathia SP

(296) Manhattan Marauders – A.J. Burnett SP

** (297) Greenwich  Village Gurus – Colby Rasmus CF

(298) KFred inCal – Ken Giles RP

(299) Team Gluttons – Nick Castellanos 3B

(300) Havalina  Lumber Co – Mike Olt 3B

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Overrated/Underrated Teams for 2015

***NOTE: If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to this blog by hitting the Follow button on the right panel. You will then get an e-mail as soon as each new post goes up.

CLICK HERE to listen to our latest podcasts (Thursday, 3/26 is most recent)

CLICK HERE for the results of our completed 12-team mixed league expert mock draft

CLICK HERE for our 2015 Composite Projections

The MLB.com Fantasy 411 Cheat Sheet is a must-have for all of your drafts

Check out Cory’s Tout Wars recap and Zach’s Tout Wars recap

And while you’re at it, here’s an article written by MLB.com’s Will Leitch on the evolution of fantasy baseball

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Zach here,

It’s an annual 411 tradition, and there’s no way we were going to let this tradition come to an end. Joining forces with Cory (he wrote the overrated section while I covered the underrated team), this is what we came up with. And as always, feel free to chime in with your own picks.

OVERRATED

C  Devin Mesoraco is earning serious attention in fantasy drafts after blasting 25 homers in 2014, but there are significant red flags to his performance. His OPS dropped by nearly 200 points after the All-Star break as he hit only .237 and struck out 49 times in 177 at-bats, and his overall home run-to-fly ball rate was 20.5%, more than double his career totals leading into the season. Salvador Perez, Travis d’Arnaud and Wilson Ramos look like far better values at lower prices.

1B  Freddie Freeman is routinely drawing higher bids and picks than established veteran sluggers like Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols, but it’s hard to see him out-earning them. Freeman’s elite line-drive rates have produced exceptionally high BABIP’s over the years, but that hasn’t translated into high batting averages (.286 career) or impact power (career-high 23 homers). His runs scored and RBI totals could suffer badly in the depleted Braves’ lineup, too.

2B  Kolten Wong produced 12 homers and 20 steals last year despite a three-week demotion to Triple-A, making him a chic breakout pick for 2015. But, his terrible spring training stats might result in another short leash this year, and even if he plays every day, batting eighth in the Cardinals’ lineup won’t help his run and RBI totals. Veterans like Neil Walker and Chase Utley can be had for far less and may provide similar value.

SS  Hanley Ramirez is earning some pre-season MVP buzz after signing with the Red Sox, and being paid like it on draft day, but what are you getting for that investment? The 13-homer hitter from last year, or the one who hit 24 two years ago? The player who hit .243 and .257 in consecutive seasons or the one who bounced back to hit .345 in 2013? Will he make an impact on the basepaths for the notoriously stationary Red Sox? Hanley is an immense talent but his immense risk isn’t being reflected in his draft-day pricing.

3B  Nolan Arenado showed considerable improvement last season, hitting .287 with 18 homers in only 111 games, lifting his slugging percentage by 100 points over his rookie year while improving both his walk and strikeout rates. However, he hit only .269 with two homers in road games, so he’ll have to prove that he’s more than a home/away play. Arenado has massive upside but is being paid on draft day as if he’s already achieved it, while Pablo Sandoval could provide 80% of the production for half the price.

OF  Corey Dickerson emerged from obscurity to hit .312 with 24 homers in only 131 games, resulting in draft day bids comparable to Ryan Braun, Justin Upton and Adam Jones. But, Dickerson hasn’t shown he can handle left-handed pitching, or be as productive away from Coors Field as he is on the road, making him a very risky pick at such a high price tag.

OF  Jorge Soler, like Dickerson, is being treated on draft day comparable to more established players, based on a sample size too small to make such conclusions. His power and athletic talents are undeniable, but the 24-to-6 strikeout-to-walk rate in last season’s 24-game debut should give some pause. Soler played only 32 games above Double-A before reaching the Majors last season, so some growing pains should be expected in 2015.

OF  Bryce Harper is still only 22 years old, so it’s not at all unreasonable to expect that he will eventually reach the superstardom predicted for him since he was a teenager. The problem is, Harper continues to be priced on draft day as if he has already reached that level, when in fact he hasn’t come close. He still hasn’t exceeded his rookie season career-highs of 22 homers and 59 RBI’s, his strikeout and walk rates spiked in the wrong directions last year, and injuries have cost him nearly 100 games over the past two seasons. Fantasy owners should be wary of paying for what Harper may someday become, rather than what he is today.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Colorado Rockies

SP  Phil Hughes set a Major League record last year with his 186-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which contributed to a shiny 1.13 WHIP, 3.52 ERA and 16 wins. He dropped his changeup and slider in favor of a cut fastball, but we’ve seen Hughes tinker with his repertoire before without coming close to that level of results. And, an equally big part of his success was a career-low 6.2% homer-to-fly ball ratio. But any givebacks on that metric and with his command, and his ERA could climb back into the mid-4’s common in previous seasons. Hisashi Iwakuma is a far more reliable investment for a similar price.

SP  Gerritt Cole has ace written all over him, and hinted at it last year with a 65-12 K-BB ratio over his last nine starts. However, that stretch came against several lower-tier, strikeout-prone offenses, and followed a stint of nearly two months on the disabled list. It seems unlikely that Cole can add 60+ innings to his workload this year while also shaving a half-run or more off of his ERA, making him resemble a solid #3 starter, rather than the top-20 cost he’s carrying on draft day.

RP  Drew Storen earned 43 saves in 2011, but even then fell short of the elite tier due to his 2.73 ERA and relatively unspectacular 8.8 K/9 ratio. He was superficially better last season, with a 1.12 ERA, but that had as much to do with his 91% strand rate, .259 BABIP and 3.8% homer-to-fly ball ratio, as it did with his actual skills. He should be a solid mid-tier closer this year, but he hasn’t proven he’s a better buy than less-expensive options like Steve Cishek.

UNDERRATED

C  Yasmani Grandal – Much was expected of Grandal when he made his big league debut, but a combination of injuries and a PED suspension have held him back. But his hitting talent is undeniable, and he finished last season strong, batting .291 with four homers and 14 RBI in September. Don’t expect a particularly high batting average over the long haul, though his move away from Petco should boost his home run total. His high walk rate makes him especially valuable in OBP leagues. He’s currently the #14 catcher in NFBC ADP rankings, so you will likely be able to draft him as your second catcher in a 12-team mixed league or a perfectly acceptable cheap #1 in deeper formats. Don’t be surprised if he posts top-10 backstop numbers.

1B  Adam LaRoche – I get it, LaRoche is boring, and a bit long in the tooth. But he’s also been extremely consistent, with at least 20 home runs in nine of his last ten seasons, the only exception being 2011, when he was limited to just 43 games due to injury. LaRoche is coming off a 26 HR, 92 RBI campaign, and he can easily duplicate or even exceed those numbers this year, now that he will be playing half of his games in a hitters’ park. With Jose Abreu at first base, LaRoche will serve as the White Sox regular DH, which should also help to keep him fresh. If you choose to go cheap at the first base position on draft day, he’s a guy worth targeting.

2B  Brett Lawrie – Lawrie has teased us before, but injuries have played a major role in his so far disappointing big league career. Perhaps a fresh start in Oakland will do the trick, and when it comes to his health, getting away from the artificial turf in Toronto certainly can’t hurt (no pun intended). There’s still 15/15 potential here, and Lawrie is still only 25 years of age. As a low risk/high reward MI in a mixed league of 12 teams or more, he’s plenty appealing.

SS  Jhonny Peralta – Like LaRoche, Peralta is kind of boring. That said, he’s fresh off one of his most productive seasons to date, and with home run totals down throughout baseball, middle infielders with legitimate 20-homer power are hard to come by. In a 12-team mixed league, Peralta is more of a high-end MI than a starting SS, but if you opt to wait on the shortstop position, Jhonny is a perfectly adequate choice, and he’s routinely being drafted after less proven commodities like Xander Bogaerts or even Alcides Escobar. Give me Peralta at the discount.

3B  Pablo Sandoval – For the first time in his career, Sandoval will be playing his home games in a hitter-friendly park, yet his perceived fantasy value hasn’t improved at all despite the likely across the board statistical uptick. In NFBC drafts, Panda is on average being taken well behind Kris Bryant, David Wright and Josh Harrison and barely ahead of Manny Machado. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s also worth noting that he’s averaged 149 games played over the past two seasons, so the injury-prone label is overblown.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks

OF  A.J. Pollock – The breakthrough season has yet to come for Pollock, but 2015 might just be the year. Actually, last year was looking like the year until a fractured hamate bone sidelined him for three months. His minor league numbers are solid, and from a fantasy perspective, he does a little of everything. A helpful batting average along with 15 homers and 30 steals is a very real possibility, and you should be able to draft him as your OF4 in a 12-team mixed league.

OF  Shin-Soo Choo – Even those who were convinced that Choo could not repeat his monster 2013 campaign could not have expected what happened last year. At 32 years of age, maybe he doesn’t fully bounce back to his .280-plus AVG, 20/20 days, but the track record says that we shouldn’t give up on him entirely. After all, he did play hurt for much of last season. While reaching for Choo probably isn’t a smart idea, I wouldn’t be afraid to take him if he comes at a reasonable price. His current NFBC ADP of 171st overall (#44 OF) seems like a reasonable price.

OF  Avisail Garcia – Oh, what could have been. A mid-April shoulder injury ruined a possible breakthrough campaign for Garcia, but he still managed seven home runs and 29 RBI in only 46 games. Garcia’s plate discipline skills need a lot of work, but the good news is that he doesn’t even turn 24 until June. The batting average might not be great, but a full season’s worth of at-bats could result in 20 homers and 75-plus RBI. Even if he doesn’t quite reach his full potential in 2015, this is a player who you are better off owning a year too early than a year too late.

SP  Jose Quintana – Quintana’s ERA, strikeout rate and walk rate have steadily improved since he made his big league debut back in 2012. U.S. Cellular Field isn’t kind to pitchers but surprisingly, only two of the ten longballs Quintana served up last season came at home. And please don’t get caught up in the nine wins. Not only are wins fluky, but the White Sox bolstered their offense over the winter with the acquisitions of Adam LaRoche and Melky Cabrera, so it’s safe to expect a significant increase in victories for the emerging lefty. Draft him as your fourth or fifth starter in a 12-team mixed league and you can easily be rewarded with SP3 level production.

SP  Jered Weaver – I really don’t understand why people are so afraid to draft Weaver this year. He may no longer be a top-20 fantasy SP, but after suffering through an injury-marred 2013 campaign, he bounced back nicely last season to make 34 starts and rack up 18 wins to go along with quality ratios. Maybe he’s past his prime, but Weaver still has a few fantasy worthy seasons left in the tank, and he’s routinely being drafted outside of the top-50 starting pitchers. At that price, I’ll gladly take him.

RP  Luke Gregerson – Gregerson has been a top-tier setup man for awhile now (career 2.75 ERA and 1.08 WHIP), and after serving as merely a fill-in closer at times during his career, he will now get a chance to pitch in the ninth inning on a full-time basis. On Tuesday, the Astros officially named Gregerson their closer, so you will now need to spend a lot more to get him. But it will be worth it. Consider him a safe mid-level CL2 who you can still get at a low-end CL2 price.

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Zach’s Mixed Auction Tout Wars Recap

***NOTE: If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to this blog by hitting the Follow button on the right panel. You will then get an e-mail as soon as each new post goes up.

CLICK HERE to listen to our latest podcasts (Thursday, 3/26 is most recent)

CLICK HERE for the results of our completed 12-team mixed league expert mock draft

CLICK HERE for our 2015 Composite Projections

The MLB.com Fantasy 411 Cheat Sheet is a must-have for all of your drafts

Check out Cory’s Tout Wars recap

And while you’re at it, here’s an article written by MLB.com’s Will Leitch on the evolution of fantasy baseball

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Coming off a third place finish last season, my highest finish since joining the Mixed Auction Tout Wars league back in 2012, I went into Saturday afternoon’s auction determined to do even better. To be honest, however, I had my doubts. I mean, how does a team that drafts Jose Altuve, Nelson Cruz and Chris Carter for a combined $36 while posting the lowest ERA in the league not win it all? I don’t have the answer, but that’s besides the point. I need to let that go.

Anyway, onto 2015, and my auction preparation method was the same as always. I started by sketching out an ideal team that I projected to fit under the $260 cap by assigning dollar values to each starting roster slot with those players in mind. Then, at each of those roster slots, I’d list several lower priced alternative choices, assigning each of those guys a dollar value as well. Missing out on my top target at a certain position and settling on one of my backup options would save me some money, which I could in turn use to upgrade at another position. All in all, I’m fairly pleased with my squad, but like in any auction environment, so much depends on the unique situation, the needs of the other owners and often the nomination order. Although it’s easy to second guess yourself, either for not going the extra dollar to secure one player or overpaying for another, you just can’t do that kind of stuff.

So, without further ado, my 2015 Tout Wars roster:

C – Wilson Ramos ($10) – I’m just going to keep drafting Ramos until he finally stays healthy for a full season and puts up that 20-home run campaign that we’ve been anticipating for awhile now. Ten bucks isn’t exactly a steal, but there is profit potential here.

C – Carlos Ruiz ($1) – His 16-HR 2012 campaign is clearly an anomaly, and Ruiz is in the twilight of his career. But as my second catcher, he won’t hurt me in any category, and with Tout using on-base percentage instead of batting average, he might actually help me in that category (.347 OBP last season).

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Chicago Cubs

1B – Anthony Rizzo ($40) – Yes, I overpaid for Rizzo. But he was my primary target at first base, and with reliable power so hard to find these days, Rizzo is one of the few players in baseball with legit 40-HR potential. And the best part is that he’s only 25 years of age, so he should only improve. Plus, he’s developing into a dominant OBP force.

2B – Kolten Wong ($17) – Wong is another player who’s on the rise. His minor league track record suggests that last season’s .249 AVG and .292 OBP will prove to be the exception rather than the norm. I’m counting on 15-plus homers and roughly 30 steals, though I must admit that uncertainty as to where he will bat in the lineup is concerning. The lower he is in the order, the lower his runs and stolen base potential will be.

SS – Elvis Andrus ($15) – I originally planned on drafting Jean Segura here, but after saving money with some of my other purchases, I opted to go the extra few bucks on Andrus, who should both score more runs than Segura and post a higher OBP in addition to swiping 30-plus bags.

3B – Kyle Seager ($22) – I’m a big fan of Seager, who is fresh off a career year and should benefit from an improved Mariners lineup. I can totally see him duplicating last year’s 25 homers and 96 RBI with the potential for more in his age-27 season.

CI – Kendrys Morales ($3) – I nominated Morales early on, figuring that I could get him at a bargain basement price to fill my CI slot. I was willing to go as high as $8 for him but thankfully heard crickets. Here’s hoping that a fresh start in Kansas City will do him some good. A repeat of his 2013 line (.277 AVG, 23 HR, 80 RBI) is within reach.

MI – Neil Walker ($10) – Walker was actually one of my backup plans at 2B, so I was thrilled to get him as my MI. There aren’t too many middle infielders who can realistically hit 20 home runs. Walker is one of them.

OF – Justin Upton ($27) – Carlos Gomez was the guy I really wanted to fill my OF1 slot but when the bidding got to $38 and I hesitated to say “39”, Tim Heaney beat me to it, and $40 seemed a bit much. I’m not disappointed with Upton, but I’m not pumped up about it either. Hopefully, he can find a way to get to 25 homers despite playing half of his games at Petco. On the bright side, if I had decided to splurge on Gomez, there’s no way I could have afforded Rizzo.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Cleveland Indians

OF – Brandon Moss ($17) – Like with Morales, Moss was a player who I wanted to nominate early in hopes of winning him at a discount since my league mates would still be aiming higher. As it turned out, I wasn’t able to draft Moss at a discount, but $17 was exactly the amount I set aside for him. Moss was able to post back-to-back 25-plus HR seasons despite playing half of his games in Oakland. Moving away from the Coliseum certainly can’t hurt as he tries to return to the 30-HR level as a member of the Indians. I think he’ll get there. Adding to Moss’ appeal is his solid walk rate, so he’s not as much of a liability in OBP leagues.

OF – Oswaldo Arcia ($7) – Arcia is young and raw but the power is legit. I’ll be able to stomach the low OBP if it comes with 25 homers. Either way, the price was right.

OF – Denard Span ($4) – Purchasing Span for $1 at last year’s auction proved to be one of my best buys, so why not own him again? He isn’t expected to return from the DL until the beginning of May, but I couldn’t let him go for three bucks. Even with the month lost, I’m figuring I’ll get 20 steals with 75 runs. Add in the replacement player for April and Span is well worth four dollars.

OF – Michael Saunders ($3) – Staying healthy has been an issue for Saunders throughout his big league career, but if he can avoid the DL and receive regular at-bats, 20 homers isn’t a stretch playing his home games in a hitter-friendly park.

UT – Josh Reddick ($1) – Cheap power. That’s all there is to it.

SP – Cole Hamels ($20) – Hamels wasn’t my first choice (I really wanted David Price) but he was the clear fallback option, and I managed to get him at a fair price. He continues to be underrated in fantasy. A legit ace who can be had for a low-end ace price.

SP – Chris Archer ($10) – Again, Archer was not Plan A for my SP2 slot, but I do like the across the board upside. He battled control issues in the first half of 2014 but improved in that area as the season went along.

SP – Lance Lynn ($9) – No, I’m not expecting another sub-3.00 ERA. However, I am expecting an ERA in the mid-3’s to go along with plenty of whiffs, and since the biggest reason why I came up short in Tout last season was my low strikeout total, I made a special effort to emphasize that category.

SP – Ian Kennedy ($8) – See above. Kennedy’s ratios will be OK but not great, but he has a legitimate chance to post his second straight 200-strikeout season.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Texas Rangers

SP – Derek Holland ($2) – One of my main cheap SP targets. Many have forgotten just how good he was two years ago, and he was equally impressive upon his second half return last season. Holland also adds to my group of high-strikeout arms. For two bucks, he’s a steal.

SP – Josh Collmenter ($1) – Posted a 2.63 ERA and 0.89 WHIP at home last season. Collmenter might have fallen to the reserve rounds, and he probably won’t be an every-week starter for me. But he will make for a fine option in the right matchups.

RP – David Robertson ($20) – My relief pitcher formula in auctions consists of drafting one elite closer, one mid-tier closer with a high degree of job security and one setup man who has a good chance of taking over as his team’s closer at some point early in the season. Robertson fits the bill as the elite closer, and he didn’t cost quite as much as the other closers in that group.

RP – Glen Perkins ($12) – Perkins was disappointing last season, particularly in the second half, but a forearm injury probably had something to do with it. He’s only one year removed from being considered a no doubt top-10 closer. With better health, he has the skills to return to that level. And it’s not like the Twins have any other viable ninth inning options.

RP – Sergio Romo ($1) – Call it a hunch, but I think Romo will return to his old closer role sooner rather than later. Santiago Casilla has done a nice job in his place, but the Giants didn’t sign Romo to a new lucrative multi-year contract for him to pitch in the eighth inning. Call it a hunch.

RESERVES

Mike Leake – Still underrated despite back-to-back quality seasons. I’m not so sure he can maintain last year’s 6.9 K/9 but he’s a capable starting alternative in case Collmenter struggles.

Francisco Lindor – Couldn’t resist drafting at least one top prospect. It’s sounding like Lindor could make his big league debut sometime during the first half if he produces at Triple-A.

Colby Rasmus – Cheap power outfielder alternative to Saunders or Reddick. Maybe this will finally be the year for Rasmus?

Dustin Ackley – Post-hype sleeper? Ackley will open the season as the strong side of a left field platoon with Rickie Weeks, but Weeks is always injured and Ackley is steadily improving as a big league hitter.

Mike Moustakas – While we’re on the topic of post-hype sleepers, we might as well throw Moose into the mix. He could very well flop again, but whatever, it’s a fifth-round reserve pick.

Bartolo Colon – Seriously, how many Opening Day starting pitchers can you get in the final round of the reserve draft? OK, I’m not being very serious.

All in all, I think I’ve fielded a competitive team, though my speed is on the weak side, with only Andrus, Wong and Span (when he returns) as my 25-plus SB guys. The good news is that it’s a lot easier to trade for speed than trade for power, and my power shouldn’t be a problem. On the starting pitching side, I really like my front five, which I purchased for a combined $49, and I’m sure I won’t place near the bottom of the standings in strikeouts this time around. As for the bullpen, I accomplished my previously discussed plan. All I need now is a string of blown saves by Santiago Casilla and I’ll be good to go.

Thanks to all of the Tout Wars organizers and of course to our auctioneer Jeff Erickson, who at one point in the middle of the proceedings ran out of the draft room to yell at some noisy fans who were hanging out by the bar and then returned to the room to a round of applause!

CLICK HERE to view the full results of all four Tout Wars drafts.

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Cory’s Mixed Auction Tout Wars Recap

***NOTE: If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to this blog by hitting the Follow button on the right panel. You will then get an e-mail as soon as each new post goes up.

CLICK HERE to listen to our latest podcasts (Thursday, 3/19 is most recent)

CLICK HERE for the results of our completed 12-team mixed league expert mock draft

CLICK HERE for our 2015 Composite Projections

The MLB.com Fantasy 411 Cheat Sheet is a must-have for all of your drafts

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I missed Tout Wars last year due to a scheduling conflict, and while Craig Glaser (@sabometrics) of Bloomberg Sports performed admirably as my stand-in, my team still scuffled to a bottom-three finish for the second straight year. It’s easy to say that finishing near the bottom of the pack is no shame in Tout Wars given the quality of the competition, and that’s true, but it still stings and I want to prove that my 2012 championship was no fluke.

To accomplish that this year, I went into the draft on Saturday looking to load up on power while also protecting my on-base percentage, which Tout Wars uses instead of batting average. I was willing to sacrifice some speed to do this, figuring I’d go for the “cheap speed” route later to fill in the gaps. On the pitching side, I wanted to build a high-quality bullpen without paying for the elite closers, and looked for low-risk, mid-upside starting pitching. Starting pitching emerges all season long so I draft my team with the mindset of making extensive moves in that area throughout the year.

Here’s the recap of who I bought, position by position:

Catchers

Derek Norris ($11 vs. projected $16) – Norris has solid power and will play a lot for the Padres, especially with Tim Federowicz out for a few months, so he should put up worthwhile counting numbers. Most importantly, though, he’s a strong OBP source for a catcher, making him more valuable in this league format. Several catchers went for below what I projected them, and in hindsight I would’ve preferred Yasmani Grandal at $8, but I think I can earn a profit on this pick.

Robinson Chirinos ($1 vs. projected $1) – He has some pop, plays in a good hitters’ park and doesn’t have much competition for playing time. I’ll be satisfied with a repeat of last year’s numbers.

Corner infielders

Edwin Encarnacion ($35 vs. projected $31) – Yes, I chased on this one, and yes there’s tremendous risk with him already battling a sore back during spring training. But I vowed going into the draft to spend for power, and it was expensive in the early going so I had to reach for one of my pet players. In hindsight, I should’ve kept going on Jose Abreu rather than letting him go to Al Melchior (@almelccbs) at $36, exactly what I projected for him, but I’ll never feel bad about bringing E42 back to my team.

Josh Donaldson ($32 vs. projected $27) – Almost every worthwhile third baseman went for several dollars more than I projected, so it’s no surprise I had to overspend here. He’ll have a hard time earning what I paid for him, but like others I’m betting that a move into a better lineup and a great hitters’ park will produce a spike in his numbers.

Yonder Alonso ($1 vs. projected $4) – Nothing special here, but he’ll offer a little pop and a decent OBP. I’m hoping he’ll end up near the top of the Padres’ lineup, since they lack any better table setters.

Middle infielders

Scooter Gennett ($1 vs. projected $3) – He should be the Brewers’ leadoff hitter, which should mean plenty of runs, even if he’s better in AVG leagues than the Tout OBP format. He has a little pop and will steal a base, too. Nothing special, but he won’t be useless. I would’ve loved to get Kolten Wong, but couldn’t afford him after spending so much on my corners and outfielders, especially when he went for $17 vs. the $12 I projected for him.

Jed Lowrie ($4 vs. projected $7) – Yes, I really did think we were bidding on Brett Lawrie. But, in reality they are actually very similar… injury-prone, low-OBP players with above-average pop for their positions. This one is in a better hitters’ park so maybe this mistake will pay off?

Chris Owings ($1 vs. projected $2) – He’ll hurt my OBP but has a little pop, a little speed, and safer playing time this year. I think there’s some upside here and I actually like this as a dollar flier.

Designated hitter

Chris Carter ($20 vs. projected $20) – I’m frankly more concerned about locking up my UT spot with a full-time DH than I am about his ability to earn this bid. His power is obviously legit, and I believe he made enough improvements to his swing that he can maintain a .240-250 average or even better. And, since this is an OBP league, he could end up being a small plus in that category. Now I just have to hope Jonathan Singleton gets sent back to Triple-A so Carter can qualify at 1B and open up my UT spot!

Outfielders

Yasiel Puig ($31 vs. projected $30) – He’s an excellent OBP source, and even small growth in the power and speed could yield plus-plus value. This bid isn’t as risky as it may seem because, even if he doesn’t reach his ceiling, he has a very high floor. Plus, he’s fun to watch and was one of my target players going into the draft…even if he doesn’t earn this cost I’ll be glad to have him on my team.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays

Mookie Betts ($18 vs. projected $23) – This was one of my first buys of the draft and I’m surprised he went so inexpensively. I projected him for a nearly full season of at-bats, in which he’ll provide an excellent OBP, 20+ steals and double-digit homers, plus a ton of runs batting atop the reloaded Red Sox offense. I understand the risks here, but he has the skills to earn even more than I projected, never mind what I paid.

Kole Calhoun ($18 vs. projected $13) – He scored 90 runs in 127 games last year, which translates to 110 or so over a full season, which would place him right among the MLB leaders. He hit 17 homers, too, so I’m expecting 20 or more, plus a handful of steals. Calhoun is in his age 27 season, so I think I’ll end up making a profit on this pick, even if he cost me a few dollars more than I had projected.

Jayson Werth ($13 vs. projected $22) – Based on my projections, this was one of the five biggest bargains in the entire draft. I wasn’t projecting him for a full season of at-bats, either, so even if he misses a little time early in the season there’s still plenty of time for him to earn this cost. Werth will produce a high OBP and good power, and approach double-digit steals, providing excellent five-category value. I’m very happy about this buy.

A.J. Pollock ($9 vs. projected $14) – Pollock is easily overlooked due to past injuries and the potential for crowded playing time in the D-Backs outfield, but he’s a very good player and I expect him to be locked in as their centerfielder and leadoff hitter. He has double-digit homer power, should steal 20+ bases and will score plenty of runs.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays

Starters

Masahiro Tanaka ($10 vs. projected $14) – I LOVE this pick. Even if he only lasts two months due to his balky elbow, I could still make a nice profit, and if he manages to throw an entire season, this will be the biggest steal of the entire draft. The only pitchers in baseball last year who threw more innings than Tanaka did, with a better ERA, WHIP and K/9, were Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, Felix Hernandez and Jake Arrieta. That’s it. This is a huge discount on a potentially elite starter, even factoring in the injury risk.

Hyun-Jin Ryu ($6 vs. projected $12) – Another nice discount thanks to a sore shoulder from which he is expected to fully recover. Strong ratios, decent strikeouts, and should get plenty of wins on an improved Dodgers team. There’s not a lot of downside at this cost, and plenty of room for profit if he doesn’t miss too much time to start the season.

(I was hoping for Gerritt Cole ($16 vs. projected $13) or Tyson Ross ($14 vs. projected $12) as my top two starters, but I think Tanaka is better than both and Ryu won’t be a huge step down from either, and I got this tandem for $14 less than the pair I had targeted. If I can get 55+ starts out of my pair, I’ll be very satisfied.)

Brandon McCarthy ($6 vs. projected $7) – I’m a big fan of McCarthy and he was a target coming into the draft. He purposefully put on plenty of weight going into last season in an effort to stay healthy and throw harder, and both goals were met. The Yankees restored his repertoire to full effectiveness after acquiring him last season, and the results were outstanding. If he even approaches that production again, and does it over a full season, there’s room for a big profit here.

Jered Weaver ($5 vs. projected $8) – His velocity continues to drop but he continues to put up #2/3 starter seasons; last year he went 18-9 with a 3.59 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, with 169 K’s. I’ll make a very tidy profit on this buy.

Henderson Alvarez ($4 vs. projected $7) – He doesn’t strike anyone out, but should produce strong ratios and pick up a dozen or more wins with the improved Marlins. Like Ryu and Weaver, he’s not elite but I’ll make a nice profit on this one too. I would have preferred Danny Salazar ($3 vs. projected $9) and could’ve afforded him, but given the draft dynamics I don’t mind having settled for Alvarez.

Rick Porcello ($1 vs. projected $7) – Like Alvarez, he doesn’t offer much in the way of strikeouts, but he continues to improve and he’s still only 26 years old. He fits in perfectly with the rest of my rotation: a medium-upside starter at a bottom-of-the-barrel price who should produce a solid profit.

Relievers

Mark Melancon ($18 vs. projected $18) – I targeted Melancon coming into the draft, and after the elite guys all went for a couple of dollars more than I projected, I’m very happy to have gotten him for my projected price. He won’t offer the strikeout upside of the elite guys, but his ratios are outstanding and I expect him to approach or even top 40 saves in his first full season as a closer with a very good Pirates team.

Kenley Jansen ($14 vs. projected $17) – I targeted him coming into the draft too, with my price projection factoring in one month of missed time. Over a full season he’s a top-five closer, so I got a nice discount here and expect a strong profit, even after the missed time.

LaTroy Hawkins ($1 vs. projected $1) – Father Time will catch up eventually, so I’m just betting Hawkins will pick up 12-15 or more saves before that happens.

Reserves

Mike Minor gives me a little bit of rotation depth and I’ll stash away Josh Johnson on the DL in hopes he can contribute at some point during the season. Brandon Crawford gives me a middle infield option in case Owings flops, and Shane Victorino is a hedge against Betts struggling. Edward Mujica should steal a few saves early in the season if Koji Uehara can’t ring the bell, and while I’ll probably end up cutting my last reserve pick Melvin Upton Jr. without ever using him, it’ll still be nice to wonder what might have been…

Best bargains:

My projected dollar values produced a .926 correlation with the actual amounts paid for the 345 players picked during the auction, so I feel my projections were very accurate. But, there are always a few players who go for far less or far more than expected, whether due to draft dynamics, or simply not anticipating properly how the table will value the player. Several players went for far more than I projected, but out of respect to those who made the purchases, I’d rather focus on the ones I feel went for the biggest discounts. My Jayson Werth was one, and here are the other top five, based on the biggest net discount between what I projected and what they went for:

Ben Revere to Al Melchior (@almelccbs) ($6 vs. projected $17) – He’s an elite SB source who won’t hurt the OBP. Even a fraction of last year’s production produces a big profit on this pick.

Carl Crawford to Tim Heaney (@Tim_Heaney) ($3 vs. projected $13) – Crawford had a huge finish to last season, and has a much more clear path to playing time this year. I would’ve loved him as an end-game OF. This is almost pure profit for Tim.

Billy Hamilton to Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB) ($16 vs. projected $25) – Like Revere, Hamilton is an elite contributor in steals and could score a ton of runs atop the Reds lineup if Joey Votto returns to health. There is risk here, but upside far beyond what Fred paid.

Evan Gattis to Fred Zinkie ($15 vs. projected $23) – Obviously the wrist injury drove down the price, but if healthy, Gattis could make this a steal. He’ll put up solid OF/1B/DH power numbers while qualifying at catcher.

Jonathan Lucroy to Joe Pisapia (@JoePisapia17) ($20 vs. projected $28) – With decent power and run production, a strong OBP and tons of playing time, Lucroy was one of several catchers who went for what I felt was a discount. Nice snag by Joe at a point late in the draft where very few players of this caliber were available.

# # #

I’m eager to see this team perform. I know I’m short on speed, thin in the starting pitching, and have some injury risks in my offense. But, I think I have a ton of power and a strong team OBP, a potentially elite bullpen, and enough depth to stay afloat while I patch my weaknesses. I was able to execute my plan for the most part, and while I might not be good enough coming out of the draft to consider myself a front-runner, I feel good enough that I’ll be able to outperform the disasters of the last two years. Now, let’s get the season started!

Here’s a full recap of the draft:. Let me know what you think!

Cory

P.S. – Thanks again to the fine folks at @CityCrabNYC for hosting, to @RonShandler, Peter Kreutzer (@kroyte) and @lawrmichaels for their Tout leadership, and to auctioneer @Jeff_Erickson for deftly running the draft. A great day, as always.

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