2014 Tout Wars Auction Analysis: A Lesson in Price Enforcing

Ray analyzes his Tout Wars mixed league auction roster and explains how he changed his strategy mid-draft on Saturday afternoon.

On Saturday I participated in the Tout Wars mixed league auction draft for the first time. This auction was my first mixed league auction ever, as I have participated in numerous NL only and AL only auctions going back to the 90's, but never a mixed league auction. In my preparation for this auction, i used Mike Gianella's auction bids that he posted over at Baseball Prospectus, but had to adjust them as his bids are for 12 team "only" leagues, and not 15 team mixed leagues.

It was a little weird entering the SiriusXM Fantasy radio offices in the McGraw Hill building in New York City and not knowing anyone.  I have interacted with several of the people participating in the mixed league and NL only auction drafts on Twitter, but have never met them in person, so I couldn't put a name to a face, with the exception of a few people like Mike Gianella, Bret Sayre, Jason Collette, Ron Shandler, David Gonos, Eric Mack and Derek Carty.

Mike, Bret, Jason Collette and I grabbed a quick bite to eat before the auction draft, and luckily the restaurant we chose was not busy and served our food very quickly. The chicken quesadilla I ordered had to be the biggest quesadilla i have ever had. It had chicken and cheese in it, with the onions and peppers on the side, but I tell you it had chunks of chicken in it that were close to an inch thick. It was very good and very filling.

Once we finished our lunch, we made our way back to the draft, and I took my seat with Scott Swanay and Paul Singman to my right , and Nando Difino and David Gonos to my left.

I entered the draft with the strategy to not buy any of the top tier players at each position. I didn't want to pay for any of the $30+ players, preferring to buy several players valued in the $15-$25 range. I had targeted specific players at each position that would allow me to execute my Spread the Wealth strategy very well. But that all went out the window on the very first player called out by MLB.com's Fred Zinkie, the two time Tout Wars mixed league champ, as I was caught price enforcing on Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. I felt the bidding would go past $33, but that was not the case and much to my chagrin, Jeff Erickson called out "going once, going twice, sold" on my $33 bid. From that point on, I felt that my pre-draft strategy was in danger, and as you will see, it was.

My next purchase was Braves closer Craig Kimbrel at $22. Not a bad price for Kimbrel, as he should return that value in 2014. He is my closer anchor and I was happy to have the best starter and best closer on my roster.

My next purchase was on shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, as I won his bidding at $30. Pre-draft, I had targeted Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, and looking back, I should have stuck to my guns. I like both, but think Hardy can provide as much power as Tulo for a fraction of the price. Nando Difino won the bidding for Hardy at $9 late in the draft, so I should have stuck with my original plan.

When Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez's name was called out, I decided to get involved in the bidding as he is coming off a 20 home run, 40 stolen base season, and the team announced he would hit leadoff this season. When the bidding got to $23 on Gomez, I jumped in at $24, and much to my surprise, the bidding stopped there. Gomez has been called Mike Trout-lite by some, and I felt he was a bargain at that price.

The first baseman were jumping off the board, and I wanted to get one of Eric Hosmer, Jose Abreu, Adrian Gonzalez and Brandon Belt. It wasn't my plan to get all three, but that is just what I did. I won the bidding on Gonzalez at $22 soon after my winning bid on Gomez.

A few players later,  I won the bidding on James Shields at $18. I thought I could get someone to go another dollar, but that was not to be the case here. It was at this point that I started pondering changing my strategy regarding my pitching. After winning the bidding on Kershaw and Kimbrel, I thought about going with a pitcher heavy roster, but was more comfortable going with the hitter heavy roster.

During each of the first two breaks, I discussed with Bret Sayre and Mike Gianella my idea of going with a closer and middle reliever strategy to finish up the rest of my rotation. This league has a 950 inning minimum rule, and with Kershaw and Shields, they can give me 440-450 innings, leaving me to find 500+ innings from my six closers and middle relievers. I will more than likely need to add/trade for another starting pitcher at some point, assuming my $1 Carlos Martinez does not win a rotation job in St. Louis.

This light on pitching strategy allowed me to focus on offense the rest of the way, with the hope of placing in the top three in Saves, ERA and WHIP. Since I only drafted two starting pitchers, I am giving up the wins and strikeouts categories, so I will only earn two points with this strategy. It is not going to be easy winning with this strategy, but I have used this strategy in the past with much success.

Putting my new plan in action, I then bought White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu at $20 to fill my corner slot, Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez to fill my third base position, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt at $15 to fill my utility spot, Chase Utley at $9, and Kolten Wong at $4. In need of stolen bases, I bid $4 on Phillies speedster Ben Revere and was again surprised that no one went to $5 on the potential 40 stolen base hitter. With Gomez, Wong, Revere and Utley rostered, I feel I have enough speed to fare well in the stolen base category.

I was dollared out after winning the bidding on Revere, and closed out my roster with nine one dollar players: Carlos Ruiz, Geovany Soto, Gregory Polanco, Justin Ruggiano, and relievers Luke Gregerson, LaTroy Hawkins, Carlos Martinez, Tyler Clippard and Cody Allen. Allen is my handcuff for my second closer Jon Axford, and Hawkins will open the year as the Rockies closer. I think Clippard has a decent shot at closing games in Washington this season, as Rafael Soriano saw his strikeout rate plummet last season, and has had a horrible spring thus far. Martinez is currently seen as the Cardinals set up man, so if Rosenthal falters, he could close games this season. Or, he could make the Cardinals rotation as their fifth starter if Joe Kelly can't hold the job.

To fill out my bench, I grabbed Gordon, Andre Etheir, Mark Reynolds and Drew Stubbs. I will use Ethier as my fifth outfielder until Polanco gets called up, but I also have Drew Stubbs to fill that role as well. If Stubbs is playing regularly in center field for the Rockies, I could use him when the Rockies are at home for a particular week and Ethier when the Rockies are on the road. Or if Stubbs plays more of a bench role. Ethier could be bench player come mid-April, but he could be traded as well, resulting in more playing time.

I project my team to hit 240+ home runs and steal anywhere from 140-160 bases, depending on when Gregory Polanco gets called up and if Dee Gordon plays everyday. I could use Gordon if Tulowitzki gets hurt or Wong struggles, or as my utility guy when he is playing regularly. Even in a part time role, I think Gordon can steal 30+ bases. If he plays regularly, he could steal 40 or more, and I could place in the top three in the stolen base category.

My pre-draft strategy did not work out as planned, as I was caught price enforcing on Kershaw, Shields and Kimbrel to a certain extent. The ability to change strategies mid-draft is something I have learned over the years, and think my team can compete this year if all works in my favor. One must have luck to win deep leagues like this, so I will need things to go in my favor to compete. If not, it was a learning experience for me.

Here are the results of my first Tout Wars mixed league auction:

POS

GUILFOYLE

$$

C

Carlos Ruiz

1

C

Geovany Soto

1

1B

Adrian Gonzalez

22

3B

Pedro Alvarez

15

CI

Jose Abreu

20

2B

Chase Utley

9

SS

Troy Tulowitzki

30

MI

Kolten Wong

4

OF

Carlos Gomez

24

OF

Jay Bruce

23

OF

Ben Revere

4

OF

Gregory Polanco

1

OF

Justin Ruggiano

1

U

Brandon Belt

15

P

Clayton Kershaw

33

P

Craig Kimbrel

22

P

James Shields

18

P

Jon Axford

12

P

Luke Gregerson

1

P

LaTroy Hawkins

1

P

Tyler Clippard

1

P

Carlos Martinez

1

P

Cody Allen

1

BN

Dee Gordon

0

BN

Andre Ethier

0

BN

Mark Reynolds

0

BN

Drew Stubbs

0

How did I do?

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