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Tout Wars NL-only Auction Recap

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Ray recaps his 2016 Tout Wars auction draft results with his thought process before and during the draft.

Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday morning, I rose out of bed early to take a bus ride into New York City for the 2016 Tout Wars NL-only auction draft. As the day approached I gave more and more thought about my draft strategy, chatting via text with a few owners from one of my NL only keeper leagues. I decided that I wanted to draft two ace starting pitchers, and not pay for saves, preferring to re-allocate budget from my two closers to my second ace.

The Tout Wars NL only league is a standard 12 team, 5 x 5 league with on base percentage instead of batting average.

I also went into the draft wanting to target several players, including Max Scherzer, one of the Mets three aces, Ben Revere, Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna, one of Starling Marte or Charlie Blackmon, Brandon Belt and Yasmani Grandal.

My thought process on Scherzer was that I although I would love to win the bidding on Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, I knew Kershaw would go for $40+, while Scherzer's price would be in the low $30 range. As it worked out, Kershaw went for $41 and I won the bidding on Scherzer at $32. Their stats are relatively close enough that I preferred saving the $9 than spend it on Kershaw.

I targeted one of the Mets aces and Matt Harvey's name was called for auction first, and I pounced, grabbing him for $26. Would I have preferred spending a few dollars less on Harvey? Sure. But my thought process on targeting Scherzer and Harvey is that I wanted two NL East aces, as they will both make a good number of starts vs the watered-down lineups of the Braves and Phillies this season, so there should be plenty of wins and strikeouts for my two aces in 2016.

After winning the bidding on my two aces, I jumped into the bidding on Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, and honestly got caught up in the bidding, paying $29 for his services. Looking back, I regret over-paying for Freeman, as he is coming off a wrist injury, and they tend to be a nuisance for hitters as the season progresses. He appears to be 100% healthy at the moment, so maybe my worries aren't justified. I had originally targeted Giants first baseman Brandon Belt but Freeman's name was called out first and I wanted to roster a solid hitter at the position. He was on his way to another 20+ home run season last year before the wrist injury, as he focused on getting the ball in the air more than in previous seasons, so I could see a 25 home run, 85 RBI, .370 OBP season in 2016.

After winning the Freeman bid, I focused my auction on my outfield. I was quite happy to win the bidding on Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler at $13, and I see Cubs manager Joe Maddon giving him 400-450 at bats this season, as there is speculation that Kyle Schwarber will be the personal catcher for Jason Hammel this season, so that should account for 30-32 starts, or 130-150 plate appearances, right there. Should Soler receive 400-450 plate appearances, I can see him putting up a 15-20 home run season in 2016, but will have to hit a few more balls in the air.

I continued to focus on my outfield, winning the bidding on Rockies outfielders Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez and Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. As I stated earlier, I had targeted Blackmon and Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna coming into the auction, and was happy to pay market price for Blackmon at $31, but felt that I couldn't let Gonzalez or Cespedes go at $27 and $26 respectively, so I bid one dollar more. Blackmon should be good for 15 or more home runs and 30+ steals with plenty of runs scored hitting atop the Rockies lineup. Gonzalez is coming off a career year, and I know he won't hit 40 home runs again, but a 25 home run, 85 RBI season is not out of the question. Cespedes is coming off the best year of his career, and should be able to hit 30 home runs once again in 2016. His runs scored and RBI may drop a bit, but he is one of the best power hitters in the National League, so winning the auction on him for $27 was a little surprising for me as I thought he would approach or exceed $30.

I targeted Revere as one of my outfielders even though my outfield was already full by the time his name was called out, but I won the bidding on him for $21. My thinking on Revere is two fold. One, Davey Lopes is the Nationals new first base coach, so Revere will be running quite a but this season. I wouldn't be surprised to see him steal 50 bases this season. Two, he will hit atop the Nationals excellent lineup, so he should score plenty of runs and will hit for a very good average, and for me, he is the cheaper version of Dee Gordon who went for $30 to Grey Albright from Razzball. They are very similar hitters even though they play different positions, and if I can get 80-90% of what Dee Gordon put up last season, he should be a profitable hitter.

After spending $207 on my outfield, utility, first baseman and two aces, I was left with a very little to spend on my middle infield, third baseman, corner infield, catchers and the rest of my pitching staff. That said, I was happy to win the bidding on Diamondbacks power hitting catcher Welington Castillo for $12, as he should hit 15-20 home runs in full time duty this season. He hit 19 home runs in less than 400 plate appearances last season, so he has a good shot at repeating in 2016.

I tossed out Rockies shortstop Trevor Story thinking his price would be bid up aggressively after his hot spring, but I have to say I was surprised I was able to win his rights for just $7, as he should be the Rockies starting shortstop on Opening Day. I think he could struggle to make contact in his first look at big league pitching, but could still reach double digits in home runs and stolen bases, pending the Jose Reyes suspension announcement. I have a feeling he will be suspended for at last 50 games, and possibly more, which should improve Story's fantasy value.

My strategy was to not spend much on closers and I was happy to win the bidding on Padres closer Fernando Rodney at $8 and Braves future closer Arodyz Vizcaino for $7. The Braves have yet to announce who will open the season as their closer, as they are waiting to see if Jason Grilli is 100% recovered from his achilles injury. I assume if Grilli is healthy, he will open the season as the Braves closer and will eventually be traded, opening up the role for Vizcaino. Here is more from Mark Bowman at MLB.com:

If Grilli continues to make progress over these final two weeks of Spring Training, the Braves will have the choice to utilize him or Arodys Vizcaino as their closer. Vizcaino capably filled this role for Atlanta over last season's final two months, and he has certainly looked primed for the role, as he has surrendered three hits and notched 11 strikeouts while not allowing a run over six Grapefruit League innings.

I will have to do a good job of working the waiver wire to fill some of the holes in my middle infield and corner spots to compete this season.

My pitching staff after the two aces and closers is less than exciting, but I can see Pirates starter Jon Niese pitching well under the tutelage of Ray Searage. He is not a big strikeout pitcher, but should benefit from the framing skills from catcher Francisco Cervelli and the endless infield shifts to be a productive starter in 2016.

Rea has a solid chance to make the Padres rotation in spring training, especially with Brandon Morrow opening the season on the disabled list, and Brandon Maurer not pitching well this spring.

I grabbed Rockies starter Jonathan Gray as a speculative play, as he pitched better than his surface stats indicate, and he did strike out nearly a batter per inning last season. Combine that with the fact that the Rockies are making adjustments to their outfield walls this season, and we could see some surprising performances from the Rockies staff this season. If not, he will be one of the first players dropped via the waiver wire.

So, there is the recap of my auction draft, and you can find the rest of the rosters in the link below:

Tout Wars NL Auction

My 2016 NL only Tout Wars Roster

Pos

GUILFOYLE

Price

C

W. Castillo

12

C

K. Plawecki

1

1B

F. Freeman

29

3B

W. Middlebrooks

1

CI

Josh Bell

1

2B

Chase Utley

2

SS

Trevor Story

7

MI

A. Hechavarria

3

OF

Jorge Soler

13

OF

C. Blackmon

31

OF

Carlos Gonzalez

28

OF

Y. Cespedes

27

UT

Ben Revere

21

SW

Mallex Smith

2

P

Max Scherzer

32

P

Matt Harvey

26

P

Jon Niese

5

P

Jonathan Gray

1

P

Colin Rea

1

P

Jorge Lopez

1

P

Pedro Baez

1

P

Ar. Vizcaino

7

P

F. Rodney

8

R

Julio Urias

R

Nick Williams

R

Chad Bettis

R

Carlos Estevez