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Tout Wars Mixed Auction recap

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Exploring the strategies used, players targeted, values gained and projected final standings from last weekend’s Tout Wars Mixed Auction League.

Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

The Touts all assembled this past weekend to conduct their annual drafts and auctions. The complete roster grids can be found here, however, today I am going to focus and breakdown the Mixed League Auction. Whether you’re a mixed league manager as well, or an AL or NL only player, the depth of a 15-team mixed league should touch on enough players to be of value to everyone.

As is to be expected in a mixed league auction, especially one where no one remembers who came in second place, the spending started high and remained high for the first half of the auction. A wide range of strategies were used by the Touts to assemble their rosters.

Fred Zinkie of MLB.com is the first Tout I’d like to expand on. Not only did Fred use a “Stars & Scrubs” approach to his roster, but he drained a particular player pool as a part of his auction strategy as well. For those who don’t know, Fred is known as a big time trader in fantasy baseball leagues. The negotiation skills and ability to not only help his team, but also his trading partner’s team, is off the chart.

With this in mind, let’s review Fred’s first six purchases:

  • Kris Bryant $45
  • Bryce Harper $42
  • Josh Donaldson $42
  • Nolan Arenado $40
  • Madison Bumgarner $30
  • Yu Darvish $23

That’s $222 spent on six players. That is also three of the top third baseman, who all have an ADP inside the top-12 of straight drafts. Think Fred has a trade in mind? Probably. But even if he holds the three third basemen for a quarter of the season, the production will be elite and oh, by the way, he also rostered Bryce Harper, who is a season away from being the best hitter in baseball.

That left Zinkie with $38 to purchase 17 players. Welcome to dollar days. In fact, Fred ended up purchasing 12 one dollar players to round out his roster. The reason this isn’t a huge issue in a mixed league is the talent available late, coupled with the fact that enough other owners also spent big early.

For example, Fred acquired Joe Panik for a dollar and my projections have him as a four dollar player in this format. Zach Davies was also purchased for a buck, but his projections are for a five dollar pitcher.

My favorite Fred low-cost purchase was Tommy Joseph. Listen, I’m a big time believer in the power profile he displayed last season. I think a run at 30 home runs is well within reach as long as he doesn’t slump hard early and lose precious at-bats. Fred paid two dollars for Joseph at the auction. I have him as a $10.00 player in this format.

Not only was Fred able to land many of the top players in the game, but he also gained extra value even with many of his one to two dollar acquisitions. My projected standings have Fred in the top half of the league going into the season. This is with my system giving his squad a “1” in both ERA and Saves. Knowing how Fred loves to trade and work the wire, I’m not overly concerned that he’ll end up finishing with the lowest point totals in two pitching categories. Fred has a strong chance to take home the title in 2017.

Next up, I’d like to take a look at RotoWire’s Derek VanRiper’s draft and strategy. Unlike Fred Zinkie, VanRiper came out swinging with large purchases of two Dodger arms: Clayton Kershaw ($44) & Kenley Jansen ($22). With a solid base of starting and relief pitching, VanRiper was able to turn his attention towards his hitters.

While it appears VanRiper used a “stars & scrubs” approach to his pitching staff, he used the opposite strategy (spread the risk) while assembling his hitters. Personally, I feel this is the best way to maximize your draft resources. At-bats are crucial and drive hitter performance. In a mixed league, pitching will enter the available talent pool in season. Landing a solid base of arms, while making sure all your hitters will receive near everyday at-bats puts a fantasy baseball team in the best position to succeed.

Below are some of VanRiper’s better hitter purchases, including cost to acquire / projected value:

  • Keon Broxton ($9 / $16)
  • Michael Brantley ($2 / $10)
  • Greg Bird ($7 / $7)

Of course VanRiper also acquired more established hitters, Kyle Seager ($20), Rougned Odor ($19), Robinson Cano ($27) & Nelson Cruz ($33). While all these players were sold for more than my projected value, a fantasy owner must adapt to the room, or they run the risk of having too much money for too little of talent. See Ray Flower’s team for an example of how this can happen.

While Derek spent large early on pitching, he was also able to land some quality value arms later in the auction.

I have Vince Velasquez as a $10.00 pitcher this season for the Phillies. To acquire his services for $3.00 is an absolute steal. VanRiper also purchased Rich Hill for $12.00 which I see as even value. The risk remains for Hill as he has no clue what a 200 inning season looks like, but remember, this is a mixed league, finding replacement arms is much easier in this format. Even arms like Ivan Nova ($1.00 cost vs $4.00 projected value), Michael Wacha ($1.00 cost vs $2.00 projected value) and the upside of Daniel Norris, all prove that VanRiper understands the proper way to round out a rotation behind the top ace of Clayton Kershaw.

Derek VanRiper put together a top-three team leaving the auction in my opinion. Assuming health and proper management, look for VanRiper to be competitive in The Tout Wars Mixed Auction League this season.

To recap, we have Fred Zinkie going complete Stars & Scrubs with massive hitter spending. We have Derek VanRiper spending big on top arms and spreading the risk with his bats. Let’s now take a look at Jeff Zimmerman’s approach to the auction, which I’d classify as a “value based” strategy.

It seems Zimmerman was more than content to sit back and let the auction come to him. Zimmerman’s most expensive player was Buster Posey at $28.00. In fact, Zimmerman’s early purchase of Posey prompted the following Tweet from me:

When Posey was purchased the auction was still at a point where players were going for double digit prices above my projected value. It’s going to happen in mixed leagues and I’m not saying it’s wrong to do it. There is an opposite approach however and that’s exactly where Zimmerman went with his team. The $28.00 spent on Posey early on was only four dollars over my projected value for him. From here, Zimmerman kept most of his purchases at a par-value level, or reaped additional value as the chart below shows:

Jeff Zimmerman’s Value Selections

Player Price Proj. Value
Player Price Proj. Value
Stephen Vogt $6 $11.50
Eric Hosmer $13 $13.50
Logan Forsythe $6 $9.00
Eduardo Nunez $6 $10.50
Kole Calhoun $8 $11.50
Randal Grichuk $2 $7.50
Carlos Beltran $1 $6.50
Rick Porcello $12 $15.00
Jeff Samardzija $7 $12.50
Robbie Ray $4 $9.00
Collin McHugh $1 $8.00
A.J. Ramos $10 $12
Total $76 $126.50
Jeff Zimmerman’s 2017 Tout Wars Mixed Auction Value Selections

It will remain to be seen how this spread the risk roster plays in a field with many of the teams going star heavy. My personal post-auction standings have Jeff Zimmerman’s team in first place by twenty-three rotisserie points over the next grouping of teams (Tim Heaney, Derek VanRiper, Gene McCaffrey & Zach Steinhorn) all battling for second place according to my spreadsheet.

It’s a long season. FAAB bids, injuries and unexpected player performances will ultimately decide how this league is won or lost. For Jeff Zimmerman’s sake however, it seems having some patience and willpower early on in the auction has at least built himself a strong core to his roster and on paper, a big lead from which to work. (Projected Final Standings can be found at the end of this article)

Quick Hit Twitter:

While following along with the Tout Mixed Auction League all afternoon Saturday, I sent out quite a few Tweets with selections I liked, disliked, strategies I saw, etc. First, if you’re not following me on Twitter, get going on that! Secondly, here’s a rapid fire breakdown of some of the Tweets I feel are important to quickly touch on, but did not fit into the article above:

Have to promote the FakeTeams love whenever possible.

Let’s not forget how great Garrett Richards was just a couple of years ago. While risk remains, it’s priced into his acquisition cost quite clearly. Don’t double penalize a guy.

It’s true. I do. Brandon Drury has been crushing the ball this spring and has been awarded the starting second base job in Arizona. Don’t sleep and make sure to land an extra share or two. Drury could be a huge profit center this season.

“For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction”. If league mates spend big early on, expect players who should never go for $1.00, to, well... go for $1.00! Tim Heaney was able to lock in nearly $8.00 of projected surplus value with this purchase.

We still don’t know what Michael Brantley we will see return to the field this season (or if he’ll even return). That said, a $2.00 investment in a mixed league where the free agent pool still contains a few outfielders with a pulse, is a gamble worth taking.

Oh, just a guy I have projected at 15 HR, 10 SB with a decent batting average (and $9.50 in projected value), GOING IN THE RESERVE ROUNDS.

Lastly, for those interested in following all of the 2017 Mixed Auction League Touts, I’ve created a Twitter List that contains all of their handles. Enjoy.

Good luck this season to all of the participants.

2017 Tout Mixed Auction League Post-Auction Projected Standings

Team R HR RBI SB OBP ERA W SV K WHIP Total
Team R HR RBI SB OBP ERA W SV K WHIP Total
Zimmerman 15 8 15 11 7 9 15 12.5 15 6 113.5
Heaney 7 5 6 14 3 13.5 12.5 3.5 11 14.5 90
VanRiper 4 9 7 7 5 13.5 6 12.5 10 12.5 86.5
McCaffrey 8 15 13 9 1 12 7 9.5 4 6 84.5
Steinhorn 9 13.5 10 6 2 5 12.5 11 14 1 84
Zinkie 11 13.5 8 4 10 1 14 1 13 4 79.5
Engel 2 1 1 15 5 10 10.5 14 12 8 78.5
Piaowski 12.5 7 14 3 14 2 2 15 2 6 77.5
Swanay 10 11 11 1 8 6 8.5 8 3 10 76.5
Shandler 5 3 3 13 12 15 1 9.5 1 12.5 75
Hershey 14 10 12 2 13 4 5 5 6 2.5 73.5
Melchior 3 6 5 10 9 11 3.5 6 5 14.5 73
Sayre 12.5 12 9 5 15 3 3.5 2 7 2.5 71.5
Flowers 6 2 4 8 11 7 10.5 3.5 9 10 71
Pisapia 1 4 2 12 5 8 8.5 7 8 10 65.5
Post-Auction Projected Standings Created by Dave Morris Jr