March 27, 2012
Tout Wars and LABR AL Drafts
How does one conduct an auction after tipping their hand just three weeks prior? That was the main challenge I was facing in heading up to New York City for my sixth run at a Tout Wars title this past weekend. After all, just three weeks ago, I executed a plan for a very similar LABR AL league in Arizona and explained why I did what I did. It is bad enough that the room bids up every Rays player on me, but to then know the other guys that I favor put me at a double disadvantage this weekend.
My strategy for Tout Wars AL was simple: throw a giant changeup and go after different skills while seeing how some of the other owners who were double-dipping would do when their LABR guys came up.
Here are my rosters side by side:
My first two purchases were Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols, which showed that one of my goals was to get batting average taken care of early so I could pursue other targets and not end up with the batting average challenges that face me this season in LABR. There are some common names on both teams, but they’re all more role players than big names. I was particularly happy when I managed to snag a player that came at discounts from LABR, such as Matt Joyce. Joyce went $19 in LABR, and getting him at $13 was firmly below the $16 I had him projected for, ensuring that I’d have Joyce on my Tout Wars roster for the fifth straight year.
As for my staff, I threw away the groundball strategy I used in LABR and chased pitchers on teams projected to win a lot of games; all five of my starting pitchers (and potentially six) fit that bill. I say six because Alexi Ogando was not on that targeted list with his likely role as a reliever, but I made the amateur mistake of misreading an owner when price-enforcing. I knew Lawr Michaels likes Ogando and I ended up pushing that envelope one dollar more than I should have, but that feeling of disgust was lessened when Hughes made his way onto my roster for only $4. Hughes, like Homer Bailey in the National League, is the type of post-hype sleeper I like to target, and it helped that I caught his last spring training start and noticed some life on his pitches that was not there last season.
I did not let the Ogando debacle deter me from my strategy of pushing the LABR prices on the other double-dippers. When USA Today surveyed the AL LABR drafters as to who had the best team, myself and many others pointed at Larry Schechter’s squad with our responses. Given my favorable opinions of his team, I felt safer pushing the LABR price points with him because if I got stuck with a player, it was going to be someone I liked. Sure enough, he rostered several players in both leagues and ended up paying more for them this past weekend than he did in Arizona three weeks ago. Schechter is one of the best auction players in the business, so every extra dollar you can get him to spend is a good thing. Chris Liss had similar habits but with much riskier players such as Justin Morneau and Chone Figgins, banking on severe reversion to career norms for two of the most disappointing players in baseball last season.
Playing in both LABR and Tout was beneficial in that lessons learned in one helped in the other. In my LABR review, I lamented paying $10 for Morel after watching Edwin Encarnacion go for $19 since my third base and corner spots were empty at that point and only Morel, Betemit, and Danny Valencia were left at the position. This time around, when Moustakas was still at $13, I took advantage of a fair price at $14 so history could not repeat itself. Two picks later, Encarnacion once again went for $19, and while I wasn’t the one to get E5, I was also not forced into overpaying for what was left at the position as I did in Arizona. This story would repeat itself later when someone let me have Michael Brantley at $10 and then had to jump up to $15 to roster Alejandro de Aza two players later as the last source of speed in the outfield, pushing that owner to dollar days quicker than he wanted to be there.
Overall, the team looks a bit light on saves and steals, but those are the two easiest statistics to troll for on the free agent wire throughout the season. In a deep league such as this, chasing power is incredibly tough, but I feel confident in four of the five offensive categories. My pitching should be very competitive in the ratios and wins while showing middle of the pack potential for strikeouts and saves.