March 27, 2014
Tout Wars Recap
On Tuesday, I wrote about how I did in my NL-only Tout Wars auction. While I know that many readers like to read about one expert’s auction strategy, tactics, and execution, studying the Tout Wars auctions from a broader perspective can also provide a great deal of help to any fantasy player.
Tout Wars is the third and final major expert-league auction; it is preceded by LABR in early March and CBS in late February. I wrote about LABR’s AL and NL auctions earlier this spring and identified a few possible auction trends. If those trends held in Tout Wars, it’s likely that you may see similar results in your home league auctions this coming weekend. If not, they might be insignificant blips on the radar.
So what happened?
Will Pitching Cost More This Year?
Table 1: Expert Hitting/Pitching Dollar Allocation 2013 vs. 2014
Pitching was slightly more expensive in Tout Wars in 2014 than it was in 2013, but the spike wasn’t nearly as dramatic as it was in both CBS leagues and LABR AL. In the NL, this can be explained in part by the season-ending injuries to Patrick Corbin ($9 in LABR) and Kris Medlen ($16). Corbin and Medlen’s combined $25 salary is slightly more than the $23 pricing gap between LABR pitchers and Tout Wars pitchers. Before the auction, I anticipated that the money that was spent on Corbin and Medlen would be redistributed to the better pitchers and in many cases this was exactly what happened.
Table 2: Pitcher Pricing Comparison: LABR vs. Tout, 2014
Not every pitcher was more expensive, but both the AL and NL experts were willing to spend a little bit more on the top pitchers. Darvish, Scherzer, Sale, Price, Wainwright, Lee, and Bumgarner all received raises of $2 or more.
Closers Cost More in the AL, Less in the NL
Table 3: AL Expert Closer Prices 2014
*Feliz in CBS/LABR
The Tout Warriors in the AL weren’t quite as aggressive as their counterparts in CBS, but they did push three closers past $20 and six more past $15. As I mentioned in my LABR recap, even expert owners can’t help being reactive to prior year’s events. Closers in 2012 crashed and burned in the American League and everyone pushed their prices down; in 2013, many closers recovered and all was forgiven.
Table 4: NL Expert Closer Prices 2014
*combined Chapman/J.J. Hoover price in Tout Wars
The National League saw a similar shift in closer pricing among the three expert leagues, although the prices in CBS were extremely high, with only Veras and closer-in-waiting Rex Brothers going for less than $15. Tout Wars saw a more typical distribution of expert dollars on the closer market, with only three closers costing more than $16. Every owner except for Lenny Melnick of Roto Experts bought at least one closer whereas in LABR four experts passed on a closer entirely.
What About OBP?
Table 5: OBP vs. BA Tout Wars NL: 2013 Risers
The most favorable OBP adjusted players received raises in Tout Wars, but the market wasn’t quite willing to push most of these guys all up to their “logical” prices. Martin was a significant exception, but his price went up more because he and Carlos Ruiz were the last two starting catchers on the board, not because of a specific OBP bump. Votto got a raise, but despite $40-plus earnings in OBP formats two of the last three years, the room just couldn’t bring itself to say $40.
Table 6: OBP vs. BA Tout Wars NL: 2013 Fallers
The biggest discounts built in here are for players like Castro, Arenado, and Cozart, but they went for very high prices in LABR because owners didn’t spend early. This makes it hard to tell whether the Tout Wars prices were lower due to an OBP correction or if they dropped simply because Tout Wars spent more money early and wasn’t in a position where the league had to overpay in the middle.
Table 7: OBP vs. BA Tout Wars AL: 2013 Risers
I didn’t go through the price differences for the entire AL auction, but some of these adjustments almost seem linear. Choo in particular looks like a straight up price shift from BA to OBP. Dunn and Santana’s price changes are almost too aggressive, although it is difficult to ascertain how much of this was an OBP adjustment and how much was a price adjustment.
You do have to adjust your prices for OBP but I’m of the mindset that you shouldn’t overpay for OBP any more than you should overpay for BA. Iannetta and Dunn are good examples to me of players who might be worth more using an OBP model but might not get to $10 or $15 in earnings due to playing time risk.
Table 8: OBP vs. BA Tout Wars AL: 2013 Fallers
Again, some of the rough discounts are nearly linear. Machado takes the same pay cut in Tout Wars from LABR as he did in 2013 when BA is swapped out for OBP. Jones and Escobar each lose three dollars while Altuve loses five.
There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with this approach, but even when you substitute OBP for BA earnings in the category aren’t linear from season to season. A player’s OBP earnings can fluctuate by a dollar or two simply due to random variance; paying full sticker price for OBP ignores this variance.
OBP makes 5x5 resemble old school 4x4. In that format, the best hitters had higher earning ceilings, so at one point the temptation was to pay $50 or more for the top tier hitters. The problem with this approach is that a strong OBP hitter isn’t any less prone to completely crashing and burning as any other hitter. Pay $49 for Mike Trout and the losses are that much more severe if he suffers a serious injury in May. In the end, 5x5 OBP is a throwback to an older version of the game. You have to decide if potentially buying $45-50 worth of stats is worth the risk, of if you would rather let someone else get a mild profit in a best case scenario and come out of your auction with a more balanced team.