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Playing in Tout Wars is a rewarding experience because of the exposure the league gets. It, alongside LABR (League of Alternative Baseball Reality), is one of the two best gauges fantasy players have to see how the “experts” apply their knowledge at the draft table. It is one thing to read the work each participant publishes online, but it is another to see what they do with their own imaginary money, or in the case of playing in high-stakes leagues such as the ones in the NFBC leagues, real money.

Over the next three pieces, I will examine each of the three Tout Wars leagues to see which touts have done the best job so far in 2011 in terms of current player values compared to what those players went for at the draft table. This will allow us to see who did a good job in player valuations, who struggled, and who was affected by injuries. Lastly, it will show any kind of correlation between value attained and current place in the standings.

Here are the current standings for the 12 team AL-only League:

1.       Larry Schechter – 97.5 points

2.       Jeff Erickson – 90.0 points

3.       Jason Grey – 79.5 points

4.       Matthew Berry – 66.0 points

5.       Lawr Michaels – 64.0 points

6.       Myself – 63.0 points

7.       Glenn Colton – 61.0 points

8.       Steve Moyer – 60.0 points

9.       Todd Zola – 58.0 points

10.   Mike Siano – 56.5 points

11.   Dean Peterson – 50.0 points

12.   Ron Shandler – 34.5 points

Schechter, in his first season in this league, has pretty much led it since day one. Grey won the league last season and is back in the hunt again this season, along with Jeff Erickson.  We also see both Berry and Michaels jump from the last two spots in the league last year to the upper division this season. The season has offered both some stunning surprises and major disappointments for owners with each owner’s enjoyment and suffering varying accordingly.  Based on current player values, here are each team’s profit/loss totals based on the prices paid on the draft table.

1.       Schechter:  +38

2.       Erickson:  +19

3.       Grey:  +9

4.       Colton:  -38

5.       Moyer:  -44

6.       Berry:  -46

7.       Myself:  -55

8.       Michaels:  -64

9.       Peterson:  -71

10.     Zola:  -71

11.     Siano:  -74

12.     Shandler:  -87

Not surprisingly, the only three teams that have turned a profit this season are the top three teams in the standings, and the bottom four teams in the standings have also shown the biggest loss in values this season.  The two unique teams are Berry’s and Michael’s. Berry spent a combined $19 on Dan Johnson and Phil Hughes, only to see those players cost him $31 this season, but the combined $22 he spent on Alex Avila, Elvis Andrus, and “Big Fat” Bartolo Colon has turned into $40 of profit, which has helped propel him in the standings despite an overall sizeable loss. Michaels is right behind him in the standings despite a slightly larger overall loss. Michaels has seen double-digit losses in value from Josh Hamilton, A.J. Burnett, Jake Peavy, Chone Figgins, Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau, and Brian Matusz but has also seen double-digit value from Asdrubal Cabrera, Alex Gordon, and Coco Crisp.  Some in-season acquisitions of Dustin Ackley and Aaron Crow helped, but getting Scott Baker and Erik Bedard for $10 and seeing them return $12 in profit also helps.

Overall, here are the ten most profitable players in AL Tout Wars so far this season:

1.       Melky Cabrera  +$26

2.       Brennan Boesch +$25

3.       Jordan Walden +$23

4.       Jeff Francoeur +$22

5.       Curtis Granderson +$20

6.       Kyle Farnsworth +$18

7.       Asdrubal Cabrera +$18

8.       Brandon League +$17

9.       Alex Avila +$17

10.     Mike Trumbo +$16

Three closers on that list have been three of the biggest value gainers this season, which only strengthens the resolve of those that dislike investing in saves on draft day (such as myself). I paid $10 for League to serve as my primary reliever, and he has been fantastic. Unfortunately, he owns all of my saves as speculations on Koji Uehara and Joel Peralta have been unfruitful. Cabrera, Boesch, and Francoeur are the types of gains that drive fantasy players crazy. Cabrera has always underwhelmed, Boesch was coming off a year where he was dominated by right-handed pitching, and Francouer was the butt of a lot of jokes. These players went for $3, $1, and $6 on draft day and have returned $73 worth of profit as a group this season.

On the flipside, here are the ten players that are driving owners in this league crazy for different reasons this season:

1.       Adam Dunn -$27

2.       Joe Mauer -$24

3.       Carl Crawford -$22

4.       Phil Hughes -$20

5.       Brian Matusz -$20

6.       Evan Longoria -$19

7.       John Lackey -$18

8.       Kendry Morales – $17

9.       Tsuyoshi Nishioka – $17

10.     Matt Thornton – $17

Surprisingly, only four pitchers are on this list with just one closer (who had a disastrous month of April). More shocking are top forty picks such as Dunn, Crawford, Mauer, and Longoria. In fact, the latter three were gone by the end of the second round in most straight draft leagues, but these fantasy studs have crippled teams this season.  None of the teams in the top three have any of these players while yours truly owns the two Twins, representing $41 of the $55 of loss I show at this point in the season.

The scatterplot below shows the trends for the profit/loss figures for the 276 players that were drafted back in late March.

In all, just 90 of the 276 players–32 percent–have turned a profit since draft day while 67 percent have generated losses for owners this season.  Both Erickson and Schechter have four of the top 25 most profitable players in the league on their rosters, which is a big part of the reason why they are where they are in the standings as they hold nearly one-tenth of the profit pool while the other teams fight over the scraps and lick their wounds. Grey has an outside shot of being a noise-maker in the second half of the season, but this appears to be a two-man race to the finish between Erickson and Schechter.