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The final day of the season in any league is always a stressful venture when you're both locked in a tight race and hopelessly obsessive about your teams in general. Of course, I believe the latter to be a feature, not a bug. Sunday was the last day of Tout Wars X, yet we had all been strangely prepared for the rush to the finish line, having experienced it five times already. As I wrote when I recapped the auction back in March, this was a series of six four-week contests that would be aggregated together for a final score. As these things tend to go, it ended up being an extraordinarily close race between myself and Patrick Mayo of RotoExperts, as I tried to hold on to a lead I had built over the first five months, and he tried to put the finishing touches on a month (and a comeback) for the ages.

If the entire final month left me seasick, the final weekend made me schizophrenic. In fact, it almost made me jealous of the fantasy writers who cover both baseball and football, as I would have had a healthy distraction. Almost. By the halfway point, Pat had taken the overall lead and I was staring down the barrel of what would easily have been my worst period of the entire contest. A week later, my luck had turned and my offense started hitting–pushing me to a 5.5-point lead overall and a little more comfort, which would hold until the final lineups were set on Friday. From that point on, my team's performance became irrelevant, as Pat's team was absolutely firing on all cylinders. My lead was down to one at the end of the day Friday and gone by the evening games on Saturday. The tenor of my texts to Mike Gianella had gone steadily downhill and reached a level that makes me hope in hindsight that no one from his family saw any of them. Pat's pitching staff had allowed a total of four earned runs in 34 1/3 innings, good for a 1.05 ERA once his pitchers in the 1 p.m. games (Kris Medlen, Stephen Strasburg, and Julio Teheran) were done for the day, prompting me to actually surface on Twitter and send this:

I hit send and decided to go for a run. My exercise schedule is erratic at best and nonexistent at worst, but this isn't the time or place to delve into that one. (Seriously, I'm trying to get better about it. I'm not as young as I used to be. Also, no one is and that phrase is terribly inaccurate.) My pitching staff was done for the season, and Pat had one pitcher left to go and a somewhat sizable ERA lead on fellow RotoExperts sage Jake Ciely. I had five of my best hitters yet to play and points within range on offense. What happened next was a matchup of my hitter and his pitcher, which would change the course of the contest more than any other single play:

Maybe I really should exercise more often. My personal life choices aside, the overall contest ended up being decided by three points. Peter Kreutzer, one of the Tout architects, e-mailed me after rosters were locked for the final four-week period and asked me what my strategy was to try and close out my title run, and here is a portion of what I sent him:

By concentrating heavily on the five most predictable categories (W+QS, K, R+RBI, HR and OBP), I can target 40 points there. Then, with the 5-7 points I should be able to sneak away with in ERA (highly unpredictable month-to-month) and SB (with Goldy and Correa, anything is possible), I like my odds of hitting 45 points and would be pretty surprised if I ended up too far below that. Given the 14.5 point lead, I figured that the best thing I could do is avoid the 30-point month. If Pat goes out and has a 60-point month to take the title home, I will simply tip my cap to an extremely well-orchestrated comeback and title.”

Those five categories that I aimed for 40 points in, ended up netting me 42 total, and I was able to sneak away with another 8.5 due to just enough stolen bases to finish middle of the pack (though Goldschmidt and Correa only managed one apiece). The credit instead went to Andrew McCutchen and Ketel Marte, who was forced into full-time duty after Yasiel Puig was injured after 14 plate appearances, as they each stole three bases and allowed me to grab 4.5 points in the category. Here’s what the final standings, along with month-by-month totals, looked like:

At the end of a standard season, it’s easy to take a look at which players had the greatest impact on your roster and where you went right and wrong over six months. However, in a monthly league where you have six very different rosters, it requires a lot of data dumping and pivot tables. For example, no player graced my roster more than Billy Hamilton—who only ended up off my September roster due to injury. He was a big part of my strategy throughout the season, as back in my May recap, I talked about how my plan for each month was to pair a big speedster with a big OBP contributor. More often than not, that contributor ended up being Paul Goldschmidt, who I happily paid top dollar for four times (including the final three periods when his salary was $47 or above and I was the only owner to roster him). Considering my thirst for power during the entire year, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the other three players I rostered four times on offense were Chris Davis, Carlos Gonzalez, and Evan Gattis.

On the pitching side, I was noticeably going for strikeouts over all-else throughout the entire competition (and despite a few of my starters being relegated to the bullpen while members of my team, I was able to finish the season without a single hold or save), which bore itself out in my selections. Carlos Carrasco was the only pitcher to make my roster in four separate periods, though that likely would have been more without his injury, and my penny pinching ways in the rotation are borne out by the only three arms to collect three team paychecks: Julio Teheran, Kyle Hendricks and Wade Miley.

Now let’s take a break from the words and look at some tables instead. Here were my top 10 performers (and ties) in each category, along with the months in which I selected them:

Home Runs

Player MONTH

HR

SB

RP

OBP

Mike Trout JULY

12

2

30

.462

Chris Davis AUGUST

12

2

40

.414

Josh Donaldson MAY

9

0

34

.360

Chris Davis SEPTEMBER

9

0

30

.438

Kyle Schwarber AUGUST

8

1

38

.346

Carlos Gonzalez JULY

8

0

26

.431

J.D. Martinez JULY

8

0

30

.404

Justin Upton APRIL

7

3

33

.340

Mike Trout JUNE

7

0

25

.406

Carlos Gonzalez SEPTEMBER

7

0

23

.255

Carlos Correa AUGUST

7

6

20

.358

Ryan Braun MAY

7

5

40

.394

Joey Votto APRIL

7

4

25

.427

Stolen Bases

Player MONTH

HR

SB

RP

OBP

Billy Hamilton JUNE

0

15

13

.268

Billy Hamilton APRIL

2

12

16

.272

Billy Hamilton JULY

0

10

14

.295

Billy Hamilton MAY

1

8

20

.264

Billy Hamilton AUGUST

1

8

14

.278

Carlos Correa AUGUST

7

6

20

.358

Ryan Braun MAY

7

5

40

.394

Paul Goldschmidt JUNE

5

5

29

.468

Ian Desmond AUGUST

4

5

24

.314

Justin Upton JUNE

2

5

17

.321

Runs Produced (R+RBI-HR)

Player MONTH

HR

SB

RP

OBP

Ryan Braun MAY

7

5

40

.394

Chris Davis AUGUST

12

2

40

.414

Kyle Schwarber AUGUST

8

1

38

.346

Ben Zobrist JUNE

4

0

36

.385

Troy Tulowitzki JUNE

4

0

34

.424

Josh Donaldson MAY

9

0

34

.360

Shin-Soo Choo SEPTEMBER

3

1

33

.500

Paul Goldschmidt AUGUST

3

3

33

.381

Justin Upton APRIL

7

3

33

.340

Andrew McCutchen AUGUST

6

1

31

.434

On-Base Percentage

Player MONTH

HR

SB

RP

OBP

Shin-Soo Choo SEPTEMBER

3

1

33

.500

Paul Goldschmidt JUNE

5

5

29

.468

Mike Trout JULY

12

2

30

.462

Stephen Vogt APRIL

5

0

21

.455

Paul Goldschmidt JULY

1

4

19

.450

Shin-Soo Choo AUGUST

2

0

13

.439

Chris Davis SEPTEMBER

9

0

30

.438

Aramis Ramirez JULY

2

1

20

.435

Andrew McCutchen AUGUST

6

1

31

.434

Rougned Odor JULY

3

0

16

.432

Strikeouts

Player MONTH

W+QS

K

ERA

Clayton Kershaw JUNE

8

57

2.16

Stephen Strasburg SEPTEMBER

7

47

2.78

Francisco Liriano MAY

4

41

5.27

Corey Kluber JULY

6

39

3.37

Yordano Ventura SEPTEMBER

6

39

3.41

Clayton Kershaw AUGUST

6

37

1.46

Carlos Carrasco MAY

6

37

3.79

Ubaldo Jimenez JUNE

6

36

2.64

Jon Lester JULY

5

36

1.53

Carlos Carrasco JULY

4

36

4.55

Wins + Quality Starts*

Player MONTH

W+QS

K

ERA

Madison Bumgarner MAY

9

35

2.61

Patrick Corbin SEPTEMBER

8

25

1.44

Bartolo Colon APRIL

8

25

3.31

Clayton Kershaw JUNE

8

57

2.16

John Lackey JUNE

7

24

4.36

Stephen Strasburg SEPTEMBER

7

47

2.78

Carlos Rodon SEPTEMBER

7

21

2.02

Hisashi Iwakuma AUGUST

7

32

2.89

*There were 18 pitchers with six W+QS, so in the interest of internet space, I’m taking back that whole “and ties” thing temporarily.

ERA

Player MONTH

W+QS

K

ERA

Jaime Garcia JUNE

5

18

1.33

Danny Duffy AUGUST

4

4

1.38

Patrick Corbin SEPTEMBER

8

25

1.44

Clayton Kershaw AUGUST

6

37

1.46

Jon Lester JULY

5

36

1.53

Chris Heston JUNE

4

23

1.71

Gio Gonzalez JULY

6

20

1.88

Carlos Rodon SEPTEMBER

7

21

2.02

Clayton Kershaw JUNE

8

57

2.16

Jason Hammel MAY

4

31

2.17

In the end, I got 30 home runs and 119 runs produced from Chris Davis, 53 steals from Billy Hamilton, and a .421 on-base percentage from Andrew McCutchen, but those stats on their own really don’t say much about my ability to choose the right players or their ability to perform above their prices/expectations. Same with the 16 W+QS I got from Julio Teheran, the 119 strikeouts from Carlos Carrasco, or the 1.83 ERA from Clayton Kershaw. Some of those numbers can simply be deduced from the number of times I owned the players. Of course, it wouldn’t be a recap without talking about the things I did wrong either, so here are some of my most questionable decisions of the season with full hindsight:

1) Rostering both Chris Tillman and Jeff Samardzija in the final scoring period. Since I knew early I wasn’t going get many points in ERA, I left them in for nearly all of their starts and was rewarded with a 9.64 ERA from Tillman, a 12.56 ERA from Samardzija and a whopping ZERO wins or quality starts combined. Of course, the day after this contest ends, Samardzija throws a complete-game shutout. Of course.

2) After being a staunch believer in Carlos Gonzalez (and owning him both in June and July), I decided to get cute and roster Corey Dickerson, who was just about to come off the DL, over him in August. Of course, Gonzalez hit 10 home runs during that four-week stretch and Dickerson accumulated a whopping 12 plate appearances as he succumbed to a rib injury.

3) T.J. House.

I could go on, but let’s face it, you’ve already made it through 2,000 words and neither of us needs that at this point.

This was a really interesting experience, as I had never participated in the monthly games at Shandler Park prior to this draft back in March—and personally, I preferred it to DFS (though I’m not the biggest DFS advocate you’ll see in the fantasy space). And it’s unfortunate that ShandlerPark won’t be continuing into 2016, as it’s something that I could see myself enjoying in the future. Regardless, Tout X isn’t about ShandlerPark or monthly formats or any formats at all, it’s about the changing nature of the fantasy landscape—and whatever that turns out to be in 2016 will certainly be fun to follow.

Finally, I can’t thank the powers that be—Ron Shandler, Peter Kreutzer, Lawr Michaels, and Jeff Erickson—enough for inviting me to be a part of Tout Wars. Having spent the last two decades reading the analyses of the people I’m playing alongside is really awesome, and I am extremely appreciative of the opportunity. Now it’s time to put my big Mike Gianella foam finger on and root for another BP Tout title in 2015. Also, it’s now time to rearrange the needles in my Fred Zinkie (with whom Mike and I are locked in a heated battle for the LABR Mixed championship) voodoo doll .

Thank you for reading

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jonjacoby
9/22
Why does Tout decide to end 2 weeks before the end of the season?
shandler
9/22
Six 4-week leagues = 24 weeks, two weeks fewer than an entire season.