On Tuesday March 7th, I took part for the 3rd straight year in the 15-team Tout Wars Mixed Draft. Fueled by good fortune (and perhaps the 5×5 OBP format), I have fielded championship-level teams in both years only to finish in 2nd place to Adam Ronis of Scout & SiriusXM. It is like I am the Patriots but, unfortunately, he is being coached by Tom Coughlin.

I picked 1st last year and had an insane Trout/Scherzer/Sale start to my draft when the room drafted an unfathomable 28 hitters in the first 29 picks. The rest of the draft turned out fairly well and my in-season pickups were strong. Looking back, not coming out of the draft with enough speed (damn you Magoo and Grey talking me into DeShields) or Saves (Boxberger/Storen was brutal, half-salvaged with a Colome handcuff) hurt me in the end.

One reward for top teams is that the previous year’s order is used for determining draft pick. With second choice, I just had to rank my two preferred spots. By reflex, I chose 1st than 2nd since I have found those are the two most valuable spots (followed by 3, 4, etc.). Once Ronis wisely chose 1st, I realized I should have spent a little more time thinking about it as there is not much consensus on a #2 pick in 5×5 OBP this year.

Here are the full results of the 2017 Tout Mixed League Draft. Below are my picks and my analysis:

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HDMH is a motivational phrase created by Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman. It stands for ‘Height Doesn’t Measure Heart’.

On Saturday night, Marcus Stroman twirled a 4.2 inning gem against the Dominican Republic, striking out four batters, walking none, and allowing only three ground ball singles. When Stroman was removed before his 65th pitch – the limit for starters in the pool round of the WBC – Tanner Roark, David Robertson, and Andrew Miller proceeded to give up seven earned runs on seven hits. Combined, that trio recorded only nine outs and threw 19 more pitches than Stroman, producing substantially less impressive results. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed with how the Blue Jays starter carved through the Dominican Republic’s lineup.

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Razzball Nation!  After typically complaining about how many moves Grey will make in the Perty Perts RCL league, I decided to branch out into the other expert league-space this year and hop in a couple of leagues with our fantasy compadres.  Thanks to the CBS guys for letting one of us Razzball schmohawks crash their league.  Then dominate with sheer fiscal responsibility!  I’m like Alexander Hamilton out there, makin’ banks!  Overall I liked how I did, but I shall let you – esteemed Razzball Commenters – let me know how you think I did in this auction-extravaganza (league is 12-team roto, daily FAAB, weekly line-ups):

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With all the innings totals I wish I could accurately project for 2017, two that carry some of the most weight in drafts come from the same team. To say the Dodgers have a plethora of starting pitching would be an understatement. One of the many divergences between baseball and fantasy baseball is the value of depth. The Dodgers have roughly 10 viable starting pitchers from which they can construct their opening day rotation, yet that only creates headaches for fantasy owners trying to figure out projections for arms like the two I’m curious about, Julio Urias and Rich Hill.

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The phrase “I’m excited for Spring Training” is a double edged sword, especially in fantasy baseball. We’re all excited to see the early signs of life on our already drafted fantasy teams, yet there is still a month of emptiness before the actual returns start trickling in. That leaves ample time for overreaction to minor injuries and excessive helium for players who put together a few good at bats.

Although many owners have the discipline to completely neglect the impacts of recency bias during the Spring, some will always fall prey to the hype, and you will feel the resulting impact in the draft room. Sometimes, it may even be good to fall prey to that hype. As we all know, fantasy baseball is often a game of balance. Below I’m going to aggregate my reaction to what has happened in the few games we have seen so far and how, if at all, I have translated these points over to the fantasy section of my baseball mind.

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Way back in January, when the very first signs of ADP data sprouted out of the ground, I went down the rabbit hole, hoping to catch a glimpse of early signs of value. ADP at that point was more convoluted than forming an expectation for how much Pablo Sandoval would weigh coming into Spring Training, but since it was the only sign we had as to the ‘market’ rate for various players, I utilized it as much as I could.

James Paxton was the poster-boy of my early preseason eyebrow raise. He was going past the 200th overall pick with a maximum just outside of the 11th round. Paxton sits right now with an ADP around 192 overall according to NFBC data, with a max that has ticked up to 109 overall. Grey has Paxton as his 41st ranked starting pitcher and his 162nd overall player. Finally in the process of publishing my personal rankings, Paxton is my 27th overall starting pitcher and my 115th overall player, with still some finagling to bring that up even more if I feel so moved.

What Paxton accomplished last season was nothing short of fascinating. We see mechanical changes in pitchers a lot, but rarely do we see changes that cause such palpable success and subsequent expectations that aren’t afraid to project out that success. Fangraphs did a really nice dive into exactly what Paxton changed and why success followed. Simply put, Paxton reverted to his natural arm slot on the mound, opting to venture away from the ‘over-the-top’ motion he used that we’ve seen cause problems in the past – see Wacha, Michael. This slot helped him hone his command on the inner third of the plate to righties, opening up the outside of the plate to his insanely effective cutter/slider. Eno Sarris breaks this down in the piece linked above.

When I uncovered this story last season, I was wildly intrigued for one reason. A natural arm slot, logically to me, would mean less risk for injury. The DL is something Paxton hasn’t been able to avoid for most of his career, but if there was ever a storyline to give hope for health, I can’t think of a better one than him being more comfortable on the mound…

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For these pitcher pairings, I’m going to be using our (my) 2017 fantasy baseball rankings.  Notably, the top 20 starters for 2017 fantasy baseball, top 40 starters for 2017, top 60 starters for 2017 and the top 80 starters for 2017.  You can also just go to our Fantasy Baseball War Room.  Okay, formalities out of the way.  *rolls up sleeves, makes farting noise with hand under armpit, rolls down sleeve*   Let’s get busy!  Now, what is a pitcher pairing?  It’s your plan for putting together a fantasy staff.  A course of action.  If you have A pitcher, which B, C, D, E and F pitcher goes with him?  Which is different than ‘F this pitcher,’ that’s what you say in May.  You should have six starters.  The sixth starter is Blake Snell or take whoever you want.  I suggest an upside pick.  Snell comes to mind.  Or Mike Montgomery.  Daniel Norris also comes to mind.  I’m going to assume you’re in a 12 team, 5×5 and some variation of 9 pitcher leagues like the Razzball Commenter Leagues.  Speaking of which, the RCL league signups will began as soon as ESPN opens for business. (NOTE: What you are about to read is massively confusing.  If it were found scribbled in a notebook, the FBI would be watching me.  If Charles Manson stood up and read this at the next prison Meet N’ Greet, no one would blink an eye.)  Anyway, here’s pitcher pairings for pitching staffs for 2017 fantasy baseball drafts:

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Yo, yo, yo, it’s Money Makin’ Manhattan back again, or as the ladies call me Mmm… I just made the milkshake of Googling “mmm meaning.”  I made that milkshake even though I know what it means.  I also will be using milkshake instead of mistake as a subtle protest to Apple’s autocorrect.  Siri, you made the milkshake of messing with me!  I thought mmm just meant a sound when you’re enjoying something.  Only Google told me, “MMM means Expression of pleasure or contentment, My Main Men, Marjories and Maureens Meanderings, Manual Mind Melt, Mad Minute Monday.”  That then sent me on a two-hour journey around the internet trying to figure out what everything after ‘contentment’ means in that definition.  Are Marjories and Maureens Meanderings nomadic feminist thoughts like, “I could use directions, but Waze’s development team was 100% men and I’m not using it?”  I have a theory that at some point in the future, likely when we’re all dead and gone, people will no longer speak in words, but will only talk in acronyms.  Yes, essentially, everyone will be like the little girl in Sleepless in Seattle that grew up to not shave her armpits on Transparent and Girls.  Potatoes to chips, I’m gonna keep this Head-to-Head fantasy baseball draft strategy so succinct that it could be written on the back of a CVS receipt and still have room for a grocery list for a family of five.  Assuming the family of five has shopped in the previous two months.  If said family was in Breckenridge for a skication, and are just getting home before Rascal, Tommy and Clarafeen have to go back to school, then their shopping list might be too long to fit.  Now if they’re just getting back from Breckenridge and are bringing food with them in coolers that they accumulated over the skication, then there might still be enough room.  More or less contingent on accumulated food and their level of hunger.  Fangraphs has a formula to figure this out.  It converts a CSV table into a CVS receipt.  Quite revolutionary.  I’m surprised Carson Cistulli didn’t mention it in his 250,000 word Wikipedia entry.  Whose Wikipedia page is longer Cistulli or Rosa Parks?  I mean, all she did was refuse to switch seats, Carson hosts a podcast!  Head-to-Head, or H2H, doesn’t change a lot for our 2016 fantasy baseball rankings.  There are 300 billion suns in the Milky Way galaxy.  There are 100s of billions of galaxies in the universe.  There are at least 256,000 planets exactly like Earth.  Yet, there’s only one Mike Trout.  (Though Trike Mout on Planet Spoonerism is pretty good too.  Not a first rounder though.)  H2H doesn’t change that.  The strategy for playing in the middle of the season in H2H leagues changes.  You aren’t hoping Eric Hosmer hits 20 homers by October, but whether or not he’ll hit a homer on Sunday or if you should sit him for Jarrod Dyson to try to win steals.  It’s all about the matchups, y’all!  So you want to build a team that can match up well with any other team.  (FYI, I’ve gone over this stuff before, but some of you might need a pine tree refresher hung from your rear view.)  Anyway, here’s my head-to-head draft strategy:

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For those that are new here, welcome.  I’ve gone over my fantasy baseball draft strategy previously.  Luckily for you, I will happily coddle you.  Unluckily for you, I think coddle means to fart on your pillow when you’re out of the room, causing you to get pink eye.  For all your previous misguided attempts at drafting in fantasy baseball leagues, you might be SMDH or telling yourself FML, but now you will be SMDH like, “Look at me smiling like I just smoked some reefer and shaking my damn head at my new knowledge of fantasy baseball drafts.”  Or you might be telling yourself FML, but now you mean it like, “I just got my life drunk on a case of Pabst and we’re going to screw for the first time real romantic-like.  Could someone light a candle while I eff my life?”  Fantasy baseball strategies are as old as the earth, if the earth were ten or so years old.  There’s a LIMA Plan (Low Investment Mound Aces) by Ron Shandler.  There was a ZIMA Plan by Matthew Berry; it involved a lot of stumbling around, groping and the hiccups. There’s been a Punt One Category draft strategy.  There’s been a Punt Two Categories draft strategy, which was conceived by a leaguemate of Punt One Category who just couldn’t stand being upstaged, and there’s the Forget When Your Draft Is So Your Team Is Autodrafted strategy.  I love when my leaguemates use that one.  Then there’s my fantasy baseball snake draft strategy, Fantasy Master Lothario’s Strategic Method of Domination Henceforth or FML SMDH. (You might even want to use this strategy for our Razzball leagues.  Join now.  Thank you.)

FML SMDH has five basic steps.  If you follow these steps, you will place near the top in all of your leagues.  No plan is foolproof because, unfortunately, they still have to play the games, but FML SMDH puts you in the best position possible to win coming out of your draft.  Actually, this plan is foolproof and you should ignore the previous sentence that said no plan is foolproof.  No sentence is foolproof, that’s more accurate.  Okay, onto the steps:

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For these pitcher pairings, I’m going to be using our (my) 2016 fantasy baseball rankings.  Notably, the top 20 starters for 2016 fantasy baseball, top 40 starters for 2016, top 60 starters for 2016 and the top 80 starters for 2016.  You can also just go to our Fantasy Baseball War Room.  Okay, formalities out of the way.  *rolls up sleeves, makes farting noise with hand under armpit, rolls down sleeve*   Let’s get busy!  Now, what is a pitcher pairing?  It’s your plan for putting together a fantasy staff.  A course of action.  If you have A pitcher, which B, C, D, E and F pitcher goes with him?  Which is different than ‘F this pitcher,’ that’s what you say in May.  You should have six starters.  The sixth starter is Aaron Sanchez or take whoever you want.  I suggest an upside pick.  Sanchez comes to mind.  Or Vincent Velasquez.  Daniel Norris also comes to mind.  I’m going to assume you’re in a 12 team, 5×5 and some variation of 9 pitcher leagues like the Razzball Commenter Leagues.  Speaking of which, the RCL league signups began on Monday, go sign up for a league. (NOTE: What you are about to read is massively confusing.  If it were found scribbled in a notebook, the FBI would be watching me.  If Charles Manson stood up and read this at the next prison Meet N’ Greet, no one would blink an eye.)  Anyway, here’s pitcher pairings for pitching staffs for 2016 fantasy baseball drafts:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 
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