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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|UT||Brandon Moss (1B/OF)||22.329|
|B||Zach Davies (SP)||23.332|
|B||Jose De Leon (SP)||24.359|
|B||Brandon McCarthy (SP)||25.362|
|B||Hyun Soo Kim (OF)||26.389|
|B||Dan Straily (SP)||28.419|
|B||Ty Blach (SP)||29.422|
Draft Strategy Overview
- Value hitters with slight premiums on HR/SB over R/RBI/OBP due to market inefficiencies (OBP) and greater differences of opinion (R/RBI).
- Aim for balance across categories. Avoid coming up short on SB or Saves.
- As I said in my LABR draft review, pitching feels more uncertain than last year. Unless there is a great deal, make this the year where you invest closer to 67-70% on hitters vs 60-65% hitter. Best way to do that is limit to 2 pitchers in the first 9 picks.
Early Round Notes
- Bryce Harper 1.2
- So I pick 2nd in 5×5 OBP and Trout predictably goes off the board at 1.1. My rankings have Bryce Harper as a clear #2. I can see the case for Clayton Kershaw. I considered Paul Goldschmidt. I can see why some might choose consensus #2 5×5 hitter Mookie Betts here. When it came down to the pick, I could not find a satisfactory reason not to choose Bryce Harper. All the projections for Harper have him falling somewhere between 2015 and 2016 which is an admittedly wide chasm. Here is my POV. Harper’s 2016 is NOT an accurate reflection of his skills aside from his eye (which is second to Votto). He was clearly playing through injury. I do not believe that injury is chronic and, thus, the only reason to consider 2016 is if you believe he will get banged up again. Kind of doubtful but fine. Give that a 20% chance and take some air out of the 2015 stats and multiply them by 80%. Add them together. You are still looking at 35+ HR / .420 OBP with 10-15 SBs. And he is only 24.
- Giancarlo Stanton 2.29
- I have Giancarlo as a top 10 player in 5×5 OBP even after discounting him about 10 games less than most top hitters. His NFBC ADP is 39 but he is more valuable in this format since he has a higher than average BB% so I modeled his ADP to be 26. I had Adam Ronis picking twice before my next pick and thought he would draft two bats so picked Stanton with this pick.
- I find it funny that, as an industry, we have made such strides in championing future success predictors over blunt outcomes (e.g., this hitter may have hit 25 HRs but he hits a lot of GB and his HR/FB is bound to regress) but can be so Baylessian on players who have had a couple injuries. Giancarlo Stanton was a top 5 player from 2014-2/3 of 2015 when his hamate bone got fractured on a swing. Last year, he had a strained groin and bouts of hip and side soreness. Am I the only one that sees this and says, “The injuries are a little fluky and Giancarlo Stanton should be expected to have 90-95% the healthiness of a 27-year old without chronic injuries?” versus “Look at his stats. He’s never played a full season! His bones/muscles/tendons are inherently more fragile than other MLB players!” They said that about Nelson Cruz until he suddenly starting playing full seasons. They said that about Jacoby Ellsbury played 2 fullish seasons out of 3 for the Yankees at ages 30-32 despite a more demanding defensive position and running style. Remember when Jim Edmonds was unable to stay healthy before turning 30 and magically becoming durable? I will give you Larry Walker but he played in thin air. Florida air is super dense! At this price, I think I break even if Stanton only plays 120 games (assuming a DL stint). I would have been happy with George Springer with this pick but I think Stanton’s power is a magnitude better and Springer’s 20+ SB potential seems all but gone (9-for-19 last year stealing bases!)
- I gambled that Adam Ronis would not take an SP on the 2/3 turn. He went with Kluber at 3.1. Luckily, I prefered Sale. I have him valued (based on my playing time projections + Steamer rates) as the 3rd highest SP though I would draft Bumgarner and possibly Thor ahead of him. I share everyone’s instinctive wince when a pitcher (especially a LHP) moves to Fenway as his home team but, unlike Price, Chris Sale has always pitched in a hitter’s park and it is not like the AL East lineups are as feared as in previous years.
- Carlos Santana at 4.59 was my most no-brainer pick all night. I have him valued at #20 in 15-team 5×5 OBP as the 4th 1B – just ahead of Freeman and Encarnacion who were taken 16th/17th. While another 30 HR season may be a reach, 25 HR + 160 R/RBI + +.350 OBP make a very solid floor.
- Carlos Carrasco at 5.62 is an example of why one has to be flexible in their draft strategy. Never say never. As noted above, I am bearish on SP this year and planned to invest more in hitting. In LABR, I only invested a 4th round pick on SPs in the first 9 rounds. But that was driven partly by draft position – the 15th pick just does not line up as well for my SP targets as the 2nd pick. The three SPs I would have drafted here (with my % odds of being available based on NFBC ADP were): Carrasco (22%), Strasburg (21%), and deGrom (93% but trending). If those SPs were off the board, I think Dee Gordon would have been the smart pick.
- Khris Davis at 6.89 was a reach based on NFBC ADP (even my modified for OBP version) but I really like him. His power is legit. He is in his prime. Maybe some OBP upside with a year in the AL under his belt. I expect him to be a top 3 round hitter next draft.
I am going to re-use the same format from the previous two years as most readers seem to prefer it to just a pick-by-pick analysis. This format does mean I talk more about my competitors’ teams than most post-draft write-ups. I do my best to be respectful yet honest.
Hopefully, you’ll find some piece of strategy you can apply to your upcoming drafts. I have updated this to reflect changes in my philosophy since last year. Some of it incorporates learning. Some of it is driven by changes in the player pool.
You’ll see me note a lot of percentages about pick values. I calculate pick values based on my auction dollar projections. The #1 pick gets the $ value of the 1st ranked player, etc. Generally, the last pick in the 22nd round is worth a dollar (13 hitters + 9 pitchers * 15 teams) as I budget $0 for the 2nd catcher. The 23rd to 29th rounds are valued at or around $0.
|Bouncebacks||I like them as long as health not a question mark, skills/age look positive, and properly discounted.||
Harper/Stanton, yup. I guess you can thrown Kimbrel at 7.92 in there. I think his 2H challenges last year were 100% due to his knee which has been repaired.
|CBSSports’ Scott White – new to this league but who has smoked me last 2 years on his home turf in the CBS AL-only league – took A.J. Pollock at 2.20. No way I take Pollock ahead of Marte or Madbum.
|Category Balance vs Best Player Available||In a weekly league with FAAB, I prefer to come out of drafts without glaring weaknesses. So I do monitor this during draft so, everything equal, I am taking the player who provides better balance.||
I adjusted my rankings going into the draft to goose up power/speed as I felt R/RBI/OBP could come at biggest discounts. The result is my team is bonkers on power and balanced in the other 4 categories.
|Some notable imbalances: OBP – I think McLeod, Boggis, and, to a lesser extent, Perry Van Hook look weak. DJ Short looks STACKED on OBP but UNSTACKED(?) in power.
Scott White, Tom Kessenich, and Perry Van Hook look like strong speed / weak power teams but often one player switch can turn that around.
Only one (David Gonos) (un-?)consciously punted speed.
|ADP vs “Get Your Guys!”||I prefer to wait as long as possible for guys I like but adjust based on draft room dynamics.||I adjusted the NFBC ADP to account for OBP vs AVG and that seemed to work well. Khris Davis might have been a reach at 6.92 but I do not think he makes it back to me in the 7th. I feel like I reached for Eduardo Nunez in the 9th and possibly Odubel Herrera in the 8th but wanted to secure speed.||There are a couple of headscratchers but no one consistently confounded my ADP projection.|
|Anticipate Other Teams’ Picks When Prioritizing||Get ahead of player runs to minimized getting sniped.||This is where I love picking near the turn. I only had to worry about one player behind me (Adam Ronis) and we value players differently enough that I avoided getting snaked. I dodged a bullet taking Broxton with my 10th pick before the turn as he admitted to me on SiriusXM that he had him queued up.||Hard to judge other teams on this.
|Hit/Pitch Mix||I pegged the room to be at: 67/23.8/9.2 for Hit/SP/RP.||The room was: 67.4/23.9/8.7. So boo-ya!
Last year, my team splits were 63.7/27.8/8.5 after going heavy on hitters after Scherzer/Sale at 2/3.
This year was 65/23/12 as I mirrored last year’s avoidance of SPs between rounds 6 to 13 but went 3rd/5th with my aces. I also invested an extra top 15 pick in relief.
|Greg Ambrosius started with Kershaw/ Bumgarner so his 57/32/11 sticks out a bit. Charlie Wiegert was his opposite – going 75/17/8. After looking at his pitching staff, it does not look that bad. Confirms to me that, if there was a year I should punt SP, this is it.|
|Closers||I wanted a good RP1 and then get 2 cheaper ones in rounds 14-17. After grabbing ‘role’ guys in LABR, try ‘skill’ guys this time. Grab any closers still on the board after that.||I doubled up w/ LABR on Kimbrel in the 7th. I took RP2/RP3 in the same rounds as LABR (14/15) but went Bedrosian/Neris vs Maurer (picked earlier in 14) and Kelley (picked in 16th). I feel better with the ‘skill’ duo and hopefully Bedrosian grabs the closer role to start the season. Snapped up Fernando Rodney in the 19th round. I don’t love him but who else is going to close in Arizona? No way he should still be on the board.||Similar to LABR, was slightly less investment than last year in closers as I think that there is more collective uncertainty on eliteness and roles.
Everyone got at least one closer. I think I have the best shot to start the year with 3 closers.
|Middle Infielders||Pay no premiums for ‘scarce’ positions. Stay patient. Adjust player choices based on offensive category balance.||There are a lot of tempting 2B/SS in the top rounds but my draft slot just didn’t line up (whereas I went Correa/Odor with my 1st/3rd picks in LABR).
Zobrist and Schimpf are guys I would never own in standard 5×5 but have very good eyes. Schimpf intrigues me as a potential Dan Uggla.
|Based on my projections, there was a mild overpay on MI. Maybe $2 a player. The biggest overpay was Ronis on Jose Peraza at 6.91 but I don’t mind that move to solidify speed if you think a player’s skill + position eligibility is unique.|
|Catchers||I like to punt Catchers. The demands of the position lead to greater injury risk and more volatile offensive numbers IMO.||
I didn’t wait quite as long as I did in LABR (first catcher Mesoraco at 316) because I like Mike Zunino at pick #239. The power is real and has potential to be OBP neutral vs an AVG drain. James McCann at 27.392 is nothing great but cheap at that part of the draft.
|The ‘room’ invested about 5% in catchers. I invested 2%. I think Posey, Sanchez, Grandal, Vogt, Murphy and Cervelli were had at solid value. Russ Martin in the 6th round was an unnecessary reach. Not sure I see the value in spending 19th/20th picks on Austin Hedges and Chris Herrmann when a James McCann is available 7 rounds later.|
|Starting Pitchers||Draft quality and quantity. Mix upside and consistency.||Well, I am happy with Sale/Carrasco and McCullers in the 13th round is worth it if the Steamer ratios are close and he pitches 150 IP.
I did not have many SP3/SP4 targets and just about all went earlier than I expected. Not particularly enamored with Happ/Kennedy/Davies/De Leon/McCarthy/Straily/Blach as the back-end of my rotation and will have to protect all against bad matchups. I will likely need to take advantage of my RP depth early in the season to protect my ratios. I will also be streaming.
|Greg Ambrosius lapped the field with his Kershaw and Madbum staff in terms of SP $ value.
Based on my projections, the next three drafters (after me) who got the best bang for the buck are DJ Short, Greg Ambrosius, and Charlie Wiegert.