On March 5th, I took part in my 5th Tout Wars Mixed Draft – a 15-team snake draft that is unique amongst expert leagues in that it is a 5×5 OBP league. Otherwise, pretty standard. Weekly transactions. 2 catchers. $1000 FAAB.
Quick Perspective On The Difference Between OBP vs AVG
I went over the key things to think about with 15 team vs 12 team mixed league standard 5×5 in my 2019 LABR writeup.
The biggest shift in OBP leagues (besides the obvious one) is that ADP for hitters is much less predictive. This makes drafts a little more unpredictable but it generally advantages the more prepared drafters in the room. I look at ADP but also put my projected $OBP – $AVG right next to it to indicate guys whose value is much higher/lower in OBP.
There are other minor shifts (1Bs look better b/c they typically have highest BB rates, hitters with high AVGs but mediocre BB rates become less valuable, etc.) but this ends up baked into the projections. I have to run 15-team 5×5 OBP custom but you can access my 12-team 5×5 OBP projections and those are updated daily for Season to Date and Rest of Season as well. All free.
Last Year Recap
I won for the second year in a row. Talked enough on it. See below links if you are interested.
I do not have a fancy acronym for my draft process but it has gone relatively unchanged since 2017. I build a War Room that allows me to mock draft against NFBC ADP and track my team $ totals per category. (Note: Access to my snake draft 5×5 War Room is included for a limited time with any season-long Roto Deluxe or DFS package.)
My goal is to anticipate the tough decisions and plan accordingly. The #1 thing I am looking to avoid is being in a position in the draft where I am chasing a category or position and I am dependent/desperate for a specific player to make my team whole. Those are the cases where you have to overdraft the player, get lucky, or scramble. The 2nd thing I am looking to avoid is a panic pick when you just do not know whom to choose.
At this point of the season, I have done several drafts and I have a pretty good handle on which players I want and balancing team strengths. But every draft is a little different and OBP certainly mixes up hitter values so it was very helpful having the War Room in front of me..
Here are the full results of the 2019 Tout Wars Mixed League Draft (I drafted from the #1 slot). Below are my picks and my analysis:
|1B||14||210||Jake Bauers (OF)|
|2B||20||300||Adam Frazier (OF)|
|CI||27||391||David Fletcher (2B/3B)|
|UT||23||331||Kevin Kiermaier (OF)|
|BENCH||21||301||Derek Holland (SP)|
|BENCH||22||330||Greg Holland (RP)|
|BENCH||24||360||Anthony DeSclafani (SP)|
|BENCH||26||390||Jeff Samardzija (SP)|
|BENCH||28||420||Blake Parker (RP)|
|BENCH||25||361||Niko Goodrum (1B/2B)|
Draft Strategy Overview
- Picking 1st (spoils of winning last year) is sweet for the first 3 rounds. You get Trout (who is even more valuable in OBP leagues) and you know an ace plus great bat will make it to you for the 30/31 turn. After that, it’s not really any different than other picks other than you are on the end so you need to anticipate position runs.
- Aim for balance across categories…but take it to 11 on OBP. Last year with Trout, I cashed in my OBP surplus early and had a good but not great team OBP (finished 5th). This year, I want to dominate it and then leverage that strength to pick up weak OBP players on waivers or make trades to help with other categories.
- Plan to go with 3 bats and an RP for picks 4/5 and 6/7 unless a great SP value falls into my lap.
- Draft pitchers in bulk. Both SPs and RPs with save potential. Aim for 4-5 of the 6 bench spots to be pitchers. (That’s 15-16 hitters and 13-14 pitchers)
Early Round Notes
- My first 3 picks went according to plan. Trout (duh) at #1. I expected to nab Bauer, Snell, or Carrasco and Bauer made it to #30. I knew a bat in my top 20 would make it to me – Soto at #11 (I have him projected as the 4th best OBP!) was an easy call. Would have gone with Rizzo or Bryant if he was taken.
- The loose plan for picks 4/5 was to take two power bats and willing to sacrifice OBP for power on one bat (aka Gallo like I did last year). I already had 2 OFs so, everything equal, wanted non-OFs. Suarez was solid value at this spot (I had him at #55) and I sacrificed a little raw value to take Gary Sanchez over Gallo (but less than the standard market premium on catchers).
- McCutchen in round 6 (pick 90) was ahead of ADP but he is a plus OBP guy and was 2nd highest player on my board (Nelson Cruz was #1). I chose Hand over Chapman and Vazquez because I’d rather not own Chapman (injuries) and already own several shares of Vazquez (and think him and Hand are equal).
- Ozuna in round 8 (pick 120) was just a value play. Robbie Ray at pick #121 was decent value given his 200+ K skill set. Really wanted Matt Olson here but was sniped by Ronis one pick before.
I have used the same post-draft writeup structure for a while now as I find it more interesting than a pick-by-pick analysis and most readers seem to agree. 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.
|Topic||In General||My Team||Observations on Other Teams|
|Hit/Pitch Mix||I’m typically looking to stay about league average which historically is around 67/24/9 for Hit/SP/RP but I expected closer to 66/26/8 based on 2019 drafts.||After going an unplanned and unexpected 57.4/33.1/9.5 in LABR, I was not going to repeat that mistake.
Last year in Tout, I went 62/27/11 as I splurged on 2 SPs in first 5 rounds and closers in round 7/8. Neither was in the cards this year.
Result: 65/26/9. On plan! (Even if going 7 hitters 6 pitchers in first 13 feels pitcher heavy.)
|The room went 64/27/9 so about as expected.
Whereas 4 teams went 40+% pitching in LABR, only one team did here (Fantistics’ Michael Waldo who went 57/33/10 with a Scherzer/Sale start)
Baseball Prospectus’ Tim McCullough was the only drafter above 68% in hitting with 73% by punting relief (first RP in 22nd round)
|Upside vs Reliability||Sprinkle upside picks throughout draft, veer towards reliability in early rounds.||Well, it’s hard for me to match the sexiness of my Adalberto Mondesi, Victor Robles, and Nick Senzel LABR draft.||My buddy Tim McLeod went heavy prospect per his MO from the 14th slot.
CBS Sports’ Scott White had a relatively boring first 9 rounds and then somehow managed to draft the following in the final 20 rounds: Jesse Winker, Peter Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Kyle Tucker, Lewis Brinson, Tyler O’Neill, Clint Frazier, and Brandon Lowe.
|Bouncebacks||I like them as long as health not a question mark, skills/age look positive, and properly discounted.||Gary Sanchez in round 5 was my biggest bounceback bet. That is slightly below his ADP and Sanchez is a better OBP value than AVG (11% BB rate).
Robbie Ray (Round 9) is on most of my teams so far. The ‘bet’ is that he gets back to his ghastly 2017 walk rate vs his ultra-ghastly 2018 walk rate. Remember, if he had average control (and a sub 1.20 vs 1.30+ WHIP), he’d be a top 3 round pick given his sweet sweet K-rate.
Other potential bouncebacks are Ozuna (8th), Kiermaier (20th), and Samardzija (26th).
|No team jumped out at me in this area.|
|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’m happy with the offense but my HRs are a little lighter because I got a little too cute waiting to fill CI with a cheap power bat (Zimmerman, Seager, and Candelario all went b/w my 23rd and 24th pick). Luckily, it is easier finding cheap power on waivers than speed or OBP.
With pitching, I like my team a lot in counting stats but my ratios are lacking (projected 12 points total b/w ERA and WHIP). Hopefully my pitching depth and in-season streaming will allow me leverage matchups and inch the ratios upwards.
|The team that jumped out at me post-draft with Tim McCullough’s offense. He did a great job building up R/HR/RBI from the 15th slot but spending 73% on hitting would ideally bring better speed and OBP (I have both as below average).|
|ADP vs “Get Your Guys!”||I prefer to wait as long as possible for guys I like but adjust based on draft room dynamics.||Hard to judge hitting picks by ADP given this is 5×5 OBP. I don’t think I drafted any hitters in the top half of the draft that would have made it back to me 28 picks late but who knows?
As for pitching, my Maeda/Lucchesi picks were up to 2 rounds aggressive vs ADP. At that point in draft (12th/13th), I just focused on my SP values vs fretting about ADP.
|Tim McLeod’s pick up of Mondesi and Robles at the 3/4 turn was a high premium IMO as I had both as 5th round value given Mondesi’s awful OBP and Robles is unlikely to crack top of lineup unless/until Eaton gets hurt. They are players I like (have both in LABR!) but not at those prices.
The most surprising first 2 round pick was Ray Murphy’s Merrifield pick at 23. His ADP is 28 and I have him worth $4 less in OBP so deemed him a 3rd rounder. I would have preferred Verlander (or Nola or Snell or Kluber…) or Soto there and hope Merrifield falls to my 3rd pick.
|Anticipate Other Teams’ Picks When Prioritizing||Get ahead of player runs to minimized getting sniped.||This doesn’t come into play much when you are picking from the #1 spot.
|Hard to judge other teams on this but I will say Adam Ronis at the 2 spot sniped me more than anyone in recent memory.|
|Closers||My strategy is generally get one secure closer and then be opportunistic on RP2. Safety in numbers if grabbing speculative closers.||I earmarked an RP1 at 7.1 (taking Brad Hand) as I felt it was too risky to hope someone I like would fall to 8.15. Kirby Yates fell to the 9th round so that proved incorrect though I don’t like anyone taken between those picks much more than my 8.15 pick of Ozuna.
I waited until 16.15 to take RP2 in Mychal Givens (SAGNOF!) and then went to town. Boxberger (18th), Greg Holland (22nd), and Blake Parker (28th). Whomever isn’t closing by opening day will be dropped but I think those are the most valuable lottery tickets you can buy past pick 300.
|Most teams stayed in the 6-10% $ range for RPs. Seth Trachtman was tops with 15% RP going Diaz (5), Allen (10), Bradley (13), Morrow (20). Greg Ambrosius was the only other one above 10% w/ 13% driven by a 6th on Jansen and a 9th on Kirby Yates.|
|Middle Infielders||The glut of SS has made ‘scarcity’ arguments scarce. In OBP, I find MIs lose the most value vs AVG-based ADP and often fade.||I grabbed Amed Rosario (11th) as an upside speed play. Big fan of Jorge Polanco this year at #15. He burned me last year but the skill set is there and Dozier’s departure and Buxton’s struggles have opened up the top of the Twins’ order.
Got another share of Adam Frazier in the 20th round for 2B.
Happy with these values and that I was able to make up speed in MIs given my relatively slow OF.
|MI investment was around 16% in this draft to my projected value of 12%. But a lot of the MI reaches were really speed reaches (e.g., Merrifield, Mondesi).|
|Catchers||I typically like to punt Catchers. The demands of the position lead to greater injury risk and more volatile offensive numbers IMO. I prefer catchers who aren’t OBP sieves.||Gary Sanchez is a bit out of character for me. I think the value is there. The plus power and possibility for significant positional R/RBI surplus is there.
Christian Vazquez as C2 is a repeat from LABR. Just don’t see much difference in most C2s and prefer investing in other areas.
|My system suggested 3% of draft capital go to catchers in 2019. The room came in around 4%.
Most of the top 10 catchers came at decent values. The only catcher that seemed too high was McLoud’s Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the 15th round as I don’t think the playing time volume will be there.
|Starting Pitchers||Draft quality and quantity. Mix upside and consistency. Aim for about 9 SPs. Get an extra SP in the first 2/3 of the draft because depth falls off vs previous years.||This is my first Tout Wars draft since 2015 where I didn’t go 2 aces in first 5 rounds (2016 – Scherzer #2/ Sale #3!!!!, 2017 – Sale #3 / Carrasco #5, 2018 – Syndergaard #2, Nola #4).
I followed this year with an SP at #30 (Bauer) but I just don’t think the SPs available at pick 60/61 this year are the equivalent of 2017 Carrasco or 2018 Nola. I also like the Rounds 8-13 SPs more than I did the past 2 years so easy call to switch up strategies.
I can see questioning “Why break something that wasn’t broken?” given I got a perfect 60 across W/K/ERA/WHIP last year. Nola certainly helped but I won because of back half picks vs two aces. Case in point: Morton (13), Snell (15), E-Rod (20), Ryu (23) and Skaggs (25)
So after Bauer at #2, I didn’t take another SP until 9 and then grabbed 4 in that range: Ray, Happ, Maeda, Lucchesi. I’ve talked on Ray. Happ is solid W/WHIP guy which helps balance against Ray (though I preferred Bieber who went earlier than I thought). Maeda and Lucchesi are safe home matchup guys with solid stats and hopefully 300 IP b/w the two.
With 5 solid SPs, I took my foot off the accelerator and added four depth plays at 19 (Gibson), 21 (D Holland), 24 (DeSclafani) and 26 (Samardzija). If all goes well, these guys will be only matchup plays.
|The other teams averaged 8.6 SPs on 27% of their budget. I got 9 SPs with 26% of my budget. Net-net, I mirrored the room.
Peter Kreuzer led the field with 11 SPs (Ray Murphy had 10) BUT only spent 22% which was the 2nd least amount. That paired well with his choice to go a little higher risk in his pitchers (e.g., top 2 are Kershaw, Folty) and take advantage of the unlimited DL (similar to my strategy last year if you look at those 13-25th round picks).
Scott White, Michael Beller, and Charlie Wiegert went 7 SPs but ranged from 30% (CW) to 23-24% (MB, SW) on SPs.
Michael Waldo went 57% SP led with a Scherzer/Sale 1/2 combo. Not suprisingly, he’s the best projected staff.
|Speed||SBs are in such short supply that it is more important than ever to have a plan for where you can draft speed at value||This was a much different draft for speed than LABR where two of my top 6 picks were Mondesi and Robles.
In this draft, Trout was my only real speed play in the first 10 rounds. I think Amed Rosario in the 11th is solid (since I can afford his OBP). I think my 14/15 picks of Jake Bauers and Jorge Polanco helped deliver 30 SBs without major sacrifices in other stats. I also like Kevin Kiermaier as a cheap speed bounceback in round 23.
Net-net, my team is above average in speed and, as with LABR, I was able to do it without rostering an awful HR/RBI guy (Gordon, Smith, Hamilton, etc.)
|The 16 top SB plays in the first 8 rounds went for $436 in draft pick value. I had them valued at $400. No major market premium.
There were only 6 other $7+ SB plays drafted after that and 5 (including my Rosario) came at a premium. Kreutzer’s 12th round Inciarte pickup was the only bargain on my sheet.
Tim McLeod pounded so much speed that I accused him during the draft of being a part-time trucker. Added Hampson and Mullins to Mondesi and Robles. If all goes well with these four, a trade is likely coming sooner vs later.
- There was criticism at the end of the SiriusXM telecast on ToutWars about my 15 hitter / 14 pitcher split. The average across all teams was 16.7 hitters / 12.3 pitchers. Peter Kreutzer went 14/10 (so no bench hitters) and Ray Murphy of BaseballHQ matched by 15/14. I obviously disagree. Bench bats are generally useless. There is more value in rotating in/out your lower tier pitchers vs hitters based on matchup. There are plenty of bats in free agency if/when injuries happen. I probably drop one of the RPs who don’t get the closer gig in the first week and may get a 2nd bat. I do think if you go shallow on bat bench that position flexibility is key and I have Goodrum (1B/2B), Fletcher (2B/3B), Bauers (1B/OF), Frazier (2B/OF). Basically, every position except Catcher is backed up (my MI is a SS).
- Adam Ronis had a great draft from the #2 slot. I don’t see any weaknesses aside from rocking just one closer to start the year in Roberto Osuna. If this is our rubber match (we’ve both won twice the past 4 years), he brought Magnums.
- While going SPs 1/2 is something I have yet to do, I am impressed w/ Fantistics’ Michael Waldo’s execution of it. I had him as the 3rd best team and looks like he smartly focused more on SB/OBP vs power with his offensive investments.
- My pal CBSSports’ Scott White has been knocking at the door the past two years (2nd, 3rd). He clearly loves his team and I enjoyed his writeup/calling me out. Based on my projections, well, let’s just say I am open for sidebets.