On Tuesday March 8th, I had the honor of taking part in the Tout Wars Mixed League Snake Draft for the second straight year. Last year, I finished in 2nd place after a brutal September (one spot above 3rd place Grey who will be taking part in Tout Wars NL-only this year!).
There’s no place to go except up, down, or finish in the same spot.
Before I break into the recap, here are two unique differences between this Tout Wars draft and the LABR mixed draft I recapped earlier this preseason:
- This is 5×5 OBP not standard 5×5 (w/ AVG). Otherwise it’s generally the same (NFBC roster format of C/C/1B/2B/SS/3B/OF/OF/OF/OF/OF/CI/MI/UTIL/9 P/6 bench)
- There was a requirement that we needed to draft a ‘starting 23’ before reserve rounds – e.g., you couldn’t wait until the last couple rounds to draft your 2nd catcher.
Here are the results of the 2016 Tout Wars Mixed League Draft. (If you hate reading, here’s a podcast with my pal Alan Harrison at The Fantasy Fix where I talk about Tout Wars and other things) I suggest opening it another tab while reading this post. Apologies it isn’t all pretty and color-coded but OnRoto.com doesn’t support that yet.
|OF||Delino Deshields Jr.||8.120|
|B||Jumbo Diaz (RP)||24.360|
|B||Anibal Sanchez (SP)||25.361|
|B||Cristhian Adames (SS)||26.390|
|B||Jonathon Niese (SP)||27.391|
|B||Alex Colome (RP)||28.420|
|B||Rymer Liriano (OF)||29.421|
Draft Strategy Overview
- Try to keep team balanced from a category perspective throughout draft (explained more below).
- Avoid guys when possible with bad OBP.
- Rely a little less on NFBC ADP for hitters since this is 5×5 OBP.
- Since I’m drafting at the turn, consider any player whom you believe has a good shot at being drafted in the next 28 picks (versus worrying about drafting players whose ADP is close to my draft slot or earlier).
Early Round Notes
- I had the #1 slot as the two competitors who got to pick their slot preferences ahead of me (last year’s winner Adam Ronis and Patrick Mayo) chose #3 and #2 respectively, leaving me the honor of choosing between what appears to be the consensus top 3 hitters of Trout, Harper, and Goldschmidt. Fine with me. I choose Trout. Never gave Goldy a thought. Really thought about Harper and the tie-breaker was my feeling that Trout is the safer bet to make it through the season healthy. Plus Trout plays the game the right way! (j/k)
- I assumed I’d go hitter/SP or hitter/hitter for my 2nd and 3rd picks (30/31). I had a handful of hitters and SPs that could reasonably get back to me. But to just about everybody’s surprise, 27 of the next 28 picks after Trout were hitters (Kershaw at #7). Why was this so surprising? There has not been a 2016 NFBC draft where Scherzer went lower than #28 and there are 6 SPs in the top 29 of NFBC ADP (Kershaw, Scherzer, Arrieta, Sale, Bumgarner, Jose Fernandez). With the hitter pool decimated by all those hitter picks, it was an easy decision to take whom I consider the 2nd and 3rd best pitchers off the board in Scherzer and Sale – especially because I figured that probably half of the 28 picks until I picked again would be pitchers so I wasn’t going to lose out on many hitters (in face, 14 SPs were taken by my next pick).
- With possibly 2 of the best 3 pitchers in tow, it was all about building on my Trout foundation. Carlos Gonzalez and Eric Hosmer were solid value picks. Francisco Lindor came at a surprising discount vs ADP (his OBP isn’t bad) and Maikel Franco was a slight reach in my opinion but he was not going to make it back to me, needed a power bat, and kept me from clogging an OF spot.
I am going to re-use my format from last year (and from this year’s LABR) as most readers preferred it to just a pick-by-pick analysis. (Is it illuminating or surprising in any way that I liked most of my picks?) 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.
|In General||My Team||Observations on Other Teams|
|Upside vs Reliability||Sprinkle upside picks throughout draft, veer towards reliability in early rounds.||Lindor/Franco was my chance to go on the catwalk (look at that sexy turn!). I got both at their ‘mean’ projection value so feel good about them. Picking Deshields at the end of the 8th marked the beginning of my “Disregard ADP for the most part and just build your team” phase. My team was light on speed and, unlike other speedsters like Revere and Burns, Deshields has a good eye so his poor AVG turns into solid OBP.
Not really much upside on the team outside those three picks outside of a flier on Rymer Liriano.
|Tim McLeod certainly loves upside. Correa (1), Polanco (4), McCullers (8), Piscotty (12), Rodon (13), Swihart (14), AJ Reed (16), Berrios (19). I like most of those guys but I wouldn’t draft that much uncertainty.|
|Bouncebacks||I like them as long as health not a question mark, skills/age look positive, and properly discounted.||No major bouncebacks. Maybe Yadier Molina?||No team jumps out to me.|
|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.||Very happy with my balance. I think SBs are my weakest area but I have enough right now in DeShields, Lindor, and Fowler that I should be able to stay near league average.||A few observations….the NFBC duo (Greg A and Tom K) had really solid, pitching-heavy drafts and either knowingly or unknowingly punted OBP. Stacie Stern drafted the 1985 Cardinals (I have her last in HR, tops in SB – Revere and Burns!!!). Rick Wilton went the other way (high HR, low SB). Most everyone else seems pretty balanced or it’s too tough to say.|
|ADP vs “Get Your Guys!”||I prefer to wait as long as possible for guys I like but adjust based on draft room dynamics.||As mentioned in my general strategy, I couldn’t rely on ADP as much because it was 5×5 OBP. Deshields and Fowler were certain reaches vs NFBC ADP but they get big boosts with OBP. Boxberger/Storen were reaches – will talk about that under relievers. Wei-Yin Chen was maybe a 2 round reach but I think just about everyone has come around to the realization that NL/MIA >>>> AL/BAL.||Perry Van Hook probably could’ve gotten a little more value for Dozier (4), Byung-ho Park (5), and Joc Pederson (7). Tim McLeod’s Polanco (4) and AJ Reed (16) stuck out – the latter I like a lot (took him 17th in LABR) but Tout’s ‘starting 23’ requirement meant he couldn’t pick his ‘April/May’ fill-in until reserves.|
|Anticipate Other Teams’ Picks When Prioritizing||Get ahead of player runs to minimized getting sniped.||Picking on the wheel means this is more about anticipating runs and taking a value hit (vs ADP) when necessary if you don’t think someone’s coming back (Franco, Chen).
I knew bypassing Giles at 6.15/7.1 meant I would be at the wrong end of a closer run. I might take him there if Lindor and Franco weren’t on the board.
|Hard to judge other teams on this.|
|Hit/Pitch Mix||I priced at 65/35 and 25.5/9.5 for SP/RP based on NFBC ADP analysis.||This year’s splits were 66%/24.7%/ 9.3%. Pretty close to my estimate. The whole ’28 hitters in first 29′ REALLY didn’t change investment splits. My team’s splits were 63.7/27.8/8.5, not too far from the average despite going SPs with #2/#3.
Rule of thumb if you want to avoid going too far to SPs: Don’t draft more than 4 pitchers in first 10 picks. I avoided going 60/40 by only taking two more pitchers in top 10 and down at 9/10.
|The NFBC dogs were the pitchiest at 56.2% and 58.9% hit. Tim McLeod was 3rd at 61.7% hit (5 in first 10 – 3/5/6/8/10). Patrick Mayo was the highest at 73% on hitters. Stacie Stern (71%) and Tim McCullough (70.4%) were the next highest.
|Closers||My position on Closers seems to change a bit every year. Given how many unresolved closer situations there are, I wanted to secure a good RP1 and to not over-invest on RP2. Invest in end game on closer candidates.||Closers went just a little quicker than in LABR. I like my two closers (Boxberger/Storen) and stayed on budget but, ideally, would have liked to have gotten more value (i.e., pick them later)
One plus on Boxberger was that I knew his handcuff (Colome) could be had as an end-game pick. That’s a downside to Storen as Osuna got taken about a round before I was ready to take him.
Teams went hard after relievers in reserves. I like Jumbo Diaz at RP3 given Hoover’s not very good and he’s good enough to slot in for weeks when I only like the matchups for 6 of my SPs.
|A couple teams ended up with just one closer and a lottery ticket (Stern, Wilton, McCullough). Teams who went with a 2 closers + ‘well, that guy is closing for now’ were Eno (Allen/Perkins/Hernandez) and Perry Van Hook (Papelbon, Casilla, Hoover).|
|Middle Infielders||Pay no premiums for ‘scarce’ positions. Stay patient. Adjust player choices based on offensive category balance.||Lindor at 6.15 was a solid value and my team needed the speed. Howie Kendrick 15.211 is boring but functional and Joe Panik at 20.300 is a sweet, poor-man’s Pedroia. Spent less than 10% on my budget here.||12.7% was spent on 2B/SS after LABR spent 13.8%. 6.7% on 2B, 6.0% on SS vs my 7.4%/4.3% split. Makes it that more surprising that Lindor fell to me.|
|Catchers||I like to punt Catchers. The demands of the position lead to greater injury risk and more volatile offensive numbers IMO.||I spent only 2% of my pick value on catchers but got two decent catchers in Chirinos (19) and Molina (21). I only drafted my C2 that ‘early’ because I was forced to take a 2nd catcher by round 23. Moving up two rounds to nab C2 might’ve earned me about $6 in value. Similar to LABR, I paid about a $4 premium per catcher based on position-neutral value where the room average was $6.30||I valued Catchers at 3.4% of pick value while the ‘room’ spent 6.1%. As usual, a few catchers went off the board at premiums that I thought were too high (I have Posey, Realmuto, and Weiters going at $10+ premiums but, to be fair, that’s on my values).|
|Starting Pitchers||Draft quality and quantity. Mix upside and consistency.||Scherzer/Sale are a great (but expensive) SP1/SP2. To avoid spending too much pick value in starters, I waited until the 12th round to take my SP3. Chen, Iwakuma, Kennedy, Alex Wood, Wade Miley, Anibal Sanchez, and Jon Niese give me a solid group to mix/match with generally favorable home parks. I like my chances to do well in W/ERA/WHIP/K.||Most teams got what they put into SP. I think Patrick Mayo did a good job given how cheap he went on SPs (Quintana is his ace!). Same for Ray Murphy.|
Based on my values, this was probably the best expert snake draft I’ve ever had. Then again, this is the first 15-team snake draft I can recall that I got to draft 3 of my top 13 valued players. The admin on the Tout Wars blog posted projected standings based on Clay Davenport and BaseballHQ projections. I put little stock in projected standings but can’t say I minded these results. But just another reason why I prefer to look at total hit/pitch $ value versus projected standings, one of these projections had me at 7.5 for SB and the other had me for 2 points. While I don’t think my team is great for SBs, I think a team with Deshields, Lindor, and Fowler has MAYBE a floor of 2 points in SBs but my average expected outcome should be higher. I wouldn’t be surprised if the difference between 8th and 14th is minimal (oh, and my OBP pts vacillate from 5.0 to 14.0 points!)
I had theorized on podcasts/radio that maybe OBP leads to slightly more irrational drafting. I looked for signs in the draft results but nothing jumps out. I do see a greater investment in OBP than AVG (based on correlation of player category dollars to draft pick value) but that could be justified by the fact OBP projections are less volatile than AVG projections. Perhaps there is a little more inefficiency in drafting OBP vs AVG because it comes less natural for drafters (harder to mock/practice, harder to find benchmarks). I chalk up the peculiar ’28 hitters in first 29 picks’ as an anomaly.