Al Melchior’s Tout Wars Mixed Auction Recap

When we make big mistakes in our fantasy auctions, “wait ’til next year” is a tough pill to swallow. My 2019 Tout Wars mixed auction (15-team OBP league) got off to a bad start from which I did not recover, but last Saturday, I finally got a chance to redeem myself. A year ago, the bidding on Mike Trout went up to $56, and I was prepared to go a dollar higher. Then I froze. In an effort to make up for my reticence, I went on to overbid on several risky players.

In the aftermath of that debacle, I vowed to be more aggressive in my bidding on top players, particularly the safer ones. Not only did I not want to get shut out like I did in last year’s auction, but it seemed like a good strategy since I trust myself to either find good players in the endgame or find suitable replacements in FAAB bidding.

You can see by looking at my bidding log from this year’s auction that I did not shy away from this approach. My aim was to build a core consisting of five hitters who would average roughly $30 and two starting pitchers who would average around $20. My top five hitters totaled $153, and my top two pitchers cost me a total of $44.

The left me with $63 to fill nine hitter spots and seven pitcher spots. I wanted to spend about $20 of that on two relievers and another $15 or so to fill two of my remaining hitter spots. Not long after getting my co-aces, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow, I dipped into those allotments by spending $11 on Nick Anderson and $7 on Yuli Gurriel. At this point, I had $45 for 14 spots, so I had to start thinking about how many $1 players I was willing to take on.

As I noted above, I was comfortable with a stars-and-scrubs approach, because I figured I could get players I liked for $1, so I was willing to spend a large share of my remaining budget on a small number of players. I knew I shouldn’t skimp on my No. 3 and 4 starters, and I still had $9 that I had already dedicated to a second reliever, but I was willing to take on three $1 pitchers. I was also short on stolen bases at this point of the auction, and I knew that I would need at least two hitters with the potential for 20-plus steals. I didn’t want to go for one-dimensional players, so I knew I would need to save at least $5 or $6 apiece for these two hitters. After accounting for those needs, I knew I was going to fill exactly nine slots with $1 players.

I spent $15 on Eduardo Rodriguez and Mike Minor, and I managed to get Mark Melancon for $6 — or $3 less than I budgeted for a second reliever. I spent $2 of that surplus to get Danny Santana and Scott Kingery for $14. I began the dollar days portion of the auction will nine slots to fill, but with $10 to spend.

Given the budget I had left, I have few complaints about the players who filled out the remainder of my active roster. Seven of the nine players were ones I had targeted as potential bargains. I used my $2 hammer on one of them — David Peralta. Even if he were to post similar rates stats to the ones he had in 2019, Peralta ought to provide a positive return, and with the extended delay to the season, he has more time to recover from last season’s shoulder injury. While I was able to get several of the players I was targeting, I didn’t sleep on a couple of other players who were late bargains, even though they weren’t as prominent on my radar. Shogo Akiyama could provide double-digit steals and a decent OBP. Admittedly, I wound up with Francisco Mej√≠a as my No. 2 catcher, because he was the best of what was left after 273 players had come off the board, but he could have a breakout in 2020. He hit more flyballs in the second half of last season and posted a .305/.355/.511 slash line.

Still, I wonder if I could have built a better roster if I had saved just a few extra dollars for the endgame. I would have greatly preferred Mark Canha to Akiyama or Cameron Maybin, and he went for only $3. Starlin Castro has been one of my favorite sleepers this year, and I didn’t have a dollar to top Scott Engel’s $1 bid. Not being able to drop the hammer on Evan White ($1 to Ron Shandler) or Yusei Kikuchi ($1 to Joe Pisapia) also really hurt. They would have replaced Todd Frazier and Kevin Gausman, both of whom I may have been able to draft in the reserve rounds.

If I rewind my auction to try to find where I could have saved some money, there is no obvious decision that should have been undone. I spent a hefty $45 on Juan Soto, but if I had foregone that bid to win Trevor Story for $43, I would have made a large sacrifice in OBP for 10-to-15 extra stolen bases. I was nervous about going to $28 on Joey Gallo, but in looking back at the bidding, the only player I could have held out for to save a couple of dollars while not sacrificing value was Max Muncy ($26). Then again, who is to say that Brent Hershey, who won that bid, would not have gone to $27 if I had beat him to a $26 bid? (I decided to ask Brent if he would have gone that extra dollar, and he said he might have.)

Sometimes we enter an auction with a plan, but we fail to execute that plan. That is one thing I can’t fault myself for here. Whether or not my plan was a good one remains to be seen. In pursuing a stars-and-scrubs roster, I aimed to secure a core of players who carry little risk of not producing at an elite or near-elite level at their positions. With the possible exception of Gallo, I think I achieved that with my top hitters. I pretty much knew I’d be out of the running for the any of the Big Four starting pitchers, but I did come away with two starters from the next tier.

While I may not have won some of my favorite sleepers, I have a bottom half of the roster that could be good enough to keep me competitive. Most likely, I will need to find at least a few useful players in FAAB bidding, and that could be a tougher task with a shorter season. My early sense is that I have yet to find the right balance between spreading the wealth too thin and being too reliant on expensive players.

How would you have handled this auction differently? Let me know in the responses…





Al Melchior has been writing about Fantasy baseball and sim games since 2000, and his work has appeared at CBSSports.com, BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and FanRagSports. He has also participated in Tout Wars' mixed auction league since 2013. You can follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorbb and find more of his work at almelchior.com.

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lesmash
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lesmash

Props to you here, Al; I like this team a lot for a 15-team league.

In terms of where to save a few bucks, what SP went in the $21 – $23 range? I wonder if Glasnow at $25 could have been replaced with someone else that cost a few dollars fewer.