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2020 LABR Mixed Auction Recap Part II

The following is the second part of my 2020 LABR Mixed Auction recap. You can read Part I of my recap here. This was the inaugural season of the new LABR Mixed Auction league, and my very first expert auction league.

In my Tout Wars recap series, I talked about how to adjust projections for a particular league format, the proper hitter/pitcher splits to use, and how to create a market pricing curve. I also discussed at length about how to scout your opponents, and to use it to your advantage.

In Part I of my LABR recap, I talked about how to create an initial plan, and how to set an auction budget.

Today’s article will focus on a topic that is barely discussed in the fantasy community. However, I believe it to be a large key in managing your auctions, and crucial in the quest to accumulate the most fantasy value at the draft table. I am referring to player nominations.

Tactics is to know what to do when there is something to do and strategy is to know what to do when there is nothing to do”. – Gary Kasparov

If fantasy baseball drafts are akin to a game of checkers, auctions are in many ways a multi-player game of chess.

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2020 LABR Mixed Auction Recap Part I

I do not believe in authoring the typical expert draft recap article. I do not believe in writing a recap simply to illustrate one’s favorite players, or as a means to boast about one specific draft outcome. I do not believe in only going through a few undervalued players for the given year which happen to appear on that particular fantasy squad. I do not believe in writing recaps just for the heck of it.

I believe in imparting important lessons that one can take to their own drafts. More importantly, I prefer to communicate wisdom by talking through my process and preparation. I like to discuss various elements of strategy that can be of help to the astute fantasy player – which can be used in any given year.

I hope that in my draft recap series of articles, but especially in this 2020 season in limbo – you will be able to adapt and add many of my strategy components to your arsenal of fantasy baseball tricks.

For the TGFBI draft recap this year, I related the time-specific hitting and pitching landscapes of 2020. In my recap of the 2020 Tout Wars Head-to-Head auction, I provided insights into the process of preparing your own valuations and how to assemble comparative market pricing. I also discussed (at length) how to use your opponents’ tendencies to your advantage.

For my recap of the LABR Mixed auction, I will focus on a few critical strategy aspects:

  • Setting an auction budget
  • Developing a plan
  • Auction nominations

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Tout Wars Head to Head Points League – 2020 Recap – Part II

The following is the second part of my 2020 Tout Wars Head-to-Head Points League recap. You can read Part I of my recap here.

For the second straight year, I had the honor and privilege of participating in one of the most prestigious fantasy baseball industry leagues – Tout Wars (toutwars.com). This was my very first live Tout Wars auction. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we drafted online on the Sunday of March 15, 2020.

In Part I of my recap, I discussed the league rules, some of the homework that I had done on last year’s auction results, and how I obtained my auction values. I also talked about some of my other adjustments made due to the postponing of the MLB season.

Part II of my recap will be different than the typical recap article you tend to see. It will certainly differ from my usual writing style.

In today’s article, I will go through some of the intel that I had gathered on my opponents. I will dictate to you what I was looking for from the other touts and how I picked up on particular strategies during the auction. I will talk about what went right for me at the auction table and what went wrong. Finally, I will give a brief overview on my player selections.

The Touts

Well, I’m not sure that I would call members of the Tout Wars Head-to-Head Points my enemies. However, they most certainly were my opponents … at least for that Sunday afternoon in March. The quote above has appeared in folklore from many cultures, and of course, was one of the great lines of the movie “The Godfather.”

Fantasy baseball is largely about the numbers. If you often read my articles, you likely already know the importance that I place on projections and valuation.

Almost as important … perhaps even more important … is knowing your opponents. It is an advantage to be aware of the types of players that they bid on, how high they press bids, whether they nominate players they want to buy, the typical construct of their fantasy squads, etc.

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Tout Wars Head to Head Points League – 2020 Recap – Part I

Introduction

This year, I again had the great fortune and the amazing honor of being invited to one of the most prestigious fantasy baseball industry leagues – Tout Wars (toutwars.com). It was my second year participating in Tout Wars.

Last year, I was a member of the inaugural Tout Wars Draft & Hold league. This year, I was invited to take part in one of the four live auctions – the Tout Wars Head-to-Head Points league. It was originally scheduled to be held live in Midtown Manhattan on Sunday, March 15.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we were unable to hold this auction live. Though the NFBC had chosen to cancel their live auctions, and many of my home leagues agreed to postpone – the Tout Wars board had decided to proceed onward. Rather than postpone – all four remaining Tour Wars leagues competed online, with Fantrax as the provider platform.

Aside from the benefits of the social aspect of a live auction (one of the key reasons we do this in the first place), we lose many of its intangible aspects when moving to the online arena. You can no longer look a league mate in the eye as they bid. It is much harder to pick up on ‘tells’ by simply reading out your computer monitor. The art of using my voice to hypnotize others goes away (yes, that’s right – I said hypnotize). It isn’t the same.

Personally, I have played in many online auction leagues. It was a dynamic that I was used to, and I have previously played on the Fantrax software. My home office setup is quite decent for an online auction. I use two 27-inch monitors, plus a side 15-inch auxiliary monitor. I used one screen to see the auction room. One screen contained my homemade draft software. Displayed on the third monitor was my plan of attack for the day. Technologically, I was primed for the event. Perhaps, this medium of fantasy baseball drafting was even an advantage for me.

You can view the results of our auction on Fantrax here. Full spreadsheet results of all Tout Wars auctions and drafts are compiled here.

For Part I of my Tout Wars auction recap, rather than simply break down my player selections – I wanted to share with you some of my process and preparation. I might comment about one or two of my player selections along the way, but I thought that you – the reader – would benefit more from a discussion of my approach and from my overall observations.

Both in fantasy sports, as well as in real life – the process is always more important than the specific or situational results.

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Ariel Cohen’s 2020 TGFBI Recap – Pitchers

In my previous post, I looked at the hitting landscape for The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational (TGFBI) drafts. I also analyzed my own personal team from league #14, which was dubbed as the “league of death.”

Onto the pitching …

General Observations

Starting Pitchers

Let’s first compare starting pitcher ADPs from the past two seasons of TGFBI.

Average Draft Position (ADP) for 2019 Elite Starting Pitching
Rank Player ADP Min Max
1 Max Scherzer 6 3 11
2 Jacob deGrom 11 6 15
3 Chris Sale 11 5 16
4 Justin Verlander 21 14 25
5 Gerrit Cole 24 15 27
6 Aaron Nola 26 16 34
7 Corey Kluber 26 16 34
8 Blake Snell 29 22 35
SOURCE: 2019 TGFBI ADP

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Ariel Cohen’s 2020 TGFBI Recap – Hitters

The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational (TGFBI) drafts have now approached their conclusion. Avid readers of this website will already be familiar with the invitational’s format. TGFBI (created by our own Justin Mason) is the compilation of 390 industry experts across 26 leagues. Each division runs as NFBC-style 15-team leagues, with the collection vying for an overall prize – to win industry bragging rights. The only operational difference is that TGFBI drafts are run with a 4-hour clock – i.e., TGFBI is a slow draft. During the season, the format is virtually identical to the NFBC main event.

Check out TGFBI central and follow your favorite fantasy analysts’s teams at TGFBI.com.

As a bonus, I am honored to host the Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational Podcast – Beat the Shift – along with my friend and fantasy partner, Reuven Guy (@mlbinjuryguru). Last season, Reuven managed to win his league while finishing second in the overall TGFBI competition.

Check out the latest episodes of The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational Podcast – Beat the Shift, found here. Follow me on Twitter at @ATCNY.

This is the 3rd year of the Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, and I have participated ever since its inception. In 2020, with so many talented fantasy analysists in my division of TFGBI – my league (#14) was tabbed by many as the “League of Death.” Using the ATC projections, as well as my Replacement Level Drafting (RLD) method, I drafted what will hopefully be a championship caliber team.

Today, I will provide a few observations on the TGFBI drafts, review my personal team makeup, and highlight some of my player selections along the way. My goals of this article are to use the TGFBI experience to convey information to you about the drafting landscape of 2020, as well as to illustrate my team construction process. Hopefully, you will be able to take some nuggets of wisdom from my recap to assist you with your draft preparation.

Before we get further into it – draft standings analysis based on projections are generally irrelevant. But just for fun, here is what FantasyPros had to say about my team.

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Steamer vs NFBC 2020 – Runs Scored Bargains

Our undervalued player series continues now with the final offensive scoring category for 2020 – Runs Scored.

For those of you that are new to this series – in each article, we uncover potential undervalued players by comparing the Steamer projections to the current NFBC ADP. So far I have gone through undervalued speedsters, power bats, outstanding batting average players as well as possible RBI Bargains.

In 2019, there were 60 players who scored at least 85 runs. There were 41 players who exceeded the 95 runs threshold, and 20 hitters scored at least 105. Four players managed to eclipse the lofty 120 runs plateau. Leading the majors were a pair of Red Sox – Mookie Betts (135) and Rafael Devers (129). Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Braves followed them with 127 runs.

Once again, just as in runs batted in, prospective projections are far more conservative than the final season long distribution. Steamer only projects one player – Mike Trout – to score more than 120 runs. Only four additional players are projected to score over 110 runs (Francisco Lindor, Mookie Betts, Christian Yelich and George Springer).

Teams that win fantasy leagues are often highly correlated with the runs scored category. Finding a few undervalued players that can help pad your fantasy team’s run totals is a worthwhile exercise. For this year’s analysis, I will focus on all players with a Steamer projection of at least 85 runs. This should give us several helpful players.

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Steamer vs NFBC 2020 – RBI Bargains

Over this off-season, I have uncovered potential undervalued players by comparing the Steamer projections to the current NFBC ADP. So far I have gone through undervalued speedsters, power bats and outstanding batting average players. The exercise now continues for runs batted in.

In 2019, there were 57 players with least 85 RBI. There were 28 players who exceeded the 95 RBI mark, and 17 with at least 105. Anthony Rendon of the Nationals led all of baseball with 126 runs batted in. Jose Abreu led the American league with 123. Following them were NL East first basemen Freddie Freeman (121) and Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso (120).

As we have seen in batting average, prospective projections are more conservative. Steamer projects J.D. Martinez to lead baseball in the RBI category with only 119. Only six players are projected to knock in more than 110 runs.

For this year’s analysis, I will focus on all players with a Steamer projection of at least 85 RBI. This should give us a group of players who can greatly help your team’s RBI totals in the upcoming fantasy season.

For today’s draft value comparisons, I look at:

  • The player ranks as computed by the FanGraphs Auction Calculator with Steamer projections (standard NFBC 15 team roto league settings).
  • The current NFBC ADP (of all non-auction leagues from January 27, 2020 to present). 48 leagues in total were observed.

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The Case for Catchers – Stars or Scrubs?

You should either buy an upper-tiered backstop, or you should stream catchers.

I will make the above case by analyzing what would have happened over the past couple of seasons in two-catcher formats. We will take a look at the hit & bust rates by catcher price point. We will also as examine the profitability / return on investment of each backstop tier.

Last month, my colleague, Jeff Zimmerman wrote about the volatility of catchers. He concluded that catchers are a relatively safe fantasy baseball position to invest in. Today, I will go a bit further and break down the various parts of the catcher curve. We will explore the segments contributing to wiser investments, and the parts where you ought to stay away from, if possible.

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The 2020 ATC Projections

The first cut of the 2020 ATC Projections have arrived! Fantasy baseball draft prep season is now officially ready to be thrusted into high gear!

There are three ways to view and utilize the ATC projections on this site.

  • Full Projections
  • Individual Player Pages
  • Auction Calculator

Full Projections

The full ATC projections can be found by heading to the “Projections” drop-down tab on the menu bar by clicking on “ATC.”

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