In Tout Wars this year, have been graced with four suspect closers but they’ve caused me to ponder how to handle the “riches”. The issue is that they are not stable and I’d not be surprised if all four were out of a job next month. I polled my Twitter followers to see which one they had the most faith in.
I have the following four closers in @ToutWars. Who do you think will have the most Saves at your season's end?
— Jeff Zimmerman (@jeffwzimmerman) April 24, 2019
With the volatility, I decided to go all in at this point for Saves before they start losing the role. For reference, here are the current standings:
Rolling out four closers helps the rate stats and kills the Strikeout total. I plan on keeping up with the strategy. The main reason is that I don’t have to get involved in bidding on Saves even if I lose one or two of them. So much FAAB is spent chasing Saves, I can focus on starters and hittters.
As can be seen above, I have a decent cushion and got seven Saves last week and one already this week. If one closer was more stable, I might only go with two or three closers each week. One isn’t so leaving my comfort zone.
They key is to find the final Saves target number and since Tout Wars keeps historical information, I have past precidence. Here are the four year Saves standings with the Tout Wars league total, MLB’s total, and percentage captured by the league.
Before I get to my league strategy, two overall trends need to be discussed.
First, the overall number of Saves has dropped some. While there could be several narratives behind the decline including just noise, I believe the league’s talent disparity has caused more blowouts and fewer chances for Saves. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it until proven otherwise.
The second trend, a lower percentage of Saves captured, can be attributed to teams not caring about who gets the Save. Instead, teams want their best pitchers facing the other team’s best hitters. To help clarify this trend, here are the pitchers recording at least one Save over the past few seasons.
This distribution makes it easier to find some Saves on the waiver wire but those elite closers may see their price jump. In fairness, owners may start focusing on top arms by using a couple fifth to seventh-round picks for two studs. Instead, I like to gamble at the end of the first closer run and then take two to four later darts on guys. That’s how I ended up in this situation.
Getting back to the original question, all the indicators point the league’s final Save totals being at or lower than the 2018 totals. I’m hoping to be able to get into the 80 to 85 level and then start rolling out nine starters. I may be slowly weaned from my closers once Smith gets traded, the Twins sign Kimbrel, Doolittle gets hurt, and Kapler does Kapler things. There is a small chance all four keep it going and I blow past the 85 Saves. The best part of Tout Wars is that it’s a trading league where I can move the closers for starters later in the season.
Now, if the situation arises that six or even seven of my starters have great matchups, I’d bench some closers. I’ve already done it once this season and sat the closer who had only five games.
The hardest part so far is seeing my Strikeouts and Wins placing drop as I focus on these closers. I must have faith I can make up ground when I use six, seven, eight, and even nine starters. I’d prefer a more balanced approach but I was given lemons and I’m making lemonade. I’ll update the situation in a couple of months to see how it plays out.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.