After squeaking out the top finish in the inaugural 2016 Tout Wars Head-to-Head league, I moved to the 15-team mixed auction league. It was an interesting season and here are some of my “highlights”.
- To the frustration of auctioneer, RotoWire’s Jeff Erickson, I was just pulling names out of the air during the end game. The room lost its lighting (the sun) and my paper draft list was useless.
- Buster Posey and Chris Davis were my most expensive hitters ($57 combined). I’m pretty sure I got no more than $15 of value out them.
- On the pitching side, I spent $26 combined on Rick Porcello and Danny Duffy as my #2 and #3 starters. I may have been lucky to get positive value from them.
- Additionally, I found it necessary to roster Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, and Rubby de la Rosa on auction day.
- For my first waiver wire splash, I spent over a quarter of my FAAB on the recently anointed Nationals closer Blake Treinen. And release him a few weeks later once he lost his job.
- Got ravaged by injuries. In late May, I sent four players to the DL in one week.
- Around mid-season, I traded my Elvis Andrus for Nomar Mazara because I need some more power. In the season’s second half, Mazara hit one fewer home run, had 14 fewer R+RBI, five fewer stolen bases, and an on-base percentage 16 points less.
- Right after the Andrus trade, I lost my other stolen base threats, Kevin Kiermaier and Eduardo Nunez, to the disabled list.
- Picked up Zach Davies and Mike Clevinger off waivers and just let them go waiting for Rick Porcello to catch fire.
- Spent over 10% of my FAAB and Matt Chapman, watched him struggle on my team, and then released him. He hit 14 home runs in the season’s second half.
In all, it was a frustrating season. Here are the final results:
In the history of the league, I posted the most points ever, the largest margin of victory, and a new high in strikeouts. I about pulled off a perfect 75-point pitching season but ended up tied in Wins and Saves. With about two months to go, no one was within 20 points of my total. A great season is not a perfect season.
I made a ton of mistakes but I kept chugging along and hoped my process and luck would finally turn. The keys to my run to the top were:
- Corey Kluber got healthy.
- Robbie Ray took off.
- Picked up Justin Wilson right before he was named the closer.
- After barely losing out on Dinelson Lamet and Zack Godley, I grabbed Chase Anderson who was The Man down the stretch.
- I bought back into Blake Treinen after he got traded to Oakland.
- Steven Souza found plate discipline.
- Cody Bellinger got promoted early and stayed up.
- Mainly, the players I bought at a discount in the auction produced as expected.
It’s wasn’t an idealized championship roster, but it worked. I got balanced production out nearly every member.
There was no single secret to my success. I “stole” ideas from industry experts to come up with an ever-evolving personal strategy. I can’t go over all my processes today. My pre-auction prep on league tendencies spanned three articles last year. I will bring them up when the time applicable.
Even with all the planning in the world, fantasy teams will make mistakes. The key is to make sure the decisions behind the mistakes were Process versus Result driven. Additionally, continue to churn away trying to make improvements as a team is struggling. There’s no Golden Ticket, just small advantages which add up by the season’s end.
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.