Tout Wars Prep: League Tendencies

Last year, Tout Wars was nice enough to allow me to join their Head-to-Head league which I preceded to barely win. I just got informed that I will not be in this league anymore. Instead, I was upgraded and will join fellow RotoGraphs author, Al Melchior in the 15-team mixed auction league. Previously I’ve stepped through my preparation process for these industry leagues but this year I can’t. We are picking our player in New York City right before the season starts on March 25th.  Besides Tout Wars, most local leagues will be drafting this weekend just before Opening Day. Anything I write about my procedure leading up the auction will be useless. Instead, I will write about my preparation over the next two months leading up to the auction.

Unlikely last year, this year’s preparation focuses on an established league with the same good owners. It will be a different animal to conquer than last year the league with some unique rules (H2H and Roto), which I exploited as much as I could. The new league is different in that it has been very constant.  Many of the same owners stay around for years and it has few if any rule changes. I will first begin my prep by breaking down the other information from past auctions.

Note: I know reading about another person’s team is unexciting and some information might be not applicable. I’ve added “Key Points” to summarize how the procedure can help individual owners in their own leagues.

First, here are the owners from the past few seasons.

Tout Wars 15-Team Mixed League Participants
2014 2015 2016 2017
Difino Difino Difino x
Engel Engel x
Flowers Flowers Flowers x
Heaney Heaney Heaney x
Mccaffrey x
Melchior Melchior Melchior x
Pianowski Pianowski Pianowski x
Pisapia Pisapia x
Sayre x
Steinhorn Steinhorn Steinhorn x
Swanay Swanay Swanay x
Van Riper Vanriper Vanriper x
Zinkie Zinkie Zinkie x
Gonos Gonos Gonos
Schwartz Schwartz Schwartz
Davitt Davitt
Singman Singman

All but two of them return for 2017. Besides myself, Brent Hershey of Baseball HQ, will be joining the auction. With most of the same owners returning, I can expect the auction to generally behave the same way.

First, here are the league’s auction spending habits over the past three years ($260 budget, 13 hitters, 9 pitchers).

Tout Wars 15-Team Mixed League Overall Spending Habits
Category 2014 2015 2016
% Spent on Hitting 67.8% 67.6% 67.2%
AVG $ on Hitting $176 $176 $175
AVG $ on Pitching $84 $84 $85
Average $ Spent on RP $28 $25 $21
# of RP bought 41 36 43

The split between hitting and pitching is fairly constant which can help me set up my auction values.

The biggest change in the league was been the declining amount of money spent on relievers. Over the past three seasons, each owner has spent $7 less on relievers while still getting the same number of them (2 to 3 per team). I am not going to assume the value will continue to drop, but I will go into the auction expecting everyone to drop around $20 on closers.

Key Point: If the league’s historic information exists, get an idea of the league’s overall value placed on hitters and pitchers. With pitchers, it is a good idea to split them up into starters and relievers.

Next, I divided up the data by owner to see if any consistently valued hitters or pitchers more than the league average. The values listed are the budget percentage spent on hitting.

Most owners hover around the average, but Swanay and Difino consistently overvalue pitching compared to the rest of the league. In the auction, I’ll try not to get in a bidding WAR over a pitcher with the pair.

Key Point: Determine if anowners lean more to pitching or hitting. It can be important to know if they value players more heavily if you are in a bidding war.

I am done for now. Next time, I will go over the standings from the past three season and find out what production it takes to win the league.

We hoped you liked reading Tout Wars Prep: League Tendencies by Jeff Zimmerman!

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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.

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Very cool approach to this article. I look forward to reading more on the subject.