Tout Wars Weekend was another great one in New York City.
I'm in the H2H Points league and had a blast drafting with this group of Touts, some of whom are holdovers, some new to the league. We'll get around to The Nelson Cruz Thing.
The league underwent several rule changes this year, moving to a playoff format and an altered scoring system. The changes to the scoring system were pretty much all on the pitching side, most notably going from one-point-per-out to one-point-per-inning. Of course, that seriously deflates the value of starting pitching, relative to what it was, although there is a 950 IP minimum in this league.
With this in mind, I knew I wanted to skew my spending more toward hitting from where it was a year ago when it was basically a 55%-45% hitting-pitching split. This year I aimed to push more toward 65-35, and I got close at 63-37. When I set the RotoWire software to a 65-35 budget split, it was more or less reflective of a 5x5 league with OBP with less of an emphasis on stolen bases and slightly more of an emphasis on closers, as you can see with the $Val rankings below.
Here are my buys in order of purchase:
Ronald Acuna, ATL $40
Juan Soto, WAS $36
There were many shares of Acuna already in the portfolio, but I believe this was my first Soto share of 2019. Too good a price in an OBP-driven league. Another Soto share fell into my lap at 4.40 a few days later in the NFBC Online Championship, which I'm kind of over the moon about. This ended up setting the tone for my entire team here: two young players with skills but without the track record. That's pretty much the entire team outside of a handful of guys. It may seem like there is no "floor" to the this team, but I think we have enough data after one year to say Acuna and Soto are for real and their baseline level is sky high. I feel strongly that these two are already among the best players in the game. Some will not put them here on account that they have not done it over multiple major-league seasons, but I pushed Acuna and Soto up to where I felt they belonged.
By comparison: Jose Ramirez $45, J.D. Martinez $42, Aaron Judge $39, Christian Yelich $38, Bryce Harper $38, Nolan Arenado $37
Blake Snell, TB $24
Jose Berrios, MIN $15
Robinson Cano, NYM $20
Gleyber Torres, NYY $16
German Marquez, COL $12
Maybe there's a market inefficiency in the "done it only one year" guys. Or, perhaps more likely, I'm an aging midwestern man desperately trying to grasp onto youth.
Kirby Yates, SD $13
David Price, BOS $9
David Peralta, AZ $12
I know Jeff Erickson has been really on Yates lately, and it's easy to see the case for him. Price I like as a No. 4 SP in a 12-team league, as the team context is favorable (namely run support and outfield defense) and he still possesses high-level skills, albeit not elite skills anymore. Peralta shockingly fell to 177 overall in my Online Championship draft. What's with the trepidation on this guy? Platoon risk? Spring numbers?
Victor Robles, WAS $12
Max Kepler, MIN $6
Rafael Devers, BOS $6
Jordan Hicks, STL $6
Jordan Hicks is a top target right now. He was raw last year but with refinement could become a top closer in baseball.
Corey Knebel, MIL $9
The word from Ken Rosenthal that the Brewers are in touch with Craig Kimbrel has me really sweating. I have quite a few shares of Knebel this draft season.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 20, 2019
Eduardo Rodriguez, BOS $7
Luke Voit, NYY $2
Two of my favorite breakout candidates, and I know James Anderson and Ian Kahn like Voit too (and liked him before I did). E-Rod is a guy who gets dinged because he hasn't put it together and hasn't been able to stay healthy, but I'm really confident that there is that next level and he just needs the health to cooperate. The knee surgery he had late in 2017 was called right knee patellofemoral ligament reconstruction surgery, intended to fix a problem that resulted in three subluxations in a span of two years. The risk of recurrence with that issue is pretty much baked in, and if it turns out that problem is behind him, it's going to be Profit City.
Yoan Moncada, CWS $6
Moncada gets dinged in this league because of the -.5 penalty for batter strikeouts, but only a little. The walks make up for the whiffs to a large extent.
Josh Bell, PIT $3
Bell has a 1:14 BB:K this spring but I still like the player and think he's pretty safe in terms of playing time.
Willians Astudillo, MIN $1
Adam Ottavino, NYY $1
Kurt Suzuki, WAS $1
I missed out on Omar Narvaez and Austin Barnes, but Astudillo is a nice consolation. With Miguel Sano (heel) out for the first month at least, there may be room for Astudillo. Ottavino is dirty and always has appeal, but even more so now that Dellin Betances (shoulder) is headed for the injured list.
Austin Meadows, TB $3
James Anderson's breakout pick, a guy with pedigree and obvious upside at a very reasonable cost.
RESERVES: Nelson Cruz, Alex Colome, Harrison Bader, Fernando Tatis Jr., Lourdes Gurriel, Taylor Rogers
Yeah, so, Nelson Cruz fell to the reserves. Long story short: the incredibly talented and smart Alex Chamberlain of FanGraphs tried to nominate Cruz minutes after he bought Khris Davis. I know he feels badly about it but really shouldn't; we all make mistakes and this was a very small one. It just had a weird ripple effect.
The bidding on Cruz got up to I believe $15 before Jeff, our auctioneer, realized that it was technically an illegal nomination. No big deal, nominate someone else. Well, the bidding went fairly high and many people not only mentally backed out on the bidding, but also physically scribbled a line through Cruz's name.
A couple hours later and he's still just sitting out there, unbeknownst to a large number of people, myself included (I was using the software but had been sorting by position, not clicking on DH, and was also hyper-focused on a few players).
Jeff, as he's admitted, mentioned Cruz off-hand near the end of the auction. It wasn't said to me and didn't even register immediately, but other peoples' hushing of him right afterward brought it to my attention. I know Jeff feels bad as well, but he too shouldn't. It was just one of those weird live-auction things. I would be willing to throw Cruz into the free-agent pool because a) realistically I'm a mark and don't even know if I'll play him over Meadows and b) there was supposedly some grumblings about it. I want people to be into this, and more selfishly, I don't want any excuses.
Regardless of how that situation plays out, I'm looking forward to this league. There are some monster teams on paper.
Check out the boards for all the Tout Wars leagues at ToutWars.com.