Over the weekend the three Tout Wars - Al only, NL only, and Mixed - auctions were held at the SiriusXM Radio studios in midtown Manhattan.
I participated in the first draft - the AL fete - and after the draft and a break, the Mixed auction commenced.
The Tout Mixed is a 15-team mixed 5x5 event that included Mastersball/MLB.com rep Zach Steinhorn, and KFFLers Nicholas Minnix and Tim Heaney, and for the most part I sat in the spectators' chamber while the participants went at it in the studio that they refer to as "the fishbowl."
It is actually a pretty cool space, with the likes of Keith Richards and Paul McCartney having performed (and signed the wall along with many other luminaries) there.
Anyway, I came away from the Mixed with a plethora of questions relative to the auction strategies employed by the participants.
Moreland: a mixed bargain
That is because I basically believe that in a throwback league like the Tout Mixed you have to aggressively go the "Stars and Scrubs" route.
Now, that is different from the National League or American Leagues - both of which are also throwbacks - because of the depth of the player pool.
In a single league like AL or NL, I feel part of the objective is to simply try and nab as many at-bats and innings pitched as possible. Now, my logic behind this is that in the American League, for example, with 12 teams we draft 168 position players on our rosters, while there are only 135 starting players at play on any given day with a full retinue of AL games.
That means 33 slots on the various American League Tout squads might not be productive ones, so the reverse argument is surely that the more starting players the more at-bats, and the more opportunities to score runs, hit homers, and steal bases.
However, in the Mixed format, which again does 14 players and among 15 teams, there are 210 drafted players while there are 254 actual starters (that figure is derived from eight starting position players on 30 teams along with 14 AL Designated Hitters) on major league teams, again with a full schedule of games.
Meaning the possibilities to fill a fantasy roster with all starting players in Mixed Tout is a given.
That said, I think to really push the envelope to victory you have to overspend on the star players.
And that did not happen in the Mixed League last Saturday.
For example, here are the prices for three of the top hitting first basemen, and their Tout Salaries:
Now, it might be easy to identify a value range for the above sluggers, but the reality is that all three hitters should go for 20% or so more than the Mixed price tags the trio cost.
There are a couple of reasons for this.
One is because the player pool is deep enough for starters at every slot, even relegating a team to nine $1 players at the end still guarantees everyday players at each slot.
Second, by pushing the price, even if the intention is not to play "Stars and Scrubs," you can force other owners to really pay the premium to own the likes of Albert and the Prince. Which means, if you are going to try to win with a solid everyday lineup of players like Pablo Sandoval in the $15-$20 range in a Mixed, you can indeed achieve those means more easily.
Now, my argument for this is supported by these three late Mixed purchases, again showing their individual league costs:
Since there is that bevy of extra starting players, there will indeed always be bargains like the above troika in a Mixed format, but the point is essentially pairing the likes of Pujols and Moreland as a First/Corner combo would have cost the Mixed Tout owner only $44.
And, that should not be, based upon the 60-70 homers the pair can produce.
In other words, for the most part, the stars in the league should always cost more than they do in an individual league. So, Howard Kendrick, who cost $25 in the American League, should have commanded more than the $21 he garnered in Mixed.
Now, I am not saying this Stars and Scrubs approach will always work. That is why they play the games, and well, part of the beauty and magic of baseball is that despite the fact that things look predictable with the boatload of stats we have, nothing ever really works its way out on the field as we anticipated, let alone hoped.
But, let's just leave it with this: If Nate Ravitz has a chance to win the National League Tout with Votto ($41) and Matt Kemp ($42), then whoever landed those same two stars in the Mixed Format should have paid more than Nate did, as opposed to $2 less for Votto, and exactly the price tag for Kemp in both formats.
Allowing the Mixed owners to walk away with the lower price tags is simply handing an advantage to an adversary.
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Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.