Fantasy Baseball Round Table: The Role of LABR and Tout Wars

by Todd Zola, on February 27, 2013 @ 15:11:28 PDT


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Perry Van Hook

I don't know how you get to that question, Nick.

There is nothing wrong with the selection process in fact doesn't that mean that all the participants are in the industry?

So if people in the combined seven leagues can't write an article or two during the season and try and promote their own articles and sites, then might I ask why they are in the leagues? But I don't see anyone who isn't delighted to be in the leagues, so they can then help give back and do something to promote the leagues, which of course entails promoting themselves, which is fine.

A great avenue could be more trade discussion, especially amongst the better-known players.

Let's say you and Todd were in the same league and wanted to make a trade. You could both tell your readers what you wanted to accomplish and your thought process and invite suggestion or discussions on your respective sites. You might be surprised at the response, or I might, if you get squat.

My point remains that these leagues are interesting to players, especially, as Ryan says, those coming up the ranks. The Baseball Weekly issue with the LABR auction prices is still widely sought and used by people in auction leagues. SiriusXM broadcasts the LABR and Tout Wars auctions live and then repeats them often. There is interest by people who don't even know who KFFL or Mastersball or many of the other sites are! Wouldn't you want to gain some additional readership by helping promote the LABR or Tout Wars leagues you are in?

Greg Morgan

I think Ryan has an excellent idea. Tout is similar in parts to the WSOP but a fundamental difference is that anyone, in theory, can play their way into WSOP with $10 and a satellite entry. All they have to do is win the satellites and they are in. Tout, by comparison, is a closed system. That doesn't mean that it's wrong, but it does make it very different. This difference and the fact that it's referred to as an 'experts league' does lead to the perception in some high-stakes circles that it is somewhat of an elitist group. I think this is unfortunate and, like Perry, would prefer to see a symbiosis. This could take any number of forms. The next time a Tout or LABR seat opens up, invite one of the previous or current NFBC champions. I would also love to see the industry's presence at the NFBC. Maybe a Tout format league with one or more Touts versus NFBC members. You might have to buy Greg Ambrosius a Corona, but I think he'd see the truth of it. Something along these lines would be great for the industry.

Steve Gardner

Ryan, we started a LABR online mixed league last year and like the Tout Wars mixed league it's no coincidence that they're 15-team leagues that mirror the NFBC format. Hopefully, that makes the league more helpful to those who wish to play in those types of high-stakes leagues.

Cross-over leagues would be a fascinating experiment, but the biggest stumbling block to that is: I doubt the high-stakes winners would agree to play for free and I doubt any of our sites (or any of us individually) would freely put up the entry fee to make it interesting enough for the NFBC high-rollers.

Another question I'll just throw out - would people learn anything from the NFBC champs? Would they be willing to share their secrets, sleepers or strategies the way we industry analysts do freely since there's no actual money on the line?

One of the benefits I believe we do provide our readers (and podcast listeners) is an insight on our strategies and why we do what we do. The in-season pieces from Mastersball, KFFL and during the season, for example, can be helpful in identifying good players to pick up - before our readers have to make those same decisions.

Brian Walton

Many of the Touts also play in the NFBC main event. When I was last in it a few years back, so were Jeff Erickson, Glenn Colton/Nate Ravitz, Larry Schechter, Ron Shandler, Cory Schwartz, Gene McCaffrey, Ray Murphy and of course Lawr, Todd and Perry. No one notices them as a group as they are spread across many individual leagues. Last year, Jeff and Gene were in the top 20 most of the season. Cory has two top-10 overall finishes; Ray has one as well. I finished in the top 25 the last year I played. Larry has won the $5,000 entry Super League and Todd won back-to-back NL-only auctions.

Other than the overall standings, the NFBC approach would not show much since a key foundation of the competition is the random placement of players across leagues. With all the money involved, that is very important to avoid any suspicion of collusion.

What's the solution?

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About Todd Zola,

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at and, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums. Fantasy Baseball

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