2022 Tout Wars Mixed Auction Season Review
Who would have thought that Erick Fedde would decide my final place in the 2022 Mixed Auction Tout Wars standings? If Fedde had allowed only eight earned runs rather than nine earned runs in his disastrous outing versus the Mets last Wednesday, I would not have unexpectedly gained one roto point in ERA, which lifted me from a tie for third place to sole possession of third place. This might not seem like a big deal. Derek Van Riper took over first place in late-August and never looked back. But it was nice to end the season with the best possible outcome after heading into the final half-week with the potential to finish anywhere from third to seventh.
I haven't won this league since 2016 but I've now put together two straight third-place seasons, maintaining my industry-league reputation as a "consistent contender", even though it seems like I fall just a bit short too often. But I still view this season as a success. A lot more went right than wrong. Here's what you need to know.
BEST AUCTION BUYS
Jose Ramirez ($49), Kyle Tucker ($36)
Avoiding disappointing seasons from your top players can be as important as drafting cheaper players who deliver significant profit. Ramirez and Tucker were my most expensive auction purchases and both lived up to expectations. Ramirez drove in 126 runs while coming one homer shy of a 30/20 season. Tucker was the only player in the majors to record at least 30 home runs and 25 steals.
Aaron Nola ($30)
Investing $30 in any starting pitcher is always risky from both a health and performance standpoint, but the $30 I paid for Nola to anchor my rotation turned out to be $30 well spent. The Phillies' righty recorded career-bests in WHIP (0.96) and strikeouts (235) while registering his lowest ERA (3.25) since 2018. Don't pay attention to the 11-13 record, which is simply unlucky.
Jordan Montgomery ($6), Triston McKenzie ($4), Taijuan Walker ($1)
The single-digit dollar starting pitcher group is often where fantasy titles are won, and I've usually done well drafting from this tier to fill the middle of my rotation. This season was no exception as I paid a combined $11 for three starting pitchers who all finished among the top-50 at the position on the ESPN Player Rater. I spent the first four months of the season routinely complaining on Twitter about Aaron Boone prematurely removing Montgomery from his starts. My frustration level was lowered following his trade to the Cardinals as St. Louis showed more faith in him as long as he was effective. Relative to price, McKenzie was my best pick of the entire draft and I'm eager to find out if the 25-year-old can take another step forward in 2023, perhaps to the fantasy ace tier. Walker began last season in impressive fashion before collapsing in the second half. That didn't happen this year. I think he will still be underrated in drafts next spring and wouldn't be surprised if he lands on more than one of my rosters.
Amed Rosario ($7)
For much of the season, Rosario was meeting my expectations in all but one very important category. I had penciled him in for at least 15 stolen bases but hoped for more. Entering September, it looked like he might not get to 15, but Rosario swiped six bags from the start of September through the end of the season to finish with 18 steals. All in all, I got what I paid for and his multi-position eligibility was useful. I ended up starting him in the outfield more weeks than not.
Nate Lowe ($2)
Lowe was actually the only player on my team who I drafted by accident as I was caught price enforcing. Good thing for accidents. The Rangers' first baseman enjoyed a breakout season in his age-27 campaign and has proven to be especially valuable in the OBP department (career .352 OBP). His second-half power surge was particularly encouraging. Lowe will certainly be on my Tout Wars radar in March.
WORST AUCTION BUYS
Jose Berrios ($20)
This might be my worst auction purchase in my 11 years participating in Tout Wars. I'm truly at a loss for words here. Berrios went from being one of the most consistent starting pitchers in the game to a guy who barely deserved a roster spot in a deep mixed league. The frustrating part of the 2022 Jose Berrios Saga is that he sprinkled in several quality outings between nightmare starts, so there was constantly reason for hope that he could get back on track. It never happened. I'll be tempted to draft Berrios next spring as the price will be super-low, but the psychological trauma he inflicted on me this season might be too much to overcome.
Omar Narvaez ($7)
I considered Narvaez to be a safe mid-tier backstop who might not post exceptional numbers but would contribute an above-average stat line for a catcher. Instead, he contributed virtually nothing. I stuck with him for most of the season due more to the lack of exciting waiver-wire catchers than any sort of confidence that he would get hot. Looking back, I should have moved on from him by midseason.
Avisail Garcia ($6)
Although I wasn't counting on a repeat of his career-best 2021 campaign, I did feel comfortable spending six bucks on Garcia to serve as my third outfielder. Oops. His first season in Miami could not have gone much worse, though multiple injuries could be partly to blame. He's somewhat of a bounceback candidate for next year but at this point, it's safe to say that 2021 was an outlier.
BEST FAAB ADDS
Johnny Cueto ($28), Merrill Kelly ($88)
I picked up Cueto in late-May and then Kelly in late-June with the idea that they could pitch decently enough to be worth starting most weeks. No way did I envision that both would perform like reliable mid-rotation starters the rest of the way. One of my team's strengths was a very deep starting pitching group which allowed me to start nine SPs while punting saves during September without feeling like I was putting my ERA and WHIP at risk. I can thank Cueto and Kelly for enabling me to deploy this strategy, which led to substantial gains in wins and strikeouts. But it remains to be seen whether or not either of these pitchers can duplicate their surprising 2022 stat lines next season. I might have gotten a little lucky here.
WORST FAAB ADDS
Will Smith ($167), Hector Neris ($63), Ryan Tepera ($32)
Whereas my starting pitcher FAAB experience was a positive one, the closer situation was entirely different. Chasing saves on the waiver wire is never fun but it's inevitable unless you're punting the category from the very beginning of the season. Overpaying for Smith is my biggest regret but as the Kenley Jansen owner in this league, I was left with little choice when Jansen landed on the IL in early-July due to a heart condition that sidelined him earlier in his career. I feared a lengthy absence and being that Smith thrived in the closer role for Atlanta in 2021, he would surely be the full-time replacement until Jansen returned, right? Nope. One save was all I got from Smith as he shared the ninth inning with A.J. Minter, and Jansen was activated when first eligible.
Maybe 2023 will be the year that I finally ignore saves entirely. Or maybe the Tout Wars Board will make this decision for all of us by eliminating the category, though the subject of what to use as a replacement has always been controversial. I'm curious to see if this topic is revisited in the coming months.
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