Tout Wars Mixed Auction Draft Recap
The 2023 Tout Wars Mixed Auction draft held this past Saturday in Manhattan’s Hotel Edison wasn’t even 15 minutes old and I had already purchased two elite hitters, Kyle Tucker ($40) and Trea Turner ($36). Tucker was one of my main targets and since I had the first nomination, I decided to nominate him right away while there were still plenty of appealing $40+ players on the board. I was prepared to spend $43 for him, so the $40 winning bid was a pleasant surprise. Turner was another target but more of a fallback option in the event I missed out on Tucker or Jose Ramirez. But when the Turner bidding stalled at $35, I couldn’t resist saying “36” and was shocked when silence followed. The Ramirez union wasn’t meant to be as he went for a very reasonable $44 a few minutes later. I was disappointed by this but there was simply no way to make the numbers work without creating a glaring hole elsewhere on my roster.
I’ve spent the last few days sort of regretting the decision not to try to roster all three of these players but a squad mostly comprised of sub-$5 guys makes me uneasy. I’ve always been a conservative fantasy drafter, avoiding the “stars and scrubs” auction strategy and mostly assembling balanced rosters. My tiered auction approach of drafting one or two $40 hitters, a pair of $30 players, a few $20+ guys and so on has generally worked well as it spreads out the risk. I wasn’t ready to change my style.
I don’t know about you but I’m tired of the standard draft recap of listing your full roster and inserting a one-liner for each player. It’s boring. I’m going to organize this differently.
Favorite expensive buy: Trea Turner ($36)
I expected Turner to cost well over $40, so it actually took me a full minute to recover from the excitement of winning him for this price. Barring an injury, he’s pretty much a lock for 100 runs, 20 homers and 30 steals, and taking into account the new limit on pickoff attempts, the SB total could approach 50. The only explanation I can think of for the Turner discount is that he’s not quite as valuable in OBP leagues compared to AVG leagues as he has never walked at a particularly high rate, but his OBP will still be helpful.
Favorite mid-tier buys: Nick Castellanos and Kris Bryant ($14), Lucas Giolito ($10), Anthony Rizzo ($10)
The advantage of not following a stars and scrubs plan is that you will be able to land many of your $10-$20 targets, often at decent discounts. This was the case with Castellanos and especially Bryant, who is coming off an injury-marred 2022 campaign but could put together a $25+ season if he stays healthy, especially in OBP formats (career .376 OBP). Castellanos is a strong bounceback candidate considering his solid track record, and I’m encouraged that his bat showed signs of life last August before injuries sidelined him for much of September. Giolito is just one year removed from being a fantasy ace, and he’s pitched well this spring. At $10, there isn’t much downside.
Rizzo, who went for $9 at last year’s auction, saw his price rise by only one dollar despite posting a 32-homer season. Sure, there’s injury risk involved, but this still doesn’t make much sense to me. Like his former teammate Bryant, he’s another player who carries added value in OBP leagues (career .366 OBP), and the new shift rules should help his batting average and in turn his OBP. Auctioneer Jeff Erickson astutely pointed out that Hit By Pitches counts for OBP purposes. Hey, I’ll take whatever help I can get as long as the HBP doesn’t result in an IL stint.
Favorite end-game buys: Alex Lange ($1), Mitch Garver ($1), Anthony Volpe and Jared Walsh (reserve rounds)
Lange needs to improve his control to reach the next level but the stuff is elite and he figures to get first crack at Detroit’s ninth-inning gig. If I had known I’d be able to get him for a buck, I probably wouldn’t have gone to $9 to win Jhoan Duran. Oh well. This is an example of why order of nomination is so important in auction drafts.
The Garver pick was a sneaky one as I was desperate to improve my embarrassingly weak catcher duo of Omar Narvaez and Carson Kelly. I remembered reading that Garver would resume catching this year following a season in which injuries held him to 54 games and he mostly served as a DH. All Garver needs is five games played behind the plate and he will regain catcher eligibility in Tout. Not too long ago, he was a top-10 fantasy backstop.
I grabbed Volpe with the first pick of the reserve rounds and three days later, it was announced that he would open the season on the big-league roster. Good timing. Walsh slugged 29 homers while driving in 98 runs in 2021. Fresh off an injury-plagued 2022 season, he’s a zero-risk/high-reward investment.
Roster strengths and weaknesses
Strangely enough, my OBP is a strength. In the past, I haven’t paid enough attention to OBP in Tout, so I made a conscious effort to perform better in that department this season. Along with Turner, Bryant and Rizzo, Jonathan India should lead my squad to a top-half finish in the category, at the very least. I also really like my starting pitching, which includes a proven ace (Bieber), young arms with upside (Gilbert, Ryan, Keller) and bounceback candidates (Giolito and Berrios).
My biggest weakness is just as strange as my OBP strength. I usually stay far away from injury risks but this year is different. Bryant, India and Garver all missed a significant amount of time last season and Rizzo was limited to 130 games. I’m not thrilled about this but spending $1-$15 on an injury risk isn’t the same as shelling out nearly 40 bucks for Mike Trout.
All in all, I’m fairly confident that this team will be competitive. Is it a true title contender? Stay tuned.
Click here to see all of the Tout Wars rosters.
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