Doubt Wars 2021: The Winners

Doubt Wars is the game everyone likes to play in order to compete against the Touts themselves. Read about the rules here.

We’ve been very slow compiling the results to determine who last year’s winners were, but they’ve now been published. See the spreadsheets (3 tabs) here.

This year’s winners?

AL: Tout Michael Rathburn edged out Tout AL Champ Jeff Zimmerman for first place in Doubt Wars. Strike Back’s Michael Lester is the Civilian champ.

NL: Inverted Ws’s Mark Mason won Doubt NL.

Mixed: Vandelay Industries Keith Johnson beat out the Touts from both Tout Mixed Auction and Tout Mixed Draft.

Congratulations to all the winners, and for everyone else, Wait for this year!

The Touts: In their own write (or radio, or podcast)

Each year we publish links to the Touts writings and ruminations about what happened in the season that just ended. Here they are for 2021:

Draft and Hold: Michael Stein |

NL: Fred Zinkie | Phil Hertz |

Mixed Auction: Zach Steinhorn |

Head to Head: Frank Stampfl |

Tout Wars 2021: Here Are Your Champions

The season is in the bag, and surprisingly no playoff games to enliven our Monday. Here’s a quick rundown of the 2021 winners:

AL: Glenn Colton and Rick Wolf win their third Tout AL title.

NL: Fred Zinkie wins his second consecutive Tout NL title, and fifth Tout title overall.

Mixed Auction: Jeff Zimmerman wins his second Tout Mixed Auction title, and third Tout title overall.

H2H: Frank Stampfl wins his first Tout title.

Mixed Draft 12: Alex Fast win the first ever Tout Mixed Draft 12 title.

Mixed Draft 15: Adam Ronis wins his third Mixed Draft 15 championship.

Draft and Hold: Alan Harrison and Matt Williams share the glory, the first ever tied-after-the-tiebreaker co-championship.

Tout Daily: Ryan Bloomfield topped this year’s field. (Teams gained entry to the finals by winning each week, which is why Carty has so many entries. He won multiple weeks.)

Tout Table: 2022 Prep

Before we get to the final Tout Table for the 2021 season, the Tout board would like to thank the Touts for their thoughtful answers all season. We’d also like to extend out sincere appreciation to all the readers for their patronage. It’s been quite a season, with a great postseason to come.

For the final question of the season, the Touts were asked:

When do you start prep for 2022? In brief, what does it entail?

Matt Williams (NBC Sports Edge, @MattWi77iams): My prep for 2022 has already began. Private mock drafts with industry analysts and successful high stakes players to gain an advanced look at the market. I will then start my player by player breakdowns in order to gauge which hitters/pitchers showed growth throughout the season. Things such as projections will come later, but for now I am in analysis mode.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I started making lists really starting on Sept 1, using various BPIs put up in 2021 as filters to see who hits what criteria and then start sorting into different buckets from those lists–including one bucket that requires a deeper dive. I am doing this basically until Jan 1. Then I move into projections mode. The initial goal is to be over inclusive and open-minded, then narrow things as I go.

Lenny Melnick (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @LennyMelnick): Best time to prep for 2022 is NOW Make a list of players who impressed you, without the numbers jumping off the page Ahmed Rosario and Jordan Montgomery are 2 great examples

Jeff Erickson (Rotowire, @Jeff_Erickson): Technically now, when discussing players for 2022 on various media outlets, both on SXM and on the podcast. I don’t really start doing ranks or projections until the playoffs end, however.

Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): My 2022 prep begins as the final pitch of the 2021 regular season is thrown… thanks to the Baseball Forecaster. It’s an all-out sprint during October and early November to get the digital copy out by Thanksgiving, then a giant exhale around the holidays, and back at it full-force with my own prep (and #BloomBoards!) come January.

Steve Gardner (USAToday Fantasy Sports, @SteveAGardner): I’ll definitely take a break from fantasy baseball to enjoy the playoffs as a fan, but not before I do a little self-critique on what went right for me and what went wrong this past season. With things fresh in your mind, it’s a good idea to make notes to yourself and come back to them once it’s time to really start focusing on next season. Did I misjudge certain players? Was I too confident in players coming back from injuries? How accurately did I value pitchers? And do I expect any of those things to change? Also it’s a good idea to note any potential rules changes you might want to propose for next season.

Alex Fast (Pitcher List, @AlexFast8): In an ideal world: around end of November, early December. In reality: mid January. The beauty of prep is that it can really start whenever because we’re dealing with info that already exists and won’t be changing. Sure, player X will be on team Y as opposed to team Z but their numbers from the past year will largely be the same. The biggest piece of offseason work I do is a top 100 pitchers ranking. This year, I’ll probably start doing that much earlier so I can try to expand it to 150 pitches. I imagine I’ll take the month of November to not think about baseball and the month of December to learn new information about pitching from Driveline and begin to make my list. I think that November off month is incredibly important, especially to deal with biases that could arise from being too close to the data. Take a break from all the numbers and enjoy Thanksgiving; the numbers will be there.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Before I dig into players, I want to dig into the metrics, etc. guiding the analysis. Each summer, there are some new stats or means of analysis I happen upon, but don’t have the time to really delve into. I make a list and spend the early offseason researching each. An example from previous seasons is Alex Fast’s CSW. Eno Sarris’ stuff metric is on the current list, among others. Once I’m comfortable with the tools, I identify outliers relative to the market and decide if I’m too high, too low or just right. For this subset of players, having a solid grip on some of the next level metrics can be the difference between changing my mind and agreeing with the market or holding my ground, up or down.

Nick Pollack (Pitcher List, @PitcherList): I begin the day after the season ends, crafting a way-too-early Top 150 pitchers. I write out every possible option per team, understand potential roles that could shift, and try to get down as many thoughts as I have before the 2021 season “feel” is gone. Then I turn to mock drafts and individual player research before beginning the fine-tuned process in early January. What’s most important is to have as many discussions about these players as possible, helping identify what weights and discussions you believe in most, making for a polished approach come draft season.

Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): I usually consider my inbound flight to First Pitch Arizona as the official kickoff to the 2022 prep season. Between the EOS and that date, I’ll throw together a document showing how my teams finished in the scoring categories as well as review the annual 60 bold predictions I make for my column to see how I performed and for public accountability purposes. I do not get into any next-season prep until Clay Link sends me my first batch of player capsules to write for the draft guide. I do love the offseason because the numbers are static, so the only changes to worry about are team changes, and the pending lockout should keep a lid on those activates for awhile too.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): I normally take December off, start really planning in January, right around the time I’m re-launching the pod. I’ll grab the projections from my five favourite sources, then look look for outliers in per-600 PA/BF means (not John). Later, I’ll look for significant differences in PT projections. The outliers are the targets for in-depth review in February. That’s also when I try to map out some auction/draft scenarios. Then on draft day somebody does something unexpected and the whole thing goes out the window.

Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): I normally take a break until Thanksgiving in terms of doing next season prep. In the time until then, I still analyze what was in 2021. In early December, I run the next iteration of my ATC regressions, updating weights to account for the current year. Then starting shortly after Christmas, I start the process of generating ATC. ATC is always my starting point for where to focus my attention on in terms of player analysis – which puts me on a later timeline than most others in the industry.

Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): My preparation has already started before the 2021 season ends by compiling a list of elite/superstar-level players who had down years and are strong candidates for a bounce-back season in 2022. These players are likely to see their ADP’s significantly drop and can be had for tremendous value. I am not talking about players at the end of their careers or one-hit wonders. I am focusing on potential bargains that can be targeted outside the first few rounds. I also start looking at prospects likely to make their debuts in 2022 and keep a list of position battles they may be in to gauge the chances of their playing time. I will try to do mock drafts by November to really start getting into the proper mindset and see what trends are forming around the time of GM meetings and when free agents are starting to sign. There is no offseason in fantasy baseball.

Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): “Prep” is tricky to pin down because everything we do is preparation in some form. In that sense, I’m prepping now. However, I try to hold off on detailed draft plans or mock drafting until as late as possible – usually mid-January. The later I can hold off, the better my value anchors as draft seasons progresses and the more information I can put into my piecemeal projections. Starting too early on draft plans increases the risk of boneheaded mistakes when trying to play the ADP/value game in the mid-rounds.

Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru, @BaseballGuys): The day after the final day, I scour the inner-webs to gather all the seasonal info I can find. Numbers that pop kinda stuff. I make some notes about any topics I would like to cover too as I create my outline of work for the following season. I take about three weeks off while I go full on football (other than a podcast or two on baseball). Basically, I dive in the final week of October, and the first of November I get to work at writing the next season’s draft guide. If you are keeping track at home, that is 49-of-52 weeks a year with baseball work for this kid.

Anthony Perri (Fantistics, @Anthony_Perri): The last game of the season is when my prep starts. What where the production surprises, what were the failures. What did a player do differently this year than in the past, and how was that captured with the analytics. What analytics were more predictable/less predictable this year, and how does that play into the analysis for 2022.

Seth Trachtman (NBC Sports Edge, @sethroto): My prep usually begins the day after the regular season ends, scouring farm systems for potential 2022 talent. After the playoffs end, I research every player who had an MLB at-bat or threw a pitch that season, making personal notes. Once those processes are over, I start on projections, with a goal of starting my first NFBC Draft Champions league with Version 1 projections and values by Christmas. From there, it’s a series of projection refinements until Opening Day.

Greg Jewett (Fantasy Alarm, @gjewett9): Already started my 2022 preparations and will post a much too early top-25 closers for next year on The Athletic tomorrow. Also will analyze my strengths and weaknesses from this year with eyes on next season. Ignore ADP and get my guys will be the modus operandi in the season ahead. Thanks again for the opportunity of competing in Tout and I look forward to many years ahead with all of you. Be well.

Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): The day my copy of the 2022 Baseball Forecaster arrives! I start creating my own projections as soon as that book shows up in my mailbox.

Lou Blasi (Fantistics, @LouBlasi): In my house league, I made claims during our World Series for next year’s roster! But I have been stacking my notes about what I have learned this year, and player’s performances (and the factors underneath them) while my impressions are fresh in my mind. After that I’ll pause for a while, and then likely dive back in, in earnest, in December. I’ll start with variances on a league scale and then begin looking at players who had up or down years and try to determine what is behind the changes.

Andrea LaMont (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @RotoLady): Usually my prep starts right before we go to First Pitch and attend Arizona Fall League games. Mid Oct-early Nov. I pull a bunch of numbers into a few spreadsheets to look for trends and next year’s sleepers. We pretty much talk about baseball all year long in our house, and we do podcasts all year. I used to check my mailbox everyday for the Baseball Forecaster but we get it quicker online now, I read it and use it a ton in my prep for the upcoming season. Mock Drafting begins around Dec. 1st.

Brian Entrekin (Benched with Bubba, @bdentrek): Prep has already begun for 2022. Early rankings are being worked on. Benched with Bubba episodes are already discussing 2022 thoughts on certain players. The real ramp up will start In November, but I will be digging in on players, teams, etc. for the upcoming season immediately.

Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): I guess it depends on what you mean in ‘prep’. I’m still competing in a couple of roto league so I am super focused on that right now. I try to take a few weeks after the playoffs to re-group and recharge (even though I do find myself in a few FanGraphs wormholes from time to time). I really begin prepping in the new year. I typically begin by reviewing the league I performed the worst in to see where it all went wrong. I then review my best league, to see if it something I did or just plain ol’ luck.

Frank Stampfl (Fantasy Pros, @Roto_Frank): Like many others, it’s already started. We’ll still be doing the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast two times per week during the offseason, recapping each position and talking about the most polarizing players for 2022. As prep for those pods, I’ll start making way-too-early rankings.

Nando Di Fino (The Athletic, @nandodifino): I was doing 2022 research in 2018. But without sounding pretentious, I’ll start in January, once the dust settles on winter meetings and fantasy football is over. I like to quiz myself by trying to fill out the starters on each team, then study up on who I didn’t know… I’ll look at roster resource (which I guess is fangraphs now) and see what I agree and disagree with. I’ll look at minor league leaders to try and find some gems in the rough who could win battles… and then I’ll just read a ton of stories, do some best balls, and evolve my likes and dislikes until draft day

Bret Sayre (Baseball Prospectus, @BretSayreBP): I usually start preparing for 2022 during the playoffs, and then I like to take a break in November/December. I believe that too much prep is a bad thing, as it can lead to overthinking and trying to get cute around the edges. Find the players you feel strongly about, find the projections you trust most (for me, that’s PECOTA over at Baseball Prospectus) and mix them together to form your own path forward. Then sprinkle in a few mocks during January/February to get a better sense of tendencies you’ll see when it matters.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): Now. Actually never stops. Watching Boxscore’s especially for rookies and call ups to see hoe they perform, can they take a prominent place next year, and rookie pitchers, can they make a rotation or be a closer. The mlb team is looking for these same things!

Dan Strafford (FNTSY Radio, @DanStrafford): Work on 2022 begins by taking a look back at what went right and what went wrong with 2021. I think it is increasingly important with the amount of information and data available to do a deep dive on how things went in regards to the season that just ended. I think examining where blind spots may have been and creating action items to remedy them is critical to starting research for the next year. From there, I’ll start checking in on projections and data some time in December to make sure I’m ready to start in January of 2022.

Zach Steinhorn (CreativeSports2, @zachsteinhorn): Aside from participating in a few mock drafts for magazines or websites, I usually take a break from fantasy baseball until early-January. I’ll certainly monitor the Hot Stove developments but in terms of deep player research, I’ll save that for the new year. Once January comes around, I read as many articles and listen to as many podcasts as possible to gather as much information as I can and gain a sense of how the industry is valuing various players. I’ll then compare those opinions to my own opinions to identify who I consider to be undervalued and overvalued. In mid-February, I’ll begin an NFBC Draft Champions slow draft, which is an excellent way to prepare for your later drafts.

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): I like to take a break until the conclusion of the world series. I find it important to be able to watch the the MLB postseason as a fan, without worrying about rankings and stats, and rooting for my teams and booing the Yankees. After the Thanksgiving holidays, it is then back to work.

Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): I usually enjoy the postseason and then start lightly prepping in November before really rolling up my sleeves in December. November involves putting my salary cap draft valuations together and catching up on any big news I might have missed in September/October and December is when I put the first pass of my rankings and bid limits together in earnest.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): My preparation for the next season starts the day after this season ends. I review my drafted team and the team I have at the end of the season. I make notes of what worked and what to improve on next season, especially around draft strategy and in-season roster management. I also look for trends with players (the numbers inside the numbers). You could have two identical players on the surface, but achieved those stats in different trends. I also look at who potentially could be next year’s sleepers and breakout players. It’s important to take some time off during the off season to refresh the mind and hunger for another chance at a league championship.

Tout Head 2 Head Finals Update: Ariel Cohen on Week 1

At 8 PM Sunday night at the end of week one of the two-week H2H final contest – Frank Stampfl of CBS currently leads my team (Ariel Cohen of FanGraphs) in the 2021 Tout Wars Head to Head Championship. His current lead is a large one, sitting at just over 106 points. For now I am the reigning champion of the league, but I am in trouble.

After heading into Sunday down by over a hundred and fifty points, I managed to cut Frank’s lead down to about 100. At one point, the margin of victory was as large as 175 on Sunday … but I still had four starting pitchers throwing late afternoon out on the West Coast, which helped my team climb back.

Still, it was a miserable week. I haven’t scored fewer than 328 points in a week since back in July. Meanwhile, Frank is on a roll, scoring more than 400 points in four of his last five weeks. Stampfl picked the right time to get hot, while I have picked the wrong time to stumble.

Frank managed to generate his solid first-week lead despite not having Max Scherzer in his active lineup. But Nick Castellanos has carried his team through the weekend, homering in three straight games. His pickup of the week, however, was Tampa Bay’s Shane Baz. Baz is now 2-0, securing 50+ points for Team Stampfl.

I was done in this week by poor team play across the board, that happens, but I also made some poor managerial decisions. I left Kenley Jansen sitting on the bench while in real life he earned two wins and two saves. Jansen would have hauled in more than 40 fantasy points for my team if he’d been active. Marco Gonzales was my top performer – notching a seven-inning victory on Sunday against the Angels.

A 100+ point deficit is not insurmountable, but it is still a very tall order to overcome. Consider Frank the favorite to knock off the defending champ this week, denying me the chance to be the league’s first back-to-back winner.

Follow the action at The results update each morning around 8 AM eastern. (Editor: We’ll have updates during the day next Sunday here at if the race is close.)

If Frank does win, I wonder what scoring system he’ll choose next year? Did I make a mistake choosing CBS this year?

Tout Wars Final FAB Report: September 26

And then there was one. It all started on April Fool’s Day and will end on October. Well, maybe. The Braves and Rockies could play a makeup on October 4 if it matters for the NL East plus the possibility of a Game 163 is alive an kicking in the AL.

If there are extra games, the crowning of six Tout Wars champions will wait an extra day. Ryan Bloomfield from BaseballHQ has already earned the title of Tout Daily Champion.

Halfway through the head-to-head finals, Frank Stampfl leads defending champion Ariel Cohen.

Here are the winning bids of the final FAB session. You can check out the standings and follow the races all week by clicking on the league header. Click HERE for the Draft and Hold league.

American League

CHernandez, CWSRob Leibowitz 48
EMorgan, CleRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 31
CBassitt, OakJeff Erickson 29
JCastro, HouRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 20
JBarria, LAARyan Bloomfield 10
JKowar, KCMike Podhorzer 9
DCameron, DetDoug Dennis 2
SRomo, OakDoug Dennis 0
DTate, BalDoug Dennis 0
KAkin, BalMike Gianella 0
JGant, MinMike Gianella 0
LTrivino, OakDoug Dennis 0
DTapia, KCDoug Dennis 0

National League

TraThompson, ChCGrey Albright 51
TFriedl, CinPeter Kreutzer 22
MPerez, PitTodd Zola 6
ASenzatela, ColSteve Gardner 2
JMercer, WasPeter Kreutzer 2
JWendelken, AriTristan H. Cockcroft 0
APujols, LADPeter Kreutzer 0
EAlvarez, MiaDerek Carty 0
WContreras, AtlTristan H. Cockcroft 0

Mixed Salary Cap

CBassitt, OakZach Steinhorn 20
TAlexander, DetJeff Zimmerman 19
NGordon, MinBrent Hershey 15
AEscobar, WasZach Steinhorn 8
GRichards, BosBrent Hershey 3
MStassi, LAAIan Kahn 0
SBaz, TBIan Kahn 0

Mixed Draft

ACobb, LAAAdam Ronis 67
ASenzatela, ColPerry Van Hook 33
MMikolas, StLPerry Van Hook 33
SBaz, TBPerry Van Hook 33
WContreras, AtlPerry Van Hook 11
TAlexander, DetSeth Trachtman 1
MDuffy, ChCAdam Ronis 0
JGray, ColTim McLeod 0
EMorgan, CleTim McLeod 0

Head to Head

TGonsolin, LADAriel Cohen 10
HBader, StLAriel Cohen 10
LGarcia, WasAriel Cohen 10
HDozier, KCAriel Cohen 10
MKeller, PitAriel Cohen 10
THearn, TexAriel Cohen 10
DRasmussen, TBFrank Stampfl 7
AEscobar, WasFrank Stampfl 1
KHayes, PitFrank Stampfl 1

Mixed with IP & Saves+Holds

GTorres, NYYJennifer Piacenti 56
HDozier, KCJennifer Piacenti 54
WPeralta, DetJennifer Piacenti 31
DVarsho, AriAlex Fast 15
NGordon, MinRay Flowers 1
DSteckenrider, SeaRay Flowers 1
DRasmussen, TBBrian Entrekin 0
JRyan, MinBrian Entrekin 0
ESuarez, CinBrian Entrekin 0

Final Fantasy: Head 2 Head Showdown Starts Now!

After 24 weeks of regular season games and two rounds of playoffs the final round is here. Two weeks, ups and downs on Mondays and Thursdays, waivers next Sunday night before the last week.

Meet your Tout Head 2 Head finalists.

Returning champ Ariel Cohen had the most points during the regular season and won more games than any other team.

Challenger Frank Stampfl finished the season with the third-most points overall, behind Cohen and seventh-place (!) finisher Andrea LaMont, then beat Nick Pollack and Ralph Lifschitz in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Cohen beat 2019 Tout H2H champ Clay Link in his only playoff round, drawing a bye for finishing first.

Check in on the rosters and scoring each morning by clicking this link.

Tout Table: Rules Changes

Once the league champion is crowned and the cleanup from the Yoohoo shower is complete, most benevolent commissioners will solicit the league for proposed changes to the Constitution. This week, I came up with a hypothetical league and asked the following.

Let’s say I run a league which you’re in. Here are the basic specs and rules:

15-team Mixed Snake Draft, redraft league. Draft order is the reverse of last season’s standings so the last place team gets the first pick.

We use a 100 unit FAB budget with $0 bids allowed. Trading is permitted and FAB can be traded.

Scoring is standard 5×5 with a 1000 innings pitched minimum. Rosters are the standard 14 hitters, 9 pitchers with seven reserves and no IL.

The season is over, I congratulated the champion and requested rules changes for next season.

What rules changes would you propose and if multiple, which is your No. 1 priority?

Derek Carty (RotoGrinders, @DerekCarty): Make it an auction, because drafts dumb, auctions good. And add IL slots, ideally unlimited, you monster.

Alex Fast (Pitcher List, @AlexFast8): This may be a bit silly but I really dislike the ability to do $0 FAAB bids. I understand as to why people enjoy it but to me it’s one of the most abused rules in fantasy baseball. If you want to roster a player, you should have to pay a price for that player. If we allow $0 bids, what’s the point of having a FAAB to begin with? I think about it like this – though, in my opinion, there are several examples I could give – it’s the first week of the playoffs. Half the league is eliminated and I need a starter. If I have $0 I may not be able to get the pick of the litter but there are so many options available that I’ll, in all likelihood, be fine. If I need K’s, it’s not like I have one option, same with W’s. With a $0 FAAB I can get any of those options. It just makes my blood boil. I see no benefits to it. Any potential benefits seem counteracted with the rebuttal “then just spend $1”.

Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, The Process, @jeffwzimmerman): Making sure no one changes the rules with the exception of I like how the NFBC High Stakes leagues do it and there is a blind bid with FAAB to pick the desired slot. Overall, I like these settings. Responses: Derek: The shallower the league, the need for IL spots disappears IMO. If you want to have unlimited IL, the bench needs to be 4 at most. In a 15-team league, there should be WW options. Sometimes in LABR and Tout with unlimited options, the pool dies. Also the need to make calls on the IL is a great part of the game. There was no reason I should have 15 players on my bench (happened this year). Alex: I think it’s fine either way, as long as it’s known in the rules. The one format I would change is Tout. No need for $0 bids and $1000 in FAAB. One or the other

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): Add IL spots; replace AVG w/ OBP; replace SVs w/ either SVs+Holds, GP or something else; potentially replace Wins too.

Rob Leibowitz (Rotoheaven, @rob_leibowitz): Randomize the order. Finish one year has no basis on next in a redraft order or move to an auction format. I prefer $100 FAAB with $0 FAAB bids allowed in redraft leagues. Reduce minimum IP to 900. 200 innings for a starting pitcher has become the exception, no longer the expected. Mixed-15 league, I’m probably fine without a DL, perhaps 1 or 2 spots. Responses to FAAB, I prefer master of my own destiny as opposed to crossing my fingers on waivers and hoping someone doesn’t get my guy, when I could’ve outbid them. I’d probably also make it AL or NL only because I prefer that style. I’d rather do two drafts than a single mixed.

Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): So a few reactions. 1. Super agree on adding IL. At least 5 slots if unlimited isn’t an option. 2. I know this is unpopular, but I hate FAAB. It’s a sweet concept that just is un-fun in practice. So I’m strongly opposing Alex’s suggesting of doing away with $0 bids. I ideally want daily first-come, first-serve waivers, but $100 FAAB and $0 bids is where I draw the line for compromise. I’d also support replacing standard FAAB with Vickrey auctions if the platform can handle it. 3. Rob is right, draft order should not be reverse order of standings. My preference is reverse order of money earned with a random tie breaker. So if top 3 get cash, bottom 12 draw straws for first to 12th. KDS is fine too. 4. I would vehemently oppose changing the scoring. Standard 5×5 is the most difficult assortment of stats to optimize. When you start swapping in OBP, holds, W+QS, etc., the optimization formula becomes simpler and more visible. It’s less about artistry than doing simple math problems. 5. Auctions are wonderful. Just make sure the talent level (i.e. the managers) is balanced. Otherwise, you’re going to severely disadvantage the managers who already had the longest odds.

Jock Thompson (Baseball HQ, @JOCKatHQ): What Swanay said. But I’d try to change everything, starting with making it a dynasty format.

Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): 1) Rewarding teams who finish in last place the prior season typically causes competition issues. A draft order should be random in a complete redraft league. 2) KDS is an upgrade to random draft order. Let teams CHOOSE which draft slots that they want to pick from. 3) I’m with Derek Carty – I prefer auctions to snake drafts. Auctions are in many ways more fair, and are more engaging than snakes. 4) Here’s an idea for roto categories – let last year’s champ get to add on any category that he/she likes as a 6th hitting and 6th pitching category. It could vary each year, and makes the game less stale. 4) For trading – I advocate for an even earlier (perhaps all-star break) limited trade deadline, where then top third of the league cannot trade with the bottom third of the league. 5) As far as IL slots – They are needed, but player depth could be an issue. Reduce the bench to 5-6 players, and institute 4-5 IL slots. 6) More on the IL – IL slots should ONLY be for players who are injured while in the ACTIVE lineup. You shouldn’t be able to pick up an injured player and place him directly in an IL slot. 7) As far as most important rule change – it is the IL addition. That’s a must in today’s game. Yes, there is always randomness in fantasy baseball, but the extent of injury in 2021 has become quite impactful, and IL slots aid with reducing its impact.

Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @Scott_Pianowski): Last place should never ever ever be rewarded. Why incentivize teams to be lousy? (And at that, why encourage teams to make monumentally-inequitable trades that have a way of ruining leagues?) My long-time hometown keeper determines draft order this way, pulling from the standing page: 5-6-7-8-9-10-11-4-12-3-13-2-14-1. You can still “dump” but it comes with a cost. Everyone is constantly playing for something, and when you do well, you get rewarded. (IL slots bring too many unintended consequences, and you now have the headache of dealing with cadence of real-life transactions. If you want a limited amount, okay. Otherwise, you give managers all the storage area in the world, but not much viable replacement value. Jeff Zimmerman’s IL thoughts mirror mine, and his were presented far more elegantly. I also prefer Salary Cap – nee Auction – to Draft, as I think most people in this room do.)

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Change the hitter-pitcher balance on our rosters. Instead of 14-9, make it 12-12—closer to 25-man rosters and way more reflective of modern MLB roster construction. And beef up the pool of offensive players, which is getting more important, especially in -only leagues or 20+ mixed, with all the injuries. I’d like to see 2 C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 4 0F, IF, UT. And holds are as bad as saves, so adding them together doesn’t make either any better. I like Ariel’s idea of the winner getting to add a cat the next year, but if I were in a league with him, I’d be worried that I might have to worry about my team’s aggregate Poisson Distribution.

Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ, @BrentHQ): I’m with Pianow, I’d strongly suggest some sort of change that alters the next year’s draft order. Ideally, attempt to incentive everyone to keep playing through the season. Maybe it’s just 8-9-10-11…15-7-6-5…1, or if there’s four $ spots, start with #5 — really, almost anything other than this setup is preferable. Even yearly randomization. And I too, prefer keeper, non-draft, and some altered categories here, but addressing the draft order with an eye towards season-long competition should be the first priority in my opinion.

Jon Hegglund (Baseball Prospectus, @JonHegglund): There are plenty of quibbles one could make, but my two biggest are: I strongly, STRONGLY prefer OBP to AVG. And second, gotta lower that innings minimum. 900 should be fine, but even 800 is a good number to account for the changed usage of starters.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): Reduce the league size from 15 to 12. Ten and Twelve team leagues are the norm on all of the major fantasy baseball league sites. The draft order should be randomized and not reward the last place finishers with the first pick the following season. Or allow the winner to choose from whatever draft slot they would like to draft from, then go down the list with their choices. I dislike FAAB dollars all together. Make free agents available based on waiver wire priority. Make them daily instead of weekly. Allow for a 1-2 waiver period on each player. If a player passed the waiver wire and becomes a free agent, anyone can drop and add them. This is how you keep league managers more active throughout the season. Allow for 2 IL slots. With Covid and injuries, it’s difficult to manage a team without having to drop someone due to an unforeseen circumstance. Remove the 2 catchers league and make it a 1 catcher league. Allow for daily roster moves and not weekly.

Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): Several suggestions> Hitting, I’d drop AVG and replace with OBP. Pitching, drop minimum innings to something like 800, or better yet just drop it; also drop wins and sub in innings pitched, and finally drop saves and replace with Holds+Wins+2xSaves. I also favor changing the draft order – at least for the first four to six rounds – and not making it snake. My order – on the assumption that top 4 get a pay out – would be 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 4, 11, 3, 12, 13, 2, 14, 15, 1.

Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): I like SV+HD. It leads more to chasing reliever skills, rather than manager decisions. The three-batter rule has helped to make holds more respectable.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I agree with a lot of folks who have already answered on things like OBP not BA, auction not draft, no $0 FAAB bids, have an IL bc 15-team mixed is already too shallow, SV+HD not SV. Instead I will get on the soapbox to say that 14 hitters/9 pitchers is so 1972 and that in 2022 we need something more akin to 12 hitters/11 pitchers (or 11/12!) to get the player pool reflected in our game a bit better. I am sorry if you are grandpa and have been playing 14/9 for 50 years–the game has evolved and we should too.

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): Wins are stupid. Unfortunately, there is no good replacement. Quality Starts isn’t great, but at least historically it could have been used. Now, pitchers are going six innings less often so the QS has become increasingly rare. Perhaps that’s actually a reason in favor of switching to QS? But QS alone takes away the garbage wins from relievers, reducing their value. I’m totally fine with that though as there’s nothing more frustrating then watching a closer allow 3 runs to blow your starter’s win, just for his team to score in the bottom of the inning, “earning” him the win.

Alex Chamberlain (Rotographs, @DolphHauldhagen): This example provides fertile ground for rule changes, so I will simply echo a singular sentiment with respect to the draft order: there should be some reward for teams who try but fail rather than an outsized reward for a team that tanks. I don’t know how that change should look because no solution is perfect. Randomizing the bottom 12 teams doesn’t really incentivize trying, but it does, to some extent, disincentive tanking. Some kind of probabilistically-based lottery system (like the NBA? I think? I don’t know anything about sports) based on where a team finishes (outside the top-3) could work, but I’m 99% certain a league of serious players does not want to jump through the hoops to figure out that one. Anyway, reverse order isn’t good enough, but {4 through 15} then {3 through 1} isn’t good enough, either.

Toby Guevin (BatFlipCrazy Podcast, @batflipcrazy): I would stop trading, stop trading of FAAB and remove $0 bids. As I’ve played more leagues, I’ve come to enjoy leagues more without trading (outside of dynasty/keeper). Trades are always a source of consternation in leagues and there is something liberating about not having to worry about crappy trades calling into question the outcome. For no $0 bids, I think there is a lot more strategy involved without $0 bids, having to manage FAAB throughout the year and down the stretch, particularly since so many teams shift interest to football in September and FAAB is often less competitive. Also, draft order shouldn’t be tied to last year’s finish in redraft, so I’d change that, too.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): Rewarding teams for finishing last is a bad idea, change that first! The draft order should be based so the top team that doesn’t finish in the money gets 1st pick, say the fifth placed team, followed by 6 thru 12, then 4, 3, 2 and 1.

Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): 13 hitters and 10 pitchers on the active rosters. It’s past time to get closer to/mirror what MLB does with their rosters.

Chris Liss (Rotowire, @Chris_Liss): If you don’t want to randomize the draft slot, then go with first out of the money gets first choice of slot, down to last place, down to money finishers in reverse order. Don’t reward a terrible season. $1000 FAAB budget is better, more room to bid big.

Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): With the way MLB is limiting pitchers innings, that innings limit has to come down some. I also would eliminate $0 bids. Part of the strategy (and weekly stress) is determining how much to bid on a player and if you run out of money, oh well.

James Anderson (Rotowire, @RealJRAnderson): I wouldn’t change anything, assuming it was a fun, competitive league. This seems like a nothing’s broke, nothing to fix format. I’m generally not for changing league rules, and these are pretty standard for a reason. If one manager was completely outworking and outsmarting other managers on the trading front, that would be annoying, as I generally don’t have time to engage in trade talk in redraft leagues, but I’d be more likely to just leave the league in that case than to say we outlaw trading.

Bret Sayre (Baseball Prospectus, @BretSayreBP): Everyone has their personal opinions, including myself, about what makes leagues most fun to them, but there are two things here that I think rise above individual preference. First, leagues with no IL spots are still bananas to me. Teams are already getting punished when they get hit with injuries – why do we feel the need to doubly punish them by creating roster space issues on top of it? Second, there’s absolutely no reason why a redraft league should be setting the draft order as the reverse of the prior year standings. Use a random number generator. Allow the teams to choose in order of how much playing time their team had last year. Literally do anything but this.

Nando Di Fino (The Athletic, @nandodifino): I’d like to make the league run for just 60 days. I fell in love with that format in 2020 — it was quick, concise, fun, and while still a small sample, it wasn’t an insignificant one. But instead of the slog that is a 162-gae season, you get a fun window to chase stats and sprint to a finish. And if that gets shot down, I’ll continue my fight for BA instead of OBP.

Vlad Sedler (Fantasy Guru, @rotogut): I’d recommend having no $0 bids whatsoever. Have every bidding dollar count over the course of the season.

Glenn Colton (Fantasy Alarm, @GlennColton1): I really dislike the rewarding last place with a first place pick next year. That encourages tanking and even if someone does not tank, it increases the the likelihood of discord and accusations. If you want to have some fun with the draft order, do as NFBC does and allow bidding of FAAB units pre-draft to determine draft order. I agree on IL spots and would argue for unlimited BUT would disallow FAAB of players on the IL. One of the things I dislike most is saves+holds. Either get rid of saves or keep them but holds is just too random. If you want to really reward pitchers pitching in high leverage situations, give 1.5 wins for reliever wins (though I prefer just keeping saves). Finally, while I do NOT like daily moves in fantasy baseball because it makes it too much work for those who do this for fun or who have full time jobs outside of fantasy, I do really like the Tout Wars rule of allowing mid-week moves if a player on your roster is put on IL, sent to minors or activated from IL or minors. That is my number 1 add.

Zach Steinhorn (CreativeSports2, @zachsteinhorn): After resisting saves+holds for many years, I’m officially ready to make the switch. The “chasing saves” game has been more frustrating than ever this season with a dwindling number of clearly defined closers. Sure, there are issues with using holds, but as Fred said, they have more meaning now with the three-batter rule. Wins are terrible but quality starts isn’t an ideal replacement. But as Mike P. noted, a starting pitcher making it through six innings is quite an accomplishment these days. So maybe 2022 will be the right time to fully embrace these two category changes. I’m in favor of the $1000 budget/$1 minimum FAAB setup. There’s more bidding strategy involved with a $1000 budget and every pickup would at least cost something. I do like the Tout Wars unlimited IL rule but perhaps a tweak could be made to discourage the hoarding of IL players. What if unlimited IL slots were allowed for players you drafted but there’s a 2-3 player maximum for those acquired via trade or the waiver wire? That might be a good compromise.

Peter Kreutzer (Ask Rotoman, Fantasy Baseball Guide, @kroyte): Unlimited IL spots make bad luck less bad. To have a lot of injuries and then to have to decide who to drop is adding insult to, umm, you know. If there is an issue with hording injured guys, maybe you shouldn’t allow them to be claimed on waivers. But I doubt it is really an issue. I think we got it right in Tout, you have to activate by the next Monday (not second Monday). Agree with using Kentucky Derby style draft position using last year’s standings. And a quick defense of $0 bids: They allow you to bid your full budget without the penalty of never picking up a player on waivers ever again. In a shallow mixed league that isn’t going to happen early in the season, but as the year goes on there will be hot minor leaguers who warrant all in bets. $0 bids mean the price for doing that isn’t punitive and it isn’t random. Like, do you hold out $3 or $7 or $9? Just bid it all and then mine among everyone else’s scraps.

Alan Harrison (The Fantasy Fix, @TheFantasyFix): My number one priority would be altering the draft order. As others said, no need to reward the last place team from the previous year first pick. Eliminating $0 bids is a close second.

Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): There are at least four things I’d propose as rule changes, but you asked for the No. 1 priority, and I echo Carty’s proposal: Auction, not draft. I know it takes more time, but that’s a good thing; all of my leagues that have migrated to auction format, besides having a collective feel that it’s a “fairer” way of selecting players, are now my most competitive leagues. I think there’s something inherent in people taking a league more seriously after they’ve invested the requisite time on auction prep and at the auction table. After that, I’d next want OBP over batting average — another move I’ve seen some of my home leagues take in recent years with much success and interest — no trading of FAB dollars and lowering the innings minimum — I’d say that 100 innings per active pitching spot seems appropriate these days. Also, I echo Kreutzer’s defense of $0 bids, and will add this: It’s a terrible thing in the season’s final weeks when a title could be decided by a team out of FAB suffering an ill-timed injury and leaving a dead lineup spot; I want to see activity by all in those weeks, not encouragement of teams leaving in injured players.

Eric Cross (Fantrax, @EricCross04): I would recommend not having $0 FAAB bids. This make FAB more interesting and adds an additional layer of strategy throughout the season.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): OK, in full disclosure, I organize the Table so I came up with as many rules I don’t like as I could to be the basis for the comments. I’m going to post a full piece on what I’d change (including the commish if this was a real league) on later in the week. For now, my No.1 suggestion would be $1000 FAB units, no $0 bids, no trading of units with bidding on draft spots. if you want the first pick, bid the most FAB. This is even better for keeper leagues (to be explained in the piece). My other primary suggestions would be IP for wins, auction and the mid-week replacement rule we use in Tout Wars, allowing teams to reserve someone sent to the IL or minors after weekly lineup lock as well as permitting midweek activation of players coming off the IL or up from the minors (with a lineup balancing RELEASE of the active player being replaced). I’d also likely suggest the swingman rule we use in AL and NL, taking the OF5 spot and making it a H/P utility. Sorry, I am Team Two Catchers.

What would you propose?