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?

Tout Wars FAB Report: September 19

Congrats to Frank Stampfl and last season’s Head-to-Head champion Ariel Cohen, this season’s finalists. They’ll compete over the next two weeks while the standard roto leagues have two more weeks to compile stats.

Here as this week’s winning FAB additions. If you want to check out the standings, rosters and all the moves for a league, all you need to do is click on the league heading.

American League

CSantana, KCJeff Erickson 23
JIglesias, BosChris Liss 17
BValera, TorJeff Erickson 13
MMayers, LAARyan Bloomfield 6
JSiri, HouRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 6
WCalhoun, TexPatrick Davitt 5
AHeaney, NYYMike Podhorzer 0
JJames, HouMike Podhorzer 0
DGarneau, DetJason Collette 0
AWynns, BalRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 0
JLamb, TorMike Gianella 0

National League

ARivas, ChCSteve Gardner 35
CTucker, PitTodd Zola 33
JRogers, WasTodd Zola 23
GCabrera, StLPhil Hertz 6
RVilade, ColPeter Kreutzer 3
NFortes, MiaPeter Kreutzer 2
RChirinos, ChCTristan H. Cockcroft 0

Mixed Salary Cap

CStratton, PitScott Swanay 80
GTorres, NYYIan Kahn 56
EFedde, WasBrent Hershey 56
SBieber, CleScott Swanay 40
MFulmer, DetIan Kahn 16
LGarcia, CWSZach Steinhorn 16
YHernandez, TexZach Steinhorn 12
DPeters, PitJeff Zimmerman 10

Mixed Draft

JRogers, WasAdam Ronis 33
CStratton, PitD.J. Short 15
DLeone, SFCharlie Wiegert 11
YTsutsugo, PitShelly Verougstraete 10
RGonzalez, CWSShelly Verougstraete 10
YHernandez, TexD.J. Short 10
NGordon, MinCharlie Wiegert 7
CCulberson, TexTim McCullough 4
DPeters, PitCharlie Wiegert 4
LDiaz, MiaScott White 3
TyAnderson, SeaSeth Trachtman 3
EFedde, WasTim McCullough 3
PBlackburn, OakTim McLeod 0
MManning, DetTim McLeod 0

Head to Head

DPeters, TexAriel Cohen 31
EFedde, WasAriel Cohen 31
SBaz, TBFrank Stampfl 13
ELongoria, SFFrank Stampfl 8

Mixed with IP & Saves+Holds

EEscobar, MilRon Shandler 79
AVerdugo, BosRay Flowers 5
LTorrens, SeaAlex Fast 5
ASenzatela, ColRay Flowers 1
TRogers, SFRay Flowers 1
JSanchez, MiaBrian Entrekin 0
DPeters, PitBrian Entrekin 0
JLester, StLBrian Entrekin 0

Tout Table: Tough Decisions

We’re down to the nitty-gritty and sometimes we have to make difficult roster moves. There is less margin of error, so this week, we asked the Touts:

Have you made any tough drops or benchings of top players this month?

Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): Of course! Choosing your drops can be just as tough as placing your bids (and it’s a bad feeling to drop somebody, only to have them come back and haunt you on a different team). That said, it’s fair to be agressive on drops for anyone missing over a week at this point (looking at you, AJ Pollock). You should be even more aggressive dropping pitchers (Kershaw a prime example), as there’s not much time to build up to a point where they can go 5+ innings to qualify for a win or rack up a meaningful number of Ks.

Derek Carty (RotoGrinders, @DerekCarty): Not yet, unless you count Miles Mikolas in NL-only, who over a full-season would be a $5-10 player, but it’s coming. As you get late in the season, remaining matchups become crucial for pitchers. My Giants pitchers like Alex Wood and Logan Webb have a tough schedule ahead, Kyle Hendricks has some tough matchups, and so I’m certainly considering dropping otherwise good pitchers in the final couple weeks of the year if they project to hurt my team more than they help it as a result of context.

Rick Wolf (Fantasy Alarm, @RickWolf1): In Tout AL, we had to drop Shane Bieber even though he may pitch a couple of games this season. We needed to collect the FAAB to protect from other teams getting pitchers off the FAAB wire. Always tough to drop your lone ace.

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): It’s never easy to bench a player who you drafted as a corner stone to your team, but if you are in contention right now you do what is needed. Case in point is Yu Darvish..watching him pitch to a ERA over 11 over the last month has made him difficult to rely on down the stretch where ERA points are seperated by a hundredth of a point.

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): No, because if they are “top” players than they should be projected for a strong final month, regardless of how they have performed over a small sample of five months this season.

Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): I drafted Jarred Kelenic in almost every league I am in, and it finally got to the point I had to let him go in non-keeper leagues. He has not proven he can hit Major League pitching thus far, and his batting average became an albatross. I dropped him in a couple leagues and benched him in some others. I also let go of Gary Sanchez in a couple league for the same reason as I could not justify keeping him rostered at this point.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Not this year, but many times in past seasons. Almost always to protect ratio categories, but sometimes to try to hustle an extra HR here or Win there. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): I haven’t dropped a true star, but I have sent Adam Frazier, Sean Manaea and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to waivers in 15-team leagues. Cody Bellinger can start packing his bags, because I’m counting down the hours until I drop him on Sunday!

Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): Tommy Pham is back to mostly bench duty for me in a 15-team dynasty league. He and Eugenio Suarez built a deep hole in batting average for me to climb out of – the only reason I’m not soundly winning the league. Since July 20, Pham is hitting .148/.266/.270. Truly dreadful stuff. In his place, I’m using Josh Rojas, Jo Adell, or Chas McCormick most days.

D.J. Short (NBC Sports Edge, @djshort): We’ve definitely reached that time. There are certainly the obvious injured players who no longer warrant your patience, but it’s also about admitting defeat with players you had high expectations for going into the year. For me, that would be the likes of Dom Smith and Jarred Kelenic. With Smith, he’s being pushed into part-time duty now that Jeff McNeil is playing a lot of left field. And with Kelenic, at this stage in his development I don’t have the confidence that he can do any better than a hunch waiver wire pickup. So yes, we’re just at the time of year where you are being realistic about opportunity and production.

Nick Pollack (Pitcher List, @PitcherList): It’s the hardest decision we have to make in September. Sadly, there’s a gaunlet of tough opponents of the horizon for many arms (e.g. Anthony DeSclafani and Chris Paddack) and it would be unwise to not scour the wire before blindly keeping them on your roster.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): I’ve had to bench Dansby Swanson which I thought I would never have to do this season. Like the Atlanta Braves, he’s slipped into the abyss. Once a top 10 player this season, he has not been the same player after Ronald Acuna Jr. went out with a season ending injury.

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): Generally no – between injuries and COVID, most lineup decisions are pretty clear-cut, even when you’re targeting a specific category or two. In an AL-only league I’m in I benched Craig Kimbrel recently because I need Wins and Saves more than the ratio and K help he provides.

Geoff Pontes (Razzball, @ProspectJesus): I traded for Nick Pivetta in a keeper league due to his RP+SP eligibility. With limited DL spots and a competitive roster in a head to head points leagueI had to cut bait. Knowing I moved capital to add him and then cutting him during the semi-finals week was a tough pill. On the bright side I added Joe Ryan.

Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): Nothing too terrible thankfully this year. I suspect though that the majority of these decisions arise from injury rather than poor play.

Glenn Colton (Fantasy Alarm, @GlennColton1): Rick Wolf and I had to decide by August 31 whether to take the FAAB rebate on Shane Beiber in Tout AL. Tough to lose your ace (70% of our pitching expense on draft day) but we decided that the Cleveland baseball franchise was either unlikely to push Shane back or unlikely to push him to 5+ IP needed for wins if he did come back. We fear he goes out and does his thing for 3-4 starts and get 5+ K even in short outings but the opportunity to have the FAAB hammer in September was too much to pass up. We shall see how it works out.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): Operative word for me is “tough”–nothing tough about it, you just have to make the best call you can with the information you have. Easy to do in redraft leagues–no time left for putzing around. In my dynasty, it is not drops as much as benching active players who are not getting it done (Bellinger and Hendricks are primary among those) but these are not hard decisions, really, imo.

Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): Through September 8th, 59% of wins have been assigned to relief pitchers in September. That has flipped the script from the first half of the season when 60% of wins went to starters. I’m taking the stance that 1-start pitchers, regardless of pedigree, are not auto-starts this week over high-performing relievers on contending teams.

Zach Steinhorn (CreativeSports2, @zachsteinhorn): Mike Moustakas might not fall under the “top player” category but when I spent $14 to roster him in Mixed Auction Tout Wars, I didn’t expect to bench a healthy Moose under any circumstances. But I also didn’t expect him to lose everyday player status, sitting against left-handed pitching. I’ve already benched him in weeks where the Reds faced three or more southpaws and will continue to do so over the season’s final three weeks. Maybe being without Moustakas for most of the year due to injury has made this lineup decision easier.

Derek VanRiper (The Athletic, @DerekVanRiper): Add me to the list of people who have had to make the difficult decision to drop Shane Bieber. The circumstances for me were a keeper league where I’m battling three other teams for the title, the added roster flexibility to max out in whatever category I wanted to chase in a particular week outweighed the limited value of a few late-season innings, which are no guarantee. Back in the first half, I strongly considered dropping Mike Trout for a billion in FAAB for the mixed Tout Wars auction, but talked myself out of it since the timetables at then pointed toward an August return. Going forward, I’m wondering how much team quality needs to be in the calculus with injuries that carry 8+ week timetables. Regardless, I was wrong about waiting it out with Trout in this instance, and even more wrong about the direction of Anaheim back in June.

Toby Guevin (BatFlipCrazy Podcast, @batflipcrazy): The most difficult drops have been moving on from the elite starting pitchers with some uncertainty about their possible return, particularly deGrom and Bieber, both of whom I dropped a month ago. You always risk missing out on good starts if they come back in time, but in the majority of instances, most pitchers in situations like Bieber and deGrom won’t come back to pitch meaningful regular season innings and the roster slot in non-IL leagues is important. The other tough drop was Kyle Hendricks, who I dropped a couple weeks ago in 15-team league. Hendricks hasn’t been himself with his control and with his Ks down and now on a bad team, there just aren’t a lot of ways for him to contribute. I’d rather have a RP who can give me similar Ks with less risk of a gnarly start. Finally, there have been some decent hitters who’ve found themselves in platoons, and at this point in the season, every day PAs can give you an important advantage, so I’ve moved on (Eugenio Suarez comes to mind as an example).

Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): I’ve been lucky and haven’t had to bench ‘stars’ like Cody Bellinger. However, in some leagues with wins as a catagory, I’ve been benching ‘ho-hum’ starters for relievers that have been picking up wins.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): My toughest drop was Xander Bogaerts, as soon as it appeared he was going to be out a bit with COVID-19. Bogaerts has seemingly been playing with a sore wrist over the second half which greased the skids a bit. Further, I was able to pick up Nicky Lopez and since I needed steals, the move was rather serenpipitous. In retrospect, maybe dropping Bogaerts wasn’t so difficult after all.

Tout Wars FAB Results: September 12

Football shmootball – there are still three weeks left in the MLB regular season and the Touts have work to do.

Here are the winning bids for this week’s free agent run. If you want to check out the standings, roster and all the moves, just click on the league header and you’ll be transported through cyberspace onto the OnRoto web site.

American League

AAlexy, TexLarry Schechter 94
LGil, NYYRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 56
PNaughton, LAARob Leibowitz 53
HRobles, BosChris Liss 35
MPineda, MinDoug Dennis 35
JSuarez, LAARick Wolf/Glenn Colton 22
DEnns, TBRyan Bloomfield 5
SZavala, CWSJason Collette 4
NPearson, TorChris Liss 3
LLuetge, NYYJason Collette 2
TWalls, TBRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 2
LRengifo, LAARick Wolf/Glenn Colton 2
TDuffey, MinPatrick Davitt 0
TWade, NYYPatrick Davitt 0
DRobertson, TBPatrick Davitt 0
TMayza, TorPatrick Davitt 0

National League

MDubon, SFPeter Kreutzer 53
LDiaz, MiaDerek Carty 31
CWelker, ColTristan H. Cockcroft 20
SBeer, AriTodd Zola 17
VCaratini, SDLenny Melnick  11
HRamos, AriPeter Kreutzer 8
JKelly, LADPhil Hertz 3
AVesia, LADPhil Hertz 3

Mixed Salary Cap

LThomas, WasJeff Zimmerman 101
DPeters, TexBrent Hershey 37
LGil, NYYIan Kahn 36
DSteckenrider, SeaZach Steinhorn 22
AChafin, OakBrent Hershey 12
TRogers, SFZach Steinhorn 12
RWick, ChCJeff Zimmerman 11

Mixed Draft

SBeer, AriShelly Verougstraete 25
JMayfield, LAACharlie Wiegert 23
JLester, StLCharlie Wiegert 23
MMinor, KCSeth Trachtman 4
AAshby, MilShelly Verougstraete 3
CHeuer, ChCShelly Verougstraete 3
PNaughton, LAATim McLeod 2
KRuiz, WasScott White 0
JGray, ColScott White 0
JSuarez, LAATim McLeod 0

Head to Head

JRyan, MinFrank Stampfl 47
DFloro, MiaAriel Cohen 36
LThomas, WasFrank Stampfl 12
AAlexy, TexClay Link 0
JSuarez, LAAClay Link 0

Mixed with IP & Saves+Holds

BBuxton, MinRay Flowers 18
LGil, NYYJennifer Piacenti 13
RDevers, BosBrian Entrekin 5
BMiller, PhiRay Flowers 3
HNeris, PhiRay Flowers 2
LThomas, WasBrian Entrekin 1
DPeters, TexBrian Entrekin 0

Tout Wars Head 2 Head Brackets

The play-in round is complete.

The results

Clay Link advances in a close match that was nip and tuck all Sunday to face Ariel Cohen, in a matchup of last year’s finalists.

And Frank Stampfl bests Nick Pollack to face Ralph Lifshitz in Round Two.

Recent results suggest that regular season champ and 2020 champ Ariel Cohen has to be favored. Point totals for recent weeks?

Cohen: 477, 421, 500.5, 329.5
Link: 315, 274, 343.5, 296.5

Stampf: 407, 300, 450.5, 322
Lifshitz: 380, 307.5, 342.5, 400.5

Give the edge to Cohen, but in Head 2 Head anything can happen. (Ask Andrea LaMont, who this year scored the second-highest number of points and didn’t make the playoffs. Her recent totals?

LaMont: 397.5, 440, 379.5, 454.5.

Wait til next year Andrea. You had a great season.

Tout Wars FAB Report: September 5

It may be a holiday weekend, but that didn’t stop the Touts from fortifying their rosters. Here are the winning bids. As always, click on the league headers to be magically transported to each league’s standings, rosters and fill slate of moves on OnRoto, our scoring service.

American League

JKowar, KCRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 62
GSheets, CWSLarry Schechter 61
JMarmolejos, SeaLarry Schechter 61
HCastro, DetRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 27
SBieber, ClePatrick Davitt 22
KDavis, OakRyan Bloomfield 21
MMaldonado, HouRyan Bloomfield 14
JRyan, MinJeff Erickson 13
SArmstrong, TBRyan Bloomfield 5
LAllen, CleDoug Dennis 4
DanJohnson, CleRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 2
JBrentz, KCRob Leibowitz 0
ACimber, TorRob Leibowitz 0
JArauz, BosMike Gianella 0

National League

CTucker, PitPhil Hertz 63
HHembree, NYMLenny Melnick  50
HPark, PitPeter Kreutzer 33
ZMcKinstry, LADSteve Gardner 30
JWoodford, StLTodd Zola 17
JFamilia, NYMPhil Hertz 11
MSchrock, CinTodd Zola 7
MVierling, PhiScott Wilderman 7
PEvans, PitPeter Kreutzer 3
RMarchan, PhiPeter Kreutzer 3
LJackson, AtlPeter Kreutzer 2
DDeShields, CinTristan H. Cockcroft 0
PMazeika, NYMTristan H. Cockcroft 0

Mixed Salary Cap

YTsutsugo, PitIan Kahn 41
JRyan, MinZach Steinhorn 38
ESosa, StLDerek VanRiper 22
DRuf, SFIan Kahn 16
CEstevez, ColZach Steinhorn 13

Mixed Draft

LTaveras, TexCharlie Wiegert 131
RWick, ChCCharlie Wiegert 111
YDiaz, TBRudy Gamble 27
LThomas, WasShelly Verougstraete 25
JKowar, KCShelly Verougstraete 25
PEspino, WasPerry Van Hook 23
BWilson, PitD.J. Short 18
HBader, StLScott White 8
KArihara, TexPerry Van Hook 7
JMeyers, HouScott White 6
AAlexy, TexAdam Ronis 6
JRyan, MinAdam Ronis 6
AStevenson, WasPerry Van Hook 3
LSims, CinTim McCullough 3
AChafin, OakTim McCullough 2
SAlcantara, ChCPerry Van Hook 1
GSheets, CWSSeth Trachtman 1
ERosario, AtlSeth Trachtman 1
JLuzardo, MiaSeth Trachtman 1

Head to Head

LTaveras, TexRalph Lifshitz 68
LUrias, MilAriel Cohen 43
PEspino, WasAriel Cohen 35
AOttavino, BosAriel Cohen 33
NSolak, TexGreg Jewett 27
JVillar, NYMFrank Stampfl 17
JSteele, ChCFrank Stampfl 13
RMarchan, PhiRalph Lifshitz 12
AKirk, TorGreg Jewett 9
KFinnegan, WasGreg Jewett 3
BBelt, SFGreg Jewett 1
ECabrera, MiaClay Link 0

Mixed with IP & Saves+Holds

LGurriel, TorJennifer Piacenti 31
JBarlow, TexAndy Behrens 21
JKowar, KCJennifer Piacenti 21
CRodon, CWSAlex Fast 20
MGivens, CinAndy Behrens 16
NSolak, TexRay Flowers 11
SMatz, TorRay Flowers 9
ECabrera, MiaBrian Entrekin 7
MCanha, OakBrian Entrekin 6
THouck, BosBrian Entrekin 4
RUrias, BalAl Melchior 1

Tout Table: Choosing Bats Down the Stretch

As a follow up to the last Tout Table on Pitching, the Touts were asked:

How do you go about deciding what hitters to have active and is the process any different now than it was earlier in the season?

Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ, @BrentHQ): I start reading the tea leaves from an MLB-team playing time perspective more than earlier in the season. Much more consideration this time of year to which MLB squads are in the playoff hunt, and which ones are not, and how that affects MLB playing time. It’s not the only example, but many gains to be had from ID’ing out-of-the-race teams and looking for which positions they are holding early 2022 auditions for. Rangers outfielders; Nationals infielders, etc. And note that the players getting longer looks might not always be prospects.

Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): I think the biggest difference relates to playing the scoreboard. We know exactly where we have leads and deficits in the standings and should be able to calculate which of those can change. Generally (though not always), I’ll use more volatile players over safe choices if I need to overcome specific deficits. An example of that would look something like using Hunter Renfroe over Bryan Reynolds if I know I need to max out power. Conversely, if I’m preserving leads, I’ll check the standings often and plan accordingly – you never know when a rival is going to catch a huge performance and change your plans.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Playing time decisions are pretty periodic in nature, so the best bet is to look at your players’ teams **at the moment** to decide who might play and who might not. In general, it might be true that teams in playoff contention are less enthusiastic about bringing in new young talent, and that teams out of the running will want to “see what they have” for next year and/or want to protect their veterans from adding wear and tear in a lost cause. But while those factors are generally probably true, they are rules that are bound to have a ton of exceptions because of specific circumstances. So in a weekly-moves league, sit down on Sunday (or whenever) and go through your player’s teams and see if there are any extenuating circumstances that supercede the general rules.

Peter Kreutzer (Ask Rotoman, Fantasy Baseball Guide, @kroyte): As we come to the end of the season my attention shifts from bulk at bats to plate appearances that are going to help. Depending on the standings this can mean benching homer hitters with bad averages, or playing them. Depends on how the categories break. The goal is to maximize where one can without giving the points away elsewhere. Also, weekly pitching matchups indicate whose chances are better or worse, though that isn’t so much an edge that you won’t get burned at times.

Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, The Process, @jeffwzimmerman): In all fairness, it’s probably too late to make a move. Altering the roster’s makeup should have happened around the All-Star break to make progress in certain categories. The only players I may target a little more are regulars on contending teams. The team is hoping to make the playoffs, so they’ll play their best hitters

Rudy Gamble (Razzball, @RudyGamble): My primary process is still looking at the Razzball weekly hitter values and picking the best possible starting 14. These 14 are likely to also have the most projected PAs. If there are some coin flip decisions, I’m more likely this time of year to use the Roto standings to pick the best option (especially for SB-centric players).

Jock Thompson (Baseball HQ, @JOCKatHQ): At the beginning of the season, it’s mostly about playing time and my general valuation of the hitter, opposing SPs maybe a little. Now it’s immediate playing time,immediate schedule friendliness (opposition pitching staff) and how hot/cold the hitter might be.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): I pay more attention to hitters by 7 day, 14 day, and 30 day statistics versus what they have done on the season. I also try to spot the hitters that are trending in the right direction and not fading down the stretch. That can be masked in their overall stats, versus a smaller sample size in reverse chronological order.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): Schedule is a major concern, 7 games is better than 5! I’m realistically looking at the categories I can improve in, and trying to use players who should produce what I need. Somehow I’m overloaded in stolen bases and need RBI. I also look at the upcoming pitchers and try to stay away from the aces, and still try to get guys in going to Colorado,

Greg Jewett (Fantasy Alarm, @gjewett9): In leagues where counting statistics provide an opportunity for points gained, getting as many at-bats possible and targeting team needs remains tantamount down the stretch. Bradley Zimmer getting a combo meal on Wednesday helps in two categories. Discerning the best match-ups each Monday and Friday based on opponent along with if a hitter resides in a platoon makes a difference with five weeks remaning.

Bret Sayre (Baseball Prospectus, @BretSayreBP): In my opinion, there’s a lot of overthinking about lineup construction when it comes to the end of the season. I’m going with my best hitters regardless of who they match up with, but in the case of a tiebreaker situation, I will look for players who are facing teams that are out of the playoff hunt. Additionally, making sure you’re on top of playing time tendencies in August/September is important because when we get to the end of the season, counting stats matter more than rate stats.

Toby Guevin (BatFlipCrazy Podcast, @batflipcrazy): I look at the upcoming schedule, especially any difference in number of games playes, as well as opposition. This time of year it’s important to know as much as possible about how teams construct their lineup, so you know about likely platoons and how many games each player is likely to get. With any very close calls, I also look at projections for that week/half week to see what they say and whether I think they’re based on the right playing time.

Eric Cross (Fantrax, @EricCross04): It’s all about maximizing games and prioritizing which hitters have performed well of late. Stop hoping for Player X to turn it around and play the hitters that are currently performing well and/or have a favorable upcoming schedule.

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): With injuries having decimated many fantasy teams’ hitting lineups, I’d be surprised if most owners will need to deliberate as much re which hitters to start as which pitchers to start. That said, if you’re deciding between two hitters of similar talent levels, I’d base my decision on a combination of (1) the number of games their team will be playing for the upcoming week, (2) the handed-ness of the starting pitchers their team will be facing for the upcoming week (esp. if the player is in a platoon), and (3) categorical needs.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): Not really a lot of change to the process. Trying to maximize PAs and if I have a category that I must take over others, I aim to do that. September is often a weird month for teams who are out of contention, as others have pointed out.

Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): I’ll echo everyone pretty much everyone else at the Table. You have to maximize those PAs and IPs. Those zeros can kill your chance at the raising that championship flag this year.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): I’ll get a little more specific. Matchups are paramount with fringe players, especially when looking at platoon matchups. One of the dangers come September is looking at the probable pitching list and planning accordingly. The problem is pitching plans change on a whim, so be especially careful when using a player mostly on matchup since that could flip on a manager’s whim. I hate to be the bad guy here, but similar to what I said last week, playing the hot bats isn’t prudent. Back to platoons and playing time — another thing to monitor is how players are being managed down the stretch as often, they’ll be lifted for a pinch-hitter, though with limited roster expansion (just two slots), this is less worrisome.