Tout Wars FAAB Results: March 31

Each week, the results from the six Tout Wars league using FAAB will be posted at approximately 8:30 PM ET. This week’s run was moved to Wednesday. Starting Sunday, April 4, the FAAB runs will be every Sunday night.


JLamb, OakJeff Erickson 135
NMazara, CWSLarry Schechter 25
TLopes, SeaPatrick Davitt 24
EWhite, TexRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 16
MBoyd, DetMike Podhorzer 14
MChavis, BosRyan Bloomfield 8
KHigashioka, NYYLarry Schechter 3
CHeuer, CWSLarry Schechter 1
GCrochet, CWSDoug Dennis 0
WBenjamin, TexPatrick Davitt 0
RLopez, CWSJeff Erickson 0
LRengifo, LAAChris Liss 0
RBrasier, BosRyan Bloomfield 0
JDyson, CWSChris Liss 0


MGivens, ColLenny Melnick  110
JWilliams, StLDerek Carty 73
TWidener, AriGrey Albright 66
TAnderson, PitFred Zinkie 40
WMiley, CinSteve Gardner 37
JoseDeLeon, CinPeter Kreutzer 32
MPina, MilSteve Gardner 25
AAlmora, NYMBrian Walton 23
ESogard, ChCTristan H. Cockcroft 15
TNaquin, CinPeter Kreutzer 13
JNelson, LADPhil Hertz 7
RZimmerman, WasPhil Hertz 6
MJoyce, PhiFred Zinkie 5
PEvans, PitDerek Carty 5
AlJackson, AtlScott Wilderman 3
JNogowski, StLTodd Zola 3
AAquino, CinDerek Carty 1
JHoffman, CinTodd Zola 0
TCahill, PitScott Wilderman 0
JAlvarez, SFDerek Carty 0


TTrammell, SeaBret Sayre 141
AFrazier, PitMichael Rathburn 105
IKennedy, TexScott Engel 97
JChisholm, MiaBret Sayre 83
CRodon, CWSJeff Zimmerman 73
LAllen, CleIan Kahn 64
DJefferies, OakMichael Rathburn 60
FCordero, BosMichael Rathburn 60
LWebb, SFDerek VanRiper 57
AAlford, PitScott Engel 56
RGrichuk, TorJustin Mason 54
KIsbel, KCJustin Mason 54
JFuentes, ColBret Sayre 53
AAlzolay, ChCScott Swanay 48
THouck, BosDerek VanRiper 44
SMatz, TorScott Swanay 28
MCabrera, DetScott Pianowski 22
MBush, TexBrent Hershey 17
JBruce, NYYJeff Zimmerman 17
JCueto, SFJustin Mason 7
RJeffers, MinEric Karabell 5
JArrieta, ChCCJ Kaltenbach 4
CGreen, NYYScott Pianowski 3
TMay, NYMDerek VanRiper 2
YTsutsugo, TBIan Kahn 2
ABummer, CWSIan Kahn 0


JIndia, CinTim McLeod 227
LWebb, SFD.J. Short 120
JChisholm, MiaAnthony Perri 102
IKennedy, TexRay Murphy 99
FCordero, BosPerry Van Hook 69
MFranco, BalAnthony Perri 55
TTrammell, SeaAnthony Perri 55
GSoto, DetSeth Trachtman 45
CRodon, CWSShelly Verougstraete 41
LAllen, CleRudy Gamble 41
MTaylor, KCScott White 27
RDobnak, MinSeth Trachtman 25
RHill, TBD.J. Short 20
KNewman, PitAdam Ronis 17
DDuffy, KCCharlie Wiegert 16
JGant, StLCharlie Wiegert 15
RoPerez, CleAnthony Perri 13
KSuzuki, LAAMichael Beller 10
ASimmons, MinRay Murphy 9
MGonzalez, BosCharlie Wiegert 8
DBednar, PitScott White 8
LSims, CinScott White 8
DJefferies, OakRudy Gamble 6
JRoss, WasSeth Trachtman 5
AAlzolay, ChCPerry Van Hook 5
SCrichton, AriAdam Ronis 4
JIglesias, LAAShelly Verougstraete 3
CGreen, NYYTim McCullough 2
KGibson, TexSeth Trachtman 1


JRomano, TorNick Pollack 111
LWebb, SFGreg Jewett 54
MFranco, BalClay Link 53
JBruce, NYYDan Strafford 50
TONeill, StLGreg Jewett 19
LAllen, CleAndrea LaMont 18
IKennedy, TexAndrea LaMont 13
CKuhl, PitRalph Lifshitz 7
AHays, BalRalph Lifshitz 5
AlexReyes, StLGreg Jewett 4
JAguilar, MiaAndrea LaMont 1
TomMurphy, SeaLou Blasi 0


SOhtaniP, LAAMiami Beach Swag – Jim Bowden 201
JUpton, LAAMiami Beach Swag – Jim Bowden 117
JRojas, AriMiami Beach Swag – Jim Bowden 111
DGerman, NYYMiami Beach Swag – Jim Bowden 107
TRogers, MiaJake Ciely 76
TSkubal, DetAl Melchior 76
LWebb, SFAlex Fast 75
HNeris, PhiAlex Fast 70
RGrossman, DetAlex Fast 60
RGrichuk, TorRon Shandler 57
ABass, MiaRon Shandler 57
TTrammell, SeaAl Melchior 52
JIndia, CinAlex Fast 45
WCastro, DetBrian Entrekin 34
DCease, CWSJennifer Piacenti 29
JMcGee, SFBrian Entrekin 27
BDalbec, BosBrian Entrekin 21
IKinerFalefa, TexRay Flowers 21
AEaton, CWSJake Ciely 16
LAllen, CleBrian Entrekin 13
LGarcia, HouJennifer Piacenti 11
SMatz, TorRon Shandler 11
ABummer, CWSJennifer Piacenti 9
GSoto, DetBrian Entrekin 7
ElDiaz, ColAndy Behrens 6
EEscobar, AriJeff Boggis 6
TomMurphy, SeaJake Ciely 4
VCaratini, SDBrian Entrekin 2
JAlvarado, PhiAndy Behrens 1

FAAB Chat with the Touts Tonight (3/31/21)

Tonight at the 8pm the Tout Wars leagues will have their first FAAB run of the year.

Join Peter Kreutzer and others at 8:30 to chat about this week’s moves on Zoom.

Topic: Tout Wars FAAB Meetup
Time: Mar 31, 2021 08:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)


Meeting is over. Sorry to all who tried to attend and didn’t get in. Rotoman didn’t put the proper security measures in place and Zoom did something to protect us.

We’ll try it again on Sunday. Look for log in information here at on Saturday.

Tout Table: Factors Influencing Draft Plans

Welcome to this week’s Tout Table. With Tout Wars weekend in the books, but several leagues left undrafted, we asked the Touts:

Which of the following affected your draft preparation the most and which influenced it the least?

  1. Reports of MLB using a deadened baseball
  2. Concerns about starting pitcher usage
  3. Saves distributed among more relievers than previously
  4. Stolen bases continuing to wane

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): In order of most to least influential: 2, 3, 4 all tied, followed by 1. Starting pitcher usage, saves, and stolen bases are all accounted for in my projections and the dollar values I calculate will reflect whatever craziness might be expected this season. In terms of the baseball, it’s all speculation on how it will affect hitters and pitchers, so I didn’t bother to modify any of my projections. Obviously, a deadened baseball will reduce home runs, but it’s going to also have other side effects (more doubles?) and affect each hitter and pitcher differently. Then mix in all the noise and randomness during the season that occurs anyway and it just doesn’t make sense to try guessing who the biggest beneficiaries and losers will be.

Matt Williams (NBC Sports Edge, @MattWi77iams): My prep has been influenced the most by how starting pitchers may be used this season. In 2019, 37 pitchers exceeded 180 innings whereas only 17 were able to eclipse 70 innings in 2020. It is not only a matter of a lower innings ceiling, but about the gap between each pitcher’s workload. If the overall ceiling is lower it stands to reason that players with a perceived ceiling sich as Jesus Luzardo, Corbin Burnes, or Pablo Lopez may be closer to the pack, thus increasing their overall value. Drafting a workhorse will still be valuable, but possible innings limits will definitely impact the game whether its overall innings over the full season or total pitches per game. 6-man rotations, openers, and extensive bullpen use will he something to adapt to all season.

Ryan Hallam (Fighting Chance Fantasy, @FightingChance): Definitely saves being distributed among more relievers impacted my drafting the most. Of my $260 I used exactly $7 on closers. I bid on a few others, but I got Karinchak at $6 and Jordan Hicks for $1. The closer carousel just seems to spin more and more by the year and I couldn’t justify spending $12-$14 on a closer in a points system. I used the reserve round to pick up three guys I thought could get saves (Soria, Bard, Holland) rather than using my auction budget. I can also play the waiver wire for saves during the season.

Brian Walton (CreativeSports2, @B_Walton): 2. On top of the analytics that show lower starter effectiveness the third time through the lineup came the shortened 2020 season. In 2021, some teams will look to limit innings for their starters (see Verducci Effect), having negative fantasy impact on wins and strikeouts.

Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): I was most influenced by concerns over SP usage. I still haven’t totally figured it out, so now that we’ve drafted, feel free to give me the inside scoop! I’ve heard all angles on it. Go get workhorses. Don’t be as afraid to draft the 150 IP guys. But I don’t know which approach is the best one. The area that impacted me the least is the baseball. Just so many unknowns there. I tried to draft good players and hope they can hit/pitch whatever ball MLB rolls out this year.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): All except the baseball one. I’ll believe it when I see it. The pitching—starting and relief usage—are the 1-2 whammy for fantasy managers, and will put a bigger premium on “established closers” and on fantasists’ willingness to stay on top of changes and thereby staying ready to pounce.

Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru, @BaseballGuys): All four of these categories have been heavily discussed and considered this offseason. For me, I would say that starting pitcher usage has been the biggest mountain to scale. All the uncertainty with workloads, I believe, has caused the middle of the pack to swell. If those 180 IP guys are at 160, then the types we normally peg for 1301-40 innings aren’t falling behind as much as in the past. Even the elite arms might see some usage reduction, be it from a move to a 6-man rotation an early shutdown if a team falls out of contention or if there are a couple of spotty outings in a row. Perhaps even those top end arms will have an outing limited or skipped if one of those situations plays itself out. No one knows how each individual pitcher will perform, so all the plans in March might be chucked out the window come July.

Michael Beller (The Athletic, @MBeller): The flatter distribution of saves affected my draft prep most significantly. I remained loath to spend up for a premium closer, but I put a greater emphasis on getting non-premium guys with a solid track record and/or stable job security. I was much less comfortable taking shots on the bottom tier of closers this season. The change in the ball had no impact on my draft prep. As others have already said, there’s no way for us to know how a supposedly deadened ball will manifest on the field. There are already enough unknowns in the fantasy game. No need to unnecessarily introduce one into the pre-draft process.

Steve Gardner (USAToday Fantasy Sports, @SteveAGardner): It’s a tie for me between starting pitcher usage and a lack of steals. You need to have at least some kind of plan to deal with both going into a draft. I took a variety of approaches with my pitching based on draft dynamics, which is where preparation comes in handy. I had plans for steals as well, but those were much more easily upended, similar to the situation with saves. The deadened baseball may only affect certain hitters/pitchers on the margins — and even then we only know what MLB has said about the ball, so consider the track record there.

Michael Florio (NFL Network, @MichaelFFlorio): I tried to factor in all, but to different degrees. The one I emphasized the most this year was knowing saves would be more spread out (3). In years past I would take one of my Top-12 RPs and then multiple in my second tier. I often would take one of the “elite, safe” closers. What I’ve learned is while some can be elite, none are safe. This year I’ve started loading up on more relievers in the late rounds than ever before. Stolen base scarcity always needs to be taken seriously, but that is not new to 2020. As for starting pitching, I’ve always tended to value it on a per inning basis, so the less IP actually plays into that a bit more now. I considered the ball the least, as we just do not know for sure.

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): I considered all of these items to be noise and spent next to no time adjusting for any of them. Instead, I spent most of my prep time analyzing Mixed Draft Auction results from previous years, trying to find any inefficiencies that I thought could be exploited. Only time will tell whether that was a wise decision or not.

Alex Fast (Pitcher List, @AlexFast8): In terms of what influenced me most: 2. Concerns about starting pitcher usage. It made me move higher floor guys -Kyle Hendricks, Chris Bassitt, Marco Gonzales, etc- up a bit in my rankings. I figured they would help provide me with a stable floor to help me take risks with other pitchers later in the draft/while streaming. I also gave a small boost to guys who typically had injury concerns: if few people will hit 180 because they’ll get more rest, perhaps guys who often miss time due to injury may lessen that IP gap. The item that impacted me the least: saves distribution. Every year I write a piece called “We’re Drafting Saves Wrong” that lets people know they can wait on saves. This year that’s truer than ever. So many RP situations are in flux. Wait until your final rounds and take fliers or just find them on the wire.

Glenn Colton (Fantasy Alarm, @GlennColton1): What influence Rick and me the most in the Tout AL was the distribution of saves and lack of lock down closers. While the R in SMART says get a top reliever, there were so few and they were likely so expensive that we zagged, grabbed Bieber for 35 and went about grabbing #2 guys (Romano, Diekman, Clase) and an injured potential closer in Harvey all for very cheap figuring each would find their way to some saves. While I hate to see anyone get hurt, is anyone surprised that the AL closer pool is in turmoil already? As to what influenced us the least — the allegedly deadened ball. One, we are not sure it will really be deadend and two, there really is not reliable data on who will be affected. So, we basically ignored it.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): The starting pitching landscape is the factor with the most influence for me. As has been suggested, there are multiple means to approach the innings conundrum. my preference in mixed leagues is hitting the tier below the elite pretty hard then avoiding the middle but loading up on streamable arms mid to late. I did the same in NL Tout, but it wasn’t by design, it was more taking what the room was giving me. I’m intrigued by most everyone ignoring the liklihood of a spongier ball. True, we don’t *know* what will happen, but there is a subset of batters more likely to lose a disproportionate number of homers. This is an extension of some research first presented by AL Tout Mike Podhorzer showing HR/FB correlates well to average fly ball distance. I identified 20-30 bats most likely to lose homers and while I’m not avoiding them, I’m trying not to overload in this group. As for pitching, I’m definitely prioritizing guys with solid skills but are more homer prone, assuming if the ball suppresses homers even a little, they’ll benefit the most. As for the least, my approach for saves hasn’t changed – wait in mixed, attack in single league formats. The landscape just leaves even less margin for error.

Toby Guevin (BatFlipCrazy Podcast, @batflipcrazy): Since I generally spend a lot of early draft capital on starting pitching, stolen bases continuing to wane has had the biggest influence on my recent draft preparation. Every year stolen bases get not only scarcer as a whole, but also consolidated in fewer and fewer players. As a result, players who provide any value outside of just their stolen bases find their way at the top of draft boards. This year, it seems like good stolen bases (i.e. in a good hitter profiled, especially coupled with batting average) dry up after the third round, so if you don’t address stolen bases in a big way with your first or second hitter it becomes challenging to make up ground without finding your team deficient in other categories. Whereas in past seasons I felt great about drafting pocket aces and catching up on speed, this year I’m finding it difficult to build a balanced team using the strategy. So it may be a little unique to my own personal draft preparations, but the lack of stolen bases has impacted my draft prep in a very real way. The issue that has had the least influence is the deadened MLB ball. It’s so hard to know what will happen with the ball and to trust MLB to provide accurate information that I’m basically ignoring it, since giving it too much weight and increasing the value of fly ball pitchers, for instance, could really haunt you if the changes don’t have their intended impact. Accordingly, I’m just treating it neutrally, trying to grab pitchers who should be good regardless of the ball and I’ll have to make adjustments in season after reading Rob Arthur’s annual early-season article on how this year’s ball compares to previous seasons.

Chris Liss (Rotowire, @Chris_Liss): Re: 1 and 2. I drafted one team where my first eight picks were hitters, just in case the ball is more deadened than they intended. Tweaking x a little bit sometimes leads to large changes in f(x). Also if IP are lower (and I’m not convinced they will be to a huge extent), you’ll need fewer of them, making SPs a less important commodity. As for three and four, same thing, fewer steals means fewer steals needed to finished with 8-10 points in the category. De-emphasize as a result, go after the stats you need in droves.

Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): The deadened ball influenced me the least. I only accounted for it to the extent that it was included inside projections. I made no additional adjustment on top of projections. As for what influenced me the most, it was starting pitcher innings. This year, I paid more attention to pitchers who throw a high number of innings per start. Veteran pitchers who might pitch a larger number of innings relative to younger players moved up slightly in ranking, etc. The other two factors – saves and stolen bases – were a concern, but accounted for as part of the initial draft plan.

Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): Starting pitcher workload more than usage. I maintain at season’s end, Mordecai Brown will be able to accurately count the number of starters with 180 IP with his infamous pitching hand. We don’t have an existing baseline from which to work, but asking creatures of habit like pitchers to take up their workload 100-150% year over year is unchartered waters. Sure, they all may look good and fresh now, but what happens at the 100 IP mark…the 120 IP mark? Just this week, we’ve seen many notable names come up lame and the season has not even begun. I am afraid it will be a war of attrition again this year.

Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): I was most influenced by starting pitcher usage by far compared to a deadened ball, save distribution and stolen base scarcity. There is a already a premium on starting pitching with ony a handful of bonafide elite starters. Now with teams using 6-man rotations, openers, and a heavy reliance on multiple bullpen arms, it seems as though the days of pitchers reaching 200 innings are coming to an end. MLB teams want to do whatever they can to give their starters sufficient rest and avoid injuries, so even getting 30 starts in a season is no sure thing anymore. The deadened ball may reduce home run totals, but it will more affect the marginal players who had no business reaching 20-30 longballs. It could also create opportunities for more extra base hits which is still good for batting average and OBP. Closers are always volatile and MLB teams are now constructing their bullpens to have multiple options in the 9th inning. I typucally do not overreach for closers anyway, so this did not affect my strategy except for getting late round steals of set-up guys who may grab a few saves here and there. Finally, stolen bases have been a dying statistic for many years. Even the elite base stealers only put up those numbers for a finite period of time. I did not alter my strategy at all this year for stolen bases as I won’t overpay for them.

Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): 2 followed closely by 3 influenced me most. There was a wide range of starting pitchers I avoided in Tout and my other leagues because I see their innings being limited and much of their value comes due to the volume they produce. I also avoided spending a premium on closers and was more comfortable making low-end spec plays as a result. 1. affected me the least. I’m sure the deadened ball will matter, but I feel like this is something that will generally impact hitters across the board as opposed to impacting some hitters more than others.

Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): 1 and 2, for me. Similar to what MattW said, the concerns about pitcher workload bumps up the “per-inning” starters who might be limited to 150-160 innings this year (i.e. Corbin Burnes, LA rotation, Jesus Luzardo, etc.). The delta between their volume and a 170-180 inning is mostly negligible from a projection standpoint, so the value gap is pretty small. As for #1, I’m a little more willing to roster heavier flyball/lower strikeout pitchers (i.e. Kyle Hendricks, Marco Gonzales, Matt Boyd, Michael Pineda) that have been burned by some gopheritis in the past.

Grey Albright (RazzBall, @razzball): Feel like a Smurf, because I’m going blue in the face saying the same thing, but here goes: Nearly everyone thinks starting pitcher usage is going to be an issue this year, but also this year people are drafting starters higher than any year in recent memory. Less innings from around the league is going to mean starters are less valuable, not more. If you look at the Razzball Player Rater from last year you see how fickle starters were last year. Dinelson Lamet was as valuable as deGrom because they pitched the same-ish number of innings. In a normal year, if a starter like deGrom has 220 IP and someone else has 160 IP, then the spread is so wide it gives a top-end starter the chance to separate himself. This year, if a top-end starter throws 180 IP and someone else throws 160 IP, there’s just not going to be as much an opportunity for the top-end starter to pull away from the pack.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I am concerned about all of these things. I find my response to be league-dependent. In settings like NFBC snake-drafts, I have SPs pushed up. In settings like LABR NL and Tout Wars AL, I have taken the discount on lower IP, stud skills guys, with the idea that I can trade for innings if I have to do that. I have also pushed closers up. I typically get a middling closer and then fish for one in-season. This year I have tried to get one with a reasonable amount of rope in the job and then a middling one as well, with the idea that I might *still* have to fish for one in-season. This comes at a cost to the bats. And what I am finding on my teams is that there is a premium paid for steals, so there is a tough choice, go for cheaper power later and take a corresponding hit in BA, or end up with fewer steals than needed (in NFBC), and in LABR NL/Tout Wars AL, finding that balance was even more difficult. One injury in LABR NL among key bats where steals are concerned can wreck a season. So yes, these things all matter. Deadened ball is the least of these concerns for me; I find it hard to quantify differences and anticipate that while it may not distribute uniformly, it will be more approximate to that than the other worries. Scarcity in the AL/NL auction leagues creates impossible choices, but you can trade, move things around in-season a lot more easily; requirement for balance in a snake draft (NFBC) creates a different kind of pressure because how do you acquire enough of everything and maintain that balanced roster. Different animals entirely.

Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): The starting pitcher usage was the biggest for me, but even then it wasn’t critical. That factor – and the fact that there’s no minimum innings requirement any more – allowed me to pick a couple more relievers than I normally would in the draft and encouraged me to pick Noah Syndergaard. Half a season of his stats might be more valuable than usual.The saves issue was already factored into the way I draft. I’m not sure how the other two are going to play out, so they weren’t major considerations in my drafting.

Vlad Sedler (Fantasy Guru, @rotogut): Deadened baseball least affected my prep other than a slight regression on my overall home run projections, ever so slight. Closer committees is a big one but I’ve altered my approach throughout season with less reliance on top-end closers. Mostly because we are gaining a better understanding on which later-round relievers will most likely get the most save opportunities. There will be more saves out there on the waiver wire in FAAB leagues than in prior years, mostly guys part of committees. Steep decline in stolen bases is the one I’m mostly preparing for because I innately construct rosters that are light in stolen bases early. It’s a category I don’t want to chase in FAAB.

Chris Towers (CBS Fantasy Sports, @CTowersCBS): I think I’ve probably taken all four into account fairly evenly, though No. 1 is obviously the most speculative at this point. We’ve seen reports that the ball is being used in spring games, but the rate of batted balls turned into home runs is actually higher than any other spring on record so far, so either those reports are off base or they didn’t de-juice the ball much, if at all. For that reason, I’ve made fewer concrete movements in my rankings — though I am more wary of the likes of Cavan Biggio and DJ LeMahieu than I otherwise would have been. The other three have all pretty significantly impacted my holistic approach to the 2021 season, and I’ve approached them like this: I’m more willing to go with a stars-and-scrubs build for my staff, snagging four hopeful innings eaters and then loading my roster with high-risk, high-reward starters or multi-inning relievers like Tony Gonsolin or Alex Reyes; I’m perfectly happy to punt saves and play the wire in pretty much all leagues at this point; and I’m more willing to reach for a steals source than in the past if I think that player can be a true difference maker — i.e. not a 15-steal guy.

Chris Welsh (Sportsgrid, @IsItTheWelsh): The Dead Ball was like End Game to me, and the discussion was like Dr. Strange’s “14 million” scenarios. I just didn’t let it influence me too much. I think the starting pitcher usage was near the top. It’s become a true arms race to get your pitcher that can go six, but the one I don’t think I saw coming was the distributed saves. Just this week we’ve seen closers go down, jobs jump to new names and all the while, it seems like almost 50% of the league is open to a rotating cast. Saves probably affected my later planning in drafts more than anything else from an impact standpoint.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): I’m not overly concerned with reports of a deadended baseball as that would be counter productive to the game and more importantly, to their audience. Pitcher usage always concerns me, and that is why I draft based on projected strikeouts versus wins. I’m very concerned about save distribution and that is why I never “pay for saves”. If you manage your weekly FAAB you can pick up saves on the cheap during the season. Stolen bases continuing to wane concerns me the most. All things being equal, my draft strategy is to draft as many 20/20 players as possible. Even 20/10 players come at a premium.

Michael Rathburn (Rotowire, @FantasyRath): I did not worry about the deadened baseball because so much of it is an unknown. I was definitely concerned about starting pitcher usage and that made me not want to get too many high priced pitchers and look at the middle tier more. Saves distribution definitely had me spending even less on relievers this year and taking a shot on a few potential closers also. I did not get a big stolen base guy instead I went for a more balanced approach with my hitters.

Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): While all of these things were on my mind, the lack of clarity was most on my mind in the offseason. While prepping, it seemed as the closer pool was murkier than your favorite hazy IPA. Knowing that, I pushed up closers we knew had the job. I’d rather pay for the guys in the draft instead of pulling out my hair every week in FAAB trying to find the nest guy. The one area that didn’t ‘really’ affect my strategy was stolen bases. We all know that stolen bases are quickly leaving the league but if you can just find enough to compete in a league, I think you can do okay. You don’t have to ‘win’ every category to win your league. Just be competitive.

Eric Cross (Fantrax, @EricCross04): These all came into play to a degree, but the stolen base trend is something I’m always cognizant of in my drafts so that didn’t change much at all this year. With so few elite SB threats in baseball these days, getting speed with as many draft picks as you can is crucial. Even if it’s 5-10 steals here and there, it all adds up and will allow you to remain competitive in steals all season long. On the flip side, closers have become more of a focus of mine this year due to the uncertainty of roles. Getting a top closer is more important now than ever so you don’t have to chase saves in murky situations later in your draft.

Tim McCullough (Baseball Prospectus, @TimsTenz): Figuring out the starting pitcher situation is easily the primary factor that has influenced my prep this year. To be honest, I’ve almost completely abandoned the idea of waiting until the 4th, 5th, or 6th round to take my first starting pitcher – a strategy I’ve used in most years. I’ve never liked the idea of taking a pitcher in the first 1-3 rounds simply because they so rarely return that kind of value and if they end up falling short of 28-30 starts due to injury etc, using that early pick for a pitcher instead of a stud hitter really starts to hurt. With so many pitchers already penciled in for a reduction in IP this season, and the likelihood that many pitchers will again be injured due to the lack of innings last year and the ramp up to more innings this year, one really has to approach the draft with a different mindset. Rather than try to anchor a team with a couple of high-priced starting pitchers, I’m trying to go for depth. I’m also making sure to take a few well thought out gambles on pitchers who could give me 140 or so quality innings – guys that really aren’t on the radar of the fantasy sharks as players they might target. As for the least important factor on this list – that’s easy! I think it’s funny that MLB claimed they knew nothing about juiced baseballs and that it was a coincidence or unintended manufacturing issue. Now they’re turning around and claiming they can deaden the ball. Who cares about any of it? Total non issue!

Brian Entrekin (Benched with Bubba, @bdentrek): Starting pitcher usage was a major factor in my drafting, even in my Tout draft. I wanted potential innings eaters early in drafts and build around those arms. The overall pitching landscape may be slightly overblown but the aces of stats should throw 170+ innings, with a chance to hit the 185+ range. Grabbing a few of those arms helped me sleep easier at night and work through my draft better. The deadened baseball influenced my drafting the least. There will obviously be some difference in overall production, but how much? No one has an exact answer. Everyone “should” be using the same ball, so I played blind to the issue, which may be a bad idea. When targeting certain hitters I rarely concerned myself if they would lose 2 or 3 home runs with a new ball. Lastly, baseball does not always tell the truth and home runs put people in seats, so let’s wait and see.

Sunday: NL and Head to Head Tout Wars Live Coverage

Sunday, March 21

National League

Mike Gianella will be hosting a public Zoom room

12:00 noon ET – Room opens 11:30 am ET
Meeting ID: 846 7534 6422
Direct link:

Live board

Head to Head

Derek VanRiper will be hosting a public Zoom room

5:00 PM ET – Room opens at 4:30 pm ET
Meeting ID: 885 0204 6454
Direct link:

Live board

AL and Mixed Tout Wars Live Coverage

American League

Clay Link will be hosting a public Zoom room

10:00 AM ET – Room opens 9:30am
Meeting ID: 841 1267 8918
Direct link:

Live board

15-Team Mixed

Tim McLeod will be hosting a public Zoom room
4:00 PM ET – Room opens at 3:30pm
Meeting ID: 832 6058 4996
Direct link:

Live board

Tout Table: Nearly Unanimous, no Universal DH

We’re back! Each week, the 94 members of Tout Wars will be asked a question, with the responses shared here. With Tout Wars weekend upon us, we asked the Touts:

How are you approaching the uncertainty of the universal DH in your drafts?

Derek Carty (RotoGrinders, @DerekCarty): It’s insane that we’re two weeks away from Opening Day and there is still uncertainty about the DH. For now, I’m just assuming that there will be no universal DH and hoping for the best. If they change things up a day before Opening Day, I’ve configured THE BAT so that it won’t be too much trouble switching everything back to a universal DH

Michael Rathburn (Rotowire, @FantasyRath): planning on no universal dh in 2021

Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): I’m with Michael — assuming there won’t be a DH in the NL this season. As someone who is in the NL Tout league, it’s a big deal for me! If they switch to a DH at the last minute, I will be caught by surprise and will wish I drafted a little differently. But at some point, I felt like I needed to pick a side of the fence and move forward.

Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): Honestly, I thought this was already definitively decided. The players said no. Nor do they have any reason to cave at this late juncture. It’s already too late for their constituents to possibly make a few more bucks in free agency. The only holdouts I see saying it’s still possible are out-of-touch shills for ownership. The biggest barrier seems to be that ownership *wants* something for it. That tact could have worked in 1998 when any well-known veteran could cash in on free agency, but nobody’s falling for it now.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): I’m approaching the season expecting no NL DH. The market might have over-reacted to that expectation by dropping some defensively challenged NLers, but if they can hit, they’ll play somewhere, so maybe a buying opportunity here or there. I might also pip up the value of NL pitchers, who get another year of easy outs from opposing nine-holes.

Ron Shandler (, @RonShandler): I can only go with what is known and that currently is no DH. It doesn’t matter with the BABS system anyway because skill is rated in broad strokes and playing time can be changed by simply switching a “M”id-timer to a “F”-timer. The key variable is the impact on the marketplace, but there won’t likely be enough time between a Go-DH decision and Opening Day to get a read on that.

Ryan Hallam (Fighting Chance Fantasy, @FightingChance): While I am still hopeful, at this point I am going forward as if there will be no DH in the National League. You’d think the owners would want it to keep pitchers away from hitting and you’d think the players would want it to prolong careers and have another high salaried player, but it is not looking good right now.

Brian Walton (CreativeSports2, @B_Walton): I do not consider the DH for 2021 to be an uncertainty. The rules changes from the upcoming season have already been enacted. I’ve heard nothing that gives me any confidence a last-minute change back to the DH in the National League this season (or any other immediate rules changes) will be made. NL teams are already having pitchers bat in spring games in preparation for what could be the final season of pitchers batting.

Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ, @BrentHQ): I’m preparing as if there is no universal DH; just one less thing to have to factor into my rankings and draft prep at this point. I don’t put anything past MLB, but seems like to implement a change such as this at this stage of the offseason is unlikely.

Tim McLeod (, @RunTMc59006473): I’m with Brian. I’d be totally shocked if any changes are made between now and opening day.

Scott Engel (Rotoballer, @scotteTheKing): I am proceeding as if there will not be one. Really good bats such as the one of Dominic Smith will find room in the lineup and I will still value him as a quality choice. I am really not expecting it at this point.

James Anderson (Rotowire, @RealJRAnderson): It doesn’t really seem like there is any uncertainty anymore, so I’m operating as if there will be no universal DH. Guys like Dominic Smith and Jesus Aguilar/Garrett Cooper are sliding enough in drafts right now that if the universal DH were to get added at the last minute, it would have a legitimate effect on the competitive balance of fantasy leagues that have drafted in the last month.

Matt Williams (NBC Sports Edge, @MattWi77iams): I believe you have to prepare as is there is no DH in the National League at this point. As far as hitters go there is not a ton that would change for me other than a select few players, but that is the way I feel you have to operate. I may use the possibility of a DH as a mid-late round tie breaker between similar hitters for at-bats. The biggest difference for me is giving that slight boost to NL pitchers.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): While I agree with the sentiment reverting to universal DH is unlikely, until I see a pitcher fail to execute a bunt on opening day, I’m holding out hope. That said, my rankings assume no DH, which pushes up some mid and lower tier NL pitchers as well as affecting some hitters as already discussed. I may try to draft someone like Edwin Rios late since, unlike Dominic Smith, his playing time is dependent on the NL DH, at least in mixed leagues. If it turns out pitchers will continue to foul off bunts with two strikes, I’ll drop Rios.

Jennifer Piacenti (Fantasy Alarm, @jenpiacenti): At this point, you have to draft assuming there is no universal DH. However, it is creating a lot of value in later rounds for players that could get a bump if a DH is added. Obviously Dom Smith is a big name that comes to mind. He has now fallen so far in drafts that I am scooping him up everywhere. If his bat is hot, the Mets will have to get him in the lineup either way, and if the NL decides to use the DH, it almost feels like a cheat code. If I am debating between two players in later rounds with identical projections, but one is an NL player with DH upside, I am leaning toward the NL player.

Nick Pollack (Pitcher List, @PitcherList): I’m not anticipating a universal DH, though it does make for some interesting final round options if you anticipate a possible last-minute change. In a 12-teamer, you’re likely to drop that final pick within the first week and chasing someone like Avisaíl García or Gavin Lux may be fruitful.

Nando Di Fino (The Athletic, @nandodifino): I’m rolling with the old Shandler adage (paraphrasing): Draft talent, not the role. If there’s a DH, awesome — all my NL bats will be that much more valuable and that skill I drafted will be on display. If ithere is no DH, I just remind myself that this is a very long season following a very short season. There are going to be injuries, there will be instances where a player’s talent will push him into a starting role. In short, NL DH will be a nice bonus, but I’m picking up values anyway, as stocks on players like Austin Riley are falling lower than normal because people are drafting assuming it’s DH or bust.

Larry Schechter (Winning Fantasy Baseball, @LarrySchechter): Is there still uncertainty? I thought it’s almost certainly a settled issue? I’m assuming no DH in the NL.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): Treating NL as if no DH. If that changes, I will need to be ready to pounce using FAAB, because more PAs will create opportunities.

Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): I’ve been assuming there would be no universal DH this entire draft season. We’ve seen players like Dom Smith and Avisial Garcia falling in drafts and I have been trying to scoop them up. I’ve also adjusted NL pitchers as there will have more opportunity to pick up an easy strikeout from the opposing pitcher. I have also adjusted NL leadoff a bit. If they will be consistantly hitting behind the pitcher, it really could limit their already limited RBI opportunity.

Vlad Sedler (Fantasy Guru, @rotogut): I’ve been drafting under the assumption that we won’t have a Universal DH and would be surprised if the script flipped at the last minute. Were it to actually happen in 2021, I’d simply be cognizant of it in FAAB. Had it actually been implemented, good-hitting NL catchers like Will Smith would have been drafted higher.

Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): I’ve been assuming for the last couple of weeks that there won’t be a DH in the NL. For a couple of batters, such as Dominic Smith, I’ll use the small possibility of the DH as a tie breaker when comparing a couple of batters, but that’s about it.

Bret Sayre (Baseball Prospectus, @BretSayreBP): It’s always easier to assume something won’t happen and then adjust if it does, but right now it seems like there’s not a particularly realistic path to an NL DH. In it’s simplest form, it’s a problem that can be addressed via the waiver wire since it will just widen it overall. In the meantime, I’m slightly downgrading overcrowded NL offensive situations like the one in New York, Los Angeles and San Diego as a preventative measure.

Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): I am currently drafting off of a no NL DH assumption. The probability of MLB having it is low at the moment, and gets lower with each passing day until opening day. But the bigger question is – what is the market doing? From what I see, the market is also pricing and drafting off the assumption of no NL DH. The question then becomes – should you bid a drop higher (or reach a little higher in snake drafts) on batters like Dom Smith or Will Smith that could pick up extra ABs? Technically, if their values would increase by $5 with a DH, and there is a 10% proability of that happening – sure, go the extra 50 cents. Essentially, I’m okay if you want to use the NL DH uncertainty by a tie breaker. But on an expected basis, there isn’t much of a projected value increase to make it worth it to think about. What about pitching? For starting pitching, the relative values of AL pitchers might move $1 vs NL pitchers – so I suppose, if in a snake draft you have two identically profiled and priced pitchers, you should take the AL one now as the tie-breaker. But that won’t happen often enough to really make it worth it to think about, and there are other more pressing tie breaking factors nonetheless. The bottom line is that the work involved in adjusting for NL DH uncertainty isn’t worth the effort at this point mid to late March.

Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru, @BaseballGuys): The leadership of MLB is rudderless. Would it be a ground shaking change if they flipped to the DH last minute? Not really. That said, it would be an absurd decision to pivot to the DH at this point. My working assumption is that what we have now is what we have. If MLB wants to screw real world teams by moving the proverbial goalposts at this late date, what can we do?

Michael Florio (NFL Network, @MichaelFFlorio): I am acting as if there will not be one. That means at times passing up on a player due to playing time concerns, but I’d rather go in another direction and the player end up getting ABs due to the DH being implemented, than drafting a player, hoping we have it, and then not. It also boosts NL pitchers.

Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): There’s not much I can really do about it now as nearly all my teams have been drafted. The only somewhat serious answer I can give to this is stop playing in leagues for money, particularly high stakes leagues. If a casino changed the rules of blackjack in the middle of a hand, I’d be well within my rights to ask for my money back if I lost the bet.

Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): I am going on the assumption that there will not be a DH in the National League since we are a couple weeks away from Opening Day and nothing has been determined. This does affect my draft strategy with certain players such as Dominic Smith who will clearly be affected by the absence of the DH. It also does increase the value of NL pitchers slightly with the caveat that there is greater concern for their health since they will have to hit and run the bases. The overall impact on draft strategy is limited to the handful of players who were on the fringe of playing time, so it should not change too much in terms of preparation.

Tim McCullough (Baseball Prospectus, @TimsTenz): I’ve only got one draft left, so it’s sort of moot now. Up to now I’ve basically ignored it, thinking it wasn’t going to happen anyway.

Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, The Process, @jeffwzimmerman): I’ve been assuming no NL DH for weeks and making sure the leadoff hitters (fewer RBIs) and lower end NL hitters (fewer Runs and SB chances) get downgraded.

Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): I don’t think you can reasonably prepare for a last-minute rule change to reinstitute the DH in the National League, even if MLB made it clear last year that they’re fine making such decisions. It’s such a small likelihood — and unfair from a competitive standpoint — that I think I’d do my teams more of a disservice preparing for it happening than by going with the odds and letting someone else take the chance they’ll benefit when/it if happens. Though I will say that Dominic Smith dropping two full rounds in the NFBC ADP in March compared to January makes him a bit of a bargain.

Jeff Erickson (Rotowire, @Jeff_Erickson): I was late in giving up the ghost on a universal DH, but I’m moving forward as if we won’t have it, because there are so many CBA-related obstacles towards us getting it back this year. I updated RotoWire’s projections to decrease playing time for select NL hitters (e.g. Dominic Smith, Will Smith, Seth Smith or any other Smith’s that are DH’s or have DH’d before), and to increase the strikeout rates for NL pitchers and lower their projected ratios. If they announce on March 26th that they’ve re-added the universal DH, so be it, I’ll scramble accordingly. I still have eight more drafts remaining, including one on 3/31.

Glenn Colton (Fantasy Alarm, @GlennColton1): At this point, I think we have to assume there is no DH in the NL. That said, I think this creates bargains on good hitters without defined roles. In LABR NL, we picked up a $3 Rios. As Ron Shandler is often heard to say, draft skills not role!

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Hmm, maybe I should have asked how everyone is adjusting for the reports of a softer baseball. Oh well, there’s always next week.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): I’m not planning on there being a DH in the NL. Dominic Smith will struggle to get 250 at bats. Matt Carpenter is useless, probably would be with DH too! Softer ball will cut down a few home runs!

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): Hopefully everyone drafted as if there will not be a DH as this seems to have been happening. Those late round hitters in the NL who would DH and now players like Dom Smith will be forced to play out of position (LF) in order to get his bat in the lineup everyday.

Andy Behrens (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @andybehrens): At this stage, I feel like the only people who see uncertainty regarding the universal DH are those who produced stat projections assuming it would be in place — and they really don’t want to have to re-do the forecasts. But I can see no reason to think the N.L. will have the DH this season. It’s a win for half the pitchers in the pool and a huge loss for a handful of hitters. It’s particularly rough for the N.L. catchers we’d assumed would pick up DH at-bats.

Adam Ronis (Fantasy Alarm, @AdamRonis): Nothing would surprise me with baseball at this point. We saw last-minute changes last season. With the season two weeks away, I am going under the assumption that there will be no DH in the National League.

Alex Fast (Pitcher List, @AlexFast8): I was a little bit pessimistic that this was going to be put in place due to the politics of the situation so luckily planned as if there wasn’t going to be a universal DH. So close to the season, I’d be surprised if we saw a pivot. That said, I’m really curious as to what this does for Ozuna’s value and production. Will having to make defense a focus hurt him at the plate at all?

Toby Guevin (BatFlipCrazy Podcast, @batflipcrazy): I have been drafting as if there will not be a DH in the NL and I’d be highly surprised if we saw a change so close to the season, particularly given the current relationship between the players and owners. It impacts a handful of bats directly with fewer PAs, but the way many teams handled the DH last year it seemed like most teams used it as an opportunity to give their better hitters a break from playing in the field as opposed to having a single player who benefited. From a pitching standpoint, it certainly helps NL pitchers, but since the NL was better offensively than the AL last year and the fact pitchers don’t go as deep into games anymore, I’m not sure it will have as significant of an impact in making NL pitchers that much more valuable.

Derek VanRiper (The Athletic, @DerekVanRiper): At this point, it seems highly unlikely that the DH is coming back for the NL in 2021, so I’m reverting back to pre-2020 bumps for NL pitchers. Fortunately, there are only a handful of situations where one player was set to receive a massive upgrade in playing time as a result of the extra hitter spot becoming available, and a lot of the adjustments I’m making for hitters are increased risk of job loss in the event of a prolonged slump. I think the Mets, Braves, Nats, Dodgers and Padres were the teams best suited to “handle” having the extra plate appearances available, and now guys like Dominic Smith, Austin Riley, Josh Bell, and Gavin Lux have more narrow paths to keep near-max volumes of playing time as a result.

Ian Kahn (The Athletic, @IanKahn4): I am moving forward with the idea that we will have no DH in the National League. This does shift values for me, as there will be players like Dom Smith who will not receive nearly as many at bats as would be expected if we had the DH. There is also the question of how it shifts values for pitchers. It seems obvious that the NL pitchers should be helped, but, the fact that they will have to take at bats and occasionaly run the bases will hurt them. Getting out of the routine of strickly focusing on pitching always seems to cost pitchers the inning after they are on base. So yes, no DH to face, but the downside is also there. Looking forward to the time where Dh is universal. I believe it is better for the game.

Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotobuzzGuy): While MLB could obviously turn things upside down, without warning, I am assuming there is no universal DH for this season. Players who could have potentially filled the role for their respective teams will be treated no differently than they were in years past. I am also leaving my pitcher rankings alone since the NL hurlers will likely be facing pitchers still.

Brian Entrekin (Benched with Bubba, @bdentrek): I still would not be shocked if MLB dropped the universal DH at the final hour, but for now we proceed with the pitcher hitting in the NL. When it comes to drafts I use the NL without a DH as a tie breaker for starting pitchers I am debating between. I give the bump to NL pitchers in the situation. For hitters it hurts a lot of catchers and some others we expected to see some DH time, so they slide down the rankings a little.

Zach Steinhorn (CreativeSports2, @zachsteinhorn): By now, I’m assuming there won’t be a universal DH, and this actually makes draft preparation easier since it is the familiar format. Last year was especially tough since we all drafted thinking that there wouldn’t be a universal DH only to learn a few months later that there would be. I’ll follow my usual approach of opting to take the NL starting pitcher over the AL option when the decision is close.

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): I am assuming the universal DH won’t exist. I could only imagine the uproar if MLB suddenly decides to bring back the NL DH again this close to the season opener!

2021 Lawr Michaels Zen and Now Award Winner: Rick Wolf

Here’s Glenn Colton’s nominating (and winning) argument (congratulations Rick!):

I would like to nominate Rick Wolf.  With the exception of Lawr himself, I am hard-pressed to think of anyone more selfless in the fantasy sports community.  I could write forever, but here are the highlight points for why I think Rick would be a great first recipient:

Like Lawr, Rick is constantly mentoring people and fostering their careers.  People who Rick helped get where they are today include luminaries such as Matthew Berry, Tristan Cockroft, Greg Rosenthal, Mike Fabiano, Scott Engel, Howard Bender, Kay Adams, Maria Marino, Stacie Stern and many, many more.

Like Lawr, Rick has no ego.  Rick just wants to see the fantasy community grow and prosper.  Whether friend, stranger or competitor, Rick is more than willing to give his time to anyone who seeks his help within the fantasy community or anyone seeking to get into the community.

Like Lawr, Rick is incredibly charitable and committed to important social change.  After two young men in his community took their own lives, Rick threw his considerable talents and energy into an organization named after one of the young men, the BTH Foundation, whose mission is prevention of suicide, mental health awareness and training for people to spot the signs of when to get help or seek help for others.  His work has already made a difference in many lives and likely saved people we will never know would otherwise been in trouble.

Finally, like Lawr, Rick never met someone with whom he could not connect in some way.