By Charlie Wiegert
Tout Wars, the Ultimate Fantasy Baseball WAR!
To see the the draft, click here.
The Tout Wars 15 team mixed draft is now history. It was a grueling 3 hours picking against some of the best fantasy baseball minds in the industry. The one little quirk of this (and all Tout Wars leagues) is they use OBP instead of batting average, which changes the values of many hitters who will take a walk.
Having finished in the middle of the pack last year (7th), the draft order is based on that finish with a KDS. I got my fifth choice of spots, 13th, hoping for solid contributions from the first 4 picks. And my plan was pitching and steals early.
The first round had a few surprises, with Bryce Harper going fourth overall. Seth Trachtman must like the upside of Citizens Ball Park in Philly, plus Harper has had a great OBP. As hitters went to the top eight picks, I was fantasizing Mighty Max might fall to me at 13. No such luck, he went at No. 9.
And Trea Turner had gone at No. 7, so I decided to stay on plan and take Mets ace Jacob deGrom…although my St. Louis ties wanted Paul Goldschmidt. I thought there was a better chance Goldschmidt would be there for my second pick than deGrom. Plus, I always like players who are playing with that next contract in mind, and Jacob definitely is!
But the plan ended when Goldy was taken with the 16th pick, and then another minor surprise when Gerrit Cole went next, the third pitcher off the board. So now it was decision time, would I take Chris Sale and have a great pitching start, or which hitter would I build my offense around. I’m not bold enough to think I could get enough offense starting pitcher-pitcher, so my choices were Lindor, Story, Altuve or Baez.
Lindor’s early injury has me spooked, along with a weak Cleveland line-up. Altuve is recovering from leg injuries, so I’m guessing he’ll run less. Baez is too much of a free swinger and his OBP could be an early problem to build around. So by process of elimination, Trevor Story became the pick. As I told Glenn Colton on SiriusXm radio, when in doubt, always go with the Colorado hitter. If he repeats last years numbers, I’ll be thrilled, especially with 20+ SBs.
Sure enough, Altuve and Baez were the next two picks, and others must have had the same worries about Lindor, as he fell to the 29th pick.
By the time the draft got back to me 13 pitchers were gone. Paxton, Corbin, Clevinger and Strasburg were the best still available, but I wasn’t excited by any of them. So instead, I reached for Pirates OF Starling Marte, going for the 30+ SBs he should get, along with solid numbers in the other 4 hitting categories. He’s a year removed from injury, and his good 2018 second half points to his returning as one of baseballs best hitters. I deemed him to be a safer pick than Mondesi (and I had a SS already), Robles or Pham.
On the turn 5 picks latter, I got my Cardinal, Matt Carpenter. Again a bit of a reach, but hitting lead off in a solid line-up, he could score 100 runs with 80 RBI, 30+ HR and a great OBP. The top 5 first basemen were gone, and he’ll get 3B eligibility also, making for some flexibility.
24 picks latter, all those SPs I didn’t like before were gone, along with eight more. Again, I wasn’t impressed with who was still available, Taillon or Price, and decided to go with the second reliever off the board (Diaz was gone), and took Blake Treinen, a similar path I went down in the FSTA draft.
And sure enough, both those starters I didn’t like went with the next two picks. Now faced with the “you better get another starter now” or 25 picks latter there won’t be any pitcher I like left, I went with German Marquis.
I’ve always been biased with Colorado pitchers, but I needed the strike outs with a number two pitcher. He had 230 K’s in 196 innings last year. His 4.74 home ERA was worrisome, but his 2.95 road ERA was good. My plan is in the early months the ball doesn’t jump as much at Coors, so hopefully he’ll get off to a good start, and I’ll look to bench him in home starts when the weather warms up. Not exactly what you want to do with your second picked pitcher, but it seemed like my best option.
My next four picks were all very solid, and all four will be great for the numbers needed in counting stats. Nelson Cruz in the seventh was a bargain. His only disadvantages are he locks up my DH spot and his age. But he’s a good bet to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 batting 4th in what appears to be a good offensive Twins team.
Travis Shaw will cover third base for me, another solid 25+ HR guy, with 80-80 potential in a good Brewer line-up. He comes with the added benefit that he also qualifies at second base, which adds flexibility to my team.
Masahiro Tanaka is a solid number three pitcher if his arm/shoulder holds up. I’d be thrilled if he replicates last years numbers.
Cesar Hernandez, leading off for a stacked Philly line-up, will score 100+ and add 15 HR’s and 20 SB’s if he recovers from the spring training hip injury to start the season on time. I deemed it worth the risk, and the injury does not appear to be very serious.
But I will need to be prepared for another option if he’s not ready to go.
That’s my first 10 picks, and while it does not seem spectacular, and nobody is going to say “wow, what a great start!” I think I have a solid base to build upon. The strategy now was to select players who could add to the counting stats categories, secure a second closer, get a catcher and build the starting staff.
By the time draft got back to me, I had missed the run of second tier catchers, so it was going to be a couple bums at the end that would be “safe” bets.
I went with the guy I thought could produce the most stats, Toronto 1B Justin Smoak. He stood out as someone that was a safe 30 HR, 80 RBI man, and his .350 OBP in this league is a lot more acceptable than a 240 Avg. in most leagues. Next, back to Colorado for Ian Desmond, a 20-20 man who will qualify at 1B and OF. Corey Dickerson then became my 3rd OF, hoping he can build on his success in Pittsburgh last year as their everyday right fielder.
I probably waited too long to get that second relief pitcher, so I rolled the dice with Arodys Vizciano. When healthy, he does a great job saving games. With AJ Minter already missing some spring training games, I think Vizcaino will have the closer job to open the season, and if he gets the job done, he’ll keep it…hopefully 30-35 saves. In a 15 team league, having him paired with Blake Treinen could be enough to get 8-12 points in the saves category.
Having watched all the good young pitchers (Joey Lucchesi, Jon Gray, Sean Newcomb, Kyle Freeland, Jesus Luzardo, Jake Arrieta, Nathan Eovaldi, Jose Quintana, Ross Stripling, and Jack Godley) come off the board before my next pick, had me rethinking the risky Vizcaino pick. The guy I was targeting was Jake Arrieta, who I think will have a really good year in the much alive Philly team this year. I felt I really needed pitching with this pick, so I went with Jon Lester. To tell the truth, I don’t really get why his stock has fallen as far as it has. I get that he’s older, doesn’t get the K’s (only 167 last year) he used to and doesn’t go as deep into starts. But he won 18 games, has made 30+ starts ever year for over 10 years, keeps the ERA under 4 and WHIP at 1.30. His 2nd half numbers did fall off last year, but the one thing everybody forgets is he lost his catcher, David Ross! I expect a little bit of a bounce back, at 35 he’s not through yet!
Dallas Keuchel, a man still without a team, was my next risky pick. But we are at that point in the draft, where i though a little risk could pay huge dividends! Keuchel has had a great 5 year run in Houston, surviving the short left field Crawford boxes, something not all southpaws can do. At 31, he still has the skills for a low 3 ERA, and with 180+ innings, he’ll have 160 + K’s. Not bad for a 5th pitcher, and if he doesn’t get the big multi year contact he’s holding out, he could be pitching for a contract next year also.
Through 16 rounds, I though the team was shaping up nicely.
16 rounds down, 13 to go! The strategy now goes to filling open slots and finding players to stash away. I need a Middle Infielder, 2 Outfielders, 2 Pitchers and 2 Catchers plus the 6 reserves. 240 players are already drafted, so the pickins are looking rather slim!
My middle infielder choice was Jed Lowrie, who at 34 just had his second offensive explosion in row in Oakland, was now coming to help the Mets offense. Other choices were DJ LeMathieu, now out of Coors and in the Bronx, Ketel Marte, becoming the everyday centerfielder in Arizona, Yuli Gurriel or Andelton Simmons. In retrospect, I think I made the wrong choice, as Lowrie is already shut down for injury, and his status for opening day is in doubt. If I had a do-over, I’d take Gurriel.
14 catchers gone, and I thought it would be a prudent idea to get at least one “safe” backstop on the roster. I have this gut feeling Jonathan LuCroy is going to have a good year in Oakland. Not only will he gain at bats because they’ll want him behind the play to help out the young pitching staff, but he won’t (hopefully) put up any numbers that can hurt. An expected OBP of .320 will be better than most of the sub .300 OBP’s the rest of the catching group will be getting.
I filled out my pitching staff with Trevor Williams, Kelvin Herrera and Julio Teheran. Two solid starters in Williams and Teheran who should be good for 170+ innings and 150+ K’s each. And Herrera has a chance to be the closer for the White Sox’s, making him well worth the risk at this point if he does win the job. My money there is on Alex Colome, who went in round 13, so Herrera could be an early drop if he doesn’t get the job.
What I was worried about early on in the draft, a weak pitching staff, has actually turned out to be alright. It won’t be the best in the league, but it won’t be the worst. You can never predict wins, but this group has the potential to get 95-100, 75-100 saves, 1300+ K’s, an under 4.00 ERA and 1.25 Whip.
Next was filling the outfield, and there didn’t seem to be any players that were great number fillers left. I now realize I waited too long to get outfielders, but in 15 team leagues, there are always weak spots. Nick Markakis will be solid in Atlanta, help the OBP and contribute some in the other categories. Teoscar Hernandez looks to have a full time roll in Toronto, and produce perhaps 25+ HR’s.
I filled the second catcher spot with John Hicks, another “safe” choice who will gain at bats at 1B and DH in Detroit. I’m not looking for much, 300 at bats, with an OBP over .300 and 10+ HR’s. I was hoping Omar Narvaez would fall to me, but he went 2 rounds earlier.
With the active line-up now full, the picks now are the reserves, so I’m looking to cover some team weaknesses and potential holes. Much talked about prospect Alex Verdugo could become a nice piece of my outfield at some point. With Bryce Harper going to San Diego, my fear of his playing time disappeared. Here’s hoping he becomes the player a lot of people are thinking he could be for the last two years!
Michael Taylor looks to be the 4th outfielder in Washington, and another player who could benefit from Harper not signing with his team. Adam Eaton doesn’t seem to stay healthy, and with rookies Soto and Robles still young and subject to slumps, he could emerge with some significant playing time. If he does, he’ll be good for 20 steals.
Now it’s time to address the Lowrie injury. I did it by taking Chad Pinder, who qualifies at 2B, and looks to win the starting 2B job with the A’s. 13 HR’s in 298 at bats last year projects to 25 HR’s with full time duty. I think the 27 year old is ready to make a statement in the Majors this year.
Sneaky time! Tout Rules allow unlimited DL players, so taking Yoenis Cespedes in round 28 could turn out to be a great move. There’s really nothing to lose, and I can use his roster spot with a DL replacement the first week. And when he comes back after the All Star break and hits 20+ home runs, he could give my team the boost it needs to move up in the standing! And if he doesn’t come back, I can release him and get some FAAB $’s back for him.
Last pick, Mr Insignificant. Mine in future Hall-Of-Famer Albert Pujols. Perhaps a little sentimental on my part, as he has provided me with many happy moments in St. Louis. Last year he had to deal with his share on injuries, but still managed to hit 19 HR’s, his first year less than 20 since his rookie year. With Ohtani out till June, he has a couple months to show he can still produce. It will probably take an injury for him to get in my active line-up, but if he does, I’ll take the HR’s.
Looking back over the draft, and if I had it too do over again, I would have chosen an earlier draft spot. When I look at the teams in the 5-8 spots, I like how they built their teams. I feel my team can be competitive, so it will be interesting to see how this league plays out. The draft is only part of the how your team finishes, management of the team during the season, use of FAAB and waiver pick-ups can make up for some drafting mistakes!
Charlie Wiegert in 2001 was the 6th person to be inducted in the Fantasy Sports Hall Of Fame. He is a founder of CDM Fantasy Sports and the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. He has been playing and winning fantasy baseball leagues since 1984.
If you have any questions for Charlie, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GFFantasySports