What were they thinking? Listen to them:
Phil Hertz holds a small lead over Brian Walton as we start the season’s second half. How did the league line up in June?
Phil and Brian were neck and neck last month, and for the whole season.
Scott Wilderman and Derek Carty have worked their way almost into contention, and this could be a mess when we revisit next month.
Rob Leibowitz dominated Tout AL in June.
That helped him climb past Jason Collette into first place. All the credit can’t go the Eric Sogard, Edwin Encarnacion, Mike Minor and Justin Verlander helped, too, but Sogard’s career month certainly didn’t hurt.
Rudy (Still) Can’t Fail
by Jeff Erickson
We’ll delve into Rudy Gamble of Razzball’s hegemonic-like dominance of the Tout Wars Mixed Draft League momentarily, but first, a song:
I know that the spelling is different, but any excuse to include a Clash song has to be taken.
For the second year in a row, Rudy Gamble of razzball.com has won the Tout Wars Mixed Draft League. Once again, he had to hold off Adam Ronis of Scout.com for the title. I wanted to say that Rudy and Adam are the Red Sox and Yankees of the Mixed Draft League, but that wouldn’t do justice to the size of the field they are besting each year, and the comparison fails because there’s no carryover from year-to-year. Moreover, Rudy made a better analogy in his write-up of his victory—they are Federer and Nadal, with a combined four firsts and three second-place finishes over the last four years.
With the win, Rudy vaulted into third place on the All-Time Tout Wars leaderboard, behind only Fred Zinkie and Larry Schechter, despite having played only four years. Thus, Rudy will get another meal named after him at our annual Tout Wars get-together at Foley’s. It’s a good bet that if you ever have leftover Tout Wars currency from that meet-up and it has Rudy’s visage on it, you should keep it so that you can use it the following year.
It’s worth noting that Ronis isn’t that far behind on the list, sixth all-time and fifth among active participants, and fellow Razzballer Grey Albright has demonstrated similar strength, following up his 2017 win with another “cash” finish in 2018.
If you’re looking to see where I’m on the list, don’t bother. Seriously, it’s embarrassing. Having me write this article is like having Anders Jarryd or Manuel Orantes compare themselves to Federer or Nadal.
So … how did Rudy do it? Let’s take a quick look at the standings first:
The first thing that jumps out is Rudy’s utter dominance of the pitching categories. He won four of five categories outright and finished third in saves. He did this despite getting only 25 starts from his first pitcher, Noah Syndergaard, who he took at the 2-3 turn. Unlike many of his competitors, he backed up Thor with a second ace, getting Aaron Nola at the 4-5 turn. Two great starters aren’t enough to dominate the starting pitching categories, however – he had to hit on the slippery mid-round starters to succeed, and he did that in spades by getting Charlier Morton in the 13th and Blake Snell in the 15th rounds.
One might be tempted to dismiss those picks as windfalls – but I think that’s underselling the skill in picking in the mid-tiers. Moreover, because he had that second ace, he was less reliant upon ‘hitting’ with all of his mid-tier SPs. Obviously, there are so many landmines that he could have gone with (and in one case, in Round 12, did go with, in Jon Gray) instead of Morton and Snell – just looking at the draft grid, some disastrous alternative picks in that range included a lot of injuries (Danny Salazar, Garrett Richards, Taijuan Walker, Dinelson Lamet) and underachievers (first-half Cole Hamels, Chase Anderson, Aaron Sanchez, Jake Odorizzi). Rudy was able to combine all that top end starting pitching with quality contributors late in the draft, too – getting significant contributions from Eduardo Rodriguez, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Tyler Skaggs, the latter two in the reserve rounds of the draft.
Rudy might not have won saves, but he got two solid closers in Felipe Vazquez and Raisel Iglesias that weren’t ever a threat to lose their jobs. 2018 was a really frustrating year to chase saves – plenty of closers lost their respective jobs, but often their replacements weren’t all that stable, either. Iglesias was Rudy’s first “value pick” at 9.1 – and it had the added bonus of preventing a disaster in Delino DeShields.
Turning to the hitting, once again most of Rudy’s value came from the draft rather than through trades or the waiver wire. Starting out with Mike Trout is great, especially in an OBP league, and then he hit perfectly at 3.1 with Christian Yelich. After that, he had a number of solid players but few breakout hitters (at least compared to the year before, when he nailed Tommy Pham and Whit Merrifield), though he got great values with Shin-Soo Choo (16.15) and Michael Brantley (19.1).
It wasn’t the proverbial “perfect draft” for Rudy – he had to overcome injuries and suspensions from Kevin Kiermaier (10.15), Steven Souza (11.1) and Jorge Polanco (14.15), for example. But he avoided the critical early-round disasters, which is so important in a format like this. He also invested very little in scarce positions. Catchers were a disaster in 2018, but with his catchers coming in Rounds 17 (Mike Zunino) and 28 (Bruce Maxwell), any shortcomings there weren’t that damaging.
Can Rudy be stopped? All signs point to no, but you should tune in next spring and of course read up at Razzball to find out!
Tim Heaney is a Tout Wars champion.
How does he feel about that? Let’s let him say:
Tim won the season handily, topping perennial contender Fred Zinkie by 23 points. He took the lead in late May for good, made a few trades during the season, but the Draft Roster Standings suggest that his winning team was put together on auction day.
His big draft day buys were Javier Baez ($6), Eddie Rosario ($3), Blake Snell and Miles Mikolas ($6 each). That left plenty of budget for extravagances like JD Martinez and Madison Bumgarner, and a championship.
by Glenn Colton
It is always a challenge when you sit down at the fantasy baseball auction table with the best of the best. Of course, that is why we love Tout Wars. 2018 was very very good to team Colton & the Wolfman as we managed to take home our second AL title in 5 years. In 2018, Team Colton and the Wolfman made one change to the auction approach — rather than go value hunting in the middle and late rounds (i.e., bidding on anyone who is being priced below our predicted value), we had our list of mid-priced and low-priced guys we really liked and tried very hard to stay on track and get players from that list. Well, since we won both Tout Wars AL and Doubt Wars AL, I guess it worked (despite spending $30 on Gary Sanchez who hit well under the Mendoza line and $20 Robbie Cano who got suspended for half the season)
That we grabbed guys like Jose Ramirez and Andrew Benintendi is nice but hardly genius. The guys at the lower tiers we liked and grabbed were such “household” names as Kyle Gibson (3.62 ERA and 179K for $2); Matt Boyd (159K and a 1.16 WHIP for $1); Keona Kela (24 saves for $1); Marcos Gonzales (13 wins, 1.22 WHIP for $3). That was where the rubber met the road for us in 2018. You do your studying, you figure out who you like and you go get them! Of course, when you play against the best in the world, you also have to be lucky and this year, we were (when we traded Vlad, Jr. to Chris Liss for ERod only to have Vlad get hurt a short time later). I am sure Chris will forgive us for that (nah, he won’t).
Sadly, no review of 2018 would be complete without recognizing that we lost a very special member of the fantasy baseball community when Steve Moyer passed away unexpectedly in March. His skill, humor, and humanity will be sorely missed. That his good friend and fantasy baseball great Doug Dennis was the one to stand in for Steve and auction in his spot was appropriate, sad, touching and uplifting all at once. Doug showed composure, compassion and Moyer-like humor that day in March under very emotional circumstances which only left us even more impressed with Doug than we already were. Bravo to our friends both still with us and alive in our memory.
To end on a lighter note — as much as we admire Doug (and we do), we are still a little sore he bid $2 to steal Melky from us just because he knew it would get a roar. Of course Moyer would have loved the move!
Jake Ciely has been one of the most energetic owners in Tout H2H, talking about the rules and format of the league. After a couple of years trying experimental hybrids of category based standings as well as points, Tout H2H went full points in 2018, and Jake soared.
All the talk after the March auction was about Justin Mason’s pitching heavy strategy, which turned out to be right, but wasn’t as well implemented as Jake’s was. With Monday and Friday roster resets, the game was obviously to load up on quality innings and have a decent offense.
Jake’s team did that better than any others. Which makes him the 2018 Tout Wars Champ. Well done.
Here are the final standings.
My story starts in early March when Steve Moyer died. It made the entire 2018 season very strange/odd/bad for me. The high point was probably drafting a Tout-AL team in his place and I wish I had done him more justice. The projections after the draft (but before the season started (from both “Toybox” sources on the onroto.com website) projected me to come in first. But I could hear Steve’s voice in my ear: “Oh no, Doug you did it all wrong!! No one ever wins after being projected first!!” Probably true, too. I had very terrible pitching from Marcus Stroman, Mike Leake and from assorted relievers early on and I could never scramble it back into anything useful. I won’t be as patient next time. I did ok on offense at first, with the worst part there being Dee Gordon cratering and having to trade him at a discount and letting go of incremental SB points. It all led to me staggering around between seventh and ninth until the final week where I free-fell into a tie for tenth. Ugh. All around, a poor season, but I am hoping to be invited back in 2019 so I can get back on the horse—perhaps with a little less emotion this time.