Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Tout Wars N.L. 2010 Recap Part I: Auction

March 26, 2010.

I had a little over two weeks before two auctions: one for my existing American League and one for a start over National League. I was mostly focused on the American League since there were keepers to be had and hadn't done much work on the National League. Then I got an e-mail from Peter Kreutzer, asking me if I would be interested in doing Tout Wars.

I've been in at least one expert league since 2003, but Tout Wars was another matter entirely. This was a league populated by most of the greatest names in the business. It was an honor to be invited. But there was another reason I wanted to play. I have been touting my own strategies and tactics for years in this space. More than any other league I've participated in, I felt like it was time to put my money where my mouth was and prove myself.

I had already done an N.L.-only auction in the CBS expert league back in early February. This meant that I had a basic list put together. However, I hadn't looked at that list too much since then, so I had to do a lot of tweaking on the bottom-end players. I also had to adjust my prices to account for the fact that CBS pays much higher prices for players at the top.

My initial recap appeared here in early April.

Most of what I wrote turned out to be prescient. Here is how the Roto Think Tank team actually did in terms of 5x5 earnings:

2010 Roto Think Tank, Tout Wars

CRonny Paulino$6$33$3
CYorvit Torrealba$10$19$1
1BAlbert Pujols$40$400$40
2BRon Belliard$2$3-1$3
SSHanley Ramirez$33$40-7$44
3BMat Gamel$0$2-2$2
COJoey Votto$40$2812$31
MIJose Reyes$25$232$28
OFCarlos Lee$17$24-7$26
OFAlfonso Soriano$18$180$18
OFEric Young Jr.$7$34$2
OFJosh Anderson$1-1$0
OFMike Stanton$15$114$1
UTCristian Guzman$7*$34$4
PMatt Cain$25$196$20
PKenshin Kawakami-$2$8-10$5
PPaul Maholm-$3$5-8$4
PJohn Lannan-$1$3-4$2
PJohn Maine-$3$3-6$5
PChris Volstad$5$32$4
PMadison Bumgarner$10$28$4
PCarlos Marmol$22$157$16
PMatt Capps$20*$128$12
*includes 2010 A.L. stats; Tout Wars rules allow player retention.

It doesn't take much analysis to look at the chart above to see what went right and what went wrong.

What Went Right: The Stars I bought for my Stars and Scrubs team - Pujols, Ramirez, Votto and Reyes - all produced big time. Getting a whopping $138 of value from four players - and $7 profit - is huge, and meant that I only had to have a few of my cheap hitters turn into bargains. Sure enough, that's exactly what happened. While I had two disappointments (Belliard and Gamel) and one no show (Anderson), Stanton and Torrealba were huge, returning $25 of stats on a mere $2 investment.

The end result was that I bought a 57.5 point offense out of a possible 65. The basic argument against Stars and Scrubs is that in an N.L.-only league you need to buy balance. I've rejected this notion time and time again, pointing out that if the prices fall low enough on the top players you should buy, buy, buy and worry about filling out your team in the endgame later. I'm more than pleased to say that my approach paid off.

The other part of my strategy that worked out was the two closers. In my three other leagues this year I bought one, zero, and zero closers. I feel like the prices for these one category commodities were too high this year - particularly in 5x5. But at $15 and $12, I felt that Marmol and Capps were too cheap to pass up. I knew the risks in both cases. Marmol's control could cost him the job and Capps could be traded into a set-up role come July. In Marmol's case I figured he'd earn at least $10-12 even if he lost the job because of the whiffs and in Capps' case I just crossed my fingers.

It worked. I bought 80 saves and 12 points in the category for a mere $27.

So far, this all sounds great. There was only one piece missing to the puzzle. But, alas, it was a huge piece.

What Went Wrong: Again, you don't need to dive deep into the numbers to see what happened here. After Cain, things worked out terribly for my pitchers.

During the auction, I was running out of money early. I should have seen Stars and Scrubs through and taken my chances with a number of $1 pitchers after buying another ace or two.

Instead, I chickened out.

Ubaldo Jimenez is the one I really regret. Tristran Cockroft said $17 and I froze. I had U-Ball at $20 on my sheet. Cockroft might have said $19, but I should have at least pushed him and found out.

I wound up in the weird position of having a little bit too much money at the end and found myself buying pitchers who were slight bargains on my sheet but that I didn't really like. Kawakami was my only true overpay, but I would have been better off buying a $20 guy like U-Ball or two $10 pitchers and finishing with $1 fliers. The fliers couldn't have been much worse than what I bought (outside of Bumgarner).

So how was my auction?
As the dollar values suggest, I came out of the room with a very good team. If we had simply auctioned and not made another move all year, I would have finished third with 82.5 points: five points out of first and four out of second.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capitalize on my auction and make any traction during the season. I'll examine why next time. 

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