My AL Tout Wars Team
My AL Tout Wars Team

This article is part of our MLB Observations series.

It was surreal doing the AL Tout Wars auction online. I was set to come to NY for the live auction as of a week ago, but being overseas, decided to cancel last Monday. Of course, two days later, the entire live event was called off, and I was back in. 

A couple notes about Tout Wars. First, it's a 5 x 5 league, but there are two quirks: (1) They use on-base percentage rather than batting average; and (2) Instead of a fifth outfielder, they have a swingman spot (SW) that can be any hitter or any pitcher. Most people use the extra hitter, but it's helpful if you have injuries (especially in an AL-only league) to throw an extra reliever in there at times. 

My usual strategy for auctions is to buy a few high-priced players early, spend about two-thirds of my money, then wait patiently for everyone's else's budgets to fall into line (or below) mine and participate in end-game bargain hunting. 

I also like to bid on the first few players who get brought up because they tend to be underpriced for two reasons: (1) Because everyone has their choice of that entire pool at that point, few people feel they need to roster this particular player, i.e., it's not like he's the last good starting pitcher, or last starting shortstop; and (2) People largely identify value in an auction relative to the cost of other players, i.e., if my fourth ranked shortstop goes for $30, I can feel good about paying $30 for my third-ranked one. But the first few players thrown out have no relative comps. They could turn out to be huge bargains or huge overpays relative to similar players bought later. So some owners prefer to see what the going rate is first before jumping in with both feet. As such, there are often fewer serious buyers for the first guys thrown out, and they often go cheaply. 

That's exactly what happened in this case – at least in my opinion – and so I wound up buying the first three players thrown out, even though I was in no way targeting them and had absolutely no idea I'd own them when the auction started. I was simply price enforcing – bidding up too cheap players, and my bids stuck.

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So I found myself the owner of Gerrit Cole ($37), Justin Verlander ($28) and Luis Robert ($22). I don't even like Cole this year, but he's a top-five pick in the NFBC, easily the No. 1 AL pitcher, and I figured he'd fetch $40. Verlander would also have fetched $35-plus were he healthy, and the delay to the start of the season makes it likely he will be. Robert is going early-ish in the NFBC in part because steals are at a premium, but his contract virtually guarantees playing time, and he was cheaper than many other players who typically go several rounds behind him. 

In any event, it wasn't the team I had envisioned, but I was happy with the values, and I enjoyed drafting it. Here's my full roster:

PosPlayer$
CPedro Severino2
CJames McCann2
1BMiguel Cabrera10
2BBrandon Lowe14
3BMatt Chapman25
SSJose Peraza5
CIRafael Devers27
MIFranklin Barreto1
OFLuis Robert22
OFAaron Judge28
OFKyle Tucker11
OFYoshi Tsutsugo11
UTManuel Margot5
SWAaron Hicks1
PGerrit Cole37
PJustin Verlander28
PShohei Ohtani7
PDylan Bundy9
PHunter Harvey4
PNate Pearson3
PYusei Kikuchi3
PJohn Means4
PHomer Bailey1
RForrest Whitley0
RAustin Pruitt0
RRobbie Grossman0
RBrett Phillips0
  260

And here are the rosters for the entire league:

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With Dollar Values:

PosLiss$Colton/Wolf$Dennis$Bender$
CPedro Severino2Christian Vazquez8Willians Astudillo1Isiah Kiner-Falefa6
CJames McCann2Jason Castro3Martin Maldonado1Kyle Higashioka1
1BMiguel Cabrera10Jose Abreu25Carlos Santana29Matt Olson33
2BBrandon Lowe14Gleyber Torres30Cavan Biggio29Shed Long Jr.8
3BRafael Devers27Yoan Moncada27Vladimir Guerrero Jr.24Anthony Rendon35
SSJose Peraza5J.P. Crawford6Willy Adames13Tim Anderson25
CIMatt Chapman25Travis Shaw6Marwin Gonzalez2Chris Davis1
MIFranklin Barreto1DJ LeMahieu25Nicky Lopez1David Fletcher7
OFLuis Robert22Max Kepler20Eloy Jimenez24Giancarlo Stanton23
OFAaron Judge28Jorge Soler26Andrew Benintendi25Jo Adell9
OFYoshi Tsutsugo11Byron Buxton18Mitch Haniger5Alex Verdugo9
OFKyle Tucker11Delino DeShields1Victor Reyes3Tony Kemp2
UTManuel Margot5Kevin Pillar4Leury Garcia2Austin Nola1
SWAaron Hicks1Maikel Franco1Franmil Reyes23Jordan Lyles4
PJustin Verlander28Dylan Cease7Frankie Montas16Mike Clevinger30
PGerrit Cole37Andrew Heaney10Mike Minor13Jose Berrios22
PDylan Bundy9Lance McCullers Jr.10Matthew Boyd16Ken Giles22
PShohei Ohtani7Joe Jimenez12Jose Urquidy11Aaron Civale7
PHunter Harvey4Ian Kennedy13Yonny Chirinos10Michael Pineda3
PJohn Means4Domingo German2Yoshihisa Hirano7J.A. Happ5
PNate Pearson3Kyle Gibson4Rafael Montero1Diego Castillo3
PYusei Kikuchi3Trevor Rosenthal1Michael Fulmer1James Karinchak2
PHomer Bailey1Justus Sheffield1Felix Pena3Casey Mize2
         
PosCollette$Erickson$Schechter$Gianella$
CYasmani Grandal21Alex Avila2Gary Sanchez16Roberto Perez3
CAustin Allen5Tom Murphy5Robinson Chirinos8Michael Perez1
1BDanny Santana14Rowdy Tellez5Luke Voit17Michael Chavis7
2BNick Madrigal12Luis Arraez13Cesar Hernandez14Jose Altuve28
3BAledmys Diaz1Hanser Alberto4Kyle Seager12Gio Urshela8
SSMarcus Semien25Francisco Lindor40Jose Iglesias1Carlos Correa19
CIRyan Mountcastle2Albert Pujols3Todd Frazier6Jeimer Candelario3
MIMyles Straw2Xander Bogaerts29Rougned Odor15Dee Gordon7
OFJ.D. Martinez33Eddie Rosario19Justin Upton19Mike Trout53
OFMichael Brantley24Brett Gardner13Lourdes Gurriel Jr.16George Springer29
OFDomingo Santana17Shin-soo Choo19Mallex Smith20Joey Gallo26
OFMike Tauchman8Jarred Kelenic1Alex Gordon3Nomar Mazara11
UTYasiel Puig3Nick Solak12Yordan Alvarez26Mark Canha16
SWMiguel Andujar12Mike Ford1Mitch Moreland6JaCoby Jones5
PCharlie Morton23Shane Bieber30Brad Hand17Roberto Osuna19
PKenta Maeda13Nick Anderson15Corey Kluber21Liam Hendriks16
PJake Odorizzi14Tyler Glasnow23Carlos Carrasco17Sergio Romo1
PJose Leclerc12Jesus Luzardo14Marco Gonzales7Trevor May1
PChad Green4Ryan Yarbrough8Dallas Keuchel8Collin McHugh1
PMatt Magill4Tyler Duffey1Ryan Pressly3Zack Britton1
PJordan Montgomery6Shun Yamaguchi1Matt Barnes2Adam Ottavino2
PNathan Eovaldi3Zach Plesac1Mike Fiers3Nick Wittgren2
PChris Bassitt2Brad Peacock1Jakob Junis3Jose Alvarado1
         
PosPodhorzer$Davitt$Liebowitz$Bloomfield$
CChance Sisco4Reese McGuire4Mike Zunino2Austin Romine7
CDanny Jansen6Mitch Garver18Sean Murphy8Salvador Perez12
1BRyan O'Hearn1Edwin Encarnacion25Yuli Gurriel16Evan White11
2BWhit Merrifield28Tommy La Stella10Niko Goodrum15Jonathan Schoop13
3BJosh Donaldson27Jose Ramirez40Miguel Sano23Hunter Dozier15
SSAlex Bregman37Bo Bichette33Jorge Polanco18Elvis Andrus19
CIYandy Diaz13Ji-Man Choi14C.J. Cron17Nate Lowe1
MIAdalberto Mondesi27Willi Castro1Jorge Mateo2Andrelton Simmons11
OFAnthony Santander4Teoscar Hernandez13Ramon Laureano26Austin Meadows29
OFHunter Renfroe8Austin Hays6Oscar Mercado23Randal Grichuk13
OFWillie Calhoun9Clint Frazier1Kevin Kiermaier4Jackie Bradley Jr.6
OFTrey Mancini6Kyle Lewis1Cameron Maybin7Jake Fraley5
UTRenato Nunez11Daniel Vogelbach7Khris Davis19Nelson Cruz29
SWCody Carroll1Jose Martinez2Wander Franco2Stephen Piscotty1
PTaylor Rogers20Lucas Giolito24Blake Snell22Eduardo Rodriguez17
PChris Sale13Hyun-Jin Ryu19Aroldis Chapman20Zack Greinke25
PBrandon Workman11Sean Manaea10Lance Lynn19James Paxton14
PMasahiro Tanaka13Alex Colome11A.J. Puk5Hansel Robles15
PBrendan McKay4Josh James7Julio Teheran5Michael Kopech5
PRich Hill1Mychal Givens9Brad Keller2Matt Shoemaker4
PPatrick Sandoval1Aaron Bummer3Spencer Turnbull2Reynaldo Lopez5
PGriffin Canning1Gio Gonzalez1Justin Dunn1Yusmeiro Petit2
PTaijuan Walker1Matt Manning1Jonathan Loaisiga2Colin Poche1

And the reserves:

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I have too much starting pitching, and I'm light on saves and steals, but unlike the NFBC with its overall component, there's no need to come out with balance – I can tank a category and still win, or I can trade for it later. Regardless, it was a welcome distraction, and I'm glad we still held the auction even though the actual games might be two months (or more) away. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Liss
Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.
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