NL Tout recap: Seager, Schwarber, Arenado and the abandonment of a plan

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/9584/" data-ylk="slk:Corey Seager">Corey Seager</a>, a foundational asset in fantasy. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
Corey Seager, a foundational asset in fantasy. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

As a general rule, here’s the way these fantasy draft recaps are supposed to flow: First, the author describes a meticulously planned pre-draft strategy — perhaps branding it with a memorable acronym — then they detail the flawless execution of their approach in a recent league. And in conclusion, the expert offers a declaration of cautious confidence, inviting praise from readers.

It’s a classic fantasy chestnut.

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Today, I’d love nothing more than to slap together exactly that sort of review of my N.L. Tout Wars experience, except, um … I did not demonstrate great strategy discipline at Tout. Not at all. I veered away from my pre-auction plan as if it was radioactive — as if it was a betting tip from Brad Evans.

At 9:45 am, I entered the auction room intending to avoid the $25-and-over hitters and to spend at least 40 percent of my $260 budget on pitching. By 10:30, I had dropped $36 on Nolan Arenado. An hour later, I threw $29 at Corey Seager. At that point, I’d spent $109 on four bats and my pre-auction plan was cooked.

But here’s the thing with auctions: The most important principle by far is to acquire players at or below your prices, and to accumulate as much total value as possible. Ideally, you end up spending your $260 budget on a collection of players that you value at, say, $290 (or more). It’s fine to have a thoughtfully crafted plan, but it’s also important to recognize that the room may not accommodate you.

At Tout, when Clayton Kershaw went for $45 and Carlos Martinez for $26 and Gerritt Cole for $22, it became fairly clear that I wouldn’t land many upper-tier pitchers at my preferred prices. Thus, my money went elsewhere and the script was torched. So it goes.

Honestly, I have no idea what I could have been glaring at with such intensity. It’s like I’m trying to melt Tristan Cockcroft. (@ToutWars)
Honestly, I have no idea what I could have been glaring at with such intensity. It’s like I’m trying to melt Tristan Cockcroft. (@ToutWars)

You can find full Tout auction results right here. Again, I’m involved in the N.L.-only league, so if you’re accustomed to playing mixed formats, you will absolutely hate every roster on the spreadsheet. It’s a 12-person group featuring 11 experts, plus Grey Albright of Razzball. (That’s a joke. Grey is a delight, a shrewd fantasy professional. Unstable, yes, but shrewd. A pageant of a man.) Our reigning champ is Todd Zola, an absolute legend. Tout Wars is a two-catcher league with 23 active roster spots, using OBP in place of batting average. We have a few additional non-Yahoo quirks in play, including a swing position that can be occupied by a hitter or pitcher. These are the full rules, for those interested. The N.L. auction went down on Sunday, March 26 at Rock & Reilly’s NYC, an excellent mega-pub and home to FNTSY Sports Network.

Here’s a look at the team I assembled, which is not at all the squad I’d intended to buy…

C Matt Wieters WAS, $9
C Nick Hundley SF, $1
1B Travis Shaw MIL (also 3B), $9
3B Nolan Arenado COL, $36
CI Matt Adams STL, $4
2B Ryan Schimpf SD, $9
SS Corey Seager LAD, $29
MI Jose Peraza CIN (OF), $20
OF Kyle Schwarber CHC, $24

OK, let’s pause briefly to appreciate that $24 price on Schwarber, a top-of-the-order hitter with weapons-grade power.

I truly love him, with my whole heart. If you don’t have any Schwarber shares in your portfolio, I would advise you to keep signing up for leagues until you land him.

Moving on…

OF Dexter Fowler STL, $20
OF Hernan Perez MIL (3B), $10
OF Alex Dickerson SD, $4
UT Chase Utley LAD, $1
BN Tommy La Stella CHC (3B)
BN Jesse Winker CIN (OF)
BN Brett Lawrie FA (2B)

Arenado is of course a category leader, having topped the league in both home runs and RBIs in each of the past two seasons. He reached base at a .362 clip last year while appearing in 160 games, and he’s still just 25 years old. Third base is a minefield in the N.L. in the lower tiers, so I’m happy to build around him. Similarly, Seager is miles ahead of the standard-issue N.L. shortstop, arguably in a tier of his own in this format.

I’ve already given you my pitch for Peraza and Perez, a pair of burners who should allow this team to compete in steals. Schimpf hit 20 bombs in just half a season for San Diego last year after slashing a ridiculous .355/.432/.729 in the PCL. He’s been a willing walker throughout his pro career, which gives him a value boost in OBP leagues.

Among the hitters I’d hoped to land but didn’t, the biggest regrets are Hunter Renfroe ($9), Roman Quinn ($3), Albert Almora ($6) and Keon Broxton ($19). If I’d managed to stick to the original plan, that might have been my outfield. Alas.

My pitching staff came in well under budget, by roughly $20…

P Stephen Strasburg WAS, $22
P Kenley Jansen LAD, $22
P Matt Moore SF, $12
P Vincent Velasquez PHI, $12
P Fernando Rodney ARI, $8
P Blake Treinen WAS, $2
P Adam Conley MIA, $2
P Bartolo Colon ATL, $2
P Jimmy Nelson MIL, $1
P Hunter Strickland SF, $1
BN Josh Hader MIL

Stephen Strasburg, fragile fantasy ace. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Washington Nationals/Getty Images)
Stephen Strasburg, fragile fantasy ace. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Washington Nationals/Getty Images)

This group is so loaded with injury risk that you can tear a flexor tendon just looking at the names. By the end of May, I could be down to Bartolo, Fernando, Kenley and seven middle-relievers. It’s a concern. But as we’ve discussed before, I’m much more comfortable owning Strasburg in a rotisserie format like Tout, where his April innings count the same as those pitched in September. If he can simply reach 175-or-so IP and maintain his career ratios, he’ll earn $22. And if he somehow reaches Dalton Del Don’s blue-sky forecast, it’s a massive win. Here’s hoping. Strasburg is healthy at the moment, which counts for somethin’.

Saves shouldn’t be an issue for this team and, if Treinen can grab the ninth inning role in Washington (currently undecided), I’ll have a surplus from which to deal. In Tout, if you don’t buy your saves in March, you end up hemorrhaging FAAB resources throughout the season, speculating on lousy relievers. I’ve been there and have no interest in going back.

If Hader can force his way into Milwaukee’s dreadful rotation by June, that would certainly help my staff in no small way. Hader had a terrific spring, and the lefty struck out 161 batters in just 126.0 innings last year in the high minors. He’s a prospect of interest, worth monitoring in any format.

Ultimately, I was not unhappy with this year’s auction haul, despite scrapping my spending plan inside the first hour. I can’t really complain about any roster that includes this guy. Feel free to file plaudits or condemnation in comments. If you see a price you like or loathe, call it out. We’re workshopping my roster here, and no piece of thoughtful feedback will be refused.

Follow the Yahoo crew on Twitter: Andy Behrens, Dalton Del Don, Brad Evans, Brandon Funston, Liz Loza and Scott Pianowski

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