NL Tout Wars auction, 2019: So long and thanks for all the Fish

A reasonable alternative headline for this article would have been "How I traveled to New York on the company’s dime and returned with a four dollar Peter O'Brien." But that might not be the most effective collection of words for SEO purposes. Also, it would not exactly highlight the best of my purchases at this year’s N.L. Tout Wars auction. Better to focus on, say, the $29 Anthony Rendon, $26 Noah Syndergaard and $19 Corey Seager.

Still, the O’Brien buy did happen. Deliberately. Almost enthusiastically. When Grey Albright suggests that I have a fondness for terrible players of a certain variety, he ain't lying. I definitely do. Like, if you're a gigantic corner-infielder with an uppercut made for rec league softball, I will eventually draft you.

But here's the thing about these mono league fantasy formats: Almost any hitter who's likely to receive a couple hundred at-bats has value. Tout Wars is a 12-team league full of paid professionals in which we need to fill 23 active roster positions, plus four bench spots. We start two catchers, four outfielders, a traditional infield as well as CI and MI, one utility and one swing position (either a batter or pitcher).

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When the auction ends, 324 players are owned — all from the National League, most of them flawed. We can’t simply avoid Marlins.

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If you only ever play mixed fantasy leagues of standard size and shape, then you're guaranteed to hate the roster below. Seriously, you will be filled with absolute revulsion. In fact, you will likely find every roster in N.L. Tout to be blindingly awful. I'd recommend that you just stop reading right now and go fill out a tourney bracket.

However, if you can relate to the nightmares of mono league team-building, feel free to read on. Here's a look at my 2019 squad, with pricing ...

C - Willson Contreras, $13

C - Carson Kelly, $2

1B - Jose Martinez, $8

3B - Anthony Rendon, $29

Anthony Rendon, bankable four-category fantasy asset. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Anthony Rendon, bankable four-category fantasy asset. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

CI - Peter O'Brien, $4

2B - Starlin Castro, $11

SS - Jean Segura, $28

MI - Corey Seager, $19

OF - Charlie Blackmon, $29

OF - David Peralta, $19

OF - Adam Jones, $5

OF - Mac Williamson, $3

UT - Ian Kinsler, $4

SW - Albert Almora, $3

BN - David Freese, Victor Caratini

Here's hoping for plenty of handshakes between Willson Contreras and Pedro Strop. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Here's hoping for plenty of handshakes between Willson Contreras and Pedro Strop. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

P - Noah Syndergaard, $26

P - Zack Greinke, $21

P - Joey Lucchesi, $10

P - Pedro Strop, $7

P - Matt Strahm, $6

P - Jhoulys Chacin, $5

P - Dallas Keuchel, $4

P - Adam Conley, $2

P - Yoshihisa Hirano, $2

BN - David Hernandez, Mike Montgomery

Before you rush to tell me this is the single worst fantasy team ever assembled in any sport or era (per our annual tradition), I'll just let you know that, using last year’s stats, this group finishes fourth out of 12. And that's with a lost season from Seager. So it's a competitive enough roster, despite O'Brien being attached to it. (Really, if that guy can just hit 9-10 bombs, he'll have done his job).

Seventeen players went for $30 or more in N.L. Tout, and I bought none of 'em. I chased a small number of luxury buys beyond thirty bucks — including Harper (who went for $40), Scherzer ($41) and deGrom ($42). But I had little interest in stars-and-scrubs'ing my way through this auction. That's an approach best used in mixed leagues. The $1 names in N.L.-only are a deep circle of fantasy hell. Projectable playing time should be a primary concern.

Jean Segura will hit near the top of a loaded Phillies lineup. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Jean Segura will hit near the top of a loaded Phillies lineup. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Stolen bases might be an issue for my squad, depending on Segura's plans. Still, projections have me roughly in the middle of a cluster of eight teams separated by a dozen steals, which means the category should be manageable. Tout Wars uses on-base percentage in place of average and I have a core group of hitters who can reasonably finish in the .360-.375 range: Seager, Rendon, Martinez, Blackmon, Peralta. I didn’t pay the OBP premium for Harper, Votto ($29), or Freeman ($35), but I’m not in bad shape.

Saves are a clear problem, though I'm on record as a believer in Strop's ability to run away with the closing gig for the Cubs. I took a few fliers on relievers who might sneak into ninth inning roles — notably Conley and Hernandez — so I'm not without hope. My starting pitching is shockingly good, thanks in part to a pair of young Pads with silly K-rates. Strahm and Lucchesi combined for 214 strikeouts in 191.1 big league innings last season. Syndergaard is of course a monster enjoying another dominant spring and Greinke is a reliable semi-ace. If Keuchel signs with a non-Colorado N.L. club, there will be no end to my gloating.

So there it is. Another triumph of a Tout auction. Please file any objections or concerns in comments, where our customer service team will do its very best to assist ...

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