Friends, it is recommended that you only look upon my N.L. Tout Wars roster using those special glasses designed for the safe viewing of solar eclipses. This lineup can damage a retina, it is so faultlessly brilliant. In fact, no less an authority than Grey Albright has said it is the greatest collection of human talent ever assembled for a common purpose, a staggering fantasy achievement*. Seriously, it is blindingly great.
*I am paraphrasing Grey here. Please know that he was effusive and unrestrained in his praise. He has since retired from the industry, beaten and humbled.
When you’ve found the appropriate protective eyewear, behold this juggernaut…
C Austin Hedges, SD, $8
C Matt Wieters, WAS, $5
OK, so the catchers alone probably won’t blind you with their shimmering talent. But it gets better. At least I managed to acquire a pair of functional starting catchers at reasonable cost. Let’s move on…
Now you see the beginnings of an unstoppable fantasy machine. Tout Wars uses on-base percentage in place of batting average, which gives a bump to the three players above. Bryant reached base at a .409 clip last season, the fourth best rate in the N.L., while Bour finished at .366. Senzel was the second overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft and he’s destroyed minor league pitching to this point, establishing himself as a fantasy relevant prospect for the season ahead. He slashed .321/.391/.514 across two minor league levels last season. The Reds have used him at shortstop this spring, giving him multiple routes to the big league lineup. Senzel will earn back his $6.
2B Ben Zobrist, CHC, $6
SS Trea Turner, WAS, $37
MI Orlando Arcia, MIL, $18
UT Addison Russell, CHC, $15
This year’s Tout auctions were held at Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the Single-A Staten Island Yankees. A terrific venue, full of odd surprises. Upon seeing the middle infield that I managed to assemble, the Yankees immediately offered me the front office position of my choosing.
I rejected them, of course, preferring to devote my full attention to a once-in-a-generation fantasy portfolio.
I don’t generally enter auctions with a shopping list of names, but Turner was a priority acquisition. He’s one of the few elite base-stealers in the N.L. (and the only non-outfielder) who projects as an asset in at least four categories. Ideally, you’ll construct rosters that can compete in stolen bases without relying on specialists. Arcia is a decent bet to reach 20-plus steals as well, while delivering double-digit power. For additional Arcia hype, I’ll refer you to Dalton Del Don’s forecast.
Another triumph, this $42 group. Outfield is a talent-rich position that should not require a significant investment of fantasy resources. My starting four will accumulate more than enough plate appearances to justify their cost — Inciarte finished second in the league last season (718). Peralta, Markakis and Inciarte should all produce OBPs at or above .350.
Tomas is an obvious trade candidate for Arizona, but, in this league, almost any deal involving him is a win for my roster. Tout allows us to retain players who are flipped from N.L. to A.L., so there’s really no bad landing spot.
If you’re wondering about the “SW” next to Toles’ name, it refers to the swing position used in Tout. One of the unique gimmicks in this league is that one active roster position each week can be used on either a hitter or pitcher. Toles isn’t a lock to occupy the spot in the opening weeks (or months) of the season, but semi-regular playing time would make him a must-play. He’s hit .294/.341/.483 over 217 MLB plate appearances, and he flashed plenty of speed in the minors.
SP Yu Darvish, CHC, $25
SP Kenta Maeda, LAD, $11
RP Hector Neris, PHI, $10
SP Patrick Corbin, ARI, $8
RP Brad Ziegler, MIA, $6
RP Kyle Barraclough, MIA, $2
SP Brandon McCarthy, ATL, $2
SP Ivan Nova, PIT, $2
SP/RP Mike Montgomery, CHC, $1
I mean, whenever you can lock up all 25 Miami save opportunities for just $8, you really have to do it. Ziegler and Barraclough have been regulars on my N.L. rosters this draft season.
I chased the top-tier starters hard in the early moments of the auction, but wasn’t willing to bid $40 on either Kershaw or Scherzer. Instead, I spread the resources. Corbin is a contract-year pitcher who K’d 8.4 batters per nine innings last year, and he presumably gets the humidor boost in 2018. Hooray, physics.
If any aspect of an otherwise dominant roster concerns me, it’s Nova. His work in the second-half last season was less than stellar (2-8, 5.83 ERA). When Nova has a difficult matchup on deck, I’ll look to sit him in favor of the flame-throwing reliever on my bench…
RP Jacob Barnes, MIL
3B David Freese, PIT
1B Jesus Aguilar, MIL
OF Chris Shaw, SF
Freese and Aguilar open the season strictly as platoon/pinch-hit bats, but those guys are plainly worth owning in fantasy leagues as deep as N.L. Tout. Shaw is a 24-year-old prospect coming off a 24-homer, .292/.346/.591 season in the high minors. His path to playing time would likely involve a Hunter Pence collapse/injury, which of course cannot be ruled out. He’s a reasonable flier with the final pick in a reserve round.
So there it is, America, your N.L. Tout Wars champion. The next six months should be a coronation. If you’re interested in seeing the second-place contenders, you can find full auction results right here. I am now happy to receive your feedback adoration in comments.