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Tout Wars Mixed Draft Recap

San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres

On Tuesday night, the Tout Wars Mixed Draft competitors logged into their computers for their annual draft night. The Tout Wars competition has existed since 1997 and added a mixed league component in 2005. This particular is a 15-team mixed league and is a snake draft instead of the typical Tout Wars format, which is a salary cap format. While this isn’t the earliest industry league drafted this spring, with about three weeks until the beginning of the season, there can still be some surprise injuries that could wreck a fantasy manager's season. Just a few hours before the draft began, we learned about Lucas Giolito’s devastating elbow injury.

Before dissecting my team, I’ll review my strategy going into the night. I was drafted seventh overall, which put me right smack in the middle of each round. I prefer drafting in the middle of drafts as you can typically avoid those awful position runs. You also avoid waiting around 30 picks before making picks, which is what the managers with the first and 15th picks get to experience. For my prep, I review recent ADP and “plan out” what my first few rounds could look like. While you never know what your fellow managers will do on draft night, it at least gives you some idea of which players might be available to you with each pick, and then you can push up players you like. I also like to review last year’s league draft and results to see if there were any trends and/or results I could improve on.

To be an open book, here are my previous finishes:

2023: 7th place
2022: 6th place
2021: 3rd place

Things are going in the wrong direction! Reviewing last year’s squad, I struggled in saves, RBI, and strikeouts. My goal this year was to focus on those categories, so let’s see how I did!

 

As I mentioned at the top, I was drafting seventh. Here are this year’s participants in order of drafting and their affiliations:

1) Seth Trachtman - Sethroto.com

2)Ryan Bloomfield - Baseball HQ

3) Adam Ronis - Sirius XM Radio

4) D.J. Short - Rotoworld

5) Mike Gianella - Baseball Prospectus

6) Brian Entkerin - FantasyPros

7) Shelly Verougstraete - Rotoworld/Baseball HQ

8) Ray Murphy - Baseball HQ

9) Dr. Roto - Dr. Roto.com

10) Tim McLeod - Patton and Co

11) Anthony Aniano - Rotoballer

12) Kyle Soppe - Pro Football Network

13) Garion Thorne - Draftkings

14) Rudy Gamble - Razzball

15) Scott White - CBS Sports

You can find the entire draft board here.

 

1st round:

Fernando Tatis Jr., OF, Padres

Tatis Jr. returned after shoulder surgery and a PED suspension last year, which was the worst season for the 25-year-old. However, if I had one player who could come close to Acuña Jr.’s phenomenal 2023 campaign, it would be Tatis Jr. Even if he doesn’t, he gives me an excellent power/speed base that should allow me to go in different directions as the draft progresses.

 

2nd round:

Francisco Lindor, SS, Mets

Lindor might have had the quietest 31/31 season in 2023, which could have been because the Mets massively disappointed preseason expectations. Pairing him with Tatis Jr. should give a nice RBI floor, one of the categories I struggled in last year.

 

3rd round:

Yoshinobu Yamamoto, SP, Dodgers

Many teams were in on Yamamoto this winter, but the 25-year-old inked a long-term deal with the Dodgers. Many scouts and analysts raved about him this winter, and I drank the Kool-Aid. It will be interesting to see how Los Angeles decided to use him, as they will be going with a six-man rotation to begin the season. This could limit how many strikeouts he ultimately gets. You cannot go wrong with a Dodgers pitcher as your number-one guy.

 

4th round:

Devin Williams, RP, Brewers

As the draft progressed through the third round, I didn’t particularly like any of the hitters still on the board. As mentioned at the top, I struggled in the saves category last year, so I decided to pay for a top closer. Much to my surprise, I wasn’t the first manager to take a closer, as Ray Murphy took Jhoan Duran one spot before me. No worries, as Williams was the top closer on my draft sheet.

 

5th round:

Gleyber Torres, 2B, Yankees

Torres had an outstanding season in 2023, hitting .273/.347/.453 with 25 homers and 13 stolen bases across 672 plate appearances. With Juan Soto joining the team and Aaron Judge healthy, the 27-year-old could rack up a boatload of RBI this season. Unless he signs an extension with the Yankees this season, he will enter free agency, so we could see that final year before free agency bump this year.

 

6th round:

Will Smith, C, Dodgers

I’m still hunting for as many RBI as possible and took Will Smith, the third catcher off the board. The Dodgers could have one of the best lineups in the league, and Smith is expected to hit cleanup, which should rocket his RBI chances to the moon. While he’ll take a plate appearance hit with Shohei Ohtani in town, I’ll take the gamble and pick up one of the better-hitting catchers in the league.

 

7th round:

George Springer, OF, Blue Jays

In this league, we have to fill five outfield spots, and since I hadn’t taken one since the first round, I was starting to feel the pressure. Springer has swiped double-digit bases the past two seasons and is projected to bat leadoff in Toronto this season. I was shocked he was still available and jumped at the opportunity to add him to my team.

 

8th round:

Bailey Ober, SP, Twins

As with the round before, I felt the pressure of only having one starter. While I certainly would have preferred to have Bailey Ober as my third starter, he is having a lights-out spring and could take a major step forward this season. I'm keeping my fingers crossed he does!

 

9th round:

Yandy Díaz, 1B, Rays

Do you know what Yandy does well? He posts high walk rates. What did I need at the time? You guessed it! OBP. He posted a career-high of 600 plate appearances last year, and while I don't expect him to hit that mark again, he should maximize plate appearances when he is healthy as the Rays' leadoff hitter.

 

10th round:

Bryce Miller, SP, Mariners

The Mariners' pitching rotation is one of the better rotations in the league, and I was happy to snag a part of it. Miller has been tinkering with some new pitches this offseason, and if this new pitch mix helps him against lefties who hit .303/.358/.558 against him, the sky is the limit. He pairs nicely with his low-floor rotation mate, Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

 

11th round:

Daulton Varsho, OF, Blue Jays

To counterbalance Díaz’s lack of speed, I picked up my third outfielder, Daulton Varsho. The 27-year-old was going much higher last year, and even though he was a draft-day disappointment, he still posted 20 homers and 16 stolen bases. He was the type of player I needed on the team.

 

12th round:

Alec Bohm, 1B/3B, Phillies

I was worried I didn’t have a third baseman by this point in the draft. While I’m not the biggest Bohm fan out there, he is a legit starting third-baseman. He smacked a career-high 20 bombs last year, and the Phillies lineup is no joke, so the RBI should be there for me.

 

13th round:

Kenley Jansen, RP, Red Sox

While Jansen isn’t as reliable as he was during his Dodgers days, he still has a lock on the closer’s role in Boston. He has been nagged with a lat injury this spring, but it doesn’t seem too serious. There have also been trade rumors this winter, as it appears that Boston is in a rebuilding phase, but even if he does get traded, he should still be the closer for whichever team he is on.

 

14th round:

Trevor Story, SS, Red Sox

I kept the Boston flavor with my next pick, Trevor Story. The shortstop has been disappointing since inking a long-term deal with the Sox, but that is mainly due to an injured elbow and running out of time to catch up with major league pitching last summer. Even with that being said, he swiped ten bases across 168 plate appearances, and I expect him to keep that pace (or at least very close to that pace) going into the season.

 

15th round:

Tyler Stephenson, C, Reds

I am a big proponent of getting two top-tier catchers in these two-catcher leagues. You have to pounce whenever you can maximize plate appearances at a position that doesn’t amass as much playing time as other positions. Sadly, I missed out on getting that big-time second catcher. D’oh! However, I was still able to snag a player who should do most of the playing time behind the dish, Tyler Stephenson. The Reds lineup is stacked, and if he can stay on the field, there is a chance he can rack up more than the 56 RBI he posted last year.

 

16th round:

Jeimer Candelario, 1B/3B, Reds

The Reds shocked the baseball world when they signed Candelario this winter. Their infield was already jammed back with young talent! The Candy Man had to settle for a one-year contract last winter, and he put together an outstanding season. While Cincinnati hasn’t announced a set lineup for the season, they have said they consider Candelario a full-time player. Per Roster Resource at FanGraphs, Candelario is expected to bat cleanup, and he could have a huge RBI season hitting around those exciting young hitters like Elly De La Cruz and Matt McLain.

 

17th round:

Triston McKenzie, SP, Guardians

I spent way too long in the hitter pool and decided to return to pitching. I’m taking a huge gamble with McKenzie, who was limited to 16 innings after many injuries in 2023. However, in 2022, he posted a 2.96 ERA and 0.95 WHIP across 191 ⅓ innings, and if he can come close to those numbers, this pick could be a big-time payoff.

 

18th round:

Kenta Maeda, SP, Tigers

By this point of the draft, all players available have warts, but sometimes you have to draft someone you like! Kenta Maeda posted a 4.23 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and a 117/28 K/BB ratio across 104 ⅓ innings with the Twins last year. He is now headed to Detroit, which is a pitcher's paradise. The lineup is sneaky good with Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson, and Kerry Carpenter, which could pay off in the wins category.

 

19th round:

Dean Kremer, SP, Orioles

Because I went so hitter heavy in the middle rounds of the draft, I needed to address my pitching, and quickly at that. While Kremer isn’t a fireballer, he posted a 4.12 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and 157/55 K/BB ratio across 172 ⅔ innings for the Orioles last season. Not only that, he amassed 13 wins to boot. I fully expect Baltimore to be a powerhouse in the American League. If the 28-year-old can mirror what he did in 2023, he should help me in the wins category, which is a category that is becoming harder and harder to compete in.

 

20th round:

Austin Hays, OF, Orioles

Baltimore has a loaded lineup and minor league system, and it seems that many fantasy managers have forgotten Austin Hays. Per Roster Resource on FanGraphs, he is expected to be the Orioles' everyday left fielder, and finding everyday playing time in the outfield is hard at this point in the draft.

 

21st round:

DL Hall, SP, Brewers

After many years of having one of the better rotations in the league, Milwaukee has quickly become a starting pitching wasteland. Hall was traded to the Brewers this winter and, as of this article, is expected to be their fifth starter, with Wade Miley, Jakob Junis, and Colin Rea ahead of him on the depth chart. I’ll take a gamble on the once highly touted pitching prospect here, and hopefully, it pays off in the long run.

 

22nd round:

Mitch Haniger, OF, Mariners

Haniger was also traded this winter, but he is now in Seattle. The 33-year-old spent five seasons with the Mariners and posted his best career there in 2018. Normal and unusual injuries have ravaged Haniger’s career, and I am taking a huge gamble with this pick as he is one of my five starting outfielders. Fingers crossed, the Seattle air does wonders for him!

 

23rd round:

DJ LeMahieu. 1B/3B, Yankees

I loved this pick because LeMahieu is expected to bat leadoff for the Yankees, right in front of Juan Soto and Aaron Judge. If he can stay on the field, he should register over 100 runs. At this point in the draft, I’ll take that all week and twice on Sunday.

 

24th round:

James McArthur, RP, Royals

As we move into the reserve rounds, I decided to add a few more relievers, just in case Kenley Jansen’s lat injury is more serious than the team had led on. McArthur finished the season as the Royals closer, and they haven’t brought anyone to unseat him, in my opinion. (No offense, Will Smith!). Hopefully, my assessment is correct. If not, he will be an easy cut.

 

25th round:

A.J. Minter, RP, Braves

I decided to go further with my reliever strategy and took Braves setup man A.J. Minter. The lefty was filthy last season, posting a 1.85 ERA in the second half. If something happens to Raisel Iglesias during the season, Minter will surely take over as closer. That typically doesn’t happen for left-handers, but Atlanta has three other southpaws in their bullpen, so manager Brian Snitker shouldn’t feel the need to hold off using Minter as closer.

 

26th round:

Jose Caballero, SS, Rays

The Rays traded for Jose Caballero this offseason after it became abundantly clear that Wander Franco wouldn’t be with the team for the foreseeable future. While I don’t expect him to hit high in the Rays lineup, I do expect him to get regular playing time until Taylor Walls returns from his hip injury. Last season with the Mariners, Caballero hit .221/.343/.320, but more importantly, he swiped 26 bases across 280 plate appearances. The Rays have said that they want to run more this season, and if I can add Caballero to my active roster whenever I need a stolen base boost, it could be huge going down the stretch this season.

 

27th round:

Matt Manning, SP, Tigers

Matt Manning was once considered a top pitching prospect in the Tigers' minor league system but has fallen on hard times. The 25-year-old was beginning to turn things around last year but finished with a 3.58 ERA and spent a lot of time on the injured list, not once but twice, due to broken bones in his feet; both came after a comebacker hit him. He has shown an increase in velocity this spring, and I decided he had enough talent to gamble on.

 

28th round:

Michael Massey, 2B, Royals

I was eyeing Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon with this pick but Ray Murphy picked him right before me! Even so, I’m excited about this selection. Massey displayed more power in the second half, hitting 11 of his 15 homers after the All-Star break. While I don’t expect to have on my active roster often, he is an everyday player and could pay off if my starting second baseman, Gleyber Torres, misses any time this season.

 

29th round:

Victor Scott II, OF, Cardinals

I saved my favorite pick for my final pick. While I don’t expect Scott to make the Cardinals' Opening Day roster, he could play a big part for St. Louis and my team this summer. Scott stole 94 bases last year, and unlike some other speedy players, he smashed nine homers during his time in Double-A and Triple-A. Fingers crossed, I don’t have too many underperforming players, where I’d be tempted to drop him before he debuts.

 

Overall, I like the squad I put together. I have a solid floor of offensive players in Fernando Tatis Jr., Francisco Lindor, and Will Smith. I also sprinkled in some bounce back candidates in Trevor Story, Daulton Varsho, and Mitch Haniger. The top of my rotation isn’t as elite as some of my competitors but I’m hoping for a step forward from Bailey Ober and Bryce Miller. I have solid depth with Kenta Maeda, Dean Kremer, and Triston McKenzie that should give the strikeouts and wins I need to compete in most of the pitching categories. I feel really great about my closer combination of Devin Williams, Kenley Jansen, and James McArthur. With A.J. Minter waiting in the wings, I should be able to focus on other categories when working on weekly FAAB.