With the 2019 MLB regular season behind us, it’s time to take a look back at my Tout Wars Mixed Draft squad for this year. The last time I checked in was back in mid-May, when I cashed in on Cody Bellinger’s hot start by swapping him for Jacob deGrom. Corey Kluber went down earlier in the month with a fractured ulna bone, so there was a clear need for a staff ace if I was going to make a legitimate run. I was in fourth place at the time, doing well in the hitting categories but playing catch-up in most of the pitching categories. Unfortunately, that’s as close as I would get to the top.
After finishing in sixth place in my first year in 2017 and in fifth place in 2018, I had another fifth-place finish this year. Ray Murphy of Baseball HQ finally unseated back-to-back champ Rudy Gamble of Razzball to take the title. Congratulations to him on a great year. Fellow Rotoworld contributor Seth Trachtman finished in third place. The full standings can be found at the conclusion of this article.
This column is essentially a breakdown of my process from draft day to the completion of the season. Hopefully it’s a useful exercise and provides a roadmap to climb the standings next year.
A reminder, this is a 15-team 5x5 league, with two catchers and on-base percentage instead of batting average.
To provide some context, here’s what my team looked like coming out of our draft in March:
1st round: Christian Yelich OF, Brewers
2nd round: Corey Kluber SP, Indians
3rd round: Cody Bellinger 1B/OF, Dodgers
4th round: J.T. Realmuto C, Phillies
5th round: Gleyber Torres 2B/SS, Yankees
6th round: Zack Wheeler SP, Mets
7th round: Felipe Vazquez RP, Pirates
8th round: Mallex Smith OF, Rays
9th round: Miguel Andujar 3B, Yankees
10th round: Chris Archer SP, Pirates
11th round: Adam Eaton OF, Nationals
12th round: Paul DeJong SS, Cardinals
13th round: Alex Colome RP, White Sox
14th round: Luke Voit 1B, Yankees
15th round: Ross Stripling SP/RP, Dodgers
16th round: Marwin Gonzalez INF/OF, Twins
17th round: Steven Souza OF, Rays
18th round: Steven Matz SP, Mets
19th round: Trevor May RP, Twins
20th round: Jorge Soler OF, Royals
21st round: Franchy Cordero OF, Padres
22nd round: Trevor Cahill SP, Angels
23rd round: Chris Iannetta C, Rockies
24th round: Wilmer Flores 1B, Diamondbacks
25th round: Trevor Richards SP, Marlins
26th round: Brad Keller SP, Royals
27th round: Diego Castillo RP/SP, Rays
28th round: Yandy Diaz 3B, Rays
29th round: Nick Kingham SP/RP, Pirates
Best bargain pick: Jorge Soler (AL-leading 48 homers, 117 RBI, .922 OPS)
Honorable mention: Yandy Diaz was looking like a great value before he got hurt, finally adding some power to the mix. Unfortunately, he only ended up playing in 79 games due to the fracture in his foot.
Biggest bust pick(s): Corey Kluber (5.80 ERA in seven starts, missed rest of season with fractured ulna/oblique strain), Chris Archer (5.19 ERA in 23 starts before going down with shoulder injury), Mallex Smith (didn’t bring much to the table other than the stolen bases)
I was obviously in great shape early on with Yelich and Bellinger leading my offense. It gave me a nice boost in the standings as I tried to ride out some struggles from my starting pitchers. My biggest regret is that I gave too many starts to guys like Richards and Keller. And while I had Jordan Lyles at various times during the season, I didn’t get his best starts. Kluber, Wheeler, and Archer all started the year slow and Stripling didn’t end up making as many starts as I expected he would. I mean, who saw Hyun-Jin Ryu making it through an entire season healthy? All these factors conspired against me.
The deGrom trade worked out great for the most part, as he posted a 2.18 ERA and 191/30 K/BB ratio in 157 innings over 24 starts as part of my squad. Bellinger was just fine during the same timespan, batting .269/.378/.579 with 33 homers, 77 RBI, eight steals, and 84 runs scored over his final 115 games.
So, yes, I did give up a big bat for pitching help. It was a win-win deal in a vacuum, but I struggled to fill the void with run producers in my lineup, even in a ridiculous year for home runs.
Looking back at the weekly FAAB bidding — there was a $1,000 budget, with refunds for injured players — there was certainly opportunity on the pitching side over the first few weeks of the season, as names like Lucas Giolito, Caleb Smith, Dakota Hudson, Mike Soroka, and Zac Gallen were all scooped up. I’m not sure why I wasn’t more aggressive on Soroka, at the very least. I was just too stubborn with some of the starting pitchers I drafted and it ultimately sunk my season.
With Miguel Andujar sidelined, Gio Urshela simply snuck through my fingers as a possible replacement at third base. I just didn’t believe the early production we saw. He might have been the best value in a week of bidding which also saw Austin Riley, Oscar Mercado, Brendan Rodgers, Nicky Lopez, Scott Kingery, and Willie Calhoun come off the board. I was at least able to get Mercado that week. One of my biggest FAAB regrets was letting go of J.D. Davis go after just one week on my roster in early June, as he was a monster during the second half.
Lucas Giolito to Michael Beller for 37 on March 31, Mike Soroka to Tim McCullough for 52 on April 21, and Yordan Alvarez to Tim McLoed for 51 on May 5 stand out as the best waiver pickups of the year. Of course, one player doesn’t win a season for you.
1B - Luke Voit
2B - Gleyber Torres
SS - Paul DeJong
3B - Todd Frazier (waiver pickup)
OF - Adam Eaton, Jorge Soler, Josh Reddick (trade), Oscar Mercado (waiver pickup), Ben Zobrist (waiver pickup)
C - J.T. Realmuto, James McCann (waiver pickup)
UTIL - Nick Solak (waiver pickup)
CI - Wilmer Flores
MI - Howie Kendrick (waiver pickup)
Final takeaways: The deficiencies on the pitching side are obvious, but I was also too slow to react to the crazy offensive environment we saw this year. It feels weird to say when I had Yelich, Soler, Torres, and DeJong hit 130 homers combined, but there were too many other holes in the lineup which were occupied by players who weren’t driving in runs. Mallex Smith and Josh Reddick stand out the most, but the corner-infield spots were also inadequate relative to the environment.