D.J. Short

Draft Strategy

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Tout Wars Mixed Draft Recap

Sunday, March 11, 2018

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I participated in the annual Tout Wars mixed league draft last Tuesday. For those unfamiliar, this is a 15-team 5x5 league, with on-base percentage instead of batting average. This is my second year in the league, which features a bunch of notable names in the fantasy sports industry. After getting off to a strong start last year, I finished in sixth place. It was a respectable enough showing for my rookie year and I’m hoping to take some lessons into 2018.  

Before getting to my picks, here’s a list of the other participants and their affiliations.

Rudy Gamble - Razzball
Ray Murphy - Baseball HQ
Tim McCullough - Roto Experts
Greg Ambrosius - NFBC/Stats Inc.
Perry Van Hook - Mastersball
Tom Kessenich - SportsHub Technologies
Jeff Boggis - Fantasy Football Empire
Gene McCaffery -
Michael Beller - Sports Illustrated
Adam Ronis - Scout Fantasy Sports
Charlie Wiegert - CDM Sports
Scott White - CBS Sports
Anthony Perri -
Corey Parson - Sports Illustrated

We were allowed to pick our draft positions this year based on where we finished last season. I opted to go toward the end of the first round (13th, to be exact) rather than select somewhere around the middle of the first. I didn’t see a ton of separation after the first couple of players, so I wanted to land one of the top-four starting pitchers before securing a high OBP bat on the way back. I also liked the idea of having my picks fairly close together, allowing me to strategize during lengthy breaks.

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You can see the full Tout Wars mixed league draft board here, but below are my picks with commentary:

1st round: Corey Kluber SP, Indians

I was expecting more pitchers to go in the middle of the first round. Clayton Kershaw was selected ninth overall, but I still had a choice of Kluber, Chris Sale, and Max Scherzer. It was a nice problem to have. I view them all very closely and would have taken any of them depending on how things unfolded, but I ranked Kluber as my No. 2 starter (behind Kershaw) for the Rotoworld Draft Guide, so I was happy to get him here.

2nd round: Freddie Freeman 1B/3B, Braves

I was bummed to not have Votto on my team for a second straight year, but Freeman is a pretty good fallback, especially in this format. He owns a .401 on-base percentage over the past two seasons. Only Votto, Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, and Jose Altuve have topped him in that time. It also helps that Freeman is multi-position eligible.  

3rd round: Anthony Rendon 3B, Nationals

I made the mistake of focusing too much on OBP in last year’s draft, but I still think it’s a good idea to build a strong foundation on that end. Rendon qualifies. He displayed the best approach of his career last season while posting career-highs in home runs and RBI. He had a .403 on-base percentage and was one of just five hitters with more walks than strikeouts. Another strong building block in this format.

4th round: Marcell Ozuna OF, Cardinals

After missing out on well-rounded outfield targets like Christian Yelich and Andrew Benintendi, I decided to secure a middle-of-the-order power bat. I expect Ozuna’s numbers to drop off somewhat this year — it’s unfair to expect anyone to repeat 124 RBI and a .355 BABIP — but he should still be a strong OF1 in most formats.  


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5th round: Xander Bogaerts SS, Red Sox

I get the lack of enthusiasm on Bogaerts, but keep in mind that he dealt with a hand injury during the second half last year. The 25-year-old is still in a great situation, so I’m expecting a bounceback if healthy. There’s definitely a handful of shortstops I like better, but I have a lot of questions about the names who were drafted after him here.

6th round: Ozzie Albies 2B, Braves

This might look a little early for Albies, but my favorite second base options were beginning to fall and I needed to secure some speed in my lineup. Albies should provide that, as he’s swiped as many as 30 bases in a season in the minors. He went 8-for-9 in stolen base attempts over 57 games with the Braves last season while putting up a .286/.354/.456 batting line. Pretty impressive for someone in their age-20 season.

7th round: Edwin Diaz RP, Mariners

I wanted a big strikeout closer, so Diaz was the best option left standing. He wasn’t quite as good last year as he was in 2016 — and even lost his closer job for a bit — but he still struck out 89 batters in 66 innings. If he can get the walks back down, he could be a great value here.

8th round: Luis Castillo SP, Reds

Yes, I’m buying into the hype. Perhaps I should have secured more of a sure thing, but I love what Castillo did as a rookie last year and I’m excited to see what he can do in a full season. Innings shouldn’t be an issue for him. I ranked him as my No. 21 starting pitcher in our staff rankings for the Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide, so he fits the bill as a potential No. 2 fantasy starter.

9th round: Manuel Margot OF, Padres

This is another pick where I’m leaning into the hype. Margot showed some nice across-the-board potential last season, but I’m banking on further growth in a hopefully-improved Padres lineup. Even if he doesn’t progress as much as I’d like, he can help me with steals. So there’s a safe floor here, at least.

10th round: Lance McCullers SP, Astros

I was underwhelmed by the starters available at this time (Alex Wood, Tanner Roark, Jeff Samardzija), so I went with McCullers after seeing Rich Hill selected two spots earlier. There’s a lot of risk here given his injury history, but I’ll sign up for his upside even if I get 150 innings.

11th round: Jeurys Familia RP, Mets

I didn’t feel great about this one, but second-tier closers were starting to come off the board around this time. For what it’s worth, this pick was made prior to Familia’s disastrous showing in Thursday’s Grapefruit League game. Hopefully it’s not a sign of things to come. A.J. Ramos looms as an experienced alternative if Familia struggles out of the gate.

12th round: Greg Bird 1B, Yankees

The first of back-to-back Yankees, Bird finished strong after returning from his ankle injury last season. He packs power and patience, a good combination in this lineup and home stadium. Here’s hoping he distributes a lot of souvenirs with the short porch in right field.  

13th round: Aaron Hicks OF, Yankees

The Yankees are making Jacoby Ellsbury an expensive fifth outfielder in order to give Hicks a chance as their primary center fielder. Hicks had a nice little breakout last year and offers a useful blend of pop, speed, and patience. His value could get a nice boost if he bats leadoff against left-handed starters.

14th round: Salvador Perez C, Royals

Perez isn’t great in this format, as he’s the owner of a .301 career on-base percentage, but I wanted the steady power from the catcher position. Perez has amassed at least 21 homers and 64 RBI over the last three seasons. He reached career-highs with 27 homers and 80 RBI last year. After securing Freeman and Rendon earlier, I have a little bit of a cushion to work with here.

15th round: Michael Conforto OF, Mets

I wasn’t crazy about the outfielders during this stage of the draft, with names like Mitch Haniger, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Shin-Soo Choo (granted, high OBP) among them, so gambling on Conforto felt right. The Mets continue to aim for a May 1 return from his shoulder surgery, but he’s already taken batting practice on the field. Who knows how his production might be impacted by the surgery, but this could be a great value if he’s anywhere close to what he was last year. And if he isn’t, I didn’t invest a crazy high pick to find out.

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D.J. Short is a Rotoworld senior baseball writer and hosts the Rotoworld Baseball Podcast. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.
Email :D.J. Short

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