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Friday 19th Jan 2018

In recent columns, I have expressed concern about the devaluation of FAAB, using National League Tout Wars to illustrate my points.

I do not intend for this to be an all-or-nothing discussion. It is not as if there aren’t going to be players to acquire. It is not as if I am not going to use my allocated cash in some misguided protest. I just do not feel that I am likely to get as many difference-makers as I might hope.

Some of this is due to my competitors wisely grabbing top prospects before they are called up to the major leagues. In fact, many were taken on draft day, either at auction or in reserve rounds.

Another way to make the same point is to note the dearth of solid players to purchase.

While we all probably know and understand the importance of spending early to get impact players, the reality is that does not often happen.

To illustrate that point, I combed through the weekly FAAB logs for NL Tout Wars for the last three full seasons, 2010-2012. I summarized the data by month, then averaged all three years into a single three-year period view. (The raw information is available through our excellent and highly-recommended stats provider, onRoto).

In a bit of explanation, Tout allows $0 bids. For that reason, I split those transactions off, listing them at the far right. I did no analysis here about those acquisitions other than to note them for completeness.

For those players costing $1 or more, I show the total FAAB spent across the (then 13-team) league, the number of players acquired and the average spent per player. (With the move of the Houston Astros to the American League, NL Tout dropped from 13 teams to 12 in 2013).

The full year total (and the monthly percentage of it spent) was a bit of a moving target. FAAB can be reclaimed in Tout for players moved to the 60-day disabled list – the full amount if prior to the All-Star Game and half afterward. For that reason, the total varied over time. The numbers here are based on year-end totals.

FAAB history – National League Tout Wars, 2010-2012

#Players Avg $ %Total #Players
2010-12 Spend Non-zero $ per player money Zero $
Mar/April $159 41 $4 12.3% 28
May $210 43 $5 16.3% 23
June $184 28 $6 14.3% 22
July $128 22 $6 10.0% 17
August $363 39 $9 28.3% 21
Sept/Oct $123 22 $5 9.5% 22
Total $1,167 196 $6 90.8% 133

Unused $118


NL Tout
#Players Avg $ %Total #Players
2012 Spend Non-zero $ per player money Zero $
April $173 41 4 12.7% 24
May $283 45 6 20.8% 16
June $187 33 6 13.8% 27
July $116 23 5 8.5% 21
August $327 38 9 24.1% 21
Sept/Oct $167 23 7 12.3% 33
Total $1,253 203 6 92.3% 142

Unused $105


NL Tout
#Players Avg $ %Total #Players
2011 Spend Non-zero $ per player money Zero $
Mar/April $171 49 3 13.7% 34
May $151 40 4 12.1% 28
June $220 23 10 17.6% 21
July $100 17 6 8.0% 18
August $409 38 11 32.7% 20
Sept/Oct $114 23 5 9.1% 20
Total $1,165 190 6 93.1% 141

Unused $86


NL Tout
#Players Avg $ %Total #Players
2010 Spend Non-zero $ per player money Zero $
Mar/April $132 34 4 10.6% 26
May $195 44 4 15.7% 25
June $145 29 5 11.6% 17
July $169 27 6 13.6% 12
August $354 40 9 28.4% 21
Sept/Oct $87 21 4 7.0% 14
Total $1,082 195 6 86.8% 115

Unused $164


A few observations.

Getting off to a fast start is the case in terms of raw numbers of players FAABed. 43 percent of all non-zero dollar players were purchased during April and May. However, less than 29 percent of the total FAAB was spent on them.

In June and July, the number of players acquired dropped down significantly to about 25 percent of the players bought with about 25 percent of the money.

The non-waiver and waiver trade deadlines lead to a handful of players changing leagues each year. As one might expect, August spending ramped up the most of any month - over 28 percent of full-year spend. The sheer number of players bought in August was about the same as April and May.

September numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Some owners, realizing they have cash with diminishing options upon which to spend it, spend anyway. The September spend total increased each year.

After all, it is better to get something rather than nothing. Yet, almost 10 percent of FAAB money over the last three NL Tout seasons went unused, roughly the same amount spent on average during the final month.

Of course, your league’s mileage may vary. Spending your money according to this formula would make no sense. Nor should you worry if you are spending faster than this historical distribution.

On the other hand, holding your cash for trade deadline players coming into your single-league format could be a risky proposition. I will have more on that next time.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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