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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

When I first joined the National League Tout Wars fantasy baseball league with a group of industry peers 10 years ago, I chose my place at the draft table carefully. Mike Lombardo wasn’t necessarily one of the biggest names in the business, but before he was done, he won three NL titles in four years, a record that still stands.

I decided I wanted to be like Mike, so naturally, I took the chair to his right. Much to my surprise, he sat down with a yellow pad with a list of players’ names written in pencil. That was pretty much it – or at least, all I could see.

Needless to say, I couldn’t replicate Mike’s success. My fortunes improved when I realized I could not beat another at his own game.

Another very successful industry player is Larry Schechter. The five-time Mixed and American League Tout Wars champion also has a draft table placement strategy, which he shares in his new book, “Winning Fantasy Baseball.”

Larry works to position himself next to the competitor with the first pick, traditionally granted to the defending winner, so he can make the second nomination. It was typical modesty from Larry. Since he wins more often than not, he is usually the one with the first throw.

This reminds me of my early days in the business world. I was a member of a group of young turks who all reported to a veteran executive. In our staff meetings, I noticed one of my peers always positioned himself at the right elbow of the boss.

The next week, I arrived early and sat in that chair – just to see what happened next. Even though half the table was empty, my rival moved in another chair to try to squeeze in between me and the big cheese.

Where am I going with this, you ask?

I am intrigued about how my Tout Wars peers may modify their behaviors based on Schechter’s book.

You don’t know if they have read it? Of course, they have. After all, Larry is the winningest fantasy player going. It is given that most industry folks already have their tried and true methods, but even so, how much time and effort will they expend looking for behavior changes in their peers?

As mentioned, I am in NL Tout, drafting Saturday morning. I can only imagine the table antics among Schechter and his 11 AL Tout mates on Sunday morning.

For example:

On draft day, will everyone jostle for seating position next to two-time defending champion Tristan H. Cockcroft in NL or Schechter himself in the AL?

Schechter preaches having a plan for every pick. From the bidding, there is information that can be gleaned about the dynamics of the draft one is in - assuming you are paying attention.

Will people only nominate players they want to buy?

The book advises the fantasy player to always nominate players you actually want – rather than just throw out names to burn money.

Will jump bids become extinct?

I have to agree with Larry that an uneven bidding approach is not going to throw experienced drafters off their game. The primary basis of his concern, however, is to avoid overpaying for any player, even by a dollar. Speaking of which…

Will everyone come to the table with player values calculated to decimal point level?

Schechter notes that unless one takes their projections to the decimal level, suboptimal bids could be made and precious dollars frittered away. After all, $16.5 and $17.4 would appear the same to most of us.

While I certainly agree from a mathematical perspective, I am not sure that I have that precise a level of confidence in my projections. At the other end of the spectrum, using broad categories such as tiers in an auction would likely be far too generic.

As in most things in this world, moderation may be the best answer.

I encourage those of you who have not read Larry’s book to do so. You will definitely find additional tools to incorporate into your game – but just remember, always be yourself.


Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 16-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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