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Friday 24th Mar 2017

Last time, I began a discussion about my shared strategy for drafting in both the 12-team National League-only LABR and Tout Wars leagues, with a focus on pitching. This is Part 2, in which I will cover the offenses.

At an initial glance, having only two pitchers in common across the two leagues would not suggest much of any consistency. Yet, I remained true to a basic approach across the two drafts while remaining flexible enough on individual players to seek out (relative) bargains.

I say “relative” because in industry leagues like these, the participants know very well the market value bandwidths of every player. Really, only when money is tight are there chances for what most would consider real bargains. Even then, and always, pricing is ultimately a matter of opinion.

Anyway, though Tout allows a swing player, a pitcher or hitter, instead of the fifth outfielder, I drafted a standard 14 hitter, nine pitcher roster. This time around, I ended up with five offensive players in common across my two teams, or 35 percent.

I will begin with the most important, Miami outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. A good summary of the lingering concerns from some about Stanton was published by the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo a few weeks ago, noting that some talent evaluators think the slugger’s nagging injuries in recent years are not going away.

Good. Maybe that scared a dollar or two off his price. I look at Stanton’s maladies the past few seasons and see fluke injuries that should not slow him down in 2016. I acknowledge there is some risk, but one must take chances to win leagues like these and I am all-in on Stanton in 2016.

While my LABR price of acquisition was $37, the head of LABR, USA TODAY’s Steve Gardner, bid Stanton up to $38 in Tout. Gardner explained later that he wanted to own the slugger in one industry league and tried to make it this one. As a result, I went up to $39 to win.

Another reason to snag Stanton is that Tout uses OBP instead of batting average in its 5x5 format. Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter is both his team’s best leadoff man and likely its top run producer as well, but he will again be at the top of the order this season. Carpenter’s OBP cost me an extra $4 in Tout ($25 to $29).

Speaking of St. Louis, the club’s first base situation was already cloudy between two left-handed hitters in Matt Adams and Brandon Moss. Now that right-handed hitting Matt Holliday is also working out there, the uncertainty increases.

My take is that Moss is more of a proven commodity than Adams and has the additional flexibility of being able to play a corner outfield position. With the high prices at first base across the board in both leagues, I saved money here, snagging Moss for $9 and $12.

I may like Atlanta’s leadoff man Ender Inciarte better than most. I get that the centerfielder plays on a bad team, but I like the possibility of his club trying to manufacture runs and the resultant stolen base potential. I rostered him at $18 both times.

One of my hopes coming in was to avoid the dregs of the NL outfield pool. As cash got tight, I ended up having to acquire one such player in each league. It looks like I have a hit with Cincinnati’s Scott Schebler for $1 in LABR, but I lost out in Tout as my $3 Rymer Liriano suffered severe facial injuries when hit by a pitch a few days after the draft.

My final common player across my two industry league squads is Andrew Susac of San Francisco. In LABR, catching went for premium prices and with the defending champion Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus taking four top backstops (remember that swing spot), I chose to stay out of the fray.

I suspect that Susac ($1 in LABR, $2 in Tout) will see more at-bats than the average backstop since he plays behind Buster Posey. As we have seen, Posey is given a regular turn at first base by the Giants.

The only problem with my plan is that Susac’s spring injuries lingered long enough that the club decided to send him to Triple-A for every-day play. Until he is back, I have a catching hole to fill in each league.

So, that is it. My song did remain pretty much the same as it was in LABR, though I feel I was better able to execute my plan in Tout. Of course, time will tell.

Click on the highlighted link to see the full results of the Tout drafts, which are all on one spreadsheet. Just click on the tabs to toggle among the various format leagues. The NL LABR draft results can be viewed here.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 17-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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