Tout Wars is not one league. It is a collection of five different leagues, including draft and head-to-head formats on top of the three traditional auction leagues. In addition, a new game was created in 2015 and continued this year – a once-per-week daily game, held each Friday at RTSports, which allows all of the Touts to compete directly.
Looking back, I have to admit that I did not give Tout Daily my all in 2015 as my time was spread thin and my personal commitment to daily was still developing. By 2016, however, I added this new game to my list of season-long fantasy baseball priorities. The ultimate goal was to win the finals, but to get there, one had to place in the top three of at least one of five different four-week competitions.
While I ultimately fell short, I had a fun journey getting there. I share some of my thoughts to perhaps encourage others reluctant to jump headfirst into the daily waters to try a hybrid approach like this one.
It was definitely a fun and interesting year. I got out of the blocks strongly in April, winning the first of five “Phases” against the initial 46 participants with a total of 233.66 points over the four weeks. That gave me my first finals ticket.
I let down in Phases 2 and 3, barely making the top 20. I knew I needed to take action, so to stay motivated for the remaining months, I set a secondary target to amass the most points over the course of the 20 weeks - even though those who set up the game do not believe that distinction is significant enough to earn a finals ticket. As you can tell, I really disagree. But that is another battle for another day.
In Phase 4, held in July, I rebounded to fifth place, setting up my Phase 5 rebirth. I finished third, second and fourth, respectively, in the first three of the four weeks, but just 11th in the final week of the final Phase. That was still more than enough, 18 points to be accurate, for me to handily take the Phase 5.
That made me the only competitor to win two of the five Phases, a fact that only I seemed to recognize. Since finals tickets were given to the top three performers each month, finishing in first means no more than finishing in third. It doesn’t seem right, but that’s the way it is.
That 11th place finish in the final week cost me my secondary goal of totaling the most points over the 20 weeks. On a base of 1060 points over the season, I finished second by a minuscule 1.03 points, to fast-finishing Todd Zola, my Mastersball partner. Lord Z had won Phase 4 and finished second to me in Phase 5. The other Phase winners were Patrick Davitt of BaseballHQ in Phase 2 and Tristan H. Cockcroft of ESPN in Phase 3.
The finals, a single-week competition held Friday, August 26, consisted of 15 entries, submitted by 12 Tout owners. Jeff Erickson of Rotowire was the third competitor with two finals tickets, joining me and Zola with multiple entries.
The pre-finals banter among my peers served as additional motivation. Zola’s fast finish drew him favored status from several of our industry peers, as it should, but my considerable success was barely noted.
My challenge with two tickets was to come up with an approach to win, of course. Before looking at the matchups, I thought I might lock in on a pair of pitchers and take separate hitting stacks in the two entries.
However, once I saw the starters, it seemed like Chris Sale was head and shoulders above everyone else. Yet, given his steep price of $9400, I was reluctant to handicap my offense in both entries. I settled upon one pitching-heavy entry and one pitching-light one.
Lineup #1 had Sale and Jeff Samardzija ($7300) while lineup #2 sported Mike Montgomery ($4900) and David Phelps ($4400). It was notable that Sale’s price was $100 more than my pair of Lineup #2 pitchers combined.
RTSports limits stacking to four players per MLB team per entry, so I had to choose wisely. For Lineup #1, I took Detroit, which was facing Ricky Nolasco. Lineup #2 featured a quartet of Toronto Blue Jays against a soft-tossing lefty from Minnesota named Pat Dean.
The Tigers only got to Nolasco, now of the Angels, for four runs in 6 1/3 innings. While I hit on Justin Upton, my choices of Victor Martinez and Ian Kinsler were eclipsed by Cameron Maybin and J.D. Martinez, two outfielders not among my starters.
The Jays predictably knocked out Dean after three innings and six runs crossed home and went on to score 15 against the Twinkies. Unfortunately, the three Toronto hitters who did the most damage were not in my lineups – Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak.
As a result, despite all the big planning, my highest scoring hitters of the evening were not part of the stacks. At just $2600, catcher Gary Sanchez was 58 percent owned, so it was not surprising that the Yankees rookie was the only player on both of my rosters. He scored 14 points Friday evening.
My other top scorer has been playing out of his mind, my choice for National League MVP, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant. Despite being red-hot coming in, Bryant was just seven percent owned. Perhaps highly-touted Julio Urias starting for the Dodgers against the Cubbies was a factor, though the rookie ended up going Saturday, with Bud Norris making the Friday start instead. Another factor may have been Bryant’s $6200 price tag, made possible in my lineup by the bargain pitching duo.
I never check on my results until after the early games are done, though I admit I wanted to a few times during the evening. I joined in the scoreboard– and game-watching during the late contests, and with the Cubs and Samardzija still active, hope remained. I finally threw in the towel when Addison Russell flied out to mid right in extra innings at Dodger Stadium. Even the golden voice of Vin Scully was not consoling at that point.
It was 1:32 a.m. on Saturday. Only because of Tout Daily was I still up watching a Major League Baseball contest in the middle of the night – and following every pitch!
As indicated above, my two rosters ultimately came in fourth and eighth, respectively. Lineup #1, powered by 37 points from Sale and Shark, fell just 5.66 points short of first. Lineup #2 still finished ahead of all four of the other dual entrants’ rosters.
If I couldn’t win, it was nice to see another Phase winner in Davitt end up on top. Congratulations to Patrick, the 2016 Tout Wars Daily Champion!
You can read more about the competition and the finals on the Tout Wars website as well as dig into the weekly results spreadsheet, but only if you are so inclined. If you have any questions about the rules or format, feel free to post them below. I had a lot of fun with this and hope you might consider something similar with your friends in 2017.
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.