Thanks to a pair of rocky pitching performances by Gio Gonzalez and Cole Hamels on the final day of the season, my 2017 Mixed Auction Tout Wars squad, which seemed destined to finish in second place, barely hung onto third. It was a disappointing ending to what was on the whole a successful season, my fourth straight top-4 finish, including last year's championship run. And hey, it's not like first place was up for grabs.
Jeff Zimmerman pretty much clinched the title by early-July. Looking back, there are some decisions that I regret, but a lot went right. My draft was strong and my newfound willingness to make significant trades to shake up my roster had an overall positive effect. When Aroldis Chapman got injured and Francisco Rodriguez lost his closer job, I decisively made the uncomfortable decision to punt saves, waiting for Chapman to return before swapping him along with Justin Upton for Charlie Blackmon and Jonathan Villar. Although the Villar experiment turned out to be a disaster, the complete trade netted me 2.5 points in the final standings. Yes, I did figure this out, purely out of curiosity.
Anyway, before I stop analyzing my Tout Wars season (or at least try to stop analyzing it), here are the highlights.
Best auction purchase: Marcell Ozuna ($10)
Was Ozuna on my draft day target list? Yes. Did I expect him to post career-best numbers in 2017? Yes. But I was thinking more like 28 homers, 90 RBIs and a .330 OBP, not 37 homers, 124 RBIs and a .376 OBP. Now that's ten bucks well spent. Keep in mind that Ozuna is still just 26, so there's room for further improvement. Scary indeed. Mike Moustakas ($8) deserves an honorable mention here. Like Ozuna, Moustakas far exceeded even my own optimistic projections.
Worst auction purchase: Kevin Gausman ($9)
By now, it's hard to believe that of all my buys on that Saturday in late-March, the Gausman purchase received the most positive feedback on Twitter. But this "steal of the draft" turned out to be a season-long headache, getting roughed up on a regular basis while sprinkling in a few dominant outings just to tease his fantasy owners. To add to the misery, my prognostication accuracy when it came to Gausman was poor. The Orioles righty registered a 6.29 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP in 15 starts while in my active lineup compared to his overall 4.68 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 34 starts this season. Maybe Gausman will bounce back in 2018, but I'm done with him. And let's not forget about Matt Moore, whom I discussed in last week's column. What a waste of five dollars that was.
Best FAAB addition: Jhoulys Chacin ($18)
Chacin's extreme home/road splits made life easy when deciding whether or not to start him in any given week. I mostly followed the splits, pitching him almost exclusively at home after acquiring the Padres righty in mid-July and was rewarded with five wins, a 2.48 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP across 10 starts. A free agent this winter, Chacin would be wise to remain in San Diego.
Worst FAAB addition: Joaquin Benoit ($53)
Ah, the fun of chasing saves. Before the Chapman injury and the K-Rod demotion, I was doing all I could on the FAAB front to stumble upon a third closer. Nothing paid off. Between Benoit and Jason Grilli ($52), I got one save in exchange for more than one-tenth of my total FAAB budget. Perhaps punting saves is the way to go.
Best trade: Nomar Mazara for Elvis Andrus
Frustrated by Tim Anderson's struggles, I needed a new starting shortstop, preferably a shortstop with speed. It was early-June and Elvis Andrus had already swiped 14 bags. I could afford to deal some homers and RBIs and Mazara, with six home runs and 35 RBIs, seemed like a solid sell-high candidate. Strangely enough, Andrus would record only 11 steals in nearly four months on my roster but would hit just one fewer home run than Mazara and trail him by only 10 RBIs. In the runs scored department, Andrus topped his real-life teammate by a healthy margin. From an overall value standpoint, this trade was a win.
Worst trade: Jonathan Schoop for D.J. LeMahieu
While LeMahieu was productive for my team, I sure wish I could have this one back. At the time, in late-May, figuring that I was selling Schoop at peak value before his lack of plate discipline would lead to a prolonged cold spell, LeMahieu seemed like a great return. What followed was a three-month stretch from the beginning of June through the end of August during which Schoop launched 23 homers while tallying 76 RBIs and getting on base at well over a .360 clip. If I had not been so quick to ship off Schoop, I would have easily finished in second place.
But even more importantly, Schoop's name would have appeared in a different section of this article. At three bucks, the Orioles second baseman would have been my best auction purchase.
Zach Steinhorn is the 2016 Mixed Auction Tout Wars champion. Follow him on Twitter @ZachMLB