Winning is Everything!

Wins are not, says Nick Minnix, in a story at Fangraphs today. He’s talking about pitchers’ wins, of course, a stat that some would say is ridiculously random, while others might say its imperfection accentuates its beauty.

Nick is clearly not sure where he stands along a spectrum that perhaps begins with cumulative Game Score, features PQS and W+Quality Starts and ends up with naked Wins alone. He is properly ruminative about this delicate question, which can provoke some fire. I suggested doing away with the Wins category at nearly 20 years ago and my ears still ring with the dismissive, “The game is all about winning, stupid.”

Some of the commenters about Nick’s story suggest Innings Pitched as a proxy for wins, but I think that’s barking up the wrong category. Innings pitched is a fine substitute for Strikeouts, an ability that often enough has little to do with winning or pitching effectively. A pitcher who puts up the innings is doing some important part of the job, no matter the outcomes.

A pitcher who wins, however, is likely on a decent team AND is getting the job done. He may be Masahiro Tanaka, throwing lots of strikeouts and leading the majors in wins, or he may be Mark Buehrle, who is hardly striking out anyone, and nearly matching Tanaka W for W. Or he could be the antichrist spawn of the two, the master of the unlucky, like Jeff Samardzija, striking them out but crippled by his dismal team, winning but twice thus far in 90+ innings pitched.

Nick throws down a challenge to Tout Wars to wise up and replace the Win category with something, anything, better.

We’ll see. Tout never shys from innovation, but the question here is whether there is a replacement that reflects the vagaries of the game and doesn’t simply mirror the gradations of the qualitative stats, ERA and WHIP. There is something to giving a pitcher extra credit for playing on a good team, or overcoming a bad one.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Gregory Polanco’s Promotion *and weren’t afraid to ask

By Peter Kreutzer,

For weeks there has been a lot of chatter about the Pirates uberprospect, Gregory Polanco.

When would he be called up? Why isn’t he being called up? How can a struggling team choose to save money rather than bring up their best prospect? Plus, WHEN WILL HE BE CALLED UP!?!? Dammit.

And then, just as sudden as can be, when the Pirates second baseman suffered an appendicitis on Monday, the world knew. Polanco was coming!

Screenshot 2014-06-11 15.38.28

Pirates fans rejoiced, baseball fans were excited, and fantasy baseball players who had taken Polanco on reserve got giddy. One of those was ESPN’s Tristan Cockcroft, Polanco’s owner in Tout Wars NL. Continue reading “Everything You Wanted to Know About Gregory Polanco’s Promotion *and weren’t afraid to ask”

Tout Notes: The Sherpa and a Madman

Brian Walton weighs in on the Tout Wars rules regarding FAAB, and how Scott Swanay’s draft day adventure puts them in a different light.

Follow Zach Steinhorn’s thoughts about this Tout Wars Mixed Auction team, closers, Vickery, injuries and more, as they unfold!

Swanay Song: Does Lawr Hear a Melody?

Lawr Michaels ventures into dangerous territory, giving Scott Swanay advice how to handle the FAAB he gained by cashing out Brandon Beachy.

His advice is here.

Scott cannot actually redeem the extra dough until after this weekends claims, with the money being added on April 13. That shouldn’t change much.

Here at team Tout Wars we’re rooting for Scott to find a path to, well, if not victory, respectability. Go Scott.

OBP versus BA: What does it mean?

Of the 633 players who had at bats last year (not counting pitchers):

Five earned $10 or more under OBP rules than Batting Average.

33 earned $5 or more under OBP rules than BA.

On the negative side, 28 lost $5 or more under OBP rules than BA.

Clearly, values are going to shift, especially for the hitters with especially high and low walk rates, but they will also much better reflect a hitter’s very real baseball skills. That is, his ability to take a walk is a reason hitters like Dan Uggla and Josh Willingham received as many at bats last year as they did. By getting on base a fair amount, they continued to have value even when they weren’t hitting very successfully. It is this aspect of the game that makes OBP a more valuable category than BA.

For the complete list in a spreadsheet visit



Say Hello to On Base Percentage, Part 2.

While we’re putting the final touches on the 2014 Tout Wars league rosters, we wanted to make one significant announcement regarding the league rules. This year all four Tout Wars leagues will use On Base Percentage (instead of Batting Average) in their 5×5 scoring.

Last year’s experiment with OBP in the Tout Wars Mixed Draft and Tout Wars Mixed Auction leagues was a success. The patients survived, for one, and more importantly the owners in those two leagues adjusted without any obvious difficulty.

Expansion into the only leagues involves one further bit of business. The change means that Tout Wars will no longer be quite as good a draft price guideline as it was for leagues that use batting average. It was this issue that caused us to wait a year, and it was this issue that was forefront in our discussions this year about making the change. An online poll we ran in December, however, helped guide us to a decision.

Half the respondents who hadn’t played OBP thought we should make the change. And the vast majority of those who have played with OBP thought we should make the change.

We know the transition will be uncomfortable for some, but we feel strongly that having bases on balls count for hitters (as they count against pitchers in WHIP) is a very positive step in the evolution of fantasy baseball. We hope that our making the change now will make it easier for leagues that want to modernize their categories to make the jump sooner rather than later.

Tout poohbahs Ron, Lawr, Jeff and Peter all play in the XFL, a mixed keeper league that adopted OBP in 2003. We all feel that the tires have been kicked, any wrinkles have been pressed, and OBP is the stronger way to play.  And just as we did when we adopted 5×5 rather than the still (back then) prevalent 4×4, we hope you’ll come along if it makes sense for your league. As support service providers we’ll be including OBP in our materials this year, and we think you’ll start to see 5×5 (OBP) pricing become more common immediately and going forward.

Have a happy new year, and please welcome OBP!

Tout Wars

How To Handle a Zombie: What do you do when a fantasy owner stops managing his team during the season?

By Mike Podhorzer

zombiebaseballcards2Though there is no money on the line in professional expert leagues such as Tout Wars, pride, reputation and bragging rights are significant motivating factors. In fact, some might argue that it is more gratifying to beat the best of the best in a fantasy baseball league than winning your local league and taking home a $2,500 prize. I would tend to agree with this. Given this assumption, one would expect that the industry vets lucky enough to be invited to participate in a prestigious league like Tout Wars would be active all season long. Unfortunately, in the inaugural Tout Wars mixed draft league, one owner has left his team for dead. Aside from leaving three injured players on his active roster for several weeks, this owner has not made a transaction of any kind (FAAB or activate/reserve) since the end of April. Quite honestly, this shocks me. While this type of behavior happens all the time in more casual leagues, I cannot comprehend why an owner who is well known in the fantasy industry would completely abandon his team just a month into the season.

A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing my competitors’ teams searching for trade opportunities when I noticed this owner’s team starting those aforementioned injured players. At first, I thought, okay maybe it’s just been a week and there were some extenuating circumstances that caused this owner to leave the trio of disabled players in his lineup. So I decided to then check out his year to date transactions, and that’s when I realized that he hasn’t been playing since the end of April. I immediately notified commissioner Peter Kreutzer explaining the situation. I have been the commissioner of my own local league for over 10 years and so have unfortunately had experience dealing with this issue. The question that now arises is whether we should just leave the team as is or develop some sort of system to ensure the dead team has a healthy lineup each week.

Of course, the downside of leaving the team the way it currently stands is that the other fantasy teams now have an opportunity to gain free and easy points in the standings in the counting stat categories. It is rare that a team will make it through the season without multiple injuries. Without any replacements being added, the dead owner’s team is going to be taking zeroes in several lineup slots, killing his chances of accumulating the various stats and competing with other teams. Furthermore, the players on this owner’s team are essentially eliminated from the player pool. Want to trade for an underperforming Jason Heyward or Matt Cain (examples)? Tough luck, he’s on the dead team.

So given the undesirable side effects caused by leaving a dead team’s roster alone, I developed a system that I have used a couple of times in my local league, which I described to Peter. The goal of the system is simply to ensure the team has a fully healthy active roster each week, with no concern being paid to the actual quality of the players. These are the steps that I follow:

1) Check for any injured players currently on an active roster; contact owner for an explanation and if no response, consider the team dead.

2) If the team has a replacement for the injured player on his bench, activate that player. If he has more than one option, activate the player started in the highest percentage of leagues. If the start percentage rate isn’t available, then activate the player currently ranked highest by either the site’s ranking system or another agreed upon ranking system or the player performing best season to date based on a subjective determination. The goal here is to makes the best attempt to mirror what the owner would do if he was actually paying attention.

3) If no replacement is found on the dead team’s bench, then a free agent must be acquired. After the FAAB process has run as normal, then depending on which data is available on the league site, add the player with the highest ownership percentage or with the highest season to date ranking at the position needed. Since this process is done after FAAB has run, there is no worry about other owners also bidding on the same player as the dead team. So the replacement gets added to the dead team for $0 and no one can complain since they were not outbid for the player.

While there is clearly no perfect method to handle this situation, I think the process I described above is the fairest and certainly a better way to maintain the integrity of the league than allowing a team to field multiple injured players and dramatically affect the standings. Unfortunately, Peter advised me of the following:

“The LLC consensus is that it is inappropriate to take action, that the remedy for a player who doesn’t play is to not be invited the next year and to let his team float for this year. We do have a precedent for this.”

I obviously disagree with the decision, but would love to hear your thoughts on handling an inactive team in this type of league.