Down to the Wire: Tout National League Pennant Race

Tristan Cockcroft has been leading a persistent pack of contenders all season long, and his team has been the best Tout NL team all September, so it’s going to take a bad hiccup for him not to repeat his 2012 Tout Wars title. That said, he’s vulnerable to losing a few points total in Runs and HR, but could also gain a couple in RBI. With a six point lead he’s vulnerable to collapse, not so much to someone catching him.

Todd Zola’s offense has spluttered in September, but he’s had the fourth best team this month. He has to get hot to get past 80 points, but he has quite a few places to gain (and lose), and then hope that Tristan falls to him.

Mike Gianella is tied with Todd at this moment. He explains his situation:

What has to go right for you to win?

On September 1, I was four points behind Tristan Cockcroft with a number of categorical indicators pointed in the right direction. If you had asked me this question then, I would have given a shorter answer that would have had more confidence behind it.

As I write this on September 19, circumstances have changed to the point where I need almost everything to go right…and a little bit to go wrong on Tristan’s side to pull this off. I’ll need a big push in two of three categories (batting average, wins, saves) to get to a place where I could beat Tristan with a little help. I could try to use my swingman spot to add a seventh starter, but need runs to try to pass Steve Gardner. Additionally, the starting pitchers that are available stink; adding a garbage time pitcher to chase a win seems like a waste of time at best.

What could go wrong that would cause you to lose?

The “could go wrong” part already happened. The last two and half weeks haven’t been kind to me on the pitching side, with a mere five wins instead of the 8-10 I was expecting when I traded for pitching and started rolling six starters out there. Granted, my 4.37 ERA this month is the worst in the league, but some of that was concentrated in two bad starts from Tyson Ross and Patrick Corbin. Two more wins would not only be good for another point, but would put me in realistic hailing distance of two other teams in wins.

Now, any setback is the “could go wrong” that will cause me to lose. If Tristan’s offense continues to pound the ball, I lose (I can’t win without his team slumping or the teams behind him picking up the pace). If I don’t score runs or hit for a .300+ batting average, I lose. I need to either run the table in wins or have all three of my relievers each get 3-4 saves the rest of the way while the teams ahead of me don’t.

None of this is impossible. In fact, the trades I made in late August positioned my team to do exactly what I’m describing. But they haven’t done it for the first 18 days of September, so my team not only has to do what I thought they would do this month but they have to exceed expectations. The law of averages says that they could exceed expectations, but this is what’s known as the gambler’s fallacy. Maybe my team will exceed its baseline level of performance during the last 11 days of the regular season, but it’s not more likely simply because they performed poorly over the first half of this month.

Steve Gardner is in the thick of it, too, though he hasn’t had a strong September. He is locked in most of the hitting categories, but could pass Lenny Melnick in BA for a gain of one, and has WHIP and Strikeout points to potentially add.

Phil Hertz was in the thick of it until recently, but his September has been a disaster. He explains:

I’m assuming I’m out of it so I’ll address what went wrong.  On August 31, I was in second; two points out.  Since then, I’ve lost (or continued to lose) for significant amounts of playing time Starling Marte, Yonder Alonso, Dominic Brown, and Dexter Fowler.  The remaining players have hit approximately .185 this month – that is not an exaggeration.  The only players contributing significantly this month have been LeMahieu who is hitting .350, albeit without much else, and Bogusevic, who has 3 homers.  I believe I have 7 homers so far this month.  The net: I’ve lost 10 hitting points.  While I’d like to think there’s something I could have done about it, in a league with such a deep player pool penetration, there’s not much I can do except have a couple of more drinks at night.

Down to the Wire: The Tout Wars AL Pennant Race

Joe Sheehan, down many points but with a glint of hope, wrote:

What has to go right for you to win?

 I have to, at minimum, steal points from Larry where I’m directly behind him — WHIP (I trail by .012) and runs (I trail by 19). That means getting a couple of starts from Felix Hernandez, it means maximizing playing time that last week. Honestly, I need Larry to have another bad week, and there aren’t that many places for him to lose points with a week to go.

 What could go wrong that would cause you to lose?

 Lack of save opportunities. I can make up ground if Frieri, Balfour and Rivera can finish big.

Larry Schechter wasn’t taking anything for granted:

As I write this, I’m ahead by 12 points with 11 days to go. Not much has to go right for me to win, I just need to avoid an epic collapse. It’s not over, because Joe Sheehan (and possibly even Wolf/Colton) theoretically could win. There are enough points they can gain, and I can lose, in the various categories, that it could happen. But it’s highly unlikely, almost everything would have to be great for one of them and everything awful for me, in almost every category, for the last 11 days.

But being a Red Sox fan, and having watched their collapse two September’s ago, I’m not celebrating anything yet.

Doubt Wars NL! You liked them!


Top 10 11 Most Coveted Tout Wars Buys

Kyle Lohse ($3): He signed with the Brewers the day after the Tout Wars draft, explaining his low price. He could have gone to the AL and would have been lost. Sixteen Doubt Warriors pounced, once the uncertainty passed. GOOD BUY

Julio Teheran ($9): Ten Doubt Warriors decided that Teheran would take the next step forward, and he did. HIT

Chris Nelson ($4): Ten teams didn’t discount Nelson’s strong BABIP in 2012, and suffered when the cheap infielder failed to repeat. BUST

Matt Harvey ($13): He didn’t have to break out the way he did, but for the first four months of the season he was the best pitcher in the NL, and nine Doubt Warriors had him on their team. HIT

Adam LaRoche ($18): Tout Warriors figured on some regression from LaRoche’s career year in 2012, and nine Doubters figured they’d gone to far. In fact, they hadn’t gone far enough. BUST

Devin Mesoraco ($5): A cheap catcher with upside is irresistible, for eight Doubt Warriors at least. Mesoraco improved on his 2012, but not enough to really help. MEH.

Yasmani Grandal ($3): Beginning the year on the suspended list earns a discount, and seven Doubters saw Grandal as a cheap catcher play. What they got was cheapness, but not much else before he broke down for the year. Too cheap to bust, but decidedly MEH.

Shelby Miller ($7): Seven Doubt Warriors pounced on Miller, who was a prime starting breakout pitcher at a fair price. He didn’t disappoint in the first half, but hasn’t maintained the same level in the second, but has still been a solid choice. HIT

Trevor Rosenthal ($3): Seven teams made Rosenthal a lottery ticket to close in St. Louis. He’s been a solid setup guy, though surprisingly hittable. MEH.

Jedd Gyorko ($13): The power wasn’t a surprise, but neither were the struggles with the BA. He’s had a promising rookie year, but didn’t earn his seven Doubt owners any profits. MEH

Donovan Solano ($3): Another cheap middle infield play, seven Doubt teams chose Solano, who was getting started but got hurt and lost his job for a time. MEH

Doubt Wars Mixed! Looking backward.


Top 10 12 Most Coveted Tout Wars Mixed Buys

Josh Johnson ($9): Thirteen teams jumped on the Josh Johnson bandwagon for less than a dime, and paid the price. BUST

Salvador Perez ($11): Thirteen teams thought Salvador Perez would beat expectations, but he has slowly risen to meet them. MEH

Ernesto Frieri ($8): Theoretically supplanted out of spring training, nine teams saw in Frieri’s low price and Madson’s fragility the makings of a bargain. Instead they got par support and a little agita. MEH

Julio Teheran ($6): Nine teams said the Tout Price was too low, and have been rewarded solidly by Teheran’s emergence. HIT

Casey Janssen ($7): More closer indecision led to eight teams jumping on Janssen, and scoring big for less. HIT

Jon Lester ($13): Eight teams had a feeling about Lester, call it an itch they weren’t able to scratch. MEH

Emilio Bonifacio ($7): Any of the eight teams in mixed leagues that snatched up this bargain-priced Bonifacio would have bailed long ago, though since his trade to Kansas City he’s run as was hoped and is starting to approach expectations for the year as a whole. BUST MEH

Mike Moustakas ($10): The low batting average last year scared down his Tout Wars price, and those who seized on the fire of his power potential in Doubt Wars got burned. BUST

Paul Konerko ($14): Sometimes a player looks like he’ll never get old, and eight teams see a falling price and buy. In this case, appearances were deceiving. BUST

Alcides Escobar ($7): Inexpensive middle infielders were valued, and eight teams took a chance on Escobar, whose 2012 BA was a big surprise. This year there was a correction. BUST

Domonic Brown ($7): A hot spring was the tip off and eight Doubt Wars teams jumped. While he’s missed time because of injuries, and he started slowly, when he’s been hot he’s been one of the top power hitters in the National League. BIG HIT

Matt Harvey ($8): He was consistently the best pitcher in the National League for the first four months of the season, delighting his eight Doubt Wars Mixed owners. GIANT HIT