Before we get to the final Tout Table for the 2021 season, the Tout board would like to thank the Touts for their thoughtful answers all season. We’d also like to extend out sincere appreciation to all the readers for their patronage. It’s been quite a season, with a great postseason to come.
For the final question of the season, the Touts were asked:
When do you start prep for 2022? In brief, what does it entail?
Matt Williams (NBC Sports Edge, @MattWi77iams): My prep for 2022 has already began. Private mock drafts with industry analysts and successful high stakes players to gain an advanced look at the market. I will then start my player by player breakdowns in order to gauge which hitters/pitchers showed growth throughout the season. Things such as projections will come later, but for now I am in analysis mode.
Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I started making lists really starting on Sept 1, using various BPIs put up in 2021 as filters to see who hits what criteria and then start sorting into different buckets from those lists–including one bucket that requires a deeper dive. I am doing this basically until Jan 1. Then I move into projections mode. The initial goal is to be over inclusive and open-minded, then narrow things as I go.
Lenny Melnick (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @LennyMelnick): Best time to prep for 2022 is NOW Make a list of players who impressed you, without the numbers jumping off the page Ahmed Rosario and Jordan Montgomery are 2 great examples
Jeff Erickson (Rotowire, @Jeff_Erickson): Technically now, when discussing players for 2022 on various media outlets, both on SXM and on the podcast. I don’t really start doing ranks or projections until the playoffs end, however.
Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): My 2022 prep begins as the final pitch of the 2021 regular season is thrown… thanks to the Baseball Forecaster. It’s an all-out sprint during October and early November to get the digital copy out by Thanksgiving, then a giant exhale around the holidays, and back at it full-force with my own prep (and #BloomBoards!) come January.
Steve Gardner (USAToday Fantasy Sports, @SteveAGardner): I’ll definitely take a break from fantasy baseball to enjoy the playoffs as a fan, but not before I do a little self-critique on what went right for me and what went wrong this past season. With things fresh in your mind, it’s a good idea to make notes to yourself and come back to them once it’s time to really start focusing on next season. Did I misjudge certain players? Was I too confident in players coming back from injuries? How accurately did I value pitchers? And do I expect any of those things to change? Also it’s a good idea to note any potential rules changes you might want to propose for next season.
Alex Fast (Pitcher List, @AlexFast8): In an ideal world: around end of November, early December. In reality: mid January. The beauty of prep is that it can really start whenever because we’re dealing with info that already exists and won’t be changing. Sure, player X will be on team Y as opposed to team Z but their numbers from the past year will largely be the same. The biggest piece of offseason work I do is a top 100 pitchers ranking. This year, I’ll probably start doing that much earlier so I can try to expand it to 150 pitches. I imagine I’ll take the month of November to not think about baseball and the month of December to learn new information about pitching from Driveline and begin to make my list. I think that November off month is incredibly important, especially to deal with biases that could arise from being too close to the data. Take a break from all the numbers and enjoy Thanksgiving; the numbers will be there.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Before I dig into players, I want to dig into the metrics, etc. guiding the analysis. Each summer, there are some new stats or means of analysis I happen upon, but don’t have the time to really delve into. I make a list and spend the early offseason researching each. An example from previous seasons is Alex Fast’s CSW. Eno Sarris’ stuff metric is on the current list, among others. Once I’m comfortable with the tools, I identify outliers relative to the market and decide if I’m too high, too low or just right. For this subset of players, having a solid grip on some of the next level metrics can be the difference between changing my mind and agreeing with the market or holding my ground, up or down.
Nick Pollack (Pitcher List, @PitcherList): I begin the day after the season ends, crafting a way-too-early Top 150 pitchers. I write out every possible option per team, understand potential roles that could shift, and try to get down as many thoughts as I have before the 2021 season “feel” is gone. Then I turn to mock drafts and individual player research before beginning the fine-tuned process in early January. What’s most important is to have as many discussions about these players as possible, helping identify what weights and discussions you believe in most, making for a polished approach come draft season.
Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): I usually consider my inbound flight to First Pitch Arizona as the official kickoff to the 2022 prep season. Between the EOS and that date, I’ll throw together a document showing how my teams finished in the scoring categories as well as review the annual 60 bold predictions I make for my column to see how I performed and for public accountability purposes. I do not get into any next-season prep until Clay Link sends me my first batch of player capsules to write for the draft guide. I do love the offseason because the numbers are static, so the only changes to worry about are team changes, and the pending lockout should keep a lid on those activates for awhile too.
Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): I normally take December off, start really planning in January, right around the time I’m re-launching the pod. I’ll grab the projections from my five favourite sources, then look look for outliers in per-600 PA/BF means (not John). Later, I’ll look for significant differences in PT projections. The outliers are the targets for in-depth review in February. That’s also when I try to map out some auction/draft scenarios. Then on draft day somebody does something unexpected and the whole thing goes out the window.
Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): I normally take a break until Thanksgiving in terms of doing next season prep. In the time until then, I still analyze what was in 2021. In early December, I run the next iteration of my ATC regressions, updating weights to account for the current year. Then starting shortly after Christmas, I start the process of generating ATC. ATC is always my starting point for where to focus my attention on in terms of player analysis – which puts me on a later timeline than most others in the industry.
Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): My preparation has already started before the 2021 season ends by compiling a list of elite/superstar-level players who had down years and are strong candidates for a bounce-back season in 2022. These players are likely to see their ADP’s significantly drop and can be had for tremendous value. I am not talking about players at the end of their careers or one-hit wonders. I am focusing on potential bargains that can be targeted outside the first few rounds. I also start looking at prospects likely to make their debuts in 2022 and keep a list of position battles they may be in to gauge the chances of their playing time. I will try to do mock drafts by November to really start getting into the proper mindset and see what trends are forming around the time of GM meetings and when free agents are starting to sign. There is no offseason in fantasy baseball.
Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): “Prep” is tricky to pin down because everything we do is preparation in some form. In that sense, I’m prepping now. However, I try to hold off on detailed draft plans or mock drafting until as late as possible – usually mid-January. The later I can hold off, the better my value anchors as draft seasons progresses and the more information I can put into my piecemeal projections. Starting too early on draft plans increases the risk of boneheaded mistakes when trying to play the ADP/value game in the mid-rounds.
Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru, @BaseballGuys): The day after the final day, I scour the inner-webs to gather all the seasonal info I can find. Numbers that pop kinda stuff. I make some notes about any topics I would like to cover too as I create my outline of work for the following season. I take about three weeks off while I go full on football (other than a podcast or two on baseball). Basically, I dive in the final week of October, and the first of November I get to work at writing the next season’s draft guide. If you are keeping track at home, that is 49-of-52 weeks a year with baseball work for this kid.
Anthony Perri (Fantistics, @Anthony_Perri): The last game of the season is when my prep starts. What where the production surprises, what were the failures. What did a player do differently this year than in the past, and how was that captured with the analytics. What analytics were more predictable/less predictable this year, and how does that play into the analysis for 2022.
Seth Trachtman (NBC Sports Edge, @sethroto): My prep usually begins the day after the regular season ends, scouring farm systems for potential 2022 talent. After the playoffs end, I research every player who had an MLB at-bat or threw a pitch that season, making personal notes. Once those processes are over, I start on projections, with a goal of starting my first NFBC Draft Champions league with Version 1 projections and values by Christmas. From there, it’s a series of projection refinements until Opening Day.
Greg Jewett (Fantasy Alarm, @gjewett9): Already started my 2022 preparations and will post a much too early top-25 closers for next year on The Athletic tomorrow. Also will analyze my strengths and weaknesses from this year with eyes on next season. Ignore ADP and get my guys will be the modus operandi in the season ahead. Thanks again for the opportunity of competing in Tout and I look forward to many years ahead with all of you. Be well.
Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): The day my copy of the 2022 Baseball Forecaster arrives! I start creating my own projections as soon as that book shows up in my mailbox.
Lou Blasi (Fantistics, @LouBlasi): In my house league, I made claims during our World Series for next year’s roster! But I have been stacking my notes about what I have learned this year, and player’s performances (and the factors underneath them) while my impressions are fresh in my mind. After that I’ll pause for a while, and then likely dive back in, in earnest, in December. I’ll start with variances on a league scale and then begin looking at players who had up or down years and try to determine what is behind the changes.
Andrea LaMont (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @RotoLady): Usually my prep starts right before we go to First Pitch and attend Arizona Fall League games. Mid Oct-early Nov. I pull a bunch of numbers into a few spreadsheets to look for trends and next year’s sleepers. We pretty much talk about baseball all year long in our house, and we do podcasts all year. I used to check my mailbox everyday for the Baseball Forecaster but we get it quicker online now, I read it and use it a ton in my prep for the upcoming season. Mock Drafting begins around Dec. 1st.
Brian Entrekin (Benched with Bubba, @bdentrek): Prep has already begun for 2022. Early rankings are being worked on. Benched with Bubba episodes are already discussing 2022 thoughts on certain players. The real ramp up will start In November, but I will be digging in on players, teams, etc. for the upcoming season immediately.
Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): I guess it depends on what you mean in ‘prep’. I’m still competing in a couple of roto league so I am super focused on that right now. I try to take a few weeks after the playoffs to re-group and recharge (even though I do find myself in a few FanGraphs wormholes from time to time). I really begin prepping in the new year. I typically begin by reviewing the league I performed the worst in to see where it all went wrong. I then review my best league, to see if it something I did or just plain ol’ luck.
Frank Stampfl (Fantasy Pros, @Roto_Frank): Like many others, it’s already started. We’ll still be doing the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast two times per week during the offseason, recapping each position and talking about the most polarizing players for 2022. As prep for those pods, I’ll start making way-too-early rankings.
Nando Di Fino (The Athletic, @nandodifino): I was doing 2022 research in 2018. But without sounding pretentious, I’ll start in January, once the dust settles on winter meetings and fantasy football is over. I like to quiz myself by trying to fill out the starters on each team, then study up on who I didn’t know… I’ll look at roster resource (which I guess is fangraphs now) and see what I agree and disagree with. I’ll look at minor league leaders to try and find some gems in the rough who could win battles… and then I’ll just read a ton of stories, do some best balls, and evolve my likes and dislikes until draft day
Bret Sayre (Baseball Prospectus, @BretSayreBP): I usually start preparing for 2022 during the playoffs, and then I like to take a break in November/December. I believe that too much prep is a bad thing, as it can lead to overthinking and trying to get cute around the edges. Find the players you feel strongly about, find the projections you trust most (for me, that’s PECOTA over at Baseball Prospectus) and mix them together to form your own path forward. Then sprinkle in a few mocks during January/February to get a better sense of tendencies you’ll see when it matters.
Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): Now. Actually never stops. Watching Boxscore’s especially for rookies and call ups to see hoe they perform, can they take a prominent place next year, and rookie pitchers, can they make a rotation or be a closer. The mlb team is looking for these same things!
Dan Strafford (FNTSY Radio, @DanStrafford): Work on 2022 begins by taking a look back at what went right and what went wrong with 2021. I think it is increasingly important with the amount of information and data available to do a deep dive on how things went in regards to the season that just ended. I think examining where blind spots may have been and creating action items to remedy them is critical to starting research for the next year. From there, I’ll start checking in on projections and data some time in December to make sure I’m ready to start in January of 2022.
Zach Steinhorn (CreativeSports2, @zachsteinhorn): Aside from participating in a few mock drafts for magazines or websites, I usually take a break from fantasy baseball until early-January. I’ll certainly monitor the Hot Stove developments but in terms of deep player research, I’ll save that for the new year. Once January comes around, I read as many articles and listen to as many podcasts as possible to gather as much information as I can and gain a sense of how the industry is valuing various players. I’ll then compare those opinions to my own opinions to identify who I consider to be undervalued and overvalued. In mid-February, I’ll begin an NFBC Draft Champions slow draft, which is an excellent way to prepare for your later drafts.
Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): I like to take a break until the conclusion of the world series. I find it important to be able to watch the the MLB postseason as a fan, without worrying about rankings and stats, and rooting for my teams and booing the Yankees. After the Thanksgiving holidays, it is then back to work.
Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): I usually enjoy the postseason and then start lightly prepping in November before really rolling up my sleeves in December. November involves putting my salary cap draft valuations together and catching up on any big news I might have missed in September/October and December is when I put the first pass of my rankings and bid limits together in earnest.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): My preparation for the next season starts the day after this season ends. I review my drafted team and the team I have at the end of the season. I make notes of what worked and what to improve on next season, especially around draft strategy and in-season roster management. I also look for trends with players (the numbers inside the numbers). You could have two identical players on the surface, but achieved those stats in different trends. I also look at who potentially could be next year’s sleepers and breakout players. It’s important to take some time off during the off season to refresh the mind and hunger for another chance at a league championship.