ROTISSERIE: Sharing my 2018 Tout Wars team with Steve Moyer

Last weekend, I flew to New York over St. Patrick's Day weekend, took the ferry over to Staten Island on a drinking holiday(!) and sat through the AL-only auction for Tout Wars 2018. I did this substituting in for my good friend, Steve Moyer, who passed unexpectedly at way way too young an age a couple of weeks prior, when we were all in Arizona for the NL-only LABR auction.

I have spent two long weekends every single year for 20 years going to Arizona, once in the spring for LABR; once in the fall for's First Pitch Arizona. And Steve did too. I met Steve in Tampa at my first LABR auction in 1999; then-organizer John Hunt invited me because he liked the answers I wrote in to USA Today's mailbag on fantasy baseball questions. I thought I was so smart back then because I used (admittedly fledgling) sabermetrics to make fantasy baseball decisions! Woo! (Maybe you thought of that, too, at some point).

I met all the experts in the room—titans of the industry back then. Frankly, the now-hundreds on the radio, main stream media, social media, blogs and video all that stand on the shoulders of what was maybe 20 or so folks back then. And it is not a well-kept secret that maybe half of those guys were fly-by-night goofballs. Anyway, as I met these titans, I was surprised at how big-time many of them thought they were. But one guy befriended the new guy right away—Steve Moyer. We've been arguing about Guillermo Mota and Rob Bell and Dan Uggla and Bo Hart and Mike Adams and Chan Ho Park ever since. Usually with dinner at Bill Johnson's Big Apple (no longer even a building in Phoenix) or drinks at Shotgun Betty's (no longer in existence in Scottsdale) or Giligin's (still there!) at stake.

For those who didn't know Steve, he had a big heart that he wore on his sleeve. He fought with everyone. About everything. He hated "sabermetric darlings" and rejoiced every time Rocky Biddle or Ryan Kohlmeier or Derrick Turnbow became significant. He loved the little guy with no pedigree. Steve still had an AOL account for his email three weeks ago and zero social media presence. But he knew so much about baseball. He founded Baseball Info Solutions with John Dewan and set up a system that took defensive metrics a quantum leap ahead of where it was before. He worked at STATS before that, and at Inside Edge after. He was working with teams introducing them to "Yakkertech" machines that measured every aspect of a pitch. You might think that Statcast does that—but it doesn't. Or at least Steve said it didn't, and I believe him.

Anyway, he died unexpectedly three weeks ago and it has been hard for me to talk about or think about it, because we have spent 20 years having good times together. When the godfathers of Tout Wars asked me to take his team, I had to say yes, even though I knew I was outgunned, outmanned, and outsabermetrized by all the young-ins at the table. Naturally, the auction went as it went, and the "Toybox" projected me to come in first place per's projections (funny that!) BUT ALSO in first place per Davenport projections (surprise!)

Steve would have hated that! "You cannot win after being projected first," I can hear him now—telling me I'd done it all wrong. There is that pesky equalizer of a 162-game season, true, true. He woulda said I did it all wrong no matter what I did, to be honest.

So what did I do? I did the usual plan, tweaked just the same as my NL-LABR plan: $210 on hitting, $50 on pitching, taking care to customize values for OBP instead of BA, taking care to consider the "swing" position and reserve rules differently, and here is the team I got:

Mike Zunino (C, SEA) $15
Jason Castro (C, MIN) $6
Edwin Encarnacion (1B, CLE) $29
Kyle Seager (3B, SEA) $21
Joe Mauer (CI, MIN) $13 (I got him cheap/early and thought it was a good pairing with Zunino)
Dee Gordon (2B, SEA) $33 (I think this is a must-have player in AL; steals are hard to find!)
Didi Gregorius (SS, NYY) $16 (I overpaid; shrugs)
Brad Miller (MI, TAM) $10 (There are a wide range of outcomes here--I have no idea)
Justin Upton (OF, LAA) $28
Max Kepler (OF, MIN) $14
Josh Reddick (OF, HOU) $11
Curtis Granderson (OF, TOR) $10 (I think this is a sneaky-good get if he can just stay in the lineup)
Matt Duffy (UT, TAM) $4 (qualifies at shortstop now, will be third base soon, perfect for this grouping)
Melky Cabrera (SW, FA) $2
Marcus Stroman (SP, TOR) $12
Charlie Morton (SP, HOU) $11 (how many starts? I really need the starts)
Cole Hamels (SP, TEX) $7
Mike Leake (SP, SEA) $1 (might have been my luckiest get; steady, unspectacular, $1)
Carlos Rodon (SP, CHW) $1 (please come back)
Erasmo Ramirez (SP, SEA) $1
Trevor Hildenberger (RP, MIN) $1
Alex Claudio (RP, TEX) $6 (risky, but at $6, beggars can't be choosers)
Blake Parker (RP, LAA) $8 (riskier still because of this month's putrid production)

Reserves: Matt Bush (RP, TEX), Miguel Andujar (3B, NYY), Juan Minaya (RP, CHW) and Eloy Jimenez (OF, CHW). What if Eloy comes up in July? That would really be something! 

You can decide whether this team has enough pitching, but the plan is generally to start without enough, but have quality and add as we go while accumulating counting stats on offense with the ability to make trades later. Rodon and Erasmo Ramirez will start the year on the disabled list, which hurts some. Both should be value later, though. Melky (I bid $2!) was a Hail Mary that he might sign, acknowledging that for $2, I'd have had to take someone lousy anyway.

Steve would spend a ridiculous amount of time at the end of the auction going over five sheets of $1 players to fill four slots. For everyone else, it was an extended break. That used to make me nuts, but I admit that I am going to miss that too. I hope I do ok this year, because going to Arizona in the fall is going to be weird enough as it is.

Questions? Slings and arrows? Hit me up! Here or on twitter. You can follow Tout Wars all summer long on the website.

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