TOUT WARS: 2021 AL—Doug Dennis team recap

Tout Wars is hard enough without having to compete with two BaseballHQ mavens as well in Patrick Davitt and Ryan Bloomfield. Last year, we cannibalized each other severely, and I was determined not to be part of that kind of problem again. Zig when they zag, so to speak.

I started off innocuously enough with $23 on Hyun-Jin Ryu (RHP, TOR). I had thought that I might use one of three strategies determined by pitching—one where I took mostly (or all) relievers and made sure that I crushed ERA, WHIP, and saves, understanding that there is no innings requirement. The second where I spent $40-60 total on pitching and traded and FAAB'd for it in-season. The third where pitching fell to me and I spent whatever I needed to get a more balanced squad, while cherry-picking bargains. This one is a bit more tricky, because, what is a bargain? Ryu determined right off the bat that I would try avenue #3. I just hope Dunedin doesn't prove to be too much of a launching pad.

After that, I had a pretty long wait until I selected a second player. It was not that I didn't like the players on offer. It was that I worried that their prices would leave me without much of an end game. Finally I got a second player—Alex Verdugo (OF, BOS)—for $18. That was the price range that I hoped to get bats, and I had Verdugo higher on my chart than that, so I was happy with the selection.

But then I hit a bump. The other owners were calling out closers and quasi-closers, and they were going for more than I wanted to spend. I had to decide whether I could skimp on saves and make it work, or whether I should grab one (or two!). I went for Rafael Montero (RHP, SEA) at $12 and pretty much immediately regretted it. It felt like too much. I compounded it when I took Kirby Yates (RHP, TOR) not too long after that for $19. That was a lot to spend on saves and I would need that money later.

My next player was Joey Gallo for $26 (OF, TEX), and I felt that I was letting money get away from me a bit. But I needed a power bat, and he was one of the last higher-tier options, so I paid up. I added Andrés Giménez (SS, CLE) to that at $20, and now I was clearly behind in my spend. I needed to wait for bargains. I had more money than my competitors just as we hit the first break.

After the break, the bargains starting to slowly come. I rostered Michael Brantley (OF, HOU) for $19, Mark Canha (OF, OAK) for $19, Brandon Lowe (2B, TAM) for $24, Wilson Ramos (C, DET) for $9. Then I waited some more and watched other owners grab bargains. That was painful!

I finally got Sean Murphy (C, OAK) for $11 and Yuliesky Gurriel (1B, HOU) for $11. Needing a 3B, I went $19 on a late Josh Donaldson (3B, MIN) and worried that he'd go higher, but he didn't. My budget had $10 left for a CI, MI, and two UTs, and $20 for 6 pitchers. No bueno. I needed to throw Montero back and get that money to help my pitchers. As if.

I helplessly watched Ryan Yarbrough (RHP, TAM), Nathan Eovaldi (RHP, BOS), and Michael Pineda (RHP, MIN) go by before I paid up for Tarik Skubal (LHP, DET) at $8. I like Skubal a lot, but I really wished I had that incremental $3-5 to get one of those known quantities. Then I managed to get Jake Odorizzi (RHP, HOU) for $7. I just hope someone explains the "third-time-through" issues to Dusty Baker. 

I decided to leave the $5 for 4 pitchers and focus on the $10 for 4 bats. I intended to try to grab one of Renato Núñez​ (1B, DET), Andrelton Simmons (SS, MIN), Maikel Franco (3B, BAL), Elvis Andrus (SS, OAK), heck, Niko Goodrum (SS, DET)—anybody. But when D.J. Stewart (OF, BAL) stalled at $5, I said "$6" and got him for a UT slot. $4 for 3 bat slots meant it was strictly pull-and-pray from there.

I got Luis Arraez (2B, MIN) for $2, Deivi García (RHP, NYY) for $2, then Ronald Guzmán (1B, TEX) for $1. I nominated Nomar Mazara (OF, DET) for $1, but someone took him. I nominated Willie Calhoun (DH, TEX) for $1 and no one wanted him, so he became my final bat, even though he is expected to start the year on the IL.

My final three pitchers came when everyone had only $1s left. I got Chris Archer (RHP, TAM), Rafael Dolis (RHP, TOR), and Phil Maton (RHP, CLE), each for $1.

In the reserve round I went Brett Gardner (OF, NYY), Hunter Wood (RHP, TEX), Derek Holland (RHP, DET), and finally Jordan Luplow (OF, CLE). 

BaseballHQ projections give me 928 runs, 273 home runs, 902 RBIs, 75 steals (going to have to find more steals), and a .338 team OBP. On the pitching side, HQ says 57 wins, 49 saves, 1,101 strikeouts, 3.85 ERA, and 1.22 WHIP. I'm going to need another starter, too, or maybe some of my speculative picks like Archer will work out, who knows. Anyone out there who wants to trade me steals or a starting pitcher, you know where to find me!

Let me know what you think. Happy to answer questions about specific players or what I was doing in general.

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.