Fantasy baseball salary cap leagues involve an auction-style format. Instead of waiting for your pick to draft a player, you need to bid on your targets. This is great because you won’t have to worry about missing on your preferred players, since you can bid on anyone.
I was invited to participate in the head-to-head version of the auction series known as Tout Wars. This group of drafts is considered to be among the most prestigious fantasy baseball experts leagues within the industry.
It’s a competition filled with strong players, featuring several esteemed creators in this space. Reading through Tout Wars drafts can be helpful in your own prep.
This year, I was fortunate to be invited to the Head-to-Head Mixed Auction draft. As a first-time participant in Tout Wars, I was eager to make my mark among the industry’s finest.
Below you’ll find some insights not only on my strategies, but others as well.
Head-to-Head Fantasy Baseball League Rules
H2H Fantasy Baseball Roster
The Tout Wars Mixed Salary Cap Head-to-Head league consists of 12 teams. The starting roster looks like this:
- 2 catchers
- 1 first baseman
- 1 second baseman
- 1 third baseman
- 1 shortstop
- 1 corner infielder
- 1 middle infielder
- 1 utility (any position)
- 5 outfielders
- 9 pitchers (need at least two relievers)
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Each participant had $260 in budget to bid on their starting lineup.
This was followed by a six-round reserve draft in a snake format. These bench players can be inserted in your starting lineup throughout the year. There is also a weekly FAAB period, where we can bid on players on waivers.
H2H Fantasy Baseball Scoring System
This is a Head-to-Head fantasy baseball points league, where you face one other player per week.
The team that amasses the most points during that span gets a win. The top eight win-loss records make the playoffs. The winning team is crowned champion.
Not only is this league unique because it’s head-to-head instead of roto, but it’s based on points rather than categories. Instead of trying to out-score your opponent in each category for the week, you need to outscore them. Below you’ll find a breakdown of the scoring format.
See our full slate of 2023 fantasy baseball draft tips:
H2H Fantasy Baseball Hitter Scoring
Offensive scoring rewards power hitters who can steal bases and draw walks while limiting strikeouts. The negatives for strikeouts mean that you can’t just stack your lineup with power hitters — they need to have good plate discipline and contact skills as well.
- Single: 1 point
- Double: 2 points
- Triple: 3 points
- Run: 1 point
- Home Run: 4 points
- RBI: 2 points
- Stolen Base: 2 points
- Walk: 1 point
- Caught Stealing: -1 point
- Strikeout: -0.5 points
H2H Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Scoring
Pitchers who can go deep into games while maintaining strong ratios and high strikeout rates are optimal. You still get significant points for saves, which helps maintain value for relievers.
It’s great to have points for quality starts, in case your pitcher performs well but doesn’t get the win.
- Win: 7 points
- Save: 7 points
- Innings Pitched: 3 points
- Strikeout: 0.5 points
- Quality Start: 3 points
- Hit Allowed: -1 point
- Walk Allowed: -1 point
- Hit by Pitch: -1 point
- Earned Run: -1 point
Tout Wars Head-to-Head Auction Results
|Ronald Acuña Jr.
I was happy to win bids on several stars, grabbing Ronald Acuña Jr. to go along with Strider, Verlander, Alonso, and Riley. I also took an excellent pair of catchers in Alejandro Kirk ($12) and Gabriel Moreno ($5), each of which have terrific hit tools and low strikeout rates.
My high-end arms are supplemented nicely with upside arms like Charlie Morton ($5), Jack Flaherty ($4), Trevor Rogers ($4), and Freddy Peralta ($4). Each of these pitchers have performed at a high level in the past, showing strong strikeout rates and good ratios.
I’ll go into more detail in the bottom section. In the meantime, let’s talk about some more tips to help your approach in your head-to-head league.
Fantasy Baseball Head-to-Head League Tips
Here are some general fantasy baseball auction tips that you can use for any format.
Choose your level of aggressiveness with top players
There are two common strategies within salary cap leagues. You can roll with a “Stars and Scrubs" approach, which is my preferred strategy. This is where you bid heavily on stars while searching for value by saving your budget on other players. It’s more of a top-heavy roster build.
- Click for more tips on how to play a fantasy baseball auction.
The other option is to just target value, capping yourself at a certain number (ex. $25-30). This ensures that you have more depth. It can be effective because you have a chance to secure high-end talent at undervalued prices, especially as your opponents scramble to save money.
Know your scoring system
Be sure to draft according to your scoring format. In Tout Wars, strikeouts for hitters earn -1 points. That means that hitters who can hit home runs while keeping their strikeout rates in check are highly valuable.
This is why I made sure to secure Pete Alonso for $32, which was the third-highest first baseman and $4 cheaper than Freddie Freeman. Alonso has 50 home run upside, but he only struck out 18.7% of the time last year. That ranked 2nd among hitters with 35 or more homers.
You get points for strikeouts and quality starts, which is why I took Spencer Strider for $32. The Braves’ ace can provide elite ratios (ERA and WHIP) along with one of the highest strikeout rates in baseball. This can help him rack up points while limiting negatives for walks and hits.
Bid aggressively on undervalued players
You may notice that as you get through the auction, some players start to become undervalued. This is because your competitors may have spent too much of their budget earlier, so they’re going with a more conservative approach for the remaining picks.
If you see that only two people are bidding on a player, you can swoop in to try make a move. This is what happened with me when I was able to get Austin Riley for only $25.
This was huge because Riley was tied for sixth-most expensive, despite routinely being the third or fourth third baseman off the board in other formats.
Riley has elite power, putting up 38 homers in 693 plate appearances last season. The stud third baseman also limits strikeouts, posting a 24.2% rate. Hitting in a stacked Braves lineup will provide ample opportunities for run production. This was my favorite bid on my team.
Make a list of every bid to help determine market value
As I drafted, I recorded each winning bid on a spreadsheet, which was organized by position. This was to determine market value for every player. It was a great guide to use as I was deciding how much of my budget to use on a player.
If I saw that a bid was getting too high or if I didn’t want an opponent to win on an undervalued player, I’d jump into the action.
For example, early in the draft, Max Scherzer went for $30. I noticed that Justin Verlander was about to go for $29, so I jumped in for a $30 winning bid. Since I liked Verlander more than Scherzer this year, I couldn’t resist making this move.
This also happened with Hunter Greene, who went for an undervalued $7. I used that value as a ceiling price for other young pitchers.
For example, Kodai Senga was approaching $7 in price, but I don’t like him as much as Greene, so I was unwilling to spend that cost. My justification was that if I don’t like a player as much, why pay the same price? That’s why I decided to pass.
Tout Wars H2H Auction Results
While I’m pleased with the final results on a team flush with talent, I do have a couple of regrets to report. For one, I got too conservative towards the end of the draft. After spending a large portion of my budget on Acuña, Alonso, Strider, Verlander, and Riley, I emphasized cheap bids to get some value.
While that mostly worked, I feel like I went too far. That’s because I left too much money on the table for my last two picks, when the player pool had dried up.
I had $16 left for my final two picks where I had to fill one starting pitcher and one closer. I settled on Andrew Heaney ($8) and Andres Muñoz — two talented arms, but not worth that cost.
The other problem here is that I now have some work to do. Perhaps I should not have invested in an injured player in Mitch Haniger ($2) or one with questionable playing time in Vaughn Grissom ($3), the latter of which will start in the minors.
Nor should I have paid a premium $15 for Raisel Iglesias, who is out indefinitely with an injured shoulder. While this sounds like hindsight analysis, the fact is that I shouldn’t have paid so much for a closer — I could have gotten someone like Clay Holmes for $3.
Overall, this looks like a contending team, but I have to fill in some holes using my weekly waiver bids.
Fantasy Baseball Auction Salary Cap Strategies
Calculated approaches can dominate the board
I’m a big fan of what Ariel Cohen did with his team here. The creator of ATC projections was active throughout the auction, shouting out bids to force his competitors to pay more for their targets while also doing the same to ensure he got his own favorites.
This was a calculated approach designed to throw off the competition while also being aggressive when the time was right. Cohen got some terrific value on Dansby Swanson ($9), Anthony Santander ($9), and Nick Castellanos ($6).
Punting closers can pay
Since this is a points league where you don’t need to win categories like saves, it’s viable to avoid closers entirely in this auction. You may ask, how can you do that when you need two relievers on your roster? Well, there’s a loophole where some starters are eligible as relievers — Paul Sporer took advantage of that.
The writer at Fangraphs and Twitch star was able to win bids on Ross Stripling and Jeffrey Springs, two pitchers who will help out in strikeouts and ratios while being eligible as relievers. This is a smart move because you also get points for innings pitched, a category where starters will always outscore relievers.
Be sneaky with your bids
It’s a good strategy to jump in with a higher bid right at the end. For example, our auctioneer Todd Zola of RotoWire would say “going once, going twice" as is the custom in auctions. This is where you wait right until after the word “twice" to swoop in for the late steal.
That’s exactly what Lauren Auerbach of Fantrax did throughout the auction. She was able to get terrific values on Brandon Woodruff ($28), Drew Rasmussen ($11), and Andrew Benintendi ($2) while utilizing this approach.