Fantasy Baseball Auction Salary Cap Draft Tips

Last Updated: Mar 22, 2024

Fantasy baseball salary cap league formats, in which competitors bid in an auction-style format to acquire their players, is one of the most challenging and fun ways to build a roster for the upcoming season. How one constructs a winning team, though, can be a matter of preference.

Some of those who draft in these types of leagues will utilize the “Stars and Scrubs" style of team building, where they focus on targeting top-shelf players and then fill out several roster spots with cheaper picks. Other fantasy leaguers opt to balance out their roster more in terms of spending, and laying back to scoop up the best later picks is another route to take.

Recently, I participated in Tout Wars, the most prestigious fantasy baseball experts leagues in the industry. Here I share a review of my 15-team mixed auction results in an effort to help drafters with their own approaches, with additional insights on how other teams drafted.

Auction Salary Cap Fantasy Baseball League Rules

The Tout Wars Mixed Salary Cap league features 15 participants that are well established as fantasy baseball analysts. A total of 23 active starters must be drafted. The starting lineup requires two catchers and nine pitchers, and six rounds of reserve players are also drafted.

The league uses a 5×5 rotisserie scoring system with on-base percentage used over batting average. Full draft results are viewable here.

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On-base percentage is used in place of batting average, while runs, home runs, runs batted in, and stolen bases are the other offensive categories.

The usual rotisserie pitching categories of wins, saves, strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP are included in the scoring setup. All Tout Wars mixed auction players worked under a $260 “budget” of allotted dollars.

Tout Wars Mixed Auction Results

CAdley RutschmanBAL26
CFrancisco AlvarezNYM13
1BFreddie FreemanLAD46
3BBrett BatyNYM1
CIMatt OlsonATL39
2BJordan WestburgBAL1
SSFrancisco LindorNYM36
MITim AndersonMIA1
OFGiancarlo StantonNYY5
OFEsteury RuizOAK5
OFAlek ThomasMIL9
OFMatt WallnerMIA1
OFWhit MerrifieldPHI1
UTBrice TurangMIL3
PZack WheelerPHI27
PCamilo DovalCLE15
PDylan CeaseSD13
PEury PerezNYM12
PJack FlahertyDET4
PJoel PayampsMIL4
PChris PaddackMIN2
PJose QuintanaNYM2
PAlek ManoahTOR4
BNAbner UribeMIL
BNJ.P. FranceHOU
BNNolan SchanuelLAA
BNMasyn WinnSTL
BNJacob deGromTEX
BNJames WoodWAS

After aiming to avoid big-ticket spending last season, I pivoted to more of an aggressive approach for 2024. Steering totally clear of top-shelf hitters and opting for a more balanced roster left me lacking in power in ‘23.

While I did not go for the biggest player prizes such as Ronald Acuna Jr. and Juan Soto, I did push for Freddie Freeman and Matt Olson to anchor my offense, along with Francisco Lindor as their top complement.

Usually, I don’t spend as much as I did on catchers this season, but Adley Rutschman will DH on days he does not work behind the plate, increasing the appeal. I am expecting a significant breakthrough season from Francisco Alvarez.

I also attempted to nab some bargains in terms of power and had to hunt for values in the outfield after spending so much in the infield and at catcher. My pitching staff is led by Zack Wheeler, of course, but I will need Dylan Cease to regain his better form while also hoping for some cheaper pitchers to come through.

Fantasy Baseball Auction Salary Cap Tips

These are some fantasy baseball auction tips that you can consider for your own drafts.

Work the scoring system

Drafting in Tout Wars is a unique challenge with OBP as a category instead of batting average. My primary focus was to land top players who would lead the way in that category, such as Freeman, Olson, and Rutschman.

If the core OBP options can elevate the team in that category, then I can absorb the hit of a potential OBP drag such as Esteury Ruiz. He will obviously help me in only one category, but at the nine dollar price tag, I will take the shot to rank high in stolen bases.

Once I had the OBP leaders of the roster, the focus was more on power overall. Home runs and RBI are not as easy to find in-season when working the waiver wire or making trades.

Pinpointing power

Last year, I tried to save money without any prime power sources, and the season was an extensive struggle to contend offensively. You must learn from year to year when competing against elite competition.

Olson is the obvious centerpiece, but I tried to build balance otherwise in terms of pop while taking shots on values. Giancarlo Stanton can bounce back in his slimmed-down look, and Alvarez and Matt Wallner could turn out to be good plays for the prices.

Lindor, Freeman, and Rutschman will all combine to keep my team in contention in the power categories, and if the aforementioned bargain plays deliver, then the team will surge in the HR and RBI departments.

Saving on starting pitching

The intent was to come away with one top-level ace type, and then complement him with at least two upside starting pitchers. Wheeler was the apparent SP to lead the staff, and in a new pitcher’s ballpark with a change of scenery, Cease may prove to be a nice value at 13 dollars.

Not having a healthy Eury Perez to round out my targeted core trio was a disappointment, but if he and Jacob deGrom are available together down the line, I will have quite a quartet of SPs for a later push in the standings.

Jack Flaherty and Chris Paddack are sleeper rebound candidates who have stirred some spring buzz. I always prefer to get one surefire closer in the draft and then chase saves with later value shots on the waiver wire.

The starting pitching staff is not as ideal as I would like initially. However, I would rather mine for pitching on the waiver wire than hitting, which is more scarce in this league on free agency during the season.

Bargain shopping

Hunting for cheaper impact players is never an easy task when competing against some of the most successful and well-known fantasy analysts in the space. At the same time, the mixed league player pool offers enough shots at some sleeper and value types.

I was enthused about some of my fliers and reserve picks at the end. I already noted Stanton and Wallner, and Tim Anderson could deliver a quality campaign, as I believe he will be highly motivated to regain respectability.

Alek Thomas, Brice Turang, and Jordan Westburg may have more promise than meets the initial fantasy eye. I have also touched on Paddack and Flaherty as possible gems to flesh out the pitching, and I have two of the three Brewers closer options while Devin Williams is out.

In the reserve rounds, Nolan Schanuel might turn out to be a major steal in an OBP format. The two final picks may have been my favorites, because deGrom will have a chance at returning later in the year, and James Wood has been tearing it up this spring and should get the opportunities to shine with Washington.

The deGrom pick in the fifth round of the reserve draft drew a frustrated and loud exclamation from another drafter in the room. The reaction only made me happier to get him where I did so late, and illustrated how the quest for value never ends, even when targeting the 29th player out of 30.

Fantasy Baseball Auction Salary Cap Strategies

Heavy spender analysis

Bret Sayre, who was an aggressive spender last season and won the league, put down 40-plus dollars on Shohei Ohtani, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Aaron Judge. He also dropped 32 dollars on Pete Alonso and 29 on Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and then filled in much of his roster with cheap players.

Scott Chu, who finished fourth in 2023, spent a total of 85 dollars to land the trio of Rafael Devers, Elly De La Cruz, and Marcus Semien. While his approach was less “Stars and Scrubs” oriented than Sayre’s, Chu also took Spencer Strider for 37, Tarik Skubal for 26, and Edwin Diaz for 27 in a clear attempt to nab his preferred core players.

Going aggressively after the guys you want early will lead to sitting out for stretches of the draft while waiting for others to drain their budgets. Yet it is satisfying to know that you came away with the crux of your roster, grabbing the players that were favored targets. .

Aiming for balance

Jeff Zimmerman did not spend more than 29 dollars on any player, as Austin Riley was his most expensive player. The strategy allowed him to win bids on Gleyber Torres at 19 dollars and Wyatt Langford at 21.

Tristan H. Cockcroft’s highest-priced player was Kyle Schwarber at 31 dollars, and he followed up with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at 30. He was then able to snare some good later values, including Manny Machado at 22 dollars, and Zack Gelof and Maikel Garcia at 10 each.

Last season’s second-place finisher, Justin Mason, went with the “one superstar” approach, going to 61 dollars on Acuna. He rostered only one other player over 22 dollars, truly demonstrating the varying ways that experts will attack a draft.


Scott Engel

Scott Engel is a Senior Sports Writer at The Game Day. Previously he was at and The Athletic. His work is also featured at RotoBaller and on Scott is a host on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. He is an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's Hall of Fame. Scott is a four-time FSWA award winner and a 13-time finalist. He was an Associate Editor and featured writer at and his career began at CBS SportsLine, where he was a Senior Writer and Managing Editor. Scott was the Managing Director at RotoExperts.

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