An Interview with Tout Wars NL Champ Steve Gardner

From Jason Collette at Baseball Prospectus on October 3, 2011:

BP: In your latest article in your USA Today column, you mention the Core Four Strategy that you have been working on for the last year. Lay out that plan for our readers here who may not be familiar with your work?

The Core Four strategy is something that was developed in the wake of last year’s AL LABR race. I ended up winning the league and leading in several categories, including batting average, runs, and RBI. What stood out to me even more was that I also had significantly more hits than any other team. I think we’ve all known—either consciously or subconsciously—that the categories, especially in hitting, are interdependent, so if your player hits a home run, it also helps you in average, runs scored, and RBI. But in the standard roto format, hits seemed to be an undervalued currency. No one really looks at them that closely, but they’re obviously the key to winning batting average and a gateway to the opportunity to steal bases and score runs.

The Core Four Strategy just helped me simplify what I felt made up a successful team and broke it down into four “core” stats: hits, home runs, stolen bases and for pitchers, strikeouts (or strikeout rate). Get a solid base in those areas and because of the overlap in the 5×5 categories, the players’ skill sets should give you a decent amount of coverage across the board. The one area it didn’t work so well is in wins, but that’s a crapshoot anyway.

This season in Tout Wars was the first time I really made it a point to put Core Four to the test on draft day. As a result, I targeted Matt Kemp, Mike Stanton, and Ryan Zimmerman as cornerstones on offense because of their high rankings in those core categories (Adam LaRoche was too, but we know how that worked out).

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Tout Wars winners receive the SABR Trophy (see the 2010 trophy presentation here). Learn more at

Originally published: October 3, 2011. Last Updated: October 3, 2011.