We have been talking a lot about snake drafts so far this spring; it is time to give the auction format some love. What I am about to describe is the primary means I use to keep myself focused and on point. Auctions involve an element to fantasy baseball not found in the draft format and that is money management. In an auction, you can know the player pool inside and out, and have a feel for each player’s potential value and the market value, but if you mismanage your budget, it can all go for naught.
The chief issue is having more money to spend than there us talent to spend it on. So you either overpay for lesser talent or leave money on the table. In either case, you did not use your assets in the most efficient manner. It isn’t that you did not know the player inventory; you somehow misjudged the flow of the auction.
What I have found most helpful to prevent this sort of thing occurring is to use a combination of assigning a target dollar amount per roster spot in conjunction with tiered rankings. Before the auction, I draw 23 lines and assign a dollar value to each line, with the total equaling $260. I break it into hitters and pitchers and distribute the slots according to how much I intend to spend on hitting versus pitching.
I also have a sheet with player rankings separated into positional tiers. I group players with like dollar values together. For the purpose of the auction, a $22 player and a $24 player are worth the same. By putting them together, it helps remind me values are not absolute, but a range.
The tiers help me decide on the initial assignment of dollar values. I usually don’t worry about positions, other than to budget a certain amount for a closer and my best starting pitcher (more on this in a minute). The other 21 spots are chosen to match up with areas on the tiers plush with players in that value range. This maximizes my opportunity to fill in each spot with a player in that range.
The manner this keeps me focused is by tracking the top priced open spot versus how many players I can reasonably buy for that cost. When the inventory is running low, I either buy one before it runs out or I lower the target value attached and funnel the extra money to other spots. By staying on top of this, I hardly even find myself in the position of having to overpay to fill a spot or having surplus budget at the end of the proceedings.
The other key is to continually be flexible and bouncing money around, so long as you always keep the total at $260. If my highest open spot is $25 and there is a guy I have valued at $32 stopping at $27, I’ll but him at $28, put him on the $25 line and subtract $3 from another spot. Perhaps I buy someone I have valued at $18 for $12. What I might do here is put him on the $15 line and add $3 to other spots. The actual spots where I add or subtract are at least partially dictated by the ranking tiers as even in draft, I was to maximize my chances of filling the spot in the range it is assigned.
There may be times I assign a position as well as a dollar amount to a line if there are a bunch of similarly positioned players in a tier. This is particularly advantageous since now you know not to buy a player at this position for another spot, especially if the line is for an infielder, which is usually is.
I should mention at this point that this system works best in a redraft league, but can be helpful in an keeper auction, so long as you are extra flexible as values are basically tossed out the window in a keeper league with any level of significant inflation.
Below are three example budget distributions. Please realize I am not suggesting that you use exactly there, just providing an example to better illustrate the concept. The three examples represent three different general strategies:
STARS AND SCRUBS (S&S): Purchase several high priced players and fill in as best you can
SPREAD THE RISK (StR): Avoid the higher priced players, usually capping at $30 or $25, buy more players in the middle
EXTREME SPREAD THE RISK (xStR): Capping the top end players at $20 and focusing on players $5-$15
All the examples allocate $180 to hitting and $80 to pitching, which is exactly how the majority of leagues split the budget. Similar to the exact values per line, you can of course alter this distribution.
Here are the example budget distributions:
To reiterate, the numbers are a guide. The key is being flexible, but in a logical manner so you are always best suited to fill each line with a reasonably priced player.