Mastersball

The Price of Ownership
NL Beat
Written by Christopher Kreush   
Thursday, 21 February 2013 04:34

As we are really getting into draft season, there certainly are a number of ways to skin a cat to put together a team. And there are certainly many fantasy players who have their must-have list. Of course, everyone would like to have the top portion of the rankings list but unless you’re playing in a league comprised mainly of your son or nephew’s 12-year-old friends, you’ll be lucky to get even one of these gems, the likes of Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp or Joey Votto on the hitting side and Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg or Cliff Lee on the pitching side.

No matter if you’re playing in a straight draft or an auction league, there is a cost associated with every player you add to your roster. In an auction, the cost is pretty straight forward – it is the dollar value out of your budget you had to pay for that player. Obviously, the higher the player is ranked, the more it costs to purchase him, thereby leaving you with fewer dollars to spend on other players. That is the cost – fewer funds to pay for more players.

In a snake draft league, the cost is more subtle. If you draft first and take Braun, for example, you now have to wait until the 24th pick to be able to take a second player. In theory, you miss out on 22 better players before you get to make your second pick. In a snake draft league, you don’t really have control over what happens except for who you choose when it’s your turn. Your fate, in a sense, has been locked into a specific position and there is little you can do except watch the players fall off the board. Granted, that is a very simplistic notion and only is the case if the rankings are followed verbatim without taking into consideration factors such as reaching for players, position scarcity or position runs.

In either case, though, there is a high cost to pay for the top players. For this reason, there are a number of them I am unlikely to have much ownership in this year, with the aforementioned Braun being at the top of the list. I just won’t be willing to pay the mid $40 price tag and, even though I will kick the tires a bit, I won’t be driving him home.

Last year was the year to own Andrew McCutchen and I did have him on a couple teams, having targeted him going into the season. The breakout happened to the tune of 31 home runs, 20 stolen bases and a .327 batting average. The cat is now out of the bag and the Pirates' outfielder will be going for a premium I’m not likely to pay.

The trade of Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves has hurt his value more than just the price tag consideration in my eyes. He was going to go for a hefty amount to begin with but now has to play half his games in a home field where the home run park factor was 26% less than Chase Field in 2012. Does that mean the 25-year-old will hit 26% fewer bombs in 2013? No, but that’s a considerable difference to make up just to break even with the investment.

Bryce Harper will not be on any of my 2013 teams. Not that he isn’t a great talent and will eventually become one of the premier players in the league, but he’s still only 20 years old and the hype has inflated his perceived value into the stratosphere. I’m just not seeing a positive ROI on Harper for 2013.

In looking at pitchers I likely will not own this year, R.A. Dickey was at the top of my list but is now out of consideration for this column with his move to the American League. So that leaves me with my second choice of Gio Gonzalez. With the success of the Washington Nationals last year as a team, there are high expectations for them entering 2013. They aren’t going to take anyone by surprise again. I was high on Gonzalez going into 2012 and pretty much no one expected Washington to be as good as they were. Their success has increased the cost to own many of their players and Gio is no exception. Add to this the fact that the 27-year-old was in the running for the Cy Young award and actually finished third in the voting, and the price for Gonzalez will be through the roof.

The success of the San Francisco Giants in 2012 will also hurt fantasy players looking to own Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner.  Both pitchers had good seasons but the fact the Giants won the World Series will inflate their cost even more.

I certainly wouldn’t mind owning any of the players mentioned here but the cost will likely be too high for me and there will be no profit.  I’ll be more likely to own one of the pitchers in a straight draft league as the round they’ll go in will be more conducive for me to use a pick on. In fact, I picked Gio Gonzalez in the fifth round of a slow NFBC draft I’m participating in. But I can almost assuredly guarantee none of them will be on any of my auction teams. So who will I be more likely to pay for? I’ll go into that next week.
 

More Articles by Christopher Kreush

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