For those expecting to see my second part to last week’s column, The Price of Ownership (POO), I beg your indulgence as I stray from that this week. The reason for the change of plan is I (as well as Ryan Carey) are representing Mastersball in the CBSSports.com Analysts NL-only league, the auction being held this past Tuesday. I won’t reveal anything of Ryan’s team as he will most likely be posting about it and the auction itself from his perspective.
In participating this year, I am looking to improve greatly on last year’s tenth place (out of 12) finish – even if it happens to be at Ryan’s expense (sorry, buddy). In preparing for the league, I was contemplating my strategy. How was I going to beat all the sharks in this league? Should I go stars and scrubs? Draft for positional scarcity? Take a balanced approach? After mulling over different possibilities, I decided not to pigeonhole myself into a strategy but to instead take what the auction presented me. Many times this is counter-intuitive to what we think about drafts. We always have to come up with the perfect plan that will guarantee a Yoo-Hoo shower at the end of the year and the accolades (as well as the bragging rights) that come with it. In most cases, that plan usually goes up in smoke well before the season actually ends with our team languishing deep down the standings.
As it turns out, I drew the last place in the nomination process, which worked to my advantage in waiting to see what the draft was going to give me. While I was sitting there bidding some but mostly watching the proceedings, it became evident to me that this auction was dovetailing nicely with The Price of Ownership. First on the block was Washington Nationals phenom outfielder Bryce Harper and the bidding was hot and furious, finally topping out at $29. This was a little over my value but effectively set the bar for the top tier players and I realized the price of ownership was going to be expensive.
Next up was a curve ball in shortstop Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds, which was obviously a speculative play as he’s projected to get fairly minimal playing time this year. Hamilton went for a meager $3. Being that he is one of the hottest prospects out there, this signaled to me that most people were quite possibly saving their money for the big boys.
The next player on the block was Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kris Medlen, who I had valued in the mid teens but who was sold for $20. After Medlen came the whale of the auction, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. I had him valued in the $41 - $43 range and was mildly surprised when he sold for $40. But I just didn’t want to pull the trigger and bid $41.
Next player up was the premier NL starting pitcher, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. My draft sheet showed him at $33 - $35 and I couldn’t resist as the bidding started to stall in the upper $20’s and I bought him for $31. Back to offense and teammate Matt Kemp was thrown up for bid next. I looked at my sheet and saw I had him valued in the $33 - $35 range and was surprised when he actually sold for $39.
The bidding was back to the NL Central’s Reds with Joey Votto up for sale. The mashing first baseman was auctioned for $37 against my projected value of $30 - $33. Next was another young power hitter in Giancarlo Stanton. The Florida Marlins outfielder sold for $39 versus my value in the mid to upper $20 range.
Up next was the premier NL closer in the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel and I knew the price was going to be a bit steep. Bidding escalated quickly then slowed considerably in the high teens. My list price on him was in the $20 - $22 range and as the bidding dragged, I jumped in near the end and purchased him for $25. I now had the top starting pitcher and top closer in the National League on my team.
The next two players were Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg and Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen. Strasburg went for pretty much the same value ($30) versus my $29 projection. I mentioned last week that 2012 was the year to own Cutch as the secret is now well out. I had him valued at about $34 which was exactly what he went for. I bought him last year in this same league for $32 so the price of ownership has gone up a bit as I predicted.
It became obvious to me that the top players were pretty much going for a premium and I then decided to try to work this to my advantage and get some players that would provide a profit. I looked down my list and came upon the name Andrelton Simmons. This is a player I like (especially in an NL-only format) and I figured I’d try to get someone I actually wanted to own at a discount. I had the Atlanta shortstop valued in the mid-teens and won him with a bid of $12. Chalk up a profit of a few dollars.
I stayed with this plan and didn’t purchase another player until I nominated Darwin Barney my third time up and purchased the Chicago Cubs second baseman for roughly half his value at $6. I continued watching players go over value then had to spend some money on a first baseman as the position was getting thin. I overpaid a bit on the New York Mets’ Ike Davis at $24 but really like what he did in the second half last year. Likewise for shortstop, which was also getting thin at the top, so I ponied up $24 for Davis’ divisional opponent Jimmy Rollins. I made one mistake midway through the draft with the +$1 button and got saddled with Travis d’Arnaud as my first catcher for $8 when I wanted to top out a couple dollars below his $7 projection.
All in all, I stayed with this game plan and wound up pretty much in control of the last third of the auction when I was able to purchase the likes of Tim Hudson, Nate Schierholtz, Wandy Rodriguez, Gerardo Parra, Chris Nelson (both of whom I spent $10 on just because I could), Gregor Blanco, Ted Lilly, Eric Kratz, Sean Marshall, Jorge de la Rosa, and Jhoulys Chacin. All in all, I’m pretty happy with the results. Here is the whole squad with price paid along with projected value in parenthesis.
C – d’Arnaud 8 (7), Kratz 2 (2)
MI – Barney 6 (11), Simmons 12 (14), Rollins 24 (25)
UT – Nelson 10 (10)
P – Kershaw 31 (34), Kimbrel 25 (20), Motte 18 (15), Hudson 6 (5), Rodriguez 4 (5), Lilly 1 (1), Marshall 2 (4), de la Rosa 3 (6), Chacin 1 (1)