A funny thing happened on the way to completing the auction at the BaseballHQ First Pitch forum this past weekend in Phoenix*. We stopped halfway; many roster slots were left unfilled. Todd Zola, who was the auctioneer, did his best to maintain a brisk pace, but we wanted to make it to the AFL All- Star game and simply ran out of time. It was decided that the rest of the rounds would be completed using an online snake draft. Combining an auction and a snake draft was a revelation for me.
Afterwards, I exchanged comments and opinions about drafts that are half auction and half snake with other attendees and conference speakers. According to their comments, the auction/snake draft combo appears to solve the deficiencies that are inherent in auction and snake drafts. You see, I like the auction and find snake drafts essentially unfair no matter what rule one uses to determine the selection order. In my opinion, very few people will pass on the opportunity to have the first or second pick and get Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout. Or Robinson Cano or Andrew McCutchen, if that is your preference.
However, many fantasy baseball players see auctions as too time consuming and find figuring out the dollar values of the late rounders quite complex, to mention only a couple of typical comments. Fear of change should probably be added to the mix.
The hybrid method would allow everyone to have an equal chance to get their hands on the highly sought after top players while solving the dilemma of the late rounds. Once the top players are auctioned off, the rest of the draft could proceed as snake.
Let’s look at how to set up a combo auction/snake draft:
- How many rounds should be dedicated to auction? I suggest anywhere between 10 and 14, ideally 11 or 12, assuming a standard 23-player active roster. That said, even a three-round auction could be viable.
- The auction budget should maintain consistency with the dollar value of the available player projections. For example, an 11-round auction should lower the budget from $260 to around $240. A three-round auction should have a small budget of less than $100.
- Players picked up in the snake draft should be given a dollar value, ideally but not necessarily $1. Bench players, once activated, should be assigned a dollar value anywhere from, say, $1 to $5.
- An in-season top budget per team should be implemented as a league rule to prevent dump trades. Teams should not be allowed to exceed the budget threshold. The threshold should be higher than the auction budget, but not too much higher. Say, $280 or so when the auction budget is $240.
I urge the readers who are using this combo method today for their fantasy baseball drafts to share their experience and tell us about their league rules. I would not be surprised to hear that more than a few Mastersball readers adopted it years ago.
*If you have not seen it, check out the 1966 movie “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”