I don't mind being in the minority, but when it comes to industry auction leagues, the popularity of the "Stars and Scrubs" strategy is a bit surprising to me. Sure, it is sort of fun to load up on a few elite players and then go bargain hunting for your favorite $1 fliers, but it won't be fun when one or more of those elite players either lands on the DL or significantly underperforms relative to their draft day cost.
As you can tell, I prefer a more balanced approach, not so balanced that I avoid drafting any $30+ players, but I won't be the guy that owns both Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw. In Mixed Auction Tout Wars, some of my most profitable picks over the years have been in the $10-$20 range: Jose Altuve ($16) and Nelson Cruz ($10) last year, and Chris Archer ($10) this year.
As tempting as it is to draft as many sure things as possible, the reality is that very few players are sure things, and very few of these perceived sure things end up giving their owners even an equal return on their investment. Call it peer pressure, but I often question my auction strategy. Maybe I'm not enough of a risk taker. Maybe the secret to winning these industry leagues is to be a risk taker. But judging from the results through two-plus months of the 2015 season, I don't think I'll be changing my philosophy anytime soon. Let's look at some Mixed Auction Tout Wars draft data.
Here are the 19 players that were purchased for a price of at least $30 back in March:
Mike Trout ($48 to Van Riper)
Paul Goldschmidt ($44 to Davitt)
Andrew McCutchen ($44 to Gonos)
Anthony Rizzo ($40 to Steinhorn)
Giancarlo Stanton ($40 to Melchior)
Carlos Gomez ($39 to Heaney)
Miguel Cabrera ($39 to Pianowski)
Jose Bautista ($36 to Pisapia)
Jose Abreu ($36 to Swanay)
Clayton Kershaw ($36 to Swanay)
Edwin Encarnacion ($35 to Schwartz)
Bryce Harper ($33 to Singman)
Josh Donaldson ($32 to Schwartz)
George Springer ($31 to Melchior)
Jose Altuve ($31 to DiFino)
Felix Hernandez ($31 to Heaney)
Yasiel Puig ($31 to Schwartz)
Joey Votto ($31 to Gonos)
Hanley Ramirez ($31 to Engel)
At the time, all of the above prices seemed perfectly reasonable, but how many of these 19 players have netted their owners a profit? Actually, let's even forget about profit. How many of these 19 players have given their owners $30 value? There's not a clear correct answer to this question, but by my count, factoring in that Tout uses OBP instead of AVG, the answer is ten (Trout, Goldschmidt, Rizzo, Stanton, Cabrera, Kershaw, Harper, Donaldson, Hernandez, Votto). So that's roughly a 53% success rate even when lowering the standard to $30. Note that only six of the ten most expensive players pass the test.
Stars and Scrubs just isn't my thing, and if these numbers don't lie, I might not be so crazy after all.