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Friday 19th Jan 2018

As we scream into the actual baseball season, many long-standing leagues will be holding their auctions, for the first weekend after the start of the season has traditionally been draft day in leagues that date back to the dark times before the Internet and online realtime scoring updates.

Following my Tout auction last Saturday, it occurred to me that some players may find a piece on auction strategies, particularly the jump bid, and some might not even know the jump bid tactic (or if they do, think it irritating). However, for any of us playing the auction game, the jump bid can not only be our friend, but it can indeed help a prudent owner manage his or her budget, get some price enforcing done in the process, and control the board for the endgame.

So, let's review some thoughts about auctions and money management tactics.

Try to let your mates empty their wallets: Auctions are fun and exciting for participants, especially at the start when the bulk of star players are available. I personally like to spread my spending around and build a good team with starters and at-bats in as many slots as I can manage. So, I like to let my mates spend $45 on Trout and Kershaw, sitting and waiting for the bidding to soften.

Let others nominate guys you want: I have clearly coveted Khris Davis all over the place this year, but I have yet to nominate the Athletics outfielder even though I carry him all over, including both Tout and LABR. But, when nominating, I throw out a name I am not particularly interested in and then watch the bidding frenzy from the sidelines.

Don't let a bargain pass: While I might do a solid job of watching the money flow early on in the draft, similarly, I know not to let a bargain pass even if the player is not one I targeted. For example, Evan Gattis in the low teens is indeed a bargain, for catchers who can hit 25-plus homers are on the rare side. So, be mindful to not be too passive, even if you are watching others spend.

Thoughts on jump bids: For the archivists, a jump bid is simply "jumping" the amount on the table for a given player, such that if I nominate Mike Trout for $10, and Trout increases to $15 over five subsequent bids, and then someone yells out $35, that is a jump bid.

And, there can be a very effective way of using such a "jump" to acquire a player you like with your opening bid. Such that, if you value Trout at $45, simply upping the ante to your ceiling price tag as soon as permits can be a great tactic, as that will certainly scare away any potential Trout wannabe owners who did not expect the bidding sequence to push like that. But, suddenly all your opponents have to look at $46 for the rights to Trout's skill set, and that will likely scare away the bulk of your leaguemates.

What this means is you have to be ok with having Trout at $45, and if you really want the Angel, be prepared to pay $47 and up to own him. But, that act forces the issue upon your leaguemates, and in theory sets a path for your team and the rest of the auction from that point out (for either you have Trout and build around him, or go elsewhere for offensive production).

However, a subtler form of jump bid can be employed further on in your auction. 

Let's say you target Carlos Santana for $26 and the first sacker does indeed get his name called.

Bidding starts to slow at $21, which is your bid, and that is followed by $22 from another owner. You bid $23 in response and your leaguemate immediately counters with $24.

Logically, your counter bid would be $25 but the effective tactic in such a situation is to jump Santana's price tag to $26 right then and there.

The reasoning here is you were already prepared to pay the $26 anyway, correct?

So, by going for the throat right there, instead of considering the possibility of owning Santana at $26, your opponent suddenly has to accept the fact that it is either $27--at a minimum--or again, look elsewhere to fill the roster.

In that sense, you are price enforcing, but you are also managing your own roster and prices in concert with your projections, for ideally mapping out slots and production and dollar values ahead of time will land the bulk of players and stats you desired.

Auctions are fun, but they are also tricky animals involving timing, knowledge of the player pool, and a clear idea of the kind of team you want to assemble. Hopefully these insights can help lead you to a successful team and season.

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