Log in Register

Login to your account

Username *
Password *
Remember Me

Create an account

Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.
Name *
Username *
Password *
Verify password *
Email *
Verify email *

fb mb tw mb

Tuesday 28th Mar 2017

It may sound cliché, but sometimes cliché is sound advice.  Over the weekend, the auction for my local Boston keeper league was held and I am tucking away a couple of tidbits that I hope will be beneficial next spring when we get together.  I am not going to present the following and suggest it is globally true.  In fact, something to keep in mind when you review your drafts and auctions is not to assume the same thing will happen next time, so be careful about planning a stringent strategy around something you hope occurs again.  There is a fine line between tucking away some hopefully helpful hints and assuming too much.  The take home lesson is going to be to take a few minutes and think about your drafts in an effort to elucidate some potential tips to utilize next draft or auction.

By means of a bit of background, the league I am going to discuss in an American League only, 5x5 rotisserie scoring, keeper format with a minor league reserve squad.  As with most keeper leagues, there is some inflation at the auction and trading away some of your future to boost the present is integral to winning.  The small catch with this league is we have an amendment to the constitution that adjusts the roster size and salary cap if we have fewer than 12 teams.  I joined the league last season and we played the season with 11 teams and maintained that number this season.  The roster adjustment is to add an extra utility spot and a 10th pitcher.  This adds 22 players to the pool, which basically makes the pool penetration the same as if there were 12 teams with 23 man rosters.  The salary adjustment was for everyone to start the auction with $283 and not the usual $260.  The idea here is $253 added to the overall available money balances the $260 that would have been associated with the 12th team.  The end result of these adjustments is to keep the salaries of the players consistent with what they would be if we expanded to 12 teams, so the keeper dynamic would not be affected.

I came into the proceedings with a keeper list that included Miguel Cabreraat $46, Jacoby Ellsbury at $33, Nick Markakis at $25, Dustin Pedroia at $22 and Max Scherzer at $19.  I had ample high priced players and planned on buying a second decent starting pitcher and a closer.

The first tidbit I noted was a phenomenon known to exist, and that is a geographical bias with respect to prices.  Maybe I did not notice it last spring, or maybe these players were not available in the auction, but it did not take me long to notice there was a definite Boston tilt in the room.  To wit, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez were both bought for $38 while Kevin Youkilis was purchased for $40 with Adrian Gonzalez leading the pack at $44.  The difference may not seem to be that great, but in a neutral setting, Teixeira and Gonzalez would normally go for about the same price while Rodriguez would sell for a few bucks more than Youkilis.

I learned several years ago that while it is fun to joke about, a player’s performance is not impacted by his presence on my roster, so I have grown immune to the name on the front of my player’s uniforms, only caring about the stats produced by the name on the back.  As such, even though I had not planned on buying another high priced stick, I had to take advantage of the table’s bias and purchased Alex Rodriguez.  In retrospect, had I known of this league trait, I would thrown back Cabrera and saved a few bucks targeting Teixeira.  I knew by purchasing A-Rod I would be handcuffing my ability to spend on the pitching I needed, but I decided that since trading is allowed, I would still look to get the starter and closer, but if I could not, I would channel old partner Jason Grey and continue to fortify the hitting, cobble together a pitching staff and then trade bats for arms to make a run if necessary.

This segues nicely into the second observation, which was even though top players, as usual, went for high prices, the inflation never seemed to abate and the prices of players I expected to drop never did – particularly the starting pitchers and closers.  I will not bore you with the list of names and prices, but suffice it to say that almost every hurler went for greater than full value, even considering the conventional means of calculating inflation.  Had I not invested in Rodriguez, I would have not hesitated to pay the going rate.  But, I made the decision that the value would be with hitting towards the end and decided to make sure I had a full time player at each hitting spot so I would have ammunition to trade for pitching.

Here comes the interesting part.  On my ride home, I was trying to figure out why the prices of the pitchers never fell.  I was perplexed that even though a ton of money was spent at the beginning, effectively wiping out the inflation from the keepers, players continued to sell at full value much longer than usual.  Then it struck me.  I completely overlooked a very key point.  Maybe you have figured it out by now.  If not, I will give you a hint; it revolves around the roster and budget adjustments we made for the reduction to 11 teams.  Do you know what my big mistake was yet?

With 11 teams, we added two extra roster spots and $23 per team.  This kept the average player to be about the same $11.30 in each setup.  But the additional 22 players were obviously well below average.  Many owners simply slotted $1 for the two extra roster spots, allowing them to distribute the remaining $21 to the rest of their roster.  This is what subsidized the high prices for longer than I anticipated.  I completely failed to recognize this was happening during the auction.  If I had noticed it, while I still would have likely purchased A-Rod, I may have not been as reticent to overpay for a closer or quality starter instead of hoping to take advantage of the expected deflated economy, which never came.

So my “note to self” for this league going forward is not to rely on being able to go bargain hunting and still get quality players like is often the case even in keeper leagues.  In fact, the best play may be to get my top players early as the trend was similar to what happens in the industry leagues like LABR and Tout Wars where sometimes the bargains are the first few players.

In summary, the point of this discussion is not to suggest what happened in my league will happen in your league.  The point is to spend some time going over your leagues in an effort to pinpoint something that may help you prepare better or execute your plan better next season.  And, after you think of it, write it down and put it in a place where you will remember it, unless of course you write for a web site and can archive the notes in a weekly column.

 

With the mid-week start of the 2011 baseball season, there are still a bunch of leagues that will hold their draft or auction the first weekend of the season.  This is in fact the official rulebook date.   This discussion is intended for those in deeper leagues but can possibly be used to help those that have already drafted if the players went undrafted.

The idea is that a lot of people overreact to the last minute roster decisions.  One of my favorite ploys is to target the loser of the position battle if they were beat out by a perceived lesser player that had a hot spring.  You can often get the incumbent out of a job at a huge discount.  The worst case scenario is you get an end game player at value but many times, a hot spring turns into a cold April and next thing you know, the veteran is given his old job back and now you have a starter at an end game price.

Perhaps the most flagrant example of the scenario is Blake DeWitt beginning the season as the Chicago Cubs utility infielder while Jeff Baker and Darwin Barney cover second base.  DeWitt will get his chances, including occasionally spelling Aramis Ramirez at the hot corner.  It would not shock me if DeWitt finished the season with more at bats than Baker.  This is not to suggest DeWitt is a difference maker, but getting 300-400 plate appearances for a buck or two is a nice treat.

Depending on your league rules, Roger Bernadina is someone to put on your radar.  He was recently demoted which came as a mild surprise.  After Nyjer Morgan was dealt to Milwaukee, it appeared Bernadina was going to break camp with the Nationals.  But do you really think the combination of Laynce Nix, Jerry Hairston and Rick Ankiel will keep Bernadina on the farm that long?  Actually, it is no sure thing that Mike Morse holds on to the left field job all season.  If you have already drafted Bernadina, do not panic.  If he has been dropped in your NL-only, check your rules and try to pick him up when he is eligible.

A similar situation occurred in Kansas City where Lorenzo Cain was demoted so he can play full time.  Alex Gordon should be a fixture in left and Jeff Francoeur should patrol right.  Melky Cabrera gets the nod in center, but if Cain continues to get on base and run in the Minors, eventually Cabrera will be exposed and Cain should get the call if only to help justify the Zack Greinke trade.

A scenario to continue monitoring is the first base and left field battle in the desert.  Arizona has Xavier Nady, Juan Miranda, Gerardo Parra, Juan Miranda, Russell Branyan and Brandon Allen all jostling for playing time.  Nothing has been announced, but Parra and Branyan appear to be the leaders.  If Branyan is named the regular first baseman, Miranda and Allen make nice end game targets.  I know there will be much drooling over Branyan in Arizona, but he has trouble staying healthy, and when he does, he usually strikes himself out of a job.   My gut says Nady falls out of the picture and Allen and Miranda both contribute by season’s end.

The demotion of Eric Young Jr. has helped clear up a bit of the second base situation in Colorado.  The hot spring of Jonathan Herrera has him in the running for the job.  If he indeed wins the job, be ready to jump on Jose Lopez who will see plenty of run by season’s end.

Site favorite Mike Napoli’s value just took a big hit as he is now the backup catcher for Texas after they dealt Matt Treanor to Kansas City.  Keep in mind Taylor Teagarden still looms so at some point, Napoli could return to floating between first base and designated hitter.  He is no longer a strong option as a number one catcher, but the playing time discount makes him a nice target for your second catcher with upside.

There are several other scenarios that deserve watching the next couple of days and weeks.  Will Rhymes will begin the year at second base for Detroit, but Scott Sizemore will get another shot if he hits while on the farm.  Jack Hannahan will play third for Cleveland because he is the only healthy option they have.  Left field for Seattle could be interesting once Franklin Gutierrez is healthy as both Michael Saunders and Milton Bradley have played well.  Brent Morel has won the job at third for the White Sox, but expect veteran Mark Teahen to pick up some time as well.

By means of a cheap plug for those of you that have not purchased our Platinum package, one of the in-season features will be a weekly review of playing time scenarios which will be reflected in the rest of year projections we provide.  Keeping on top of playing time issues can be crucial to maximize your at bats, and as I like to say, at bats are currency in deep leagues.

Last week, we focused on auction dynamics in a rather abstract sense, primarily as a means to generate some discussion.  This week, we will dissect a couple of recent auctions in an attempt to help demonstrate why values generated by conventional ranking systems should be a guide and that you should focus on the intrinsic value a player has to your team, a concept discussed earlier this spring.

The auctions I am going to analyze are the League of Alternative Baseball Reality auctions, better known as LABR.  It is important to note that I have done this study for the past several seasons, with the same results.  So think of this in the global sense.  The exact results are not going to necessarily emulate how your auction plays out.   But I promise you that there will be a couple of similarities, and as it happens, the 2011 American League and National League auctions turn out to be perfect examples to illustrate a couple of strategic points.

What I have done is take the names off of the bids, I do not care who went for what.  The prices of specific players is unique to each auction, to how the participants value each player, to when the player is nominated and to how each roster is constructed to that point.   What I care about is the numerical bids and the distribution of the bids, particularly in comparison to the distribution of bids generated by conventional pricing systems.

A pair of tables are about to follow, comparing the number actual prices in the designated ranges with the number of player Mastersball has projected to be in that range, customizing the specifications to the specific auctions, including adjusting the hitting to pitching spending split for each auction.  For those into this sort of thing, the AL LABR owners spent 70 percent of their budget on hitting while their NL counterparts spent 67 percent.  The two areas I want to focus upon for both hitting and pitching are the top end and bottom end prices.  While the names and exact prices change from year to year, the patterns remain the same.


HITTING



American League


National League


actual

projected


actual

projected

$40+

1

0

 

2

1

$30-$39

9

3

 

11

5

$25-$29

8

11

 

13

11

$20-$24

16

27

 

12

22

$15-$19

34

31

 

36

34

$10-$14

30

30

 

24

32

$8-$9

27

23

 

22

33

$4-$7

19

19

 

17

8

$3

3

6

 

9

6

$2

8

7

 

17

16

$1

13

11

 

19

14

 

Let us first concentrate on the stars, the players that sell for $30 or more.  In both auction, the top end prices were inflated.   In the AL, ten hitters were purchased for $30 or more while only three are projected to earn that much.  In the NL, there were thirteen hitters purchased for $30 or more but only six are projected in that range.  As suggested, this is true for almost all auctions.  The number and even the names of the hitters purchased may be different next weekend in Tout Wars, but I guarantee if I do this same analysis on those auctions, the number of batters bought for $30 or more will exceed those projected to do so.

Now let us shift our attention to the low end, those hitters purchased for $3 or less.  In the AL, the results are actually not as extreme as usual as there are 24 hitters in each set.  However, there are more $1 and $2 batters purchased than projected as the difference is made up with the $3 group.  In the NL, the results are more typical with 45 batters being bought for $1, $2 or $3 with 36 priced as such.

The above is the trend observed an all auctions: high end players go for more than projected while there are bargains to be found at the low end.  How you choose to incorporate this is completely up to you.  Some feel they can overspend at the top, secure in the comfort that they can make up for it at the low end.  Others see the profit at the low end, but do not want to give away value at the top, so they stick to the middle as well as getting low end value.  Something to realize is the differences at the low end are a result of both available money and the fact we all value players differently, most likely with respect to playing time.  We do not necessarily think a $1 player is better than another player in that range, we may just think he will get 50 more at bats.

Where it gets quite interesting is in the middle.  This is where the learned auction gamer really makes their profit.  As alluded to last week, there are no set in stone rules to be able to find the soft spot in your particular auction.  Experience is honestly the best teacher.  But as will be illustrated in a moment, each auction has a soft spot you can exploit to fill your roster with undervalued hitters.  It is imperative to understand what is about to be discussed is not going to hold fast for every auction, at least in terms of the range where there were bargains.  What will hold true is that there will be a range, and it is your job to find it and take advantage.

First, let us look at the AL.  There were 27 player projected to earn between $20 and $24, but only 16 bought in that range.  The same trend can be seen in the $25 to $29 range.  Some of these players were the ones bought for $30 or more, but not all.  The numbers suggest that some had to sell for lower than $20.  And looking at the data, this is indeed the case.  It was not many, but this was one of the buying areas, between $15 and $19.  You either got a player at value or a little under value.  Again, this is not to suggest that I am going to automatically find bargains in this range next week at AL Tout Wars.

Dropping down a tier, there were 30 players bought for $10 to $14 and the same priced that way.  But keep in mind, everyone values players differently.  My $15 guy is your $11 guy so I may only have to pay $12 so there is likely profit to be made in this tier.  The number of players purchased and players bought in the $4-$7 range and the $6-$9 range were about the same, again suggesting you could get players at value or a slight profit depending on how others value those players.

If I were in this auction, it would have been my job to recognize that the spot to buy a couple of hitters at a discount was in the $15-$19 range, then fill in with players I liked between $4 and $15, maybe picking up a few bucks profit here and there.

Looking at the NL, the trends come in different ranges, but there is indeed a soft spot to exploit.  The fact the ranges are different speak to the point that each auction will be different.   The range with the biggest discrepancy is $20 to $24, where twelve players were purchased but 22 projected.  If you do the math, it is apparent that many players in this range went for more than projected.  What this means is you were unlikely to get a bargain within that range.  You may get some hitters at value, but it is likely that several players in this range went for more if you look at the above table.

The soft spot in the NL auction for hitters was the $15 to $19 range.  If you had the patience, you could have gotten players at value, or at a small profit for the ones you liked a little more.  And it appears as though at least a couple of players projected for $20 sunk down to that lower range.

The real soft spot was in the $4-$7 range.  If you were extremely patient, you could have filled a few holes with hitters projected for double digit prices.  Look at the number of players projected to earn between $8 and $14 versus those actually bought, there are 20 players that went higher or lower, many of which had to go lower.

So looking at this auction in hindsight, buying a few hitters in the $25-$29 range, then hunting for $15-$19 hitters and rounding out with $7 and below might have been optimal.

Here is the breakdown for the pitching.


PITCHING



American League


National League


actual

projected


actual

projected

$40+

0

0

 

0

0

$30-$39

1

1

 

1

2

$25-$29

2

2

 

3

1

$20-$24

8

11

 

9

6

$15-$19

14

6

 

15

15

$10-$14

17

17

 

24

27

$8-$9

18

28

 

10

22

$4-$7

12

16

 

22

11

$3

11

5

 

7

17

$2

8

9

 

16

15

$1

17

13

 

23

14

 

One of the primary differences is ace pitchers tend to go for value while stud hitters were inflated.  This too is a theme carried year to year.   The other difference is there are significantly more $1 pitchers purchased than projected, especially when you consider more hitters are drafted than pitchers.  This is why I always have three or four pitching spots dedicated to a $1 pitcher, knowing I can likely put double digit value total on those three or four lines.

Half the fun is for you to look at the data and try to decipher for yourself what happened, so I will not bore you with more details of my view, but it does look to me like you could purchased some $20 arms in the $15-$19 range in the AL, while finding an NL arm at or under value in the $20-$24.  I suppose to really do this, one would want to separate starters from closers, but since the point is not to pinpoint the exact events, but rather to show each auction has soft spots to find value, I will leave that up to you.  Google LABR 2011 and you can find the complete rosters.

By means of a summary, what you will find in every auction is high end players going over conventional pricing with more $1-$3 being purchased than priced as such.  How you exploit that is up to you.  If you have the patience and discipline, it is not necessary to be one of the owners that overpays for a star at the top, since there will be a couple of different soft spots in the middle to pick up quality players on the cheap.  I cannot tell you what those ranges will be, I can only tell you that they will be there if you have the patience and discipline and them time your entry just right so you do not end up leaving money on the table.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

Last week, we focused on auction dynamics in a rather abstract sense, primarily as a means to generate some discussion.  This week, we will dissect a couple of recent auctions in an attempt to help demonstrate why values generated by conventional ranking systems should be a guide and that you should focus on the intrinsic value a player has to your team, a concept discussed earlier this spring.

The auctions I am going to analyze are the League of Alternative Baseball Reality auctions, better known as LABR.  It is important to note that I have done this study for the past several seasons, with the same results.  So think of this in the global sense.  The exact results are not going to necessarily how your auction plays out.   But I promise you that there will be a couple of similarities, and as it happens, the 2011 American League and National League auctions turn out to be perfect examples to illustrate a couple of strategic points.

What I have done is take the names off of the bids, I do not care who went for what.  The prices of specific players is unique to each auction, to how the participants value each player, to when the player is nominated and to how each roster is constructed to that point.   What I care about is the numerical bids and the distribution of the bids, particularly in comparison to the distribution of bids generated by conventional pricing systems.

Several charts are about to follow, comparing the number actual prices in the designated ranges with the number of player Mastersball has projected to be in that range, customizing the specifications to the specific auctions, including adjusting the hitting to pitching spending split for each auction.  For those into this sort of thing, the AL LABR owners spent 70% of their budget on hitting while their NL counterparts spent 67%.  The two areas I want to focus upon for both hitting and pitching are the top end and bottom end prices.  While the names and exact prices change from year to year, the patterns remain the same.


                           HITTING



     American League


    National League


actual

projected


actual

projected

$40+

1

0

 

2

1

$30-$39

9

3

 

11

5

$25-$29

8

11

 

13

11

$20-$24

16

27

 

12

22

$15-$19

34

31

 

36

34

$10-$14

30

30

 

24

32

$8-$9

27

23

 

22

33

$4-$7

19

19

 

17

8

$3

3

6

 

9

6

$2

8

7

 

17

16

$1

13

11

 

19

14

 

Let us first concentrate on the stars, the players that sell for $30 or more.  In both auction, the top end prices were inflated.   In the AL, ten hitters were purchased for $30 or more while only three are projected to earn that much.  In the NL, there were thirteen hitters purchased for $30 or more but only six are projected in that range.  As suggested, this is true for almost all auctions.  The number and even the names of the hitters purchased may be different next weekend in Tout Wars, but I guarantee if I do this same analysis on those auctions, the number of batters bought for $30 or more will exceed those projected to do so.

Now let us shift our attention to the low end, those hitters purchased for $3 or less.  In the AL, the results are actually not as extreme as usual as there are 24 hitters in each set.  However, there are more $1 and $2 batters purchased than projected as the difference is made up with the $3 group.  In the NL, the results are more typical with 45 batters being bought for $1, $2 or $3 with 36 priced as such.

The above is the trend observed an all auctions: high end players go for more than projected while there are bargains to be found at the low end.  How you choose to incorporate this is completely up to you.  Some feel they can overspend at the top, secure in the comfort that they can make up for it at the low end.  Others see the profit at the low end, but do not want to give away value at the top, so they stick to the middle as well as getting low end value.  Something to realize is the differences at the low end are a result of both available money and the fact we all value players differently, most likely with respect to playing time.  We do not necessarily think a $1 player is better than another player in that range, we may just think he will get 50 more at bats.

Where it gets quite interesting is in the middle.  This is where the learned auction gamer really makes their profit.  As alluded to last week, there are no set in stone rules to be able to find the soft spot in your particular auction.  Experience is honestly the best teacher.  But as will be illustrated in a moment, each auction has a soft spot you can exploit to fill your roster with undervalued hitters.  It is imperative to understand what is about to be discussed is not going to hold fast for every auction, at least in terms of the range where there were bargains.  What will hold true is that there will be a range, and it is your job to find it and take advantage.

First, let us look at the AL.  There were 27 player projected to earn between $20 and $24, but only 16 bought in that range.  The same trend can be seen in the $25 to $29 range.  Some of these players were the ones bought for $30 or more, but not all.  The numbers suggest that some had to sell for lower than $20.  And looking at the data, this is indeed the case.  It was not many, but this was one of the buying areas, between $15 and $19.  You either got a player at value or a little under value.  Again, this is not to suggest that I am going to automatically find bargains in this range next week at AL Tout Wars.

Dropping down a tier, there were 30 players bought for $10 to $14 and the same priced that way.  But keep in mind, everyone values players differently.  My $15 guy is your $11 guy so I may only have to pay $12 so there is likely profit to be made in this tier.  The number of players purchased and players bought in the $4-$7 range and the $6-$9 range were about the same, again suggesting you could get players at value of a slight profit depending on how others value those players.

If I were in this auction, it would have been my job to recognize that the spot to buy a couple of hitters at a discount was in the $15-$19 range, then fill in with players I liked between $4 and $15, maybe picking up a few bucks profit here and there.

Looking at the NL, the trends come in different ranges, but there is indeed a soft spot to exploit.  The fact the ranges are different speak to the point that each auction will be different.   The range with the biggest discrepancy is $20 to $24, where twelve players were purchased but 22 projected.  If you do the math, it is apparent that many players in this range went for more than projected.  What this means is you were unlikely to get a bargain within that range.  You may get some hitters at value, but it is likely that several players in this range went for more if you look at the above table.

The soft spot in the NL auction for hitters was the $15 to $19 range.  If you had the patience, you could gotten players at value, or at a small profit for the ones you liked a little more.  And it appears as though at least a couple of players projected for $20 suck down to that lower range.

The real soft spot was in the $4-$7 range.  If you were extremely patient, you could have filled a few holes with hitters projected for double digit prices.  Look at the number of players projected to earn between $8 and $14 versus those actually bought, there are 20 players that went higher or lower, many of which had to go lower.

So looking at this auction in hindsight, buying a few hitters in the $25-$29 range, then hunting for $15-$19 hitters and rounding out with $7 and below might have been optimal.

Here is the breakdown for the pitching.


     American League


    National League


actual

projected


actual

projected

$40+

0

0

 

0

0

$30-$39

1

1

 

1

2

$25-$29

2

2

 

3

1

$20-$24

8

11

 

9

6

$15-$19

14

6

 

15

15

$10-$14

17

17

 

24

27

$6-$9

18

28

 

10

22

$4-$7

12

16

 

22

11

$3

11

5

 

7

17

$2

8

9

 

16

15

$1

17

13

 

23

14

 

One of the primary differences is ace pitchers tend to go for value while stud hitters were inflated.  This too is a theme carried year to year.   The other difference is there are significantly more $1 pitchers purchased than projected, especially when you consider more hitters are drafted than pitchers.  This is why I always have three of four pitching spots dedicated to a $1 pitcher, knowing I can likely put double digit value total on those three or four lines.

Half the fun is for you to look at the data and try to decipher for yours elf what happened, so I will not bore you with more details of my view, but it does look to me like you could purchased some $20 arms in the $15-$19 range in the AL, while finding an arm at or under value in the $20-$24.  I suppose to really do this, one would want to separate starters from closers, but since the point is not to pinpoint the exact events, but rather to show each auction has soft spots to find value, I will leave that up to you.  Google LABR 2011 and you can find the complete rosters.

By means of a summary, what you will find in every auction is high end players going over conventional pricing with more $1-$3 being purchased than priced as such.  How you exploit that is up to you.  If you have the patience and discipline, it is not necessary to be one of the owners that overpays for a star at the top, since there will be a couple of different soft spots in the middle to pick up quality players on the cheap.  I cannot tell you what those ranges will be, I can only tell you that they will be there if you have the patience and discipline and them time your entry just right so you do not end up leaving money on the table.

LABR and Tout Wars are in the books, so all that is left are the high stakes competitions.  This season, I will be representing the site in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship, known as the NFBC for short.  In past years, I have provided an NFBC primer, but will not be doing that this time around.  The two chief components of it that most desired were an ADP that I put together from some satellite drafts and the average standings which supply the category targets.  Ironically, both of these deal with concepts that I have come out in opposition to this spring, but that is not why I am not supplying that information this season.  ADPs are now readily available and provided by the NFBC for all its participants.  And with the switch of NFBC ownership, the league data used to generate last season’s average standings vanished into cyberspace.

Instead, I will offer a series of thoughts concerning my preparation for the competition next weekend.  Some of this will rehash a few of the concepts discussed in this space the past few months, but now it is specifically in context with the NFBC.  That said, much of what I am about to discuss transcends the NFBC, with the caveat that the competition does not allow trading, so you need to draft a balanced squad.  The other difference is you do not need to complete your active roster with your first 23 picks so long as you have a legal roster by the end of the 30 rounds.

Something I learned early on is gimmicks, in general, do not win the NFBC.  Anything can work on occasion, but for the most part, playing it straight is the best means of putting together a competitive team.  Taking Joe Mauer and Victor Martinez in the first and third rounds does not work.  Waiting until the final two rounds for your receivers does not work either.  Going heavy on pitching is not wise, but neither is waiting until the 10th round for your first arm.  Using all relievers or bagging saves is not recommended.  Punting steals or batting average or trying a Sweeney variation where you ignore power have had a little success, but in general, a team constructed to compete in all ten categories has the best chance to succeed.

To briefly review my rant against using category targets, I no longer feel the need to guide my picks in an effort to accrue a predetermined level of stats.   From an abstract sense, while I will not argue with you if you contend that you want to be aware of your power versus speed balance, I do not see how drafting towards a target will impact your selection.   It seems to me your objective should be to accrue as many stats as possible and I do not understand how you can draft more stats if you are aiming towards a goal.  Though, I can see how you may use your totals to help decide whether to draft hitting or pitching, but if you opt for hitting to reach a hitting objective, you are doing it at the expense of your pitching.  From a wiseacre sense, have you ever left a draft without having hit your targets?  For that matter, have you ever left a draft where anyone in it failed to meet their target?  It is funny how all 15 participants in an NFBC Main Event league all nail their targets, but yet only one wins.  From a practical sense, I am going to conduct an extensive study on this for next spring, but with the limited data I have been able to garner, you pick up anywhere between 30 percent and 70 percent of your final stats during the draft.  That is, if your projections say you drafted 280 homers, in actuality, you have only drafted between 84 and 196 dingers.  The rest come from in-season management.  Part of the research will attempt to elucidate trends between your drafted team’s totals and your final totals, but as alluded to above, the necessary NFBC data to conduct these studies was not available this off-season.  But the take home point is I do not want to call a draft a success when there is so much in-season management involved.  I do not want to win the draft, I want to win the league.  My goal is to draft a team that I can manage into a champion.

With respect to ADP, I like to say remember, the A stands for average.  Some approach an ADP with the mindset that so-and-so will be available at pick 50 because his ADP is 50.  But what that means is about 50% of the time, the player will be available.  If that is the average draft position, half the time the player went earlier, the other half he went later.  I think an ADP can be of some use, but to use it to map out your draft, without having contingencies is dangerous.

Above, I mentioned how a possible use of drafting towards category targets may help decide if you should take a bat or an arm.  While I admit that this is anti-establishment, my approach to this is the opposite.  I have a certain level of pitching staff I want to leave the draft table with and will take my pitchers accordingly and then will fill in the hitters around the arms.  My saying is “draft the pitcher, not the round.”  There is a difference between drafting pitching cheap and drafting cheap pitching.  You want to draft pitching cheap, or perhaps better said draft quality pitching cheaply.  But the problem is that it is harder to do that now, as pitching is being evaluated better and more people are fishing for the undervalued hurlers, making it more difficult to assemble a quality staff with late round selections.  So my theory is to map out a staff of the quality I feel necessary to compete, then time my draft picks in such a manner to put it together.  I know this seems bass ackwards, as many will still preach to wait on pitching because you can cobble together pitching, but my contention is, especially in the high stakes arena, that you need to draft pitching and if necessary, cobble together your bats.   Please do not misinterpret, I am not suggesting to overload with pitching, I am only saying you can no longer count on finding a staff ace in the eighth round,  a second tier starter in the low teens or quality arms in the end game.  The advanced means of pitching analysis has reduced the supply while the number of people familiar with these techniques has grown, spiking the demand.

I will wrap this up with a brief discussion on how I approach position scarcity in NFBC drafts.  Ideally, based on the 2011 player pool, I would like to have a top-four third baseman: Evan Longoria, David Wright, Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Zimmerman.  But I will not reach for one just to get one, specifically Zimmerman if I miss out on the big-three.   I will break early ties by picking the third baseman or middle infielder over the outfielder or first baseman, but if the value of the outfielder or first baseman is significantly more than the other positions, I will not leave that on the table.  There will be middle infielders available later.

Later in the week, I will unveil my actual plans for the 2011 NFBC.

Last week, we discussed how tier rankings can be utilized in a snake draft.  Today, we will explain how they can be used to help guide bidding in the auction format.  But before we get into that, we’ll first talk about some general auction dynamics.

One of the primary differences between an auction and a draft is in an auction, the entire player pool is in play.  If you want a player, you can get him.  But the real repercussion of this is you can employ a variety of strategies not available in drafts.  In drafts, you are restricted by the fact you take players in order of descending value.  Sure, there are strategies within this you can deploy, but you are still limited by the downward spiraling nature of value.  In an auction, you can purchase multiple first round players and balance that with several last round players.  Or you can purchase a bunch of middle tier players, avoiding the stars.  The point is, you can allocate your assets in a variety of different manners.

The difference we are going to focus on today is how auctions involve a dynamic completely absent from drafts, and that is the element of money management.  Not only do you need to have a solid grasp of the player pool and the relative value between the players, you need to manage your budget in a manner to accrue as much talent as possible.  In a draft, the serpentine nature of picks levels the playing field.  In an auction, even though everyone starts with the same budget, it is possible to manage it in a manner to take advantage of market fluctuations, buying assets at below value, whereby accumulating more than what you started with in terms of value.  That is, using the standard $260 as an example, perhaps you purchase $300 worth of talent, at least according to your projections.  In a draft, you can obviously pick more than $260 worth of talent, but the point is, in an auction, this aspect of the process takes on a greater role.

Later this week, I will focus on some of the more abstract elements of the auction.  The rest of this discussion will concentrate on the means I use to help manage my budget, and involves the same ranking tiers discussed last week.

As will be explained in Under the Microscope on Thursday, there is a lot of gamesmanship during an auction.  To me, the key is to see through all of this and keep your eye on the prize, and that is making sure the available inventory matches up with what you need so you do not end up overpaying for the necessary pieces to the puzzle, costing you the ability to purchase the additional pieces you require to get the job done.

What I do is come up with a roadmap of how I want to spend my budget.  Let us use the same $260 described earlier.  I take the $260 and distribute it amongst the roster posts I need to fill.  For the sake of this example, let us say the league has 14 hitters and 9 pitchers.  I will draw 23 lines on a piece of paper and distribute the $260 amongst those lines.  Here is where the tiers come in.  The lines are not priced willy-nilly.  They are patterned to take advantage of pockets of players bunched around certain values while avoiding assigning amounts where the inventory is low or unattractive.  This gives me the greatest opportunity to not mismanage my money.  As I will describe, the key to this procedure is being flexible, but even with that, you still want to have the maximum opportunity to fill each spot.  Tiers help me do that.

Some people like to assign both an amount and a position to a line.  While I may do that in certain instances, most notably for a closer and my catchers, I try to be a little flexible amongst the positions.  The exception is when the tiers dictate that there are a plethora of desired players at the same position in the same tier.  In this case, I will indeed dedicate both a price and a position to a line.

Now is where it gets fun.  A successful auction is one where you balance getting players for less than value, filling in as much talent as possible around them.   This is why you do not want to predetermine too many lines with both price and position.   If a third baseman you value at $35 is at $30, you want to be able to put him on your $30 line and not bypass it because that must be saved for a second baseman.  Or perhaps, if you feel strongly that you want to save that $30 line for a second baseman, you take your $25 line and add $5 to it, buy the third baseman and take away $5 from another line.  This is the flexibility alluded to earlier.

Tiers are the key to this means of budget allocation.  What you need to do is always make sure that there is available inventory to fill your open lines.  Tiers are the easiest manner to do this.  If you have a $20 spot and you note the inventory of players you expect to go in that range is dwindling, you need to make a purchase soon or distribute that $20 line to other lines that better match up with the remaining player pool.  This is the biggest mistake made in auctions and it has nothing to do with your ability to evaluate and rank players.  Having too much money left to buy the available talent is not the recipe for success.  For me, tiers are an invaluable tool to track if I am properly budgeted to best acquire the available players.

I’ll finish with how I would approach an AL only and an NL only auction, based on this season’s player pool.

Looking at the American League pool, I do not see the separation at the top that is normally seen.  That is, I do not see anyone I would be willing to spend $40 to buy.  And it will be the nature of auctions to have the top players go for around $40.  Instead, I will make my top line to be $30 so I am ready for a bargain in that range, but plan on buying the majority of my players in the high teens and low twenties.  For reasons I will explain in future essays, I like to have a handful of end game spots, though I admit not as many as I used to in the past.  While I am not married to this, I will likely spend about $185 on hitting and $75 on pitching, so that is how I will do the initial budget.  My habit is to allocate $5 to a pair of catchers, and if one comes in under value, I buy him and adjust my lines.  With that as a backdrop, here is how I might approach an AL only auction:

HITTING: $5 for 2 catchers, one player at $30, 7 at $20, then $10 to spend on 4 total spots, all adding up to $185.

PITCHING: $20 for a closer, $15, $15, $10, $5, $5, $2, $2, $1, total of $75

With the hitting, I am flexible around those $20 spots.   If someone I like stops at $14, I put him on a $20 line an add $6 to one of the other lines or maybe add $3 to two of them.  Or perhaps I take that $6 and add it to the catcher line or even a pitcher.  But whatever I do, it is always using the tiers as a guide so I can make sure wherever I shift it, there are ample players there to buy.

In the National League, there are more top end players I like.  It is just the nature of the different player pools.  So I would likely make my hitting lines to be more striated.  The pitching would be the same, though since some NL only leagues use 10 pitchers, I would have to add another $1 line, making one of the $5 lines to be $4.

The hitting may look more like

$35, $35, $30, $20, $15, $15, $15, $5, $5 and $10 for 5 spots.

If a player I like costs more than $35, I’ll take him and shift the appropriate funds off another line.  If I see early on that the front end inflation is too rich for my liking, I will swerve to a plan more like the AL one.

So even though I am preaching flexibility, having these initial money lines helps keep me focused and my eye on the inventory, so I am less apt to have more money than there is talent available.  I can put $230 worth of talent on my roster for $200, but if I mismanage my budget and can only buy $30 with the remaining $60, at the end of the day, I break even.  But if I do the opposite and clean up on the bargains, I can buy $90, putting $320 worth of talent on my roster.

 

Latest Tweets

 2017Platlogo

 

LABRLOGO

xfl

toutwarslogo-new

Our Authors