Blog Entry

Anatomy of an Auction Draft

Posted on: April 23, 2008 2:12 pm

Several weeks ago, I hopped a flight to Rochester, NY for the 6th year in a row to participate in the ultimate fantasy baseball experience; an auction draft.   I had dabbled with a league on Yahoo for a couple of years before that, so my brother coerced me into joining this league he'd been a part of for about 10 years.  The league itself has probably been in existence for about 15.  I had no idea what I was in for, how challenging and competitive it would be, and how addicted I'd become. 

It's necessary to give a little background regarding the rules.  It's 13 teams, NL only, 5X5 roto, 7 keepers allowed with a $260 salary cap.  The roster spots include 2 catchers, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, 5 OF, U and 9 pitchers.  The only reserve spots you get are for the injured or sent down players.  You can replace said players on a weekly basis based on the standings.  The last place team gets all their first choices first and so on and so forth with the first place team being last.  You are allowed to make 7 dumps per season, the first 5 costing $5 each, and the remaining 2 costing $7 each.  Dumps come after replacing injured and minored players.  When a player is activated off the disabled list or called up, you can choose to keep his replacement and drop someone else, but that counts as a dump.  You have 2 Mondays to activate a player or else you lose them.  As for salaries, any player you pick up during the year is automatically $10, and if they come over from the AL, they're $25.  Salaries remain the same for year 2, but then go up in increments of $5 every year afterwards.  The top 4 teams are winners.  First place gets a significant piece of the pie, and 4th place basically gets their expenses for the league covered.  I actually was able to come in 4th 2 years out of 5. 

Now, I ask you to imagine a table in the basement of someone's house with 12 + men and myself sitting around it for 8 hours minimum.  I say 12 + because some teams have 2 proxies.  In the middle of the table are assorted candies, cookies, chips and pain killers.  Around the periphery of the table are several coolers with assorted beverages and beer.  The commissioner starts off the process with bringing up any rules that were haggled over during the previous season.  Sometimes, they're brought to a vote as to whether or not to change them.  After that business is squared away, he also presents the first player with an opening bid.  Clockwise around the table we go with each manager either upping the bid or passing on the player completely by turning over the plastic cup we all have in front of us.  It eventually gets down to one team who wins that player.  Again clockwise, each team presents one player at a time.  The objective in the beginning is to get people to spend as much money as possible, so the elite players are always thrown out first. 

My objective has always been to allow every other team to spend enough, so that I have the most money before I even buy my first player.  This allows me to pace myself which always nets me the most money left towards the end of the draft as well.  This is where you get your bargain gems.  Unfortunately, there is another team who does the same thing.  I've managed to wait him out half the time and not the other half.  I'm not going to miss out on a player I want by being inflexible.  He's actually waited so long sometimes that the crabby managers have become restless and started mumbling.  I've always managed to have more money than him at the end though which is really the most important thing.  My other objective is to always throw out players for bid that I don't need or want.  Each year, I got to know the NL players better and better until the pinnacle of my success last season when my team produced enough keepers to make it very difficult to make decisions.  James Loney I happened to pick up in a dump which cost me $10.  I did not succeed in winning any of the top 4 spots last season because it was essentially my rebuilding year, and that was just fine with me.  At the point where I knew there was no hope of me finishing in the money, I started trying to make trades for keepers which netted me Corey Hart at $8 and Jonathan Broxton at $6.

After much deliberation, I settled on keeping Corey Hart at $8, James Loney at $10, Adrian Gonzalez at $14, Kelly Johnson at $7, Russell Martin at $15, Rafael Soriano at $2 and Brandon Lyon at $10.  Armed with a solid core on offense and 2 closers, my focus was on starting pitching.  My first year in the league, my starters all fell to injury at some point.  After it happened again the next season, I decided to load up on starters the next 3 years.  I changed that philosophy this year and took a couple of middle relievers on good teams that I knew would net me some wins and keep my ERA and WHIP down.  My other focus was to get Dan Haren and one other "stud" which wound up being Ben Sheets.  I usually try to stay away from injury risks, but the price on him was too good to pass up, and I figured my luck was bound to change some time.  Where buying was concerned, I did manage to wait out everyone before making my first buy, but unfortunately, I got backed into a corner on some offensive positions because there was nobody left who would be worthwhile.  I wound up overpaying for these players.  I never take part-time players, so when I say worthwhile, I mean starters.  Because of this, I didn't wind up with more money than anyone else at the end, but in a year where my team is built to win, it really wasn't necessary.  I was disappointed that I missed out on a couple of people I especially coveted, but such is life. 

At some point during the draft, we always break for a meal of deli.  Otherwise, if you have to go to the bathroom, you better run.  The later it gets, the less tylenol and sugary items are left on the table.  The later it gets, the more ornery everyone becomes.  The barbs in jest throughout the day become less funny.  The amount of time people take to make a decision on whether to bid or not becomes less amusing.  One manager had the Jeopardy theme ready to go on his laptop whenever anyone took an inordinate amount of time. 

There are different characters in my league.  There is the one know-it-all who has something to say about everything.  There are the silent managers who never have anything to say about anything.  There are the technical managers who are on their laptops the entire time analyzing.  There are the overconfident managers who you want to beat more than anyone else.  There are some incredibly excellent drafters and some not so much.  There are the managers you look at dumbfounded when they throw out particular players for bid because you can't believe they actually want them.  These are the same managers whose teams you look at and secretly laugh to yourself.  Those teams inevitably wind up at the rear every season, but hey, they're having fun. 

All in all, I felt confident with my draft, and in the 4th week of the season, I'm in 3rd place with only 2 injuries.  Yes, Sheets is going to miss his next start, but he's still not on the DL.  If he does wind up there, I'll stay afloat with a replacement for the time being.  And there you have it. 

Category: MLB

Since: Dec 1, 2007
Posted on: May 3, 2008 11:54 am

Anatomy of an Auction Draft

Franticantic, my ERA and WHIP are holding pretty strong in my league with who I drafted.  I'm even doing well in wins, mostly because Haren and Sheets can't seem to lose.  Edgar Gonzalez has been moved to the bullpen with the arrival of Scherzer, so he won't be able to hurt me anymore.  Too bad I couldn't get him, but I didn't have an injury last week.  Backe has actually been doing relatively well except for his WHIP, but Haren and Sheets cancel that out.  Villanueva has been up and down.  Every team has that problem though, so it's just a matter of keeping your own damage lower than everyone else's.  That's part of the reason I take middle relievers.  Since I now only have 4 starters, their innings pitched will actually make a dent.  It's all a balancing act.  I am hurting for strikeouts though, so I'm going to have to look at improving there.  I'm probably going to have to pick up another starter.  It sucks about Soriano as well, but thankfully, I decided to keep 2 closers.  I'm not going to do that well in saves now, but I'll stay afloat.  You know there are always saves that arise from an unexpected place during the season, and I can always make a trade.  Maybe even Soriano will come back as closer, or reclaim the job down the road although I'm not counting on that.  The only other category I'm suffering badly in is BA.  I'm not worried about that though since it can only get better with the players I have. 

Big E, I think you got great value, except maybe for Peavy.  I'm not saying he's not worth it, but I'm always reluctant to spend that much on a pitcher since they're more likely to get injured.  I shouldn't really talk though since I paid $33 for Haren. 

You know, everyone should try doing a league that only uses AL OR NL players.  You really can't appreciate how big the player pool is in a mixed league until you do. 

Since: Jul 6, 2007
Posted on: April 25, 2008 9:21 am

Anatomy of an Auction Draft

Great story

In my in-person auction I waited out the big spenders...armed with my laptop and a ranking list of 300 players (using the pre-season rankings from a couple of magazines, and referencing the AAV's from previous auctions) I got a team, that as of Opening Day, had more value than any other team in my league -- that is, armed with a $260 budget, I got $513 worth of value. The next team had $483 in value, down to the 8th ranked team of $429 in value.

My keepers included: Russell Martin ($9), Ichiro Suzuki ($18), Dan Haren ($7) and Jake Peavy ($21). For a combined $28 I had two potential aces -- for less than the price of one.

My opening day roster, with what I paid and their average pre-season magazine value:

Player, My Cost (Pre-season magazine value)

Russell Martin, $9 ($22)
A. J. Pierzynski, $4 ($8)
Justin Morneau, $16 ($26)
Brian Roberts, $18 ($24)
Miguel Cabrera, $25 ($40)
J.J. Hardy, $3 ($16)
Chipper Jones, $8 ($25)
RIckie Weeks, $2 ($17)
Jeff Francoeur, $9 ($18)
Ichiro Suzuki, $18 ($33)
Torii Hunter, $14 ($24)
Adam Dunn, $14 ($20)
Corey Hart, $9 (20)

Jake Peavy, $21 ($36)
Dan Haren, $7 ($29)
Joe Blanton, $2 ($12)
James Shields, $9 ($22)
A. J. Burnett, $2 ($20)
Jered Weaver, $15 ($10)
Billy Wagner, $11 ($26)
Joe Nathan, $16 ($28)
Chad Cordero, $5 ($17)

Cordero, obviously a bust so far...picked up a couple of FA's since then. We use a FAAB-type system for FA pickups.

Weaver was the only one I over paid for. He was my next-to-last player I needed, I had a LOT of money left in the bank, and one other team was driving up the bidding. But he couldn't outspend me and I got him for about $10 more than I thought I would that late in the auction. The last player I got was Pierzynski.

Overall I am happy with my team, and am in 2nd place right now.

Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: April 24, 2008 12:50 pm

Anatomy of an Auction Draft

That's a really interesting way to manage all five categories of pitching, because it seems logical that you can juice your ERA and WHIP numbers when they're out of whack with your W and S, which happens occasionally. In our free league here on Sportsline, I have great W and S, but an abominable ERA and WHIP so far. After thinking about it, it's a good tool for peace of mind in the early going, when a solid 2 IP every other day actually makes a dent.


Since: Dec 1, 2007
Posted on: April 23, 2008 7:04 pm

Anatomy of an Auction Draft

I'm not really worried about Soriano since it's so early.  I'm still getting saves from Lyon, so it's not like I'm going to have a tremendous amount of ground to make up.  I picked up Jared Burton for him who has a tremendous strikeout rate.  He even got me a win the other day.  The middle relievers I drafted were Ryan Madson of the Phillies and Pedro Feliciano of the Mets.  In addition, I took Edgar Gonzalez of the Diamondbacks who's their long reliever and spot starter.  With Randy Johnson in that rotation, he's bound to get at least 10 starts this year.  He's already had 3, and even though RJ's back now, he's staying in the rotation until Doug Davis returns.  Gonzalez isn't the greatest option, but he's servicable and on a good team, and he won't kill my ERA and WHIP because he'll spend half the season in the bullpen.  I choose my middle relievers based on their starting rotations.  If it's a good one, the games will more likely have tie scores in late innings, so a solid pitcher who usually pitches the 7th or 8th has a higher probability of getting a win than on a team where the rotation is weak and likely to be involved in blowouts. 

As for offense, you can't change your lineup at all during the season unless you have to replace someone who was injured or sent down.  So, the draft in this league is even more important.  Since I already kept three 5 tool players in Martin, Johnson and Hart, I focused on maintaining that balance.  My offensive keepers were all capable of putting up 20 plus homers, but to ensure my homer total, I took Adam Dunn who's practically going to guarantee 40.  I also took Corey Patterson and Nyjer Morgan to ensure the steals category.  Wherever possible, I took well balanced players who would get me a little of everything including Justin Upton who's currently raking.  When I was out of those options, I just made sure to take full-time players who wouldn't hurt my average. 

Johan Santana went for $39 and not surprisingly is the highest paid pitcher in the league.  Jose Reyes went for the most at $50 with the reasoning that team wouldn't have to spend any other money on steals.  Other notables were Matt Holliday for $40, Garrett Atkins for $38, David Wright for $40, Chase Utley for $43, Carlos Lee for $43, Carlos Beltran for $40 and Albert Pujols for $41. 

Since: May 11, 2007
Posted on: April 23, 2008 6:42 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: April 23, 2008 4:33 pm

Anatomy of an Auction Draft

Yank, good write-up. Have you had to scramble to make up for the lost numbers from Soriano, Lyon and Sheets? You mentioned trying out a couple of middle relievers. I'm curious which ones you picked. How about on offense? Any particular strategy you're working with the bats, and is it showing anything this early?

Who went highest? As a new NL-only phantasy phenom, how high did Santana go?

If you're in third, congrats and keep it going. You're in one tough league.

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