Anatomy of an Auction Draft

Today is supposed to be a waiver wire article, but we’ll have plenty of those. For those of you still planning one last draft (and the internal FanGraphs league is one of those), I thought I would present to you my second-ever auction draft. Yes, I’m a noob. But with more mocks and real-life auctions in my review mirror, I’ll be able to step up the auction coverage here at RotoGraphs.

Here are my results, with comments coming after:

Position Player $
C Brian McCann 22
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia 1
1B Adrian Gonzalez 31
2B Brandon Phillips 21
3B Gordon Beckham 17
SS Alcides Escobar 12
CI Paul Konerko 10
MI Chris Getz 1
OF Justin Upton 30
OF Carlos Lee 19
OF Matt LaPorta 4
OF Seth Smith 1
OF Scott Podsednik 1
UT Gaby Sanchez 2
BN Xavier Nady 1
BN Matt Joyce 1
Total Offense: $173

Position Player $
P CC Sabathia 26
P Josh Johnson 22
P Brett Anderson 16
P Roy Oswalt 6
P Ryan Franklin 5
P Ryan Madson 4
P Kerry Wood 3
P Ryan Rowland-Smith 2
P Jonathon Niese 1
BN Ian Kennedy 1

Pitching total: $87

This was a 15-team put on by MDS (MillionDollarSleeper), who I’m sure you’ve seen around the comment boards at this site and others. He brought in an impressive collection of talent including David Goleblahblah, Paul Greco from FantasyPros911, Tim Heany from KFFL, Rudy Gamble and Grey Albright from Razzball, Paul Bourdett from AOL Fantasy Fanhouse, Antonio D’Arcangelis from RotoExperts, Scott Swanay from Fantasy Sherpas, Chris Carbonell from the Starbonell BlogTalkRadio show, Charlie Saponara from FB365, and yours truly.

Given that it was a 15-team league and my second attempt ever, I don’t think I fared so badly. I’d say Adrian Gonzalez for $31 was a little much, but the top-tier first basemen went for closer to $40 and Albert Pujols went for $48, so I think I did okay there. Maybe $10 is too much for Paul Konerko, but Adam LaRoche went minutes later for $15 and I felt (much) better. Things happened a little differently with Alcides Escobar – ten minutes after wondering if I’d spent too much on him, Everth Cabrera went for $4 and I wondered if Escobar’s superior batting average (based on fewer Ks and minor league history) was worth $8. Maybe it will prove to be. Carlos Lee for $19 looks about as bad as he does in a uniform, but the crib sheet I was using from LastPlayerPicked.com had Lee worth $21 next year and I was happy to get the power production with a good batting average for relatively cheap. And as for Scott Podsednik and Gaby Sanchez, who both showed up on my NFBC teams, too: They were cheap. And I think they’ll play almost regularly all year. So that’s something.

On the pitching side, CC Sabathia went for less than Johan Santana ($28), Dan Haren ($31), Felix Hernandez ($33), Zack Greinke ($32) and Tim Lincecum ($41), so I was happy to get my ace for cheaper than most. I also preferred CC, despite his big innings totals, over Ubaldo Jimenez ($26) and Ricky Nolasco ($25) as much as I like the younger pitchers. Lord knows CC has put up big innings totals before.

Once I spent my top-closer money on Brett Anderson, I knew I’d be looking for value in the saves category. Advice from Baseball Prospectus’ Marc Normandin was ringing in my ear (punt saves!), but I decided I’d rather try to field a full team this time. Once he’s healthy, I happen to think that the Indians will want to run Kerry Wood out there at closer to pump up his value for a trade, meaning that between him and Ryan Madson, I think I might have a second closer in there somewhere.

It’s kind of a wonky team and seems devoid of elite, top-shelf talent, but it just might work. What do you guys think?




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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


24 Responses to “Anatomy of an Auction Draft”

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  1. MDS says:

    with 15 teams, you can view Upton as a elite, top shelf talent. I bumped his price up a little bit on ya. CC at $26 is the cheapest Ive seen him go. I think your team has plenty of talent. Good luck! Ill be chasing saves vs ya, I cant believe I drafted Brad Lidge. Lord help me!

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  2. kevinebert says:

    I think your outfield and Utility spots are a little weak. Seth Smith, Podsednik and Sanchez aren’t going to cut it in a mixed league. I would look to replace them when a decent guy shows up on the waiver wire. I like Seth Smith, but it’s hard to see him playing more than 3 times a week subbing for one of the Rockies outfielders.

    I would have used the money you spent on Josh Johnson or Brett Anderson to shore up your outfield. You can usually find a cheap starting pitcher with upside.

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    • Reuben says:

      Seth Smith was worth 3 WAR in limited playing time last year with a slash line 293/378/510. if the Rockies management realizes how much better he is than hawpe (and hopefully they will), he could be a great value in any league.

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  3. I like the power/speed of your infield. The Upton/Lee duo to start your outfield is very solid and I like LaPorta to have a solid 20-plus home run season (you outbid me for his services).

    The way things played out $26 for CC and $22 for Josh Johnson seem fair.

    The closers situation was crazy in this draft as prices were bunched together at the top and low at the bottom. I was able to steal Mariano Rivera for $15 and Heath Bell for $10. Chasing saves is going to be a battle to the death in this league.

    I have a feeling your first roster moves are going to be adding depth to your outfield and perhaps swaping out some low-end starters.

    If you want to check out my thoughts on the draft and how my team came together…

    http://fantasybaseball365.com/2010-articles/april/draft-review-blog-wars-15-team-auction.html

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  4. Godzirra says:

    Beckham seems expensive, no? Like the upside in smith, kennedy, and laporta for cheap.

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  5. rotofan says:

    I think you spent too much on top tier starting pitching. It’s not that you overpaid on each of your big three — Sabathia was a good price for the context of your league. But $64 on three starting pitchers left you with too little money to get a credible closer or to shore up holes in your offense.

    Your closers are a motley crew. Franklin was exceptionally lucky last season and the Cardinals won’t have much patience when he regresses. Woods and Madsen are reasonable low cost picks but not without someone better than Franklin to front them.

    I like the Laporta pick but I think Pods is at risk of losing at-bats during the year as he moves to a tough hitters’ park. Getz is also at risk of not playing regularly with Aviles seemingly healthy.

    It’s not that you made screamingly bad picks – most seem reasonable for the price. I think your error was one of broader strategy. It would be interesting to see what starting pitchers went for $1 to $15.

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    • Reuben says:

      While I agree (everyone does) that Franklin is due for a regression, I think Cardinals will have way too much patience, much like the Phils of last year.

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  6. Eno Sarris says:

    Here are some gusy. Bills and Shields in particular stand out as guys I could have taken instead of Anderson? and then had some more money for the OF?

    64. Gavin Floyd $14 MDS
    133. Javier Vázquez $14 Base Heads
    138. Matt Garza $13 KFFL
    75. Ryan Dempster $13 Base Heads
    120. John Danks $12 Base Heads
    144. Chad Billingsley $12 FB365
    167. Francisco Liriano $12 Base Heads
    141. John Lackey $12 Razzbal
    38. Max Scherzer $11 Goleblahblah
    90. Hiroki Kuroda $10 The Sherpas

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  7. Eno Sarris says:

    172 James Shields $9 FP911.com
    130 Jair Jurrjens $9 Goleblahblah
    163 Jered Weaver $9 FP911.com
    221 Kevin Slowey $8 KFFL
    189 A.J. Burnett $8 KFFL
    227 Jorge De La Rosa $7 MDS
    213 Scott Kazmir $7 Surrendering Pumas
    196 Kevin Correia $7 FP911.com
    131 Stephen Strasburg $7 The Baby Grandersons
    195 Jeff Niemann $7 The Sherpas
    222 Rich Harden $7 KFFL

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    • kampfer says:

      133. Javier Vázquez $14 Base Heads
      144. Chad Billingsley $12 FB365
      172 James Shields $9 FP911.com
      227 Jorge De La Rosa $7 MDS

      These guys are all pretty cheap…I like Billingsley and Vazquez a lot. For 14 you can gamble on one more year of super Vazquez… And at worst the $14 turns into bunches of Wins. Ks and fine WHIP. Billingsley at $12 is true bargain. He has massive talent and has proven himself once. Kind of a post-hyped prospect. But Anderson at $16 is robbery… I think you did well.

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        Bills is the one where I was kicking myself. I guess $4 in the OF would have got me Blanks ($5) over Podsednik, which would have been nice.

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    • rotofan says:

      Thanks for posting the list and sorry for my very late reply. There’s a lot of talent on that list; Billingsly, Shields, Kuroda, etc.

      I thought I should let you know that at my auction Saturday, I ended up spending much more on pitching than I planned to. It’s a deep keeper league and I had the best keeper list going in, so a rival tried to bid up the best remaining outfielder, Adam Jones, and took him up to $50 — I let him have him. By calling his bluff, I drained his budget and was left with more cash than I needed to fill my outfield (and still a projected lead in all offensive categories but one) so I picked up John Lester and Jon Rauch instead.

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  8. dudley says:

    i personally don’t like investing a lot into catcher, due to low total PAs and high injury risks–jeff clement is my guy in all three of my leagues, cheap and plays 1B.

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      I hear you on that for sure. Been banging the catchers-late drum for a while. Guess I just saw the hot spring for McCann (he’s got the Dewan Rule +200 SLG thing going right now) and the possiblity of a nice lineup, and bit on him for what seemed a reasonable price.

      On the other hand, Clement went for $5, and the $1 catchers were pretty poor, as you can see from my team.

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  9. Jay says:

    Every time I get excited about spring training stats, I remind myself that Travis Ishikawa hit seven home runs in spring training last year… and then hit nine total in 363 ABs during the regular season. The urge to try to find value in spring training stats can still be strong, but as a Giants fan, the lesson of Ishikawa is a potent antidote!

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      Of course you are right about hte sample size. But John Dewan showed that 75% of players with .200+ increase in ST SLG over career numbers had an above-career season that year. See it here. I am skeptical, like you, since the sample size is so small, but he seems to check it yearly and find similar results.

      And McCann’s regular seasons are worth about $23 according to LPP. He’s no Ishikawa.

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  10. Artimus Winklejohn says:

    172 James Shields $9 FP911.com
    130 Jair Jurrjens $9 Goleblahblah
    163 Jered Weaver $9 FP911.com
    221 Kevin Slowey $8 KFFL
    189 A.J. Burnett $8 KFFL
    227 Jorge De La Rosa $7 MDS
    213 Scott Kazmir $7 Surrendering Pumas
    196 Kevin Correia $7 FP911.com
    131 Stephen Strasburg $7 The Baby Grandersons
    195 Jeff Niemann $7 The Sherpas
    222 Rich Harden $7 KFFL

    This is actually a good representation of the tier that I drafted most of my pitchers from. I went for pitchers with home parks that depress offense (according to retrosheet) and had good defenses behind them (courtesy of you guys). I found that in auctions you can get very cheap pitching as long as you have depth and are willing to scout the week ahead (or more) in H2H leagues. In typical snake drafts, you can wait a little longer on drafting a pitcher since guys like Shields, Correia, and Rowland-Smith are late late rounders anyway. And because of this, I get to focus in selecting more elite offense. There is some wide variance with the pitching staff, but it seemed logical to me to be able to save $35-$40 on starters and being able to pump that in to Pujols or Braun- and still being competitive even if most of my pitchers I would never start too far away from home.

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  11. Greg Tellis says:

    Great draft…you stole a bunch of guys and overpaid for very little.

    McCANN…….everybody has to take two catchers…what an edge you have.
    PHILLIPS……great value for a 4-5 tool infielder.
    UPTON………what was your league thinking?
    C LEE………..see Upton.
    SMITH……….playing time to come…wait until they trade Hawpe.
    NADY………..see Smith.
    GABY………..nice gamble.
    S-PITCHING..your elite guys, down to Oswalt, were great buys.
    MADSON……inspired…Lidge may never get his job back.
    KENNEDY…..brilliant gamble.

    Greg

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  12. malacoda1970 says:

    Anderson is the fly in the ointment, and those dollars should have gone to the OF. You did very well with Upton and Phillips, the rest seems pretty reasonable. Seth Smith has good upside, maybe the Rockies will trade Hawpe to some team that needs a DH.

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  13. lester bangs says:

    Normandin’s giving you bad advice. To win a competitive league you’ll need to contest every category. Punting is a mistake.

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  14. Rudy Gamble says:

    Eno -
    Not a bad draft but the biggest issue your team has right now is depth. On offense, 4 of 5 categories are counting stats. This translates to both performance and playing time. Your team thins out pretty quickly – LaPorta and Smith are barely 5th OFs and Pods is FA-quality. Same w/ Gaby (at least for now). The pitching is strong at top but looks to perform at about average across the 5 categories with Normandin owing you a huge apology. Maybe he was referring to 12-team AL/NL-only leagues but you never punt saves. I ended up getting 6 closers at good rates and will likely get premiums on them when I trade them as the year goes on (already traded K-Rod/Theriot for Jeter/Swisher b/c I stocked up on cheaper save options).

    I’m also disappointed that you drafted only one Mariner (Rowland-Smith) with slight credit for drafting one alumnus (Franklin).

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  15. B-Chad says:

    A little late to the party but yours was one of the teams I definitely found myself looking at and liking a lot post draft. Obviously there are some pieces I like more than others, namely Brett Anderson (hence already making an offer for him). Definitely got McCann at a bargain considering I purchased Matt Wieters for the same price. Definitely enjoyed my first auction draft, feel pretty good about my roster, but definitely had some “noob,” moments.

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