Kicking Mocks: My Auction

As long and grueling a process as it may have been, deep down, I still love a good old fashioned auction-style draft (yes, I read the comments on Mike P’s draft recap, so hopefully now, that inane debate doesn’t spill over to here). I love snake-style drafts too, don’t get me wrong. There’s usually a little more chatter and pick praise/criticism because people’s focus isn’t split by steady budget calculations. But in a snake-style draft, you automatically know that there are certain players you won’t get based on your draft position and while you may be making your own picks, your competition’s selections have a much greater impact on the choices you make in each round. In an auction-style draft, within reason, you can have anyone you want so long as you have the money to spend. Technically, everyone is up for grabs. You might have to make a sacrifice or two (or three or four even) to get someone, but it remains your choice whether or not to bid or spend. If you really want a guy, you make sure he is nominated at a time when you have the money to afford him, and probably a few bucks extra in case someone else covets him as much.

That being said, it’s time to talk about this particular mock auction along with my strategy and thought process…

I’m a big fan of the “stars and scrubs” strategy. I love having that core group of elite talent and then use the research and draft prep that I do to find a few hidden gems who I expect to have a breakout. Not to mention, there are always a few guys who seem to slip through the cracks and don’t get nominated until everyone has spent most of their bid dollars. However, this strategy is a lot easier to employ when you’re going up against a mixed-bag of competitors, not a bunch of guys who either write for a fantasy baseball site or spend the majority of their time reading one (or two or three). There’s no such thing as a sleeper in this group. Every hidden gem has been exposed for weeks, sometimes longer.

So for this draft, I had to tweak the strategy just a bit. I wanted eight of my 23 players to be considered “sixth round and up” material if we were doing a snake-style draft — one first rounder, two second rounders, three third or fourth rounders and two fifth or sixth round guys. I’d be spending a substantial amount of my total budget on them, but I’d also be holding back some cash to make a few $7 or $8 picks, some $3 or $4 picks and then obviously my $1 guys. And here’s how it turned out…

C $4 A.J. Pierzynski TEX
C $1 Welington Castillo CHC
1B $27 Paul Goldschmidt AZ
2B $17 Jason Kipnis CLE
3B $21 Pablo Sandoval SF
SS $1 Hiroyuki Nakajima OAK
OF $47 Mike Trout LAA
OF $34 Jason Heyward ATL
OF $18 Michael Bourn FA (He’ll land somewhere and when he does he’ll be awesome)
OF $1 Dayan Viciedo CHW
OF $1 Cody Ross AZ
MI $1 Gordon Beckham CHW
CI $8 Justin Morneau MIN
Util $3 Michael Young PHI
P $23 Cliff Lee PHI
P $20 Chris Sale CHW
P $7 Trevor Bauer CLE
P $8 Greg Holland KC
P $3 Jason Vargas LAA
P $7 Jeremy Hellickson TB
P $4 Marco Estrada MIL
P $2 Carlos Marmol CHC
P $1 Jacob Turner MIA

Overall, I was pretty happy with the way things turned out.  I stuck to my plan and, for the most part, I stayed within my budget split. Trout, Heyward, Bourn, Goldschmidt, Kipnis, Sandoval, Lee and Sale are all, in a 14-team league, sixth round material or better. I spent more than I planned to on both Heyward and Goldschmidt, but not by so much that I was going to have to draw up a new set of plans for the remainder of the draft. I simply cut from what I was planning on spending on my catchers and I went with a cheaper, more of a hunch pick, at the utility spot.

I like my offense. I think I have a good mix of power and speed (yes, MustBunique, The Jet gets Trout and Bourn!), some nice stars and some good upside picks. I’m fairly confident that all of my $1 picks will prove to earn more than that by season’s end. And if someone doesn’t, I have enough flexibility that I can happily play the waiver wire and not sweat dropping Beckham or even Nakajima if they don’t pan out.

My pitching might actually be a little too reliant on potential and upside and I’ll likely be forced to make some cuts and play the wire if this turned into a real league. While Lee and Sale should prove to be solid anchors, there might just be a tad too much wishful thinking than hardcore evidence of a breakout for guys like Hellickson, Estrada and Bauer. Turner, though unproven, still has upside and Vargas just needs to come a little closer to his 2012 totals than those from 2011. Holland will be an excellent closer this year and if a $2 Marmol doesn’t pan out, there will certainly be another closer (or two or three) out there on the wire at some point during the year.

So that’s how it all went down. Seven hours well spent as hopefully there is something positive about my draft that you can take and use in drafts of your own. If not, then enjoy ripping apart my team and strategy below.




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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com


20 Responses to “Kicking Mocks: My Auction”

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  1. DrBGiantsfan says:

    I love your team from Mike Trout down to the $1 guys. Pitching might be a bit iffy, but like you said, pitching is easier to find off the waiver wire/FA list than hitting so you can work on building it up during the season.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      Thanks. As I said, I was pretty happy the way it turned out. I always go into mocks as if we are going to play it out for the year, so the fact that it went the way it did, I am hoping it will be a good tool for people when developing their own personalized strategy.

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  2. Aaron Murray says:

    Was this for an Ottoneu, type format?

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  3. KJ says:

    Did everyone forget about Viciedo? Seems like a great $1 pickup.

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  4. Ryan says:

    Seriously, how did Viciedo go for $1 in that league? That’s insane. If he is more consistent this year, he should have no problem reaching the 30 home run mark barring injury. He is on my team (AL only) and i am going to protect him for $10 (the minimum amount you can protect a player for). He hit 26 homers last year. I though you said your league was filled with professional baseball writers, not casual bandwagon fans. lol In my league, if he was drafted and I let him go to the auction, he would easily go for $10 and probably closer to $15

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    • Howard Bender says:

      Guys slip through the cracks all of the time in auctions, regardless of how knowledgeable the owners are. What can you do? Maybe the .255 average was a turn-off for some. Either way, it’s little surprises/bonuses like that, that you should always be on the look-out for.

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      • Ryan says:

        I understand, I am in an auction league myself. Slipping through the cracks for Viciedo would be $5 though! Nobody even up-bid him, that is crazy. I guess since my league is AL only, he has more value. But still.

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    • FWIW, my spreadsheet had Viciedo at $4 last year, and Zach Sanders had him at $3.

      He might flirt with 30 HR in 2013, but he hurts you in BA/OBP and has zero speed (1 SB/162 career). Paying $15 for him in a redraft seems way too high.

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      • Ryan says:

        I’m in an AL only league with 10 teams, 23 players each and a cap of $26. Anybody that even has a starting job (even if they can;t hit) will go for at least $3. Viciedo would easily eclipse $10 in my league. It is incredibly competitive and the pickings can be slim. There is literally nobody of value on the waiver wire.

        In a mixed league, I can see him going for $5 on the cheap.

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  5. Scott says:

    Kicking Mocks….I see what you did there :)

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  6. SKob says:

    I commented on the initial release of the teams that I thought yours jumped out as being really solid. Compared to some of the other prices even Lee and Sale look like bargains. Holland is too cheap for a high K closer. Your $1 bats are all good buys, but Viciedo and Ross… I don’t get how nobody had them at $5 or above! Especially with Viciedo being so young – Love ‘The Cuban Tank’!

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    • Trey White says:

      Regarding Ross, the Justin Upton trade had yet to occur. So I believe everyone was concerned how the D-Backs were going to play Kubel, Eaton, Ross, and Parra. When you start getting near the end people get forgotten and budgets dwindle. If Ross or Viciedo had been nominated earlier in the draft I do believe they would have each gone a little higher.

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  7. tylersnotes says:

    for the heyward/goldschmidt overpays, is this from targeting those guys specifically and aggressively; from buying early in the draft before true values are made clear; or from paying extra to get the best available after other guys you wanted are taken?

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    • Howard Bender says:

      they were specific targets that I aggressively bid on still fairly early in the draft. Goldy wasn’t as much of an overpay as Heyward was and I’d say that between the two I spent maybe $10 more in total than I wanted to. Had the bidding gone higher, I may very well have backed out and turned my attention elsewhere, but they were really two guys that I wanted and will hopefully grab in numerous real drafts this season.

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      • tylersnotes says:

        this seems to me to be a problem with targeting specific players, rather than specific value tiers. If you think Heyward is a $30 player that’s one thing, but if he goes for $34 where that’s a top 15 most expensive player that seems unnecessarily aggressive. Letting the other guy get him for $33 gives you that extra $1 to spend on a $33 justin upton, still giving you a 1st or 2nd rounder.

        If you expect to spend $40+ on your first rounder, $60 on 2 second rounders, $75 on 3 third/fourth rounders, etc, going those extra few $$$ for the 2 second rounders could backfire. In this case you were lucky, i think, that other managers left money on the board rather than bidding up some of your $15-$25 players. A team with 1 first rounder, 3 2nd-3rd rounders, and then a bunch of 7-20th rounders would have been possible had the draft shaken out differently and would have hurt you a lot more.

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      • tylersnotes says:

        essentially, if i were podhorzer i’d be hoping i got to auction against you again for keeps.

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  8. Jonathan Sher says:

    Stars and scrubs works well in relatively shallow leagues like his one because there is so much available on the waiver wire you can replace your low-production scrubs.

    The strategy doesn’t work nearly as well in deeper leagues — I play in a 12-team AL league with 40 man rosters (incl. 17 on reserve). The helpful contributors on the waiver wire are few and far between.

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  9. MustBunique says:

    Prout of you Jet. Stick to your guns man.

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