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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.