Mock Draft: Auction Style

One of the most common reader requests here at RotoGraphs is to have more information on auctions. Unfortunately, it has been a few years since I have participated in a fantasy baseball auction. But with the availability now of auction mocks on several sites, I thought it was time to get back to that format. Last night I participated in a 12-team mock auction over at ESPN. I played this pretty straight, just trying to accumulate value. I ended up with this team:

Gavin Floyd – $9
Matt Holliday $28
Ichiro Suzuki $22
Justin Verlander $18
Robinson Cano $19
Ryan Zimmerman $20
Carlos Lee $17
Johan Santana $15
Josh Johnson $15
Bobby Abreu $14
Jay Bruce $12
Adam Dunn $16
Francisco Cordero $12
Jonathan Papelbon $12
Miguel Montero $9
Rafael Soriano $8
Juan Rivera $2
Ryan Theriot $1
Everth Cabrera $2
Paul Konerko $1
John Maine $1
Felipe Paulino $1

I left money on the table, which shows how rusty I was at this auction thing. It was a typical Stage 1 auction, where owners spent too much early and values were to be had in the middle and the end of the proceedings. Several players went for over $50, which seems hard to justify in a 12-team mixed league.

For my guide, I was using the auction values by veteran fantasy player Lenny Melnick, published over at on the premium side. My team accumulated $79 of excess value over Melnick’s projections, with only Montero, Rivera, Maine and Paulino not providing me profit over his prices. I made a mistake on Montero, not realizing that Kurt Suzuki was still available but I think the price I got him for was acceptable. I was looking for power late, which made Rivera worthwhile. And I like both Maine and Paulino if they can stay healthy this year.

Mainly, I used this draft to get reacquainted with auctions. From now on, I will definitely write more about auction prices and strategy. If there is anything in particular that you would like to see covered in the future, please note it in the comments.

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12 Responses to “Mock Draft: Auction Style”

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  1. Leaving money on the table isn’t too terrible because it usually means you got guys cheaper in the end game than you thought. My approach is to offer uop what I consider $3-$5 guys early and if I don’t get them that cheap, then I don’t need to save money; plus it throws everyone off their comfort because people usually toss out players from the top of their list and move down.

    If you want more practice auctioning, we have a guy that can’t make our auction Friday, March 19 in Las Vegas (discounted room available). You can just auction for the team, or have it but then you need to deal with some mean people.

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  2. The A Team says:

    I like to try to leave about $5-$10 on the table. My leagues are advanced but by no means expert, so I’m confident I can find a couple values throughout the draft. The extra cushion gives me money to bully people around late in the draft so that I can get the deeper sleepers I want.

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    • The A Team says:

      PS, I too love to toss out cheap guys early and often. I rarely nominate a player that I want before the draft gets into $1 territory. I especially like to nominate players with unrealistic expectations early. I also try to sneak a $1 player here and there in the mid rounds.

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  3. Rob says:

    I actually like the method of throwing out guys that I think will be overvalued by my leaguemates early, to get that extra money out of the league as soon as possible.

    Btw, if you really want someone to run an auction spot in Vegas on March 19th I’ll actually be out there for a friend’s bachelor party, but will very likely not be in “top drafting form”, so to speak.

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    • Rob, thanks for the offer. Its on a Friday, from ~10am to 5pm and we may have another guy flying in already, but if you’re really interested, can you email me, please? Hell, if you’re happy to kill time I’ll let you draft my team so I can go lose my savings account at the Baccarat table.

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  4. PaulyOH says:

    How about doing a mock NL or AL only auction? Then we can see some realistic values. I agree, with 12 team mixed, the depth of talent is so great, it’s absolutely stupid to go $50 (or even $40) on one player. In that format, $28 is overpaying for Matt Holliday.

    And leaving money on the table after the auction is never good. Use it or lose it. You want to hoard it until the endgame, fine, but find something of value to spend it on.

    I know most guys play the easy mixed leagues, but I would like to see more fantasy articles geared to NL or AL-only. I haven’t played a mixed league in years. It’s no fun when everybody has an all-star team.

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    • I played in an NL only league and quit for my mixed league. I prefer seeing whether my guys made Basbeall Tonight rather than hoping they got to play. I like easy.

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  5. KY says:

    Since you asked…things that would be nice to cover;
    1) Justify using the hitting heavy hitter/pitcher split and the correct value for it.
    2) How should one set replacement level for a league that allow pickups midseason? The first pickup will bump what was replacement level down at the draft, should that fact effect your draft pricing?
    3) Which fantasy websites can support a complex auction league well?
    4) Is it better to keep cheaper or more expensive players? Or is it simply the straight value below their expected auction price?
    5) Most people use Z-scores or SGP (standings gain points) to price players. Are there other ways? Which is best at producing dollar values that win?
    6) How much does in draft inflation occur in the average auction? What advantages can be gained by being aware of it?

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    • The A Team says:

      What complexity do you want? I use Yahoo and it’s pretty flexible. I have a 12 team standard auction draft with standard scoring (OPS instead of AVG) and deep rosters (2C, 1b, 2b, 3b, SS, CI, MI, 5OF, Util, 9P, 5BN). Non-standard features include:

      -draft budget is $310 for 28 players (mock is $250 for 23) so that my owners can do the mock drafts with ‘realistic’ prices in mind.
      -Keeper cost in year 2 is draft price in year 1 + $7 (K=D+7)
      -“Revenue Sharing” – The top 4 teams in year 1 are docked $20, 15, 10, 5 to draft with in year 2. The four worst teams add 20, 15…

      So I can play around a lot with budgets. With my keeper rules, $1 steals are going to be most of the guys who are kept. I’m not sure what kind of complexities you’re looking for, but you can work pretty non-standard with Yahoo.

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  6. manuscript says:

    while i don’t think you spent outrageously on anyone, i’m not terribly impressed with the team, and it seems like you must have left money there.

    i don’t see this team as much of a contender (nor can you), can you talk about what you might do differently the next time?

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    • Brian Joura says:

      I don’t hate this team but I say that without knowing what the other teams look like. There were several teams that took themselves out of the running with their early bids.

      If this were a “normal” league, I’d think my pitching would be pretty good and my offense middle of the pack. It’s not the type of club I would want to take into the season, but it’s not one that has no hope whatsoever, either. There’s a lot of work to do.

      As to what I’d do differently, I would look for more upside on offense and field a team that could win a category or two. Balance is great if you finish 3rd in each category but not so hot if you finish fifth in each, which this offense feels destined to do.

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  7. Gayle Craver says:

    Being a Newbie, I’m often looking on the internet for posts which could assist me. Thank you

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