As Eno pointed out the other day, six of us from FanGraphs/RotoGraphs joined up with six writers from The Hardball Times to do battle in a 12-team rotisserie league for both bragging rights and charity. The winner gets to donate the prize to the charity of his choice while the site for which he writes gets to reign supreme in the fantasy universe. Sounds like fun? Well, you weren’t there for the four-plus hour auction.
Actually, it was a pretty entertaining spectacle, but like any other “experts draft” — and I use quotation marks to express that I use the term both loosely and with humility — the action and some of the strategies used can be relayed but limited in terms of complete practical use in everyday leagues. We all study the game as intently as the next guy. We’re all current on the latest MLB news. And we’ve all done enough auction drafts over the years to know the nuances and the gamesmanship. There are no secrets. There are no sleepers. And as Dan Wade showed yesterday, prices were appropriately skewed.
So with that, I decided to go into this draft with sort of an anti-expert mentality. I say “sort of” because one of my plans was to not overspend on pitching, like most experts tell you. So with that, I budgeted $30 for an ace, $20 for a second tier starter and the rest of my pitching budget (25% of the $260 cap) would fill in the rest. Roy Halladay ($29) and Matt Cain ($19) fit the bill relatively early for me which was nice. I could then nominate top starters and let the rest of the crew burn through some cash.
As some of the top starters were coming off the board, I noticed that a few guys were holding back. When Brad Johnson and another THT writer bantered in the chat about waiting on their sleeper list, I took the liberty of nominating Cory Luebke and watched as he went for $16. Francisco Liriano ($9) and Stephen Strasburg ($20) quickly followed on the nomination list which I appreciated.
On the offensive front, I successfully targeted both Adrian Gonzalez ($42) and Evan Longoria ($31). As expected, they cost me some big bucks, but I was happy to lock in power at the corners. But for the rest of my team, for the most part, my strategy was to bulk up on stolen bases.
In numerous articles that I have read on a variety of web sites, there’s a recurring theme that stolen bases are so abundant throughout the draft that you don’t need to pay a premium for them. You can build yourself up in the category with a number of guys in the mid to lower rounds. It was a common notion last season and yet, as I competed in a number of leagues, I noticed that stolen bases were highly coveted throughout the year because it was the category that seemed easiest to move up. So when articles this year said the same thing, I thought I might try to go the opposite way here.
I targeted Dee Gordon ($18) as my shortstop and nominated a number of outfielders early to help try to drive the prices down on both Michael Bourn ($16) and Cameron Maybin ($19). I may have overpaid for Gordon and Maybin, but Bourn came in under what I expected, so I was happy. Three burners on my team, I pissed off Ben Pritchett from THT, and I will be more than happy to hit the trade market after I vault to the top of the category and stretch out a nice lead. I also added in a $1 Ben Revere for good measure later on.
As for the rest of my team, I added in some mid-level power, two solid closers with good job security (with both their handcuffs to play it safe), and a few pitchers, some of whom I like and one or two I hope will surprise me. Was it the most successful auction ever? Not especially. Is it the greatest team ever? Probably not. But it’s a pretty solid group to start the season with and with a big commodity like speed to trade during the year, I think I can give these boys a run for their money.
For the full draft results, you can click it right here.
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