Reflections From A Very Deep, Very Early Auction

I participated in my first auction draft of the season on Wednesday night and oh boy, was it a doozy. An 18-team mixed league auction with 29-player rosters (5×5 but with OBP in place of AVG), and while it doesn’t quite qualify as an “industry league,” it may as well have for the amount of talent in there.

This league also happened to be the worst finish on my ledge in 2013, so I had some additional motivation. While writing assignments and preparing for Sloan distracted me some and a brief loss of connection gave me Aramis Ramirez at $18 when I didn’t really need another expensive corner infielder, it went pretty well, I think.

Since it was such an early draft and such a deep one (522 players selected), I thought I’d post some reflections today.

For the second year in a row, patience seemed to be the prudent strategy. Unfortunately for most, that’s a trait that only the league’s defending champion seems able to employ with any zeal.

Basically, it came down to this, it seemed: people weren’t willing to forego moderate values early on for the possibility of larger values later. As a result, there are some teams with impressive talent but almost no middle-class, while the league’s best “on paper” team doesn’t have a player who went for more than $25.

I fell somewhere in between, grabbing a few players at a price below my projected value for them early but then sitting back until I had a relatively larger stack and was able to identify players I wanted and attack them without too much risk of a bidding war.

The hardest thing with an 18-team draft is that the chances of someone else trying to employ the same strategy as you is basically 100 percent. Stars and scrubs? Get ready to spend heavily on those stars and basically snake-draft for the scrubs. Wait out the middle-class? LIMA? Better bank on $3 or $5 for those names instead of $1. And so on.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go in with a strategy, however. I played it a bit looser than I normally do, both because I got burned a bit last year being inflexible in my strategy and because it’s still February and my plan just wasn’t all that fleshed out yet. Again, I feel it worked out pretty well, with one exception.

Late in the game, I had the hammer in terms of remaining budget. I had two starting pitching targets and X amount earmarked for them, but I figured they would be competitive targets. Corey Kluber and Taijuan Walker are both buzz names, so I figured in a league with this much talent, they’d be hot commodities. So when I nominated Kluber, I backed off too early in the bidding to ensure I got Walker, who I valued slightly higher. Kluber ended up going for a significant discount, I got Walker cheaper than I expected, and I ended up with $2 left at the end of the draft.

Maybe Kluber would have been bid up by more than those $2 and I would have lost out on Walker as a result, but the moral is: you can’t take the money with you when the draft is over. If you put yourself in a position to have the hammer late, use it.

This was an 18-team league that starts two-catchers (weekly lineups), so I figured you might be interested in how the catcher market played out. The table below shows the catchers drafted and their price.

Nomination Player Price
30 Buster Posey, SF C $30
32 Carlos Santana, Cle C $29
77 Joe Mauer, Min C $28
57 Yadier Molina, StL C $22
125 Brian McCann, NYY C $22
113 Jonathan Lucroy, Mil C $17
42 Evan Gattis, Atl C $15
60 Jason Castro, Hou C $15
147 Wilin Rosario, Col C $14
163 Salvador Perez, KC C $14
181 Wilson Ramos, Wsh C $14
185 Matt Wieters, Bal C $13
241 Miguel Montero, Ari C $13
139 Yan Gomes, Cle C $11
236 Alex Avila, Det C $10
217 Russell Martin, Pit C $9
250 Travis d’Arnaud, NYM C $7
218 A.J. Ellis, LAD C $5
229 Welington Castillo, ChC C $4
253 Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mia C $4
259 A.J. Pierzynski, Bos C $4
269 Ryan Doumit, Atl C $4
211 Hank Conger, LAA C $3
261 Devin Mesoraco, Cin C $3
263 Carlos Ruiz, Phi C $3
295 Dioner Navarro, Tor C $3
349 Yasmani Grandal, SD C $3
247 Ryan Hanigan, TB C $2
299 Geovany Soto, Tex C $2
302 Mike Zunino, Sea C $2
344 John Jaso, Oak C $2
401 Josmil Pinto, Min C $2
361 Chris Iannetta, LAA C $1
416 Tyler Flowers, CWS C $1
424 Kurt Suzuki, Min C $1
476 Michael McKenry, Col C $1
366 Derek Norris, Oak C $1
499 Jesus Montero, Sea C $1
518 Josh Phegley, CWS C $1
520 J.P. Arencibia, Tex C $1

With 36 catcher slots, 40 catchers were selected, with an average price of $8.43. That’s about 6.7 percent of the available funds, which is actually a shade less than the “average” price of two roster spots ($9.17).

How deep was this league? Jp> Arencibia got drafted. In an OBP league.

Another interesting position when leagues have this many teams is the closer position. There are 30 closers on opening day and 18 teams, though obviously, unlike catcher, rostering a set number is not a requirement.

Again, here are the relief pitcher eligible names and how much they went for, though they’re not all closers:

Nomination Player Price
15 Craig Kimbrel, Atl RP $25
53 Greg Holland, KC RP $19
100 Kenley Jansen, LAD RP $19
69 Koji Uehara, Bos RP $18
90 Aroldis Chapman, Cin RP $17
171 David Robertson, NYY RP $16
148 Joe Nathan, Det RP $15
149 Trevor Rosenthal, StL RP $15
153 Sergio Romo, SF RP $13
165 Addison Reed, Ari RP $13
169 Glen Perkins, Min RP $11
188 Grant Balfour, TB RP $11
186 Jim Johnson, Oak RP $10
189 Jason Grilli, Pit RP $10
208 Rafael Soriano, Wsh RP $10
245 Bobby Parnell, NYM RP $10
246 John Axford, Cle RP $10
221 Ernesto Frieri, LAA RP $10
134 Drew Smyly, Det RP $9
173 Jonathan Papelbon, Phi RP $9
202 Fernando Rodney, Sea RP $9
207 Casey Janssen, Tor RP $9
255 Neftali Feliz, Tex RP $9
270 Jim Henderson, Mil RP $9
199 Huston Street, SD RP $8
220 Steve Cishek, Mia RP $8
281 Tommy Hunter, Bal RP $8
267 Nate Jones, CWS RP $7
279 Jose Veras, ChC RP $5
321 LaTroy Hawkins, Col RP $5
275 Mark Melancon, Pit RP $4
278 Rex Brothers, Col RP $4
285 Kevin Gausman, Bal RP $4
306 Tyler Clippard, Wsh RP $2
330 Heath Bell, TB RP $2
339 Joakim Soria, Tex RP $2
354 Carlos Martinez, StL RP $2
356 Jesse Crain, Hou RP $2
439 Tanner Scheppers, Tex RP $2
288 Joaquin Benoit, SD RP $1
312 Luke Hochevar, KC RP $1
319 Chad Qualls, Hou RP $1
320 Pedro Strop, ChC RP $1
322 Jason Motte, StL RP $1
348 Shawn Kelley, NYY RP $1
357 Sergio Santos, Tor RP $1
362 Jake McGee, TB RP $1
364 Brian Wilson, LAD RP $1
372 Darren O’Day, Bal RP $1
373 Jordan Walden, Atl RP $1
375 J.J. Putz, Ari RP $1
381 Joel Hanrahan, FA RP $1
390 A.J. Ramos, Mia RP $1
405 Brad Ziegler, Ari RP $1
409 Junichi Tazawa, Bos RP $1
418 Edward Mujica, Bos RP $1
420 J.J. Hoover, Cin RP $1
428 Francisco Rodriguez, Mil RP $1
434 Brett Anderson, Col RP $1
436 Drew Storen, Wsh RP $1
438 Kelvin Herrera, KC RP $1
446 Kevin Siegrist, StL RP $1
453 Josh Fields, Hou RP $1
458 David Hernandez, Ari RP $1
469 Vic Black, NYM RP $1
470 Ryan Webb, Bal RP $1
472 Matt Lindstrom, CWS RP $1
473 Sean Doolittle, Oak RP $1
482 Josh Collmenter, Ari RP $1
490 Luis Avilan, Atl RP $1
496 Joel Peralta, TB RP $1
296 Cody Allen, Cle RP $1
314 Danny Farquhar, Sea RP $1
503 Robbie Ross, Tex RP $1
509 Brandon Kintzler, Mil RP $1
514 Bryan Shaw, Cle RP $1
519 Neal Cotts, Tex RP $1

That’s 77 relief-eligible arms, so on average a major league team’s closer and “next in line” were both taken, plus some spec plays. The average cost was $5.31, representing just over half the “average” player value. As you’d expect in a “smart” league, people weren’t willing to pay much for saves and only Craig Kimbrel went for $20 or more.

Closing Thoughts
Bryce Harper went for $50 in a non-keeper league. That’s crazy, right?

Anyway, the draft was a blast and leagues this deep are always a really fun challenge. Would it have been nice to draft in March so we know a little more? Sure, but drafting this early also forces managers to make speculative plays at the end of their roster, betting on Spring Training battles and the like. Plus, it’s a really good way to start your draft season, really putting the depth of your knowledge to the test early – it only gets easier from here.

For those curious, here’s a plot of the player prices, by position:


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Blake Murphy is a news editor at The Score, and is a freelance sportswriter covering baseball, basketball, hockey and more. Think Bo Jackson, without the being good at every sport part. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.

19 Responses to “Reflections From A Very Deep, Very Early Auction”

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  1. Jason Collette says:

    What idiots took $1 catchers in a deep league? Sheesh

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  2. Paul says:

    Rosario at $14 and a buck less than Gattis or Castro – that has to be one of the best values of the draft.

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    • Blake Murphy says:

      Yup. OBP changes things but I felt a little silly for a bit taking Castro at $15 early when I saw some other prices, but in the end I feel like it looks alright.

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  3. Charles says:

    What did the best team on paper look like?

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  4. drewcorb says:

    Just to make sure, this was with a $260 budget?

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  5. Anon says:

    Carlos Martinez for $2 will be a steal if he makes the rotation.

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  6. nitros says:

    do you have a list of the prices for all players (by name)?

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  7. Bill says:

    Man, Trout, damn. Does it seem worth it to spend over 20% on one guy? Even if he’s as awesome as Trout?

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