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.
|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:
|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.
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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