As Eno mentioned earlier this morning, we here at Fangraphs are engaged in a fight to the death with The Hardball Times for supremacy in Fantasy Squared’s THT vs FG charity league. We drafted some 330 players last night, narrowly finishing before the beginning of the Mariners/A’s game — ok, that’s an exaggeration, but it did clock in at nearly four hours.
First, some of the nuts and bolts about how the draft played out. It’s a 12-team league with $260 budgets, of which just $48 was left on the table. Of the $3072 spent on players, $991 of it was spent on pitchers, which amounts to less than a third of all spending. While that may not seem like much, it is actually slightly more than would have been allocated to the nine pitching spots if the money had been evenly distributed, especially since some teams used one or more bench spots for extra pitchers. 138 pitchers were drafted with the average cost settling just over $7; interestingly, the median value was lower at just $4.
One of the most interesting things about this draft was how the pitcher values shook out. If there was a theme of the draft, it was “Don’t Overpay,” which is good advice and all, but to see it actually work is something quite rare. In an effort to save bullets, there were a lot of great deals to be had, especially in the middle and late parts of the draft.
According to Yahoo!’s average auction cost, there are eight pitchers for whom drafters typically paid in excess of $30. In this draft, not a single one broke that $30 line. Clayton Kershaw and Roy Halladay were the joint most expensive pitchers at $29 with Cliff Lee just a dollar behind. Justin Verlander, the most expensive pitcher according to Yahoo!’s data at just a tick under $39, went for just $27, putting him even with Zack Greinke as the fourth most expensive pitcher drafted.
The middle dollar guys fell pretty close to where I expected. At $9, Francisco Liriano has clearly lured in a few more believers with his strong spring; at the same price, I’d rather have Brandon Beachy. Mat Latos ($11) and Matt Garza ($10) were both solid values in the same price range.
Perhaps the most interesting set of players were the cache of guys who all went for $5: Brandon McCarthy, Greg Holland, Carlos Marmol, Gio Gonzalez, Shaun Marcum, Jaime Garcia, Joe Nathan, Brandon League, Matt Thornton, and Jim Johnson. Closer values were a little skewed, which I think is why we ended up with a glut of second-tier closing options at this level, but it’s the starters that interest me more. McCarthy, Gonzalez, Marcum, and Garcia is 4/9th of a pretty good staff — not great of course, but for $20 total, it wouldn’t have been had to add the aforementioned $27 Verlander for a strong $47 starting rotation.
Of the $5 starters, Gonzalez seems to be the best value in my mind, though McCarthy certainly didn’t disappoint in his start this morning. Marcum is getting undervalued in both auction and snake formats, and I certainly don’t regret grabbing him at the price, but he certainly looks like less of a deal in the context of this draft.
As expected, the $1-2 pitchers produced a lot of potential bargains, but no one that’s a guaranteed success. Chris Carpenter went for $2, which will either end up being a great pick or a waste of $2 and probably not much in between. I’m particularly happy with $1 Edwin Jackson. As I’ve mentioned before, I like Jackson this season a lot, but if I’m wrong, the cost to my pride will be bigger than the hit to my budget.
Best Pick: It’s hard to go against a $5 Gonzalez, but $27 for Verlander is a great bargain in its own right. Two other picks that could look like huge steals at the end of the season: $2 for Brian Matusz and $1 for Phil Hughes. There’s obviously risk with both of those two, but as with Jackson, the cost makes them appealing.
Worst Pick: Since no one ended up with Joel Zumaya, Joakim Soria, or Ryan Madson, no one made a really bad pick. $9 for Liriano is risky, but could yield a huge reward. $20 for Stephen Strasburg is more workable since this is a roto league rather than H2H, but still too rich for my blood. Again, there aren’t any picks that make me really wince among the pitchers, but given the way the end of the draft went, a lot of people who bid on pitchers early voiced some regret for paying near-market rate in what ended up being a depressed market.
The full results of the draft can be found here.
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