SP Breakdown from the THT vs FG draft

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.

Kenley Jansen went for more ($7) than the Dodgers’ actual closer Javy Guerra ($3)

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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Dan enjoys black tea, imperial IPAs, and any competition that can be loosely judged a sport. Follow him on Twitter.

9 Responses to “SP Breakdown from the THT vs FG draft”

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  1. rotofan says:

    Warne’s auction looks especially weak:
    - $39 unspent. That is horrendous. I’ve played a lot of auction leagues and have never seen that much left on the table.
    - looks like he bid up players he thought would be bargains to levels where they are not – Dunn at $9; Hardy at $12.
    - Two of his higher-paid batters are big injury risks in Mauer and Youkilis; Johnson as a pitcher is too

    First glance I liked the auctions for Brad Johnson and Nick.

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    • Dan Wade says:

      In Brandon’s defense, this was probably the strangest draft I’ve ever been a part of or even that I’ve seen. Establishing where the values were going to end up for certain players was impossible; I’m actually quite surprised there wasn’t more money left on the table.

      I agree that he took on a fair amount of risk, but he could get lucky. Mauer seems the safest of the three to me, and in a 2 C league, need sometimes trumps desired strategy.

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      • shmmrname says:

        I think a few dollars is easily defendable, but $39 is getting in the ‘crazy’ range. Yes, no one knows what’s going to happen – but I also think there’s a point where you look around the table and you start to realize there’s something wrong. Like, say, when J. Johnson and A. Gordon are barely going for double-digits to others and you have 2-3x extra budget to grab ‘em.

        Hindsight is always 20/20, but man that team would look good with J. Upton ($41) over R. Howard ($2).

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      • If I made any mistake, it was leaning more towards my Ottoneu/keeper strategy than anything.

        I went for guys that I really wanted, stashed enough money to make sure I got them, and at the end, just ran out of roster spots. Ideally, I’d have one outfielder that I truly loved — Upton, definitely, or someone like that — but I don’t have any real regrets.

        Life goes on.

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      • rotofan says:

        As someone who has been through a lot of auctions and written about them for HBT, the challenge of an auction is to be able to both come up with a coherent plan that targets players and positions while retaining the flexibility to adjust to what is happening.

        It appears to me you may have neglected the latter.

        That said. I’ve never walked out of an auction thinking there weren’t ways I could have done better.

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      • Everyone went pretty much at-budget, which hadn’t happened to me before.

        I grabbed Cliff Lee in the early portion, and if I did it over, would have grabbed one more superstar. Oh well.

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  2. David Wiers says:

    No mention of a certain someone getting Ubaldo Jimenez for $3?

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  3. Ryan says:

    I understand how we all use dollar amount vs production = value. That’s how it works in a vacuum. But there is one thing that will remain a rule in Auction leagues (that is until they become the normal drafting format). Determine how many “studs” it takes to be by and far better. Then get them. If you have $260 to spend on 20 odd roster spots and no one goes for higher than $30. Buy 7 premier talents and then use your remaining budget to take players whom you can brag about value. Studs and Duds is misleading in name only. Everyone saves money in these drafts, let them! Get the best players on the board (studs) and fill out your roster with solid $1-4 players.

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