Archive for March, 2010

Brett Anderson: Ace in the Making

In terms of pitching attributes, there’s no better blend for starters than high strikeout totals, few walks and ample ground balls. The hurlers who can miss bats, limit free passes and burn worms reign supreme.

Oakland’s Brett Anderson fits the profile. One of the shiny baubles picked up in the December 2007 Dan Haren deal, Anderson ripped through the minor leagues (9.7 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 56.5 GB%) and made the A’s out of spring training last season. As a 21 year-old with scarce experience above A-ball, Anderson was arguably one of the top 15 starters in baseball.

In 175.1 innings, Anderson struck out 7.7 batters per nine innings, while walking just 2.31 hitters per nine. He remained a strong groundball pitcher in the show, with a 50.9 GB%. The lefty’s 3.61 xFIP, based on K’s, walks and a normalized home run per fly ball rate, placed 14th among starters.

In terms of stuff, Anderson went from good to great during the course of the season. Take a look at his velocity chart for 2009:

In April, Anderson sat 91 MPH with his fastball, with an 82.7 MPH slider. By the summer, he was averaging 93-94 MPH with a mid-80’s slider. Overall, Anderson’s heater wasn’t a great pitch in 2009 (-0.56 runs per 100 pitches), nor was his changeup (-0.47). However, he featured some of the best breaking stuff in the majors.

Anderson’s slider (tossed nearly a third of the time) was worth +2.51 runs per 100 pitches. In terms of overall runs (wSL), Anderson’s +22.2 topped all big league starters. His high-70’s curveball also rated well, though the sample is small considering that he threw the pitch less than seven percent (+0.25 runs/100).

Trip Somers’ Pitch F/X tool has different pitch classifications (his site classifies most of Anderson’s breaking pitches as curveballs). Whatever you want to call his pitches, Anderson showed exceptional control when he spun a breaking ball. He threw both the slider and curve for a strike 65.1 percent of the time (62.7 percent MLB average for the slider and 58 percent average for the curve).

For 2010, CHONE (3.92 FIP) and ZiPS (3.78 FIP) both project FIPs in the high three’s. The FANS are even giddier, envisioning a 3.48 FIP.

As that fan forecast attests, people are privy to Anderson’s talents. But he still might be a relative value entering the season. According to MockDraftCentral, the 22 year-old is, on average, going 35th among starting pitchers. That’s after regression candidate Jair Jurrjens and health question mark Brandon Webb.

The only thing standing in between Anderson and acedom is health. The A’s were pretty cautious with him in ’09, limiting Anderson to 94 pitches per start, but his innings total did increase by about 70 from 2008 to 2009 (it’s closer to 40 if you count his pitching for Team USA and a pair of Triple-A playoff starts in ’08). Given Anderson’s talent and modest ADP, he could be the rare top prospect who’s actually a bargain on draft day.


Waiver Wire Pickups: Hitters

While going through looking at DL information, I have seen some pretty decent players available. Here is a list of hitters that are less than 50%, 40%, 30%, 20% and 10% owned in Yahoo leagues.

<50% Owned: Chris Davis (47% owned) – I know Chris disappointed last season, mainly with his 0.238 batting average. His 21 home runs in 391 ABs was not horrible. Looking at his 2010 projections, they have him hitting anywhere from 0.251 to 0.285 with 21 to 30 home runs. There is a chance that he will produce in 2010 as did in 2009, but there is also a chance that he will hit 0.285 like in 2008. He is definitely worth adding to the bench and being qualified at 1B and 3B is also attractive.

< 40% Owned: David DeJesus (37% owned) – The main problem with David is he can't do any one thing good enough to get noticed. He is the epitome of the average player. Sometimes that is all you need on a team. He will hit for OK average while subbing in for players on the DL or days off. He is a nice pick up for teams ahead that can't take a chance on a player that may drag them down.

< 30% Owned: Nick Johnson (23% owned) –Nick’s real value is in his ability to take a base. In leagues with OBP as a stat, he is nice pick up. If you can handle the low batting average, he is a nice pickup in AL only or deeper leagues.

<20% Owned: Chris Iannetta (15% owned) – Chris was really supposed to break out in 2009, but disappointed. His main draw back, for a catcher, was his 0.228 batting average. I really wouldn't want to be starting him everyday, but he will make a great fill in for the days your main catcher has off.

<10% Owned: Conor Jackson (11% owned) – I have to break my rules here, but Connor was the inspiration for this article. I was looking for 1st base replacements and I saw he was at 9% owned (since has jump a bit) and I could not believe it. Last season he had Valley Fever (a 6 to 9 month cold). His skills should be near his previous levels of 0.300 BA, 10-15 Hrs, 10SB (5 in 30 games last year). With his 1B and OF eligibility, he will make a great bench sub or a starter in a deeper league.


Marlins Trade for SP Robertson

Florida Marlins acquired LHP Nate Robertson from the Detroit Tigers for LHP Jay Voss.

According to Joe Frisario’s MLB.com article, the Tigers are picking up $9.6 million of Robertson’s $10 million salary for the 2010 season.

The 32 year-old lefty posted a decent 4.68 xFIP in 2008, but his ERA soared to 6.35 as he suffered a .343 batting average on balls in play and performed poorly with runners on base (64.3 LOB%). In 2009, the former Marlins prospect hit the DL twice: a lower back strain sidelined Robertson in May, and elbow surgery shelved him from late June to late August. He also had surgery to repair a torn groin muscle during the offseason.

When he did pitch, Robertson wasn’t terribly unlucky. He was just lousy (5.44 ERA, 5.37 xFIP). He struggled to place pitches in the strike zone (43.4 Zone%, compared to the 49-51% MLB average) and walked over five batters per nine innings.

Robertson isn’t an appealing fantasy option at this point, as CHONE (4.81 FIP) and ZiPS (4.97 FIP) both project FIPs in the high fours. At his peak, he was a league-average starter, supplementing below-average K rates with solid control and groundball proclivities. Struggling to throw strikes and stay healthy, Robertson now has “stay away” stamped on his forehead.

The trade also means that Dontrelle Willis will get a chance at the back of Detroit’s rotation, and Clay Hensley will be bumped to Florida’s ‘pen.


Stock Watch: 3/30

  • Stock Up
  • Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals

    The 24 year-old Desmond was recently named Washington’s starting shortstop, overtaking $8 million man Cristian Guzman. Though the club said it wasn’t a factor, Guzman (who missed time with a shoulder injury last September and this spring) has struggled to unleash throws from deep in the hole.

    A third round pick in the 2004 draft, Desmond had a big year at the plate in 2009. He missed two months following surgery to remove the hamate bone in his left hand, but he hit a combined .330/.401/.477 between Double-A and Triple-A. A near-.400 BABIP helped him tremendously, though he did do a better job of working the count (9.1 percent walk rate). In a late-season stint with the Nationals, Desmond posted a .372 wOBA in 89 plate appearances. What do the projection systems say about him?

    CHONE: .265/.326/.412, .324 wOBA
    ZiPS: .270/.334/.388, .325 wOBA
    FANS: .278/.335/.412, .330 wOBA

    Desmond should be about a league-average hitter in 2010. At shortstop, that’s useful in NL-only leagues. For more on Desmond, see Dan Budreika’s breakdown and Marc Hulet’s Top 10 Nationals prospects list.

    Franklin Morales, Colorado Rockies

    Huston Street (shoulder) will start the season on the DL, giving Morales the chance to rack up some saves in the early going.

    As a starter in the minors, the 24 year-old lefty whiffed a batter per inning but walked a whopping 5.2 batters per nine frames. At the Triple-A level, Morales had 7.3 K/9 and 6.1 BB/9 in 168.2 innings. Shifted to the bullpen in 2009, he posted a 4.72 xFIP with 9.23 K/9 and 5.18 BB/9 in 40 innings.

    At this point, Morales tries to overpower hitters with 92-93 MPH heat while hoping for enough weak swings to compensate for a lack of secondary stuff and control. Morales’ fastball has been a plus pitch in the majors (+0.57 runs/100 pitches), and he gets plenty of swings and misses: his fastball had an 8.4 percent whiff rate last year, compared to the six percent MLB average. However, his low-70’s curveball (-1.13) and high-70’s changeup (-0.66) lag behind, and his first pitch strike percentage in the bigs is just 50.9 percent (58 percent MLB average).

    Though he’s far from a finished product, Morales is well worth picking up in all formats.

    Jeff Clement, Pittsburgh Pirates

    Clement was once considered a franchise building block in Seattle as a catcher with ample lefty pop. Now, he’s a 26 year-old first baseman aspiring to be the next Adam LaRoche in Pittsburgh. Though he has struggled in limited major league playing time (.237/.309/.393 in 243 PA), Clement has a career .279/.368/.492 line at the Triple-A level.

    Problem is, that’s yawn-inducing now that he has fallen down the defensive spectrum. CHONE and ZiPS both project a .265/.340/.460-type season for Clement in 2010. That’s not bad, but consider that the average MLB first baseman socked to the tune of a .277/.362/.483 triple-slash in 2009. Clement will open the year as Pittsburgh’s starting first baseman, and he could have a little value in NL-only leagues. But he’ll have to mash to keep his spot.

    Tom Gorzelanny, Chicago Cubs

    The former Pirates prospect looked cooked in 2008, but his stuff bounced back in ’09 as he pitched well in seven starts and 15 relief appearances (3.73 xFIP). Gorzo has punched out 8.6 batters per nine innings with 2.5 BB/9 in Triple-A, and both CHONE and ZiPS figure that he’ll be a handy starter for the Cubs in 2010:

    CHONE: 7.39 K/9, 3.61 BB/9, 1.15 HR/9, 4.43 FIP
    ZiPS: 7.25 K/9, 3.74 BB/9, 0.98 HR/9, 4.25 FIP

    His rotation spot isn’t guaranteed once Ted Lilly returns, but Gorzelanny has the talent to remain in the starting five and provide value in NL-only leagues.

    (Jason Heyward is an obvious candidate here, but we examined his fantasy value a few days ago.)

  • Stock Down
  • Russell Branyan, Cleveland Indians

    The Three True Outcomes nomad will start the season on the DL with a herniated disk in his back. Branyan isn’t likely to match last year’s .368 wOBA with the M’s (most projection systems have him regressing to the .350 range), and a balky back won’t help his chances.

    On a positive note, CC Sabathia trade goodies Michael Brantley (left field) and Matt LaPorta (first base) will open the year in the starting lineup. Brantley offers a keen eye and high-percentage base thievery (46 SB in 51 tries at Triple-A last year), and LaPorta can put a charge into the ball (career .266 ISO in the minors).

    Dustin McGowan, Toronto Blue Jays

    When healthy, McGowan has been a quality starter (career 4.28 xFIP). But the 28 year-old hasn’t tossed a major league pitch since July of 2008 following shoulder surgery. He was recently shut down, so it doesn’t look like McGowan is particularly close to pumping mid-90’s heat and upper-80’s breaking stuff like he used to.

    Melky Cabrera, Atlanta Braves

    Fantasy players aren’t going to cry over spilled Melky, not with Heyward getting a chance to shine in right field. But with the best hitting prospect in the game making the squad, Cabrera goes from a possible sleeper in NL-only leagues (CHONE projects a .358 wOBA) to a part-time player who will share left field with Matt Diaz.

    Minnesota’s closer-by-committee

    With Joe Nathan (Tommy John surgery) sidelined in 2010, Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire plans to enter 2010 with a closer-by-committee approach. That means Jon Rauch, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares and Jesse Crain could all get a shot at the ninth. Any owner who drafted Nathan, watched his elbow go boom and then picked up Rauch looking to recoup some value is probably getting all twitchy while reading this.


    Waiver Wire: Tuesday, March 30th

    Some final cuts were made today, and a closer “decision” was made. Let’s get right into our first of many 2010 waiver wire articles, shall we?

    Jon Rauch, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, Pat Neshek
    Well, it looks like Jon Rauch is not the winner of the Minnesota closer sweepstakes. Manager Ron Gardenhire announced that the Twins will go with a committee at the position, and Aaron Gleeman is right to predict some media hand-wringing and hair-pulling concerning the decision. In fact, as he points out, that insanity (or inanity) has already begun. While we applaud the decision from a real baseball viewpoint (a Mijares/Neshek platoon could be deadly in the ninth), it does make things difficult on fantasy owners. Jon Rauch still has the best package from an overall skills standpoint, but everyone on this list has had a good spring save Mijares. If you need some cheap saves however you can get them, take the guy from this group that is still available on your wire. It will be your closer lottery ticket.

    Chris Young (SD)
    There really isn’t any news to back up this item, but Young has pitched well this spring and went un-drafted in many leagues (319.46 ADP). He leads the Friars with strikeouts (16 in 17.2 innings) and has a nice ERA to boot (3.57 if you care about that sorta thing). The walk rate this spring (10 walks so far) is not terribly exciting, but he the surgery he’s recovering from did not show a torn labrum – just fraying – so there’s a chance he can recover to his former glory. Let’s not forget that he was a decent pitcher before last year’s (hurt) disasterpiece, regularly putting up k-rates over eight against average walk rates. Oh, and then there’s that home park that he plays in, too.

    David Hernandez
    Right after touting Chris Tillman as a good $1 option just last week, the Orioles go and reassign the youngster so that he can get more work in with his new pitch. It’s a testament to the young pitching talent the O’s have acquired that the guy behind him is also interesting – provided you are in an AL-only league and looking for a spot-starter / end of bench option. Now, Hernandez didn’t strike many people out last year (K/9), and he gave up way too many fly balls (FB%), but that was not the case in the minor leagues. Well, at least on one front. He’s always been a fly-ball pitcher (44.5% career in the minors) but he’s always struck out gobs of players (10.12 K/9 career in minors), too. He’s no slop pitcher, as his 93 MPH fastball is augmented by three decent pitches – so here’s a bet that Hernandez will look a lot better in his second attempt at the bigs.


    Real Draft: Embracing Injury Risks

    Last night I participated in a 12-team mixed draft. A few things you need to know before we get to the roster. First, I share this team with another owner. Second, our starting lineup each week consists of nine hitters and six pitchers. Third, there are six hitting categories and five pitching (don’t ask). Finally, this is not an expert league. We had the sixth pick and ended up with this squad

    Joe Mauer
    David Wright
    Jose Reyes
    Adam Lind
    Dan Haren
    Brian Roberts
    Ubaldo Jimenez
    Nelson Cruz
    Cliff Lee
    Lance Berkman
    Michael Cuddyer
    Denard Span
    David Aardsma
    Jay Bruce
    Jason Heyward
    Roy Oswalt
    Johnny Cueto
    Ted Lilly
    Joe Blanton
    Ervin Santana
    Octavio Dotel
    Rafael Furcal
    Jon Garland

    Given the uncertain power output of both Mauer and Wright, along with the health concerns with Reyes, we were concerned about having too much risk on this team. But every other owner in the league seemed to be avoiding risk at all costs. Higher ranked players with the red box next to their name were being bypassed, regardless if the injury was going to keep them out a month or whether it was a day-to-day thing.

    Starting with round nine, we embraced people who may or may not be ready to play the first week or first month of the season. Here are the walking wounded and the reasons they fell in this draft:

    Lee – Suspension and abdominal strain
    Berkman – arthroscopic knee surgery
    Oswalt – hamstring injury
    Lilly – shoulder surgery, knee injury
    Santana – inflamed bursa sac

    We also just missed on Carlos Beltran and Brandon Webb, who were selected on the round we were going to draft them.

    With this many injury concerns on the team, we are bound to have some players miss extended time. But given the shallow nature of our starting lineups, we determined that they were all risks worth taking. It is not the plan we entered the draft with, but it is an example of how you have to remain flexible and be willing to shift gears during your draft.


    The DL on the DL: Hitters That May Miss Time at the Beginning of the Season

    Note: This is a repost of an article that ran on the 26th. The article got corrupted some how.

    Yesterday, I looked at some pitchers that will be for sure be on the DL at the beginning of the season. Now here is a look at some hitters that might also start on the DL. All numbers are from Yahoo leagues.

    Note: When filling in players for just a couple of weeks, I look for players that will not hurt my batting average and add a few counting stats in the mean time. If players have similar batting averages, look for one with home run or stolen base potential.

    Russell Martin – Right Groin Pull – May look to be back by the start of the season. It looks likes right now that owners should not be worried and should only miss 2 weeks at a maximum. Some possible nice fillers for the week are John Baker (12% owned), A.J Pierzynski (53% owned) and Ramon Hernandez (4% owned).

    Alex Gordon – Broken Right Thumb – It was report by the team yesterday that Alex will spend at least 2 weeks on the DL. Alex is only held in 47% of all leagues and looks to be a decent candidate to hide on the DL during until he returns. A decent replacement for Alex will be his replacement Alberto Callaspo (26% owned) and is also qualified at 2B.

    Brian Roberts – Herniated Disk in Back – Brian is just beginning to test his back, but there is a good chance he will be on the DL to start the season. The backup choices in Baltimore don’t look great, so head to the waive wire for someone like Felipe Lopez (48% owned), Skip Schumaker (42%), Casey McGhee (32%) and Alberto Callaspo (26%). One other note about Roberts is that when he comes back, he might have lost some speed and may not steal as many bases he did previously.

    Russell Branyan – Herniated Disk in Back – I loved Russell as a late round pick, but his back is acting up. There is a chance he will be back in a week or barely play a week all season. If Russell is your #1 first baseman, start looking for another. Some 1B that may be available Paul Konerko (50%), Chirs Davis (48% – I would get him even if you have a 1B, huge upside), Luke Scott (17%) and Connor Jackson (9% – another player with huge upside that should be on a bench). If you picked him up as a bench player, hide him on the DL.

    Ian Kinsler – High Right Ankle Sprain – He started hitting off a tee on Monday, but should/could be back by opening day. Look to grab one of the guys mentioned to replace Roberts (Lopez, Schumaker, McGhee or Callaspo). Also, you may look at keeping one of the 2B as Kinsler has spent some time on the DL in each of the past 4 seasons.


    The DL on the DL: More Pitchers Headed for the DL

    Brandon Webb – Strained Ligament In Right Shoulder – Brandon is looking to come back at the end of April from his injury. Yahoo has his Average Draft Position at 162 (14th round) with names like Zambrano, Oswalt, Kuroda and Slowey being taken around him. I think this is about right for him to be drafted. If you need to take a chance to win, you may draft him a few rounds earlier to make sure he is around. If healthy, he could be one of the games best pitchers, but he has not had good luck getting this shoulder healthy. Here are some pitchers that are available that can be inserted until Brandon is healthy: Andy Pettitte (48% owned), Clay Buchholz (44%), Paul Maholm (30%) and Shawn Marcum (22% – I like putting him on bench normally and see how he performs).

    Gil Meche – Stiff Lower Back – If he is available for the start of the season, I would be surprised. This back injury could continue for a while knowing Gil and his history of injuries. In the game he was removed, he didn’t make it 56 pitches until the pain set in. Once he does start a game, you may want to sit him and see how he does. If you planned on Gil’s innings, you may want to search the waiver wire now for a replacement. Look at some of the pitcher recommended under Webb.

    Chien-Ming Wang – Torn Right Shoulder – Chien-Ming is currently recovering from surgery. I don’t think he can be counted on this season, even though right now he is looking to return mid-May. He is only owned in 2% of all leagues, so when he goes officially on the DL, he can be stashed away awaiting his recovery.

    Daisuke Matsuzaka – Tight Back – Dice-K finally debuted this last Thursday. There was no apparent problems with this outing, but it was just his first real outing and he has been known to hide injuries before. It looks like he will begin the season on the DL, but should return within a couple of weeks if everything goes fine. Stash him on the DL, find a replacement listed above and when he does come back, maybe wait a start or two to see how he is pitching.

    Joe Nathan – Torn Right Elbow (Ulnar Collateral Ligament) – He had surgery this past Friday and the best return date will be opening day 2011. If you are in a non-keeper league, drop him. In a keeper league, I may stash him on DL in a AL-only or deep league. Hopefully you will be able to find a few keepers better than an injured Nathan, maybe not. For replacements, it looks like Jon Rauch will be getting the first crack at saves in Minnesota with Matt Guerrier next in line if Jon can’t cut it. Some relievers that are available that should get some saves are Chris Perez (46% owned), Matt Capps (43%) and Matt Lindstrom (31%).


    Bush Named Milwaukee’s 4th Starter

    On Saturday, Milwaukee Brewers manager Ken Macha announced that David Bush will slot into the fourth spot in the rotation behind Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf and Doug Davis. The 30 year-old Bush is coming off of a grisly 2009 campaign in which he had a Boeing-level ERA and missed time in June and July with a right triceps tear after Hanley Ramirez scorched him with a comebacker. Is there any fantasy value to be had here?

    In 114.1 innings pitched, the Wake Forest product had a 6.38 ERA. As you might expect, he wasn’t that bad: Bush’s expected FIP (xFIP), based on K’s, walks and a normalized home run per fly ball rate, was a not-terrible-but still-mediocre 4.79. He managed to punch out 7.01 batters per nine frames, while issuing 2.91 BB/9. Those are quality numbers. But, as has often been the case in his career, Bush was battered by the long ball: he surrendered 1.5 HR/9.

    Bush wasn’t particularly unlucky in terms of his fly balls becoming fan mementos. His HR/FB rate was 12 percent, close to his 11.7 percent career average and within the typical 10-12% rate for pitchers. It’s just that hitters are lofting the ball far more often against Bush:

    Since his halcyon 2006 season (3.8 Wins Above Replacement), Bush has seen his groundball rate dip every year. He had a 46.6 GB% in ’06, 43.4% in 2007, 41.1% in 2008 and just a 34.4% rate of grounders this past season. Consequently, his HR/9 figures have climbed from 1.11 in 2006, 1.3 in 2007, 1.41 in 2008 and the aforementioned 1.5 mark in 2009. Bush’s xFIP last year was over a full run higher than his work in ’06.

    With a kitchen sink approach to pitching, Bush tosses at least five different pitches (his Pitch F/X data identifies an occasional two-seamer as well). His fastball has never been known for its zip, but it averaged a career-low 87.9 MPH last year and was bushwhacked for a -1.36 runs/100 pitches value. That was the 11th-worst mark among starters with at least 110 innings pitched.

    Perhaps feeling that his fastball had abandoned him, Bush threw the pitch a career-low 49 percent of the time. Whether you consider them separate pitches or not (the Baseball Info Solutions pitch data does), his slider (+0.20 runs/100) and cutter (+1.06) were effective. However, Bush’s slow curve (-0.15) and changeup (-4.46) rated poorly.

    With fewer fastballs thrown (Bush’s fastball percentage has gradually dropped from 57 percent in ’06 to last year’s 49 percent mark), he has placed fewer pitches over the plate:

    Bush’s percentage of pitches in the strike zone, 2006-2009 (MLB average that year in parentheses)

    2006: 56.5% (52.6%), +7% above the MLB average
    2007: 53.9% (50.3%), +7%
    2008: 51.8% (51.1%), +1%
    2009: 50.5% (49.3%), +2%

    His first-pitch strike percentage has fallen from the 62 percentage range in ’06 and ’07 to a major league average 58 percent last year. Not coincidentally, Bush’s walk rate has gone from immaculate to merely good.

    Bush’s BABIP (.324 last year) will likely fall, and he should do a better job of stranding runners on base (63.3 LOB% in 2009, compared to a 68.6% career rate). But to be a fantasy option, Bush must prove he’s healthy and regain his once-average fastball (career -0.19 runs/100), rather than continuing to chuck a pitch that looks like a beach ball to major league hitters.

    It’s hard to recommend him, given his evaporating groundball rate and increasing rate of free passes handed out. CHONE calls for a 4.79 FIP, while ZiPS shows a 4.57 FIP forecast. It’s possible that Bush could have some value in NL-only leagues, but I can’t see him becoming a good mixed league pick.

    Now that Bush is in the rotation, there’s a three-way ruckus for the fifth spot between Manny Parra (chronicled here), Jeff Suppan and Chris Narveson. Given that Soup’s French Onion is better than his fastball, Parra looks like the best option.


    Auction Draft: How I Lost Brett Anderson

    For those of you that have never given an auction league draft a try, I highly recommend that you do so this year – there are still plenty of public leagues looking for fantasy managers. Yahoo Fantasy Baseball has free live auction drafts for the first time and I joined a random league yesterday and participated in the auction draft. It’s also designed to help those who are uncomfortable with auction values, as the draft program tells you A) The estimated player’s value, as well as B) The average going rate this draft season.

    In this draft we had a 10-team league (with a $260 budget) and three managers failed to show up, which was disappointing because it meant we had to battle three automated picks. The evil computer bid hard and fast early in the draft with one team snapping up Tim Lincecum ($47), Roy Halladay ($41), Ryan Howard ($36), Chase Utley ($33), and Evan Longoria ($33). That, of course, is a lot of money to spend on five players on a 21-man roster and it ended up with 13 $1 players.

    My player nomination approach was fairly simply. I tossed up players I had little-to-no interest in as an effort to get the fantasy managers to blow their cash in bidding wars. I also looked to get the mangers to fill up at certain positions so that when the player that I really wanted came up, many of the teams had already filled that spot.

    The most expensive player taken was Albert Pujols at a whopping $55. I did not get involved in the bidding. My top five spends were Upton, Ian Kinsler ($27), Grady Sizemore ($24 – I think he’ll rebound and be a steal), Jimmy Rollins ($20), and Joey Votto ($22). My biggest over-spend was $11 for Jason Heyward but I left $14 on the table at the end of the draft so I feel pretty good about the gamble.

    I did not worry too much about pitching; my big man in the rotation is Ricky Nolasco ($17) and I grabbed Joakim Soria ($11) as my closer. My worst pick was wasting $3 and a roster spot on Ben Sheets, but to be honest I was trying to push the bidding and no one bit… so I only have myself to blame. The biggest blow is that I wanted to use that roster spot for a $1 buy on sleeper Ian Kennedy. I also ended up with too many first basemen with Votto, Derek Lee (for $18, which I considered good value at the time), and Carlos Pena ($5 was too good to pass up, yet again).

    As a thrifty shopper, I was also thrilled to get Curtis Granderson ($14), Scott Baker ($7), Matt Garza ($3), Carlos Quentin ($2), Elvis Andrus ($2), Dan Uggla ($2), and John Danks ($1). You can round my roster out with Pablo Sandoval ($19), Mike Napoli ($1) and David Aardsma ($6). I ended up with a good mix of speed and power even though I went with well-rounded players rather than wasting space on one-dimensional sluggers (Pena, aside) and hollow-batted speedsters.

    The one player I really, really wanted and didn’t get was Brett Anderson. I was laying in the weeds on him for the entire draft and he didn’t get nominated until the 18th round. I was feeling pretty good about it, as I had $23 in my pocked with two players left to get and I was OK with spending $1 on the other spot (a reliever… it would have been Kennedy). I had Anderson for $3 right up until four seconds before the bidding expired and then a bidding war ensured with my now least favorite person in the world and I lost Anderson at $22 (about double his estimated value). Garza was a pretty good consolation prize, and a steal for three bucks.

    If you’d like to share any good auction draft stories, feel free to post ’em… and if you have any auction draft questions, feel free to ask.