Auction Market Values — REVISED!

Nobody knows whether the great novelist Joseph Conrad played Fantasy baseball. He died in 1924, so perhaps not, but a passage in one of his novels suggests that he envisioned it. In The Secret Agent, a character entertains the “horrible notion that ages of atrocious pain and mental torture could be contained between two successive winks of an eye.” We can now attest to the accuracy of that notion, because we had such an experience in a Fantasy baseball auction last Sunday. We had neglected to stock our catching staff, and, as a result, between those two successive winks we were compelled to place a $7 bid on Francisco Cervelli. “Pain” and “torture” were indeed the centerpieces of our experience in that instant.

We were going to report on the above-referenced auction in this week’s installment, but frankly it’s just too embarrassing. Consistently undervaluing catchers until we were stuck with a $7 Cervelli and a $2 Jason Castro was just the most egregious of our errors. But our loss is your gain, because we decided to write something useful for a change: a review of auction market prices.

The auction we botched was one of four overseen last week by Andy Saxton of NFBC. The rules were the same as a standard-issue NFBC draft: mixed-league player pool, 23 players, 5×5. The only difference was the bidding, with the classic $260-per-team budget, in lieu of the usual snake draft. Andy kindly provided us with the round-by-round auction results for each league, and we used them to try to  come up with a dollar value reflecting not, God knows, our valuation of each player, and not even a player’s average auction price, which can be misleading, but rather his auction market value. The results, position by position, are below. First, though, a few comments and explanations:
–The numbers don’t add up in a double-entry-bookkeeping way, for good reasons. There should be 210 hitters and 135 pitchers. There are a couple fewer than that because we didn’t want to spend time choosing among the many players who were taken for $1 in only one of the four leagues. If a guy you like isn’t listed below, chances are someone in one of the leagues took him for $1, and that you can get him for the same amount. If you think we’ve erroneously omitted a player, let us know in the Comments section below and we’ll repair the damage.

–There should also be $3900 allocated. There’s about $140 less than that. That’s because (1) in most leagues, several teams leave money, sometimes quite a bit of money, on the table; (2) if they don’t leave it on the table, they do things like pay $11 for Max Kepler with their last pick; and (3) like us, a lot of owners leave themselves short at one position or in one category or another, and pay exorbitant prices in the endgame to compensate.  We tried to identify and ignore these outliers. The numbers in parentheses are the top and bottom prices for each player; an x means he received no bids in at least one auction.

–We haven’t listed players at multiple positions, but they qualify at the positions they’re listed at by anyone’s standards. The exception is Eric Thames, who was an outfielder in Korea and is treated as one by most stat services, but is a first baseman as far as NFBC and the Brewers are concerned.

–Price distinctions of a dollar or two in either direction probably don’t make much difference in terms of what the next auction is likely to pay for any given player.  Certainly, There’s not much difference among, say, $7, $8, and $9 players at a given position. If your projections are so accurate and your valuation system so precise that you can reliably distinguish among such players, you have our unqualified admiration and our lacerating envy. Most of us can’t. And here’s a Fun Question: Roughly 400 players were bid on in at least one of the four auctions. Guess how many players went for exactly the same price in all four, and guess what that price was. The answer is at the bottom of this post.

–Bargains, insofar as they exist, often seem pretty inadvertent. An example, from the auction we did: Brad Miller for $3. He went in the sixth round of the draft, so people (a) had plenty of money, (b) had plenty of room on their rosters, and (c) weren’t nodding off yet. We would bet that at least half a dozen owners were in the same boat we were in, i.e. they had Miller valued at $6 or $7, either liked him or at least had no aversion to him, but found that he didn’t fit what they were trying to do in light of what they’d already done. We, and most other owners, would rather see someone else get Miller for $3 than get him for $4 when we don’t need him.

–This is, insofar as possible, a snapshot of auction market values as of the morning of Monday, March 20th. We thus didn’t use the prices paid for Ian Desmond or Tom Murphy before they got hurt last week.  (We think, by the way, that it’s magical thinking to assert that Desmond will be back at the end of April. Mid-May, maybe, if things go right.) You’ll notice a question mark after the  $12 we’ve assigned to J.D. Martinez.  That was what he cost in the only one of the four drafts that occurred after his injury. And of course, things have changed a bit since Monday morning–no one’s going to pay $7 for Didi Gregorius, for example–and will change some more by Saturday, when Tout Wars holds its annual Mixed-League Auction, featuring Jeff Zimmerman of Fangraphs. It will be entertaining and instructive to see how these prices compare to those.

–Note, finally, the Kershaw Barrier. The auction market thinks he’s the most valuable player in Fantasyland. The draft market has him third, behind Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. People evidently resist selecting a pitcher first, even when they will pay more for him than they will for anyone else.

HITTERS

Catchers

  1. Posey 28 (25-30)
  2. Sanchez 23 (23-24)
  3. Lucroy 23 (21-25)
  4. Contreras 19 (16-21)
  5. Realmuto 15 (15-16)
  6. Grandal 14 (11-16)
  7. Gattis 11 (9-12)
  8. Perez 11 (9-12)
  9. B. McCann 9 (7-10)
  10. Castillo 9 (7-11)
  11. Martin 9 (8-9)
  12. Wieters 9 (8-10)
  13. Vogt 8 (6-10)
  14. Molina 8 (7-9)
  15. Rupp 7 (5-9)
  16. Zunino 7 (4-9)
  17. d’Arnaud 5 (3-8)
  18. Gomes 4 (3-5)
  19. Cervelli 4 (3-7)
  20. Leon 3 (1-5)
  21. Mesoraco 3 (1-4)
  22. Murphy 3 (1-11)
  23. J. McCann 3 (1-7)
  24. Bandy 2 (1-3)
  25. Hedges 2 (1-3)
  26. Wolters 2 (2-3)
  27. Ramos 2 (1-2)
  28. Flowers 1 (1-3)
  29. Norris 1 (1-3)
  30. Castro 1 (1-3)

First Basemen

  1. Goldschmidt 39 (37-40)
  2. Rizzo 31 (30-31)
  3. Cabrera 31 (31-32)
  4. Votto 30 (26-33)
  5. Encarnacion 29 (27-30)
  6. Freeman 27 (23-29)
  7. Abreu 25 (23-29)
  8. Myers 22 (21-24)
  9. Davis 21 (16-23)
  10. H.Ramirez 18 (15-23)
  11. Hosmer 14 (13-16)
  12. Pujols 12 (8-14)
  13. Belt 12 (4-14)
  14. Santana 11 (10-11)
  15. A. Gonzalez 8 (7-10)
  16. Joseph 8 (6-11)
  17. Napoli 5 (2-9)
  18. Cron 4 (2-7)
  19. Bour 3 (x-4)
  20. Bird 3 (x-4)
  21. Moreland 2 (1-6)
  22. Bell 1 (x-3)
  23. Park 1 (x-1)

Second Basemen

  1. Altuve 36 (36-37)
  2. T. Turner 33 (29-35)
  3. Gordon 25 (23-27)
  4. Cano 24 (21-26)
  5. Dozier 22 (21-23)
  6. Murphy 21 (20-23)
  7. Odor 21 (19-23)
  8. Carpenter 19 (16-23)
  9. Kinsler 15 (14-16)
  10. Le Mahieu 15 (14-17)
  11. Pedroia 9 (7-12)
  12. Schoop 8 (6-10)
  13. Forsythe 8 (4-13)
  14. Zobrist 6 (5-8)
  15. Castro 6 (3-10)
  16. Walker 5 (3-7)
  17. Travis 4 (1-11)
  18. Kipnis 4 (2-9)
  19. Gyorko 3 (1-5)
  20. C. Hernandez 3 (x-5)
  21. Harrison 2 (1-4)
  22. Wong 1 (x-2)
  23. Phillips 1 (x-2)
  24. Schimpf  1 (x-2)
  25. Panik 1 (x-1)

Third Basemen

  1. Arenado 41 (41-42)
  2. Bryant 39 (36-41)
  3. Machado 39 (38-42)
  4. Donaldson 30 (28-33)
  5. K. Seager 19 (19-20)
  6. J. Ramirez 17 (14-19)
  7. Bregman 17 (16-18)
  8. Frazier 17 (15-20)
  9. Beltre 16 (15-18)
  10. Franco 15 (13-17)
  11. Longoria 15 (14-16)
  12. Rendon 15 (13-16)
  13. Turner 13 (12-15)
  14. Sano 12 (10-16)
  15. Lamb 11 (8-13)
  16. Moustakas 10 (5-17)
  17. Castellanos 9 (5-13)
  18. Healy 9 (6-20)
  19. Drury 5 (2-8)
  20. H. Perez 5 (2-7)
  21. Gurriel 4 (x-8)
  22. Kang 3 (2-5)
  23. Reyes 3 (2-5)
  24. Suarez 1 (x-6)
  25. Sandoval 1 (x-3)
  26. Solarte 1 (x-2)
  27. Duffy 1 (1-2)
  28. Moncada 1 (x-3)
  29. Headley 1 (x-1)

Shortstops

  1. Correa 32 (28-35)
  2. Villar 28 (28-29)
  3. C. Seager 27 (26-28)
  4. Story 26 (25-27)
  5. Lindor 23 (22-24)
  6. Bogaerts 22 (18-24)
  7. Segura 20 (18-22)
  8. Peraza 20 (17-22)
  9. Nunez 12 (11-13)
  10. Anderson 12 (8-15)
  11. Russell 11 (9-12)
  12. Baez 11 (8-15)
  13. Andrus 9 (8-10)
  14. Diaz 9 (9-10)
  15. Semien 9 (7-11)
  16. Tulowitzki 8 (5-10)
  17. Swanson 6 (4-7)
  18. B. Miller 6 (3-7)
  19. A. Cabrera 5 (3-6)
  20. Gregorius 4 (2-7)
  21. Crawford 3 (3-4)
  22. Arcia 2 (1-3)
  23. Owings 2 (x-3)
  24. A. Escobar 1 (1-1)
  25. Saladino 1 (x-1)
  26. Espinosa 1 (x-1)

DHs

  1. Morales 12 (7-13)
  2. V. Martinez 4 (3-6)

Outfielders

  1. Trout 44 (43-45)
  2. Betts 40 (38-41)
  3. Harper 36 (32-38)
  4. Blackmon 32 (29-35)
  5. Marte 30 (27-31)
  6. Pollock 27 (23-31)
  7. Braun 26 (23-28)
  8. Polanco 25 (22-29)
  9. Cruz 25 (23-27)
  10. Stanton 25 (22-28)
  11. Hamilton 25 (24-26)
  12. Cespedes 25 (22-28)
  13. Springer 24 (22-27)
  14. C. Gonzalez 23 (20-25)
  15. Yelich 22 (20-24)
  16. Upton 20 (18-23)
  17. McCutcheon 20 (18-21)
  18. A. Jones 19 (17-20)
  19. Kemp 18 (15-20)
  20. Trumbo 18 (15-20)
  21. Bautista 17 (14-19)
  22. Schwarber 15 (13-17)
  23. C. Gomez 15 (12-18)
  24. K. Davis 15 (14-16)
  25. Cain 14 (12-16)
  26. Herrera 13 (9-16)
  27. Benintendi 13 (10-15)
  28. Piscotty 13 (11-14)
  29. Desmond 13 (9-23)
  30. Broxton 13 (9-17)
  31. Kiermaier 13 (9-15)
  32. Eaton 12 (9-16)
  33. Buxton 11 (9-12)
  34. Thames 11 (8-14)
  35. J.D. Martinez 11? (11-24)
  36. Pederson 9 (5-13)
  37. Bradley 9 (8-10)
  38. Duvall 8 (6-10)
  39. Calhoun 8 (7-10)
  40. R. Davis 8 (5-10)
  41. Dahl 7 (4-11)
  42. Ozuna 7 (6-9)
  43. Grichuk 7 (5-9)
  44. Inciarte 7 (6-8)
  45. Puig 6 (4-9)
  46. D. Santana 6 (4-8)
  47. Dyson 6 (3-9)
  48. Fowler 6 (4-8)
  49. Tomas 5 (4-6)
  50. Kepler 5 (3-11)
  51. Mazara 5 (3-7)
  52. Pence 5 (4-7)
  53. Ellsbury 4 (3-6)
  54. Holliday 3 (1-7)
  55. L. Martin 3 (1-5)
  56. Beltran 3 (2-5)
  57. Peralta 3 (1-4)
  58. Brantley 3 (1-7)
  59. Bruce 3 (1-5)
  60. M. Cabrera 2 (2-3)
  61. Choo 2 (1-4)
  62. Conforto 2 (1-3)
  63. C. Dickerson 2 (1-3)
  64. Heyward 2 (1-6)
  65. Jankowski 2 (1-4)
  66. Margot 2 (1-3)
  67. Renfroe 2 (1-4)
  68. Gardner 2 (x-3)
  69. Pillar 2 (1-3)
  70. Soler 1 (x-3)
  71. Reddick 1 (x-1)
  72. Maybin 1 (1-1)
  73. M. Smith 1 (x-1)
  74. Werth 1 (x-1)
  75. Gordon 1 (1-2)
  76. Granderson 1 (1-2)
  77. Haniger 1 (1-2)
  78. Saunders 1 (1-5)

PITCHERS

Starting Pitchers

  1. Kershaw 46 (46-48)
  2. Bumgarner 35 (34-36)
  3. Syndergaard 35 (31-36)
  4. Scherzer 33 (32-36)
  5. Sale 32 (29-34)
  6. Kluber 29 (26-31)
  7. Darvish 29 (25-31)
  8. Cueto 27 (27-28)
  9. Carrasco 27 (22-34)
  10. Archer 27 (24-28)
  11. Arrieta 25 (24-26)
  12. Verlander 24 (23-25)
  13. de Grom 24 (22-25)
  14. Lester 24 (23-25)
  15. Strasburg 22 (21-23)
  16. C. Martinez 22 (19-24)
  17. Tanaka 21 (20-23)
  18. Hendricks 20 (15-21)
  19. Duffy 17 (16-18)
  20. Cole 15 (14-16)
  21. Maeda 15 (12-17)
  22. Hill 15 (14-16)
  23. Hamels 15 (11-20)
  24. Salazar 15 (13-18)
  25. Teheran 15 (13-17)
  26. Quintana 14 (13-16)
  27. Aa. Sanchez 13 (9-14)
  28. Stroman 13 (12-15)
  29. Taillon 13 (11-14)
  30. Paxton 13 (12-14)
  31. Greinke 12 (9-15)
  32. Price 11 (10-14)
  33. F. Hernandez 11 (8-15)
  34. Porcello 10 (6-11)
  35. Velasquez 10 (4-18)
  36. Keuchel 10 (5-13)
  37. Matz 10 (9-11)
  38. McCullers 10 (8-12)
  39. Gausman 9 (7-10)
  40. Fulmer 9 (8-10)
  41. Nola 9 (7-12)
  42. Smyly 9 (6-11)
  43. Shoemaker 9 (6-13)
  44. Gausman 9 (7-10)
  45. Lackey 8 (7-11)
  46. Maenaea 8 (7-11)
  47. Moore 8 (6-11)
  48. Pineda 8 (6-9)
  49. J. Ross 8 (5-10)
  50. Urias 8 (6-9)
  51. Walker 7 (5-9)
  52. Rodon 7 (5-9)
  53. Roark 7 (5-8)
  54. J. Gray 7 (2-10)
  55. Harvey 7 (2-9)
  56. Happ 7 (5-10)
  57. Samardzjia 6 (4-9)
  58. Odorizzi 6 (4-8)
  59. Cotton 6 (3-7)
  60. Richards 5 (3-6)
  61. Ray 5 (3-7)
  62. Eickhoff 5 (3-6)
  63. Snell 4 (2-8)
  64. Wainwright 4 (1-5)
  65. Estrada 4 (1-6)
  66. Liriano 4 (3-6)
  67. D. Norris 3 (2-5)
  68. Nova 3 (2-4)
  69. Wacha 3 (2-5)
  70. S. Gray 3 (1-6)
  71. G. Gonzalez 3 (2-4)
  72. Gsellman 3 (1-5)
  73. Lynn 3 (2-4)
  74. Musgrove 2 (x-4)
  75. Pomeranz 2 (1-4)
  76. Bundy 2 (1-3)
  77. Davies 2 (1-2)
  78. Iwakuma 2 (1-3)
  79. Kennedy 2 (1-4)
  80. Hellickson 2 (1-3)
  81. Guerra 2 (1-3)
  82. Chen 1 (x-1)
  83. Finnegan 1 (x-3)
  84. Foltynewicz 1 (x-3)
  85. Glasnow 1 (x-3)
  86. Leake 1 (x-1)
  87. McHugh 1 (1-2)
  88. S. Miller 1 (x-1)
  89. Montgomery 1 (x-2)
  90. E. Rodriguez 1 (x-1)
  91. Skaggs 1 (x-1)
  92. Zimmermann 1 (x-5)
  93. Conley 1 (x-2)
  94. Ryu 1 (x-1)
  95. Hammel 1 (x-2)
  96. E. Santana 1 (1-2)

Relief Pitchers

  1. Chapman 22 (20-25)
  2. Jansen 21 (20-22)
  3. Britton 19 (19-20)
  4. Diaz 19 (17-22)
  5. Melancon 18 (17-19)
  6. Oh 18 (17-19)
  7. Kimbrel 17 (16-18)
  8. Giles 17 (16-18)
  9. Osuna 17 (16-18)
  10. Colome 15 (14-18)
  11. Davis 15 (14-17)
  12. Herrera 15 (14-17)
  13. Allen 14 (14-15)
  14. Familia 13 (12-14)
  15. Robertson 12 (11-18)
  16. F. Rodriguez 11 (9-12)
  17. Dyson 11 (9-13)
  18. Bedrosian 10 (9-10)
  19. Ramos 9 (8-15)
  20. Johnson 9 (7-11)
  21. Iglesias 8 (3-10)
  22. Miller 8 (7-9)
  23. Watson 8 (3-11)
  24. Feliz 6 (5-6)
  25. Kelley 6 (4-10)
  26. Holland 5 (x-10)
  27. Ottavino 4 (1-8)
  28. Reed 4 (3-5)
  29. Kintzler 4 (3-5)
  30. Madsen 4 (2-5)
  31. Maurer 4 (3-5)
  32. Rodney 4 (3-5)
  33. Gomez 3 (3-4)
  34. N. Jones 2 (2-3)
  35. Betances 2 (1-5)
  36. Neris 2 (1-2)
  37. Bush 1 (x-2)
  38. Glover 1 (x-3)
  39. Capps 1 (x-1)

[Answer to Fun Question: Two players. Alcides Escobar and Cameron Maybin went for $1 in all four auctions.]



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The Birchwood Brothers are two guys with the improbable surname of Smirlock. Michael, the younger brother, brings his skills as a former Professor of Economics to bear on baseball statistics. Dan, the older brother, brings his skills as a former college English professor and recently-retired lawyer to bear on his brother's delphic mutterings. They seek to delight and instruct. They tweet when the spirit moves them @birchwoodbroth2.

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sivjosh
Member
sivjosh

Is Tulo missing? Seems like he is better than a $1 guy.

sivjosh
Member
sivjosh

How about Oh, the Cardinals closer?