Looking Back on the Blog Wars Auction Draft

Looking back on draft day results is a great way to learn about and improve your personal draft day strategy. I routinely do this after every season.
 
The auction draft is not a new concept, but it is becoming more and more popular as the major fantasy sports hosting sites (Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS) continue to improve their online auction draft features. When I first started playing fantasy baseball, the draft was always a standard snake-style format. Having jumped into the world of the auction draft over the past couple of years, there have been many lessons learned already and many strategies that have succeeded and failed.
 
Today, I took a chance to look back at the 15-team Blog Wars expert league auction draft. The league was put together by Million Dollar Sleeper and featured experts from Fan Graphs, Razzball, Fanhouse, etc… 
 
My picks, in order of winning bid amount.
 
Evan Longoria – $37
Tampa Bay Rays batter Evan Longoria tosses his helmet and blows a bubble after he grounded out against the New York Yankees in the third inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, September 22, 2010. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
With the lack of great third-base options, I really loved getting Longo for $37 considering that Hanley Ramirez, Joe Mauer, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Tim Lincecum and Chase Utley had all gone for $40 and over. Longo was injured down the stretch and his power numbers fell off a bit, but I’d bid this again in 2011.
 
Ryan Braun – $36
My strategy was to not go over $40 for any player, but try and grab two first-round worthy bats in the $30 range. Braun was my first winning bid and I was happy about it at the time. As it turns out, he had and up-and-down season, falling off in the power department.
 
Ubaldo Jimenez – $26
Looking for a breakout year from Ubaldo, I paid just a little more than I wanted to for his services. As it turns out, the extra few dollars were worth the investment. I ended up trading him for Matt Kemp around the all-star break and then trading Kemp for Adam Dunn later on.
 
Cole Hamels – $20
I believed that Hamels would be a bargain in snake drafts in 2010, but ended up paying about full price for him in this auction. After a so-so first half, he was utterly dominant in the second half and made this $20 investment well worth it.
 
Carlos Quentin – $17
One of my biggest mistakes was believing in Quentin this season. His AVG hurt my team all year long and he didn’t hit for enough power to make up for it.
 
Chone Figgins – $16
Spending $16 on Figgins seemed fine at the time and I was even figuring in a regression. Then Figgins went out and hit .259 and only scored 62 runs. Even 42 stolen bases didn’t make up for the lack of overall production. Thankfully, I traded him for Matt Capps and Julio Borbon early on.
 
New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera throws a pitch in the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in New York City on September 26, 2009. The Yankees defeated the Red Sox 3-0. UPI/John Angelillo Photo via Newscom
Mariano Rivera – $15
Grabbing, er, stealing Mo at this price was a product of a bunch of teams spending big early on. By the time the run on closers came, teams had tightened up their budgets to the point where they were looking at waiting on cheaper closers.
 
Ian Stewart – $13
It was Stewart’s 2B/3B eligibility and power potential that made him a target of mine on draft day. Outside of two good months, Stewart was a bust in this case. He didn’t hit for more power, his AVG remained low and he spent significant time on the DL.
 
Elvis Andrus – $12
Despite over 100 more at-bats, Andrus stole one fewer base than he did in 2009 and was caught over twice as many times. His AVG fell as the season went along and he didn’t score 100 runs. Still, I don’t regret the $12, as I expected a progression in stolen base skills.
 
Chad Billingsley – $12
While Billingsley didn’t get much in terms of wins, he did improve his K/BB rate from 2009 and helped my pitching staff overall.
 
Heath Bell – $10
Remember what I wrote about getting Mariano Rivera for $15? Heath Bell was an extreme example of that. I won this bid later in the draft as teams had already dished out big chunks of their $260 starting dollar amounts. There were more than a few bargains like this to be had toward the end of the draft.
 
Nick Johnson – $9
My biggest mistake of the draft. I nominated Johnson early on hoping to snag him at a few bucks. The bidding went higher than I expected and I went to $9 when I was hoping to go $3 or so. As it turned out, no amount would have been worth it, but spending $9 early and thinking I had a decent 1B sleeper hurt me all season long.
 
Ryan Doumit – $7
I would have been better off throwing out couple bucks on a flier pick like Rod Barajas. In the future, if I don’t get a solid top-five catcher, I’ll wait toward the end and throw a couple bucks at the catcher position.
 
Juan Pierre – $5
I figured Pierre would be a solid source of stolen bases having been moved to a full-time job in Chicago and he was. He was also among the less costly speed options. As a bonus, he scored 95 runs.
 
Carlos Zambrano – $5
Some might think $5 is not a lot to spend on a pitcher, but Big-Z was nothing more than a big headache. Thanks for nothing.
 
A.J. Pierzynski – $4
Having been a fairly consistent catcher for the last few years, I figured $4 was a fine price for A.J.’s services. As it turned out, he slumped for most of the year until a red-hot August and September, by which time he had been long gone from my team.
 
Justin Masterson – $3
Throwing a $3 flier bid for a pitcher with a high strikeout rate is a fine strategy. Unfortunately, I only got a few good starts out of Masterson, who continued to get hit hard by left-handed hitters.
 
Aaron Harang – $3
Based on a solid K/BB rate for the past few seasons, I figured throwing a few bucks out there was worth overlooking his high ERA numbers of the past. Nothing changed in 2010 and Harang missed the majority of the season with injuries.
 
Brandon Wood, Lastings Milledge – $2
I thought these two had some upside based on the past. But both simply continued to prove to be big-league busts.
 
Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista hits a triple in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers in their American League MLB baseball game in Toronto August 28, 2010. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill (CANADA - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Jose Bautista – $1
Needless to say, this was a huge value. What I saw in Bautista was a 3B with potential to score 100 runs — at the time he was the Blue Jays’ leadoff hitter — and hit 20-25 home runs. Sometimes spotting even modest upside can lead to big rewards.
 
Cliff Pennington – $1
Another guy I saw a little upside in with regard to his stolen base potential. He did steal 29 bases, but hit only .250. I’d still throw out a dollar flier on him in deep leagues in 2011.
 
Jonny Gomes – $1
With an everyday job to start the season, I figured there was enough power upside in Gomes – His AB/HR rate in limited playing time was Adam Dunn-like — to throw a dollar flier out there. Gomes actually hit for AVG early on, but at the expense of his power game. In the end his .266 AVG, 18 home runs and 86 RBI were worth the buck.
 
Delmon Young – $1
Young lasted a long time on the draft board and a winning bid of one dollar was the result. At this point, some teams were out of cash and I felt like his upside was worth the flier. It certainly was, but I traded him for Gio Gonzalez early and missed his big second-half.
 
Alberto Callaspo, Jose Mijares – $1
Callaspo had a hot start and added some nice numbers as a fill-in middle infielder, but he was more of a bench guy for the most part. At the time, the Twins were supposed to go bullpen-by-committee and Mijares was the last one remaining of the names in consideration. As it turns out, there was no committee and Mijares was a non-factor.