I love auction drafts. There is so much more strategy and skill involved than a snake draft (no offense to Mr. Snake Draft, I love you too) and you have the ability to target the exact players that you want without someone snagging them in front of you (until the $1 rounds at least).
However, auction drafts take time and a whole lot of patience. After buying my first two players early, I waited more than a few rounds to add a third piece and a few rounds more after that to really start getting in on the action.
In a league like this one, with some of the best fantasy baseball bloggers out there, I knew I had to refine the strategy that I normally take into any draft: Don’t pay too much for pitching. In a standard league (12 teams), I would try to hold true to said strategy, but this league holds 14 teams – the deeper the league the more important pitching is – and just about everyone of my league mates seems to be set on not overpaying for pitching either. This, however, created an opportunity to get into the pitching market at an affordable price. Since no one was going to overbid on pitching, the prices remained at or even under market value for pretty much the entire draft. This was obvious early on, when I bought my first player, Justin Verlander, for $28.
League settings: 14 teams, standard 5×5 scoring, C (2), 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, OF (5), UT, P (9), BN (3).
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Sons of Roto
Justin Verlander, $28 – Kershaw went for $33 and Halladay went for $29, so I was pretty shocked that no one went to $29 or more on Verlander.
Felix Hernandez, $25 – It sucks that I’ve already misses one solid start from Felix, but such is life. As you can see, my strategy has delivered me two top-of-the-chart strikeout masters who’s prices will stand up to other top-end starters that were bought afterward: Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum ($26), Zach Greinke ($25) and Dan Haren ($24).
Pablo Sandoval, $24 – I waited and waited and waited, allowing the other GMs to dish out $40-plus on first and second round types (Longo went for $41, Adrian Beltre for $31). Then, after 34 nominations had passed, and the dust began to settle a little, I targeted Panda as my man to get and no one was going to outbid me. The buck stopped at $24, which should be at least fair value if not a bargain if he progresses forward at age 25.
Adam Wainwright, $16 – Let’s face it, if Wainwright returns from Tommy John surgery to become the pitcher that he was before the surgery, something that has happened for a number of pitchers, he’s a lights-out steal at $16. Even if he falters a bit, his skills are still good enough to produce at least $16 worth of value.
Shin-Soo Choo, $17 – 2011 was just a weird year for Choo, who missed time on the field for a number of reasons. He was a $20-25 bid last year and his track record suggests that he should bounce-back this season, barring injury.
Buster Posey, $16 – Posey is progressing nicely from the nasty injury that cost him most of the 2011 season. Look for the Giants to keep him fresh, which will keep his bat productive. If he returns to 2010 form, or something close to it, he’ll be a good value at $16.
Carl Crawford, $12 – The news that Crawford might be out until May is perplexing, but the $12 I snagged him for is equal to other bounce-back risks such as Chris Young, Jason Heyward, Jayson Werth and Drew Stubbs.
Brandon Beachy, $11 – Bidding started at $1 and I went straight to $11, thinking that the bidding might end up upwards of $17. Nope. Not a single bid after my $11, which left me feeling that I could have landed him for a coupe bucks less. If his spectacular 3.7 K/BB rate holds up this season, it won’t matter, since he’ll be a value at $11 anyway.
Rafael Betancourt, $10 – I needed to land a solid closer and Betancourt has been a lock-down reliever for most of his career. Now that ability comes with the closer label attached.
Jimmy Rollins, $14 – Since I let most other shortstops go without a bid (Tulo $49, Hanley $38, Starlin Castro $21, Elvis Andrus $18), I knew I needed to land someone decent at this point. Rollins was my target and I was confident that I would not be outbid as I looked at the rest of the remaining budgets.
Eric Aybar, $8 – I’m neither high nor low on Aybar, but I figured that as long as the bidding didn’t go upwards of $10, I could get fair value in his runs and stolen base potential for my MI spot.
Kendrys Morales, $9 – So far so good in his comeback. I’m not banking on Morales completely returning to former form, but at $9, he won’t have to.
Corey Hart, $11 – At this point, I needed to focus on filling in the rest of my five OF spots. It looks like Hart will miss a few games to start the season, but when he gets back on the field he should be ready to start slugging once again, giving me good power production at a decent price tag.
Grant Balfour, $8 – As the case with Betancourt, Balfour has been a highly effective reliever for the better part of his career. How, he has the job title that entitles him to save chances.
Martin Prado, $7 – Prado represents yet another bounce-back candidate. He battled injuries last season and was a proven line-drive machine coming up through the minors and over his first two big league seasons.
Peter Bourjos, $8 – Needing to fill up my OF, I added a bat capable of 15-plus home runs and 30-plus stolen bases.
Godron Beckham, $3 – In a deeper league, you’re going to have a roster spot here and there that come with big question marks attached. Nothing in Beckham’s numbers really suggest that he’ll break out in 2012, but he no longer has Ozzie Guillen barking in his ear and he was a damn talented hitter at
Francisco Liriano, $6 – Josh will say that he dozed off before I nominated Liriano, but you snooze you loose pal. I was delighted that no one nominated Liriano when budgets were bigger. If he bounces back as I believe he will, he could more than double my return on investment.
Ryan Raburn, $3 – I’m not buying too much into Raburn’s spring stats, other than hoping they lead to a hot start and a better first half. He has 20 home run potential, which will be valuable for that position regardless of how much he contributes in the AVG category.
Carlos Pena, $10 – I was hoping to sneak Pena onto my roster for less than $10, but I believe he will deliver 30 home runs this season and I needed to fill in my UT spot.
Wandy Rodriguez, $5 – He may not win many games pitching for the punchless Astros, but he should continue to post a respectable ERA and WHIP while providing at least a league average amount of strikeouts.
Mat Gamel, $4 – I’ve always thought that Gamel just needed some regular playing time. Now, he’ll get that chance with the Brew Crew in 2012.
Jonathon Niese, $1 – New nose, new contract, good K/BB and GB%. For $1, it’s all upside.
Kurt Suzuki, $2 – Seems like he’s a lock for 13-15 home runs, which could translate to good enough R/RBI numbers to be a solid #2 catcher for my squad.
Daniel Bard, $1 – I took Bard here thinking that the Sox might actually put him back in the pen, where he could become the closer in short order. Alas, he’ll stick in the rotation where at least he does still have some upside.
Tyler Clippard, $1 – Looks like the Nats will keep Clippard in the set-up role, which means he might be one of my first cuts of the season.
C Buster Posey
C Kurt Suzuki
1B Pablo Sandoval
2B Ryan Raburn
3B Martin Prado
SS Jimmy Rollins
MI Eric AYbar
CI Mat Gamel
OF Kendrys Morales
OF Shin-Soo Choo
OF Carl Crawford
OF Corey Hart
OF Peter Bourjos
UT Carlos Pena
BN Gordon Beckham
P Justin Verlander
P Felix Hernandez
P Adam Wainwright
P Brandon Beachy
P Francisco Liriano
P Wandy Rodriguez
P Jonathan Niese
P Daniel Bard
P Rafael Betancourt
P Grant Balfour
P Tyler Clippard