Fantasy Baseball 2012: A Case Study on an Online Auction Draft
With so many new people trying their hand at online auction drafting, the fantasy draft room can be a scary place.
Quite frankly, owners new to this format have no idea what to expect. This season I decided to enter into a random Yahoo auction draft public league with standard five-by-five roto settings including a $260 salary cap.
While this may seem like a writer wanting to show off his alleged great draft, I really believe we can find valuable lessons about what you will face going up against a random assortment of competitors.
In this one draft, I was able to see just about every auction strategy you can think of in action.
Using this draft as a case study, I’ll argue how well each owner did, what overall strategies they used, and how the league projects to play out assuming everyone sticks with it and goes for the championship.
Keep in mind that the draft took place on Wednesday, March 14th, so any injuries that happened after that date will have to be ignored and chalked up to bad luck.
The League URL is:
Without further ado, on to the first team!
The Bombers: Lack of Money Management Part 1
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
The Bombers are the first of a couple of teams that ended up with some money management issues in the draft. The owner struck quickly, nabbing three legitimate superstars: Miguel Cabrera, Troy Tulowitski and Jose Bautista for amounts typical of what those caliber players go for.
With the 29th pick he also got Clayton Kershaw for just under $40. At this point in the draft, he had spent $188 of his $260 and filled just four roster spots. Granted these are superb players, but the rest of his roster was bound to be weak with almost no money available.
To compound matters, he then spent $28 on Jered Weaver, which is not a bad price, but it just further crippled his team financially.
Of the 23 players on The Bombers roster, 13 are dollar players.
The Bombers bombed.
Best Pick: Chris Sale $1. The most upside of any of his dollar players.
Worst Pick: Jered Weaver $28. He just didn’t have the cap to pull the trigger here.
Projected Finish: 8 out of 12
Yankee7556: Lack of Money Management Part 2
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The Yankees were the second team with money management issues.
After spending around $40 each for Joey Votto, Carlos Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson, and Justin Verlander, the owner really crippled the remaining budget overspending for Chase Utley at $21.
Once again, a roster of 13 dollar players will make it a tough go for this club as he projects to finish in the cellar for the season.
Best Pick: Brandon Belt $1.
Worst Pick: Chase Utley $21
Projected Finish: 12 out of 12
|OF||Hunter||.267||19.3|| 78.3 ||75.7||6.7|
Team Clint: The Guy Who Loves the Has Beens
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Team Clint is the first of our group of owners who attempted the “wait for value” strategy. Overall, the team has a good mix of salary levels where in theory there shouldn’t be glaring holes in the starting lineup, and he has no single player absorbing more than $26 of the cap.
However, Clint made some bad picks. In addition to being classified as a “wait for value” owner, Clint unfortunately falls into another category, the owner who selects tons of guys way past their prime.
Overall it wasn’t a horrible draft for Team Clint, but with an aging team composed primarily of major injury risks, it could prove to be a tough year.
Best Pick: Buster Posey $15, overall a good value for one of the better catchers in the game.
Worst Pick: Alex Rodriguez $26, likely overspent based on the amount of production he’ll get in return.
Projected Finish: 9 out of 12
Hoosier Daddy: The Well Rounded Picker
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Hoosier Daddy ended the draft with a very solid starting roster. He waited to some degree for talent to fall to a reasonable price and acquired several good players for under market value. The bottom five or so players on his bench are flyer type players which is about where you would like to be as none of them cost more than a couple of bucks.
The roster has a large amount of second-tier pitching which is the optimal spot to select pitchers based on return on investment. Instead of one Kershaw or Verlander, he was able to get Cain and Bumgarner for instance.
The positional players have some element of injury risk, but based on the price they were well worth it in my opinion and the roster is slam full of consistent players.
The owner waited till later in the draft to acquire closers which in this case was an optimal strategy as a couple even went undrafted.
Overall an excellent auction draft.
Best Pick: Brandon Beach $8.
Worst Pick: Howie Kendrick $16. Not a bad pick, just maybe a little high.
Projected Finish: 1 out of 12
AtlBraves: The Guy Who Doesn't Even Know Ryan Howard Is Hurt
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
This team’s draft was another lesson in mismanagement and it seems to be a case of the unprepared owner. As a general rule you should turn on MLB Network at least once before you pick a team.
After blowing through just under $200 on the first four players selected, he continued to overspend and was not able to build a usable starting roster ending up with $12 players. To compound matters, he spent $10 on Ryan Howard then immediately dropped him after the draft.
Just not much good to say on this effort.
Best Pick: Yadier Molina $3. One of the few value picks the owner made.
Worst Pick: Ryan Howard $10. Especially if you’re going to drop him immediately.
Projected Finish: 11 out of 12
GBag: The Owner Who Doesn't Pay Attention to How His Teams Shaping Up
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The owner of GBag spread money around fairly well, but just left too many categories unfulfilled on his roster. While he ended up with three top-tier starting pitchers and some good cornerstones of a lineup, collectively the team just doesn’t shape up to fulfill the bulk of the count stats.
Despite looking fairly decent on paper, this is a value-minded owner who just didn’t get enough back in terms of offensive production. The team projects to be very weak in both speed and power categories.
Best Pick: Neslon Cruz $22.
Worst Pick: No one stands out as horrible. The team just lacks collectively.
Projected Finish: 10 out of 12
Team Me (Not My Team): The Coupon Clipper
J. Meric/Getty Images
Team Me took a fairly well-rounded approach to the draft and ended up with a decent mix of players at good value. While the team projects to finish in the middle of the standings, there is opportunity for several players to outperform projection and end up near the top.
This type of owner is like the best player available snake draft owner. He just looks for value and takes it when he sees it. At the end of the day, it falls where it falls.
The team focused more on count pitching stats than ratios which can always lead to a black hole and a move or two to pick up power could be beneficial.
This will be an interesting team to watch as the season progresses.
Best Pick: Brian McCann $13. Based on what the other upper level catchers brought, this was a steal.
Worst Pick: Really no pick was made haphazardly.
Projected Finish: 6 out of 12
Creeps: The Guy Who Just Doesn't Care
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
These owners are the Milton Bradley of fantasy baseball. They just don't care enough to be there.
While it’s still up for debate whether we were dealing with an autopick monster or just an insane human being, this was without a doubt the emotional topic of the day. The owner ended up with an astonishing 17 dollar players on a 23 man roster.
The first three players acquired were Prince Fielder ($56), Robinson Cano ($78), and Ryan Braun ($59).
That is correct, $78 for Robinson Cano.
Luckily for the owner, of the 17 dollar players, some of them were the better dollar picks of the draft. Not that he would know this as he left the draft after spending $20 on David Wright.
Beware of the guy who doesn’t really care. Unfortunately this can happen. Luckily we made him mad enough that he left.
Best Pick: Mike Carp $1.
Worst Pick (of the Draft): Robinson Cano $78.
Projected: 7 out of 12
Sherbaderrr: The Extreme Patience Owner
Bethany Clarke/Getty Images
Sherbaderrr waited...and waited…and waited. This was an example of an owner showing patience for value to the extreme as he had a roster of one player after 75 players were off the board. This guy may have been an ex-sniper.
While he may have taken this strategy a bit too far, the end result is a lineup that projects to finish in the top three of the league assuming innings limits are managed properly. The team ended up with a relatively weak offense based primarily around speed and an enormous pitching staff that included four top-tier closers.
If the owner can find some offensive production on the waiver wire, he could be a contender for the title.
Best Pick: Brett Gardner $8
Worst Pick: Jose Reyes $33. Not too much of a reach, but this was the closest to an example of overspending.
Projected Finish: 3 out of 12
Morgan: Wait...But Not Quite so Long
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Morgan is another owner who played the wait and see game, though not to the extreme of the previous owner…he had two players by pick No. 75.
Maybe he's not a sniper, but I bet he agreed that the Red Sox should have left Pedro in the ALCS too.
There really isn’t a lot to tell about his draft. The owner waited on value on bid when the value was there. The one critique would probably be the amount spent on bench players was one of the highest in the league and the strategy did not worry about pitching depth, which could be an issue as the season progresses.
Best Pick: CJ Wilson: $14
Worst Pick: Josh Beckett $13. But really how bad is that?
Projected Finish: 4 out of 12
Walker Texas Rangers: My Team
Jeff Golden/Getty Images
I was relatively happy with the draft, but like anyone else there were some mistakes made along the way. I tried to spread my money around my starters and just use dollar type fliers on reserves.
The two biggest cases of overspending were probably Mike Stanton at $30 and Brandon Phillips at $19. I didn’t think either was a horrible pick, but looking back I probably could have done a little more with that $49 of cap space. This primarily shows up with my team being weak at one of the UTL positions.
Near the end of the draft, several closers were going unclaimed which caused me to tweak my strategy a bit to use some of my flyer spots to take additional closers leading to one important thing to remember…sometimes you have to change up on the fly in these drafts.
Best Pick: Michael Pineda $13
Worst Pick: Mike Stanton $30
Projected Finish: 2 out of 12
Detroit Ligers: The Hybrid
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
The Detroit Ligers used a very common and effective draft strategy I call a hybrid.
The owner did a nice job of jumping going after just a couple of high priced, high performance players to be the foundation of the team and then waited on what he considered to be values to fill out the rest of the team.
Despite sticking to this solid plan, the owner completely punted saves and filled his pitching rotation with lots of high ratio starting pitchers. Ignoring the entire pitching side of the game for most of the draft will make it difficult to compete in the ERA and WHIP categories, without question the team’s most glaring weakness.
If he can make some moves to improve these three categories, he could challenge for the league title. If not, he’ll likely finish in the middle of the pack.
Best Pick: Shaun Marcum $4
Worst Pick: Kevin Youkilis $22
Projected Finish: 5 out of 12
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
The most important day of the fantasy season is completed for this league.
Half of the teams in the league have legitimate shots at winning the title if things go their way and half of the teams are more or less already eliminated. If this doesn’t show the importance of draft day, I don’t know what does.
So take a few lessons away from our case study.
Find Players who will return more value than you pay for them.
Understand the types of owners you'll be competing against.
And make fun of the idiot in the draft room until he leaves. It makes the rest of the draft so much more fun!
|Walker Texas Rangers||11||7||12||11||2||43|
|Walker Texas Rangers||4||11||11||5||11||42|
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|Walker Texas Rangers||43||42||85|