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March 14, 2014

Fantasy Auction Values

Third Edition

by Mike Gianella

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In eight days, I’ll be participating in my fifth Tout Wars expert league auction (on the National League side of the fence). However, this will be the first year we will be using on-base percentage—instead of batting average—as a category.

The attached spreadsheet offers my adjusted bid values for on base percentage leagues. More than the changes, what will probably jump out to readers is how few players’ values changed in both leagues. Forty-five NL hitters saw a change in value, while 38 AL hitters were moved up or down. Given that 125 AL hitters and 118 NL hitters saw a value change of $1 or more in 2013, shouldn’t there be more fluctuation in my bid limits for OBP?

While I could have taken this direction and made more radical bid changes, I decided not to do so. The simplest reason for this is that my bid limits aren’t merely a linear translation from player projections. This is a topic that is long enough for its own article—and a subject I will be tackling next week. But for most players, my bid isn’t sitting at the full dollar value of the player’s projection. As a result, a $3 shift in value due to OBP typically isn’t going to result in a $3 shift in an overall bid limit.

On-base percentage is somewhat more stable than batting average. But because it's tied to batting average and batted balls in play, there is still a fair amount of variability in the category that I will not pay for. Shaving 10 hits off of a hitter with 600 plate appearances loses him about three dollars in both BA and OBP. Even if walk rates are more constant than hit rates, hits are still a vital component in OBP valuation. I am reluctant to tinker with values for hitters who aren’t consistently worth two dollars more or less with OBP than they are with batting average.

You don’t want to dump OBP any more than you want to dump BA. But qualitative categories are prone to greater fluctuations from season to season. Because of this, you don’t want to simply take last year’s numbers and apply them to this year’s valuations.

Risers/Fallers
Below are this week’s significant risers/fallers in my bid limits:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Neftali Feliz $6 (previous $13)
Joakim Soria $10 (previous $2)
I’m not sure which one of these relievers is going to close, but it seems that Feliz is far enough behind in camp that Soria is going to start the year as the closer. Soria’s price is higher, but I might drop it (and leave Feliz’s price where it is) in the next couple of weeks.

Jackie Bradley $8 (previous: $10)
Grady Sizemore $4 (previous: $2)
Sizemore has impressed in camp. I don’t completely believe the hype yet, but I want some flexibility in my endgame to take a chance on a player like Sizemore.

Michael Saunders $7 (previous: $9)
Abraham Almonte $3 (previous: $1)
This is similar to the Bradley/Sizemore adjustment. There have been a lot of positive reports about Almonte coming out of spring training. They don’t change my overall assessment of the “competition” between Saunders and Almonte, but I want to have more flexibility with Almonte in my endgame if he comes up and I need an outfielder.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Kris Medlen [No Bid] (previous $12)
Ervin Santana $9 (previous $2)
I had a placeholder bid on Santana but now he gets a real bid. Some will say nine dollars is too low, but pitching is somewhat deeper in the National League and Santana fits in in this $9-11 range for me. If you think the move to the senior circuit will help him more than this, push him even higher.

Corey Dickerson $10 (previous $12)
At the beginning of spring training, I thought Dickerson had an opportunity to run away with the job but this sounds more and more like it will be a platoon with Drew Stubbs. Even in Colorado, this isn’t the best situation for Dickerson.

Eric Young $13 (previous $11)
Young’s role hasn’t changed, but I was probably undervaluing his steals. Even if Juan Lagares steals enough time to make Young a fourth outfielder, I don’t mind paying for the steals alone. Young will be good for 30-40 bags even if he slips back into a part time role.

Alexander Guerrero $8 (previous $11)
Dee Gordon $9 (previous $6)
This is the hitting equivalent of the Feliz/Soria situation (see above). It appears Gordon will break camp with the club and start the year at second base while Guerrero will start in the minors. But Guerrero could still be up sooner rather than later. Guerrero probably has more upside at his price, but Gordon is likely the safer bet if he sticks on the roster even as a reserve due to the stolen base potential. Pick one to roster, though; the worst thing you can possibly do is buy both at a combined $17.

Rex Brothers $10 (previous bid $8)
Even if LaTroy Hawkins starts the year as the closer, I think Brothers gets most of the saves…and he has the potential to whiff enough batters where he could be worth this price in an only even without the saves.

Ryan Sweeney $2 (previous bid $5)
Justin Ruggiano $6 (previous bid $4)
Ruggiano is a terrible fantasy tease, but even if he only gets 300 at bats and flames out, he could still put up 10 home runs and steal 10 bases. Sweeney is the superior real life option when you factor in his defense and all around skills, but if the job splits down the middle I’d take Ruggiano (at the nominal bid listed above) any day of the week.

Darin Ruf $2 (previous bid $4)
I initially put a $4 bid on Ruf when I thought the Phillies might run him out there in some kind of quasi-platoon with Ryan Howard. Now I’m starting to believe that Ruf won’t make the team at all.

Maikel Franco $6 (previous bid $4)
…on the other hand, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least is Franco gets promoted in mid-June and starts taking some of those at bats away from Howard while playing some third base as well.

Luis Valbuena $5 (previous bid $1)
Valbuena offers enough power that he could still produce a modest amount of stats even if Mike Olt wins the job.

Jhoulys Chacin $2 (previous bid $4)
Chacin will start the season on the disabled list. Even if you’re a fan, you will be able to sneak him onto your roster at this price.

Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mike's other articles. You can contact Mike by clicking here

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