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April 7, 2014

Fantasy Freestyle

Home Cooking

by Mike Gianella

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As much as I enjoy the intensity of my expert league, I also enjoy the more relaxing pace of my home league auctions. They also offer a good opportunity for keeper league analysis that the non-keeper expert leagues do not. This past weekend, I participated in an AL-only home league auction. This league is as old school as you are going to get, with the old 4x4 rules still in effect (no runs or strikeouts).

I won this league last year, so as a result, I had a very limited number of freezes coming in on Saturday.

I decided that I was going to spend all of my money on offense unless a closer fell through at a cheap price. I would only buy one or two additional starting pitchers and try to fill in with injury fliers and quality relief arms. I was hoping to spend about $200 on my offense and try to leverage the moderate keeper value in Castro, Loney, and Plouffe with the additional budget for offense to my advantage.

I keep a round-by-round log in this league, so I can see the order the players were selected in and also who had the last bid on a player. Each “round” goes 12 players since there are 12 teams in the league. Dollar values for players I purchased are listed in bold. Players I had the last bid on are in italics (my bid is $1 lower than the listed bid).

Auction inflation was about 16 percent.

Round 1

1:5 Jose Abreu $28
I heard enough positive expert opinions at Tout Wars on Abreu that made me keep pushing his price up. I really wanted him, but paying close to $30 for a player making his major-league debut was something I didn’t want to do with my first purchase.

1:10 Robinson Cano $39
I needed three middle infielders and my par price on Cano with inflation was $40. I decided that I did not want to push to par this early, so I let Cano go. The owner who purchased him had the most money on the table, so I was glad to get him to spend.

1:11 Chris Davis $37
The money was flowing and with Edwin Encarnacion still available, I was merely price-enforcing on Davis. I would have been fine purchasing Davis at $36; at $37, I was content to let him go.

Money Left/Slots: $193/17

Round 2

2:14 Dustin Pedroia $30
A clear pattern was emerging. I was willing to push players early, but I wasn’t willing to pull the trigger unless I got someone at my price. Part of this stemmed from my strategy to avoid spending on pitching. The league was starting to spend big on pitchers, and I figured I would get some offense at a slight bargain soon.

2:17 Jose Bautista $30
Sure enough, Bautista was the first player who fell into my lap at a price that I liked. I would like Bautista better in an OBP league, but the raw power was too hard to turn down at $30.

Money Left/Slots: $163/16

Round 3

3:26 Ian Kinsler $26
I am higher than most on Kinsler this year, but this is where inflation makes a difference. My guess is that Kinsler’s buyer had a higher inflation number on Kinsler and was willing to pay more as a result. I still needed three middle infielders and was a little worried about having to overpay based on the early results.

3:28 Derek Jeter $7
I didn’t want Jeter at all, but assumed that he was going to go for at least $10, and I wouldn’t be in on him at that price. This was a decent price, and unless Jeter collapses, I’ll be okay.

3:29 Carlos Beltran $25
I barely even remember Beltran coming up for bid; I must have still been flushed with the excitement of buying Jeter. Beltran would have slotted in nicely behind Bautista, but while he seemed fine at $24, I didn’t like him at $26.

Money Left/Slots: $156/15

Round 4

After three rounds of bobbing and weaving, I tried pouncing and getting more aggressive. You might think that after getting Pujols, I chickened out on Encarnacion, but this isn’t the case at all; I simply did not want to go to $37. Johnson was the best shot I had at getting a closer, but there was no discount in this room for a poor start. The player I really wanted in this round was Santana, but his price climbed until the risk didn’t seem worthwhile. At the end of the round, Hamilton fell in at a price that I liked.

Money Left/Slots: $106/13

Round 5

I should have pushed harder on speed, but the Reyes and Bourn injuries made me chicken out on both players. I have a little regret on Santos, particularly as a next year play. De Aza and Fowler both would have been younger, more athletic plays than the outfielders I wound up buying. Cabrera was a nice second middle-infield purchase. I am higher on him than most and am anticipating a mild bounce back.

Money Left/Slots: $88/12

Round 6

When the prices are all too high by your lights, at some point you are going to get bargains. I filled out the rest of my outfield and spent a big chunk of my money. The problem I had with this team was that while my HR/RBI were going to be solid, I was way short in stolen bases. Dumping two categories (steals/saves) was not part of the plan. A lesser regret was that by buying Reddick and locking out my DH slot, I missed out on Billy Butler later (he went for $17).

Money Left/Slots: $26/9

Round 7

I thought about going past price for Nova, but a plan is a plan and I did not want to deviate. As a result, I was able to capitalize on a second starting catcher in Navarro. I called Qualls out in an attempt to get a cheap saves flier at $1 or to suck a little money out of the room.

Money Left/Slots: $20/8

Round 8

I needed some starters to make innings. Nolasco was my first attempt at a low-end play.

Round 9

In a keeper league, Holland has future value but also some potential as a chip for owners playing for 2015. The prices for Cosart and Doubront might seem great if you like them; whether or not these are bargains would be contingent on the six remaining pitchers I bought for my staff.

Money Left/Slots: $15/7

Round 10

Three or four owners were waiting on Profar, but one owner had $19 left for his last middle-infield slot and I only had a maximum bid of $9. If I had avoided Holland, all this would have done is pushed Profar to $15 and made him a poorer future play for his eventual buyer.

Round 11

  • None

Round 12

Money Left/Slots: $5/4

With Profar gone, I decided to play the waiting game on Schoop. My maximum bid was $9, and two other owners had $8 left, so when Schoop was called up, I brought him right to $8 to end the bidding quickly. I’m still a Crain believer and think he can save 15 games when he returns.

Round 13+

I didn’t buy saves by design, but I really wanted to take a flyer on Webb. Unfortunately, another owner had more money, and when I said “$2,” he jumped to $3. The upshot of this is that I was able to get Hector Santiago one player later with a $2 shut-out bid. Harrison is a fine DL flier and at one dollar Phil Hughes won’t be around more if Minnesota isn’t a home-field tonic.

The End Result

Position

Player

Salary

C

Jason Castro

10*

C

Dioner Navarro

6

1B

Albert Pujols

28

2B

Jonathan Schoop

8

SS

Asdrubal Cabrera

18

3B

Trevor Plouffe

8*

CO

James Loney

2*

MI

Derek Jeter

7

OF

Jose Bautista

30

OF

Josh Hamilton

22

OF

Alfonso Soriano

20

OF

Nick Markakis

15

OF

Shane Victorino

14

DH

Josh Reddick

13

P

Max Scherzer

30*

P

Anibal Sanchez

17*

P

Derek Holland

5

P

Hector Santiago

2

P

Jesse Crain

1

P

Matt Harrison

1

P

Phil Hughes

1

P

Alexi Ogando

1

P

Brad Peacock

1

*Freeze

Given that I only spent $59 on pitching, I like the staff a lot. Holland and Harrison make nice additions when they return from the DL, and Santiago is a solid sleeper. Crain should get some saves when he returns, which is helpful because two other teams dumped saves as well.

The offense is where I am somewhat disappointed. There is certainly potential value across the board, but I don’t have enough speed and my batting average is so-so. I already have a trade offer in hand for speed that I’m likely to take to try and improve matters in that department, as I did not intend to give up on steals and saves.

I always try to look back at my process at the end of every auction to try and review how I did. If you don’t have the time or inclination to keep track of your league’s bid history, at least try and go back and look at the players you purchased at the end of the season. The best way to improve your auctions is to study your results, win or lose.

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

Related Content:  Fantasy,  Keeper League,  Auction

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