Stacking up the closers and setup men for 2017 leagues.
At long last, we have come to the end of our positional tier series, and as we always do this time of year, we’re ranking closers. In a good year, six closers will lose their jobs at some point during the regular season and you’ll get nothing or next-to-nothing for your investment. Thank you for reading.
Five-star players are the studs at their position. In general, they are the players who will be nabbed in the first couple of rounds of the draft, and will fetch mixed-league auction bids over $30. Four-star players are a cut below the studs at the position. They will also be early-round selections, and are projected to be worth more than $20 in most cases. Three-star players are the last tier in which players are projected to provide double-digit dollar value in auctions, and two-star players are projected to earn single digits in dollar value in auctions. One-star players are late-round sleepers and roster placeholders. The positional tiers aren't a regurgitation of last year's values but rather offer insight into what we expect will happen in 2017.
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Mike looks back on his strategy and roster in this year's junior circuit League of Alternative Baseball Reality.
It is one thing to study a fantasy auction from afar, it is another thing entirely to participate in it. This is especially true for a league like the League of Alternative Reality (LABR). After three years partnering with Bret Sayre in the Mixed League (with one title to show for it in 2015), I had been invited to fly out to Arizona and compete in the American League auction on March 4.
For the last few years, I have reviewed LABR AL and LABR NL and presenting my general impressions of both auctions. The LABR AL auction has historically been an extremely disciplined auction on price. My observations from last year's AL auction were instructive and helped me come up with a broad plan. As my regular readers know, while I do devise broad strategies, I build the bedrock of all of my fantasy teams on valuation. I might push a player a dollar or two above his price to fit a strategy but I don't say something like "I'm going to buy Mike Trout for any cost because Mike Trout is the center of my strategy and if I don't get him I'm going to curl into a ball and die." Beyond the valuation bedrock I always use, these were my goals at last Saturday's auction:
Scanning the menu of fantasy rotation options in the junior circuit.
There are league differences between the NL and the AL at every position, but there is arguably no greater paradigm shift than there is among starting pitchers. Where the NL has had four $40+ earners since 2015, in the AL no starting pitcher earned more than $35 for the second season in a row. Some of this is due to a lack of dominance in the qualitative categories. Only four AL starters earned four dollars or more in each ERA and WHIP in 2016: Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Corey Kluber, and Masahiro Tanaka. Thus, elite performance is difficult to come by, and only six pitchers cracked the modest $25 threshold in AL-only. Not only is it difficult to find value, it is hard to predict who is going to maintain value from season to season.
Table 1: Fifteen Most Expensive AL Starting Pitchers, 2016
A look at how to make the most of BP's offerings in tandem with Mike's bid limits.
This column is designed to address the questions I commonly get about my published bid limits here at Baseball Prospectus, how they’re different from the prices in our Player Forecast Manager (PFM), and most importantly why they are useful. It would be impossible to address every question our readers have had about my pricing modeling versus what the PFM is and what it does, so I’ll start with a few of the most common questions our readers have had about both.
Are you planning on using the awful Q&A format for this article?
Mike unveils his initial bid limits for fantasy auctions this spring.
Welcome to the first installment of Baseball Prospectus’ 2017 bid prices for “standard” Rotisserie-style formats.
In the tables below, you will find my recommended bid limits for AL-only, NL-only, and mixed leagues. For AL and NL-only, the bid limits are designed for 12 teams, $260 budgets per team, 14 hitters, and nine pitchers. For mixed leagues, the bid limits are for 15 teams, $260 budgets per team, 14 hitters, and nine pitchers. The bids are not predictions of what these players will do, but rather suggested prices. While most of what I expect these players to do is based on projected statistics and values, other factors play a role in the bid prices. These factors include:
Examining the menu of junior-circuit fantasy options at this position.
This will be the most in-depth article in this series of AL-only positional reviews, and with good reason. With a minimum of 60 American League outfielders populating rosters, and usually more when you factor in the DH slot, outfield is frequently where mono leagues are won or lost. There are only 45 AL starting outfielders, but unlike many other positions you can get solid production from outfield reserves or platoon players.
In 2016, four of the 10 most expensive AL-only hitters were outfielders. Three of the 10 highest earners in 2016 were outfielders. The three fantasy “expert” AL-only leagues (CBS, LABR, and Tout Wars) spent $814 on average in the outfield and picked up $790 worth of stats. This year, there was a significant drop in the CBS AL auction on money spent on outfielders, with only $696 allocated to the position. It is worth watching LABR AL next month to see if this is part of a trend or merely an anomaly.