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Welcome to the first installment of Baseball Prospectus’ 2013 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 all three formats, the presumed settings are 12 teams, $260 budgets, 14 hitters, and nine pitchers. The bids for the top 168 hitters and 108 pitchers in each player pool add up to $3,120, which is equal to the total league budget for each pool.

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:

  • Positional scarcityAdding a dollar or two for some catchers and middle infielder.
  • Proven starsAdding a dollar or two for reliability. Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera are bumped up slightly, because they provide elite statistics year in and year out.
  • Category bias—Cheating closers and speed guys who do nothing but add to one category.
  • Rookies—Hedging your bets with rookies. Too many owners have been caught spending $20+ on a rookie because "that's what the projection said.”
  • Part-timer bias—Not paying full price for someone whose real-life role is limited. A part-timer could very well earn $10-15, but even a small slump for a player with 150-200 plate appearances can have a severe impact on his value.

Mixed-league bids add more money to the top and cheat the players at the bottom, since the free-agent pool offers far more in the way of replacement-level talent.

These bids should serve as a starting point for your own auction preferences. If you think $27 for Josh Hamilton is too timid, then by all means push his price up to your preferred ceiling. Just make sure to take money off of another player or group of players so that your aggregate bids add up to $3,120.

I’ll be tweaking these bids every week in this space as we get closer to Opening Day, and some of the current ones are placeholders. Eight dollars for Wil Myers and Oscar Taveras are bids that serve more as reminders that Myers and Taveras will be worth something in 2013. For the majority of players on these lists, the prices you see are the prices I’m sticking with until Auction Day.

Finally, the idea behind bid limits is to set a price that is reasonable without being unrealistic in either direction. I’m down on Evan Longoria this year, but if I see enough evidence that his going price is sitting in the low $30s, I’ll move my bid up modestly. I still probably won’t get him, but I want my bids to have some semblance of reality. Likewise, if Alcides Escobar is going for around $20 in expert auctions, I’ll push my bid down to the point where I’m still expressing my preference without assigning him a “crazy” price. It is OK to use bids to show your affinity or dislike for a player, but you don’t want to be in a room of your own, and fool yourself into thinking that you’re buying a juggernaut, when in reality you’re overestimating everyone on your squad.

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sam19041
2/18
Is Carlos Beltran missing?
MikeGianella
2/18
He was in the NL-only pool but I have fixed this now. Thank you for catching this.
MikeGianella
2/18
Should have said "he was NOT in the NL-only pool"
texpope
2/18
4x4 or 5x5?
MikeGianella
2/18
5x5. In an earlier addition of this article, there was a header on the table that indicated that. I'll see what I can do to get that added back.
greenengineer
2/18
4x4 would be nice. Please tell us how/why this is different/better than the PFM.
MikeGianella
2/18
Not better, but definitely different. PFM does an excellent job of showing potential player earnings using a number of different valuation models. The bid limits presented here attempt to adjust for 25 years of Rotisserie experience and push players up or down in a manner that the PFM tool cannot. For example, Maicer Izturis might very well earn $10 in A.L.-only 5x5. However, from experience I know that there are very few leagues in which Izturis will cost anywhere near $10. The bid limits are less concerned with what a player might earn and more concerned with what you should pay for a player based on likely market price.
greenengineer
2/18
Thanks! Would love to see an article about what the Astros move to the AL does to single league formats. Although the Astros are terrible, that's still one more team to pick from for my AL only league - (1 more closer, etc.) and one less team for NL Leagues. What does that do to player values in single league keeper leagues?
MikeGianella
2/18
This would indeed be the subject of a longer article. The shorter answer is since $3,120 has to be spread across 15 teams in the AL instead of 14 values would drop $260 across the board for the AL. However, the distribution of $260 flows across the league pool fairly uniformly. The cheapest players generally stay static, so there is a handful of players at the top who would lose $2 in earnings. However, in terms of bids you will want to keep players at the top the same and lop more money off in the middle or at the bottom. Fewer teams creates more variability at the bottom of the heap, and makes it more likely that a player you have valued at $4-5 to go for $1. You should have more $1 players at the bottom, not less. In the NL, in a 12-team format earnings league-wide would stay at $3120 even though there are fewer stats to purchase. Again, though, the impact would be slight since it would take place across the board. As far as bids go, each Major League team would theoretically see $11-13 of value per team added (since the Astros were one of the weaker teams in the NL, it would be closer to the $11 estimate). This works similarly to the AL example in the opposite direction. $1-2 players wouldn't see money added to their earnings, but players at the middle and the top would be bumped up $1 or maybe $2 for the best of the best.
greenengineer
2/19
I appreciate that you have taken the time to answer so many questions. Thanks!
warpigs
2/18
Would it make sense for me to adjust your prices by a simple multiplication factor based on the size of the league, i.e. 9 player AL?
MikeGianella
2/18
No. You want to keep prices at the top the similar. Prices in the middle are where you would lop off the most money. There isn't much variability at the top on who the best players are, so the bids will generally be aligned. Once you get to the middle of the pack, though, there tend to be larger differences of what a player might be worth. And once you get to the bottom, a player that you might have valued at $3-4 might not even be ranked by your opponent in a shallower format. Here is an example of a conversion from a 13-team NL to a 12-team NL http://rotothinktank.blogspot.com/2009/03/adjusting-for-smaller-leagues.html
Robotey
2/22
Don't forget though, if your league shrinks significantly, you should adjust the values at the top...upward. Say your usual 10 team suddenly loses 3 teams on the day of the draft due to unforeseen circumstances and the remaining faithful plow ahead with a 7 team only. Instead of bidding on the top 20 1b now you're only going for the top 14. So if you've got a buck in the end and still need to fill your corner slot you're actually going to end up with a good player, so you don't need to allocate more than a buck. Same for your last few starting pitcher spots. So what do you do with those extra few dollars? Use them to bidon Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp. If your league shrinks take advantage by overbidding on the top talent--you won't miss the $10 later.
ares1800jr
2/18
how does a deep bench affect the prices? Say 25 players drafted 12 team 6X6 (holds&OPS) versus 35 players drafted? middle of the road guys lower in value to make up for more $1 guys?
MikeGianella
2/18
Draft or auction? If auction, do the players in the 35 deep roster all have auction prices, or are some reserve designation?
ares1800jr
2/19
auction on active roster (bench) no reserve draft, we have seperate snake draft for minors, but anyone who has had major league experience can and usually is picked up at auction to active roster slot. This creates a seperate pool of players with hype that should be $1 but usually bid up... Thanks for your response
ares1800jr
2/19
Its also a keeper league so speculation on minor players with a splash in the big leagues is high
MikeGianella
2/19
There are definitely a few factors here that make it hard to build out the bids specifically for a league like yours. In my keeper leagues, I do tend to add a little money to young players with growth potential because of their future value. However, I'd be careful about playing around too much at the bottom of the pool. Having a deep reserve list might mean that you can play around a little bit with some of the $1 value at the bottom, but for the most part I'd leave that alone.
Slyke18
2/18
Great stuff, Mike. I took notice of your $21 bid on Jered Weaver...my price is a few ticks higher. Are you concerned about his declining K/9 rates? His .246 BABIP normalizing a bit? Just surprised to see you rank 7-8 pitchers ahead of him.
MikeGianella
2/18
Weaver was a pitcher I kept hemming and hawing on. I don't believe he'll perform as well as the pitchers in front of him because of those declining K rates you mentioned. Additionally, his FRA plummeted to a 4.41 in 2012. Weaver has always been able to pitch "above" his FIP because of his excellent home venue and some great OF defense behind him, and should continue to do so this year. However, I'm worried about him. That being said, Weaver has earned $29, $36, and $32 from 2010-2012 and does offer stability from a Roto standpoint. I might move his bid up a tick or two in the next update.
MikeGianella
2/19
I'm moving up quite a bit after further review. I still don't want to pay him at the elite level (Verlander/Felix) but it's hard to argue with the performance.
lfkjr1
2/18
This will be very helpful. Thanks for putting it together! I noticed a couple of players you have valued at a $1 (Napoli and Dunn), that my custom PFM projects at $23 and $26, respectively (16-team, mixed, with OBP not BA). Would you consider a followup on the players with the biggest deltas between your values and the PFM's, and the likelihood of acquiring them at your suggested price?
MikeGianella
2/18
I used 12-teams for mixed with "standard" categories, which includes BA and not OBP. However, this doesn't change very much where the PFM has Napoli ($21) and Dunn ($22). The PFM has Napoli 40th overall (including pitchers) and Dunn 32nd. I have Dunn and Napoli in my raw projections far lower than that. Yes, a follow up on differences between my projections and the PFMs might be a useful exercise.
MikeGianella
2/25
I went in and plugged in the $ value system I use into the PECOTA projections to compare the PECOTA dollar values with mine. PECOTA has Adam Dunn as the 22nd best hitter in mixed according to 5x5 $ values. I have Dunn as the 103rd best hitter overall (my calculation doesn't take positional adjustments into account). Huge difference.
BarryR
2/18
Thanks for the work, Mike. This sort of thing requires significant time and effort. It's of no use to me, as I'm in keeper leagues and their sizes don't correlate with your setup, but I do find the numbers interesting. I do have a question regarding SS (although I guess this could pop up other places as well). In the Mixed values, you list Castro at 31, Rollins at 10,and Desmond at 9. In the NL the numbers shift radically to 30-22-22. To my thinking, the 35% premium in the NL for Castro's BA and youth makes some sense. but I can't account for the huge difference between them in the Mixed - I mean, Desmond was significantly better than Castro last year, so even if you feel the BA and some of the power isn't sustainable, that seems like a lot. I'd like to hear your reasoning on that one.
MikeGianella
2/18
In theory, the best players in mixed leagues should maintain or hold most of their "only" bid value while the players lower down lose some, most, or all of it. The replacement level player in NL-only for shortstop is Alex Gonzalez, Brent Lillibridge, and Joaquin Arias. The replacement level in 12-team mixed at shortstop is Marco Scutaro, Jhonny Peralta, and Zack Cozart. In mixed, Desmond and Rollins are a lot closer to those replacement level players than they are in mixed. Castro holds his value in mixed though because he is considered an elite talent who is X amount above replacement level. This might be the weakest link in the chain. It's arguable that Castro should be dinged as well in mixed since he isn't a true elite like Braun, Trout or Miggy. My price is kind of arguing that he is, though I might wind up revisiting this through my second pass.
BarryR
2/18
While I have some difficulty wrapping my mind around the concept of Desmond, the best offensive SS in baseball last year, even with some regression, being in hailing distance of replacement level, that's your opinion and you're surely entitled to it. The questionable thing is the degree of change between the leagues relative to Castro. Based on the post, you may have made a mistake with Castro, as he was not only not "dinged" in mixed vs. NL, but has a higher price in mixed ($31) compared to only ($30).
MikeGianella
2/18
I have Reyes ahead of Desmond in terms of my valuation from 2012. The best players in mixed are theoretically worth more because - when you get past a certain level - there is no "replacement" for them. This is why Braun, Trout, and a few others are higher in mixed than NL.
MikeGianella
2/19
Hi Barry: I definitely appreciate the feedback on mixed. Castro will probably go down and Rollins and Desmond will almost definitely go up in the next update. Additionally, there will be a further explanation from me on mixed values/bidding philosophy in my next update on Monday. MG
MikeGianella
2/19
Barry, I've made some adjustments at shortstop based on your feedback. Castro goes down to $28, Desmond up to $16, and Rollins to $13. I do agree with your assessment that there was too much of a gap between Castro and these two in mixed. However, I have Castro projected as a Top 15 hitter and he still stands out far more from the 12-team mixed replacement player than Rollins and Desmond do IMO.
BarryR
2/19
Glad I could be of service. As I said at the beginning, I didn't want to get in a debate about how much a specific player is worth, or who's better - your expert opinion is as good as mine. (And yes, after a combined 40 seasons in NL,AL,and mixed keeper auction leagues, I consider myself an expert.) As I also said, the parameters you use for these values make them of little direct use to me, but I always like to check these things out to see if I missed something - I call it the "really??" effect. In this case it caused me to check out Castro again, to see if I was wrong about his performance. Had you valued Desmond at $12 in the NL, I just would have moved on, thinking we had different opinions. It was the significant variance between the two versions that caused me to jump in and it seems it got you to take another look at the players, which is valuable to you and your readers. As I own Ian in both my leagues from last year, and will be keeping him, I am perfectly happy with the readers of this site getting better info on him. :) Whether I would be that willing to "correct" a player I will be targeting, well,that's another story - I assume some of my league mates read this stuff.
MikeGianella
2/18
Correction: "In mixed, Desmond and Rollins are a lot closer to those replacement level players than they are in NL-only."
acmcdowell
2/19
With Alcides Escobar, what makes you so high on him? Do you project further growth from him, or would a repeat of last season be enough to get him in that neighborhood?
MikeGianella
2/19
He earned $25 last year in AL-only so he only needs a little growth, but I like the spike in SLG last year and wouldn't be surprised to see a few more HR this year.
acmcdowell
2/19
Thanks for the feedback. I'm a little more bearish on Escbar's slugging, since a lot of it is based on a 60 point spike in BABIP. His ISOs the last three years are only 0.091 0.089 and 0.098.
Deadheadbrewer
2/19
Very interesting and useful--thanks!
jlowery
2/19
Was Joe Kelly (STL) an omission from NL-only or is it your assessment that he has no value? This is extremely useful, thanks very much.
swarmee
2/19
Based on his PECOTA projections, he has negative value (ERA around 5).
MikeGianella
2/19
Unless Jaime Garcia isn't ready on Opening Day, Kelly probably won't make the rotation. If I put a bid on him right now, it would be $1 as a placeholder. In keeper leagues and non-keepers with reserve lists, he definitely should be tracked.
Ecrazy
2/19
First off, been following you forever, Thank you for this list..but now everyone knows!!! :) Second, I am in a keeper league(3 contract years), where people usually have closers at crazy cheap prices from FAABing, or previous auctions (grilli $1, cishek $1, etc)..if I am competing and need saves, how much inflation is too much to spend? (We usually have around 15-20% pitching inflation) For instance, I am freezing Putz at $16, but the PFM usually returns inflated numbers like $45 for Kimbrel etc. i know $16 it is a fair price, but what are the "real" value gains here? And is it worth paying an extra $8-12/closer if you have to? Thirdly, our league has 30 man roster, 3 utility and 5 "reserve" spots which can be used for daily transactions (ie, streaming starters).. What would be a good roster setup for the PFM? (I get similar $ results for various constructs, but there are some large differences..) I usually go 28 "spots" by just add 1 more util, and 2 RP to get the numbers "close"..but it is still "eyeballing", I hate that! TLDR! Sorry for such terrible wording! And welcome to BP!!!
Ecrazy
2/19
I suppose i should add, our league ends up closer to 160/100, than 180/80
MikeGianella
2/19
Hi Matthew: Glad you followed me over here. The idea of how much inflation is too much to spend depends significantly on the strength of your freeze list. If your raw price on Kimbrel is $23 and his inflation price is $32 (40% inflation), you have to ask yourself if it's worth going $9 over his non-inflated price. Getting two closers for $50 in 5x5 might win you the category but if your freeze list is weak allocating nearly 20% of your budget on closers probably is a poor idea. I'm going to have to defer to another expert on the PFM. I've just started playing around with it myself and am just getting started with its functionality.
boatman44
2/21
Nice list Mike, Just a note on Lance Berkman ,could'nt find him in your list.I have him valued at $4 does this sound about right ?
MikeGianella
2/21
For AL-only? I have him at $8. Might be a little high, but I was thinking in the $6-9 range when I started compiling these lists.
boatman44
2/21
O.K Thanks Mike.
batts40
2/23
Excellent stuff. This is the type of fantasy content I was hoping BP would add. Thanks for the hard work.
7yankee7
2/25
For a 10 team AL only, how are your prices affected?
MikeGianella
2/25
I wrote about this at my own blog a few years ago. If you're interested, here's the long explanation http://rotothinktank.blogspot.com/2008/03/adjusting-your-bid-limits-for-fewer.html The short explanation: keep the prices at the top the same or close and shave a lot of money off of the middle. The bottom 46 players disappear anyway, so you lose some salary organically. Decreasing the player pool increases the variability on the cheaper players, so that's where you want to shave dollars off of your prices.
jintman
2/25
Great Stuff!
JPKDetroit
3/18
Mike- Very interesting stuff. Do you have advice on adjusting prices for both keeper inflation and league expansion. We have a 10 team AL only league that is expanding to 12 teams. We trimmed rosters by 3 spots and figure Houston's move to the AL will also help to offset prices inflation. However, I'm having a hard time predicting how this will impact the draft. There are 92 players being kept between the 10 returning owners. Many more than we've had in recent years. I calculate the total savings from keepers to be around $350. (i.e. Trout's salary will be $12 so I assume there's at least an extra $30). My starting point is a player pool of 252 (21 roster spots, 12 teams). With the 92 keepers that leaves 160 players left for the draft. Do I just divide the extra money (350) among the 160 players and draft with an assumed $2 inflation for every player?
swarmee
3/19
I would suggest you calculate an inflation percentage and then apply it across the players. You do this by taking the total dollar amount that all teams can spend, finding out the value of the kept players, and the salaries of the kept players. Inflation % = 1 - ((Total$$$-KeepSal)/(Total$$$-KeepValue)) So if you had $3000 in money to spend, with $1500 in keepers being saved for $1000 in salary, you would have 1 - ((3000-1000)/(3000-1500)) = 33.3% inflation. As such, a player who would be worth $30 without inflation, should expect to cost $40 in the auction ($30 x 1.333). When talking about adding or decreasing the player pool, the difference can be drastic: when the number of players expands, $1 players will become $5 players. When the pool decreases, $3 players will become reserve picks. If you originally had 300 people that got $$$ values, but now you only have roster spots for 250 players, the last 50 become worthless in an auction.
JPKDetroit
3/20
Thanks. I can see how percentage inflation makes a lot more sense
MikeGianella
3/19
I can address keeper inflation better than the league expansion question. You want to start out by applying inflation linearly but then adding a few dollars to the players at the top. In my experience, there is less variability at the top and more at the bottom, so applying a full inflation rate to a player with a $4-5 value isn't necessarily intuitive. As far as league expansion, that's tougher for me to answer from experience. Having more teams will push prices up, but you'll find that some teams probably won't adjust as well. There's a balance between making sure you allocate money correctly versus spending on 3-4 top players and cashing out early because you were trying to spend "correctly."
JPKDetroit
3/20
This makes sense as well. In recent years by my estimates my league seems to overpay for the top tier players. I anticipate that a few of the owners will adjust for the expansion but most won't. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Thanks for the advice.
swarmee
3/21
I was the first person in my long-term keeper league to bid $50 on a player, and I ended up winning Vlad Guerrero back in the day for $53. Since then, the top hitter in the auction will normally go for $51-53 (Pujols or Braun the last couple of years). But if their projections were to earn $40, it actually added to the inflation rate, since they didn't go for $56 (40% average inflation). www.faketeams.com has a couple of good articles up right now on calculating keeper inflation as well as keeper/deep league strategies.