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Welcome to the first installment of Baseball Prospectus’ 2014 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 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 scarcity — Adding a dollar or two for some catchers and middle infielder.
  • Proven stars — Adding a dollar or two for reliability. Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera are bumped up slightly, because they provide an elite level of performance.
  • 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 in an only format, but even a small slump for a player with 150-200 plate appearances can have a severe impact on his value.

These bids should serve as a starting point for your own auction preferences. If you think $27 for Prince Fielder 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 Friday in this space as we get closer to Opening Day. For the majority of players on these lists, the prices you see are the prices I’m sticking with until Auction Day.

The idea behind bid limits is to set a price that is reasonable without being unrealistic in either direction. I’m down on Yasiel Puig 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 probably won’t get him in any of my leagues anyway, but I want my bids to have some semblance of reality. 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.

Below are some commonly asked questions from last year about these bid prices.

Why are these bids different from PECOTA and Baseball Prospectus’ PFM?
The simplest answer to this question is that a projection is different from a bid, for the reasons outlined in the bulleted points above. While the PFM might theoretically be correct that Koji Uehara and David Robertson will earn $29.33 and $27.07, putting together a fantasy team with two closers for a combined $56 is a difficult path to victory. The same phenomenon is present with stolen bases; the PFM has Billy Hamilton ranked third in NL-only with $33.71 in projected earnings. I agree that Hamilton could earn this amount, but in a “typical” auction-style league he won’t go anywhere near this price.

I do a fantasy draft, not an auction. Can I use these bids for my draft?
Yes and no. The hierarchy of the bid limits works fairly well for hitters and pitchers separately, but based on the differences between drafts and auctions if you combine pitcher bids with hitter bids you will find yourself missing out on most of the pitchers on your list. When drafting, I use the bid limits as a guideline for my draft rankings but make adjustments that include ranking hitters and pitchers separately. I tend to use straight rankings during the first 10 rounds of a draft and then begin to rely more on positional rankings and needs from that point forward.

Why is Mike Trout’ s bid higher in a mixed league than in AL-only?
In an only league, the available free agents are bench players with very limited value. In a mixed league, though, the best free agents are often everyday players who will produce solid statistics for your team. The lowest ranked players for bid in a 12-team mixed league are interchangeable with the best free agents, and many will do significantly better than the weakest third of the players purchased. On the other hand, there is no Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera waiting in the wings. As a result, the best players in mixed leagues are given higher bid limits.

Many systems significantly reward the superstars. I did this last year, but have decided to scale back to try and more accurately reflect real world auction conditions. It might be a good idea to spend $50 or more on Trout or Cabrera, but if your league is more conservative than that, it isn’t useful to have a bid limit on these players that doesn’t accurately reflect your league’s market.

I think your price on Will Venable in NL-only is ridiculous. Can I change his bid?
Definitely… and I encourage you to do so.

If you are a beginner to auction formats—or if you simply don’t have the time to prepare for your auction and use these lists as a crutch—I’m confident that you can simply bring these lists to your auction and dominate. However, it will serve you better if you take the time to adjust the bids specifically for your league’s conditions. Your league might insist on paying $20-plus for every closer on the board. If this is the case, adjust your bids accordingly. Just make sure to take money off of some other pitchers or hitters so that the dollar values add up to $3,120 for a 12-team league.

I play in a 6×6 league that uses holds and OPS in addition to the standard 5×5 categories. Will you be providing bids for other formats?
While I would love to provide bid limits for every format imaginable, 5×5 is still the most commonly used format for auction-style leagues so for the moment this is what I am sticking with for our readers. If the game evolves to the point where 6×6 is the norm, I will start providing bids for 6×6 instead. Keep in mind that the Baseball Prospectus’ staff is extremely accommodating to questions and if you do have specific questions about how to apply bid limits to your format, we are always happy to do our best to help.

NOTE: While players like Kendrys Morales are included in the mixed bid file, they are not included in the NL or AL-only files. Morales, Drew, and Santana will be added to the appropriate league pool once if/when they sign a contract.