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Thread: 2014 - Anatomy of an Auction Draft (Long)

  1. #1

    2014 - Anatomy of an Auction Draft (Long)

    It is that time of year again, and I've been anxiously anticipating the draft for weeks. Its great being back on RotoJunkie, as seeing everyone posting is like going to a family or class reunion. You don't realize just how much you miss the back-and-forth banter, and in-depth roto/baseball discussions until you return. Even my wife is getting excited, based upon how upbeat I've been about the upcoming auction.

    As a bit of background, three years ago, in 2011, I felt I had a great keeper list coming in, but we brought in two new owners, expanded to twelve teams, and, for the first time, saw insane inflation for the top players in the auction. Some of our newer owners are guys that will dump during the first week of the season, which was a new phenomenon for us. And sometimes, the trades are highly unbalanced and distort the outcome of the auction, right from the start. I disliked the direction of the league, and the trade behavior left a bad taste in my mouth. Thus, I left the league after the 2011 season.


    In mid-2012 umjewman reached out to me regarding a controversy in the league. One of the new owners ignored weeks of trade requests from everyone, then made a lopsided deal with the owner that brought him in. There was a massive uproar which led to that new owner leaving the league in mid-season. umjewman and the Commish asked me if I'd chaperone the team through the season, with the option of keeping it going forward...so I pulled a Roger Clemens/Andy Pettite move and "unretired". I managed the team, making a few deals to clean things up, then kept it, rejoining as a full time owner in 2013, albeit with a team I had not built. I guided that squad to a 5th place tie, missing out on the money spots. We instituted a progressive salary cap, and owners have committed to being more open and transparent about their intentions and team needs, giving all owners a chance to participate in the trade process (even though I am still against dumping your team on day one, instead of playing it out and at least trying to win).


    So here I am, taking "my team" into the draft, having spent a decent amount of time preparing (though not nearly enough, as it turns out). I have a few strong keepers, but not enough to have a strong overall squad going in. However I have a lot of budget dollars available, more than I've ever had in previous years. The league is $280, 5x5 (with OBP instead of BAvg), NL-only, with 12 teams, 25 starters (2 UT & 10 Pitchers) and 15 reserves (weekly transactions). Each owner can freeze up to 15 players and 3 minor leaguers (whose salaries are deferred until they no longer qualify as MLB rookies). Here is my freeze roster:


    C Nick Hundley $2
    OF Carlos Gomez $16
    OF Mike Stanton $20
    OF Christian Yelich $1
    OF Logan Schafer $1
    P Madison Bumgarter $13
    P Dan Haren $10
    P Charlie Morton $4


    That's eight players for $66, leaving me $214 to spend on 17 players. Additionally, I have three minor league exempt players (Lucas Giolito, Wilmer Flores and Josh Bell), but I don't expect anything significant from them this year (though Flores has a shot to contribute if there is a significant injury at 2B, SS or 3B). Many of the pre-draft favorites have freeze rosters that are 15 deep, plus minor leaguers that will contribute this season, so I have a rough road ahead. umjewman tried to convince me to throw the room into a frenzy by buying three premium hitters for $165...and Phineas to Ferb tried to convince me to look ahead and build for 2015. However, I'm planning to try to buy two of the best hitters on the board for $100 to $105 combined, then see if I can find value throughout the remainder of the draft.


    Round 1:
    umjewman and I have discussed that the best values in the auction often tend to be for the first two players, while owners are settling in. It's just my luck that the Commish throws one of my targets, Tulo, to start us off. My projection source has Tulo at an inflated value of $43 (my calculated inflation is only 28%), but I suspect he's going much higher than that (our pre-draft poll predicts Tulo, CarGo and Braun will all go between for more than $50...and Votto should be close). Then, as people drop out of the bidding, it is down to umjewman and I. When I go to $48, he doesn't go to $49, so I've purchased the first player thrown for what might be the first time ever. While that is $5 more than his inflated value, it is $7 less than I expected his price to be. Now that I have Tulo, I'd like to grab another solid MI to secure a strong middle and strong OF, as the lower priced CI are likely to be more productive than the lower priced MI. We'll see if that holds true. I now have $166 for 16 players.


    The next throw is umjewman's, who throws Braun. He's a player we've been debating for weeks, however, the night before the draft, umjewman reads about Braun's nerve damage in his thumb. I resolve that, unless there is a significant discount, I'm going to go for a different big OF in the auction. While there is a discount, the bidding gets up to $47 and that's too rich for me, considering how poorly Braun hit when his thumb bothered him last season.


    I toss third, and hope to sneak Valverde through at less than five, but the Parnell owner takes the bidding to $8, so I pass on him. Then the fourth throw is Carlos Gonzalez, and I'm all in. Three of us bid him up aggressively, and take the bidding past the $50 threshold, and all the way to $59. I have his inflated value at $54, and know that I should back down, but I find myself unable to resist and call out $60, which I've never done before. No one is willing to go higher, and I have my two big hitters for $108 combined. Now, I know it is crazy, as both have greater than normal injury risk...but it's go big or go home for me, and I'm not ready to go home. I have $106 for 15 players.


    Here's how Round One played out, with my purchases preceded by an asterisk(*):

    Round One Auction Price Inflated Value
    Troy Tulowitzki $48 $43
    Ryan Braun $47 $57
    Jose Valverde $8 $5
    Carlos Gonzalez $60 $54
    Joey Votto $60 $60
    Ben Revere $31 $25
    Matt Kemp $35 $34
    Yadier Molina $29 $23
    Cliff Lee $36 $34
    Justin Upton $45 $43
    Ian Desmond $42 $31
    Kris Bryant $13 ($1)
    Round One Totals: $454 $408

    The Early Middle: Rounds Two through Five:
    When Ian Desmond went $42 near the end of round one, I felt MUCH better about my Tulo purchase. While I don't want to make any more "big" purchases, I do want to secure another strong MI and have my eye on a couple of OFs I expect to get more PT than their projections indicate. Ad. Gonzalez ($43) & Jay Bruce ($49) are the first two throws in round two, and they get bought for $12 and $15 more (respectively) than their inflated values. I toss Seth Smith, again wanting to sneak someone through early, but I wind up paying $11. The projections I use value him at $7, but I expect him to significantly exceed the 308 ABs, 10 HRs, 38 Runs and 31 RBI that are projected, so I feel comfortable. I'm at $95 for 14 players.


    I had tossed Ryan Zimmerman back into the draft pool at $43, despite some advice to keep him, and he goes for $41, $10 more than his inflated value of $31. I theorize that it makes more sense to spend at MI and speculate at CI, as I think there will be some undervalued options there. So I take the plunge on an Aaron Hill bounceback, paying $26 vs. his inflated value of $24. This leaves me $69 for 13 players.


    While I need a closer, I pass on Addison Reed at $24 (I bid up to his inflated value of $23). I recently posted my thoughts about chasing saves, so I can't bring myself to say $25. Papelbon and Soriano both go for $19, less than their values of $29 and $23, respectively. And I also pass on Veras at $15 (vs $12) and K-Rod at $14 (vs. $9). Instead, I wait and buy Benoit at $9 (vs $13 value), and the last named closer available (gulp) Hawkins at $9 (vs $7 value) leaving me $51 for 11. Here are the results from these rounds:

    Round Two Auction Price Inflated Value
    Adrian Gonzalez $43 $31
    Jay Bruce $49 $34
    Seth Smith $11 $7
    Matt Cain $33 $23
    Ryan Zimmerman $41 $31
    Cameron Maybin $7 $7
    Mark Trumbo $49 $21
    Cole Hamels $28 $17
    Addison Reed $24 $23
    Matt Holiday $51 $43
    Aramis Ramirez $36 $31
    Yovani Gallardo $18 $5
    Round Two Totals: $390 $273
    Round Three Auction Price Inflated Value
    Mikael Franco $11 $4
    Ryan Howard $29 $17
    Casey McGhee $11 $3
    Jonathan Papelbon $19 $29
    Rafael Soriano $19 $23
    Miguel Montero $19 $18
    Eric Young, Jr $22 $24
    Angel Pagan $23 $25
    Wilson Ramos $12 $11
    Jose Tabata $4 $4
    Dan Uggla $15 $14
    Matt Garza $19 $13
    Round Three Totals: $203 $185
    Round Four Auction Price Inflated Value
    A. Guerrero $9 $13
    C. Granderson $33 $19
    Joaquin Benoit $9 $13
    Bossman Junior $21 $21
    Aaron Hill $26 $24
    Brandon Phillips $28 $24
    Emilio Bonifacio $19 $12
    Denard Span $22 $17
    Carl Crawford $21 $19
    Justin Morneau $26 $23
    Daniel Murphy $24 $25
    Kyle Lohse $16 $13
    Round Four Totals: $254 $223
    Round Five Auction Price Inflated Value
    Adam LaRoche $25 $27
    Rickie Weeks $12 $9
    Mark Reynolds $13 $7
    Andre Ethier $19 $18
    Doug Fister $17 $16
    Jose Veras $15 $12
    Francisco Rodriguez $14 $9
    LaTroy Hawkins $9 $7
    Jhonny Peralta $14 $9
    Tim Hudson $15 $8
    Jimmy Rollins $19 $21
    Jonathan Niese $7 $4
    Round Five Totals: $179 $147


    The Later Rounds, End Game and Reserves:
    Now I have to finish out the core of my team and speculate on pitchers. I buy Chris B. Young at $12 (vs $13 value) to fill out my last UT slot, Ike Davis $7 (vs $12), Luis Valbuena $4 (vs. $10) and Jeff Baker $1 (vs $2) at the corners, and grab Rutledge at $2 (vs. $9) as Tulo insurance to fill my MI slot. I wanted Pacheco at C, but wind up spending on Lobaton $5 (vs $2) instead. My remaining pitchers are all cheap, Edwin Jackson at $4, Mejia at $6, Harang at $2, Gavin Floyd at $4 and Brad Hand for $1. I wind up leaving $3 on the table, and wish I had gone to $7 on Pedro Strop and found a $1 catcher instead of buying Lobaton. I also wonder if I should have gone cheaper at MI, maybe waiting and going to $15 on Peralta, and using the savings to buy a pitcher like Gallardo who went $18, Garza who went $19 or Kennedy who went $11. I also regret not going to $15 on K-Rod, but the rumor was that Henderson would get his job back soon. After his latest blowup, I'm not sure that holds true anymore. I'm reaching out to umjewman to see if I can acquire Brothers, and get more security in going after Colorado's saves.


    In the reserves, I go heavy on pitching and grab Carlos Torres whom I hope gets a shot at closing in NY, and Manny Parra whom I hope grabs some saves in Cinci. I also pick up Kevin Slowey, Tim Stauffer and Sean Marshall. The remaining hitters seem pretty bleak, so I take Andrew Brown (to replace my DL'd Chris Young) and Tyler Colvin. Finally, I go for a few high upside minor leaguers in Ramiel Tapia, Hunter Renfroe, Chris Anderson and Jose Martinez. Thus, my team going into the season is as follows (*asterisks denote keepers):


    Position Active Batters Salary
    C *Hundley, Nick(C) SD $2
    C Lobaton, Jose(C) WAS $5
    1B Davis, Ike(1B) NYM $7
    3B Valbuena, Luis(3B) CHC $4
    CI Baker, Jeff(1B,2B,OF) MIA $1
    2B Hill, Aaron(2B) ARI $26
    SS Tulowitzki, Troy(SS) COL $48
    MI Rutledge, Josh(2B) COL $2
    OF *Gomez, Carlos(OF) MIL $16
    OF *Schafer, Logan(OF) MIL $1
    OF *Stanton, Giancarlo(OF) MIA $20
    OF *Yelich, Christian(OF) MIA $1
    OF Gonzalez, Carlos(OF) COL $60
    UT Smith, Seth(OF) SD $11
    UT Young, Chris(OF) NYM $12
    Pos Active Pitchers Salary
    P *Bumgarner, Madison(P) SF $12
    P *Haren, Dan(P) LAD $10
    P *Morton, Charlie(P) PIT $4
    P Jackson, Edwin(P) CHC $4
    P Mejia, Jenrry(P) NYM $6
    P Harang, Aaron(P) ATL $2
    P Floyd, Gavin(P) ATL $4
    P Hand, Brad(P) MIA $1
    P Hawkins, LaTroy(P) COL $9
    P Benoit, Joaquin(P) SD $9
    P
    Reserves Salary
    OF Brown, Andrew(OF) NYM $7
    OF Colvin, Tyler(OF) SF $7
    OF Renfroe, Hunter(OF) SD $5
    OF Tapia, Raimel(OF) COL $5
    OF *Bell, Josh(OF) PIT $2
    2B/3B *Flores, Wilmer(3B) NYM $5
    P Torres, Carlos(P) NYM $8
    P Parra, Manny(P) CIN $7
    P Marshall, Sean(P) CIN $7
    P Slowey, Kevin(P) MIA $5
    P Stauffer, Tim(P) SD $5
    P Hendricks, Kyle(P) CHC $2
    P *Giolito, Lucas (P) WAS $2
    P Anderson, Chris(P) LAD $2
    P Martinez, Jose(P) ARI $2


    This is a team with holes, but one I will enjoy playing. I need to shore up saves and acquire additional steals, as well as hope that my PT predictions for Davis, Valbuena, Smith, and Young come true, and they all exceed the experts projections. I also have to hit on at least two of my speculative starting pitching plays, but, seeing as how pitching value is often found in unexpected places, that's not as much a reach as it might seem (think about it...Matt Cain at $33 doesn't look so promising right now). I'll also be aggressive in acquiring MRs, and using FAAB and trades to supplement the roster. Getting to a top four finish will require significant roster management, but, that's what makes the season fun.

    Thanks for indulging me in this recap, and please forgive its length. Hopefully, in sharing my draft day experience I've conveyed some insight as to what I was doing and why (to do it all would require a book...and that's already been done by someone else). Feel free to share any thoughts as to where I made mistakes, as well as what you would do to improve the team throughout the season.

    Best of luck to everyone!
    Last edited by ThatRogue; 04-08-2014 at 07:14 AM.

  2. #2
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    Great writeup, enjoyed it! So through five rounds, you had the players that had been auctioned going well above their inflated values (roughly $240 in total!). After round five, were there a lot of players $15+ whose auction prices were lower than their inflated values? Or is there a chance that you underestimated inflation, and therefore should feel even better about the guys you bought at a little over inflated prices?

  3. #3
    All Star Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Thanks Rogue. Enjoyed reading it.
    "I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth."

  4. #4
    Thanks for the write-up!

    Quote Originally Posted by james33 View Post
    Great writeup, enjoyed it! So through five rounds, you had the players that had been auctioned going well above their inflated values (roughly $240 in total!). After round five, were there a lot of players $15+ whose auction prices were lower than their inflated values? Or is there a chance that you underestimated inflation, and therefore should feel even better about the guys you bought at a little over inflated prices?
    This was my question as well. For the rounds you listed out, it seems like almost everyone went at or above your inflated values. I assume there were a bunch of bargains later as a result, unless you were off by a lot on inflation?

  5. #5
    wow, even granting that it's a $280 league, some of those prices are astonishing!
    Papelbon 19 and RSoriano 19 much cheaper than I'd have expected, then.
    have entered 37th yr in 12-team-only NL 5x5 in 2021, after a year off
    won in 2017 15 07 05 04 02 93 90 84

    playing for 2022 - or am I?

    SP Nola 32, TWalker 10, Gant 2, Weaver
    P Price 3, Lindblom
    RP Knebel, Rainey, Minter
    C Stallings 2, Casali 1
    1B Votto 10, 3B Fuentes 13, 2B Segura 17, SS TTurner 44, CI ERios 2, MI Gregorius 17
    OF Blackmon 32, Pollock 17, Cain 14, Daza 1, DuFowler, UT Solano 2

    DL - SP SGray 16, SP Carrasco 16, SP KHKim 2, RP Soria 4, RP Graterol 4, OF Bader 1

  6. #6
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    Always a fun read. Interesting team you ended up with. Do you get to keep Davis if he is traded to the AL? If not, that is a danger. I have no idea how competitive that team can be in a 12-team NL only; I am sure nobody's roster is going to look very good since it is so deep. Still, even for a 12-team only league, that roster is very stars and scrubs-y. Should be interesting to see how that plays out.

  7. #7
    Welcome to the Big Leagues, Kid
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    I did not want to relive this experience. Thanks!

  8. #8
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    If you are competitive MBum will be a big trading chip.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cavebird View Post
    Always a fun read. Interesting team you ended up with. Do you get to keep Davis if he is traded to the AL? If not, that is a danger. I have no idea how competitive that team can be in a 12-team NL only; I am sure nobody's roster is going to look very good since it is so deep. Still, even for a 12-team only league, that roster is very stars and scrubs-y. Should be interesting to see how that plays out.
    We do get to keep our players if they go to the AL. Or you can get a FAAB rebate of their salary within one week of the trade. So, depending on where he was dealt, it might be a good idea to hold onto him rather than take the extra $7 in FAAB.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by james33 View Post
    Great writeup, enjoyed it! So through five rounds, you had the players that had been auctioned going well above their inflated values (roughly $240 in total!). After round five, were there a lot of players $15+ whose auction prices were lower than their inflated values? Or is there a chance that you underestimated inflation, and therefore should feel even better about the guys you bought at a little over inflated prices?
    I may have underestimated inflation, as another owner said he thought pre-draft inflation was closer to 40%. I'll double check the calculation in a couple of days, and also post the remaining draft prices vs. projected inflation prices later this week.

    Quote Originally Posted by cavebird View Post
    Always a fun read. Interesting team you ended up with. Do you get to keep Davis if he is traded to the AL? If not, that is a danger. I have no idea how competitive that team can be in a 12-team NL only; I am sure nobody's roster is going to look very good since it is so deep. Still, even for a 12-team only league, that roster is very stars and scrubs-y. Should be interesting to see how that plays out.
    Yeah, that is a bit of an extreme stars & scrubs roster, but I felt I needed to go that route since my keeper list was not as deep as some of the other owners. As umjewman mentioned, I do have the option of keeping Davis for the remainder of the season if he goes to the AL. I'm hoping either he or Duda is traded ASAP so Davis can get full-time starter stats.

    Quote Originally Posted by swampdragon View Post
    If you are competitive MBum will be a big trading chip.
    Unfortunately, he is in the final contract year. But Yelich at $1 is an option year contract in 2015, Stanton at $20 is a final year contract in 2015, and Gomez is $16 through 2017...so I have a few trade chips. Plus, there are the minor league prospects.

    Quote Originally Posted by Judge Jude View Post
    wow, even granting that it's a $280 league, some of those prices are astonishing!
    Papelbon 19 and RSoriano 19 much cheaper than I'd have expected, then.
    The price insanity is a relatively new phenomenon. Closer prices have been coming down in recent seasons too. We've always been 5x5, but the recent closer turnover trend has caused any closer with injury/job security concerns to go for less than they would in the past.

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