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After 15 years, I've done my first ever auction draft. Was it as bad as it feels?


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Hello all -

So this is my first year in this keeper league. Here are the details. It is the first time I've ever done an auction draft, and I thought it was pretty fun. But I think I made some mistakes being a rookie auction draft person. I ended up with 19 dollars left over and there were a lot of guys who I sat out on just because I thought they were 1 or 2 dollars over their value that I think I could have afforded to take and built a better team, but I guess we'll see how that turns out. I'm hoping to just get some input on where you guys think I might have made some mistakes and what kind of strategy I should try and use next season. I went in to the draft thinking that I wanted the best hitter and pitcher available, which I think I got, and then trying to pick wisely after that among who I thought would be "best" at the budget prices. So that's why I have a couple guys for big bucks, and then a whole lot of players at less than $5. I don't know if I might have been better off instead being more balanced, with 10ish guys at $15 a piece with a couple higher?

I didn't really pay attention to the contract rules, which are just 3 years for every player except for a single draft pick who can be 5 years, as long as he has never played in MLB and makes his debut during the year you drafted him. With only eight keepers, I don't think it is worth it worrying about youth unless it is extreme youth, like Whitley/Luzardo/Paddack who I ended up taking. And that's why I didn't take guys who might not make their debuts this year like Joey Bart, who I am very, very high on. He would be a big dollar guy for me for next year's draft as long as nobody picks him up this year and he doesn't make his debut.

Anywhere, here are the details of the league for anyone who wants to give me some advice on how it went.

- Rotisserie League
- Auction Draft
- Hitting categories: Runs, Home Runs, RBIs, BA, OPS, SBs
- Pitching categories: Quality Starts, Holds, Saves, Ks, ERA, WHIP. 

C-1B-2B-3B-SS-MI-CI-OF-OF-OF-OF-OF-UTIL-UTIL-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-BN-BN-BN-BN-DLDL

- Keep up to 8 players.
- There are no salary increases for kept players. Their salary will remain as either their drafted
salary or their winning FAAB bid.
- Players (drafted and picked up off of waivers) will have 3-year contracts. That means a player
acquired in 2016 can be kept -- at most -- through 2018.
- When a player is dropped, their contractual clock and salary restarts.
-Trading a player does not reset their contract clock

Starting with players drafted in the 2019 draft- a team may designate one of their eight keeper
contracts as a rookie dynasty contract. This player MUST make their MLB debut during the
season they are drafted. This player can be kept up to five consecutive years as opposed to
the normal three. Only one dynasty contract is allowed per roster. Players on rookie dynasty
contracts MUST be drafted or acquired by trade from a team that drafted them.

So that's the details. Here is how the draft went...

Total draft budget was 260. I kept the following:

Zach Greinke ($11 - final year 2019)
Cody Bellinger ($6 - final year 2019)
Max Muncy ($2 - final year 2020)
Joey Gallo ($11 - final year 2020)
Yasmani Grandal ($2 - final year 2020)
Jed Lowrie ($4 - final year 2020)
Jeremy Jeffress ($1 - final year 2020)
Colin McHugh ($1 - final year 2020)

Which gave me a draft budget of $222 out of the possible $260.

And here is how the draft worked out for me:

Mookie Betts - $50
Jacob deGrom - $49
Alex Bregman - $32
Matt Carpenter - $17
Jonathan Villar - $12
Andrew McCutchen - $8
Cesar Hernandez - $2
Jose Peraza - $2
Archie Bradley - $2
Sean Newcomb - $3
Ryan Braun - $3
Kenta Maeda - $2
Matt Barnes - $3
Austin Meadows - $2
C.J. Cron - $3
Chris Paddack - $4 (5 year dynasty contract possibility)
Kevin Gausman - $2
Forrest Whitley - $5 (5 year dynasty contract possibility)
Ryan McMahon - $1
Jesus Luzardo - $1 (5 year dynasty contract possibility)

Which left me with 19 dollars leftover.

So that gives me the following roster:

C - Yasmani Grandal (Will add a different catcher at some point)
1B - Max Muncy
2B - Jed Lowrie
3B - Alex Bregman
SS - Jonathan Villar
CI - Joey Gallo
MI - Matt Carpenter
OF - Cody Bellinger
OF - Mookie Betts
OF - Andrew McCutchen
OF - Ryan Braun
OF - Austin Meadows
Util - Cesar Hernandez
Util - Jose Peraza
Bench - C.J. Cron
Bench - Ryan McMahon

P - Zack Greinke (SP)
P - Jacob deGrom (SP)
P - Sean Newcomb (SP)
P - Kenta Maeda (SP)
P - Chris Paddack (SP)
P - Kevin Gausman (SP)
P - Jeremy Jeffress (RP)
P - Collin McHugh (RP)
P - Archie Bradley (RP)
P - Matt Barnes (RP)
Bench - Forrest Whitley (SP)
Bench - Jesus Luzardo (SP)

The only guys I have to give up at the end of the season are Greinke and Bellinger.

I feel like maybe I should have went for a more balanced approach since it is a Roto league and not H2H, rather than going for the big ticket items and then hoping for lottery tickets at the low prices.

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First off, it is a major mistake in an auction imo to leave significant money on the table.  It means you mismanaged your auction one way or the other as one should never leave more than a two or three bucks.

That said, stars and scrubs is an OK strategy, but yes you probably overdid it a little bit.  I would have made sure I got one more decent SP and picked up a decent closer on the cheap (that $19 could have gone towards that).  Bradley is fine, but Barnes may or may not close and you are going to get killed in saves imo (and bagging a category is usually a bad idea).  The starters are OK, though I am no fan of Gausman.  The offense seems a little weak in avg and Cron is basically not really fantasy worthy in a standard mixed league imo so $3 seems like $2 too much, but that is trivial.  In hindsight (which is always 20\20), I would have targeted a cheaper 3b than Bregman and found value there later and used that money for other needs.

 

When you go into an auction, you need to have a plan and target certain players and have backups if the price goes too high on a target.  Trying to save a $1 or $2 on a player you really want and need does not make sense and is a mistake a lot of owners make in my experience.  They get so caught up on the valuations that they will not spend that extra couple of bucks on a player they really need for their team to fill a hole and it ends up coming back and biting them.

 

Another common mistake is to not realize that auctions go through phases.  Namely the early rounds where top players usually go for top dollar.  Then as teams start to run out of money, the bargains start to appear in the middle.  At the end, everyone is really cheap since most teams have little money to spend,  You have to keep track of who is available where.  it is OK to let a 3b you want go early and let someone else pay $40 for them when you know there are 3 other guys that are Ok that will go cheaper hopefully in the middle.  The trick is not to ever let it go to the point where there is only one guy that is decent left, you need him along with another owner and the two of you get into a pissing content.  It is easier said then done and one can never predict if an owner loses his mind and decides to pay whatever it takes to get player X you also want, which is why you always need a backup and always need to track where things are at any given point.

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9 hours ago, secretagentman said:

First off, it is a major mistake in an auction imo to leave significant money on the table.  It means you mismanaged your auction one way or the other as one should never leave more than a two or three bucks.

That said, stars and scrubs is an OK strategy, but yes you probably overdid it a little bit.  I would have made sure I got one more decent SP and picked up a decent closer on the cheap (that $19 could have gone towards that).  Bradley is fine, but Barnes may or may not close and you are going to get killed in saves imo (and bagging a category is usually a bad idea).  The starters are OK, though I am no fan of Gausman.  The offense seems a little weak in avg and Cron is basically not really fantasy worthy in a standard mixed league imo so $3 seems like $2 too much, but that is trivial.  In hindsight (which is always 20\20), I would have targeted a cheaper 3b than Bregman and found value there later and used that money for other needs.

 

When you go into an auction, you need to have a plan and target certain players and have backups if the price goes too high on a target.  Trying to save a $1 or $2 on a player you really want and need does not make sense and is a mistake a lot of owners make in my experience.  They get so caught up on the valuations that they will not spend that extra couple of bucks on a player they really need for their team to fill a hole and it ends up coming back and biting them.

 

Another common mistake is to not realize that auctions go through phases.  Namely the early rounds where top players usually go for top dollar.  Then as teams start to run out of money, the bargains start to appear in the middle.  At the end, everyone is really cheap since most teams have little money to spend,  You have to keep track of who is available where.  it is OK to let a 3b you want go early and let someone else pay $40 for them when you know there are 3 other guys that are Ok that will go cheaper hopefully in the middle.  The trick is not to ever let it go to the point where there is only one guy that is decent left, you need him along with another owner and the two of you get into a pissing content.  It is easier said then done and one can never predict if an owner loses his mind and decides to pay whatever it takes to get player X you also want, which is why you always need a backup and always need to track where things are at any given point.

 

Yea, I figured that is way too much to have left over. I think my issue was that, this being my first time, I watched guys go only 1 or 2 dollars over their "projected" or "average" draft amount, and I dismissed them. Guys like Jesus Aguilar who I think was projected for 14, and he got to 15 and ended up going for I think 16. When he could have been a guy at one of my Utility spots at the end of the day. But I was worried so much about not having money left over at the end that I just skipped over anyone even a dollar over what their projected value should be. Then, towards the end, I get guys like Newcomb, Meadows, Gausman, etc., guys I didn't nominate, just because their names popped up and I said "oh they're pretty decent I'll throw in for them, seems like good value." I definitely overestimated how much guys would cost as the draft went on. I agree with everything you said.

I was thrown a little for a loop with this being the first time I've been in a league where all the pitching spots are exclusively just P spots, where you can break them up how you want. I started with Jeffress and McHugh already, but no closers, and the guys I really wanted as closers (Diaz and Vizcaino) ended up both going for over 15. Which I thought was too much. But I could have had them both with my 19 dollars left over and less money spent on Bregman! Haha.

Was definitely a learning experience.

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Honestly, it's not as bad as you kind of lead me on to believe.

It's got some solid pieces everywhere -- your SP falls off fast tho... Goes from Greinke + DeGrom to pretty much nothing. 

But overall it's not bad. I think you have the ability to at least compete.

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2 hours ago, KleShreen said:

 

Yea, I figured that is way too much to have left over. I think my issue was that, this being my first time, I watched guys go only 1 or 2 dollars over their "projected" or "average" draft amount, and I dismissed them. Guys like Jesus Aguilar who I think was projected for 14, and he got to 15 and ended up going for I think 16. When he could have been a guy at one of my Utility spots at the end of the day. But I was worried so much about not having money left over at the end that I just skipped over anyone even a dollar over what their projected value should be. Then, towards the end, I get guys like Newcomb, Meadows, Gausman, etc., guys I didn't nominate, just because their names popped up and I said "oh they're pretty decent I'll throw in for them, seems like good value." I definitely overestimated how much guys would cost as the draft went on. I agree with everything you said.

I was thrown a little for a loop with this being the first time I've been in a league where all the pitching spots are exclusively just P spots, where you can break them up how you want. I started with Jeffress and McHugh already, but no closers, and the guys I really wanted as closers (Diaz and Vizcaino) ended up both going for over 15. Which I thought was too much. But I could have had them both with my 19 dollars left over and less money spent on Bregman! Haha.

Was definitely a learning experience.

Being fixated on value is a common mistake in auctions imo.  It is OK to let someone go you are luke warm on, but like I said, having a plan is essential.  If a player you have made the determination you need starts to go a buck or 2 over value, you have to be willing to stretch your valuations and just go do what needs to be done.  Also, often owners are so obsessed at getting value that they fail to realize that if they get player X for $4 less than what they value him at and player Y for $3 less, then they can divert that extra $7 dollars to overpaying for Player Z.  It is the end game that matters and in the worst case, you steal a few dollars from something less important like util or SP 5-6 or a third closer.  It is easy to say, but in the heat of an auction, often people panic or lose focus and it can lead to decisions you end up regretting.  Such is life in fantasy baseball auctions.

 

As to grabbing value guys at the end, that is a good thing.  Often I try (though I do not always manage to do it) to have a couple of extra bucks around to grab values at the end on $1 or $2 players.  The end of the auction is often a $1 or $2 fest because everyone is out of money, so it is an opportunity to grab some value on the cheap. 

 

As to closers, in my experience the elite ones that get called out early go for big bucks as there is always someone willing to pay for them.  Never been my strategy.  I sort of target mid-tier ones and just wait for a cheap valuation in the middle to end of the auction.  This year so many pens are a mess\in flux I might have to be more aggressive there though.

 

Another thing you should always do is early on NEVER call out a player you want.  Ideally, find a top player you have no real interest in picking up and try to get your opponents (particularly the ones with a lot of money left) to go after them.  The more they spend early on players you have no real interest in, the less they have to spend on players you do want.  Of course they are likely doing the same to you, but a lot of times you can see other players rosters develop and know for ex., they really need to pick a 1b and there are only 1 or 2 good ones left, so you call out one of those 1bs and hope he gets bid up.

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This is some great advice, I'm planning on doing a dynasty league next year that will be auction and I need to start thinking ahead for how to construct my team. I really want a trout/mookie cornerstone but don't know if Id spend $60 on one. 

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That's the problem with asking for advice in an auction league is that you'll get completely different opinions that might be based on the leagues those advice-givers give.

I disagree that there are always bargains in the middle of the draft. This was far more prevalent in the earlier days of fantasy, but now those bargains are much fewer and far between in my leagues. More often, there are enough owners who think like that (don't bid early on elite) who end up bidding over the scraps while wishing they had bid on the elite players. At the end of my NL-only draft people were oohing and aahing over Starlin Castro going for just $3.  But it's still Starlin Castro.  There were far more people regretting that they didn't go the extra dollars on the elite players and either left money on the table or overpaid in the middle of the draft for the leftovers.

I also strongly disagree that you should not call out players you want.  I do this all the time.  It helps me determine early which path I'm going on for the remainder of the draft.  If you wait for the draft to dictate your path, you might get locked into a plan you don't want.  The absolute worst is waiting on your guys only to have the other scrooges bidding you up because there's too much money left with not enough talent.

In general, I'm saying the leagues I'm in have enough smart owners that these old-fashioned strategies no longer work.

As far as your general strategy, I think you did a fantastic job despite the $19 left on the table.  I think you did great with stars n scrubs and your offense looks formidable, but I also did not see where you said how many teams are in this mixed league. You need some things to go your way with pitching and even then you'll probably need to work the wire and trades, but it's much easier to fix pitching than hitting (at least in my leagues).  I'm also unclear if you have a bench in this league.  You're either short on saves or holds depending on how Archie does, how Jeffress heals, and Barnes' role. If either category starts to get away from you, just punt it and go for the other one.  You can punt a category in 6x6, although maybe not if this is a 10-team league...?

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9 minutes ago, Squeeealer said:

That's the problem with asking for advice in an auction league is that you'll get completely different opinions that might be based on the leagues those advice-givers give.

I disagree that there are always bargains in the middle of the draft. This was far more prevalent in the earlier days of fantasy, but now those bargains are much fewer and far between in my leagues. More often, there are enough owners who think like that (don't bid early on elite) who end up bidding over the scraps while wishing they had bid on the elite players. At the end of my NL-only draft people were oohing and aahing over Starlin Castro going for just $3.  But it's still Starlin Castro.  There were far more people regretting that they didn't go the extra dollars on the elite players and either left money on the table or overpaid in the middle of the draft for the leftovers.

I also strongly disagree that you should not call out players you want.  I do this all the time.  It helps me determine early which path I'm going on for the remainder of the draft.  If you wait for the draft to dictate your path, you might get locked into a plan you don't want.  The absolute worst is waiting on your guys only to have the other scrooges bidding you up because there's too much money left with not enough talent.

In general, I'm saying the leagues I'm in have enough smart owners that these old-fashioned strategies no longer work.

As far as your general strategy, I think you did a fantastic job despite the $19 left on the table.  I think you did great with stars n scrubs and your offense looks formidable, but I also did not see where you said how many teams are in this mixed league. You need some things to go your way with pitching and even then you'll probably need to work the wire and trades, but it's much easier to fix pitching than hitting (at least in my leagues).  I'm also unclear if you have a bench in this league.  You're either short on saves or holds depending on how Archie does, how Jeffress heals, and Barnes' role. If either category starts to get away from you, just punt it and go for the other one.  You can punt a category in 6x6, although maybe not if this is a 10-team league...?

 

Yea, it is a 10-team league. For hitters in the draft I tried to get some steals because almost all my keepers were the same type of hitter, more power-based guys who are good for HR, RBI, and OPS (Bellinger, Lowrie, Muncy, etc.) so that's why I ended up with Villar and then hopping on Peraza and Hernandez hoping that would be enough to give me a shot for runs and SB's.

I agree with pitching, though. It was weird because in most of my leagues, I'll use almost my entire bench on SP's and only have maybe one utility hitter on the bench (Brock Holt/Hernan Perez type guys) who I can plug in real quick if there's injuries. I'll fill all my "P" spots with RP's, and then just rotate in a ton of SP's during the week to rack up K's and W's (or QS in this league, I guess) and get 9-12 starts out of each week when I only have 2 SP spots. But with having every pitching spot be "P" I wasn't sure how best to set it up. Maybe I should have looked more at something RP heavy to focus on Holds, Saves, ERA, and WHIP, and just forget about QS and K's? Guess it just depends, really. If I'm at 10-10-9-9-1-1 for the pitching categories it is no different than being at 4, 5, or 6 for every category. I feel like with the way my staff is set up right now, it's possible I end up only maxing out at 5 or 6 in a stat or two and then being 3 or below in the rest of them, so I did very poorly on the pitching side, haha.

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