In any auction setting in Fantasy baseball, it’s all about coming up with a plan to win. The first step in this is seeing the inventory. The next ingredient is understanding the expected price points for key players within the auction. The final piece to the puzzle is the end game, which requires not getting out of position with your budget.
After spending nine days in Las Vegas drafting and auctioning in the high stakes baseball market, it was time to come up with a plan in the $5,000 and $10,000 mixed auctions. Most know I’m aggressive early trying to build the foundation of my offense. In most years, I tend to punt saves in single league auctions while trying to roster two possible aces.
This season the top end of the pitching inventory wasn’t deep, and it was going to be expensive. With this in my mindset, I decided to back off the dual aces theory. This led to the “Forty-Four” plan (four stud bats and four mid-tier pitchers).
The first piece of the puzzle was rostering SS Carlos Correa. Almost every owner knew I would target him in the auction based on me taking him in both of my AL auctions plus drafting 9th overall in my main event draft. With him being essential to the plan, I decide to call him out first (seat number one in the auction). I wanted to get him on the table before SS Manny Machado so that teams that wanted to roster a strong shortstop would still have the top option available.
I threw out Correa for $27 to get a feel for his market value. After a couple of bids, I took a shot at $31. After one overbid, Carlos was on my roster for $33.
From that point on, I wasn’t going to call out any players of interest until the end game.
My friend that backed me in the $5K auction loves 3B Nolan Arenado, so I wanted to buy him. While in Vegas, I told him Nolan could be the next 1B Miguel Cabrera if his batting average took a step forward. His skill set (high average power) is one of my top three goals when building the foundation of my roster.
After a late discussion in the room about an hour before the auction, we came up with a two-player option for our third stud. Before Vegas, OF Bryce Harper was the number one player of interest. His bat started to heat up late in March leading to him rising in drafts. I figured he would be the toughest player to buy. The other option was 1B Paul Goldschmidt. He drew attention in drafts and auctions, but no one overpaid for him. If he came out before Harper (which he did), I was prepared to make a run at him.
To me, the coolest piece of the player pool in 2017 was 2B Trea Turner. He has the Carl Crawford skill set (plus speed with complementary power) that I was attracted to in my early success in the high-stakes market. Let’s just say Turner was a must-have for our plan. If Trea repeats his success in HRs, he could be a great buy in 2017.
I placed a $37 bid on Paul Goldschmidt, but he went for $38. Harper ended up being the second player of interest call out after Goldschmidt was bought. I pushed Harper to $38, which was the winning total. With $71 spent on two players, we looked to be on track to spend $144 on our first four bats.
3B Nolan Arenado was on the table within minutes. The defending champs pushed hard for him, but I wouldn’t let off the throttle. I bought him for $43. I overpaid for sure, but my investor had his one player for his $5,000 investment. This buy put us behind in our targeted money.
After we had bought three players, most owners figured we would shut it down for a while. It didn’t take long for 2B Trea Turner to be on the mat. At this point, I’m committed to the plan. Therefore, Turner wasn’t going to be missed. The fourth diamond landed on the roster for the mere price of $35.
It took me less than 15 minutes to blow $149 of my $260 budget. Over the middle part of the auction, I wanted to buy four arms for $55 to $60.
I needed to avoid getting beat at first. I set a range of about $10 for the position with Brandon Belt being the top target.
The next targeted player was OF Joc Pederson. He was my breakout player in 2016, and most Fantasy owners didn’t respect his talent this year. Ideally, he should go for less than $10, but there was one owner in the auction that would at least fight for him.
For my top four pitchers, I ended up with Rick Porcello ($13), Julio Teheran ($13), Felix Hernandez ($15), and Matt Harvey ($15). Porcello and Teheran were solid buys. I had to gamble that Hernandez would bounce back in 2017 so I did overpay slightly for him. The whole Fantasy market seems to be down on Harvey. I think he’s the HR swing I needed to take in these drafts and auctions. Last year Fantasy owners drafted him in the second round. Another owner pushed hard on him leading to me losing some of my buying power late in the auction.
I bought Belt ($10) for a fair price while needing to fight for Pederson ($11). All in all, I executed my core. After these ten players, I had $34 to “get out.”
I finished my pitching staff with David Price ($5), Adam Wainwright ($4), Shelby Miller ($1), Jose Berrios ($1), and Alex Wood ($1).
In the reserve round, I took a shot on saves with Koda Glover and Hector Rondon. I don’t want to chase closers in waiting too long as it could only be worth a point or two unless they get a job in the middle of April. For my bench pitchers, I added Trevor Bauer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Lucas Giolito.
Now, I’m sure you're wondering how the backend of my hitting turned out. Here they are:
Catcher: Yan Gomes ($4) and Jason Castro ($1)
Middle Infield: Jorge Polanco ($1)
Corner Infield: Eugenio Suarez ($2) and Yonder Alonso (R)
Outfielder: Max Kepler ($3), Jay Bruce ($6), Alex Gordon ($3), Cameron Maybin ($1), and Jayson Werth (R)
I missed by $1 of having the perfect out for my team structure. 2B Josh Harrison sat out there until the end of the auction. His skill set was perfect for my team structure. With $6 left with four players to go, I jumped OF Alex Gordon from $1 to $3 to block the owner that called him out ($3 max bid as well). This left my three players for $3 with only one player having a $2 bid.
On my next turn, I wanted to call out 3B Pablo Sandoval. I wasn’t sure what team with a buy needed (should have taken more time). I called out P Alex Wood to buy a round hoping the team with a $2 max bid would spend his extra dollar. This allowed another owner to call out and win Sandoval for $1 He would have been a cover for corner infield plus be a DH option. The owner with a $2 bid then called out Josh Harrison.
In the end, the team came together well. I punted saves while being a step behind in ERA and WHIP to the teams that went pitching strong. I’ll need to find some steals at middle infield or my last OF position.
For the record, here’s a look at what some of the top players sold for:
P Clayton Kershaw ($48), P Noah Syndergaard ($39), Madison Bumgarner ($37), Max Scherzer ($36), Chris Sale ($32), Corey Kluber ($32), and Yu Darvish ($29)
CL Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Janson ($22), and Zach Britton ($19)
OF Mike Trout ($45) and Mookie Betts ($41)
The next night I had a $10,000 auction. I played against seven owners the night before where I did the above plan.
I tried to run back the plan with one adjustment (Nolan Arenado for Paul Goldschmidt).
Here’s a look at that roster:
C Tyler Flowers ($2) and Francisco Cervelli ($1)
1B Paul Goldschmidt ($38) and Ryan Zimmerman (R)
2B Trea Turner ($36) and Josh Harrison ($2)
3B Nick Castellanos ($14), Pablo Sandoval ($4), and Trevor Plouffe ($1)
SS Carlos Correa ($32)
OF Bryce Harper ($42), Joc Pederson ($8), Jay Bruce ($6), Alex Gordon ($2), Jason Heyward ($2), Ben Revere (R), Cameron Maybin (R), Matt Joyce (R)