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Collette Calls: Waiver Monster

Jason Collette

Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. He covers the Tampa Bay Rays at You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Towers of Power Baseball Hour Podcast on iTunes. He was selected as the Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year by FSWA in 2013.

The primary goal in any fantasy auction is to spend every imaginary dollar you have at the draft table to acquire as much talent as possible. In short, having money left over at the end of auction in a league that resets each season is paramount to leaving a bar with free drink coupons in your pocket.

It sounds like a rather simple concept and something that people should have no trouble achieving, but it happens more often than you would think. I see it happen in my local auction leagues every year, and it even happens in expert leagues. Even if everyone spends all of the money, owners are leaving value on the table because many contributors, of all types, are afterthoughts on draft day that go in dollar days or even go undrafted. After all, nobody is perfect.

Thanks to Mike Gianella of RotoThinkTank, we can review the auction dollar values from the 2012 expert league auctions hosted by CBS, LABR, and Tout Wars. This allows us a glass half-full view into seeing where the experts found value in the dollar days in the AL & NL-only formats as well as a glass half-empty view as to where the experts missed in not rostering players that became quite profitable within the 2012 season. First, the hitters.

The following table shows the amount of hitters that were either acquired for $1 or went undrafted during the auctions.

AL Hitters CBS 171 $24.00 $377.00 M. Saunders $19
AL Hitters LABR 165 $18.00 $364.00 M. Saunders $19
AL Hitters Tout 174 $25.00 $396.00 M. Saunders $19
NL Hitters CBS 216 $25.00 $716.00 Aoki & Gomez $25
NL Hitters LABR 196 $18.00 $581.00 Pierre $22
NL Hitters Tout 199 $20.00 $570.00 Aoki $25

As you can see, there was a significant amount of hitting value that was projected inaccurately. Each expert league on the AL side whiffed on Michael Saunders while the NL leagues did not think much of Norichika Aoki, Carlos Gomez, or the frequently underappreciated Juan Pierre. If we look at current ADP's for those outfielders at MockDraftCentral, we see that this is not happening so far this offseason as Aoki's current ADP is 115, Saunders is at 217, Gomez is at 201, and Pierre is at 187.

The average dollars earned by the $0 and $1 players on draft day in the AL expert leagues was $379, while that total spiked to $622 in the NL leagues mostly on the strength of the profits realized in the NL CBS league.

The highest dollar earner who was not rostered in any of the three expert leagues on draft day was Justin Ruggiano who earned $17. Overall, there were 16 hitters who earned at least $10 in 2012 that went undrafted in at least one of the expert leagues. In terms of raw totals, the group of players that went unpurchased in the AL auctions scored 1,334 runs, hit 271 home runs, drove in 1,184 runs, and stole 264 bases. Their NL counterparts scored 1,883 runs, hit 373 home runs, drove in 1,831 runs, and stole 252 bases.

Now, let's look at how these numbers look on the pitching side of the ledger.

The following table shows the amount of pitchers that were either acquired for $1 or went undrafted during the auctions.

AL Pitchers CBS 249 $22.00 $795.00 Milone $16
AL Pitchers LABR 248 $21.00 $791.00 W. Chen $17
AL Pitchers Tout 246 $21.00 $729.00 Cobb $13
NL Pitchers CBS 294 $23.00 $481.00 Medlen $25
NL Pitchers LABR 279 $30.00 $428.00 Lohse $24
NL Pitchers Tout 279 $19.00 $403.00 Miley $19

Who has two thumbs up and took Alex Cobb in the reserve portion of the auction? This guy. Who also has two thumbs down and told SiriusXM listeners I'd rather roster Ray Flowers to pitch on my fantasy team than own Kyle Lohse? This same guy.

In all seriousness, there was a lot of talent available on the free agent wire in the American League. A total of 18 AL pitchers in this pool earned $10 or more over the course of the season, led by Wei-Yin Chen who earned $17. Meanwhile, 11 players in this pool won at least eight games, six players saved at least 10 games led by Fernando Rodney's 48 saves who went undrafted in every expert league, while nine pitchers struck out at least 100 hitters led by Felix Doubront at 167.

Over on the National League side, there simply wasn't as much available on the cheap. There were 15 NL pitchers that earned at least $10 in 2012, led by Wade Miley at $19. A total of 11 pitchers won 10 or more games, 14 pitchers struck out 100 or more batters, but only two pitchers saved at least 10 or more games.

The amount of free-agent talent out there should not encourage you to take your auction lightly as the majority of your end of season production is going to come from that very important day. The purpose of this exercise was to illustrate that there is help out there if your draft results are less than ideal, or if you decide to punt a category and hope to pick up those stats within the season. If you were a player that punted saves last season, especially in an NL-only league, you likely struggled all season to find those numbers because there were only 80 saves available from the group of pitchers that went undrafted in all three expert leagues.

In short, the talent is out there on the wire, but consider it a backup plan rather than a strategy in AL or NL-only leagues. This type of strategy is easier to pull off in a mixed league format, as I recently outlined in my BaseballProspectus column.