This was my second auction of the day Saturday, the first being AL Tout Wars, which I drafted at 9:00 am. It was convenient to have both auctions in the same venue (the Stewart Hotel), but Tout ended at 2 pm, and the NFBC started at six. That meant I had four hours to kill in between, and the location (31st and 7th) was too far from where I was staying on the upper east side to make it worth going back. Luckily, I ran into Nando DiFino, Adam Ronis and Jake Ciely and invited myself to beers and Korean food with them until the auction started. My strategy in any auction, but especially in a mixed-league one is to go big early on 4-5 stars and then save about $60 for the end game. The idea is that players are often underpriced early when people don’t have as many comps to gauge value and also have tons of fallback options should they let a player go. Later in the auction there are only a few valuable players left, and everyone knows what they can safely pay for them already, creating a floor.
The other benefit to spending early on stars is you’re unlikely to leave money on the table. If you’re waiting for value, letting most of the expensive players go, the auction can get to a point where you have the most money, but there’s not enough talent left in the pool. You can win with a lot of mid-level players in an AL or NL-only league, but it’s hard to take down a mixed league with the equivalent of 15 seventh-round picks when replacement value is so much higher.
This particular format had 15 teams (and a $1400 buy-in that I split with co-owner Tim Schuler), so while I wanted to be aggressive, I couldn’t be reckless – there are passable $1 options but not great ones. Moreover, my league was part of an overall contest ($30K for first place) wherein half your entry fee goes toward the overall prize pool. To have any chance to win the overall, you can’t be terrible in any category, so balance is far more important than in a one-off league like Tout Wars, for example.
I prepped for the auction by downloading the average auction values for this format over the previous couple weeks, replete with minimum and maximum values. They weren’t up to date with the Luis Severino, Clayton Kershaw or Craig Kimbrel news, but they were pretty good baselines for most of the pool.
As planned, I got into the bidding early, targeting a few top hitters, at least one top starting pitcher and one top closer. When Mookie Betts, who ranged from $48-$49, got to $46, I said $47, and I was surprised it stuck. It was the second time that day I accidentally bought the second most expensive player in the pool. Pretty soon, someone brought up Giancarlo Stanton and Freddie Freeman, two of my targets, and I bid them up to their average prices ($34 and $31, respectively) and got them. But starting pitchers were proving to be a problem.
As usual, I wanted at least one ace, but the pitchers were almost all going for a few dollars more than their max levels on my sheets. I opted for Aaron Nola at $35 (his average price was $34) because I didn’t want to get stuck bidding on the final ace or two that everyone had to have. It turned out Blake Snell ($30) and Carlos Carrasco ($31) were probably the best values, but it’s easy to say that in retrospect.
I had a little over $100 left at that point, when Kris Bryant came up. I love Bryant to bounce back this year, and I liked his price at $25 (avg $27), but getting him and a $20 Edwin Diaz put me at about $60 left for the rest of the auction. I had to keep my mouth shut and not get stuck price enforcing on a mid-priced player who would cripple my end game.
That wasn’t a huge problem – most players went roughly where they should have, except Craig Kimbrel who sold for $11 while I was running to the bathroom (Normally, I’d wait until the break, but I was four beers (from earlier) and two cups of coffee in and didn’t expect to spend money for a while.) Finally, when the rest of the room spent down to my level, I got Luis Severino for $13 (my coveted second ace if he’s himself in May), Archie Bradley ($8), Arodys Vizcaino ($3) to shore up saves and a few other starting pitchers I liked for cheap, since I had gone so big on offense. My biggest weakness, which I half-assedly addressed late, is speed. I bought Leonys Martin ($2) and Greg Allen ($1), but neither is good enough to be assured of a permanent job. It’ll be Schuler’s task to FAAB some speed during the year.
Other places where I skimped were catcher (a crapshoot after the first few are gone) and middle infield (it’s unbelievably deep this year.) Overall, I’m reasonably pleased with how the team turned out, though like any 15-team NFBC squad, there’s work to do during the year.
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Here’s the overall board:
And here’s my final roster with prices:
Full auction with dollar values: