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SKL 2.0 Auction Strategy - Going With The Flow

The great Clay Link already shared his thoughts on the Staff Keeper League 2.0 Auction, which took place Wednesday night, but since this is always my favorite fantasy baseball night of the year, I also wanted to get in on breaking down what turned out to be a very eventful auction.

First, a little background about my state of mind heading into this auction:

SKL 2.0 is a 17-team mixed keeper league where teams can keep up to 15 big league contracts and 10 minor league players. After a fruitful hot stove season, I had what I deemed a solid group of pitchers to keep in Matt Harvey, Marcus Stroman, Jose Quintana, Ken Giles and Jake McGee for a combined $28 of my $260 total budget. Pitching would be a priority for me, but not a major weakness heading into the auction. Then tragedy struck Tuesday as it was announced Stroman would miss the entire season with a torn left ACL. Obviously I felt bad for Stroman personally and sad because he had become one of my favorite pitchers to watch dating back to last season, but it would be a straight up lie if I denied that the No. 1 thing that came to my mind was my team in SKL 2.0, the 80-Grade Bat Flips. I was officially on tilt. Sure, it could have been worse, I could have been Andrew Martinez and kept Yu Darvish for $31, but I wasn't in the mood for glass-half-full life commentary.

I wanted to make someone pay. Literally. My new goal became to drive up the price on Stephen Strasburg and David Price, easily the two best available arms, in Wednesday's auction. Now, obviously there is inflation in our league, so these prices do not transfer over to single-season auctions. I had $126 to fill nine spots, but I decided before the auction that if I could get Strasburg AND Price for $90 or less, I was going to do it. Partly because pitching was a major weakness for me after the Stroman injury, and partly because it is fun to cause havoc in a draft or an auction. Getting the only two aces in the player pool would have sent some teams scrambling, and I would have taken pleasure in that.

On to the auction...

Price was one of the first players to be nominated, and I was in on the action until the very end when he sold for $47 to Ryan Eisner. Looking back, I wish I had pushed Price to at least $48, but I held true to my plan of trying to get both aces for $90 or less. It was obvious that Strasburg would not go for $43, so that plan was out the window. When it was my turn to nominate, I threw Strasburg out there for $47 exactly. Would the room go higher on Strasburg than Price, now that there was just one ace available instead of two? The answer, of course, was a resounding "YES," as he ended up being purchased by Dan Pennucci for $50.

This is where the title of the blog comes in to play. I had to go with the flow. In the heat of the moment, I could not stomach the prices that Price and Strasburg went for, but obviously I had to spend my money on some high-end talent at some point. Unless you view Jeff Samardzija as an ace, and I don't, all of the remaining studs were hitters.

My attention then turned to Bryce Harper, the undisputed hottest name available in the player pool. A portion of the league may have been surprised that Nick Shlain was willing to go to $52 on Harper, but I certainly was not. Shlain, like myself, had missed out on the two stud arms, and he was done messing around. That said, Harper went before the rest of the bats I had my eye on, so I was willing to be a little patient and see if the grass was greener later on.

This ended up working out perfectly, because I went on a spending spree landing Adrian Gonzalez ($33), Albert Pujols ($26) and Matt Holliday ($23) in the middle of the draft. Relative to the prices at the beginning and end of the draft, these worked out to be bargains.

Here are the other players who went from $23-$26 in the auction:

  • Michael Pineda ($23)
  • Howie Kendrick ($23)
  • Dustin Pedroia ($24)
  • David Wright ($24)
  • Mat Latos ($24)
  • Mark Trumbo ($24)
  • Chase Headley ($24)
  • Desmond Jennings ($24)
  • Matt Wieters ($25)
  • Jay Bruce ($25)
  • Ryan Zimmerman ($25)
  • Joe Mauer ($25)

I would prefer Pujols and Holliday to any of those names, and in some cases, it's not particularly close. There is no denying that I bought both players at a sweet spot in the auction – roughly 25 percent of the way through. Obviously Pujols and Holliday don't profile as strong keepers, as they are both past their prime, but in my estimation, none of the names that went in that price range have a strong probability of looking like bargains at the end of the year.

I was actually the one who ended up with Latos for $24, and while I don't love the price tag, he was the only pitcher left on the board at that point that I felt confident in profiling as a No. 2 behind Harvey in my rotation. Gonzalez, Pujols, Latos and Holliday ended up being my four most expensive buys, and the only guys I spent more than $15 on.

The lesson here is to not get too aggressive early on with your pre-auction targets, and to not get too stagnant in the middle rounds of the auction. Yes, the first big names off the board went for exorbitant prices, but so did the last big names. Brett Lawrie ($22), Austin Jackson ($21), Dalton Pompey ($17) and Jung-Ho Kang ($16) illustrate the level of funds it took to secure big targets later in the auction when two or three owners had more than half the available cash.

Here is what my final roster looks like:

C - Buster Posey

C- Travis d'Arnaud

1B - Adrian Gonzalez

2B - Kolten Wong

3B - Pedro Alvarez

SS - Troy Tulowitzki

MI - Javier Baez

CI - Albert Pujols

OF - Christian Yelich

OF - Matt Holliday

OF - Steven Souza

OF - Leonys Martin

OF - Steve Pearce

UTIL - Adam Lind

P - Matt Harvey

P - Mat Latos

P - Jose Quintana

P - Jake Peavy

P - Joe Kelly

P - Anthony DeSclafani

P - Yusmeiro Petit

P - Ken Giles

P - Jordan Walden

Reserves:

- Jordan Schafer

- Gerardo Parra

- Jake McGee

- CC Sabathia

- Robbie Erlin

- Nick Vincent

- Marcus Stroman

Minor Leagues:

- Carlos Correa

- Nomar Mazara

- Jorge Alfaro

- Raimel Tapia

- Dan Vogelbach

- Rymer Liriano

- Gabby Guerrero

- Nick Williams

- Steven Matz

- Jake Thompson

If you have comments or questions about my team, the SKL 2.0 auction or keeper auctions in general, hit me up @RealJRAnderson on Twitter.