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The other day I went over my fantasy baseball strategy for snake drafts.  Lots of the strategy there also applies here.  If you ask me — and you kinda did ask me by reading this shizz — auction drafts are where it’s at, yo!   You get in a room with your best fantasy baseball buddies.  The guys you haven’t seen since last year’s draft.  The guys you don’t want to see until next year’s draft.  One guy, and there’s always one, has his phone on vibrate just in case the missus calls about little Petey.  He’s got the flu, ya know.  Then you have the guy who will go the extra dollar for (fill-in favorite player from his favorite team).  You have the guy who brings only Cheetos and then asks the host for some cola every 30 minutes.  Then, finally, you have the guy who made plans at 5PM and begins to yell at everyone at 4PM that they’re taking too long.  And, it always turns out, this day is the best day of the year.  Auction draft day is better than your wedding day.  As for online auction drafts, they’re not as fun.  Anyway, here’s some tried and true tips to help you through your auction draft.

1. Early in the draft, throw out guys that you know you have no interest in that will cost others a lot.

Say David Ortiz snuck into a 21 and under club with Esmailyn Gonzalez’s fake ID and took your baby sister home.  Now you refuse to draft him.  So the first name you should nominate is Ortiz and let others overspend on him.  This is not to say you should let him go for cheap.  You don’t want high-priced pitching?  Nominate Johan.  You think Kinsler’s overrated?  Nominate him.  You get the idea.  Moving on…

2. Go the extra dollar if you really want someone.

When you get to the end of the auction, no one has any flippin’ idea what they spent to get a guy.  If you want Alexis Rios, go the extra buck or two.  You really need a closer and Hanrahananan is the only one left?  Go the extra dollar or two.  Get the players you need.

3. You want to be “rich” with auction money, especially at the end of the draft.

You won’t always have the most money at the draft, but, whenever possible, you want to.  The more money you have A) The better leverage you have attaining any guy you may want. B) You can get great buys late in the draft when no one else has any money.  Invariably, someone will throw out Elijah Dukes for a dollar (or some player that they think they can sneak through).  Then you get Dukes for $2 and everyone in the draft room groans, wishing they still had some money.  At the end of the draft, you want to be like the little tuxedoed guy from Monopoly.

4. Decent catchers and closers are even easier to acquire in auctions.

In a snake draft, you never know when the Doumit, Iannetta, Chris Perez, Capps or whoever is going to go.  The beauty of the auction is you can have anyone.  In my experience, you should wait until most of the teams have filled up their closers or catcher(s) slot then you nominate some one dollar beauts.  I’ll take Hanrahanananan for $1.  Sweet!

5. Keep track of who other people want.

The beauty of the auction is you know exactly what everyone else is thinking.  If Joe Schmohawk goes to $12 on Furcal and you get him for $13, keep JS in mind when you’re looking to trade Furcal after his hot April.  If someone groans when you get McLouth, keep it in mind.  Unless it’s the same guy who’s been eating nothing but Cheetos and cola for ten hours.  Then it might just be gas.

  1. Chris says:
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    I have to disagree with the benefit of being rich with auction money at the end of the draft. I’ve been in a league for over 15 years, and I’ve only found that if you’re the guy with $25 at the end of the draft, you end up with a player worth $3, and $22 left over. In the past, I would have agreed, but my experience is that, in the long run, a person is much better off spending whatever it takes to get the A-list guys and gambling on who’s left. Usually, there are a number of players who can be had for just a dollar or two. But now you’ve got, let’s say, A-Rod at $50 – which is overpaying in most circumstances – but once the draft is over, no one gives a crap what his salary is, and you’ve got the best bargaining chip in the game to address any needs on your roster if the auction doesn’t work out as well as you hoped. If it works out, you fill your needs with overlooked, decent players at the end of the draft, and keep A-Rod. At least you give yourself a chance of having premium players, and it gives you maneuverability to do with them what you will if circumstances dictate. Otherwise, you risk having no premium players, a bunch of $2 shlubs at the end of the draft, and $30 wasted.

    In my humble opinion…

  2. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:
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    I like to think of my yearly auction as Christmas Day…

    …for dorks.

  3. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Chris: I don’t mean you should have money at the end end. I mean towards the end of the draft. Sorry that was confusing. And I don’t mean you should have $25 more than everyone else. Again, my bad. I just meant you should be a bit richer so you can go the extra dollar or two.

    @IowaCubs: Me too! It’s wonderful!

  4. Solid advice, Grey.

    I haven’t done an auction since high school — it’s all online snake drafts now — but I really miss it. I consider auctions “purer,” in a sense, because unlike drafts you have at least a chance to get any player. And there was nothing finer than sitting in a smelly room with a dozen nerds cracking jokes that made no sense. Back in the day, there was nothing — nothing — funnier than shouting out “Storm Davis — $30!” than watching everyone crack up.

    One mistake I remember making, which I’d add here, is this:

    Early in the draft there will be moments when you think “I can’t believe so-and-so is going for that cheap!” So you’ll jump in, even though you’re not that interested in, say, Kelly Johnson. But you’ll bid him up to get him to a “fair” price — and then end up with him.

    And at the end of the draft your team is full of “bargains” you never really wanted. Plus, guys you do want go late and you don’t have the cash to get them.

    In both drafts and auctions I think it’s important to go aggressively after guys you like. It’s a game, after all, so you should be having fun — not stuck with a team of players you could give a shizz about but who came at the right price.

  5. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Baron Von Vulturewins: Great point. You shouldn’t be a price enforcer. And the Storm Davis joke never gets old. Or the ol’ slipping in worst advice ever, “On the way over here, I heard Melky’s going to bat fourth.”

  6. Frank Rizzo says:
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    How much effect does Yahoo’s whack position eligibility play in for guys like Miggy (1st/3rd) and Alexei Ramirez (SS/2nd/CF)? Does Miggy leapfrog Wright, Pujols, or both because of flexibility? How about Alexei? Does he leapfrog B Phillips at 2nd, or even Rollins at SS? I’ve got to admit I’m pretty smitten by his flexibility.

  7. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Frank Rizzo: Miggy doesn’t move into the first tier. Alexei is still a 4th to 5th rounder and just after Phillips.

  8. Emporers Monkey says:
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    Not sure if this is the right forum, but I just completed a draft and wanted to flex my muscles a bit…10 team 5×5 league.
    c-Iannetta
    1-M. Cabrera
    2-Cano
    3-Aramis
    ss-Furcal
    OF-Carlos Lee
    OF-Granderson
    OF-Soriano
    Util-Damon
    SP-Haren
    SP-Billingsly
    RP-Marmol
    RP-Capps
    P-King Felix
    P-H. Bell
    P-F. Francisco

  9. @Emporers Monkey: Very nice looking team — the starting 9 is quite solid.

    You only have three starters, though? Was that part of the strategy?

    Also, draft rounds for each pick would be interesting….

  10. Emporers Monkey says:
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    Ask and ye shall recieve. Bedard would be my 4th starter. And I drafted heavy on OF because my league employs 4 OF and 2 UTIL spots.

    1. Miguel Cabrera (Det – 1B,3B)
    2. Alfonso Soriano (ChC – OF)
    3. Carlos Lee (Hou – OF)
    4. Aramis Ramírez (ChC – 3B)
    5. Curtis Granderson (Det – OF)
    6. Dan Haren (Ari – SP)
    7. Rafael Furcal (LAD – SS)
    8. Chad Billingsley (LAD – SP)
    9. Félix Hernández (Sea – SP)
    10. Robinson Canó (NYY – 2B)
    11. Johnny Damon (NYY – OF)
    12. Carlos Mármol (ChC – RP)
    13. Nelson Cruz (Tex – OF)
    14. Chris Iannetta (Col – C)
    15. Matt Capps (Pit – RP)
    16. Brad Hawpe (Col – OF)
    17. Erik Bedard (Sea – SP)
    18. Heath Bell (SD – RP)
    19. Frank Francisco (Tex – RP)
    20. Elijah Dukes (Was – OF)
    21. Pablo Sandoval (SF – C,1B,3B

  11. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    @Emporers Monkey: Again, very solid. I’d be happy to wind up with this team. You’ve followed a wise strategy, esp. regarding pitchers. Bedard’s a great flier, though you’ll need to be alert to add a fourth SP you can rely on if he flames out.

    Also, you might be middle- to lower-tier when it comes to steals, esp. since Furcal is so damn fragile. I don’t see anyone here likely to approach 30 steals besides him. But there’s generally good balance. Well-chosen, with lots of upside. If Cano bounces back and Cruz pans out, you will be golden, Pony Boy.

  12. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Grey: Point 4 and point 5 are your most important bullet points here.

    I was able to acquire Soria for $7 last year at the end of our draft when the other owner was left with 3 spots to fill and only $3 to spend.

    Guess who was the first guy I traded? Guess who I traded him to?

  13. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @BigFatHippo: Hehe… Nice. Don’t you just love auctions?

  14. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Grey: You and Iowa said it best, Christmas morn baby.

    Our commish said in the league invite, “I’m gonna be the drunkest guy at the draft this year, it worked for Nuttsack last year”

    If I may add bullet point #6……

    6. Have a plan going in, party all you want, take no prisoners, make an ass of yourself, sleep on the commish’ couch, and win wire to wire…………..

  15. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @BigFatHippo: Is our favorite New Zealander going to be in it this year? How would that work? Teleconferencing?

  16. Steve says:
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    @Grey: @BigFatHippo: Looking promising. Just need some babysitting to fall into [place and I’m there.

    I may have to Gmail Chat my bids to Hippo who can yell them out.

    Once he’s stopped laughing.

  17. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Steve: Sweet!

    Hope you don’t win, it’s a long walk to collect your money. Second place money that is.

  18. Emporers Monkey says:
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    Eh, as long as I finish middle of the pack in SBs I will be happy. I think I will be at or near the top in all the other offensive cats.

  19. Schlitzy says:
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    Wondering what dollar values yous guys are using for your auctions…or if there’s any program thingy to help generate values for my league.

  20. Golis says:
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    Why does your 12-team dollar values list have javier vazquez at $43? Regardless, why do you have so many SPs as the most expensive players?

  21. @Golis: Hey Golis. Welcome to the comment boards! We were as surprised as you that Vazquez came up so high but they are driven by CHONE projections . We mention it in this post – http://razzball.com/2009-fantasy-baseball-projections-chone/ – and the person behind the CHONE projections (Sean ‘Chone’ Smith) actually pipes in down in the comments (#14).

    As for why pitchers rank amongst the hitters, this is because top pitchers are as valuable as top hitters based purely on the stat projections. But three things drive down their costs in mixed leagues – 1) pitchers are believed to be riskier, 2) depth in SP, and 3) bias towards hitters. Based on our 2008 player rater, 5 of the top 6 players were SP (http://razzball.com/2008-draft-rankings/2008-player-rater-12-team/). Here’s an explanation behind the SP’s doing so well (http://razzball.com/razzball-2008-player-rater/).

    I’ll be releasing this weekend or early next week the official Razzball Point Shares for 2009 that balances three projections systems (Marcel, CHONE, ZiPs) and adjusts playing time based on the latest projections. I imagine Vazquez will move down the list as the other projections systems aren’t as bullish as CHONE…

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