I know auctions (I guess we’re calling ’em salary cap drafts, now?) take too long, but so do most movies these days. The culture serves us escapism in heaping gobs of minutes and hours, and for four hours twice a year, I clear the calendar and settle in at the computer screen to click along with fantasy baseball luminaries like Scott White, Mike Gianella, and a handful of Razzball’s finest. I love it. The niche math in motion appeals directly to some lizard-brain survivalist inside me. Thanks as always to Scott for running these leagues and for inviting Razz-folks like Laura, B_Don, Grey and me to the party. Here’s how the night played out for me:

C) Adley Rutschman 24

C) Francisco Mejia 1

1B) Jonathan Aranda 1

2B) Edouard Julien 18

3B) Royce Lewis 29

SS) JP Crawford 11

MI) Colson Montgomery 1

CI) Colt Keith 15

OF) Evan Carter 20

OF) Wyatt Langford 18

OF) Alex Kirilloff 11

OF) Ceddanne Rafaela 2

OF) Manny Margot 1

U) Heston Kjerstad 4

Reserve) OF Jonny DeLuca, OF Estevan Florial, 3B Deyvison De Los Santos, 2B Jorbit Vivas, 1B Miguel Sano


P) Corbin Burnes 37

P) Blake Snell 16

P) Dane Dunning 2

P) Casey Mize 1

P) Matt Manning 1

P) Cole Irvin 1

P) Josh Hader 24

P) Andres Munoz 21

P) John McMillon 1

Reserve) Jackson Jobe, Carlos Carrasco 

The structure of this thing is a 23-player auction where we have to fill every starting spot before a seven-round draft of reserves. One example of how this can impact strategy happened when Heston Kjerstad filled my DH spot. I wanted to nominate Eloy Jimenez, but my click wasn’t working. I’d forgotten the rule even though this is my fourth year in the format. You can’t bid on a player if you can’t put him in your starting lineup. If you fill shortstop, middle infield and utility, you can’t bid on a shortstop. 

The bidding seemed more aggressive to me than it typically has with this group. I got caught price enforcing early on Burnes at $37. I like him a lot in Baltimore, but he’s not the kind of high-volume guy who’s ideal as an only-league anchor. 

I got Rutschman early at $24. I put a $28 price on him before the thing, so this helped level out the Burnes price. Gotta stay level throughout these things. I got caught price enforcing again early on a $24 Hader, but that’s how it goes. I had him at $30. Just didn’t want the highest rent closer at that point in the night. 

Snell came up early as well, and I think he’s going to sign with the Yankees this week, so I was ready with my wallet. What’s he worth in New York? $30? $35? The risk/reward seemed right at $16. 


Whoa, hey, it’s Grey’s bold-faced draft questioner! How’s it going, dude? 


Okay, yeah, right. Umm, well I’m hoping Jonathan Aranda helps me there at some point, but the main target was Colt Keith, who should have eligibility at 2B by week two. 

Neither of those guys have hit in the majors. Everyone on your team is so young. Ageist much?

I didn’t really notice this as it was happening, but it’s not new for my builds. I’ve won this league in back-to-back seasons largely because of rookies. Julio Rodriguez and George Kirby carried me a couple years ago. Tanner Bibee, Esteury Ruiz and Brent Rooker were key last year. I may have gone overboard this year, but I’m typically in on most auctions until the finish line, and it just happens that I have more confidence in youth than most bidders in the room. I almost had several veteran bats, and I do have Snell, Burnes and Hader for veteran arms. 

Gonna be real short on innings if Snell doesn’t land in the AL.

You got a question, or what? 

Sore spot, huh? 

I think our urge to decide on draft day via projections who had the best draft can lead to some faulty processes born from drafting to win the projections rather than to set yourself for a strong season. I can add innings throughout the year, even in a league like this where a lot of starters are rostered. That’s just the nature of innings in the majors right now.

So . . . you’re gonna wing it? 

Yeah, we’ll cross that bridge when it comes, if it comes. Baseball has a long enough season that your greatest enemy is often yourself, particularly your level of give-a-shit based on what you can see of the landscape today. I added Cole Ragans down the stretch last year. Was it luck? To some extent, sure. Can I replicate a late season Ragans run from scratch? Well, not today. Probably not at all. But I don’t see much value in eliminating the possibility just because I can’t see it right now. It’s more important to keep hustling in baseball than in any other fantasy sport because this kind of stuff develops all the time, and you can gain ground in a hurry with a few lucky bounces in the faab department, especially in leagues where it sometimes seems like everyone with any value is rostered. 

Everyone with any value like Miguel Sano?

This is a body-positive space. Sano changed his diet and lost about 50 pounds. Doesn’t mean he’s going to strike out less or win a job or stay healthy, but it’s probably not a bad thing. Cole Irvin changed his diet, too, and is already generating more velocity than he did last year. We are the low-bar, best-shape-of-his-life crew. 

So you got caught price enforcing with Burnes, Hader and Adley. Did you land anyone you actually wanted? 

Sure. My plan, such as it was, revolved around Royce Lewis, JP Crawford, Colt Keith, Alex Kirilloff, and one of the young Rangers outfielders if I couldn’t get Julio or Yordan. Once I’d landed Burnes, I couldn’t justify the price for Julio. Well, I was the last one in the bidding, but I bowed out. Same with Yordan. And with Luis Robert. Outifled is treacherously shallow in an Only league with 60 starting weekly. I nominated Manny Margot early when people were running through the guys not in the system, and crickets let me have him for a dollar. I didn’t hate it. Wait, I guess that’s another guy I didn’t want. Let’s see. I wanted Jobe. To a lesser extent, I wanted DeLuca, Florial and Rafaela. 

Looking at it now, I’m realizing just how few expectations for my roster shape I brought into this thing. It works for me this way. The more committed I am to getting any particular player, especially a pricey one, the more likely I am to eschew depth in favor of chasing my plan, so I keep the plan pretty vague these days. I do create my own dollar values position by position and print that out before any auction, and that process calls attention to anyone who seems like they’ll be good value, but that’s as far as I get these days. I used to have it planned down to the player, but I missed a lot of the auction that way and sometimes trapped myself into a bidding war over the one solid option I’ve been waiting on at whatever position. That didn’t happen this time, and I like this team. It’s got a lot of risk, but it’s not really playing-time risk outside of Langford, Snell and Rafaela. And it has a lot of upside. Probably the most in the league, if such a thing were in any way quantifiable, and that’s how I tend to build. It leans into my play style of regular roster churn and takes advantage of my job here as cartographer of prospect ebbs and flows. 

Thanks for reading!