Auction drafting reminds me of playing poker. Having a plan of attack, choosing the right hand to play, and then subsequently winning the hand while finding out that you could’ve made a lot more money if you had played it correctly. If you’re patient enough, play the rights hands and stick to the calculations, it’ll work out to your benefit more often than not, but are you that patient?

Can you let a player go under value because he’s not part of your plan? Can you avoid getting sucked into the auction and over paying for your guy? Can you avoid killing your budget faster than a college kid on spring break?

Hindsight is 20/20 and that is rarely more apparent than over the course of an auction. I don’t believe I’ve ever left an auction without regret. However, even if you don’t stick to your plan, there are ways to maneuver the auction to make your team build complete.

My plan coming into the auction was similar to my draft strategy for most of my leagues. I wanted to concentrate my bat spending on top of the order, high average, speed guys. Accomplished this with my combination of Ronald Acuna Jr. and Trea Turner. I balanced that speed with power in Edwin Encarnacion, Miguel Andujar, Justin Upton, and Max Muncy.

For my pitching, I took a more aggressive stance than normal and only wanted one ace and two established closers. I got Max Scherzer and then grabbed Edwin Diaz, Sean Doolittle, and Pedro Strop late.

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NL WestNL Central | NL East | AL West | AL Central | AL East

I don’t pay much attention to Spring Training Statistics.  You never know who the statistics are coming against.  Baseball-Reference did, however, have an amazing tool last year that attempted to quantify the quality of opposing pitchers or batters faced during spring training games on a scale from 1-10 with 10 being MLB talent and 1-3 being high A to low A level.  This tool is great, but it averages all the Plate Appearances or batters faced.  You would still need a deeper dive to see if your stud prospect smacked a donger off of Chris Sale or off of your kid’s future pony league baseball coach.  So what should we watch for in March when we’re starved for the crack of the bat?  Ignore “best shape of their life” stories and Spring Training statistical leaderboards.  Pay attention to injuries and lineup construction and position battles!  Also pay attention to where Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sign… Note that those two signings can instantly eliminate some of the position battles detailed herein.

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After going over the top 20 shortstops for 2019 fantasy baseball, I needed a cigarette.  A good after-sex cigarette, not a waiting-to-go-into-court-to-hear-if-you-have-to-spend-18-months-in-jail cigarette.  Subtle, but important differences.  We also hit up the top 20 catchers for 2019 fantasy baseball, the top 20 1st basemen for 2019 fantasy baseball and the top 20 2nd basemen for 2019 fantasy baseball.  In no way was that clickbait.  Okay, onto the hot corner.  Here’s Steamer’s 2019 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2019 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers.  All projections listed are mine and I mention where I see tiers starting and stopping.  Good times, dyn-o-mite!  Anyway, here’s the top 20 3rd basemen for 2019 fantasy baseball:

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Have you heard?  The Mariners are rebuilding.  Cool, but haven’t they been rebuilding for the last fifteen years?  Also, is it the wisest decision to tell other teams you’re throwing in the towel in November?  Is that like when you’re a girl and you make a vision board that says you’re going to get a boyfriend and you do?  Or is it more like a guy who throws a PBR into a fountain and makes a wish to get laid?  A girl can find a boyfriend if she’s available.  A guy needs more than optimism, otherwise he’s going home with his hand.  Guess what I’m saying is the Mariners are a bunch of jerkoffs.  With that said, they traded James Paxton to the Yankees for Justus Sheffield and some other prospects.  I will get to the prospects on the other side of the ‘Anyway,’ for now it’s Paxton, who I do love, but how surprising is it that he’s 30 years old already?  Surprising, right?  Last year was the first time he threw more than 160 innings in a year.  Walter Johnson, you are not.  You’re not even Josh Johnson.  His numbers, as always, were spectacular — 11.7 K/9 (4th in majors), 2.4 BB/9, 3.02 xFIP (4th).  By the by, in his best career year for innings, he didn’t even qualify for those stats in the leaderboard.  I had to sort down to 160 IP.  Meh, 150 insanely good innings is better than 200 innings from an Orioles starter.  Speedball guys don’t age great, but his velocity was still 95 MPH on average last year, which has been his norm, and he had the third best cutter in the majors (8.2), and the top 5 don’t have anywhere near his fastball.  Corey Kluber, for unstints, had 16 wins above average on his cutter, and had a -7 fastball.  Paxton had a 11.6 on his fastball.  We’re talking elite stuff, obviously.  The move to Yankee Stadium and AL East will deflate him a bit, but he can pitch anywhere.  For 2019, I’ll give James Paxton the projections of 14-7/3.64/1.12/206 in 179 IP.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this offseason for 2019 fantasy baseball:

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Off the album, Get Hits or Buy Ryon, 50 Cent sung about Many Men at a corner spot, rapping, “Many men, wish Joe Mauer on me, have mercy on me, many men.”  Then on his other chart-topping song off that album, In Da Club, he rapped, “You can find at my corner slot, some schlubs.  Look, mami, at my corner infidel slot I got X, if you’re into scrubs.  I’m into havin’ specs, I ain’t into a corner man who’s known for his glove, so come give me a hug, if in my corner slot I got Cory Spangenberg’s mug.”  He followed those up with 21 Questions, when he sang, “Would you leave me if your father found out my corner man was scrubbin’?  Do you believe me when I tell you, I thought Josh Donaldson would be more than nothin’?”  Then, after all those, 50 Cent managed one last smash hit with P.I.M.P., where he rapped, “I don’t know what you heard about me, but a Mitch can’t get a FAAB dollar out of me.  No Kingery, no Sano, you can’t see, that my corner man is P.I.M.P.,” where P.I.M.P stood for Please, I’M Playing (Ronald Guzman).  So, Ryon Healy has been one of the hottest corner man over the last week, but beyond that, on our Fantasy Baseball Player Rater, he’s the 17th best 3B this year, in front of Kyle Seager, Longoria, Devers and Carpenter, who are all owned in more leagues than him.  Healy’s also on pace for 28-31 homers with a decent-enough average.  There’s no reason why he’s on waivers in any leagues.  Take 50 Cent’s word for it, Get Hits or Buy Ryon!  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell for this week in fantasy baseball:

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Since we’re slowly but surely inching forward to the halfway point of the baseball season, I’m going to toss out a friendly reminder to pay attention to your categories. In standard format leagues, you probably know by now where you can gain points and where you just need to maintain your numbers. In one of my shallower leagues, I was looking at 2-start pitchers heading into the week in a standard attempt to pad my stats, and realized I hadn’t closely checked the standings in a while. Lo and behold, I have a rather comfy lead in both wins and strikeouts in that league (but could use a little help in ERA and WHIP), so at this point it makes no sense for me to go for quantity over quality. I’m leaving Jake Odorizzi and his 2 starts on my bench this week so that I could get Hector Rondon in my lineup, since I do need saves and I don’t trust Odorizzi to do enough in the ERA/WHIP department this week where I’m comfortable he’ll help me rather than hurt me in those categories.

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All it took was a few homers in a week for us all to realize that Joc Pederson (FAAB: 8-10%) is pretty, pretty, PRETTY good this year.  Now on his third year of plate discipline improvements, the Los Angeles outfielder has cut the K% under 20% for the first time in his career. Not only is it below 20%, but it falls to a ridiculously low 14.5% to go along with higher contact%, lower SwStr%, and overall better pitch recognition. He is making more contact than ever on breaking and off-speed offerings. The specific contact Pederson is making this year shows more fly balls with a career-high FB% and Under%. (Baseball Savant) It is inspiring to see this 26-year-old finally make the jump, stop swinging and missing, and improve as a baseball player. Joc Pederson carries excellent power (Career ISO: .218) and a plus-approach (Career OBP: .345) that is improving in 2018 with a .255 ISO and .347 OBP, but the real marker of elevated batters-eye exists in the 14.5% K%. Below is an image of exactly how Joc battled to advance his pitch recognition into the realm of his power. It took a little while to get going, but these changes stem from last season which seemed like a down year for Pederson. At the end of 2017, he had his first ISO below-.200, first OBP below-.345, and his worst AVG. However, he also had his best K%, SwStr%, and Chase%. Joc Pederson continues to develop all of these statistics in his game which is why I’m buying this year, and I’m not afraid to pay up. Hopefully, he can find space in a healthy Dodgers lineup that includes a red-hot Max Muncy (also one of my favorite pickups for the past few weeks.)

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Can Carlos Rodon wait until the White Sox are done with their different-colored Sox counterparts before being reinstated from the DL?  I’m asking for us, because you’re not going to find a more caring fantasy baseball ‘pert.  I’m like your My Pillow, and I hug you like the My Pillow guy hugs his pillow.  In all his mustachioed glory and common man charms.  I nourish you like avocado toast and a warm glass of PBR.  You see that hammock in your backyard that those two squirrels are fornicating on?  Shoo them off the hammock, because that hammock is me on a cold, winter night when your wife kicks you out of the house when she catches you checking out a waitress.  Let’s snuggle.  Metaphorically!  What are you doing, you freak?!  Any hoo!  Rodon is due back, and not only is he a Buy, he’s also a hold in the video above because I don’t know how he’s going to look his first time back, i.e., he’s an own in all leagues.  He’s a 9.5+ K/9, high-3 xFIP guy.  If everything breaks right, he’s better than Lance McCullers.  Things break wrong?  Well, then you can drop him.  Grab him now, like I metaphorically grab you in your mind’s eye.  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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True Story Alert!  Justin Bieber used to live about two blocks away from Cougs and I.  Honestly, he might still live there, but I doubt it because I no longer go to the supermarket (block between us) and hear this, “BIEBER, I LOVE YOU.  HERE IS MY VIRGINITY.  LITERALLY TAKE IT FROM ME.  PLEASE!!!”  Also, I no longer have to jostle between TMZ cameramen for my kombucha.  Here’s a story about how he wanted to put a skatepark into his condo.  Dude, LA’s special.  Any hoo!  Yesterday, I was screaming like a 15-year-old girl for Shane Bieber to remove my sexual flower for the first few innings, then he ran into some trouble in the 5th, when it became apparent major league hitters (even the bottom of the Twins’ order; Ryan LaMarre, really?) are not quite who he was blowing away in the minors this year (1.05 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 0.5 BB/9).  He worked consistently down in the strike zone with a 93 MPH fastball, and broke off, uh, breaking stuff off down and outside.  There wasn’t a ton of hard contact until the 6th inning, which was a quick turnaround on a 5th inning, which saw him clearly winded — final line, 5 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 9 baserunners (1 BB), 6 Ks.  I’m interested in him in deeper mixed leagues, but he looks like he will have the usual rookie pitcher lumps.  For what it’s Werth, he’s the 9th best starter on the Prospect-o-Nator, which lists all rookie pitcher projections.  Plus, no reports of this Bieber wanting a skatepark.  That’s good.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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“Hello, I’m here to visit The Sciosciapath.”  “We need to see your ID, and, if you’re carrying any sharp items, you have to leave them here.”  I empty my pockets and show the guard my ID.  The Mental Institution of Major League Managers is a relic from the 50’s, a product of discarded patients suffering moral treatment.  There’s Ron Washington chewing on a piece of chalk.  At least, I think it’s chalk.  Over there, Terry Collins is pretending a yo-yo is his arm.  Finally, I see The Sciosciapath, bifocals low on the bridge of his nose, carrying a clipboard.  He is a patient, but thinks he’s the megalomaniacal head physician.  He muahaha’s as he sees me, and screams at a discarded piece of meatloaf, “I told you to run, Darin Erstad!”  Any hoo!  C.J. Cron has finally emerged from the shadow of failed psychiatry in Anaheim and is putting up a season we thought always possible.  This is so unsurprising.  He was obviously a 27-homer hitter for the last few years as The Sciosciapath played everyone else.  If Cron is available in your league, grab him and stop screaming at your meatloaf.  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?