Imagine you are given a perfect list of auction values. Like you walk to the top of Mt. Sinai and instead of the Ten Commandments, God hands you a sheet of perfect dollar values for your upcoming auction. (Relative to burning bushes and other ways God has made his “presence known”, I’d say this would rank about middle of the pack in terms of directness). What would you do with these values?
Part 1: God’s Values
Interlude No. 1: The three questions pertaining to a set of auction values
- Would you ever bid a player above his listed value?
- Would you stop bidding on a player below his listed value? (Assuming roster constraints are not an issue)
- In the event of bidding behavior radically different than your values, do you deviate from them?
Why I chose these three questions amongst the multitude of possible ones I could have asked might not be clear now, but should become clearer by the end of the article.
So, let’s answer them for this divine set.
Q: Would you ever bid a player above his listed value?
A: Given perfect values, I think the answer is clearly a “No”. For lack of a better way to put it, unless you somehow f*#k up in the beginning of the auction, you shouldn’t have to overspend on players later.
Q: Would you stop bidding on a player below his listed value?
A: This is a tricky question, since there’s so much uncertainty during an auction that becomes certain only in hindsight. Winning a 40 dollar player for $39 might not seem as good as winning a 20 dollar player for $15… but remember you’re goal is to maximize total value in the auction ($40 vs $20 in this example), not surplus value ($1 vs $5). Surplus value is only good if it means getting more total value later, which is only possible if there are valuable players left to bid on.
While not a strict rule, my advice is to always bid a player up to his listed value as this will usually lead you to maximizing your total value at the end of an auction. While this is unprovable theoretically, I plan to create some simplified auction scenarios and run them thousands of times to see if this holds true in simulation.
So overall, no, don’t stop bidding on a player until the bidding goes over the listed value.
Q: In the event of bidding behavior radically different than your values, do you deviate from them?
To give an example of what I mean, say you have your top three hitters listed as worth $38, $35, and $34. Those three hitters are nominated first and they go for $46, $45, and $41. Do you adjust the rest of the hitters up, or do you stick to your guns? Just a reminder that since we still are using these hypothetical “perfect values”, the answer should be stick to your guns. No pun intended, you have to have faith that the overzealous spending of your league mates early will lead to greater bargains later.
However, practically speaking you probably don’t have perfect auction values. Even if you think everyone is crazy for spending 20 dollars on closers, maybe it’s you that misjudged the closers market and it is in your best interest to simply overspend on one than come away from the auction closerless. This will be expanded upon in a future article.
Part 2: What are these “Perfect Values” you speak of anyway?
My overall point here is going to be perfect values are hard to generate whether you get them from your own brain, the top of Mt. Sinai, or pay some undersexed fantasy expert $14.99 online for them. First off, as Rudy’s post from a couple weeks ago shows, converting projected stat lines into auction values isn’t an exact science. Furthermore, how to value players requires making league-specific assumptions, like the replacement level in your league, that are usually crude at best (unless you’re league is highly stable year-to-year).
What you bring to your auction are probably far from perfect values, but as I’ll discuss more in the future, you have to walk into the room like your dick is touching the floor and God himself handed you your dollar values. In a fast-paced auction with split-second decision making, there’s no way to walk away from the table without feeling like you made more than a few huge blunders (as my backgammon app would say) if you are constantly doubting you values and adjusting them on the fly.
Part 3: My Tout Wars Mixed Auction Recap
With that said, all of these thoughts on auctions were fueled by my participation in the Tout Wars Mixed League Auction this past weekend at City Crab in NYC. Since my interests these days are more on the technical side of the game as opposed to analyzing specific players, I come in at a slight disadvantage relative to my peers. With a little luck though, I believe this team can be competitive and even contend for the title with some old-fashioned, quality in-season management.
Here’s my team with the price I bought each player at in parenthesis. It’s a 15 team OBP league with $260 budgets and for a little context, Mike Trout went for the highest price at 48 dollars. I promise if he’s the consensus No. 1 player again next year, I’ll bid him up to at least $56. Full draft results can be found here.
C – Yan Gomes (15)
C – Mike Zunino (4)
1B – Victor Martinez (18)
2B – Jason Kipnis (22)
3B – Xander Bogaerts (14)
SS – Danny Santana (14)
MI – Arismendy Alcantara (4)
CI – Steve Pearce (3)
OF – Bryce Harper (33)
OF – Jorge Soler (15)
OF – Marcell Ozuna (14)
OF – Travis Snider (7)
OF – Juan Lagares (1)
Util – Billy Butler (2)
P – Alex Cobb (12)
P – Andrew Cashner (9)
P – Drew Smyly (8)
P – Jose Fernandez (6)
P – Nathan Eovaldi (4)
P – James Paxton (3)
P – Craig Kimbrel (22)
P – Cody Allen (16)
P – Fernando Rodney (12)
Res – J.A. Happ
Res – Tony Cingrani
Res – Brett Anderson
Res – Chase Anderson
Res – Kevin Kiermaier
Res – Rubby De La Rosa
Quick recap: My team’s fortunes will to a large extent depend on Harper finally staying healthy and delivering the monster season he’s capable of and will one of these years. Hopefully it’s this year. I was too timid on the high priced guys, which led to me spending more cheddar on some mid-tier guys like Kipnis, D. Santana, and Bogaerts than I would have otherwise just to not leave extra cash on the table. Woe is me.
My favorite buys are probably that four dollar Eovaldi and three dollar Paxton. I’ve never spent on pitching in this league and always had an above average staff, somehow. I’m set at closer (Rodney for 12 was partially just a money burning move later in the auction) so at least I won’t have to spend FAAB (free agent acquisition budget) money on closers and can use that to improve the rest of my roster in-season.
Stay tuned for some auction simulations or an update on the fantasy bot next time.