As I prepared for my first auction of the year, I reread multiple articles on choosing the right strategy to build a strong roto team. After reading and researching for a few days, I chose to implement a 70%/30% hitter/pitcher split and focus on building a balanced lineup consisting of mostly $10-20 players. In doing so, I wanted to avoid the $1 end-game speculations. You can find the results of the auction here.
Choosing a splitMost auction league owners will choose a hitter/pitcher split between 66%/34% and 70%/30%. Aggressive owners that want more offense stability could even move to a range between 72%/28%-75%/25%. Bidding more on offensive players can help spread the risk around to hitters that are more likely to stay healthy.
Building a BudgetAfter selecting a 70%/30% split, I decided to spread the risk on more players instead of buying a few elite players (Stars and Scrubs). I chose to hammer out the details of a specific budget while other owners choose tiers in $5 increments.
Here was my initial plan:
As I watched elite players leave the board, I noted the extreme inflation. Yes, I bid on Kris Bryant, Clayton Kershaw, and others, but I exited the bidding when the price reached above $29. Clayton Kershaw went for $42, and Nolan Arenado went for $41. Both should provide great value in 2017, but they did not fit my budget. As the first hour drew to a close, I almost made my first purchase. Starling Marte went to Baseball Prospectus for $27, which is great value if he can hit 15 HR and steal 35 bases. Each league is different so you know which owners will historically spend more on pitching, hitting, or specific players.
Following a Budget
My first purchase (Yoenis Cespedes /$26) ended up being my most expensive player. I tried to secure a more affordable pitcher, but Carlos Martinez ($20) and Jacob deGrom ($17) did not make it onto the roster. After I paid $23 for Matt Carpenter, I knew that I may have to buy some $1 players on offense if I didn't save money somewhere else.
Luckily, Brandon Belt ($19) went for his predicted value, and I took a chance on Javier Baez ($18) stealing more bases in 2017. The offensive budget continued to fall in line when I went cheap at CI with Wilmer Flores ($7), which allowed more money to purchase power with Jake Lamb ($19) and Marcell Ozuna ($18). As I bought each player, I continued to adjust each budget slot, which allowed me to target certain players in those ranges.
As the auction moved into the second hour, I finally purchased a starting pitcher, Kenta Maeda, for $17. My second SP, Aaron Nola ($14) was $2 over my $12 slot, but I took a chance on his upside. Most of the reliable closers went for more than $20, and even Tony Watson's saves cost $17. I paid $5 more than my $9 slot to purchase Raisel Iglesias ($14) to try to secure some saves. After missing on Jared Eickhoff ($10), I won Julio Urias ($10).
As teams' spending dollars dwindled, players became cheaper. I grabbed Ender Inciarte's steals for $15, and Logan Forsythe in my MI slot for $16 could break even with his salary. Purchasing two catchers, Miguel Montero ($3) and Tucker Barnhart ($3), saved the budget after Tom Murphy ($12) and Yasmani Grandal ($15) went to other teams.
Teams should be willing to go an extra $2 for a player that they really want. As the prices for pitchers dropped, I realized that I should have purchased Carlos Martinez or Jacob deGrom to anchor my rotation with another #2 SP. Luke Weaver ($3) could see some innings in St. Louis after Alex Reyes' injury, and Robert Gsellman ($5) is competing for the fifth rotation spot in New York. Bartolo Colon ($4) could eat innings in Atlanta, and Alex Wood ($1) should provide 100-120 decent innings in LA.
Misses with Budget Slots
Even though auction owners can find cheap buys at the end of the draft, using budget slots could cause owners to miss some good buys. While Alex Dickerson ($3) provided good value, I missed out Manuel Margot's speed ($18) and Stephen's Piscotty's power ($19). Hoping that Albert Almora, Jr. ($3) and Chris Owings ($9) both have to find at-bats wouldn't have been a worry if I had taken a chance on Piscotty. Even though I would've had to buy a few more $1 players, an upgrade to Piscotty in the OF or deGrom at SP would have helped my roster.
While building the budget by slots wasn't a perfect plan, it definitely kept my team from overbidding on players. My final pitching total ($73) ended up just shy of 30% with better end-game value, and my offensive total ($182) fell close to my 70% goal.