A Classic Example of My Favorite Ottoneu Strategy

Last night, the Screw Cancer ottoneu league held their auction draft. Twelve owners (and a co-owner) came together to submit competing bids for around 200 players. Well, mostly. I entered the draft with $31 and 18 open roster spots. I vowed to draft only $1 players, reserving a $3-bid or two for the troublesome position of catcher. The result, I’m proud to say, is a pretty shiny roster.

In chats on FanGraphs and Discord throughout the early winter months, I advised countless ottoneu players to trade for expensive, elite players. “Don’t worry about running out of money,” I said. “Draft a bunch of $1 players,” I said. Yesterday’s draft is a perfect example of how to execute this approach.

The league is Screw Cancer. My team is Haliax Chandrian Explosion.

The Preexisting Roster

I entered the draft with very few needs. A couple catchers, a few depth starters, and three relievers. I like to cop my relievers as they break out so I’ll build depth at that position throughout March and April. Here’s what I started with:

Haliax Chandrian Explosion Position Players
Position Player Cost
C n/a n/a
1B Joey Votto $48
2B Jose Altuve $41
SS Francisco Lindor $35
3B Vladimir Guerrero $15
MI Manny Machado $49
OF Joey Gallo $15
OF Chris Taylor $9
OF Ramon Laureano $8
OF Ronald Acuna $19
OF Brian Anderson $3
UTIL Tyler White $10

Like I said, I need catchers. A little depth wouldn’t hurt to cover for off days, Lindor, and Vladito.

Haliax Chandrian Explosion Pitchers
Position Player Cost
SP Max Scherzer $51
SP Gerrit Cole $23
SP Anibal Sanchez $3
SP Marco Gonzales $3
SP Brad Keller $4
SP Trevor Williams $3
SP Mike Soroka $6
SP/RP Ross Stripling $6
RP Roberto Osuna $14

Again, I needed some relievers. A few starters for depth and upside would be swell.

I also spent $2 apiece on Carter Kieboom and Keibert Ruiz. It’s good to keep a couple cheap, well-regarded prospects for trade currency. You never know if any will be available in the draft (spoiler, they were).

The Draft Picks

First, a word of warning. Unless you manage to keep a $3 Francisco Cervelli or similar, you’re always going to suffer at catcher. It’s a luxury position. To fit a $20 catcher into your initial $400 budget is usually inefficient. Better to roster $1 players you can later trade for a good catcher and a loan.

You know what I wanted. Here’s what I got.

Haliax Chandrian Explosion Pitchers
Position Player Cost
C Russell Martin $1
C Austin Barnes $3
OF Jackie Bradley Jr. $1
1B Ryan Zimmerman $1
2B/OF Jason Kipnis $1
SP Michael Pineda $1
SP Carlos Rodon $1
SP Johnny Cueto $1
RP Nate Jones $1
RP Pat Neshek $1
RP Tommy Hunter $1
RP Reyes Moronta $1
Prospect Nick Madrigal $1
Prospect Jesus Sanchez $1
Prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes $1
Prospect Yordan Alvarez $1
Prospect Triston McKenzie $1

Spending $4 of my $31 on Martin and Barnes hurts. The hope is that one or both rebound. You can squint and see potentially 4.0 pts/g from this tandem. Or 1.8 pts/g. I’m probably going to need to fix this sooner rather than later.

Bradley, Zimmerman, and Kipnis allow me to take advantage of the multi-eligibilities offered by Taylor, Anderson, and White. Those six players will fill three spots when the roster is at full strength. While I await Lindor and Vladito, I’ll need five of them. I’ll aim to add a couple more position players over the course of the spring.

Zimmerman in particular was a steal. He plays most days and posted 5.06 pts/g during a terrible season. A second dead cat bounce is possible. Bradley’s also an undervalued accumulator in ottoneu FGpts. His daily average is below replacement level, but it’s better to get 4 pts/g 25 times (100 points) than fall short on the outfield games played cap by 25 (0 points).

Cueto is already on the 60-day injured* list which means I immediately get a 41st roster spot. Later in the season, he might have modest trade value as a rebound play. Or maybe I’ll just keep him for $3 and see what I get.

*my first reference to the new assignation for disabled players. 

Rodon and Pineda are both post-post hype arms with talent who have never delivered results. Honestly, when I nominated them, I thought somebody else would bid. The pitchers I actually wanted to spend $1 on are still available. Still, I’m happy enough with these gambles.

Replacement level for relievers is about 6.5 pts/g. Neshek and Hunter very consistently deliver those results and sometimes more. I usually also roster Pedro Strop and Steve Cishek, but they’ve had their values slightly boosted by the ottoneu robo-ranker. You might have a pay a few bucks for them. Just wait for these Phillies instead. Moronta flashed some swagger last season, and Jones has had the occasional moment of health and prosperity.

The prospect haul was generous. Combined with Kieboom and Ruiz, I now own seven top prospects for a total cost of $9. These will supply me with all the in-season reinforcements I could possibly desire. I just have to wait for a couple teams to decide they’re rebuilding. Any leftovers can fill the role of Kieboom and Ruiz in the next draft.

I have two open roster spots and $12 to spend.

You can follow me on twitter @BaseballATeam

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Your infield is an embarrassment of riches!


but the depth is pretty thin