It has begun! May your leagues bring you much joy. What follows is one approach to auctions that should bring you future joy.
I participated in two auction drafts. In both, I decided to spend little on pitching. In The Fake Baseball’s Friends and Family League (TFBFFL), I spent almost the minimum on our (co-own the free team with Zach Sanders) rotation and bench. I spent $16.00 on 12 pitchers ($2 max), but the results were not horrible: Drew Hutchison, Homer Bailey, Carlos Martinez, Henderson Alvarez, Shelby Miller, John Lackey, Sean Doolittle, Carlos Rodon and Rafael Montero. I dropped Chad Qualls already for Zach McAllister. We have enough bats to upgrade.
In my next auction, I wanted two better pitchers, but I still gave myself a $40 cap. I wound up spending $45 on the following:
…Much better, and again, I have enough bats to upgrade. It is also a daily league allowing me to stream.
Onto the approach, and it is in the title: “I’m all about the bass” as Meghan Trainor puts it.
In the first auction, I didn’t incorporate a base/structure to my team, but wound up with a potent offense ($ value in parenthesis) that included Paul Goldschmidt (43), Todd Frazier(19), Jose Reyes(19), Mike Trout(60), Starling Marte(30), George Springer(24), J.D. Martinez (11) and Kris Bryant (19). I tried to get Goldy’s price up to $44 and a draft room lag made me bid $19 on Reyes when I thought I was bidding $14 or $15. I also thought someone would go $20 on Bryant.
For my next draft, I therefore associated a specific budget for my team’s pitching and offensive core or “bass.” I therefore knew what I could spend on big bats without over doing it and killing my late round options.
- I associated $40.00 to pitching, but I wound up spending $45.00, which I justified because I was able land two of my favorite arsenals: Carlos Carrasco and Jacob deGrom.
- I associated $35.00 to my “cheap base” (wound up sending $31.00). The base includes relatively-to-very inexpensive guys that I really wanted: Mike Zunino, Travis d’Arnaud, Jose Ramirez, Rougned Odor, C.J. Cron and Khris Davis. This group could total 100 HR and 45 SB. It provided a very inexpensive base of counting stats AND filled scarce positions.
- Therefore, I had $185.00 to spend on impact bats (wound up spending $184.00). I landed everyone I wanted except Mark Trumbo based on his price. Instead, I went with Pedro Alvarez for similar value. Here is the rest of the glorious group: Mookie Betts, Todd Frazier, Mike Trout, Starling Marte, George Springer, Jorge Soler and JD Martinez. Wilmer Flores and Justin Smoak are my two bench bats.
Contact% and ISO:
I’ve already mentioned my use of Jeff’s Hitter Analytics matrix that I manipulated. For Contact% and Isolated Slugging, I z-score each stat and sum the z-scores. Think of zContact+zISO like K-BB% for pitchers. Along with the arsenal scores and projections, I’ll have K-BB% noted for last second choices. Here, I’ll have a combined Contact and ISO z-score, which is how the below file is sorted.
Here is the embedded file with the guys I acquired highlighted in yellow and my other targets in orange. The z-scores for Contact% and ISO are in elevating shades of green:
- Naturally, Victor Martinez, Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki and Mike Trout lead the pack in combined contact and isolated slugging.
- Michael Cuddyer is perennially underrated.
- I value Todd Frazier and his HR/SB counting stats over Arenado’s contact rate, but there is a good chance the power-contact combo of Arenado makes him one of the three best fantasy third baseman while he is in Colorado.
- If I found myself with more SB and a better team BA, I would have drafted Brian Dozier over Mookie Betts. Betts was posted first and wound up going for a few dollars more. I have no regrets. His contact rate, on-base skills, speed and above-average power makes him a sure thing. He could go 95-15-65-30-285 with a lead-off number of plate appearances.
- Yonder Alonso, Josh Reddick, Dustin Ackley and Travis Snider were all contact-ISO combos I was targeting if I didn’t land potential counting stats in Khris Davis and Justin Smoak. Starling Marte, Justin Smoak, Pedro Alvarez, Mike Zunino and George Springer are my only below average zContact+zISO scores, but they also ensure 115+ HR and 50+ SB.
- Check out Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores. Last year, TDA had a top nine contact and ISO rate for catchers. He’ll be even better next year. I believe he’ll earn $13+ in a standard 5×5 league and could be in line for a surprising amount of RBI’s batting 6th behind Juan Lagares, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Lucas Duda and Michael Cuddyer. Same goes for Flores who is only 23, has impending power and an elite contact rate.
- Rougned Odor is a 15HR/15SB candidate — even 20/20 if he were to find his way toward the top of the lineup. Based on his contact, speed and ISO rates, he has a relatively high floor: 12/12 worse-case.
- C.J. Cron is a major sleeper as you can see in our Staff Picks. Eno also noted his (and Zunino’s) strikeout improvements. Cron’s ISO was over a standard deviation better than the mean. His contact rate was below average, but he’s showing off in the spring and had much better rates in the minors. If he can consume enough PA, he could provide Matt Adams value.
Those I drafted below the mean zCT+zISO score, provide sure thing counting stats: HR+SB in Marte and Springer; SB in Jose Ramirez; HR in Zunino and Alvarez — and at a scarce positions.
This was the first draft I completely delegated a budget to my base and pitching. The base was extremely helpful in providing value at scarce positions. It left me with a large budget that awarded me almost everyone I was in on.
Daniel Schwartz contributes for RotoGraphs when he's not selling industry leading thermal packaging. You can follow him on twitter @RotoBanter