On Sunday, I participated in the FanGraphs Staff Two Ottoneu auction. One of my favorite things about Ottoneu and auction drafts in general is the ability to compare their results to the greater market. If you trust crowdsourcing as a fair representation of a player’s value, then the team that came away from the auction with the most surplus value relative to player average prices across all Ottoneu leagues is the best team entering the season. You can find those total surplus dollars listed for each team below, as well as best and worst values by the same criteria. To see Ottoneu market prices, click here.
For readers unfamiliar with Ottoneu points leagues, the format awards fantasy points based on linear weights such that a player’s fantasy production is similar to his real-world offensive value. One other relevant point is that the offseason allows teams to bid up the prices of select players on other teams based on an allocation system. That is why some breakout players like Michael Brantley and Jake Arrieta who were bid up are not considered values by this analysis.
Owner: Scott Spratt
Total Surplus: $101.6
Best Keeper: Hyun-Jin Ryu, $9 ($2.5 surplus)
Worst Keeper: Clayton Kershaw, $61 (-$8.0 surplus)
I traded my $6 Marcus Stroman for an overpriced Kershaw, which I will likely come to regret if Stroman becomes the top 20 starter everyone seems to believe he will this season. However, with my depth of starters—I kept Ryu, Julio Teheran, Sonny Gray, and Julio Teheran for less than Kershaw costs himself—I wanted to secure some top-end talent for my inherited last-place team.
Biggest Contract Quirk: Anthony Rendon, $25 (-$7.4 surplus)
Entering the offseason, Anthony Rendon was my team’s best keeper. As such, he was the clear target for every other team’s allocation dollars.
Best Drafted: Josh Hamilton, $7 ($12.6 surplus)
This surplus value is probably a mirage. Since the keeper deadline, Hamilton suffered his shoulder injury that could sideline him for a few months this season.
Worst Drafted: Neil Ramirez, $3 ($0.7 surplus)
There are quite a few quality undrafted relievers, such as Will Smith, Seth Maness, and A.J. Ramos, so it’s reasonable to wonder whether anything more than $1 is too much for a reliever unlikely to earn saves. I paid a bit more for Ramirez for his 10.9 strikeouts per nine.
Team: Edmonton Trappers
Owner: Ryan Campbell
Total Surplus: $94.4
Best Keeper: Matt Harvey, $13 ($3.9 surplus)
Because Harvey’s breakout 2013 season so outstripped expectations at the time, he was too cheap to cut following his Tommy John surgery. Now that he is near a return, he looks like a steal for Ryan at $13.
Worst Keeper: Anibal Sanchez, $21 (-$3.1 surplus)
Biggest Contract Quirk: Michael Brantley, $17 (-$5.5 surplus)
The reason Harvey is Ryan’s best value is because other teams deemed Michael Brantley the more important player to escalate.
Best Drafted: Eric Hosmer, $4 ($13.3 surplus)
Many of the mid-tier first basemen went dramatically underpriced, and Hosmer may be the most interesting of that set at just $4 since he is still young at 25 years old. If the power ever comes, he could become one of the best keepers in the league.
Worst Drafted: Alexei Ramirez, $11 (-$3.6 surplus)
I like Ramirez more than his average market price, but he landed on the high side of a wide range of values for similar shortstops that went as high as $16 for J.J. Hardy and as low as $3 for Andrelton Simmons and Brad Miller.
Team: Sultans of Swing
Owner: Jonah Pemstein
Total Surplus: $91.4
Best Keeper: Andrew McCutchen, $47 ($1.9 surplus)
As some of the elite keepers have escalated to over $60, McCutchen is pretty unassailable under $50.
Worst Keeper: Doug Fister, $17 (-2.8 surplus)
Fister’s strikeout rate slipped to 5.4 per nine in 2014. Even with his elite walk rates, Fister probably lacks the upside to merit a price in the mid-teens, but his downside is also too low to make this a disaster.
Biggest Contract Quirk: Jose Abreu, $36 (-$4.9 surplus)
Another victim of the offseason allocation process, Abreu was pushed up above his average price, but it will likely take another offseason before he reaches a price that captures his full value.
Best Drafted: Mat Latos, $3 ($20.8 surplus)
There were quite a few SP3s and SP4s that went in the low single-digits, and Latos seems especially underpriced now that he moves from the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark to the spacious Marlins Park.
Worst Drafted: Brett Cecil, $8 (-$3.6 surplus)
Cecil has become a strikeout machine since becoming a reliever full-time in 2013, but the closer role is up in the air in Toronto.
Team: Encarnacion Instant Breakfast
Owner: Brad Johnson
Total Surplus: $89.7
Best Keeper: Mike Trout, $55 ($6.6 surplus)
The product of my favorite trade of the offseason, Bradley received Trout and a $14 Jonathan Lucroy ($0.9 surplus) for a $4 Steve Souza, $5 Corey Seager, and $3 Jace Peterson, who are a net $0.2 surplus.
Worst Keeper: Jonathan Schoop, $7 (-$2.7 surplus)
Schoop is young and a middle infielder, but after a .209/.244/.354 rookie season, I’m not sure he’s worth owning at all in this format.
Biggest Contract Quirk: Corey Kluber, $21 (-$5.2 surplus)
It’s no surprise in the land of the Corey Kluber Society that Kluber has been owned since 2013. After his breakout 2014 season, other teams allocated $11 to increase his price to $21, which is still a clear bargain.
Best Drafted: David Wright, $18 ($7.8 surplus)
Wright has had only one healthy season in his last four, but even over 120 games at his 2014 level of production, he’ll be worth his $18 price.
Worst Drafted: Wilson Ramos, $7 (-$0.2 surplus)
Surprisingly in a league that is closer to a one-catcher league than two—the format allows you to play two catchers but caps you at 162 games played at the position—catcher became the most hotly contested position in the auction. As the proud owner of a $1 Francisco Cervelli as his lone catcher, I can’t really throw stones, but Ramos seems a bit pricey at $7.
Team: Bang the Woodrum
Owner: Brandon Warne
Total Surplus: $53.5
Best Keeper: Billy Hamilton, $7 ($2.0 surplus)
Hamilton isn’t a top 25 player in Ottoneu like he is in roto, but 60 steals still provide a lot of value. And I’d certainly rather him at $7 than my own $7 Josh Hamilton.
Worst Keeper: Bryce Harper, $43 (-$3.4 surplus)
Harper is a victim of his own meteoric expectations. He could disappoint again in 2015 and he may still earn some allocation dollars.
Biggest Contract Quirk: Gregory Polanco, $12 (-$4.8 surplus)
Polanco’s trade value is not what it was in the middle of the 2014 season when he was first promoted, but a 23-year-old with 20-30 potential is well worth the $12 on upside alone.
Best Drafted: Joe Mauer, $1 ($17.5 surplus)
Even in Ottoneu with its lax requirements for position eligibility, Mauer is a first baseman only. Still, at $1, he is almost assured of outproducing that price, even with single-digit home runs.
Worst Drafted: Yasmani Grandal, $10 (-$4.7 surplus)
Everyone’s sleeper Yasmani Grandal predictably sold at a price that eliminates his ability to return a profit if he meets that potential. Yadier Molina and Salvador Perez each sold for just one dollar more.
Team: Piazza’s Back Acne
Owner: Jeff Zimmerman
Total Surplus: $44.9
Best Keeper: Brian McCann, $10 ($3.4 surplus)
McCann hit 23 home runs in his first year in Yankee Stadium, which may fallen a bit short of expectations in a lefty-friendly home run park. Still, if he does nothing more than repeat that total in 2015, he will be well worth his $10 price.
Worst Keeper: Alex Gordon, $28 (-$5.0 surplus)
Alex Gordon is an exceptional player, but so much of his real-life value is tied to his defense. Even with the heavy demand for outfielders in the auction, I expect Gordon would have been cheaper than his keeper price to reacquire. In the draft, Carlos Gonzalez went for $27 and would have been a better buy.
Biggest Contract Quirk: Dee Gordon, $5 (-$0.1 surplus)
Dee Gordon was a $1 buy in a lot of leagues prior to the 2014 season, so even his $5 keeper price is a bit above his average price across all leagues.
Best Drafted: Justin Verlander, $11 ($14.3 surplus)
Justin Verlander was the first player nominated in auction, and he may be the most polarizing. In a format with FIP-based scoring, there is almost no chance he won’t make good on his $11 price, and he has a lot more upside.
Worst Drafted: David Ortiz, $19 (-$2.2 surplus)
I wouldn’t have a problem with a $19 Ortiz except for the low prices so many other quality first basemen went for in the auction. For example, Joe Mauer, Mike Napoli, Pedro Alvarez, Eric Hosmer, and Billy Butler all sold for $5 or less.
Team: Clown Meat
Owner: Cody Wiewandt
Total Surplus: $39.6
Best Keeper: Max Scherzer, $22 ($8.2 surplus)
Defending champion Cody has a lot of underpriced stars, including a $12 Jose Altuve ($6.9 surplus), a $12 Starlin Castro ($6.0 surplus), and a $21 Matt Kemp ($3.7 surplus). But the best of the bunch is probably his $22 Max Scherzer ($8.2 surplus), who could be even better now that he’s in the NL and in front of a better defense than in Detroit.
Worst Keeper: Drew Hutchison, $8 (-$3.4 surplus)
Drew Hutchison is an interesting sleeper in 2015 after a season with 9.0 strikeouts and 2.9 walks per nine, but his 4.48 ERA and 17 home runs allowed to left-handers likely suppresses his price in other leagues.
Biggest Contract Quirk: Carlos Gomez, $27 (-$7.7 surplus)
Gomez’s priced basically doubled in allocation after the 2013 season, but even though he is less valuable in Ottoneu than he is in roto leagues, he’s still way underpriced at $27.
Best Drafted: Dustin Pedroia, $16 ($12.9 surplus)
Pedroia was the player who drew the most regret from other owners for failing to buy him after the fact. He went for $10 less than Ben Zobrist.
Worst Drafted: Carlos Santana, $36 (-$5.3 surplus)
Carlos Santana is catcher-eligible and perfectly designed for Ottoneu scoring, but $36 is steep relative to the catchers a tier below him that went for less than half the price.
Team: David Wiers
Owner: David Wiers
Total Surplus: $31.5
Best Keeper: Leonys Martin, $3 ($3.2 surplus)
Martin does not quite excel in any particular category—his low-30s stolen base totals come closest—but he’s solid across the board.
Worst Keeper: Chris Davis, $27 (-$7.9 surplus)
Chris Davis is third base-eligible, which is a nice boon for his value, but at $9 more than David Wright went in auction, he likely could have been purchased at less than his keeper price.
Biggest Contract Quirk: Todd Frazier, $9 (-$0.5 surplus)
Todd Frazier’s fantasy excellence snuck up on me, but David has smartly kept him since picking him up for $1 back in 2012.
Best Drafted: Marco Estrada, $1 ($7.8 surplus)
Estrada is in the mix for the closer job in Toronto, and I’d much prefer to take a $1 shot on him than an $8 shot on Cecil.
Worst Drafted: Steve Cishek, $13 (-$4.9 surplus)
Cischek was the best obvious closer available in the auction, and his $13 price reflects that fact.
Team: Steve Slow
Owner: Steve Slowinski
Total Surplus: $18.6
Best Keeper: Hanley Ramirez, $26 ($8.1 surplus)
Ramirez may be a left fielder in Boston, but he is shortstop-eligible and therefore worth much more than his $26 price.
Worst Keeper: Derek Holland, $11 (-$4.2 surplus)
At his best, Holland was worth his $11 price, but off a microfracture surgery, Holland would have been a better bet to reacquire for cheap in the auction.
Biggest Contract Quirk: Lucas Duda, $11 (-$5.7 surplus)
And Eno isn’t even in this league, and Duda is in the double digits! Still, with his 30-home run breakout season, Duda is worth closer to three times this price.
Best Drafted: Yoenis Cespedes, $15 ($6.9 surplus)
For some reason, despite the general demand for outfielders, no one made much of a push for Yoenis Cespedes. As such, he sold for an excellent price of $15 to Steve.
Worst Drafted: Logan Morrison, $5 (-$2.9 surplus)
Logan Morrison is a worthwhile gamble at $5, but I’d rather have Napoli or Mauer, both of whom sold for less.
Team: The Razor Shines
Owner: Robert Baumann
Total Surplus: $18.2
Best Keeper: Justin Morneau, $3 ($2.6 surplus)
As it turns out, players like Morneau were available at similar prices in the auction. But that does not make him any less of a bargain at $3.
Worst Keeper: Troy Tulowitzki, $58 (-$11.2 surplus)
Tulowitzki may be less expensive than $58 in many leagues, but it’s hard to imagine going for less at auction if he wasn’t kept.
Biggest Contract Quirk: Jake Arrieta, $16 (-$7.5 surplus)
Jake Arrieta’s breakout 2014 season justifies his $16 price tag and then some, but he was an even greater value at $8 before his price doubled in allocation.
Best Drafted: Carlos Beltran, $1 ($12.1 surplus)
Beltran may be past his 30-homer prime, but even 15 home runs with an eight percent walk rate will make him a clear value at just $1.
Worst Drafted: Ian Kennedy, $13 (-$4.3 surplus)
Kennedy will be worth $13 if he can duplicate his strikeout jump to 9.3 per nine from 2014, but with Verlander selling for the same price and similar pitchers like Mike Minor and Jered Weaver selling for half as much, it seems he left some upside on the table.
Team: Avon Old Farms Winged Beavers
Owner: Chad Young
Total Surplus: $11.3
Best Keeper: Ian Desmond, $13 ($4.4 surplus)
Desmond looks like an even greater value following the purchases of J.J. Hardy, Alexei Ramirez, and Jean Segura for similar prices.
Worst Keeper: Giancarlo Stanton, $60 (-$11.7 surplus)
Another example of an elite keeper with a high but likely appropriate price.
Biggest Contract Quirk: Carlos Carrasco, $9 (-$3.3 surplus)
Carlos Carrasco may be the new Corey Kluber, and so it again is little surprise he carries a higher price in a FanGraphs league than on average.
Best Drafted: Brett Lawrie, $12 ($3.6 surplus)
Lawrie has teased fantasy owners since 2012 but has yet to exceed 125 games in a season. If he finally does so in Oakland in 2015, he’ll be well worth his $12 price, especially as a second base-eligible.
Worst Drafted: Josh Reddick, $8 (-$0.7 surplus)
If Reddick can continue to produce like his second half .299/.337/.533 triple slash from 2014, then $8 will become a serious bargain.
Team: The Huligans
Owner: Marc Hulet
Total Surplus: Incomplete
Best Keeper: Joc Pederson, $4 ($1.5 surplus)
Hulet does not yet have a full roster, and most of what he does have is, fittingly, prospects. Joc Pederson is the best of that bunch, with real 20/20 potential this season and at just $4.
Worst Keeper: Russell Martin, $17 (-$12.0 surplus)
Martin stands out on a prospect-laden roster, and at $17. Following the auction with inflated catcher prices, his does not seem quite as high as it did a few days ago. Still, he is not the offensive threat that Molina or Perez is, both of whom went for less.
Biggest Contract Quirk: Kris Bryant, $19 (-$8.3 surplus)
Bryant is the likely heir to Bryce Harper in that his price tag will continue to rapidly inflate no matter how quickly he meets his potential. He could be pushed to a $40 player in allocations before his 25th birthday.
Scott Spratt is a fantasy sports writer for FanGraphs and Pro Football Focus. He is a Sloan Sports Conference Research Paper Competition and FSWA award winner. Feel free to ask him questions on Twitter – @Scott_Spratt