As much fun as it is to take over an existing team and rebuild it, there’s no better fantasy baseball experience than a first-year ottoneu auction. Spending seven or so hours assembling a 40 man roster takes preparation, focus, and flexibility, but it’s also an exhilarating experience filled with triumph and surprises. I just wrapped up a two night first-year auction earlier this week (my first auction of the season!), and I wanted to review some of the average auction prices based on that league and two other first year leagues that have already drafted (ottoneu FGPts format).
1B Eric Hosmer– $12.0 average salary, 12th highest 1B
At the first base position there is no greater disconnect between early auction prices and my dollar values than Hosmer. He’s been drafted as a top 12 first baseman, but my values have him 15th at the position. That may not seem like a big gap, but my values have him worth just more than half the average salary he’s been given in the early going. I do like Hosmer, and he could easily be worth the cost if he performs like he did in ’13 and ’15, but it seems ottoneu owners are ignoring how mediocre he was last season.
2B Devon Travis– $5.0 average salary, 19th highest 2B
Travis is being drafted as an average MI option at best, but based on my values he sneaks into the top 12 2B and is a low end 2B starter or top MI option. I suspect part of the dissonance is due to a relatively poor Steamer projection, and general injury risk aversion. I won’t deny that Travis has had trouble staying on the field, but when he has played he’s been very good (.349 wOBA in 670 career PA), and ZiPS and the Pod projections are much more favorable.
3B Pedro Alvarez– $1.3 average salary, 19th highest 3B
I get it, Alvarez doesn’t even have a job at the moment, but he’s practically free right now, and based on the projection mix I use for my values he should be closer to the 12th best 3B assuming only 400 PA. The good news for potential owners is that Alvarez is left handed, so once he does find employment he should play often against RHP. If he’s going for just $1 or $2, I’m definitely voting for Pedro.
C Brian McCann– $6.5 average salary, 9th highest C
This one puzzles me a bit. The average salary really isn’t that high, but I count at least a half dozen catchers I prefer that are going for lower salaries (including Stephen Vogt, Russell Martin, and Yadier Molina). McCann is going for just $2 less than new teammate Evan Gattis, yet I think Gattis is worth $10 more.
OF Matt Holliday– $10.0 average salary, 39th highest OF
Many of the gaps between my values and these average salaries appear to be due to an age bias, and that certainly seems like the case with Holliday. The new Yankees slugger just turned 37 last month, but the projections systems (and my dollar values) are actually forecasting an improvement on ’16. He’s just outside the top 20 OF on my sheet, so I’m buying with confidence at $10-$11.
OF Nomar Mazara– $13.0 average salary, 32nd highest OF
Mazara is the yin to Holliday’s yang. I have little doubt that Mazara will enjoy a long career as a productive player given how well he performed in his age 21 season, but ottoneu owners are pricing him as if he is already a #3 OF, and that seems wildly optimistic. My values peg Mazara as just barely above replacement level (80th OF), and while there is an enormous amount of variance in any player this young, it sometimes seems like fantasy baseball owners focus only on the upside and ignore the downside. I would let someone else make this bet on Mazara’s short term future, and spend my $13 on a boring option (like Holliday).
SP Robbie Ray– $9.8 average salary, 48th highest SP
Much has been written about Ray this offseason, and whether his performance in ’17 will line up with his xFIP and projections or his recent results. I don’t fully buy into the Steamer projection (3.52 FIP, 10.12 K/9), but even incorporating the more tepid projections from ZiPS and Pod he’s still a top 24 starting pitcher on my values sheet. The FanGraphs points format greatly rewards strikeout pitchers, and Ray certainly qualifies (11.25 K/9 last season), but an elevated BABIP and HR/FB could be his undoing once again. He doesn’t have to be nearly as good as his projections to turn a profit for owners, given his current market price.
SP Aaron Sanchez– $17.3 average salary, 25th highest SP
Sanchez is young (24), generates a ton of ground balls (54.4% last year, 57.3% for his career), and is coming off a season where he threw 192 high quality innings. So why am I not a buyer? First, he has yet to have his stuff actualize into high K/9 (7.55 last year), and there are so many pitchers going at or near his average salary that I prefer that I can’t be bothered to actually count them. Oh, you want examples? Rich Hill has been going for $17.8 on average, Lance McCullers for $14.8, and Aaron Nola for $13). All three are pitchers I would much rather own than Sanchez, and I think all are clear bargains.
It’s very early in the ottoneu auction season, so I expect many of these average salaries to change as we get more information about player health/roles and the market stabilizes with more leagues finishing their drafts.
Justin is a life long Cubs fan who has been playing fantasy baseball for 20+ years, and an ottoneu addict since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @justinvibber.