The FanGraphs Auction Calculator – Advanced Use

Last winter, FanGraphs rolled out an auction calculator. I wrote two articles on the subject of using and abusing the calculator. First, a tutorial, then my lifehack advice for using it. I’ve been getting numerous questions on Twitter and by email, so what follows is some advice for power users.

Generating Pitcher Values

Like any automated calculator, the tool has quirks and shortcomings. Building values for pitchers is one area where the intuitive nature of the calculator falls apart. You can get an accurate list of pitcher prices, it just takes some massaging of the data.

It asks for you to select the number of starting pitchers, relievers, and generic pitchers. Based on your input, it will then optimize prices subject to your league specific categories. If you input 2 SP, 2 RP, and 3 P, the tool will run projections based on an average of 700 innings per team. Before you pay $85 for that hyper-elite Clayton Kershaw, I’m willing to bet that you actually need something like 1,400 to 1,500 innings.

The trick is to simply list more starters and relievers under the “Pitching Positions” section. You will have found the appropriate balance when the sum total of innings projected for all positively valued pitchers is equal to the sum total of innings projected for your league. So a 12 team, 1,450 IP league should have 17,400 with positive or zero dollar valuations. That’s equal to about 7 SP and 3 RP.

Advanced Use

Based on your personal preferences, you can also tinker with starter and reliever values. I tend to prefer to draft a few high quality starters, a small horde of relievers, and then I’ll just stream the rest of my starts. So while my leaguemates probably aim to draft a full complement of innings, I might aim 250 innings below that cap. That increases the value of elite starters and relievers.

In the tool, simply list more relievers. In the above example, for a 1,450 inning cap league, I might enter 4 SP and 5 RP. Top starter values are buffed by about five to 10 percent. Top reliever values increase by about 40 percent. For example, Kenley Jansen goes from $18 to $25.

The new valuations assume about 14,000 innings will be thrown around the league. Using the tool like this can help you find which players to most aggressively target. In this case, go goo-goo for relievers. It’s still up to you to find the diamonds in the rough.

Non-Auction Calculations

If you’re the sorta of lady or fella who likes to rely solely upon Steamer and/or ZiPS, then the auction calculator still has two nice uses in Snake and Circular style drafts. In short, use the tool to create rankings and tiers.

Here’s a sample page of outfielders.¬†We have the Mike Trout tier, the Bryce Harper tier, the Betts-Stanton-Bryant-McCutchen tier, an 11 player $20-$26 tier, some $18 guys, and a cliff. The calculator is doing two helpful things for you here. You’re getting automated rankings, and you’re getting free advice for avoiding the pitfalls.

This is especially helpful for players in unusual leagues. For the generic 5×5 league, there’s a good chance you prefer X, Y, and Z analysis over the sanitized projections of Steamer. In a custom league, there’s a good chance you don’t have many fantasy experts offering fully relevant advice. You have to adapt what you read. In such a scenario, Steamer generated rankings and tiers can be very useful.

To the Comments

Let’s use the comments for additional questions about the calculator. Remember, when you generate values, the hyperlink becomes your copy of the results. Feel free to share it with me if you see something wacky or unusual.

You can follow me on twitter @BaseballATeam

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I continue to receive an ‘unexpected error’ when trying to run the auction calculator. Any idea what could be causing this? I am trying to run a hitters-only, points-league projection