Tutorial: FanGraphs’ Auction Calculator

Auction drafts enable me. I love the freedom to pick who I please with total disregard to ADP. I can decide what a player is worth to me at that exact moment in the draft and act accordingly. Too much freedom can be a bad thing, which is why we need guidance in an auction. Specifically, everybody should be referencing some kind of value sheet.

Most publicly available values are optimized for a 12-team, $260, shallow roster league. It’s the most common format, yet so many of us play by different rules. You want a custom sheet optimized for your league. Enter our Auction Calculator.

The tool is incredible intuitive, but let’s walk through the details using my home league as an example. It’s a 12 team, 5×5 Roto league, and we have 27 player rosters with six bench. The rest are active positions. The budget is $310, and we use OPS instead of AVG.

Once you input those details along with your preferred batter/pitcher split (I chose 70/30), you can generate results. The data is fully exportable to your spreadsheet of choice. Here’s the output (click to see):



Players are broken down by category using a methodology similar to Last Player Picked. Plate appearances are projected by our depth chart specialists. In this case, Steamer provides the performance projections, although I can also choose the Fans. The dollar values by category are really helpful. If I know my team is short on power, I can prioritize players with high mHR values.

The position adjustment is also clearly delineated. For example, in this league, catchers receive a $25.7 bonus for their position. This is good to know in certain situations. For example, if I’m selecting utility hitter, I want to sort by the PTS column which excludes the position adjustment. You should still use total dollar value as the expected cost.

The tool offers the ability to sort by position, saving you tedious work in a spreadsheet. I recommend exporting the values by position so it’s easier to go straight to your needs on draft day.

Three features require additional explanation. You can enter keepers with their associated price. Depending on your league, this could be an important step. If Mike Trout can be kept for $10, then you’re going to see some inflation. Presumably, other very valuable players can also be kept at low costs.

The calculator creates two new columns when you enter keepers – Adjusted Value and Cost. The adjusted value will include any inflation. If you’re ambitious, you can keep a dynamic value list by entering player costs as they’re selected.

There is a check box marked “experimental.” This assigns additional value to part time, platoonable players. Without this setting, Brandon Moss is valued at $16.4. With the setting, he’s $19.3. This is good for daily moves leagues and owners who are especially diligent about starting somebody every day.

Last but not least, you can artificially reduce the value of relievers. In this league, I know the best relievers usually cost about $22. Aroldis Chapman has a $31.7 price tag per the calculator. If I bump that down 30 percent, I’m left with reliever values more in line with my expectations. I can then assign more dollars to Giancarlo Stanton and the like.

UPDATE: I’ve noticed some confusion about pitcher values, so here are a few tricks to generating more rational values. If your league uses generic pitching slots, you should still divvy them up as starter and reliever based on how you plan to deploy them. In other words, decide on your pitching strategy before defining the positions.

Along a similar vein, if your league has four SP slots and you plan to use seven, you should enter seven SP into the calculator and remove three bench players. Just be sure it’s the optimal strategy for your league. Some formats without an innings max/min skew heavily towards relievers.

Parting Thoughts

I chose to write about our Auction Calculator today because it’s the most complete free tool I’ve encountered. However, I would love to discuss the tools you use to prepare for your drafts. Let’s do so below.

Of course, feel free to ask questions about the calculator too. I’m not involved with the project, so I can’t promise I’ll have an answer.

We hoped you liked reading Tutorial: FanGraphs’ Auction Calculator by Brad Johnson!

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Strange that the FG calculator lists pitchers separately from hitters. You need to export both pages to Excel, then copy/paste and combine the lists. Otherwise, a fine free tool.