Variance in Keeper Strategies in ottoneu

With the cut deadline behind us, now is the time to start prepping for your auctions. One thing to do is identify your targets, but another is to suss out the competition. Who has cash to spend? How much? Who is building a new roster and who is filling just a couple holes?

I started by taking a broad look at my three leagues to see how much cash was kept and I was intrigued to see how different the three auctions are set to play out.

I play with three very different groups. The original ottoneu league has some serious fantasy players, but it is really just a crew founded by myself, two of my high school friends, and a bunch of our college friends. The FanGraphs Experts league is more or less what it sounds like – a league of fantasy pros, put together primarily by FanGraphs’ own Eno Sarris. The FanGraphs Staff League Two is also what it sounds like – a league made up of FanGraphs writers; some serious fantasy writers, other more casual fantasy players, but all intensely knowledgable about the sport.

So, with that background, here are the results:

In the original ottoneu league, there are 201 open spots and $1824 to spend, leaving us about $9 to spend per spot. In the Experts league, there are only 156 spots left and $1102 to spend; about $7 per spot. In the Staff league, there are more spots left than the other two (209) but the dollars left ($1634) fall in the middle, as do the dollars per spot ($8ish).

But dollars per spot are not the only factor. If every star player is kept, $7 per spot remaining could mean massive inflation for any available player, since there is not much talent left; $9 per spot could actually be a small number if the top players were all thrown back.

Well, in this case, the original league has not only the most money to spend but the best talent to bid on. The chart below shows the average 2014 points for the top five starting pitchers and hitters available in each league’s auction.

League Pitchers Hitters
Original 1131 924
Experts 928 901
Staff 1023 878

Now, this does not actually mean that the original league has the absolute most talent left (I haven’t done a full analysis, but it is certainly possible the talent falls off a cliff) but at least on the high end, there is way more selection. Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, and Miguel Cabrera are all out there. None of those three are available in the staff league and only Miggy is out there in the Experts league.

The other interesting tidbit here is the massive split between pitchers and hitters in the staff league – the good news for me is that I need pitching more than hitting, and there appears to be far better talent on the pitching side of things. This actually implies an interesting strategy – I have very little cash in that league ($59, lowest amount by $13), but if I can start nominating the few decent bats, I can probably create a bidding war for mediocre talent. And since I don’t need those bats, I might be able to cut into my opponents’s war chests before we dive into the pitchers.

It is also interesting to compare a couple things from the Experts league to the other two. One is that people were far more aggressive with their keeps. They kept 16% more players than the original league and 20% more than the staff league. In the Experts league, four teams have less than $60 to spend – my staff league team is the only one between the other two leagues combined that is under $60. The most any team in that league has to spend is $188 – there are seven teams at or above that level in the other two leagues.

What does all of this mean? Well, it means I have to be particularly judicious in my bidding in the staff league, as I am way under-funded compared to my competition. I need to be really smart. In the Experts league, on the other hand, even though I have only $7 more to spend, I am basically middle of the pack. In the original league, where I have $116 to spend, I have the third fewest dollars. Crazy.

Since I am in the bottom half in dollars in all three leagues, I need to be smart about who I target. I can’t go crazy after one player – I don’t have the funds to get into a bidding war and still fill my roster. But I also need to know my options for late-round, $1-$3 pickups, because I am going to need a bunch of them.

Any numbers jump out at you? And how do your leagues compare?

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Chad Young is a product manager at Amazon by day and a baseball writer (RotoGraphs, Let's Go Tribe), sports fan and digital enthusiast at all times. Follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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Kris
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Kris

In UZR Friendly FGPoints league we’ve got 161 spots to fill and $1,262 to spend going into our fifth season. I’m not going to be much of a participant in my auction though since I’ve got $24 to spend on 9 roster spots. I don’t have any big holes to fill in my starting lineup though, so I can grab a few $1-$3 guys for bench/platoon/prospect fodder. There are a couple big names available though, but not for me to grab: Zobrist, Kinsler, Pedroia, Utley, Holliday, A-Gon, Cespedes, Longoria, Reyes, Machado, Molina, and Strasburg, Darvish, Shields.