I joined a new high-stakes 5×5 AL only auction league this year. Some of the prize money is put up by a poker education site, cardrunners.com, and some by the participants, who are a mix of fantasy experts, professional poker players, and financial pros. There are only 10 teams, but you can spend your money on all 28 of your rosterable players (you don’t have to, there is a draft when all teams are out of money). This changes the endgame some, as Rotowire’s Chris Liss notes in his post at Rotosynthesis (where he also posted the draft results).
Another wrinkle is that you can buy NL players. I spent some time trying to figure out what Adrian Gonzalez would be worth, and considered throwing him out early, but someone (I don’t remember who) beat me to it. My back of the envelope calculation was that a 50/50 chance for half a season of Gonzalez was worth a blank $8, though that calculation would change as the auction progressed. As teams recognize their strengths and weaknesses it might make sense to bid more for the high risk play. The gambit of coming out early could mean a bargain. In fact, I bumped a $3 bid to $4 and Daniel Dobish, Dave Gonos’ partner, muttering “I’m not letting him go to someone for free,” bid $7 and won him. Not a huge risk, but a nick in his budget he’ll feel if Gonzalez doesn’t come over.
There was a similar calculation in my most uncharacteristic moment in the auction. After adjusting my prices for the smaller league I was pleased in nearly every case but one (there was also a blip in the late early part of the auction where the price of outfielders who steal, namely Ichiro and Denard, went for scandalously low prices) that they were accurately describing the action. The difference came with the catchers, where huge draft inflation persisted all night. The action players, at least the guys who won the high-priced catchers through most of the auction, were the non-experts. They took Mauer to $40 and Victor Martinez to $35, and Napoli and Suzuki to $18. Even at the low end, guys I had listed for $2 were going for $5. Matt Wieters name was called fairly late, but there was still plenty of money around. His price surged past my $16 bid limit, but I had money to spend and when the bidding slowed at $20 I bid $21 and won the sophomore backstop. The move effectively changed my team from Nolan Reimhold and two scrub catchers to Wieters, Jose Guillen and a scrub who turned out to be Brayan Pena.
I don’t remember who had the penultimate bid on Wieters, but if it was one of the Cardrunners boys my brash reach means I wrecked the purity of a position-scarcity experiment, with the so-called experts buying cheap catchers and the so-called amateurs buying the pricey ones. All of them, as noted before, were inflated.
This morning I ran the projected stats of all the teams using the CHONE projections, mostly because I have Chone Figgins on my team. The key is to avoid testing your team using your own projections, since they naturally flavor the players you pick up. I don’t want to give up any competitive edge this exercise offers in its details, but I’m delighted to share for posterity the final standings, which surely won’t look anything like this next October.
Since these include active rosters and reserves, and NLers Gonzalez and Ricky Nolasco, and Chone’s projections are generous with the playing time, upping the value here of guys who may not even play, they should be taken with a grain of salt. But they’re a start while we wait for games that matter.