Yet, for the second year in a row, A.L. second sackers outperformed their counterparts at first base.
Top 10 A.L. Second Basemen 2008
First basemen reasserted themselves somewhat this year, so the tally between the top 10 players in 2008 narrowed ($23 to $21) from 2007's gap ($22 to $19). Despite this, the evidence is that you were better off spending your money on a good 2B than a good 1B.
In a sense, that's what the market did, even though the average 2B cost $15 while the average 1B cost $16. Those 10 1B earned $18 in 2007, so they got a $2 pay cut across the board. Meanwhile, the 10 best 2B earned $15 per player in 2007 and that's what they were paid in 2008.
As always, there were some pay cuts (Pedroia, Polanco) and some pay raises (Kendrick, Cano, Kinsler) but on the whole the market recognized the fact that this is a good position to spend your money. In a three-way bidding war with Patton and Sports Weekly, the market would buy part of Pedroia, Kinsler, Roberts, part of Polanco, and Casilla. Sports Weekly would get their share of Pedroia and more than their share of Cano and Kendrick. Alex gets Ramirez, Lopez and the other half of Polanco.
So my implicit criticism of Alex is unfounded, as he turns a profit on the players he goes out on a limb for. Meanwhile, Sports Weekly's limb breaks off the tree, as Cano and Kendrick are the only players on this list who lose money for their teams.
But these are the best players. What about the ones the market paid the most for?
Ten Most Expensive A.L. Second Basemen 2008
|2||Brian Roberts ||$33||$27||+6||$20||$23||$34|
In a head-to-head battle with the expert leagues, Alex wouldn't buy a single one of these players. What that means is that Alex is saying to bid conservatively on this group of 10 hitters.
But should you? At $19 per player in 2007, this group of hitters earned $1 more per player than the same group of A.L. 1B. Yet Alex recommends a $4 pay cut across the board (versus a $1 raise for the 1B).
It's not just Alex who is comparatively jobbing the 2B. The market gives the 1B a raise from 2007, while saying to hold the line on prices with the 2B. But the "Average" salary for Alex's ten bid limits jumps out. A $3 gap between his prices and Sports Weekly's, and a $4 gap with everyone else? In Stage Three, that's not just a gap, that's the Grand Canyon.
And it's not Alex's average price here is off base because he's stiffing one player and skewing the average. Look carefully at his bid limits and at the average salaries again. With the exception of Kendrick, Alex agrees on how these hitters should be ranked. He just doesn't want to pay for them.
As Alex told us for years in his books, he's a bean counter. If he's not paying for these guys, he'll be paying for someone else. And I agree with that sentiment. The question is: are you willing to pay $1 for a scrub 2B and spend your money elsewhere?
Because that's probably what would happen in this kind of scenario. We've all been there before, particularly up the middle and behind the plate. We walk into our auction with prices on a sheet, and those prices quickly are rendered worthless by events. We have to decide quickly: do we abandon our prices and chase, or do we spend our cash elsewhere?
I think the answer is that you want to head this contingency off at the pass before you sit down for your auction. If your league's prices on middle infielders are generally closer to the expert leagues' prices, move your bids up a little bit from what Alex's are. It's easier to recognize this reality while you're planning for your auction than it is to try and adjust on the fly.
The question I'll leave unanswered for now is "where is Alex investing if he's not interested in middle infielders?"