Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2009 CBS Sportsline NL Expert Auction

Thank you, Mike, for posting the link to the results. I'll decide later whether I want people to actually go look!

The Overview
I want to tackle the auction analysis differently this year. Rather than put together a meandering stream of consciousness post, I will break this post down into a series. Today's post is simple: preparation and strategy - what was the plan and where did it go right and wrong. After today, as a little teaser, I want to take a look at the first 14 players, the late third round, the sixth round and the end game. Another topic of conversation will be the Baseball Prospectus strategy; I've not seen it done in my 14 years of "serious" play, so we'll discuss the basis and the execution of said strategy. I'll also talk a bit about Eric Mack and a few other owners, as their auction strategies over the years have been consistent and effective.

Strategy and Preparation

If you are a consistent reader of the blog, you know that I harp on strategy and preparation as the cornerstones of any successful fantasy year. Why? Well, frankly, if you do not prepare well and you lack a cohesive strategy, you have auctions like mine on Tuesday.

CBS is always a challenge for me from a preparation standpoint. I usually get between 5-10 days advance notice; I am just beginning to get my act together for the upcoming fantasy year at that point. With a wife, three kids, a day job and a horrible addiction to MMPORGS, it takes me awhile to get my pricing down on paper. This year, due to some circumstances beyond my control, I did not get my pricing as tight as I might have liked; I don't think it hurt me, but it certainly didn't help.

From a strategy perspective, I essentially went through the same process I did last year. I determined that I wanted to spend $200 on a balanced hitting team, and spend $60 on pitching: one anchor, no closers, and scoop the cheap pitching at the end. I approach this a little differently than most (and we can debate the mathematical validity of this another time): I actually calculate my bid prices based on my perceived budget rather than creating the baseline price and adjusting from there. Now, I suppose somewhere in the back of my head, I know the baseline value of the players; I've been doing it long enough to have that "feel."

In a perfect world, my 200/60 translates to $2400/$720 league-wide. When I did my first run-through of pitchers, however, I came up with an $800 pitching budget. At that point, I said "close enough," and adjusted my hitting budget downward by $80 to $2320. So far so good.

When I did my initial hitting prices, I came up over $100 short. I chose not to change the sheet. Why is this important? While I knew in the back of my head that I had an extra dollar or two on each hitter (and perhaps more on the top tier players), my hitting numbers came closer to a true standard split. Looking at things in retrospect, I should have known BEFORE the auction that I would underspend on BOTH offense and pitching. Frankly, I think that is exactly what happened.

The Execution

Ultimately, I like most of the prices on my players. I auctioned a team on offense that is comprised of starters up and down the lineup card (Orlando Cabrera is the exception; that was a bid-button "oops" that could not be backed out, so I had to eat him, and it likely cost me a decent buy in the end game...always remember that mistakes happen and do not go on "tilt" if they do). Are there some players I wish I would rather have? Sure...I'd rather have Milledge in the end-game than Kotchman. We go through that in every auction; buyer's remorse (or sometimes failure to buyer's remorse). Ultimately, the problem is that I let a few players go at key times in the auction very close to my sheet price. Despite the knowledge that I had a couple dollars to spare above my sheet price, "knowing" and "seeing" are two different a result, I just did not buy enough stats to support a superior quality offense. I also did not account for speed well, and wound up with two lonely speed guys that will not garner me an extra point beyond the one I get for having none.

Pitching did not go the way I planned either. I committed to not buying a closer early, and that decision hurt me with the few closers that went in the low teens later; by then, I could not switch gears. Hamels at $36 dogged me from a flexibility standpoint during the remainder of the auction. I made a pricing mistake here as well; when you go with a $67 pitching strategy, you need to tick the top guys down so you don't get stuck. Cueto, in my mind, is a bargain at $7 given the strikeouts; same with Sanchez. The mid-tier pitchers went higher than I expected, and the third tier pitchers were no bargains either. As always, there were some values in the end, and I filled in pretty well with my $1 pitchers as I scrambled to fill my slots on offense with more stats.

The Wrap

I left the auction thinking I drafted a mid-60s point team. Mike went through the exercise of plotting rosters into the projections while I decompressed, and I do in fact have that team. Unfortunately, I am dead in steals...I could use to move Winn and Matsui for power or another pitcher. My average is lower than I anticipated, and my ERA and WHIP are in some trouble. There is a lot of roster management to be done in order to compete this year. I do not see a title defense in the cards.


Anonymous said...

Well, if this shows anything, it's that even the best plans sometime fall apart.

How far overvalued do you think the second-tier pitchers were? I was wondering if that would happen, just because there are so many Grade A starters in the NL.

I figure some people would pass on those elite guys, then realize those pitchers went for par value. Those owners would then freak out and start bidding up the second-tier pitchers. Do you think that's what happened?

Toz said...

There are really two parts to this analysis.

First, were the top tier pitchers at par? On my sheet (which is skewed some to a non-standard split), Hamels and Linceum were about at par, and Santana was a bit over par. I think these three are above and beyond the others.

Second, where did the second tier pitchers fall? Oswalt $26; Webb $38; Peavy $29; Haren $29.

How about the next group? Billingsley, Harden, Lowe, Cain, Wainwright, Volquez, and Gallardo all fell between $19-$24. Vazquez went for $20.

This group, in my opinion, is the significantly overpriced group. Pitchers fell in later for more "par" prices.

As a general thought, I think had I played my numbers straight on pitchers, I would have been better off.

Roll2 said...

In looking at players this time of year, how did you budget for the candidates at uncertain positions? For instance, the Marlins. We know Cantu will be at one of the corners. But who will be at the other? Sanchez or McPherson? Do you guess which one will grab the job, and bid accordingly, or keep bids low on both, in which instance the extra dollars flow to more establised players. It seems to me this leads to exhorbitantly high prices on the stars. We know it is good to err by a couple of dollars on the studs, but 10 or 15? In one sense bidding an extra 10 on player who turns out to be worth 2 isn't as bad as bidding 45 on a player who turns out to worth 35, because you aren't going to cut the high price player and free up the spot to attempt to makeup the shortfall through the free agent pool, like you will with the cheaper player.

Toz said...

Roll - thanks for the comment/question.

I am going to incorporate this discussion into a future post on the NL auction, but let me comment briefly.

Let's assume what you say is correct: Cantu is assured a starting job at either first or third. That leaves Gaby Sanchez and Dallas McPherson. When I price Gaby, I know he is going to fly by my price in a non-keeper league...great upside, but an unproven rookie. Even if he has the job, there are better bets. If Gaby fails, McPherson gets a job by default, so he does have "flier" value...he's somone I have to put a dollar or two on (at least to give him a maker for the reserve draft).

The dicier the position battle, the more I price tweak. In fact, you see it in the unsure closer battles all the time. It really works the same way on offense.

More to follow.