I'd be curious to hear your comments on the bidding - bottom line for me, it's like nothing you would ever see in a "real" fantasy league. The big stars went for way too much e.g. A-Rod & Sizemore at $50+, Crawford, Hamilton, Longoria at $40+ etc. It resulted in solid, middle tier players going for ridiculously low prices e.g. Bartlett at $3, Rolen & Ellis at $2, (and) Byrd & Owens at $1. What gives?I agree with you that this isn't representative of a "real" Rotisserie league. Why this is the case isn't so clear cut or as simple as saying that the owners in this league aren't good owners.
Prior to LABR, Baseball Weekly presented the results of mock auctions for both the American League and National League...way back in 1993. There were no experts affiliated with the teams; each team was simply listed in order of the players purchased.
I had only been playing Rotisserie for five years at this point and - truth be told - 1992 was my first year in a seriously competitive league where I wasn't just cleaning everyone's clock. But it was obvious to me that this wasn't a serious league. This was a group of 12 people who were knowledgeable about baseball but not necessarily about Rotisserie League Baseball getting together and doing their best to muddle through an auction-style format.
The Sportsline leagues are like this to a degree. To be certain, there are owners like Greg Ambrosius, who has been in LABR since the beginning and is certainly comfortable with the auction format, or Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus, who most definitely knows what he's doing, or Tom Kephart of Baseball HQ, who was complimented (and rightfully so) in the comments section of this blog. There are others, too, who clearly know what they're doing, have experience in auction format leagues, and are proven Rotisserie players. (I am not here to praise or bury anyone's Rotisserie skills.)
However, there are clearly owners in this league who are baseball experts but not necessarily Rotisserie experts. The Sportsline expert leagues have been around for six years but this is the second year that it has been an auction and not a draft. Both this year and in 2008, the league has behaved like a Stage One league (a description of the "stages" of Rotisserie Baseball can be found here.) with a handful of Stage Two exceptions.
As a result, the best players get chased to prices that exceed their worth a good deal. The room has to run out of money and does, and the result is an elongated crapshoot where players like Mark Ellis, Ben Francisco, and Jason Bartlett fall in at prices well below what they "should" be paid at auction.
One intriguing element of all of this is that this isn't a true Stage One auction insofar as Stage One owners were dummies (meaning that we all were dummies when we started playing this game) and this is not a room full of dummies. These people all know baseball, and are not paying ludicrious prices for Ryan Braun, Grady Sizemore, Alex Rodriguez, and David Wright because they don't know who Mark Ellis is. Forget Mark Ellis; most of them probably know more about Cliff Pennington than I do.
A lot of these players are spending this kind of money because they're new to Roto, and haven't spent years making the mistakes that we've made, learning by trial and error, running numbers through a spreadsheet over and over and over again until they look right, or walking into a bookstore and discovering a book by Alex Patton that changes the way you see the game.
That last point is more vital than you might think.
The journey from Stage One to Stage Two to Stage Three is invisible now. We old hands still follow the trail and look for the breadcrumbs that might lead us to Stage Four, but newer owners don't have to bother, since most of the content now available is on the Internet, free, and ubiquitous.
It's also mostly aimed at mixed league players and is not format-specific.
The Internet is one of the greatest inventions when it comes to Rotisserie - and so many words have been spilled on this topic that I'm not going to waste any more of them. But a lesser discussed phenomenon is that the Internet is also one of the worst inventions when it comes to Rotisserie, at least as far as building upon knowledge and prior experience is concerned.
The seminal work that Alex used to do through his books - and that I attempt to do half as well through this blog - has disappeared from the Internet, unless it's behind a pay wall. Sabermetric study and research has taken off, been built upon and expanded over time, but this kind of work has been lost when it comes to Rotisserie.
All that matters is what we see in front of us today: the next draft, the next big trade, the title and money we can win this year. This is certainly important - and I'd say there's nothing that's more important - but focusing on this alone diffuses from the learning curve that used to exist when it comes to this game.
The result is that I don't know if we're going to see the evolution in the Sportsline expert leagues that you would have seen 10-15 years ago in a Stage One league. In fact, this might be the beginning of a new trend in newer Rotisserie leagues. Don't be surprised; CBS Sportsline has more of an audience than Alex Patton does, and owners who play Roto are more likely to get their advice from there than they are from Alex. Or from here.