Thursday, March 12, 2009

Position Scarcity: Should You Pay More?

Cinderella Story wants to know if I'll pay more in my auction at a thin position:
...regarding these bid limits, are you more willing to go above them in the cases where you are in the last player highly valued at a scarce position, where the other top players went above your limits and after this guy there is a considerable drop off? Or would you rather try and buy more bargains at other positions and just keep gaining value? I don't like to handcuff myself to a group of players but sometimes during the auction it becomes clear that if you let a guy slip by over a few bucks you may be scrambling later to fill that position with limited options.
I briefly touched upon this topic last week, but that post was mostly concerned with the CBS Sportsline auction, which was not a keeper league auction. When you're dealing with freezes, the best time to make decisions about what you're willing to pay for a player is before the auction, not on the fly in the heat of battle.

If you haven't done so already, go through every one of your league's rosters and try to project who is going to be frozen on every team. The accuracy of this exercise will mostly depend on how well you know your league. If you're in an established league with a stable ownership core (like I am), then your guesses are going to be mostly right. If not, you might not know which way certain owners are going to zig or zag. The point, though, isn't to be 100% correct, but rather to do two important things:
  1. Figure out your league's inflation rate. If Alex Patton says Hanley Ramirez is worth $44 in an N.L.-only 4x4 league, this is only a baseline for his real worth in your auction. In a league with 10% inflation, his inflation par bid is $48. If your league's inflation rate is 30%, that same inflation par bid jumps to $57.
  2. Determine how deep your auction will be at each position. In terms of raw value, trading a $10 David DeJesus for a $10 Jose Lopez in an A.L.-only league might not make sense. However, if you believe there will be a glut of available OF and the best 2B available in your auction are Dustin Pedroia, Robinson Cano and Mark DeRosa, you might make that trade.
Once the freeze date has come and gone, I'll once again adjust my bid limits slightly based on how thin or deep the position is in the auction and how strong or weak my freeze list is.

If I have a strong freeze list, Pedroia is the only $20+ projected 2B available, and I have a gaping hole at 2B, I might add $2-3 to his pre-inflation salary and force the issue at the auction. I might do the same thing - to a lesser extent - for Cano and DeRosa.

I strongly prefer to make my adjustments before the auction even starts. If Pedroia and Cano sail past my bid limits, that's probably good news. I might wind up with a $2-3 Marco Scutaro, but there's a good chance that if teams are overpaying for middle infielders and catchers, there are going to be bargains somewhere else. I'm not going to get all of them, but I am going to get them.

Does this mean I'll never go past the number on my sheet? Of course not. But if I've prepared properly, it will be done from an advantageous position, and not from a weak one.

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