Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tracking Your Value

Gypsy Soul asks:
I am just curious if you know how many dollars of profits you try to come out of the auction with in general, of course greatly affected by your keepers. Do you keep an ongoing total during the draft of your profits?
I addressed this question last March:
My ideal freeze auction would see me turning a $2 inflation profit per player. Continuing to use the 20% inflation rate as an example, if I had $150 to spend on 10 players and simply bid inflation par, I'd buy only $125 worth of stats. If I had $40 of profit on my 13 freezes, this would only put me on pace to buy a $275 team if I bid inflation par, which might leave me in the top third of my league but wouldn't put me in the winner's circle.

Last year, I bought 17 players at $18 under their inflated values so I didn't reach my goal. But I did turn a perceived profit on my auction players, which kept me moving against the current of inflation (and pushed other teams into the rapids, since the $18 I "saved" was redistributed to the other 11 teams).
In 2008, I did a little better, buying 17 players at $24 under their inflated values. So, once again, I didn't reach my goal. Unlike 2007, though, I was trying to do what I've previously advised against: spending next to nothing on pitching and "dumping" ERA/WHIP. To accomplish this, I had to go past my inflation price on a few hitters. In this context, buying players at auction at $24 under par was more than I could have hoped for.

I do track how I'm doing during my auction. But a more useful tool I use is the "plus/minus." You can follow the link to read a detailed description. To summarize, I maintain a list of every player bought, what his anticipated inflation price "should" have been, and what his actual price is.

For example, if Miguel Cabrera is the first player called out, my inflation price for him is $41 and he goes for $42, I put a minus one on my sheet. If C.C. Sabathia is next, my price for him is $38 and he goes for $44, I add that to Cabrera's minus one for a total of minus seven.

In most keeper league auctions, the first few rounds will have mostly minuses. Eventually, of course, the room has to start getting bargains and head back to zero. The plus/minus is useful because I can see when the room is beginning to flatten out and stop overpaying. This is typically when I like to pounce. It maximizes my opportunity to get bargains by knowing when the room has reached a saturation point on overspending and where the bargains must eventually fall.


Eugene Freedman said...

Eventually, of course, the room has to start getting bargains and head back to zero. The plus/minus is useful because I can see when the room is beginning to flatten out and stop overpaying.

I know you've said it before, but it deserves restating sometimes it's an irregular distribution of +/- and you have to buy value when it happens regardless of the phase of the draft or whether there's switch in the room as a whole.

Another factor that I've found is that most teams announce players that they don't want early b/c they know that prices will be in the minus territory. But, in some Stage 3 leagues you can announce second and third tier players that you DO want, who are complimentary to your keeper roster, and add to your plus or at least break even on those guys, because nobody wants to commit to third tier players early. It can be especially useful if you don't want to get into a bidding war for the top middle infielders or catchers, but the guys in the $10 range are going to post a solid season, while at the end of the draft you will get garbage at those positions. Others waiting for the big guys just won't bid on a useful but unsexy guy early.

In Stage 1 leagues, though playing the Stage 2 waiting game works. In a Stage 2 league, buy early. In Stage 3, keep on your toes.

Frank said...

Great point, Eugene. Most bidders do a better job of bidding properly on mid- and lower-level players if they already know what they need to budget for the stars. They also use star salaries as a point of reference for pricing lower tier players. You might be able to land a few mispriced players if you can get them before all the big money players are off the board.

As time goes by, I find myself rejecting the popular strategy of throwing out the names of high priced players that I don't really want early in order to get money off the table. I'd much rather use those precious opportunities to nominate players that I actually want while there is still depth at those positions. That way, if I don't get my guy, I have still have options remaining.