Hi. My name is Mike Gianella, and I am a pricer.
If you ever get to have the pleasure that is sitting next to or across from my smiling mug during a Rotisserie League auction, there isn't much of a secret about what I am going to attempt to do. I am going to try to build the best team I possibly can using my valuation proposition as I understand it. At the risk of sounding like an immodest jerk, I am very good at playing Rotisserie League baseball using this approach.
One problem with being a pricer is that sometimes you walk out of an auction with a roster that looks something like this:
Roto Think Tank, 2012 N.L. Tout Wars Roster
C Brian McCann $21
C Yasmani Grandal $1
1B Aubrey Huff $10
2B Orlando Hudson $6
SS Rafael Furcal $10
3B Placido Polanco $12
CO Scott Rolen $12
MI Stephen Drew $9
OF Yonder Alonso $11
OF Jason Bay $13
OF Michael Bourn $29
OF David DeJesus $9
UT Carlos Quentin $9
SW Bryce Harper $4
P Antonio Bastardo $2
P Chad Billingsley $6
P Dillon Gee $3
P Roy Halladay $29
P Cole Hamels $23
P Edwin Jackson $6
P Carlos Marmol $15
P Jonathan Papelbon $19
P Henry Rodriguez $1
R J.A. Happ
R Brett Jackson
R Kerry Wood
R Travis Wood
(a link to the spreadsheet with all of the N.L. rosters can be found here)
There's certainly little to complain about with this pitching staff, but when you spend $104 on your staff you had damn better walk away with some quality arms. That's not the story here (though, yeah, I do dig the pitchers). The story here is the hitting.
On the surface, this offense looks terrible. It's too old and injury prone to stay on the field. There's some power here, but not enough to contend. Bourn's likely 50 SB floor is nice, but the rest of the team doesn't run all that much. Even if the pitching wins every category, it's unlikely that the offense will generate more than 20 points.
Looking at last year's numbers, it's hard to argue with any of those points:
4811 AB, 1245 H, 590 R, 119 HR, 577 RBI, 121 SB, .259 BA
In last year's Tout Wars, this would have been good for 7.5 SB points, 5 each in runs and BA, 4 in RBI and 2 in HR. That's 23.5 points. Even if the pitching puts up 60 points, that's 83.5 points. That might be good for 3rd or 4th, but it would never come close to winning.
Ah, but there are no numbers for a full season of Alonso. Let's assume for a moment that Harper stays down until September, puts up the same numbers as Alonso did in 2011 and Alonso puts up the limpest projection there is for him at Fangraphs. Then how does this team do?
Suddenly it jumps up from 23.5 to 31.5. Just the presence of a disappointing Alonso makes this offense mediocre.
But it's possible it could be even better than that.
5206 AB, 1452 H, 785 R, 141 HR, 648 RBI, 127 SB, .279 BA
Is this some kind of idle wishcasting projection on my part? Nope...it's what these hitters all did in 2010, absent Alonso, Grandal or Harper. The power is still light but using 2010's context, this team wins batting average and comes second in steals and seventh in runs. Now this is a 35-point team on offense.
Can I pull 35 points on offense with this team?
It's not out of the question. The team I bought yesterday is riddled with players who had down years and/or were injured. It also was worth $163 in 2011...or $7 more than what I paid for it at auction. The team I bought yesterday put up $206 worth of stats in 2010.
If I had to make an educated guess, I'd say that the 11 hitters I bought who played in the Majors in both 2010 and 2011 will put up numbers as a group somewhere between 2010 and 2011.
Can this strategy work?
Not only can it work but it did work...three years ago when I won the CBS A.L.-Only Analyst League by 10 points. If you want to look at stuff that happened in 2009, click on the link and read to your heart's content. But in retrospect I bought a similar team with far more shortcomings that year and won anyway. My corners were Rolen, Wilson Betemit and Russ Branyan at a combined $7. I spent $41 of my anemic hitting budget on two catchers. And while my rotation was strong, I only bought one closer that year and missed out on all of my closers-in-waiting.
Did I win in that league because this is some kind of magical, winning, silver bullet strategy that no one has ever thought of before? No. It's because in that auction - and in this one - I went where the value took me. While I didn't expect to buy a potentially killer pitching staff and a geriatric offense that looks like a M*A*S*H* unit, that's where the value led me. Win or lose, I can never feel bad about following my prices...even if I do wind up marveling how odd the roster may look compared to a more "conventional" team.