Monday, April 02, 2012

Might I Interest You In Being Bored to Tears While I Discuss My Home League? (A.L. Edition)

In addition to the CBS Analysts League and Tout Wars, I play in a couple of long standing home leagues. I wasn't going to spend any time writing about them, since even in the fantasy community the consensus is that people who write about their home leagues are horrible rat-like creatures who should be hunted in public for sheer amusement. But I did have a handful of people ask me about it on Twitter so I'll do a brief recap today and tomorrow. Today I'll start with the A.L.

I won my A.L.-home league last year on the stretch of a strong pitching staff and playing keep away from most of the other contenders all season long. This offseason I was offered a cheap $15 David Price for some high draft picks and even though I still had most of my pitching from 2011 and few hitting freezes, I decided I couldn't pass up Price. Entering Saturday's auction my team looked like this:

1B Paul Konerko $25
SP Dan Haren $31
SP David Price $15
$119 to spend for 14 players

Some context on the pitching prices:

1) This is an old school 4x4 league. Top pitchers earn more in 4x4 than they do in 5x5. 

2) The inflation rate was crazy. League inflation was at 36% but the pitching inflation was a whopping 55%. And the league just about paid full freight for almost every pitcher. The two best pitchers on the board went for $49 (CC Sabathia) and $47 (Felix Hernandez).

My challenge was to try to spread $115 across 10 hitting slots in an auction with very high inflation. I didn't want to shy away from value but I also didn't want to pay in the high $40s for Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera and then have to fill nine offensive slots for $67. 

Below is the team I bought (I'll include the freezes again for the sake of context).

C Saltalamacchia $5
1B Konerko $25
3B Macier Izturis $2
CO Adam Dunn $19
MI Nick Punto $1
OF Brantley $11
OF de aza $10
OF Torii Hunter $16
OF Denard Span $13
OF B.J. Upton $28
DH Carlos Pena $15
SP Verlander $34
SP Haren $31
SP Price $15
SP Wilson $6
SP Derek Lowe $1
CL Farnsworth $4

My initial reaction to my auction was something between ambivalence and disdain. One obvious positive is that I did get value (by my lights) at every first base and outfield slot. If Upton comes back on or around April 15, that price could be an absolute steal (his average expert league price in one-and-done leagues was $30). Hunter and Pena could be profit makers at these prices, which is no mean feat in an inflation heavy auction. Dunn and Span both carry some risk but unless your freeze list is killer you have to take on some risk in keeper leagues to win.

The pitchers I got were fine. I like Duffy and Lowe as spec plays; with the rest of that rotation I can throw one or both overboard quickly. Cordero is a vanilla CIW guy and Soriano is a vanilla middle reliever. I walked in with the best staff in the league and walked out with the best staff in the league.

The infield and second catcher are where I run into BIG problems. Donaldson and Betancourt were both over my sheet prices, but the bigger challenge is that I'm running four guys out there who aren't starting. You need value, but you also need stats. No matter how much value the outfield provides, that's a lot of holes. The Baseball HQ projection that On Roto runs says this team will get 18 points on offense and I believe it.

Could I have done better?

The Alternate Universe version of my team would have seen me pushing a higher quality infielder $1 past my price and getting him. Below are the guys I let go at $1 or more under my price early that I had the last bid on ($1 under was my bid)

Miguel Cabrera $47

As you can see, not all bargains are created equally. The $20+ players here all would have allocated more money to my infield and meant that I would have missed out on one of the outfielders or one of the infielders. In an ideal world, I would have probably swapped out Dunn for A-Rod or Youkilis and then plugged a cheap player into my DH slot. The guys who went way under my price were:

Nolan Reimold $7 (+5)
Andy Dirks $1 (+5)
Brandon Allen $1 (+5)
Luke Scott $6 (+4)
Raul Ibanez $3 (+3)

None of these guys is exciting, but having Scott at $7, Youkilis at $26 and buying some more dollar players instead of the flotsam and jetsam like Izturis, Betancourt or any of the pitchers I got over $1 but didn't really need probably would have been better.

On the low end, I probably would have been better off with Figgins and Getz. I could have filled in with different $1 chaff and it wouldn't have made much of a difference. Then again, it's not like Figgins and Getz are guarantees to start all year either.

I did peek at last year's write-up and one thing I do see is that I bought a better team on the whole this year than I did last year...and I won with the team I bought in 2011. There are a number of reasons I think I have a tougher path to a title this year, but in terms of my team as a general proposition I do have plenty of pitching value to swap out in a league where there is a lot of trading. This wasn't one of my best auctions, but given what I had to work with I did better than I thought I did at first glance.

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