Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Oh, I Blew It...Or Did I?

So much for being an industry expert…

Many times, both on this blog and also in other venues, I have preached the value of spending your money in the auction.  There are exceptions, of course, but as a general proposition, leaving money on the table is a sign of trouble.

If only I could follow my own advice.  My 5x5 (standard) National League Only home league saw 50% inflation this weekend.  I came in with about the 4th best freeze list in terms of value.  I left losing $16 of value by Mike Gianella’s calculation.  Why?  Well, ironically, I left $15 on the table.  $15, you ask?  Yes.  $15 left unspent, searching for a greasy diner, a box wine or a cheap lap dance.

A variety of factors went into this debacle, not least of which is user error in Excel.  When you attempt to reallocate money from pitchers to hitters, be sure you save the changes on your spreadsheet, or your prices will suddenly be about $289 off.

How bad was it?  Well, we can take a look (freezes in bold):

6 (+2)
13 (+4)
24 (+6)
11 (+3)
29 (+2)
G. Jones
15 (+8)
10 (+4)

4 (-2)
7 (-1)
1 (0)
6 (-2)

When I finally completed the five stages of dying, I sat down and tried to digest this team.  As I began looking at it, I began to think it was not terrible.  In fact, I had a starter in every single offensive position.  So, then, I decided to run the team against my own values.  As you might expect, my values like my team…I see a +29 in value on offense, even with the -5 in pitching (to be expected, since I moved so much money to offense).  Not everyone’s pricing model agrees.

As a gut-check, I used five projection models from Fangraphs.com, averaged them, then took the totals and put them up against last year’s home league standings.  Suddenly, I looked and saw a 52 point offense staring me in the face.  Then I did the pitching numbers and saw a 27.5 point pitching performance.  Uh-oh.  Mind you, Marcel projections and ZIPS projections despise all of my pitchers not named Roy Halladay and Sean Marshall (the projection for Jeff Samardzija is still reliever-based as well).  This is the nature of projections; I created a reliance model on averages of those projections and I am going to stick with it. [Writer’s Note: Baseball HQ has my team ranked first in projected standings in my league…the kiss of death].

How much did leaving $15 on the table hurt me?  Well, contrary to my original thought, it did not hurt me on the hitting side.  Of the top tier hitters, both Hanley Ramirez ($54) and Jimmy Rollins ($37) went $1 under my inflation price.  I did not want to say $55 on Hanley, as I rarely put all eggs in one basket.  Rollins is the guy I could have said $38 on, but, as a Phillies fan, I did have an uneasy feeling about possible decline.  I could pay $34, or even $35, but $38 did not pass my gut-check.

On the flip side, after locking up with Theriot and Hudson, a number of decent bargains fell through: Rafael Furcal (+3), Jed Lowrie (+4), Scott Rolen (+4), Stephen Drew (+6), Casey McGehee (+6), Juan Uribe (+5), Pedro Alvarez (+5) and others.  The reality is, however, that Theriot and Hudson are okay, and I can dump into those spots later.

I might regret, however, not pushing Chad Billingsley, Jhoulys Chacin, Trevor Cahill, and Erik Bedard, all of whom were at or one over my price.  Alternatively, I could have gone with a better reliever, pushing Jonathan Papelbon a little further than the $33 he went with inflation (and he went to a primary contender as well).  The beauty of the beginning of the season is that we get to play it out and see how it goes early.

One thing I take away from this auction is poise.  I figured out too many players into the auction that my prices were off.  I did not panic, however; I took a deep breath at the break and committed to spending as much money as I could on starting players.  Not every buy was perfect, and I did leave myself in a precarious pitching situation, but I did accomplish the goal of getting 14 regulars on offense.  Mistakes can be corrected…the auction is a long process and everyone in the room is usually making minor mistakes along with you, or preferring certain players, etc.  Hope is usually never lost…until it is.

Ultimately, I think the team will live and die on the pitching.  If Norris and Volquez hold up, I think this team is significantly better than the projections allow, and my dump chips are good.  And if anyone should ask, I left that money on the table to create more cap space for myself when the dumping season begins!

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