Captain's Log

Building Profit into Your Auction Roster PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 00:00

Fantasy baseball auctions are FUN for lots of reasons. First, if there is a player you covet, you know you can have him on your team.

That isn’t great strategy, at least for the top players, BUT you want to have a team YOU want to root for, so especially in leagues where you want to have more fun, it is possible if you have great self-control. I am sure you have read about several different auction strategies, and I am not trying to deflate any of them, but no matter how you construct your roster, you should be looking to build profit into your selections.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have Mike Trout on your team, but if you pay $50 for him and he earns our currently projected $45 (12-team mixed), then you have your first loss. If you can sit on your bidding hand or mouse until later in the auction, you can still add a lot of profit to go with Trout.

Personally, I try and enter every auction not married to any specific player and looking for “value” when I can find it. Normally, I won’t spend more than low thirties for my best hitter or pitcher, trying to spread dollars across most positions in the beginning and middle of the auction, knowing that there will be great bargains, especially on outfielders and pitchers in the end game.

Let’s see how that worked in a mock auction draft that was put together by Rotoworld’s Seth Trachtman a few weeks ago that I participated in along with Lawr and Pasko. As you know, I am not a big fan of mock drafts, but with a very good cast of writers and analysts, I thought this would have some value, especially when I might face some of them in later LABR or NFBC auctions this spring. Because of some problems with the first site where we gathered, there were some minor problems with early prices but nothing that would seriously disrupt the validity of the total pricing.

I bought just a few players in the early stage of this auction – Carlos Gomez for $33, Jonathan Lucroy for $20 (pre hamstring issues), Ian Kinsler $21,  Todd Frazier $13, Wilin Rosario $12, Mike Morse $5 and just one pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka for $9.  So going into the middle of the auction, I had the most money left to spend with $147 and needed 16 more players. And I waited, looking to find players that would contribute to my team that were undervalued by my competitors or that they no longer had money to buy. That started slowly and then I was on a buying spree until I was back in the middle of the available funds and then I waited for the end game and specific players to fill the positions I had left, making lists for each.

Here is the final roster with prices paid and projected earnings.

Pos   Player Cost Proj
C1 - Jonathan Lucroy 20 29
C2 - Wilin Rosario 12 21
1B - Adam LaRoche 8 16
3B - Todd Frazier 13 17
CI - Evan Longoria 13 19
2B - Ian Kinsler 21 21
SS - Jimmy Rollins 9 13
MI - Daniel Murphy 8 17
OF1 - Carlos Gomez 33 35
OF2 - Mike Morse 5 7
OF3 - Matt Holliday 15 19
OF4 - Danny Santana 6 14
OF5 - Steven Souza 7 14
UT - Adam Lind 1 11
TOTAL 171 253

Some nice position flexibility there with Morse also 1B eligible and Santana SS eligible, and Lind 1B eligible.

SP - Masahiro Tanaka 9 11
SP - Julio Teheran 17 17
SP - Sonny Gray 13 17
SP - Tyson Ross 8 14
SP - Gio Gonzalez 9 8
SP - Jered Weaver 6 11
SP - Mike Fiers 3 5
CL - Kenley Jansen 15 16
CL - Dellin Betances 9 14
TOTAL 89 113

With two high strikeout closers in Jansen and Betances, it boosts the staff with some starters projected for lower strikeout totals (although none of those are really low).

So how did this do on my flexible 170/90 budget?

Despite moving some funds back and forth in the end game, I finished at 171/89.

The nine pitchers bought for $89 have projected earnings of $113.

The hitters bought for $171 have projected earnings of $253 (although Lucroy may take a small hit depending on how many games he misses and we still don’t know what Colorado is going to do with three catchers, so I expect Rosario to earn less (both if he stays a Rockie or if he is traded).

But as you see, while none of those are ridiculously low buys (Lind is always devalued and if brought up late, LaRoche is underpriced), most every player looks like he will add some profit and paying $260 for $364 of stats will win you a lot of leagues. In case you are wondering about those stats, here are the projected category totals:

HR - 262
RBI - 1009
Runs - 1089
SB - 177
BA - 0.272
Wins - 94
SV - 78
ERA - 3.236
WHIP - 1.151
K - 1386

And that is with an early (low) projection on Fiers for innings pitched. But all the categories are in line with the top 20 percent totals from the 2014 NFBC Rotowire Online Championship (12 team).

And auctions always have different ebbs and flows but are still always FUN.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 February 2015 15:26
Adding Auction Format Heightens Early NFBC Leagues PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 00:00

The National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) has had quite a bit of success in running Draft Champion (DC) leagues in January and February as fantasy baseball players get ready for the high stakes leagues that will draft in March.

In addition to gaining a much better knowledge of the current player pool, one of the main attractions of these leagues has been the low maintenance level as the DC leagues draft 50-man rosters to use the whole season and there are no free agents added during the year, which saves a lot of time for those who are doing that weekly for their main event, online championship, and/or specialty higher stakes league every Sunday.

The DC leagues are also available at a variety of price ranges – starting at $150 and going up to $250, $400, $500, and even some $1,000 leagues. In most of these leagues, there is both a league payout for the top three teams but a very large combined prize pool with some of the entry fee for all DC leagues furnishing the $25,000 prize to the overall champion and paying out the top 22 finishers.

So while these 50-round drafts have been very popular and still growing – there were 164 DC leagues last year and NFBC is ahead of that pace now with 84 full leagues - there are two things creating the demand for the new auction format. First, of course, you actually have more control in your initial 23-man roster – you could pay for both Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw if you were so inclined or any other combination you wanted to have as your team’s cornerstones. The second thing is that many of the NFBC drafters have not done auction drafts, only the serpentine drafts that the NFBC’s main event or online championship use. There were no auction leagues in the DC format last year and there have already been ten full ones with more to be added, so they may finish with 16-20 and should do far more next year when their online auction platform is ready. So this is a great opportunity for many to learn the auction format. For some, it may be ground work for their plans for the NFBC Auction Championship event that will be held in Las Vegas and New York in late March. This separate event with a $1,200 entry will pay $10,500 in league prizes but all teams in the 12-plus leagues will also compete for a $20,000 overall prize.

I participated in one of the $125 auction leagues on January 23 and thought I would share my roster from the $260 auction as well as my reserve selections drafted online later. In trying to keep this description at an easily readable length, I will give my starting 23-man roster with the auction prices (in parenthesis), and then a few notes about my reserves and then the final roster by position.

At the auction, I bought these starters:

C – Evan Gattis (20) and Devin Mesoraco (17)

CI – Eric Hosmer (10), Josh Donaldson (31), and Adrian Beltre (24)

MI – Ian Kinsler (21), Danny Santana (14), and Ben Zobrist (12)

OF – Kole Calhoun (16), Adam Eaton (5), Dalton Pompey (4), Coco Crisp (2), and Rajai Davis (2)

UT – Adam Lind (1)

SP – Max Scherzer (32), Doug Fister (10), Lance Lynn (8), Jose Quintana (5), Henderson Alvarez (2), Taijuan Walker (2), and Jarred Cosart (1)

RP – Mark Melancon (19) and LaTroy Hawkins (2)

This turned out to be a 179/81 hitting vs pitching split. The offense is very strong – numbers that would have been in the top ten of all teams in the 2014 event. The pitching has in my opinion a strong base but the projected numbers for just those nine would have been good enough to win a single league but would need to be very strongly supplemented for the team to have good enough category totals to contend for the overall championship.

Going into the reserve rounds, I wanted to get a third starting catcher and to supplement my pitching with several starters and hopefully another closer and/or some relief pitchers who might accumulate some saves. In the first round, I took Francisco Cervelli (in my opinion, you must have at least a couple extra catchers to survive a long season where backstops get nicked up – I usually prefer four if not five). With the next several picks, I worked on pitching, adding Joe Kelly and Vance Worley followed by Houston’s Chad Qualls, who figures to break camp as the closer (I will worry later about how long he holds the role). My fifth and sixth picks were Alexi Amarista, who not only qualifies at 2B, 3B and SS but also looks to be the Padres starting shortstop, and outfielder Matt Joyce, now of the Angels, who should get a large number of the DH at-bats in Anaheim at least against right-handed pitching.

Okay, here is the full roster by position with players who have multiple eligibility shown at the position they were drafted to play (but also in parenthesis at the other positions where I might deploy them). I thought this would give a better view of the overall depth of the hitters since I drafted more pitchers.

C – Gattis, Mesoraco, Cervelli, and Caleb Joseph

1B – Hosmer, (Lind), A. Rosales, (M. Canha)

3B – Donaldson, Beltre, (Amarista)

2B – Kinsler, Zobrist, (Amarista), Carlos Sanchez

SS – D. Santana, Amarista, (Zobrist)

OF – Calhoun, Eaton, Pompey, Crisp, R. Davis, Joyce, Jake Smolinski, Ryan Rua, Mark Canha, and Andrew Lambo

SP – Scherzer, Fister, Lynn, Quintana, Alvarez, Walker, Cosart, Kelly, Worley, Miguel Gonzalez,

Mike Foltynewicz, Tyler Glasnow, Martin Perez, Eddie Butler, C.J. Edwards, and Robbie Ray

RP – Melancon, Hawkins, Qualls, Tony Watson, Bruce Rondon, Darren O’Day, Dan Otero, Eric O’Flaherty, Shea Simmons, and Dale Thayer

That is probably more relief pitchers than Todd would like, but the number of injuries was devastating last year in MLB and more so in this format. In addition, all have some shot at adding at least a few saves. Simmons is a particularly nice sleeper for this in case the Braves do in fact trade Craig Kimbrel during the year as part of their rebuilding process.

As usual, I'm glad to answer questions here or in the Forums (where several other teams are listed).

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 02:06
First Six Draft Rounds & Some Auction Prices PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 05 February 2015 00:00

I am going to show you the first six rounds of a recently completed NFBC DC draft and then put together the teams to see how they look.

15-team mixed, 5x5 with standard 23 starters, if you are not familiar with NFBC leagues.

1.01    Mike Trout, OF
1.02    Giancarlo Stanton, OF
1.03    Andrew McCutchen, OF
1.04    Clayton Kershaw, SP
1.05    Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
1.06    Miguel Cabrera, 1B
1.07    Jose Bautista, OF
1.08    Carlos Gomez, OF
1.09    Jose Abreu, 1B
1.10    Felix Hernandez, SP
1.11    Anthony Rizzo, 1B
1.12    Adam Jones, OF
1.13    Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
1.14    Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B
1.15    Max Scherzer, SP
2.01    Jacoby Ellsbury, OF
2.02    Jose Altuve, 2B
2.03    Troy Tulowitzki, SS
2.04    Robinson Cano, 2B
2.05    Michael Brantley, OF
2.06    Chris Sale, SP
2.07    Ian Desmond, SS
2.08    Hanley Ramirez, SS
2.09    Josh Donaldson, 3B
2.10    Madison Bumgarner, SP
2.11    Starling Marte, OF
2.12    Stephen Strasburg, SP
2.13    Buster Posey, C
2.14    Ryan Braun, OF
2.15    Adrian Beltre, 3B
3.01    Bryce Harper, OF
3.02    Yasiel Puig, OF
3.03    Corey Kluber, SP
3.04    Corey Dickerson, OF
3.05    Aroldis Chapman, RP
3.06    David Price, SP
3.07    Jose Reyes, SS
3.08    Yu Darvish, SP
3.09    Billy Hamilton, OF
3.10    Albert Pujols, 1B
3.11    Justin Upton, OF
3.12    Dee Gordon, 2B
3.13    Victor Martinez, 1B
3.14    George Springer, OF
3.15    Prince Fielder, 1B
4.01    Kyle Seager, 3B
4.02    Freddie Freeman, 1B
4.03    Carlos Gonzalez, OF
4.04    Adam Wainwright, SP
4.05    Todd Frazier, 1B/3B
4.06    Craig Kimbrel, RP
4.07    Zack Greinke, SP
4.08    Kenley Jansen, RP
4.09    Brian Dozier, 2B
4.10    Greg Holland, RP
4.11    Jordan Zimmermann, SP
4.12    Nolan Arenado, 3B
4.13    Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4.14    Matt Kemp, OF
4.15    Johnny Cueto, SP
5.01    Cole Hamels, SP
5.02    Jason Kipnis, 2B
5.03    Ian Kinsler, 2B
5.04    Jonathan Lucroy, C
5.05    Yoenis Cespedes, OF
5.06    Hunter Pence, OF
5.07    David Robertson, RP
5.08    Chris Davis, 1B/3B
5.09    Dellin Betances, RP
5.10    Evan Longoria, 3B
5.11    Jon Lester, SP
5.12    Devin Mesoraco, C
5.13    Carlos Santana, 1B
5.14    Julio Teheran, SP
5.15    Joey Votto, 1B
6.01    Mark Melancon, RP
6.02    Nelson Cruz, OF
6.03    Matt Harvey, SP
6.04    Charlie Blackmon, OF
6.05    Gerrit Cole, SP
6.06    Jason Heyward, OF
6.07    Dustin Pedroia, 2B
6.08    Alexei Ramirez, SS
6.09    Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF
6.10    Trevor Rosenthal, RP
6.11    Cody Allen, RP
6.12    Christian Yelich, OF
6.13    Josh Harrison, 3B/OF
6.14    Starlin Castro, SS
6.15    Sonny Gray, SP

Well, as I remarked on the NFBC message board, this was a better group of drafters, as you can see with the picks, especially those in the first round and several in the subsequent rounds. But when we talk about picks, especially if all you saw was the above, we miss the context of how an individual drafter is constructing his team. So I thought it would be worthwhile to see how the teams look after six rounds.

Team 1 - Mike Trout, Adrian Beltre, Bryce Harper, Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels, Sonny Gray
Team 2 - Giancarlo Stanton, Ryan Braun, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Jason Kipnis, Starlin Castro
Team 3 - Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Corey Kluber, Adrian Gonzalez, Ian Kinsler, Josh Harrison
Team 4 - Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Corey Dickerson, Nolan Arenado, Jonathan Lucroy, Christian Yelich
Team 5 - Paul Goldschmidt, Starling Marte, Aroldis Chapman, Jordan Zimmermann, Yoenis Cespedes, Cody Allen
Team 6 - Miguel Cabrera, Madison Bumgarner, David Price, Greg Holland, Hunter Pence, Trevor Rosenthal
Team 7 - Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Jose Reyes, Brian Dozier, David Robertson, Mark Trumbo
Team 8 - Carlos Gomez, Hanley Ramirez, Yu Darvish, Kenley Jansen, Chris Davis, Alexei Ramirez
Team 9 - Jose Abreu, Ian Desmond, Billy Hamilton, Zack Greinke, Dellin Betances, Dustin Pedroia
Team 10 - Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale, Albert Pujols, Craig Kimbrel, Evan Longoria, Jason Heyward
Team 11 - Anthony Rizzo, Michael Brantley, Justin Upton, Todd Frazier, Jon Lester, Gerrit Cole
Team 12 - Adam Jones, Robinson Cano, Dee Gordon, Adam Wainwright, Devin Mesoraco, Charlie Blackmon
Team 13 - Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki, Victor Martinez, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Santana, Matt Harvey
Team 14 - Anthony Rendon, Jose Altuve, George Springer, Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran, Nelson Cruz
Team 15 - Max Scherzer, Jacoby Ellsbury, Prince Fielder, Kyle Seager, Joey Votto, Mark Melancon


One additional note I did an NFBC auction two weeks ago and have seen some other results and the first comment that I would make is that I still see some players - either on reputation or perceived potential that are overvalued. Here are a few:

Bryce Harper - projected earnings $16, going in the mid $20s
Yasiel Puig - projected earnings $21, going high $20s and low $30s
Giancarlo Stanton - projected earnings $35, going in the low/mid $40s
Joey Votto - projected earnings $15, going in the low $20s
Anthony Rendon - projected earnings $28, going in the high $30s ($40 in my draft)
Nolan Arenado - projected earnings $14, going in the high $20s
Stephen Strasburg - projected earnings $25, going in the low $30s

While money always flows more at the beginning of the draft, some of those seem excessive to me.

What do you think?

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 February 2015 09:07
Which Draft Spot Would You Choose? PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 00:00

In March, I will once again draft online in the Tout Wars mixed draft league. That is the league that I lost in 2014 on the last day of the season, so I really want to win it this year.

The league has a unique method of selecting draft spots. The 2014 order of finish is used with each player getting their first available choice of draft positions. So assuming the 2014 League Champion Tim McLeod ( took the first pick and thus likely Mike Trout, should I pick second or move down, and if the latter, to which spot?

As a reminder, this is a 15-team mixed 5x5 league with On-Base Percentage (OBP) instead of batting average. So what draft spot would you take?

As we have seen in NFBC 15-team mixed drafts, the usual choices early in the draft would be Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt, and for some drafters, Clayton Kershaw. As I have stated before, while I do agree that Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game today and is as much a lock as any of the hitters to provide early first round value, I would prefer to take a top flight hitter with at least my first pick in the draft.

What I first wanted to check was how the change in the average category would affect projected value. Stanton gets a huge boost with his projected 385 OBP to jump in total value to the same $41 value as Goldschmidt, both just one dollar behind McCutchen. Stanton’s projected BA rank is 58th while he is 12th in OBP, so you can see the reason for the jump.

This worked well for me as I would rather be lower than second with negligible difference in value on the first round but an earlier pick in the second round. I settled on 1.03 versus 1.04, so on draft day, not only would I have a choice of either 1B or OF or between the two outfielders, but I would be protected just in case one of the three came limping out of spring training.

My choosing to pick third gave Brent Hershey of BHQ a chance to move up to second in the draft, so we will see what he does on March 10. There was also one interesting note as there were probably a few Tout drafters that would prefer to be at the end of the draft rather than in the middle, none more so than Anthony Perri (Fantistics Insider Baseball), who had the seventh choice of position and chose to draft in the last spot in the first round.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 01:08
Who is a First Round Draft Pick in 2015? PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Monday, 26 January 2015 00:00

In last week’s column on draft prep for the NFBC, I gave you the first round from a 2014 main event league and asked you who you thought was still on the list this year in drafts so far.

That would mean cutting some of those and thinking about who would replace them in this year’s drafts. So let’s take a look at what those players earned last year and who is still a first round pick this season.

1.01  Mike Trout – earned $41 in 2014 and clear number one pick

1.02  Miguel Cabrera – earned $33 last year despite minor injuries; still a first round pick

1.03  Paul Goldschmidt – earned $20 but missed several months; still a first round pick

1.04  Andrew McCutchen – earned $34; a top five first round pick

1.05  Ryan Braun – earned $18

1.06  Chris Davis – earned just $4 in 2014

1.07  Carlos Gonzalez – earned negative $3 in injury filled season

1.08  Hanley Ramirez – earned $16

1.09  Adam Jones – earned $28; a late first or early second round pick

1.10  Clayton Kershaw – earned $40 despite missing a few starts; first round pick for some

1.11  Bryce Harper – earned one whole dollar

1.12  Carlos Gomez – earned $34; a clear first round pick

1.13  Robinson Cano – earned $25

1.14  Prince Fielder – earned negative $12 due to injury

1.15  Joey Votto – earned negative $7 due to injury

The top earners in the 2014 season were:

  1. Jose Altuve $46
  2. Mike Trout $41
  3. Clayton Kershaw $40
  4. Michael Brantley $40
  5. Felix Hernandez $38
  6. Johnny Cueto $38
  7. Victor Martinez $37
  8. Giancarlo Stanton $35
  9. Jose Abreu $35
  10. Carlos Gomez $34
  11. Dee Gordon $34
  12. Andrew McCutchen $34
  13. Miguel Cabrera $33
  14. Jose Bautista $33
  15. Anthony Rendon & Nelson Cruz $31

Here is what the current ADP is for NFBC (15-team, mixed, 5x5) drafts:

1.01    Mike Trout

1.02    Giancarlo Stanton

1.03    Clayton Kershaw

1.04    Andrew McCutchen

1.05    Miguel Cabrera

1.06    Paul Goldschmidt

1.07    Jose Abreu

1.08    Carlos Gomez

1.09    Felix Hernandez

1.10    Jose Altuve

1.11    Jose Bautista

1.12    Anthony Rendon

1.13    Edwin Encarnacion

1.14    Adam Jones

1.15    Troy Tulowitzki

Just outside the first round is Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo, and I am pretty sure he will be a first rounder as we get closer to the season. Kershaw is a personal choice first rounder – that is he certainly will earn the draft spot but some, especially this writer, wouldn’t trade the hitting stats of a first round pick for a pitcher – even one as great as Kershaw. But Felix Hernandez is certainly a second round pick at best, so I think Rizzo replaces him. And really outside the haze in Colorado, Tulowitzki shouldn’t be drafted in the first round either. I can’t argue against any of the others, although I think Jose Altuve will not only have trouble duplicating last year's numbers but the power deficit should also put him in the second round.

Here is what the second round currently looks like, again on averaging picks from this year’s drafts so far:

2.01 Anthony Rizzo

2.02 Michael Brantley

2.03 Buster Posey

2.04 Ian Desmond

2.05 Chris Sale

2.06 Jacoby Ellsbury

2.07 Robinson Cano

2.08 Madison Bumgarner

2.09 Hanley Ramirez

2.10 Josh Donaldson

2.11 Ryan Braun

2.12 Stephen Strasburg

2.13 Corey Kluber

2.14 David Price

2.15 Justin Upton

The five pitchers in the second round will likely fade as the drafting season continues but especially the late second rounders are understandable if they truly desire an “Ace” starter and pick a strong hitter early in the third and just didn’t want to lose their choice to one of the drafters behind them. I would also expect Max Scherzer to be drafted higher than all of those five starting pitchers with the possible exception of Sale.



Last Updated on Monday, 26 January 2015 08:22
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