Saturday night was the auction for the AL LABR (League of Alternative Baseball Reality, the longest running fantasy industry league which started in 1994.
I approached the draft with this plan –
Don’t spend over $30 on any player – while this means you don’t get the Miggys or Trouts, you should be able to budget the rest of your monies to get a starter or at worst platoon player for all of your hitters. You win more points IF you have more at bats as the Stars and Scrubs drafters will actually have hitters with negative value in their lineup in one or more spots.
Get two good catchers – they don’t have to be the most expensive, in fact I was trying for two at $15 each – as long as they play most of the time and have batting average that won’t drag your team down. Again teams who have near zeroes at their second catcher much less their primary backstop will be draining the extra production of their stars to just break even. Yes you can find home run hitters late but their averages will drag you down (unless you have a gigantic buffer).
Get really solid players at 1B, 3B, 2B, and SS, likely going into the low 20's and then hope you can get starting players in the $5-10 range for you MI and CI.
I allocated $190 for hitters and $70 for pitchers
So on the pitching side I would try and get one ace starting pitcher and one of the better closers or the best two starting pitchers I could afford for $40 or less and then bottom feed for closers. There are always new closers that emerge during the year and this year especially in the AL there are very few dependable save producers – even the venerable Mariano Rivera has question marks.
So how did things play out? Well at least for those who didn’t listen live on Sirius/XM radio I will give you a brief recap with my reasoning. I was asked when interviewed for the radio broadcast if I had any players on my must get list. Frankly I never go into a draft or auction with that mindset. What if you don’t get that player? Why would you waste extra dollars on just one player when you need a balanced productive roster?
I did have a couple of guys at each position that I thought might fit well into my budget but you must take the value the auction gives you rather than reaching too much. On the other hand you must fill a need when you have control (dollar wise) later in the draft. So off we go ……
I did some mild bidding as the draft started up knowing that the prices for Mike Trout ($42), Miguel Cabrera ($40), Robinson Cano ($35), Justin Verlander ($31), and David Price ($27) among the early nominations were going for more than I wanted to spend. In fact it wasn’t until late in the second round of nominations that I landed my first player – Texas closer Joe Nathan for $18.
The next player I landed was Chris Sale for exactly $20. So I had the backbone of my pitching staff but through the first three rounds still did not have a hitter. That changed abruptly when I landed Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus for what seemed like a slightly soft $21. His runs scored and stolen bases are nice contributions in a shallow MI pool but as I said I wanted to get a good player at both SS and 2B. Jason Kipnis who I liked last year was out of range at $26 and frankly while the room was not egregious in their early overspending, the auction through five rounds was overspent.
Early in the sixth round I landed one player I do like for an improvement on a nice first season in 2012 when Yoenis Cespedes in just 480 at bats had 23 home runs, 16 stolen bases, and 82 RBI with a .292 BA. I think he adds 5-10 in each counting category with likely a slight reduction in batting average. So I added Cespedes as my most expensive player and key outfielder at $29
Unfortunately I can give you every twist and turn in the draft – useful only if you are battling insomnia, but I will give a few interesting developments and list my full team and my six reserve picks. Remember that in LABR you can’t just move players in and out of your lineup – if a pitcher is killing you, your only recourse is to drop him. But the reserve players are valuable in that they can be activated and then reserved as long as you have the active roster opening to use.
I didn’t quite get the prime cut of the good but not expensive catchers – Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters, and Victor Martinez all going for just under $20 – but I did get Ryan Doumit for $16 and A.J. Pierzynski for $14 to give me to solid catchers who should hit 15+ home runs and have decent batting averages.
It was a long time before I got my third pitcher but eventually landed Tampa’s Alex Cobb for $9. All the rest of my pitchers were added in the end game when I had some control.
So here is the Mastersball team in the AL:
C – Doumit ($16) & Pierzynski ($14)
CI – Billy Butler ($27), Kyle Seager ($20), and Mitch Moreland ($10)
MI – Jose Altuve ($19), Andrus ($21), and Hiroyuki Nakajima ($5)
OF – Cespedes ($29), Justin Maxwell ($10), Leonys Martin ($13), Juan Rivera ($3), Casper Wells ($2)
UT – Mike Olt ($3)
SP – Sale ($20), Cobb ($9), Jason Hammel ($7), Mark Buehrle ($4), Drew Smyly ($4), & Jose Quintana ($3)
RP – Nathan ($18), Sean Doolittle ($3), & Phil Coke ($2)
Reserves – I picked in the late middle of the snake at 1.08
1.08 Robbie Ross, P, Texas – huge bonus if he wins the 5th spot in the rotation
2.05 Carlos Peguero, OF, SEA – good power and hedge for Wells
3.08 Conor Gillaspie, 3B, CWS – some chance he could make club out of spring training
4.05 Hector Santiago, LHP, CWS - likely starts in bullpen BUT would be 5th starter if John Danks falters
5.05 Daniel Nava, OF, BOS – likely in a platoon but could replace Rivera when Granderson comes back
6.08 Scott Downs, LHP, LAA – did well last year and we know Scioscia trusts him in the 9th.
Always glad to discuss the auction or my team in the forums and will have a few updates about the competition in this great league. Look for the “Leviathan” – the Sports Weekly edition out in two weeks with full AL prices and rosters as well as those of the NL which took place on Sunday night.