In the fantasy baseball market, there are many different league sizes and formats, especially at auctions. I have played in American League and National League formats with 12 teams plus 15 mixed team leagues. Each league could also have goalkeepers (players held for more than a year) or trade, which changes the value of all players during the auction. For the past 17 seasons, I have played the high-stakes fantasy market where there is no trade, putting pressure on a fantasy game owner to develop a winning plan before auction.
By doing a no-trade auction league, a fantasy owner has a small margin for error. No other homeowner will knock on your door looking to take away your third closer through a trade. If your team is off-balance (strong in some categories and weak in others), you can’t trade batting for pitching or even speed for saves. You can win an auction in many different ways, but many owners can lose the battle during the auction due to questionable game plan or even foresight. Every year, the group of players will change slightly. Your job as the owner is to evaluate the inventory and develop a strategy that you can execute at the draft table. If you come out with enough pieces for the puzzle, you can manage your way to a championship.
Whichever game plan you decide to use, you should be ready to adjust if you don’t get your key players. A fantasy owner can enter any player they want into an auction, but it comes at a price.
In most baseball auction leagues, each team starts with $ 260 to buy 14 batters and nine pitchers. The goal is to rack up the most league points in five batting categories (batting average, runs, home runs, RBIs, and steals) and five pitching categories (wins, ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, and saves).
In a 12-team league, a first place in a category would be worth 12 points, second place 11 points and so on until reaching 12th place (one point). The winner of each league is determined by adding the ten categories.
Call on players to improve teaming opportunities
A common mistake fantasy owners make is hoping that the players they want won’t get called early. Sounds good in principle, but the problem is that all the other good players leave the board while you are sitting holding your money. If you wait and fail your target players, you will have fewer options to build your team.
It is essential to call your key players as quickly as possible. If you want a player in the auction and you think he is the key to your team winning, I would like to call you as soon as possible. By doing this, you find out how much it will cost you (higher or lower than the expected price) or if you need to start looking for someone else to build your team. The faster you know where you stand relative to critical players, the more likely you are to execute your plan or adapt on the fly.
For example, let’s say I wanted to build my team around Ronald Acuña or Fernando Tatis Jr., and I believed that he had the opportunity to hit more than .300 with more than 30 home runs and more than 30 stolen bases with a target value of $ 43. If I miss him, I will have to find another player with a step down from the overall expectations. In essence, I should have a secondary plan to switch to another player with a similar skill set with fewer perks, but then it would save some of my budget.
In this example, my second elite pick for power and speed might be Mookie Betts. If Acuña is called first and someone decides that he is willing to pay $ 46, Betts would be achievable if his salary falls within his expected budget and target salary.
Now if Betts is called first and someone buys him for $ 39 while sitting in Acuña as your first key player, you have an additional drop down in the player pool if Acuña is bought by another owner above your budgeted salary goal . Things could be much worse if 10 or more top-tier players are called up before Acuña. This style of independent work could lead to an imbalance in the construction of the list in a non-commercial format in which an operation cannot solve a deficit in a category.
In this example, a detour away from Acuña can push a fantasy owner toward Juan Soto, which in turn brings fewer speed advantages but a potentially high ceiling on batting average. This decision would force a fantasy owner to find his speed in a different way while making sure not to reveal his power advantage.
If Acuña’s drop-down list led me to Trea Turner, she would establish her base in steals with 20 home runs of power and strength on batting average. My second target player can / should bring in more home runs with a strong hitter average probability with a 100/100 type skill set.
Again, if Soto, Turner and Betts are eliminated at auction before Acuña or Tatis, a fantasy owner must be more creative with less inventory to build their offense for a fantasy team.
The other option is not lacking for the target main player (s) by overpaying with the theory of recovering lost dollars later in the auction.
Game plan and initial expenses
During the auction, it is crucial to focus on your game plan from the beginning without worrying about how the other owners spend their money. My goal is to build my base for hitting and pitching while keeping my foot on the gas if the players I like are called early. I am willing to spend $ 200 of my $ 260 on my key players.
This strategy then forces me to close my expenses for a long time in the middle of the auction.
I see many fantasy owners get upset when one or more fantasy owners withhold their money. They worry that an owner will outbid them for a key player they want later in the auction. If you invested $ 185 on 10 players and the other owner spent $ 40 on two players, you are eight players behind you. You may think you have all the power in the world with the big stack, but the truth is that there will always be someone bidding against you. Each of the other owners will also need players. You will be competing with at least one owner most of the time for each player when you try to fill your list, forcing you to pay full price or a premium for some players even in the middle part of an auction.
Keep an open mind from the start
When you sit down at the draft table to do an auction, your best chance for the players might be the first couple of players called up. It is essential to understand the possible value of each player and to be ready to shoot as soon as the auction begins. If you sit back and wait, you might miss out on a discounted player or potential stud. I know a $ 33 player might not seem like a discount, but that same player could go for $ 38 if called out a couple of rounds later in the auction.
In my first example between Ronald Acuña, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Mookie Betts, Betts cannot be fired if he is called first and his salary falls below value. If the offer is fading at Betts at $ 34, it may be wise to buy the embedded security for $ 35 with the understanding that there could be a fight at the higher end for Acuna or Tatis. If you pass Betts, and Acuña and Tatis go for more than expected, you would have lost an advantage if Betts plays as expected in 2020.
Targeting the last main player on the board
Another common mistake is waiting for the best player left on the board. You will see this happen much later in auctions. Nobody wants to call a player because they want it as cheap as possible. Four or five owners sit around waiting for the right moment to add this player to their team. When they call him, most of their hearts break. This player generally costs the winning owner a few dollars more than expected.
You can use this to your advantage in certain positions during the auction. If you like two or three guys who score about the same, let’s say second base, I’ll try to buy first choice from these so-called players. By doing this, you avoid overpaying for the best “available option” later in the auction. Many times this happens to the last speed option or even a closer.
End of the game
As I mentioned at the beginning, when the auction starts, I don’t care how much money any other owner has until it reaches about $ 60. Each owner will need to spend at least $ 200 on their core equipment. The other teams will catch up with you when they begin to fill the positions on the roster.
When you go down to $ 60, you should slow down and start looking for bargain players. The more disciplined you are, the more chances you have of getting the players you want. If you can completely close it when it reaches $ 35- $ 40, you will have the leverage at the end of the game. You will need almost all owners to have less than $ 20 to maintain an advantage over them at the end of the auction.
To execute this type of aggressive style, a fantasy owner must have the vision to see the outs in every position while also having a game plan to build the backend of his roster.
Winning an auction league comes with a healthy game plan followed by execution, while also requiring specific players to submit their expected stats. All auction owners will meet the players and conduct similar evaluations. When you try to implement your plan, there will be battles for critical players. You will gain something and you will lose something. He just hopes to win the right ones. I’d rather lose to a team that I like than lose to a team with players I don’t want.
Remember, the more that is invested in a game plan with variations, it will help the fantasy owner to make better decisions in the split second of being offered by the players.
READ MORE: 2021 Fantasy Baseball Hub
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.