I previously talked about some of the things that happen during an auction. Now, I would like to talk about coming up with a game plan in single auction leagues. When you start to game plan, you need to separate hitting from pitching. Each area is 50 percent of the competition, but you will have to find a blend that fits your game style.
When you plan your hitting, you need to identify the key players to your offense. Your core could be three or four players depending on how much you want to invest in each player. I look for three players to start my hitting team. One player will give me high average and power (.300/30/100). The second player will give me some power, high average, and plus speed (.300/10/60/40). The last player will be a balanced player (.300/20/80/20).
Note: In today’s game, .280 may be the new .300.
You can divide up your hitting budget any way you like and come up with your blend of hitters. I want to build a base in all the hitting categories, and I’m willing to pay for it. I will spend $90 to $100 on three to four players. Each year the players will change, and you will need to adjust your plan to the inventory.
As you are deciding on your key players, you need to come up with a plan to get one catcher, one first baseman, one second baseman, one shortstop, one third baseman, and three outfielders. These eight players will be the core of your team. After you take out your three premium players bought in the auction, you will need five more players from the remaining positions.
In the American League, there are 15 MLB teams just as there are 15 teams in the National League. Since each team has nine starting hitters in the American League, it leaves a pool of 135 starting players divided into 12 teams (11.25 per team in the AL). Each Fantasy owner will have between 10 and 12 starting hitters in their lineup. Most likely every team will have three holes in their lineup. What I mean by holes: players who play less than 50 percent of the time. Out of those 135 starting slots in line-ups, there are probably a dozen or so who don’t play every day. In the NL, the breakdown is even less. There are 15 teams with eight starting roster spots. It breaks down to 10 starters per team. Every team could have four holes in their starting lineup in the NL. When you are building your team, you can put your holes anywhere on your roster. As the season goes on, you hope to fill a few holes from your bench or the waiver wire.
Depending on your budget plan, you could spend $150-$170 on your eight core players. You will need patience to execute the end game and come up with two or three players who could earn full time at bats for a limited price. When you fill out your remaining hitting spots, you need to look for players who will get the most at-bats or young players with upside. The player who will get the most at-bats might not be the player who is given a starting job when the season starts.
Most owners in an AL or NL auction league are afraid to take a zero in their starting hitting lineup. Sometimes it is better to buy an upside minor league player in the auction rounds rather than risk losing this player in reserve rounds. Buying a low upside player with playing time risk doesn’t make a lot of sense. For example, if you thought Francisco Mejia was going to get called up, it would make more sense to put him in your starting line up and take a zero than draft a weak backend catcher with no real upside in at-bats for $1. Most likely a player with part-time value can be found on the waiver wire or rostered in the reserve round. Which is more important: a player playing once a week or a player who could get regular at-bats at some point in the season? This decision is tough because the once per week player could earn more at-bats if there were an injury that created more playing time.
You will be more successful in an auction if you have a solid game plan. When you decide which core players you want to center your roster around, do some research and try to find a completed auction where players are playing for real money. The flow of players will be different, but you can get a feel for public opinion. The LABR is a great reference for the auction leagues. By knowing about what players will go for, you will have a better idea about how expensive the nucleus you want to build will cost. You shouldn’t be surprised at the draft table. A good player is going to have a lot of interest. If you want him, you should be ready to make your winning move.
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