Through the maze of a life changing experience, I find myself writing articles about fantasy baseball. To make a long story short (and I’m hoping to write the long version one day) I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in mid July 2018. A deadly diagnosis, with only 1-2 % of people surviving more than 5 years. To date I have been through 9 rounds of chemo and surgery. I am currently cancer free as it was caught early and there is no evidence that it has spread. It will take 5 years of cat scans and blood tests to be able to say that I beat it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
So, while on a leave of absence from my regular job as an anesthesiologist, I saw an ad on twitter looking for writers for fantasy baseball and football. I wrote about my passion for playing, especially doing auctions for baseball, and I was “hired” (Thanks Jim!). Having played for 28 years, starting with an NL only keeper league which has morphed into a mixed auction redraft league, preparing for the auction has become second nature. I have written multiple articles about how to prep, and the only way to really do it is to come up with your own “values”/”prices”. So why do we, meaning the industry, offer values to those who look for advice?
As an “average Joe” I would buy a few magazines each year to help guide me along, but I noticed one thing that was prevalent in them. The numbers just didn’t add up. Even after the internet age came around and I paid for a website or two, they still didn’t add up. If I made a list of the 276 players I thought would be called out in the auction (12 team/23 player), the total “value” would almost always exceed the $3,120 available to be bid upon based on a $260 budget per team.
Along comes Twitter and now I can ask a few of the people who published these “values” why they don’t add up. I’m told that the value is what the player is expected to return in dollars based upon their projections and a $260 budget.
That’s great, but what should I pay for that guy? How do I know which guy “valued” at $25 is going to cost me $35 or $30 or $25 or $20? What if I spend $25 on this guy early in the auction, but he would have only cost $18 if he were called out later in the auction? Yes, this could happen at any point in the auction with any player, but if there is such a wide discrepancy of “value” vs. “price”, it will be hard for the person using these values to incorporate them into their preparation.
This is where I decided to do my auction values with the price I expect that player to go for in an auction. Again, each league is unique, with keepers adding another dimension of valuation. Those who write about this have to do so in the context of a redraft league as to cover each player that is available. If you add up my values they will add up to 3,120.
One of the most important aspects of an auction is to follow how the draft is going in regards of prices. I keep track of how much the budget is in the red or in the black. If a player goes for 3 units more than what I predicted, then the budget is in the black and there will be bargains ahead. The more in the black, the less I will have to pay for players going forward based upon my predictions.
Doing this with the industry standard “values” is impossible because the math doesn’t always add up. I took my top 276 players and assigned their values from a few places. Ray Flowers has been someone who I’ve brought this question up to a few times. FantasyGuru.com’s valuation for these players came out to a robust $4,069 units. Jake Ciely of the Athletic.com (as of Feb 23) has his values based upon a 14 team league, but when asked he said the values would only change by about 2% for Hitting and not much for pitching if for a 12 team league. His values came out to $3,903. Rotoballer.com came in the closest at $3,174.
I am not trying to say anyone is wrong here. All I am saying is that if I bought the magazine/website as an “average Joe”, it would be hard to accurately predict how much a player would go for in their auction. There are only 3,120 units to spend. How do you know which of the players in that higher priced pool should go for less and by how much? By giving prices that add up to 3,120, the deviation from your suggested “price” to what is paid will undoubtedly be smaller.
Below are 3 teams that I created from my values that added up to 260 units (this was done a month ago so the values may seem a bit off for a player or two but serve it’s purpose for this illustration). I then calculated how much these teams would cost based upon the values of the other sites. This did two things.
- It showed me that my “prices” were in line with what a good number of other industry experts were publishing – this was important to me as I’m doing this for the first time.
- It showed that when using the “value” definition of what the player is worth, as both Ray and Jake do, the numbers were inflated.
Note: Players with a zero or negative “value” were assigned a value of one as that is the minimum they could go for. To me, you have a value or you’re a zero which means I don’t think that player is worth bidding on.
Editors Note: Individual values for two of the sites were removed by request since they were behind a paywall – the third was also removed just to avoid any issues. This is something you never have to worry about here, and there are plenty of other free sites that provide auction values.
Even though we can’t show you the individual prices, the values on Rotoballer.com were the closest to 260. The Athletic came in next with an average of 30 units above. Finally we have FantasyGuru whose prices were about 100 units above for each of the three teams. By doing this exercise, it showed that the “inflation” in values was spread out and not concentrated on the elite players.
What about the auction generators that are available? I compared my values to the FanGraphs Auction Calculator and the teams came in at 202, 265, and 247. Per their projections I have the first team way overpriced and am pretty close with the other two. These generators are helpful as they can be customized to league size, differing dollar amounts, etc, but nothing can replace your own preparation.
Auction “values” can be helpful in showing you how much that player may earn that year based upon a $260 budget. However, they do not tell you how much that player will cost on auction day. My values are there to give you a guide as to how much you should be paying for these players in your auction. Hopefully each and every one of them “earns” more than you pay, and that is one of the keys in winning your auction league.
Note: When first published, the article had the individual values for each of the other websites. My apologies to Ray, Jake, and Rotoballer. This is meant to just illustrate my thoughts on how to prepare for an auction. I used their sites to compare to as they are the people I have followed for years and was done out of respect.