What Did We Learn From Tout Wars and NFBC Auctions?

As we enter the last weekend of drafting before opening day, let’s take a look at pricing in the ToutWars mixed league auction and the AAV for NFBC auctions over the last weekend.  Both of these are 15 team auctions – my values are based upon 12 teams so there will be some slight differences, but usually the top players in both 15 and 12 teamers go for similar prices.  What we are looking for here are trends and things that can be helpful regardless of league size.

These expert and high stakes league auctions can be used as a barometer as to what you can expect to pay…. or not.  As I have been saying all off-season, the prices you will pay in your league depend on your league.  If you live in NY and most of the people in your league are Yankees fans, expect to pay up a little for Sanchez, Judge, etc.  Home town players have an influence on how they are bid upon.  Keepers?  Another huge factor when calculating your values pre-auction.  The more keepers kept at a discount, the more you can expect to pay for the players available in your league. Here is the link to the ToutWars Draft.

The first thing you notice is that the top-tier pitching is very expensive.  In my home league you rarely see a starting pitcher go for more than $35 and only a few top $30.  In Tout there were 8 pitchers that went for at least 30 with Scherzer leading the way at $40, followed by deGrom 39, Cole 36, Sale and Verlander at 35, Nola 34, Kluber 33 and Bauer at 30 .  This was followed by three in the high 20s including Syndergaard, Carrasco and Snell.  After that the numbers seemed to be more reasonable and in line with what I think you should pay for most of these pitchers.

The take away?  Decide before your auction if you’re willing to pay up for one of these top-tier guys or you can plan on spending about 40-45 and get 2 pitchers from the 2nd/3rd tier such as a $45 combo of Taillon and Berrios like Ray Flowers did (he also added an $18 Strasburg making a formidable staff) or you can pair up Zack Wheeler with either Zack Greinke or German Marquez for $41.

The NFBC over 6 auctions had 11 pitchers average 30 or higher. This is a trend we see in most NFBC drafts and auctions.  Pitching is at a premium, so if you do an auction on their site, prepare for an uptick in pitching prices.

When you move to the lower priced pitching you see “bargains”.  I don’t like the term, and if you read my auction values vs. auction prices article you’ll understand why.  There are no bargains at the end of an auction.  The perception is that there are players going for less than their value.  The issue is that a lot of auction values are based upon projected stats and not what is expected to be spent during an auction – artificially creating “bargains”. There were 94 pitchers that went for $10 or less! That is out of 135 or 70%.  The take away here is don’t panic on pitching.  After you get your top 2 starters and a closer, you’ll be able to find pitching at reasonable prices.

As for closers, Treinen and Diaz went for $21 each and the remainder of the closers all went for prices that were in their expected range.  No surprises here, and with all the questions at that position, get one solid closer and see what happens in the draft.  Jeff Erickson talked about how he ended up with Chapman and Treinen in his AL only auction (even though he wasn’t planning on it) on his Rotowire Fantasy Baseball podcast on Monday.  If you have a plan going in, be prepared to pivot if the opportunity is there.

Another thing to look at is to make sure there was a typical split in the percentage of dollars spent on hitting and pitching. In this auction the split was 68/32 which is right in the normal range as we usually see somewhere between a 65/35 and 70/30 split overall in auction leagues.  Even though the split was typical, here’s another number to digest.  72% of the 1265 units spent on pitchers went to those 30% that cost over 10 units.  Unfortunately I cannot see individual league auction prices on the NFBC website, so I cannot do this breakdown for those auctions.

On the hitting side, we don’t see anything unexpected.  Trout and Betts were the highest priced players at 56 and 51 respectively in Tout and 50 and 48 in NFBC.  This difference can be somewhat explained by the slight uptick you see in pitching prices in the NFBC.  The dollars have to come from somewhere.  It would be my guess that the split between hitting and pitching is closer to 65/35 in the NFBC.

One of the biggest differences we see is the price of Aaron Judge.  In Tout he went for 46, but his AAV in the NFBC is 37.  Howard Bender paid 45 for him in the AL only Tout surpassing Betts’ 44.  Judge is moving up draft boards, especially in OBP leagues (which Tout is) and can explain the difference in his pricing.  After these three you also see a higher price for Bryce Harper, which can again be attributed to the OBP aspect of Tout.  Pricing falls into line after that, and I don’t see anything unexpected after Harper in Tout or after Betts in the NFBC.

Patience is again a virtue when you can find reasonably priced players that have the potential of out earning their price.  A few from Tout that I noticed were a $13 Eddie Rosario (very similar numbers to Manny Machado over his last 1000 PA) and a $5 Steven Piscotty.  They will cost you $20 and $9 respectively in the NFBC.  This shows you how different auctions can be, and you have to be aware of who’s available and how much money is left out there at all times.  When players fall through the cracks, be ready to pounce.


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Andy Spiteri

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Playing fantasy sports since 1991 when you got your stats in the mail on Thursdays...Husband and father of two. I put people to sleep for a living. Mets, NY Rangers and Eagles/Jets (a product of being born in NYC but living in Bucks County PA for 20 years) fan. Home league baseball auction is top 5 day of the year!