On Sunday, I spent part of my afternoon participating in a mock auction, and considering the volatility of these things -- it's not rare to get stuck in a draft room half full of autopicks, and there's always that one guy who spends his max money on an injured player and then leaves -- I thought, for the most part, everyone who participated went about it the right way.
I've come across comments from Fake Teams' readers asking for more auction-based articles, so maybe this is the start of something new. I love playing in auction leagues. Everyone has the same chance to get their player, so if you really think Mike Trout is Superman, you can pay up the wazoo for him.
I'll just give you my team, and run you through my thought process pick by pick (for the most part). Mock consisted of 12 teams (5X5) with $260 budget.
C Jesus Montero 2
1B Edwin Encarnacion 26
2B Ben Zobrist 22
3B Aramis Ramirez 23
SS Jose Reyes 27
2B/SS Kelly Johnson 1
1B/3B Michael Cuddyer 4
OF Mike Trout 43
OF Bryce Harper 28
OF Josh Reddick 6
OF Nick Markakis 3
OF Logan Morrison 1
UTIL Brandon Belt 1
P Felix Hernandez 30
P Cole Hamels 21
P Homer Bailey 5
P Ernesto Frieri 1
P Max Scherzer 8
P Marco Estrada 1
P Rafael Betancourt 2
P Chris Carpenter 1 (Doh!)
P Jason Vargas 1
BE Justin Morneau 1
BE Zack Cozart 1
BE Bruce Rondon 1
I've spent all winter warning readers not to go too crazy over last year's performances of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, and what do I do? I spend my first $71 on the pair, putting myself in a money hole early. When I took Trout, Braun had already gone for $43, and since I have the two ranked close together (with Braun slightly ahead), I felt safe taking Trout at the same price.
I expected a bidding war for Harper -- I thought he'd go for at least $30, and when I bid $28, I had no intention of getting him. While I don't suggest you get in the habit of bidding up a player, in the end, I was OK with getting Harper, who has enough upside to make the play pay off. And really, it's not that much of an overpay. I wouldn't suggest this strategy with, say, a soon-to-be 33-year old Mark Teixeira, though -- you'll get burned.
In total, nine players went for $40 or more, including Miguel Cabrera (48), Albert Pujols (44), Braun (43), Trout (43), Matt Kemp (43), Andrew McCutchen (42), Carlos Gonzalez (42), Giancarlo Stanton (40) and Buster Posey (40). The first six were expected, Gonzalez and Posey were huge overpays (especially Posey) in my estimation, and Stanton (for me) was a reach at $40 -- I'd rather spread that kind of money around if I'm not getting a five-tool player or a legitimate Triple Crown threat.
I targeted Aramis Ramirez because I thought, while third base is deep, there's a clear gap between the top 10 at the position and everyone else. But it turned out $24 was a considerable overpay, as Ryan Zimmerman (19), Chase Headley (17) and Pablo Sandoval (15) were better buys later on. I should have told myself (louder this time), "Third base is deep," and waited. Patience should pay off at third this year.
Five starting pitchers went for $30 or more, including Justin Verlander (39), Clayton Kershaw (37), Stephen Strasburg (37), Matt Cain (32) and Felix Hernandez (30). I drafted Hernandez and felt good about it, until I saw who went later for much cheaper -- Cliff Lee (22), Zack Greinke (18), Yu Darvish (18), Adam Wainwright (17) and R.A. Dickey (14). I'm not sure what I could have done differently here. Pitchers were going early (and not for cheap), and then all of a sudden, they stopped getting nominated. I always like to secure one ace, but feel I missed out on getting two for the price of one. My staff turned out OK though -- I felt I got great value on Max Scherzer (8) and Homer Bailey (5), and I also got Cole Hamels (21).
I wanted to fill out my middle infield next, and when Ben Zobrist was nominated, I gladly bid $22 on the 2B/SS/OF utility man. Jose Reyes was nominated shortly after and I didn't think I had a shot until the bidding slowed down. Why? I don't know, but for $27, my #1 shortstop was mine. Realistically, I wouldn't expect to get him for anything below $30 in a real draft, and even that number is low for me. Getting Reyes here really changed the rest of my draft strategy, as I was now heavy on steals.
At this point of the draft (we're pretty close to the midpoint), I started nominating players of lesser value, and feel I came away with some good value, including Josh Reddick (6), Michael Cuddyer (4) and Bailey (5). Reddick and Cuddyer provided some much needed power, and Bailey is coming off his best season yet (plus Paul Sporer likes him a lot). Things really came together when I landed Edwin Encarnacion for $26 -- a potential 40 home runs, $14 cheaper than Stanton. This was another Reyes-type situation, where the value was just too good to pass up. Again, I think he'd go for higher in real drafts.
So, if you're keeping track, at this point, I've spent $243 of my $260 budget, meaning I have $17 to spend (on 12 players). I actually left the draft room early with $6 left and six spots remaining, and the autopick drafted me Jason Vargas (good), Bruce Rondon (could be good), Logan Morrison (OK), Zack Cozart (solid), Justin Morneau (meh) and Chris Carpenter (oops).
The other $1, $2, and $3 players I mixed in throughout the draft, and it paid off nominating some of these guys early, including Jesus Montero (2), Brandon Belt (1), Marco Estrada (1) and both of my closers, Rafael Betancourt (2) and Ernesto Frieri (1). Ideally, you'd like to leave more money at the end to ensure yourself of getting the $1-$3 guys you really want, but with this mix of drafters, it worked out to my benefit to spend money early.
And that, folks, is how my first mock auction of the winter went. In all, I think I got a good mix of hitters and a competitive pitching staff. The turning point of the draft for me was landing Reyes and Encarnacion. There are always good values to be found in auctions, and I think I found two of the better ones right there. Hopefully there is something you can take away from my first mock. If not, feel free to mock my mock below.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @akantecki.