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Christopher Rizzo discusses what owners should consider when drafting infielders versus outfielders in deep auction leagues, which can also be helpful in draft leagues.
Before reading this article any further, I ask that you first take the poll below.
After taking the poll, I'd ask why did you make the choice you made? If you spend X amount of dollars on your lineup regardless of how it's built, should that matter? Well, if the season ended right after Draft Day then yes, it does not matter. But of course the season lasts six months so if you're looking to maximize the flexibility of your lineup thinking past Draft Day, then you should choose B, with D being possibly second.
There are a few reasons why having a weaker outfield is optimal. First, let's look at the top 10 free agent hitters last year that were not projected to be auctioned in any of my deep leagues at the beginning of last season: Justin Ruggiano, Tyler Colvin, Jeff Keppinger, Todd Frazier, Jarrod Dyson, Brandon Moss, Quintin Berry, Darin Mastroianni, Josh Rutledge and Luis Cruz. Do you notice anything similar about many of these players? Seven of the ten qualified in the outfield. If you fill your lineup with five good outfielders on Draft Day, then you might be limiting yourself later to what could be available in the free agent market.
Not only is the abundance of free agent outfielders advantageous to a team that is weaker in the outfield, but free agent outfielders - as is the case with outfielders in general - perform better than most (if not all) free agent infielders. Separately, having a stronger infield - especially a strong middle infield - gives you greater flexibility in trades. It is a lot easier to trade away a good infielder and receive an outfielder than vice versa.
Another helpful factor is that if you are in need of an outfielder but are weak in either speed or power, outfielders can probably help in either case. But if your team is weak in speed and you're in need of a corner infielder (or you need both power and a middle infielder), it may be tough to find a player that has both qualifications.
That is not to say that all of your outfielders should be the weakest hitters in your lineup. After all, your goal should be to look for mispriced players and you should never forgo a bargain when one is available. But in reality, hitters worth about $25 or more are most likely not going to be drafted at a discount, so in the higher price range I'd focus on infielders and then look for outfielders below $25, where it might be easier to find a bargain.
So getting back to my previous article where I asked about which two $1 players I'd take if given the choice, I would take two outfielders knowing that it would be a lot easier to get a better outfielder via free agency or trade than if I needed an infielder.
Next up: Applying draft principles to auctions
In terms of lineup structure, which strategy do you mostly follow:
A. Have stronger outfielders versus infielders (18 votes)
B. Have stronger infielders versus outfielders (53 votes)
C. An infield and outfield of similar strength (18 votes)
D. No strategy; it depends on how the auction unfolds and where I can find bargains (77 votes)
166 total votes