The first big experts league auction drafts took place this weekend in Arizona, with the LABR NL-Only Experts league draft last night, and here are some thoughts on the draft results (you can find the draft results here).
Baseball HQ's Doug Dennis spent $236 of his $260 budget on hitters, so it stands to reason he should win the hitting categories this season. To win the league, he will have to hope his pitching staff can provide solid ratios and ERA, as he will probably finish last in wins and saves.
1. I am curious how the Astros move to the American League will impact auction values for catchers and outfielders, since there are 24 catchers who need to be drafted, and only 15 starting catchers available in the draft. The top end catchers, Buster Posey and others, may catch higher bids. With 12 teams, there will be 60 outfielders drafted, but only 45 starting outfielders available in the draft, so plenty of back up outfielders will be drafted.
2. Following up on #1, I think we will see some crazy bids on mid-tier outfielders as a result, and thus starting pitching will be cheaper than usual. Steve Gardner, Doug Dennis from Baseball HQ and Wolf and Colton all cornered the market on outfielders as they drafted 3-4 outfielders apiece before other teams had one outfielder. Nine outfielders went for $28 or higher, eight of which went for $30 or more.
3. Ryan Braun was the most expensive player drafted, as he was drafted at $40 by Eric Karabell at ESPN, after spending $86 on two starters and two closers.
4. Matt Kemp was the second most expensive player drafted, as he went for $36 to Bob Radomski at Sandlot Shrink. I guess the NL experts aren't concerned with him returning from offseason shoulder surgery.
5. Starting pitchers went for value in the NL LABR, unlike the AL LABR on Saturday night. The top starting pitcher drafted was Clayton Kershaw at $32 to Derek Carty, formerly of Baseball Prospectus, and now at his own site DerekCarty.com.
6. The top tier starters went for right around where they should, in my opinion, in the $20+ range, and here are the auction prices of other pitchers of interest: Stephen Strasburg ($31), Cliff Lee ($27), Cole Hamels ($26), Matt Cain ($23), Madison Bumgarner ($20), Zack Greinke ($20), Gio Gonzalez ($19), Jordan Zimmerman ($19), Aroldis Chapman ($19), Kris Medlen ($19), and Tim Lincecum ($16). I am surprised that Gonzalez went for less than $20 after his 2012 season.
7. As stated, outfielders garnered plenty of bidding last night, with the top end outfielders fetching many $30+ bids. The auction prices of other hitters of interest: Matt Kemp ($36), Bryce Harper ($35), Giancarlo Stanton ($35), Carlos Gonzalez ($35), Justin Upton ($35), Andrew McCutchen ($34), David Wright ($32), Jason Heyward ($31), Troy Tulowitzki ($31), Jay Bruce ($30), Hanley Ramirez ($29), B.J. Upton ($28), Shin Soo-Choo ($24).
8. Closers came off the board early, with Craig Kimbrel leading the way at $23. Several experts chose to spend on closers early, grabbing two closers before grabbing some hitters.
9. The auction prices of the other closers of interest: Jason Motte ($20), Jonathan Papelbon ($20), Rafael Soriano ($18), Sergio Romo ($17), J.J. Putz ($17), Jonathan Broxton ($16), John Axford ($15), Huston Street ($14), Rafael Betancourt ($14), Brandon League ($14), Steve Cishek ($13), Jason Grilli ($13), Carlos Marmol ($11), Kenley Jansen ($10), Bobby Parnell ($9), Frank Francisco ($5), Drew Storen ($4).
10. Catchers went for more than I expected, but that might be due to what I wrote about in #1 above. There are only 15 starting catchers in the NL, and 24 catchers are required to be drafted in this 2 catcher league. Catcher auction prices of interest: Yadier Molina ($21), Brian McCann ($14), Miguel Montero ($18), Jonathan Lucroy ($15), Carlos Ruiz ($14), Wellington Castillo ($9), Russell Martin ($9) and A.J. Ellis ($8).
Best Auction Values
Matt Holliday ($26) - Holliday went for $26 to Greg Ambrosius and Shawn Childs at NFBC, and he might be the best value of the draft. Holliday provides consistent production year in and year out: 25-30 HRs, 90-100 RBI, .290-.300 BA.
Aramis Ramirez ($21) - if his knee strain isn't serious, Ramirez should do what Ramirez usually does in 2013, and that is hit 25+ HRs, drive in 90+ and hit .290 or better. Love that for $21.
Ryan Howard ($17) - Doug Dennis from Baseball HQ had the best buy in the draft with Howard at $17. Love the price. Howard may not hit for a high BA, but he offsets that with 30+ HRs and 100+ RBI. A steal.
Allen Craig ($26) - Craig went off the board at $26 to Brad Evans at Yahoo Sports and I am surprised he didn't go for $30+. If he can stay healthy, a big question mark, he could go 30-90-.300 this season.
Mat Latos ($15) - Nate Ravitz from ESPN won the bidding on Latos at $15 and he might prove to be the steal of the NL starting pitcher market in 2013. Latos proved he could pitch just as well in Great American Ball Park as he did at Petco Park. He is an ace in the making.
Pedro Alvarez ($15) - Jeff Erickson from Rotowire won the bidding on Alvarez at $15, which to me is another steal. 30+ home run power for $15? Sign me up.
Worst Auction Values
Bryce Harper ($35) - love Harper this season, but $35 seems excessive for the 20 year old outfielder. Steve Gardner from USA Today was the buyer, and Harper will have to put up a 25-25 season with 100 runs scored to meet that price. And he very well could. Maybe it's just that $35 exceeded my expectations for his auction price.
Johan Santana ($5) - Santana hasn't thrown off a mound yet in spring training, as he elected to not throw this offseason. I think the experts should have heard the preverbial "crickets" after the assumed opening bid of $1.
Starling Marte ($18) - Evans won the bidding on Marte as well, and he is putting his outfield budget in some young, inexperienced players.
Wilin Rosario ($18) - look, I am a sucker for power hitters at any position, but I wonder if Rosario's 2012 breakout will be followed by a down season in 2013. Jeff Erickson from Rotowire.com won the bidding rights on Rosario.
Roy Halladay ($20) - Jeff Erickson won the biddling on Halladay, and I am not a fan. After his down year in 2012, I don't see Halladay as a $20 pitcher this season, or ever again.
Current and Former Prospects
The auction prices for current and former prospects is always something I look forward to in the LABR/Tout Wars auction drafts, so without further ado, let's take a look at winning bid prices:
Billy Hamilton ($6) - Hamilton has a chance for a late season call up, and could provide 20 stolen bases in just two months of action. He will lead the majors in stolen bases if he can translate his hit tool at the highest level.
Jedd Gyrorko ($10) - the LABR experts feel that Gyorko will win the San Diego second base job as he went for $10 to Ambrosius and Childs at NFBC fairly early in the draft.
Matt Harvey ($14) - his late season cup of coffee certainly aided the bidding in Harvey this season. Harvey should contribute in strikeouts with a decent ERA and WHIP in 2013.
Nolan Arenado ($8) - on the same night that we learn that Arenado has a shot at making the big league club out of spring training, Derek Carty's $8 bid was enough to secure his services. Nice bid if he makes the team. I just don't understand his draft strategy this season.
Bryce Harper ($35) - see above.
Anthony Rizzo ($23) - Rizzo went for $23 to Brad Evans at Yahoo Sports, which seems a few dollars too high for me.
Oscar Taveras ($5) - Tsveras is the best hitting prospect in baseball and Brad Evans from Yahoo won the bidding on the future hitting stud. Taveras won't break camp with the Cardinals, but with injury-prone Carlos Beltran and John Jay in center field, Taveras is just a phone call away. He is ready for the big leagues.
Starling Marte ($18) - see above.
Domonic Brown ($8) - Brown will finally get a chance to play every day in Philly, and he is showing some power this spring as well.
Travis d'Arnaud ($8) - Derek Carty won the biddling on d'Arnaud who has solid power potential, but may not see time in New York till midseason after missing some AAA time last year to an injury.