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Auction Draft Strategy: Why Nominating Derek Jeter May Not Be Good Advice

A common piece of draft advice in auction leagues is to nominate players who you do not like but think others will spend their precious auction dollars to acquire.  A good example is to throw out Derek Jeter and watch the other members of your league frenetically try to spend big bucks on the intangibles Jeter brings to the field but not the fantasy baseball categories.

At the most basic level, this is good idea.  There are only so many dollars at the draft and so many open rosters spot.  Any time another team acquires a player, the number of draft dollars available and rosters spots open automatically decrease.  Every time you can get someone else to use their money to add players you do not like, you increase the chances you can get the players you do like.

However, I find this tactic to be lacking on several fronts.  First, who are you to know that Derek Jeter is as bad as you think he will be? Relative to Joey Votto he may not measure up, but Jeter shouldn't be judged against a 1B.  He should be judged against Michael Young.

Second, what if Jeter goes off the board at a price you're not willing to pay but he produces value?  Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projects Jeter to earn $17 in an Al-Only 4x4, $18 in an AL-Only 5x5 and $11 in a mixed 5x5.  All these values are uninflated.  In an AL-only keeper league, it is not irrational to believe a $22 bid isn't good value despite your opinion it is not.

Third, if you are nominating Jeter because you like a different SS, what makes you think you're going to get the player you want at a better value than Jeter?  You like Jhonny Peralta to breakout and think you can get him for less than Jeter because Jeter is so popular in real-life baseball that his #2 jersey is effectively girls' clothing.  But Peralta may be the best SS available.  At least one other team knows it too.

Finally, if you think one less person with a SS need will reduce the available money for the other SSs, you are wrong.  If anything, the other owners who still need to fill SS will bid more aggressively as they see the field depleted of quality SS options by the removal of Jeter and will likely bid up the SS you hope to get cheaper by nominating Jeter.

Overall, one shouldn't expect a strategy based on tossing out players you don't like to bear a lot of fruit at auction drafts.  What you should do is nominate good players you don't necessarily need.  But be ready to roster him if necessary.  Letting another team have Derek Jeter for $13 is foolish.