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Filed under: NL-Only Analysts League: Auction Draft analysis

Daniel joined up with the CBS auction Thursday, and he looks at a revamped-on-the-fly strategy.


The key to looking successful in life, I've found, is managing expectations. If people think you'll be average and you're slightly above-average, hey, good job. But if they expect you'll be great and you're great, heck, that's what you were supposed to do. That's why LeBron James hasn't already been given every NBA MVP from now until 2018.

Of course, that's the exact rule I broke by taking over the Fake Teams slot in the NL-only Analysts League, which held its auction draft Thursday. See, Jason Hunt repped Fake Teams in 2013, and did so by winning the whole damn thing. (Good job, Jason.)

This isn't like me winning my long-time league, playing with my old restaurant buddies. I mean, sure, I take pride in that, but did you read the league name up there? This is an analysts' league. Taking over Jason's champion role meant I was the 12th member of this group:

  • Mike Gianella, Baseball Prospectus
  • Adam Aizer and Ferdinando Di Fino,
  • Al Melchior,
  • Jeff Tobin and Scott White,
  • Mike Kuchera,
  • Ryan Carey,
  • Christopher Kreush and Todd Zola,
  • Philip Ponebshek, Patton & Co
  • Keith Cromer, Patton & Co
  • Grey Albright and Rudy Gamble, Razzball
  • Andrew Fiorentino,
  • Daniel Kelley, Fake Teams

It's a strong list, and yeah, I'm the sort-of reigning champion. Expectations, they have not been managed.

As I said, we held our auction Thursday afternoon. I'm a Stars-and-Scrubs proponent in mixed-league drafts, when you can use your leftover single-dollar bids to pick up guys who are still starters and contributors at the tail end of a draft. In a single-league setup, though, it's more difficult to pull off - stars are still there, but when you're putting down a dollar on a guy who isn't even going to see the major leagues this year? You're in trouble.

So I entered the draft shooting for a modified Stars-and-Scrubs - grab the big names, sure, but save enough to still put down a few dollars per end-game guy. Call it Quasi-Stars-and-Sorta-Scrubs.

Buster Posey $23
Clayton Kershaw $37
Paul Goldschmidt $41

So my plan didn't really come to fruition. Here's how I ended up with three of the biggest NL names on a single roster despite my theoretically more conservative approach:

On Posey: I had Posey pegged as a catcher likely to go for $26 or $27. He was the fourth player nominated in the draft, so it wasn't like anyone was running short on money, but time was ticking down and he sat at $22. So I bid $23. It was a combination of price-enforcing and "hey, if they aren't going to bid on him, I will." I had no illusions that would be the final Posey bid, but hey, why not. Happy to have him, especially when Jonathan Lucroy, Yadier Molina, and Wilin Rosario all went for $21 or $22; yeah, they're good catchers, but a peak Posey is more than $1 or $2 more valuable.

On Kershaw: In my Quasi-Stars-and-Sorta-Scrubs buildup, the one player thought I might talk myself into breaking the bank for was Kershaw. We all know starting pitcher is deep right now, but that idea is really for 10- or 12-team mixed leagues. You get to a 12-team NL-only, and it dries up way more quickly. It's hard to imagine a surer bet among pitchers right now than Kershaw, and I would have gone to $40 on him if need be.

On Goldschmidt: I suppose this was me getting a little ahead of myself; I envisioned Goldschmidt as a high-30s guy and exceeded my own pre-set limit. Still, I had saved on Posey, and in a league without Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout, Goldschmidt and Andrew McCutchen stand clearly above the rest of the offensive players; it was nice to have one of them.

In the end, two players went for 40 or more dollars, and I got one. Three players went for 37 or more dollars, and I got two. (McCutchen, at $40, was the other.) I settled down a lot at that point, only going over $20 one more time - Kenley Jansen, at $24. Here is my roster, spending a full $260:

Position Player Salary
C Buster Posey $23
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia $10
1B Paul Goldschmidt $41
2B Marco Scutaro $5
3B Chase Headley $19
SS Starlin Castro $18
MI Stephen Drew $1
CI Juan Francisco $3
OF B.J. Upton $16
OF Cameron Maybin $10
OF Darin Ruf $4
OF Chris Denorfia $2
OF Oscar Taveras $4
U Chris Owings $4
P Clayton Kershaw $37
P Kenley Jansen $24
P Julio Teheran $17
P Mark Melancon $5
P Jose Veras $10
P Paul Maholm $1
P Wily Peralta $3
P Mike Leake $2
P Brandon McCarthy $1

Other than second base and outfield, I have at least the possibility of ending the season with the position's top player. That's asking a lot out of Starlin Castro and Chase Headley, but both have more impressive years on their resume. Scutaro was the last viable second-base option after Daniel Murphy, Neil Walker, and Anthony Rendon - all of whom I thought I'd get when they came up for bid - went for higher than I was willing to spend. In retrospect, I wish I had gone an extra dollar or two on Walker (who went for $14), but oh well. Also, I took Drew as a late what-if-he-signs-in-the-NL pick. Low-risk, high-reward.

The outfield is my biggest worry, obviously. I kept getting beat out for the guys I had my eyes on, until Upton came up and I realized that if I didn't spend on him, Maybin was going to be my top outfielder. I don't love my outfield group, and it will be my top priority when free agency and trades get going, but that's fine with me - especially if Taveras comes up sooner rather than later.

On the pitching side, I grabbed Kershaw, Jansen, and Teheran (who I think is an absolute steal at $17) pretty early in the draft, and then left pitching behind for approximately forever. Other than grabbing Melancon (who I think gets the Pittsburgh closer gig eventually) and Veras (who should have the Chicago gig from the start) semi-late, the rest of my staff - Maholm, Peralta, Leake, and McCarthy - were four of my last five picks.

Below are the 12 rosters for the league. Read them if you want, ignore them if you want. But if you read them, how did I stack up? Can I retain Jason's crown and bring it back to Fake Teams for a second straight year?

Position Baseball Prospectus Salary Position CBS Sports (Di Fino) Salary
C Russell Martin 8 C Travis d'Arnaud 9
C Michael McKenry 1 C Ryan Doumit 6
1B Justin Morneau 19 1B Ryan Howard 15
2B Chase Utley 17 2B Jedd Gyorko 20
3B Juan Uribe 4 3B Todd Frazier 11
SS Jimmy Rollins 10 SS Hanley Ramirez 34
MI Aaron Hill 19 MI Anthony Rendon 16
CI Yonder Alonso 11 CI Garrett Jones 10
OF Matt Holliday 24 OF Matt Kemp 27
OF Chris Young 9 OF Ryan Ludwick 11
OF Will Venable 19 OF Gregory Polanco 4
OF Angel Pagan 14 OF Travis Snider 1
OF Ben Revere 15 OF Ryan Sweeney 1
U Carlos Quentin 11 U Danny Espinosa 1
P Andrew Cashner 14 P Stephen Strasburg 29
P A.J. Burnett 10 P Gio Gonzalez 18
P Matt Garza 9 P Addison Reed 16
P Tim Hudson 4 P Tony Cingrani 17
P Yovani Gallardo 9 P Henderson Alvarez 1
P Tyson Ross 10 P Brandon Beachy 9
P Josh Johnson 7 P Noah Syndergaard 2
P Kyle Lohse 4 P Robbie Erlin 1
P Wade Miley 5 P Francisco Rodriguez 1
Position CBS Sports (Melchior) Salary Position CBS Sports (White) Salary
C Jonathan Lucroy 22 C Yadier Molina 22
C George Kottaras 2 C Evan Gattis 18
1B Ike Davis 9 1B Matt Adams 23
2B Darwin Barney 1 2B Rickie Weeks 3
3B David Wright 32 3B Mark Reynolds 3
SS Andrelton Simmons 17 SS Jean Segura 27
MI Tommy La Stella 1 MI Arismendy Alcantara 1
CI Casey McGehee 1 CI Matt Carpenter 22
OF Jayson Werth 25 OF Domonic Brown 20
OF Andrew McCutchen 40 OF Jay Bruce 27
OF Corey DIckerson 10 OF Marlon Byrd 11
OF Nate McLouth 3 OF Eric Young Jr. 11
OF Seth Smith 3 OF Nelson Cruz 1
U Roger Bernadina 1 U Kyle Blanks 1
P Adam Wainwright 31 P Homer Bailey 17
P Jhoulys Chacin 4 P Mat Latos 15
P Trevor Rosenthal 21 P Jason Grilli 16
P Shelby Miller 16 P Zach Wheeler 11
P Francisco Liriano 15 P Chad Billingsley 1
P Vic Black 2 P Archie Bradley 2
P Wandy Rodriguez 2 P Nate Eovaldi 2
P Tyler Chatwood 1 P Jameson Taillon 1
P Gavin Floyd 1 P J.J. Putz 5
Position Fake Teams Salary Position Fan Duel Salary
C Buster Posey 23 C Jose Lobaton 1
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia 10 C Martin Maldonado 1
1B Paul Goldschmidt 41 1B Mark Trumbo 26
2B Marco Scutaro 5 2B Brandon Phillips 18
3B Chase Headley 19 3B Aramis Ramirez 18
SS Starlin Castro 18 SS Ian Desmond 28
MI Stephen Drew 1 MI Zack Cozart 7
CI Juan Francisco 3 CI Gaby Sanchez 3
OF B.J. Upton 16 OF Jason Heyward 23
OF Cameron Maybin 10 OF Curtis Granderson 22
OF Darin Ruf 4 OF Jose Tabata 3
OF Chris Denorfia 2 OF Juan Lagares 2
OF Oscar Taveras 4 OF Brandon Barnes 1
U Chris Owings 4 U Javier Baez 1
P Clayton Kershaw 37 P Jose Fernandez 26
P Kenley Jansen 24 P Cole Hamels 19
P Julio Teheran 17 P Rafael Soriano 17
P Mark Melancon 5 P Johnny Cueto 14
P Jose Veras 10 P Jonathan Papelbon 16
P Paul Maholm 1 P Tim Lincecum 10
P Wily Peralta 3 P Josh Beckett 1
P Mike Leake 2 P Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez 2
P Brandon McCarthy 1 P Brian Wilson 1
Position Masters Ball (Carey) Salary Position Masters Ball (Kreush) Salary
C Wilin Rosario 21 C Wilson Ramos 16
C A.J. Ellis 5 C Chris Snyder 1
1B Freddie Freeman 32 1B Allen Craig 24
2B Daniel Murphy 19 2B Josh Rutledge 3
3B Chris Johnson 14 3B Pedro Alvarez 23
SS Brandon Crawford 2 SS Dee Gordon 4
MI Alex Guerrero 8 MI Mark Ellis 1
CI Brandon Belt 21 CI Luis Valbuena 1
OF Michael Cuddyer 21 OF Ryan Braun 30
OF Andre Ethier 10 OF Marcell Ozuna 13
OF Gerardo Parra 9 OF Carlos Gomez 32
OF Justin Ruggiano 3 OF Christian Yelich 16
OF Jordan Schafer 2 OF Skip Schumaker 1
U Cody Ross 1 U Gregor Blanco 1
P Aroldis Chapman 23 P Craig Kimbrel 26
P Zack Greinke 20 P Bartolo Colon 6
P Mike Minor 17 P Matt Cain 20
P Sergio Romo 17 P Kris Medlen 14
P Alex Wood 8 P Doug Fister 15
P Charlie Morton 4 P LaTroy Hawkins 7
P Trevor Cahill 1 P Carlos Martinez 4
P Santiago Casilla 1 P Joe Kelly 1
P Randall Delgado 1 P Sean Marshall 1
Position Patton & Co (Ponebshek) Salary Position Patton & Co (Cromer) Salary
C Miguel Montero 13 C Welington Castillo 10
C Nick Hundley 3 C Brayan Pena 1
1B Lucas Duda 4 1B Adrian Gonzalez 24
2B Martin Prado 20 2B Neil Walker 14
3B Kris Bryant 1 3B Ryan Zimmerman 25
SS Troy Tulowitzki 32 SS Jhonny Peralta 13
MI Emilio Bonifacio 8 MI Jordy Mercer 6
CI Eric Chavez 1 CI Adam LaRoche 12
OF Bryce Harper 34 OF Billy Hamilton 26
OF Carl Crawford 18 OF Hunter Pence 27
OF Michael Morse 15 OF Denard Span 13
OF Drew Stubbs 4 OF Peter Bourjos 13
OF Chris Heisey 1 OF A.J. Pollock 6
U Charlie Blackmon 2 U Adeiny Hechavarria 2
P Madison Bumgarner 26 P Gerrit Cole 17
P Cliff Lee 28 P Jordan Zimmermann 18
P Huston Street 15 P Bobby Parnell 15
P Hyun-Jin Ryu 13 P Bronson Arroyo 5
P Jason Hammel 2 P Travis Wood 3
P Jonathon Niese 7 P Brett Anderson 2
P Dan Haren 7 P Ryan Vogelsong 1
P Joaquin Benoit 4 P Edwin Jackson 2
P Drew Storen 2 P Jacob Turner 1
Position Razzball Salary Position RotoWire Salary
C Devin Mesoraco 11 C Carlos Ruiz 9
C Gerald Laird 1 C Yasmani Grandal 7
1B Anthony Rizzo 23 1B Joey Votto 34
2B Dan Uggla 10 2B Kolten Wong 8
3B Pablo Sandoval 19 3B Maikel Franco 6
SS Rafael Furcal 4 SS Everth Cabrera 22
MI Scooter Gennett 6 MI DJ LeMahieu 6
CI Nolan Arenado 15 CI Kendrys Morales 2
OF Starling Marte 26 OF Yasiel Puig 30
OF Justin Upton 27 OF Carlos Gonzalez 36
OF Khris Davis 16 OF Giancarlo Stanton 29
OF Junior Lake 10 OF Andrew Lambo 3
OF Nate Schierholtz 10 OF Jon Jay 2
U Cody Asche 8 U Mike Olt 2
P Steve Cishek 16 P Patrick Corbin 16
P Marco Estrada 10 P Michael Wacha 18
P Lance Lynn 11 P Jim Henderson 15
P Ian Kennedy 8 P Jenrry Mejia 2
P Jeff Samardzija 11 P Tanner Roark 3
P Rex Brothers 11 P Tyler Clippard 3
P Dillon Gee 5 P Alex Torres 1
P Jaime Garcia 1 P Paco Rodriguez 1
P Burch Smith 1 P Kevin Siegrist 2