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NL Only Auction Results: Spend Big, Spend Often

Ray details the results of his NL only keeper league auction results where he spent early and often. It was an auction that saw Billy Hamilton get some serious love from a few owners.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday morning, I had my home keeper auction league draft. It is a 10 team, 5 x 5, NL only league with a $260 salary cap for 14 hitters and 9 pitchers. I have been in this league for about 15 years, winning in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2012. Last year was a rebuild year for me, as I finished in last place.

I have written here before that this league allows teams to pick up guys in a waiver draft after every one submits their list of ten keepers. If you have less than ten keepers, you are allowed to pick up a guy that another team dropped till you have ten keepers. With that said, here are the list of nine keepers I submitted:

1B - Anthony Rizzo, CHC - $8

MI - Dee Gordon, LAD - $2

SS - Hanley Ramirez, LAD - $21

0F - Yasiel Puig, LAD - $2

U - Ian Desmond, WAS - $19

P - Jose Fernandez, MIA -$7

P - Shelby Miller, STL - $6

P - Zack Wheeler, NYM -$3

P - Trevor Rosenthal, STL - $1

When the list of players dropped was distributed, I was surprised to see an $11 Mike Minor on the list, so I quickly grabbed him to add to my nine other keepers. The owner dropped him due to the shoulder injury, but I felt he was worth the risk at $11. Adding him gave me ten keepers for $80, leaving me with $180 to spend on 13 players on Sunday morning.

So heading into the draft, I had $180 and my plan was to spend it on the top hitters available, adding another starting pitcher and a closer. Here is how I spent the $180:

OF - Ryan Braun, MIL - $45

OF - Matt Kemp, LAD - $28

CI - Adrian Gonzalez, LAD - $29

OF - Jason Heyward, ATL - $27

P - Gerrit Cole, PIT - $22

P - Jose Veras, CHC - $13

2B - Scooter Gennett, MIL - $5

OF - Oscar Taveres, STL - $5

3B - Ed Lucas, MIA - $1

C - Hector Sanchez, SFG -$1

C - Gerald Laird, ATL - $1

P - Tyler Clippard, WAS - $1

P - Josh Johnson, SD - $1

Due to spending big early, I was left with several $1 players, including two $1 catchers. Several teams decided to keep two catchers when keeper lists were submitted, so there were only a few starting catchers available to spend on at the draft, and I didn't want to spend $14 on Miguel Montero, $19 on Evan Gattis, $9 on Jarrod Saltalamacchia, or $8 on Carlos Ruiz. Catchers are a volatile bunch, and I felt not spending on the position would leave money to be spend elsewhere.

Another quirky rule in this league is that we allow owners to drop a player they initially kept if said player was placed on the disabled list prior to the actual draft. I don't particularly care for this rule, but I can see the benefit of having this rule. Anyway, the same owner who dropped Mike Minor at $11 also owned Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw at $36, but once the news came out that Kershaw would be placed on the disabled list, he dropped him, making Kershaw available in the auction. I had thoughts of bidding on Kershaw, but stepped away when the bidding got to $24. Kershaw ended up going for $29. I felt my pitching staff was pretty much set, so I decided not to bid $30 on him.

After watching Sunday Night Baseball last night, it appears the Dodgers are going to be VERY cautious with their ace, so I could see him being out more than 15 days. There is no reason to push things with him this early in the season.

So, I spent a lot of money on hitting, but did grab Cole at $22. I preferred not spending that much on him, but there were only a few top line starters available in the draft. Here is a quick summary of the auction prices for the top starters:

Cliff Lee - $31

Clayton Kershaw - $29

Michael Wacha - $24

Matt Cain - $21

Cole Hamels - $17

Jeff Samardzija - $17

Yovani Gallardo - $15

After seeing Wacha go for $24, I was happy with Cole at $22, as I prefer Cole to Wacha. I think Cole can jump into the ace talk this season, after pitching so well in the second half last season.

I paid $13 for Veras, as he was the last closer off the board, but I felt I need a second closer to go with my $1 Rosenthal. I think Nationals set up guy Tyler Clippard can grab the closer job from Rafael Soriano this season. Soriano saw his fastball velocity and strikeout rate plummet last season, and he struggled again in spring training, so he could be on a short leash in April.

In this draft, we replace all players on the disabled list after the auction has completed, so I grabbed Seth Smith for Kemp, Charlie Blackmon for Taveras, Luis Valbuena for Lucas, J.J. Hoover for Minor and Carlos Martinez for Josh Johnson. With Aroldis Chapman out for the first six weeks of the season, Hoover should get the first shot at save opportunities in the Reds bullpen, especially with Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall on the disabled list.

I am hoping the Cardinals add Carlos Martinez to their rotation before Josh Johnson returns from the disabled list, and with Johnson out for at least the month of April, Martinez has plenty of time. Martinez is also insurance should Rosenthal struggle in the closer role in the early going.

My offense is loaded with several power-speed hitters including Hanley, Puig, Desmond, Braun, Kemp and Heyward, and Dee Gordon seems to have a pretty good grip of the second base job in Los Angeles, so my 30 stolen base prediction for him could prove to be conservative. Add in the fact that Alexander Guerrero will miss at least the next three weeks with an oblique injury, and Justin Turner being his only competition at second base, and Gordon could have the job for quite awhile.

For those of you who want to know how much Billy Hamilton went for in the draft, there was a bidding war for him, pushing his price to $35. I have to say I am shocked he went so high. To give you an idea of how expensive he was, his auction price is higher than all National League starting pitchers in this league, and every hitter except for:

Ryan Braun - $45

Troy Tulowitzki - kept at $39

Andrew McCutchen - kept at $39

David Wright - kept at $37

Joey Votto - kept at $36

Is Billy Hamilton the fifth most valuable player in the National League? I think not. But, in keeper leagues, some hitters are severely undervalued, such as Paul Goldschmidt who was kept at $20, Freddie Freeman kept at $24, Bryce Harper at $11, Puig at $2 and so on. When you have keepers kept at cheap prices like this, a guy like Hamilton can be pushed to extreme prices.