My 2013 Fantasy Wish-list & “Perfect Auction” Team

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… I’d follow Josh Rutledge, fantasy’s coolest asset of 2013, to the ends of the Earth.

 

By Michael Jokinen                 4/3/13

Each year I’m reminded of how damn awesome late March and early April are for us sports fans.  March Madness and baseball’s Opening Day (among others) are always a breath of fresh air.  I can’t get enough baseball on April 1st, and I’m already knee-deep in fantasy thought.  Have been for awhile.  I’m feeling cozy right now, because my three-headed fantasy monster of Kershaw-Sale-Samardzija just hurled 24.2 shutout innings on Opening Day.  And they each got a win.  I’ll sleep well for the next week.  I’ve been in the same fantasy league for nine seasons, and it’s a Yahoo! 10-team auction keeper league.  25 roster spots. I’m glad to be back for a sophomore campaign at Baseball Revival, and like last year, much of my baseball input and advice is through this (standard-ish league) fantasy lens.  I’ve been plotting my inexorable rise to power in this longstanding keeper league for weeks, and like every year, there’s a handful of names I’m feeling particularly bullish on.  I want these guys because their perceived value is way lower than it should be.  There’s real value to be found.  Here’s a cheat sheet of sorts … my wish-list of names that you and I should want on all our fantasy teams this season:

1B – Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

A must have in keeper formats.  He should be one of your chief targets in standard leagues too.  Forget guys like Pujols or Fielder, and wait to land Rizzo for better value.  We know the prospect pedigree, and he finally broke out (.285/.342/.463) in a big way in 2012.  Expect him to continue trending upward.  It’s scary how smitten some saber-based projection systems (namely ZiPS and Steamer) are with Rizzo for the upcoming season.  Hop on board while you still can.

2B – Jose Altuve, Astros

I gushed about this guy last year.  Great contact skills and speed.  A Starlin Castro at second base!  This dude is grossly underrated.  Gets no love.  And he plays at a barren position.  Second base is pretty ugly this year, and Altuve is one of the few attractive options.  The horribleness of the Astros’ lineup and its fantasy-draining affect is overblown, and it shouldn’t impact his rotisserie value as much as some people think.  He’s being overlooked by everybody, but if you can’t net Cano in the first round, make a point of holding out for Altuve.

2B/SS – Josh Rutledge, Rockies

I perk up whenever I see a “2B/SS” listed next to somebody’s name.  Got to love that versatility.  Unfortunately, others love it too.  That’s why I stayed away from Ben Zobrist this year and went all-in on Josh Rutledge.  My absolute favorite player of fantasy baseball in 2013.  I tailored my entire auction strategy around getting him, and thankfully I did.  For absolute peanuts.  He should have little problem finishing as a top-10 fantasy shortstop.  Could very well go 20/20 with a decent average.  And he’s eligible at two positions starved for talent.  He’s like a younger, better version of Danny Espinosa capable of hitting forty points higher.

OF – Norichika Aoki, Brewers

I’ll conveniently include Aoki’s Opening Day act (1-for-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI) and his second game of the 2013 season in his career numbers, and scale those over a full 162 game average.  Here’s what you get: 633 PA / 560 AB / 88 R / 12 HR / 54 RBI / 32 SB / .289 AVG … better than you thought, right?  Admit it.  Aoki isn’t a sexy name, but he’s sneaky good.  Steamer projects Aoki as the #12 fantasy outfielder, sandwiched right between Cespedes and Holliday.  I’m not that crazy about him, but I do think he’s a legit top-20 outfielder, and he isn’t getting any hype.  People are lumping him in with the Jon Jays of the world, not with names like Ellsbury or Heyward.  Make sure he’s on your team.

SP – Jeff Samardzija, Cubs

He’s one of only a few names I really like among mid-tier starting pitchers this year.  Which is weird, because I usually preach waiting on pitching – there’s typically a plentiful supply of quality low-end arms.  This year seems a little more thin than usual.  It’s easy to pump this guy’s tires right now, given it’s coming on the heels (W, 8 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 0 ER, 9 K) of having just throttled the Pirates on Monday.  But I’ve been on this guy for awhile now.  He’s an intriguing name that hasn’t gone unnoticed, but I still think he’s largely being undervalued.  Last year, among innings-qualifiers, Jeff Samardzija was one of only six (Kershaw/Sale/Verlander/Hamels/Scherzer) starting pitchers in baseball to have a 9.0 K/9 and 3.0 B/9 or better.  His FIP, xFIP, and SIERA were all lower than his 3.81 ERA last year.  I’m always allured by big strikeout numbers, and Jeff Samardzija is a rising fantasy ace.

RP – Jason Grilli, Pirates

I rarely spend big bucks on a top-5 fantasy closer on draft day.  I’m one of the more attentive owners in my league, so I trust in my ability to find some closing help along the way on free agency.  Closers are a pretty unstable bunch, so I don’t like to invest much in my relievers.  That said, I often like one top-10 option to anchor my closer outfit.  This year, Jason Grilli is the chosen one.  He’s kind of going under the radar: his advanced age, the fact he has virtually no closing experience, and the fact he’s in Pittsburgh have kept his draft stock at bay.  But talent is talent, and just look at his numbers from last year.  He had an ERA, FIP, xFIP, and SIERA all comfortably below 3.00.  Only a 13.81 K/9.  He has all the makings of an elite fireman, but you can get him for significantly cheaper.  I’d take him over guys like Nathan, Betancourt, and Street.  But you won’t have to, he’ll drop right into your lap.

— My “Perfect Auction” Team —

Auctions are better than drafts.  Auctions are chess and drafts are checkers.  In an auction you can allocate your payroll however you please, and target as many specific players are you want.  Want to go top-heavy?  Spread it around a little?  No problem, you can be the architect of whatever roster balance you want.  Drafts are too restrictive.  You don’t have that control, and you have to just take the names that drop to you.  Another element I love about auctions is the unpredictability.  Very rarely do I leave an auction thinking, “hmmm … that went just how I thought it would.”  Regrets are natural.  Still, it’s fun to think about how things might shake out if everything fell perfectly into place.  Here’s my utopian fantasy roster:

Quick notes:

– based on my league format (which is fairly standard)

– 25 roster spots & keepers

“Perfect Auction” Team

C

SALVADOR PEREZ … Always go cheap at catcher; injury prone & lots of days off = depressed counting stats.  Always depth at C

1B

ANTHONY RIZZO

2B

JOSE ALTUVE

3B

MIGUEL CABRERA

SS

JOSH RUTLEDGE

OF

YOENIS CESPEDES

OF

NORICHIKA AOKI

OF

CARLOS GOMEZ

UT

PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT

UT

STARLING MARTE

SP

YU DARVISH … FIP almost a full run better than the ERA last year, and had second best strikeout rate in the league

SP

MAX SCHERZER

SP

JEFF SAMARDZIJA

RP

JASON GRILLI

RP

ERNESTO FRIERI … Kenley Jansen-esk numbers, and I don’t see Madson – or anyone else – threatening Frieri for the job.  Career 2.31 ERA & 12.0 K/9

P

MATT HARVEY

P

MARCO ESTRADA … Top three in ML in K/BB ratio last yr; 9.26 K/9 ranked 10th in ML, accompanied by tidy 3.64 ERA

P

JON NIESE

P

SHELBY MILLER

BN

JEDD GYORKO

BN

JEAN SEGURA

BN

GLEN PERKINS

BN

BOBBY PARNELL

BN

HYUN-JIN RYU

BN

MIKE FIERS

My Actual Team

C

MIGUEL MONTERO

1B

JOEY VOTTO (keeper)

2B

ROBINSON CANO (keeper)

3B

PABLO SANDOVAL

SS

JOSH RUTLEDGE

OF

GIANCARLO STANTON (keeper)

OF

JUSTIN UPTON (keeper)

OF

NORICHIKA AOKI

UT

PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT

UT

BRETT LAWRIE (keeper)

SP

CLAYTON KERSHAW (keeper)

SP

CHRIS SALE (keeper)

SP

MATT MOORE

RP

JASON GRILLI

RP

ERNESTO FRIERI

P

JEFF SAMARDZIJA

P

BRANDON MORROW

P

MARCO ESTRADA

P

KENLEY JANSEN

BN

JON JAY

BN

JEAN SEGURA

BN

JOHN AXFORD

BN

BOBBY PARNELL

BN

AL ALBURQUERQUE

BN

JOSE FERNANDEZ

… So my real life team didn’t deviate too much from how I wanted to execute my strategy; you’ll see a lot of overlap with the names I wanted to get, and the names I actually ended up netting.  I usually go a little purposefully thin at outfield, because finding a quality OF3-OF4 is one of the easier mid-season needs to address through free agency.  I build from the inside out, acquiring premium infield talent whenever possible.  I’ll spend about 60% of my budget on offense.  My team looks more or less how I wanted it to look.

 

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Maybe picking baseball was the right choice!  Samardzija sure has the look down.

 

MY 10 COMMANDMENTS OF AUCTION STRATEGY

1.) Go cheap on C/OF/SP/RP

2.) Spend about 60% of your budget on offense.  Pitchers are far more volatile from year to year.

3.) When looking at pitchers, target high strikeout guys.  Strikeouts are more controllable than wins and even ERA.

4.) Be comfortably top-half in your auction in $ left to spend as you head into the second half … it’s always surprising to see what steals come at the end.  Be patient.

5.) Never box yourself into a corner, where you’re totally reliant on getting one player.  Always have a Plan B for when things don’t go according to plan, because they probably won’t.

6.) Plot out exactly how you’re planning to spend your money on auction day, including dollar amounts per position, and pools of players you’re considering for each roster spot.

7.) Always keep positional scarcity in mind.  That’s why I usually try to spend on a few infield studs, because there are fewer of them.  Trying to land one of Robinson Cano or Miguel Cabrera is absolutely a good idea.

8.) Don’t overdue it on the prospects.  Pick one you like.  If it’s a keeper league, then youth must be served, but restrain your giddiness if it’s a prospect that will likely be dead weight on your roster until June at the earliest.  Let someone else get bogged down.

9.) If it’s a keeper league … never neglect the importance of keeper value.  Even if you don’t want keepers, it’s still a means to an end.  Keeper value is such a valuable currency that should be leveraged around the trade deadline – a rebuilding team will happily give you R.A. Dickey or bullpen help for a good keeper.  Especially if that rebuilding team is run by a lazy friend who hasn’t got any other trades going on, and it’s mere days before the deadline.

10.) Safe early, upside late.  For large $ investments I try to stay away from risky players whenever possible.  If I’m spending $1-$10 I will be far more inclined to roll the dice on a high-risk/high-reward type.

What do you guys think about that auction strategy?  What’s your perfect fantasy team?  Let me know what you think about my squad.  Comments, questions, and bitter debate is encouraged!

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Posted on April 3, 2013, in 2013, Fantasy, MLB. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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