Fantasy Baseball: The Five Commandments of Auction Drafts, Pt. 3


Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past two days, I have been going over the dos and don’ts (mostly the don’ts) of the fantasy baseball auction draft process.

Today I’ll be continuing with Commandment No. 3, and after reading it, you will respect the nomination process!!  Sorry, didn’t mean to yell there.

If you haven’t yet read the first two commandments, please click the links below:

Commandment #1: Do Your Homework

Commandment #2: Have a Plan, Then Have Another Plan

And now on to No. 3…

Commandment #3: Respect the Nomination Process

In a fantasy baseball auction draft the major action takes place when all of the GMs try and outbid, outfox, and outmaneuver one another.  The strategy that usually gets overlooked is deciding the order in which the players will be fought over.  When you put a player on the block you’re in control and you’re dictating the pace of the draft.  Use that power wisely.

For instance, let’s say that you absolutely love Josh Donaldson this year and getting him is one of your prime objectives.  We’re in the third round and so far the only third basemen who have been purchased are Miguel Cabrera for $45 and Adrian Beltre for $32.  It’s your turn to nominate.  Your choices could be to:

A) Nominate Josh Donaldson

The upside:

At this point in the draft most GM’s are interested in big time studs so by striking early you could end up snagging him for a bargain price.  Also, you’ll know going forward if you’re drafting according to your original plan with Donaldson at the hot corner, or if you have to go to a plan B and wait for an “Ado” (Manny MachADO, Martin PrADO,  Nolan ArenADO).  The less variables you have to worry about the better.

The downside:

People still have money in their pockets and they’ve been waiting for weeks or months to draft, so they want to spend.  There’s a good chance you’re going to have to pay a $5 tax to get this variable out of the way.

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

B) Nominate David Wright

The upside:

Every dollar spent on a player other than Josh Donaldson is a dollar that is not going to be spent on Josh Donaldson.  By nominating a big ticket player like Wright you’re taking that money out of the draft’s economy.  Also, that’s one less GM that’ll be interested in Donaldson since he’ll already have 3B all sewn up.

The downside:

Only one dude can own David Wright.  Once the bidding war is over there is a very good chance that the loser(s) in the Wright sweepstakes may be viewing Donaldson as a fallback plan.  If that’s the case, and now that Wright’s off the board, you may have inadvertently driven up the price of your guy.

If we continue to view each draft as its own economy, you have to respect the law of supply and demand.  As the supply of third basemen (especially good ones) dwindles, the demand will usually increase.

C) Nominate an “Ado”

The upside:

As previously mentioned, you’re taking money out of the pool and jamming up somebody’s 3B slot with someone other than your boy.

The downside:

What if the Ados all go for cheap and you save your money for Donaldson and unbeknownst to you his mom is in the draft room?  She’s willing to go to $50 on Donaldson and now your plan A and plan B is gone and you end up overpaying for dreams of a healthy Pablo Sandoval.

You could defend or bash any of options A through C.  Me, I’d take option D:

D) Nominate Giancarlo Stanton

The upside:

I like Stanton and would be happy to own his insane 50-bomb potential, yet sketchy injury history, for a reasonable price.  On the other hand, it wouldn’t break my heart to see someone else snag him.  The first hand gets Stanton for $24 and I’m well on my way to having an excellent outfield.  The other hand forces someone else to drop $30 on a player other than Josh Donaldson.

The downside:


The only time you should be nominating players you absolutely don’t want is in the first round or two when you’re trying to determine this particular draft economy’s going rate for superstars.

If elite talent is going for semi-reasonable prices early on then I’ll start throwing out guys like Stanton, studs who I’d like to have but I’m not in love with.  Once some of the dust has settled in the middle of the draft and you see the first two or three legit bargain prices, that’s when you start nominating your target guys.

“Why all the hate, man?”

Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

My Epic Fail:

At one point — about an hour into my draft — there was a long string of middle- to upper-tier pitching going for, what I considered at the time, far too much money.

I was only half paying attention to the draft, keeping one eye on the bidding as I hurried towards the nursery with my open laptop in one arm and

a screaming baby that had just loudly soiled herself

my beautiful daughter in the other.  As soon as I plunked the computer on the dresser and the baby on the changing table, I heard the ESPN jingle telling me it was my turn to nominate.

Totally unprepared and unable to devote any time to a bidding war, I just picked a guy at random towards the middle of the list I had been recently browsing — which happened to be a starting pitcher.

I rarely nominate guys for a single buck, instead opting to chuck them out there for 50-to-75 percent of my value.  I had Jered Weaver worth $12, so I nominated him for $10.  I was thinking he’d go for about $15, so I turned around and got to work on baby stank.  Absolutely no one bid, I was mocked in the chat, and I was now the proud owner of a $10 Jered Weaver — and an 11-pound diaper.

Weaver was the first player I had bought in the entire draft and I was livid.   It’s not that I hate Jered Weaver — if he’s healthy he’ll be a rock for my ERA and WHIP — but after passing up on so many elite players because they went just a few dollars over my target price, I had just way overpaid for a boring guy who I didn’t even actually want.

My Lessons:

  • If you absolutely have to nominate someone who you don’t want, just bid a buck.  Open with higher bids for your targets, but if it’s a half-hearted nomination, just throw out a damn dollar and be done with it.
  • Use the queue to have your potential nominations at the ready rounds ahead of time.  I had used my queue to list all of my lesser known cheap targets that were buried deep in ESPN’s rankings. This was a bad decision and the Weaver incident was not the last time I would end up scrambling to figure out who to nominate.  Even if you’re not babysitting, you never know when you have to hit the bathroom, pick up broken glass from a pet-related accident, have a long phone conversation with a loved one who doesn’t grasp the importance of a fantasy baseball draft…whatever.  Guarantee yourself that you’ll be prepared for what’s happening within the next ten minutes, not for what you may need in two hours.

(Next time . . . Commandment #4: Exercise Cautious Caution)

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