ROTISSERIE: NL LABR 2017

I have used the same methodology for my NL-LABR (12-team, 5x5 redraft) preparation for a few years now. In the eight years I have been using this methodology, I have one first-place and three second-place finishes in this league, including second-place in 2016. This methodology is aiming at capturing data that is specific to the owners' auction tendencies in this league and my own personalized valuations.

Batters

Each year, we know that each of 12 teams will need 24 catchers, 12 1B, 12 3B, 12 2B, 12 SS, 12 1B/3B, 12 2B/SS, 60 OF and 12 more hitters. The prices I list are the slot value for the previous year's prices. At catcher, there is some unique auction dynamics for scarcity, but for the rest of the hitters, there is no scarcity preference in this league. Note that these prices are for slots at this point without any players associated—yet.

Next, I customize the players valuations based on the SGP method and assign a value ($). Once I have done that, I tweak the valuation for my own perception of playing time risk due to position battles, prior injuries and other reasons for uncertainty in the projections. Then, I rank order them top to bottom for all hitters by ADP and assign the prior year slot prices (top-to-bottom not counting catchers) to the corresponding slot (L).

Once I have done that, I make lists for each position with that corresponding data. 1B looked like this (on February 20):

           
1B              AB  R   HR  BI  SB  BA  $  L
=============  === === === === === === == ==
Goldschmidt    548 101  24  97  23 303 36 39
Rizzo          576  93  32 102   5 288 30 34
Votto          531  93  28  89   7 318 27 29
Freeman        563  95  29  91   5 293 27 29
W.Myers        582  91  21  82  20 254 29 24
A.Gonzalez     528  68  20  80   0 283 15 20
Belt           531  77  21  80   5 271 19 20
Thames         515  77  23  86  12 273 24 17
T.Joseph       516  59  30  78   0 256 16 15
J.Bell         367  46  10  50   5 269  9 10
Bour           488  54  24  75   1 260 14 10
Duda           393  51  20  58   1 240 11  9
R.Zimmerman    410  53  14  58   4 240 11  7
Adams          222  24  10  35   1 248  3  2
Lind           280  36  12  42   0 263  6  1
Bellinger       91  13   5  14   2 254 -1  1
Jaso           240  30   6  29   1 273  3  1

Several things are captured. The order is by ADP. The projections are modified from BaseballHQ.com. The $ are SGP off those projections (with some tweaks for risk). The "L" is the valuation for that particular slot (as stated above) from the 2016 auction. These three value sets illustrate some places where value "may" be had or where overpricing "may" occur.

For example, Wil Myers (1B, SD) and Eric Thames (1B, MIL) appear to be primed for a discount. This is largely just a reflection of how the ADPs view them, not how the owners in this auction will view them. Conversely, in 2016, the room overvalued the slot assigned to Paul Goldschmidt (1B, ARI) and Anthony Rizzo (1B, CHC). This is all information to bring in to the auction across each of the batter slots. There is no predisposition toward certain batters over others—the goal is merely to maximize the entire roster's value and my method of presenting the data is meant to help me see where pockets of value might (might!) be.

The only bit of "shock" value is that I will allocate a whopping $230 of the $260 budget to batters. This is no surprise to my fellow owners, as they have seen this for eight years. They no doubt account for that skew in their own valuations. There are many reasons for undertaking this budgeting difference, but my main reason is that very little hitting comes into the league during the season and the risk of losing a hitter or two to injury is great. Therefore, you need to account for that risk of losing batters (and ABs) in the many counting stats under offense—runs, HRs, RBIs, SBs. With "bad luck" or even "poor risk choices," the $230 budgeted provides a buffer. With "good luck" or "good risk selections" you end up with a surplus of offense to trade to other needy teams.

Pitchers

That leaves only $30 for the 9 pitching slots. There are also 6 reserve slots that I will allocate to pitchers, giving me some volume-based selections from the lower reaches of the pitching pool, since I am selecting 15 pitchers overall. The large difference here is that there are many pitchers available at all times during a season, so injury or poor performance is easily replaced, and the low dollar amount spent per pitcher is easily jettisoned. Another difference is that a much smaller percentage of the total number of innings pitched are owned at any given time vis-a-vis the batters. Finally, there are fewer counting stats with pitchers, only wins, saves and strikeouts—and even then, purchases of saves is a detriment in wins/strikeouts and vice versa.

So many owners "buy roles" with pitchers. This, to my thinking, is incorrect, because of in-season dynamics. No one ever really guesses innings pitched correctly, except near the top of the food chain if the owner is lucky enough to avoid injuries. I try to buy skills. So I take the same slot values "L" as with batters and I take the same $ value from BHQ projections, but instead of rank ordering pitchers using ADPs, I rank order them using their xERA. I don't really even care about their projected numbers of innings, as that changes dramatically in-season anyway. Here is a snapshot of the center of my starting pitchers (as of Feb. 20):

           
SP              IP xERA WHIP  DOM  CMD HR/9  $  L
=============  === ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== == ==
Greinke        174 3.61 1.19  8.1  3.3  1.1 13 12
G.Gonzalez     181 3.63 1.32  8.7  2.7  0.8  6 11
Velasquez      167 3.68 1.25 10.1  3.1  1.2  8 11
Wainwright     174 3.69 1.25  7.6  3.3  0.8  8 10
R.Ray          174 3.69 1.40  9.8  2.6  0.9  4 10
Lackey         196 3.73 1.19  7.8  3.4  1.1 14 10
J.Ross         145 3.73 1.21  7.4  3.1  0.7  7  9
Glasnow        160 3.73 1.30  9.3  2.2  0.8  6  9
Leake          181 3.75 1.29  6.3  3.3  1.0  5  9
Samardzija     189 3.78 1.21  7.6  3.3  1.0  9  9

Here, the slot value is the xERA and the $ value is akin to perceived value. Pitchers like John Lackey (RHP, CHC) are likely to cost a premium, whereas pitchers like Robbie Ray (RHP, ARI) are likely to go at a discount. However, the BPIs say that they are roughly similar in value, if you follow xERA. Most feel like this is a leap off a cliff. However, regression toward the BPIs are generally a whole lot closer to reality than perceived value from recency bias. This has been shown over and over again.

The goal is to take the deepest discounts possible across nine slots for the $30 available and they get the best xERA pitchers for the 6 reserve slots as well. The intended split is 8 starters and 7 relievers. Note that the "L" slot value corresponds to the xERA ranking and not ADPs or any other valuation method. It adds to 108 total pitchers and then reserves are an additional 72 pitchers. It is usually a very ugly pitching staff to start the year, but improves over the course of the season, (as long as I can survive April and May!)

I have attached my entire customized draft cheatsheet here for your review.

Results

Here is the 2017 team purchased at auction from this methodology:

           
HQ LABR-NL team      $   L   Pd
==================  === === ===
c   Contreras (CHC)  14  24  18
c   Realmuto (MIA)   13  20  16
1b  Joseph (PHI)     16  15  18
3b  Carpenter (STL)  22  23  25
ci  Lamb (ARI)       23  20  18
2b  Wong (STL)       15  10  10
ss  Swanson (ARI)    16  17  17
mi  Crawford (SF)    15  15  13
of  Hamilton (CIN)   38  25  25
of  Dahl (COL)       20  23  20
of  Tomas (ARI)      18  19  20
of  Santana (MIL)    18  12  13
of  Dickerson (SD)   12   6  10
ut  Flores (NYM)     10   5   7
p   Velasquez (PHI)   8  10   8
p   Chen (MIA)        6   5   4
p   B.Anderson (CHC)  0  11   1
p   L.Weaver (STL)    6   5   3
p   Hader (MIL)      -3   R   4
p   Strickland (SF)   2   2   1
p   Edwards (CHC)     4   1   1
p   Vizcaino (ATL)    1   2   1
p   Ottavino (COL)    3   7   7
res Alcantara (CIN)   1   1   R
res Cahill (SD)      -1   R   R
res A.Garrett (CIN)  -4   R   R
res Feldman (CIN)     0   3   R
res D.Law (SF)        4   R   R
res B.Cecil (STL)     4   1   R

You can judge this for yourself. I paid a premium on Tommy Joseph (1B, PHI), Matt Carpenter (3B, STL), and Yasmany Tomas (OF, ARI). I got a discount on Jake Lamb (CI, ARI), Brandon Crawford (MI, SF), Wei Yin Chen (SP, MIA), Luke Weaver (SP, STL), and Hunter Strickland (RP, SF). You can count Brett Cecil (RP, STL) if you want. The others came at prices between my own SGP valuation and the slot value.

The buys that made me particularly happy were Billy Hamilton (OF, CIN), Domingo Santana (OF, MIL) and (believe it or not), Chen. The big one that I'd take back if I could would be David Dahl (OF, COL) with his stress reaction in a rib, when I maybe could have had Keon Broxton (OF, MIL) instead. But no auction goes perfectly according to plan.

The success or failure of this auction will not be known for several months. There will always be trades and injuries like David Dahl (OF, COL) and unexpected moves. But now that we are way before any of that. In the comments, let me know what you think of this year's team.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.