By Chris St. John
The Platoon Advantage (the site you are reading right now) started an ottoneu league with a few friends and here is my obligatory post about the draft. If I seem to post this begrudgingly, it is because I am. This is a mandatory post and my overlords here would fire me and sue me for all of the millions I am earning with this.
I picked my team name using the baseball-reference random page feature. It led me to a player named Monte Pfeffer with four career plate appearances and I liked the sound of it. I then found a rhyming word with Pfeffer and went with it. There is no historical information to confirm or deny the reports that Monte Pfeffer ever owned a heifer. Play-index bonus: Pfeffer is the only player to ever have a career in which he played in only one game, had four plate appearances, no walks and one hit by pitch.
I had never done an auction draft before, so I was a little worried about being behind in that area. Thankfully, this was a common theme throughout the draft room, which made me feel more comfortable. In order to have a plan of action, I googled “baseball auction draft strategy” and found the idea of nominating expensive players that I didn’t really want. This makes other teams spend more money so you are in a better position with the players you really want. This worked with my other strategy of taking really good young players, who turned out to be popular with everyone (imagine that).
The draft was definitely an experience. I spent about 10 hours in the draft room (over three days), excluding all of the time preparing beforehand. One reason it took so long to draft is because ottoneu teams have 40 spots to fill. However, this should still not take so long. The other problem was that each individual player auction took for…ev…er. Teams have 30 seconds to nominate a player. When a team is not in the draft room or is having an impossible time getting the drafting software to allow them to nominate anyone, this is a complete waste of 30 seconds. If this happens hundreds of times throughout the draft, you are wasting an hour or two just waiting on a team to be skipped. This could be fixed if a team was automatically skipped if they were not in the draft room or if the computer automatically nominated a player when the clock ran out.
The drafting software was buggy. There is a watch list that is useful to be prepared for the next nomination, but players who are purchased are not removed from the list until you refresh the page. The chat software was not reliable, so we used GChat instead. There were a few snafus with actual bidding as well. I remember one specific time when I tried to bid on Gary Brown. My bid went through with three seconds left. Then, my bid was deleted, the clock ran out and the other team got him instead. A few other players had problems with the screen freezing, but I never ran into that myself. There were also a few times where a drafter would bid on a a player, only to have his bid happen twice, basically overbidding himself. It would also be helpful if players were placed in a roster during the draft to show which teams need to fill which positions. This is a prominent feature on Yahoo and I use it often during the draft. Finally, there need to be sounds when a player is nominated and when your turn comes up. I missed a few of these because there was no notification.
I did enjoy the overall experience, though. I had a good time chatting with my league-mates and the auction was actually pretty fun. I kept myself busy the entire time, updating my spreadsheet with how much each player went for and finding who my next targets were. I will definitely not be doing another ottoneu league because I don’t have another 10 hours of free time to commit to a draft, but I do have a more open mind toward auction leagues in general.
I found out pretty early that people were willing to shell out big bucks for top players. In fact, at least 26 of the players chosen went for the highest values in the ottoneu points universe, led by Jacoby Ellsbury at $53. Here’s a chart of the average ottoneu price and how much each player went for in the auction:
I used some different projections and the average market for different types of players to create a price that I would be willing to pay for each player. This helped me limit my spending early on. The only time I jumped in on an auction was with one of my cornerstone players. The early restraint allowed me to dominate those auctions and get the players I really wanted. I feel pretty good about my draft overall, but was a little aggravated at how much I had to pay for some of the players. The early overpay made me miss out on some players that I had valued far above average.
Finally, the part where I talk about my team. I’m fairly happy with it, though I don’t think I’m in a great position this year. I have a few young players who are still a year or two away from fully contributing and didn’t get the necessary depth to account for that. Here is my roster:
Here’s how that breaks down in terms of cost:
I focused on young players and had some definite targets in mind, leading me to overpay for Stephen Strasburg and Mike Trout, most noticeably. I did miss out on some of the top pitching prospects, but I preferred to save my money until the end.
According to the average values, these are the players I most over and underpaid for:
I’m comfortable with most of the overpays, since Trout, Strasburg, Hosmer and Harper form a great future base. If they become what they are capable of, these could very well become huge discounts. Starlin Castro was my target at SS, but he went for $26. There were not many good young SS available after Cabrera, so I did overpay for him a bit. I’ll have to hope that his breakout last year was for real, even though I’ve already found that it probably isn’t.
The Ryan Howard pick was actually an accident. I nominated him for $2, thinking the bidding would bring his price up to $10 and someone else could have him. At that point, I already had Hosmer and Joey Votto at 1B, so another one was unnecessary. However, no one wanted him and I got him for the opening bid. This could be a great value next year if he remains healthy. Reynolds was one of the lone 3B left toward the end of the draft and I still didn’t have one. He had been a target all along and I waited for the right chance to grab him.
I’m happy with my team. I have Nick Markakis, a good group of prospects and a lot of talented youngsters who have already proven themselves in the Major Leagues. I may have trouble sticking to the top of the league this year, but feel like I have put myself in a good position to compete in the years to come.