A fan of the Yankees, Red Sox, and large sample sizes.
I'm getting ready for the fantasy season and have been asked by a bunch of people, "what's the best thing to do to prepare for an auction?" You see, my local league is switching form a draft format to an auction keeper league. I'm the only one with any experience in an auction, so everyone wants all my strategies and spreadsheets. I've tried to share all my strategies and I'd share my spreadsheets if I had 'em, but they're not ready yet. I'm going to go into this AL only auction almost as clueless as the rest of my friends. And that, my friends, is the number one no-no on the list of SkyKing's auction tips:
1 - Act like a Boy Scout and be prepared.
2 - Obtain, or produce yourself, a set of statistics projections based on the past three years of stats that are park adjusted and properly regressed. Most fantasy projections out there are completely unscientific. Properly regressed stats will appear to bunch players too much towards league average. This is good. Fantasy values don't rely absolute numbers, but on relative numbers. If you were to double everyone's stolen bases, the values players earn for steals would stay exactly the same. The top of this discussion thread at Baseball Primer outlines TangoTiger's simplistic Marcel the Monkey forecasting system. Why regress? Because each plate appearance is one small sample of a player's true abilities. When you've collected a full season's worth of plate appearances, you have a pretty good guess at his true ability, but the odds are that his true ability is closer to the league mean than he's shown. The more samples (PAs) you have, the less your regress and trust the samples.
3 - Properly translate these projections into dollar values, using your exact league specifications (number of teams and the correct categories). Use a replacement level model for value, no standings gain points crap or anything that some online auto-dollar-calculator uses. Take the time to learn how to compute values and do it yourself. Visit Mastersball.com for some good discussion threads about proper valuation. Or, better yet, buy their yearly annual when they make it available in a couple days. I bought the 2002 version and still refer to it, even thought the stats are out of date. The valuation and strategy tips are just that good. I've never bought another fantasy magazine or online service, but the Mastersball guide was worth my money. Proper dollar values give you the best chance of spending your money wisely at an auction. If you overspend by a few dollars on a few players, you've just wasted $10. Would you overbid by $10 on a single player? No, so why throw away $10 on multiple players. Values vary widely between different types of leagues. And stupid online values don't know what they're doing - they're either subjective or determined by some stupid computer program. Take, for example, Rototimes. For an 8 team league, they spit out 150 hitters with positive value, when only 112 will be bought. The top hitter, Alex Rodriguez, was valued at $28. Right.
4 - Before the auction, block out a plan. Make a list of players that you probably value higher than others. Make a list of players that will probably go for more than you'll pay. Write in a rough estimate for the amount of money you're budgeting for each position, based on the players you like. This method allows you to easily keep track of how much money you have left. If you budgeted $30 for your top outfielder and ended up gettng a deal on a $35 outfielder, you know you have to spend $5 less somewhere else. Nominate your overrated players early, at low prices. Let other people waste their money and then jump in on the cheaper players.
5 - Other ideas: mock draft a few times; check out my DIPS numbers (link at left) for pitching ideas or read my post about pitchers whose 2003 ERAs were most out of line with their actual shown abilities; read lots of good threads at Mastersball.com and RotoJunkie (the search function is awesome); email me with other ideas or questions - if I'm presented with an interesting question, chances are I'll post an answer at this blog for all to see.
And if you're getting bored with rotisserie baseball, try a sim league - Scoresheet's a good gateway drug between roto and Strat-o-matic or Diamond Mind Baseball.
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