Triple Crown AL-Only Auction Review
On Monday, March 11 I participated in the Triple Crown AL-Only auction. It was my first time in one of Dave Gowron’s Blog Wars leagues. Dave has a great reputation for operating well-run leagues and I have to admit that I really miss being involved in an AL-Only format. The stampede towards mixed leagues in the past decade has made AL-Only competitions harder to find.
Before covering my auction purchases, I wanted to note a small tweak in the Triple Crown selection process. Instead of having a $260 auction cap and then a snake draft to fill reserve spots, this league gives owners a $264 cap that includes the responsibility of selecting four reserve players. I loved this change. The appeal of an auction is that it gives owners total control over player selection in comparison to a snake draft, which limits the opportunity to own certain players. But auction are somewhat limiting in that the entire league has to fill their starting roster before reserves can be picked. The Triple Crown league gives owners a chance to stack their bench in a certain position. You’ll see that I used this rule to my advantage during the auction.
With all of that said, here’s my roster:
J.P. Arencibia ($12), Francisco Cervelli ($3) – I didn’t feel like I got a deal on Arencibia, but elite catchers went for hefty prices and I didn’t feel like they were worth it. I needed J.P.’s power late in the auction. I was happy to get Cervelli. In a 12-team AL-Only league, there are 24 starting catchers. That means that nine backup catchers for real AL teams are in active lineups in our league. I expect Cervelli to exceed 300 at-bats, and that’s worth something in a deep league.
James Loney ($3), Josh Donaldson ($2), Brett Wallace ($2), Alberto Callaspo ($2) – Yes, this is an ugly group! I chose to spend my money elsewhere. I was very happy with the purchase of Callaspo. I had him valued at $5. I’m expecting 500 at-bats in a solid Angels lineup. With Maicer Izturis far away in Toronto, Callaspo has less competition for playing time this season. Similar to Callaspo, I had Loney valued at $5 because of the likelihood of 500 at-bats. He won’t be special, but he will be in the lineup everyday and won’t hurt me. Donaldson and Wallace should both exceed 400 at-bats, with a chance for 500. Donaldson has a bit of power but not much else. Wallace has generally lacked power, but flashed a little bit last season.
Jose Altuve ($22), Jemile Weeks ($2), Brian Dozier ($1) – This group isn’t much better than my corner infield! I really like Altuve this season. He should swipe 35 bases and hit for average. He is projected to hit second for the Astros. Combine a move to the two-hole and a relocation to the AL, and Altuve should be able to drive in close to 60 runs, which is a huge improvement. Weeks and Dozier are wildcards. I don’t love Dozier’s bat, but it looks like he will be the Twins second baseman, which means 400 at-bats and double-digit steals. Weeks is a big-time boom-or-bust pick. If he wins the second base job, he will get me 25 steals. He could also end up in the Minors. I’m hoping the A’s go with Weeks at second, with Lowrie and Sizemore forming a versatile, skilled infield bench tandem.
Jose Bautista ($31), Jacoby Ellsbury ($29), Melky Cabrera ($17), Ichiro Suzuki ($18), David Ortiz ($14), Nick Markakis ($16), Jonny Gomes ($4) – This is where I spent more of my cash. In AL-Only, I don’t believe in position scarcity. Infielders like Weeks and Wallace can be bought for a couple bucks and I don’t believe they are any worse than the $2 OF. Because of my theory, I typically spend a lot on outfielders in AL-Only leagues. Bautista and Ellsbury are injury risks, but both players are talented enough to be among the top five AL-Only hitters by the end of 2013. Cabrera, Markakis and Ichiro are the kind of steady, skilled performers that help propel a team to a championship. Ortiz is a risk, but I had him valued at $21 prior to his recent injury setback. The bad news for Ortiz turned out to be good news for me, as I saved several bucks. Because of the Triple Crown bench selection rules, I was able to pick up Gomes for a few dollars. I love have a skilled hitter on my bench. He will fill in for Ortiz in April and by the time Big Papi gets back to the lineup, I will likely need Gomes elsewhere.
David Price ($29), Fernando Rodney ($15), C.J. Wilson ($14), A.J. Griffin ($4), Gavin Floyd ($3), Lucas Harrell ($2), Joe Blanton ($2), David Robertson ($3), Dan Straily ($2), Ricky Romero ($3) – I like to go with the Stars and Scrubs approach with a deep league pitching staff. I was determined to get an ace and I was happy to roster Price for less than $30. To me, he is clearly the second best AL pitcher, after Justin Verlander. Most closers went in the $13-$17 range, which is fair value. I was satisfied with getting Rodney, who could pitch a lot worse than in 2012 and still be an effective closer. I’m not big on Wilson, but I felt like $14 was good value. I like the back end of my pitching staff a lot. Robertson may be the best setup man in the AL. I believe he will get about five vulture saves this year, as the Yankees will be careful not to overwork Rivera. I’m very high on Griffin, Straily and the rest of the A’s rotation. I can likely get one start out of Straily before Bartolo Colon comes off suspension and then I’ll need to leave him on my bench until Brett Anderson goes on the DL! I’m the only one in the world who ever drafts Floyd, but if you look at his stats, they are solid. Romero was a $15-20 pitcher in AL-Only leagues one year ago. It was worth $3 to see if he can bounce back to something close to his previous level. I like Blanton as a fly-ball pitcher in a spacious park with an insanely speedy group of outfielder behind him. If Harrell pitched for another team he would be a $5 pitcher, but he’s the one pick I’d like to take back. I can’t see the Astros winning 60 games this year, which means Harrell will be hard-pressed to win 10. I would have rather used this roster spot on a different pitcher.
I think I had a good, but not great auction. This team is good enough to win the league if it stays relatively healthy and I make a couple smart waiver claims during the season. I left $3 on the table, and that’s never a good thing. If I had it to do over again…..
1. I would have used my extra $3, along with the money I spent on the back end of my rotation, to pick up a second closer. I would have been happy to put back Floyd, Romero, Harrell and Staily to save $6 on a group of $1 starters. That would have given me $9 for a second stopper.
2. Since I didn’t get a second closer, my only other regret with my staff is that I bought Harrell for $2. I would have rather waited and taken Zach McAllister for the same price a few rounds later. I’m higher on McAllister because he will have better support from his teammates than Harrell.
3. My team is a little light on power. I choked on Edwin Encarnacion, who went for $27. I wish I had bid $28. Who knows, I may not have ended up with EE at that price, but I would like to have tried.
Other than that, I don’t have any regrets. My five favourite buys were Callaspo, Griffin, Cabrera, Ortiz and Ichiro.
I’ve got an NFBC draft tomorrow and Tout Wars in a little over a week, so it’s time for me to get back to the drawing board!