Which Baseball American Netted Most Surplus Value In NL-Only Auction?

Will Lingo’s Golden Kazoos have jumped out to an early six-point lead in the Baseball America NL-Only fantasy league, thanks to a strong showing in offensive counting numbers and pitching rate stats. Through one week of the Roto season, the Kazoos rank first in average, runs and ERA and are runners-up in home runs, RBIs and WHIP.

Can we expect Lingo’s charges to keep up this pace for 25 more weeks? Not necessarily, if you trust the auction dollar values published by ESPN and customized for the BA league format, i.e. 12 teams, NL-only, Roto scoring, 5×5 categories.

Many hardcore fantasy players believe that the surest way to win an auction league is to maximize one’s $260 draft-day budget by paying less than list price for every player. This will result in a roster full of bargains and will effectively furnish the manager with surplus value when measured against his players’ salaries. If a manager executes this plan perfectly, he could conceivably buy $280 or more in actual talent for just $260 in auction dollars.

Of course, the success of this strategy hinges on the accuracy of one’s projected dollar values, which, in turn, hinges on the accuracy of one’s statistical projection system. We won’t worry about projection models or value formulas here—check out Larry Schechter’s new book “Winning Fantasy Baseball” for more on those topics—but we will compare the aforementioned ESPN auction values with draft-day prices for players in the BA auction league.

Each player has a dollar value determined by where the bidding stopped at our auction. He also has a projected auction value based on ESPN’s forecasts. To measure which BA manager acquired the most surplus value on his roster, I calculated the difference between actual dollar value and projected dollar value for each of his players. You can find the results in the (Surplus $) column below. I then subtracted auction dollars left unused (Leftover $) because an owner got zero value for those dollars. This results in the (Adjusted) column, which is a rough measure of overall (projected) surplus value achieved through each manager’s auction strategy.


No Manager Surplus $ Leftover $ Adjusted
1. Clint Longenecker $71 $20 $51
2. Josh Leventhal $50 $10 $40
3. J.J. Cooper $35 $1 $34
4. Jim Shonerd $25 $2 $23
5. John Manuel $32 $11 $21
6. Conor Glassey $13 $1 $12
7. Vince Lara $2 $4 -$2
Matt Eddy -$2 $0 -$2
9. Will Lingo -$8 $0 -$8
10. Josh Norris -$37 $0 -$37
11. Aaron Fitt -$39 $0 -$39
12. Ben Badler -$14 $208 -$222


The results indicate that Longenecker ($51 in adjusted surplus value), Leventhal ($40) and Cooper ($34) hewed most closely to a value-at-all-costs strategy, while Fitt (-$39) and Norris (-$37) were considerably more free-wheeling and impulsive, going the extra dollar or two to land their guys.

Injuries can hamstring even the best-laid plans, however. Five of Longenecker’s starting pitchers began the season on the disabled list—Jhoulys Chacin, Doug Fister, Jaime GarciaCole Hamels and Jon Niese—forcing him to plug in reserve-round draft picks Jason Hammel and Ryan Vogelsong. Leventhal experienced similarly bad luck with his pitchers, losing Pat Corbin, Kris Medlen and Jameson Taillon to Tommy John surgery before the season was a week old. To get by, he spent $19 of his $100 free agent acquisition budget to sign Aaron Harang and Jose Valverde.

No, Badler did not really draft that ineptly. He failed to connect to the auction room on draft day, so the computer auto-auction-bot carried out an extremely poor strategy, leaving $208 on the table and still managing to spend $14 more than his players are projected to be worth.

Most Expensive Overpays

Managers in the BA fantasy auction proved willing to bust their budgets on elite hitting talent. The top 10 most expensive overpays at the auction also happen to be, arguably, the top nine offensive performers in the NL, plus Jose Fernandez.

No Player Pos Manager Auction ESPN Difference
1. Bryce Harper OF Norris $46 $25 -$21
2. Paul Goldschmidt 1B Lingo $51 $33 -$18
José Fernandez P Manuel $42 $24 -$18
4. Andrew McCutchen OF Glassey $48 $34 -$14
5. Ryan Braun OF Cooper $40 $27 -$13
6. Hanley Ramirez SS Lingo $38 $26 -$12
Buster Posey C,1B Glassey $34 $22 -$12
Carlos Gonzalez OF Eddy $43 $31 -$12
9. Troy Tulowitzki SS Glassey $38 $27 -$11
10. Joey Votto 1B Shonerd $38 $28 -$10


Biggest Bargains

Manuel and Glassey each scored three of the biggest bargains at the auction, with the former scoring Ben Revere for $3, Sergio Romo for $10 and Junior Lake for $3. Hard to argue with those prices. Questions about playing time allowed Glassey to nab Matt Adams for $9 and Andre Ethier for $5.

No Player Pos Manager Auction ESPN Difference
1. Jon Jay OF Norris $1 $13 $12
2. Ben Revere OF Manuel $3 $14 $11
Marlon Byrd OF Shonerd $4 $15 $11
4. Starlin Castro SS Longenecker $11 $21 $10
Matt Adams 1B Glassey $9 $19 $10
Andre Ethier OF Glassey $5 $15 $10
Nate Schierholtz OF Shonerd $4 $14 $10
8. Sergio Romo P Manuel $10 $19 $9
Junior Lake OF Manuel $3 $12 $9
Kenley Jansen P Lara $19 $28 $9
Nathan Eovaldi P Glassey $5 $14 $9