If you have spent much time playing auction draft fantasy baseball leagues, then you understand the value of finding an inexpensive hidden gem. If you can stock your team with a few players on the cheap, then you can afford to overpay for a few guys at the top end of the pay scale. The problem with finding that gem is that nearly everyone else in your league is looking for the same thing at the same time you are. How do you start looking for value?
Well, I usually start by going through the various online draft kits and draft results to look for some players to keep in mind. However, you probably will not get too far without some kind of process in mind to evaluate player costs in an unbiased manner. To that end, here are some guidelines I use to assist me…
- I rank players at each position, and then I choose a personal top 5 list at each position. I then select 3 or 4 positions that I am willing to overpay to fill with a player or players from the aforementioned lists.
- An “overpay” is defined as exceeding 120% of the player’s projected value.
- If any of the players on the lists comes available at a price less than 120% of the projected value, then that player becomes an automatic target. At anything less than 110% of projected value, that player definitely makes the “short list” of priorities.
- Watch to see if any team affiliations are artificially pushes prices substantially higher than projected value. An example here might be any San Francisco Giants pitcher expected to benefit from the return of Buster Posy or anybody on the Detroit Tigers who may spend significant time in a lineup projected to score a lot of runs.
- Look for an obvious falling off point at which prices at a particular position drop substantially between tiers of players.
- Keep a Word document or Post-It not handy to write down names of players that are going for close to projected value or even below it.
Real Examples from the Yahoo Auction Leagues:
- Consider that the shortstop position has only 8 players projected to have double digit value. Troy Tulowitzki is going for an average of $46.2 versus a projected value of $40. While I do consider him the top guy at the position, I like Hanley Ramirez at an average of $34 ($29 projected) much more. If you are looking for a value pick instead, then maybe $8.7 ($11 projected) for Dee Gordon is a better deal for you. If you have faith that JJ Hardy can duplicate his 2011 season, then $6.5 ($7 projected) is quite appealing as well. Hidden Gem: Ian Desmond going for an average of $1.7 versus a projected value of $5.
- It should not surprise anyone that Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols are both hovering around the $50 mark on average. What about Joey Votto at $44.1 ($39 projected)? He seems like a pretty good deal compared to Prince Fielder who is averaging $37.2 with a projected value of $29. Then again, the projected value seems a bit low, so he may be a good deal at around $12 cheaper than Miggy or Albert. With all the depth at the position, you still may have to go down the list a ways to find the likes of Billy Butler at $7.9 ($9 projected) or Freddie Freeman at $6.5 ($8 projected). Hidden Gem: Mitch Moreland at $1.3 ($3 projected) as a backup 1B or utility guy.
- Due to injuries and variance in the number of plate appearances, catchers are often difficult to evaluate in the context of your roster dollars. Getting a catcher that consistently hits is worth a bit of a premium, and that premium increases for catchers who also qualify at 1B. Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, and Joe Mauer are probably worth every penny for their respective offensive output combined with the dual threat factor. That does not mean it is a good idea to sleep on guys like JP Arencibia at $3.4 ($5 projected), although I would probably stay away from Geovany Soto, even if he is going for well below the anticipated market rate of $6. Hidden Gem: Nick Hundley at $1.3 or Russell Martin at $1.6.
It is one thing to know who is good at each position. It is even better to know what other people think each player is worth at those positions.
If you enjoy the “Hidden Gems” work, then please check out the rest of the gems here at FullSpectrumBaseball!!!