ROTISSERIE: 2019 LABR NL auction recap

This short column is about my LABR-NL auction plan, why I do it, how it works, and what went wrong.

Last season, I tried to curve away from my usual $230 on hitting and $30 on pitching plan. I spent around $200 on hitting and $60 on pitching, had injuries, and ended up without enough hitting and finished in the bottom half. The reason $230/30 works okay for LABR is that you get a whopping six(!) reserve slots, but you are restricted in their use. Only original reserve or minors players can occupy those slots. You cannot store a slumping player there. Or wait all season for a call-up from there. And in NL-only 12-team leagues, at-bats are at a premium. There is no DH, so the at-bats pool is smaller than in the AL. Catchers are terrible and platooned. Lots of hitters are platooned in the NL. You must not fail to be in the Top 3 in at-bats if you want to win this league.

So I try to buy this problem in dollars. $230 should (must!) buy a lot of offense. Here is what I bought:

Player           Pos Rel Team  AB  R   HR RBI  SB AVG  val  spt
==============   === === ==== === === === === === ===  ===  ===
Molina, Yadier    C  BBB STL  449  51  15  67   5 273  $13  $13
Posey, Buster     C  BBD SF   490  58   8  61   4 280  $13  $14
Belt, Brandon     1B DBB SF   508  71  24  63   5 258  $14  $15
Gennett, Scooter  2B AAB CIN  574  83  23  89   5 287  $23  $21
Wong, Kolten      MI BCC STL  499  66  10  56  12 268  $14  $10
Escobar, Eduardo  CI ABC ARI  530  67  21  74   3 270  $15  $16
Turner, Justin    3B DBC LA   458  73  22  68   4 307  $23  $24
Peraza, Jose      SS ABC CIN  587  72  15  51  27 278  $24  $24
Dickerson, Corey  OF BAB PIT  582  78  20  68   7 291  $22  $16
Williams, Nick    UT ABB PHI  256  35  11  32   2 259   $4   $1
Pollock, A.J.     OF FDA LA   539  83  24  78  14 269  $22  $25
Blackmon, Charlie OF AAD COL  593 112  27  77  13 303  $33  $31
O Neill, Tyler    OF ABD STL  343  60  18  62   6 240   $9   $8
Souza, Steven     OF FCD ARI  488  63  20  65  13 243  $12  $11
Summary:                    6,896 972 258 911 120 275 $242 $229

Not a perfect spend, but I have no complaints. This is what I was trying to do with my $230. Got the categories filled (by the projections), and the almost 7,000 ABs is a good number.

The problem is making up the difference in pitching when you only have $30 to spend. The goal with that $30 is to get a head start on a staff that will preserve ERA and WHIP while also somehow meet the minimum innings limit and get at least one closer. I try to bully these slots with quantity, not quality, and I try to use the abundant reserve slots to give me more attempts. The difference is that in this NL-only league, pitching is constantly coming into the league and there are always rosterable arms in the free agent pool. I absolutely count on turning over the pitchers—even several times if necessary. Survive and improve. As you will see, this did not go nearly as well, but you get what you pay for:

Player                Rel Team  W Sv   IP   K   ERA WHIP val spt  
==============     == === ==== == == ===== === ==== ==== === ===
Burnes, Corbin      P ADB MIL  10  0 131.0 114 3.44 1.21 $10  $5 
DeSclafani, Anthony P FDB CIN   8  0 131.0 113 4.47 1.30 $-3  $3 
Erlin, Robert       P FDA SD    6  0 116.0  90 4.03 1.24  $1  $3 
Holland, Greg       P CCC ARI   2 14  44.0  48 3.89 1.41  $2  $1 
Jeffress, Jeremy    P BBC MIL   5 16  58.0  57 3.10 1.26  $9  $1 
Kelly, Merrill      P BFF ARI   6  0 131.0 113 4.19 1.37 $-4  $1 
Neris, Hector       P ACB PHI   3  4  58.0  76 3.41 1.21  $4  $1 
Peralta, Freddy     P ADA MIL   6  0 131.0 156 4.26 1.31  $0  $4
Smith, Will         P FDB SF    2 23  44.0  57 2.86 1.14 $12 $12 
Summary:                       48 57 844.0 824 3.89 1.28 $32 $31

So this did not go nearly as well. The relievers went fine. Got a closer and a few quasi-closer/maybe options for cheap, spending $15 on 4 relievers worth $27 per HQ projections. If one of them stinks (looking at you, Greg Holland (RHP, ARI)) I will just dump him and plug in a free agent or reserve.

The starters were a disaster. I had hoped to get one or two of the nice undervalued relievers that instead were going for $6-8, and I could just not quite reach them. An adjustment to add even just $6-7 to my pitching budget would have given me some great options over Anthony DeSclafani (RHP, CIN) and Merrill Kelly (RHP, ARI). Now I am rolling with them. But again, if they stink, I throw them overboard (I do not wait very long) and I get a new guy. I spend my FAAB early and often, if I can, to improve it. I will typically turn over 7 of 9 pitching slots across the season, and will use as many as 30 pitchers with this strategy. We can make trades, too, of course. This strategy has worked in this league several times; only one win, but multiple second places. I have a lot of work to do, which is not unusual. I would not recommend it without these same conditions: NL-only, deep, 5x5, large reserve lists, but restricted use, adequate FAAB, ability to trade. Under those conditions, though, you absolutely must get the at-bats or lose.

Follow me @dougdennis41


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.