Fantasy Baseball Auction Strategy: Putting a Premium on Relievers

Mar 20, 2017

Top relievers like Craig Kimbrel are perfect for auction strategies prioritizing elite relievers

I won the services of six relief pitchers in my fantasy baseball auction. I know, I know – “Lance, you so crazy!”

Or am I? *Cue Dr. Evil laugh*

This keeper league is a 14-team, H2H beast with OBP replacing AVG and QS replacing W in 5×5 scoring, and a $300 budget. Needless to say, you’ve got to do your homework and figure out ways to dominate the majority of your scoring categories with limited resources to spread out if you want to win.

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There always seems to be a premium put on the top pitching in just about every deep fantasy baseball league. This one is no different. You see, being able to take advantage of niche-type opportunities in a league boils down to how well you know your league mates, your league history, and what’s going to be available to you at auction

I knew that the top starters and closers available would go for a pretty penny going into our auction. I also knew that I didn’t want to spend big on Max Scherzer, who went for $40, or Clayton Kershaw ($48), or even Stephen Strasburg ($36). Hell, James Paxton went for $18 and ain’t nobody got time for that.

I decided to spend aggressively on my closers and elite relievers before really diving into the weeds with starting pitching – I also did this before anyone even caught onto what I was doing. While the prevailing thought is you can typically find a closer or two throughout the season, I didn’t want the hassle of competing with a dozen other owners who are well aware that Jim Johnson is simply a placeholder for either Mauricio Cabrera or Arodys Vizcaino.

Not only does that require an over-investment of FAAB dollars, but it means you have to constantly be on the lookout for that next guy. That alone is a significant time investment, especially considering nearly a quarter of all closers are replaced during the season for poor performance. Now, I get to spend that time worrying about things that will help my team come out on top each week more often than not — favorable matchups and finding value on the waiver wire where no one else is looking.

That’s why I decided to buck the trend of scouring the waiver wire for that next man up and decided to get all proven closers or guys who could easily keep the job if provided the opportunity. Plus, I firmly believe you can find capable starting pitching on the waiver wire or via trade far more cheaply than you’d be able to for a quality bat that could legitimately move the needle in a positive direction offensively.

As such, here is my relief corps:

While I am most likely going to package one of these super-relievers in a trade (okay, Gomez isn’t so super, but you get my point), I’m still left with one of the most dominant relief staffs in my league for the low, low price of $62.

Some owners paid that much for the stud closer and a fringe-tier one starting pitcher, or the other way around. I wasn’t about to do that – it just didn’t seem responsible given the makeup of my roster and the fact I was content waiting for my starters.

What this group means for my team is I will utterly dominate in saves, my ERA and WHIP will remain competitive, and I’m projected to be consistently near the top in strikeouts. According to our preseason projections, I can expect somewhere around 121 saves and 470+ strikeouts from these six relievers. That’s nearly as many strikeouts as we project Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer to combine for (494), while still benefitting from saves, in addition to a low ERA and WHIP.

I now expect to dominate in four out of our 10 scoring categories and stay competitive in three others because I decided to go against the grain and do something no one else in my league was doing. This just goes to show, as it does every fantasy baseball season – you don’t have to draft or buy the best player at each position to win your league.

You simply have to get a little creative with your draft or auction strategy and find value in places where others aren’t currently looking or don’t realize a new way of doing things is available and viable. Go after the categories and not the big name player.

More articles to help you prepare for your fantasy baseball auction draft:

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Lance Rinker is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Lance, check out his archive or follow him @LanceMRinker.

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