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Stars and Scrubs Approach to Your Fantasy Baseball Auction

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
May 7, 2020

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Auctions are, by far, the best and most fun way to draft. When you have a snake draft, you’re held hostage to the draft slot that you were assigned, which limits the available pool of players to you based on who the others in your league draft.

While it’s the approach we are used to, shouldn’t all players in your league have the same chance to draft Mike Trout or Ronald Acuna? Should there be a 22-pick gap between when the player drafting first overall can draft again in the second round? 

Auctions allow for everyone to have the same chance to get every player they want, as long as they stay within their allotted budget.

Do you want to save your money and find values in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft? Go for it. Do you want to dominate pitching and piece together hitting? Go for it. 

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There are so many different strategies that you can take in an auction draft, but the one that offers the most reward, which, in turn, has the most risk, is going stars and scrubs.

What is stars and scrubs, you ask? Well, the approach is in the name, as you’re literally trying to grab as many top-level, elite talents as you can afford and rounding out your team with low-cost options.

The thought with the approach is that elite talent is the most valuable driver of success in fantasy, so stockpiling it, even if it makes you weaker in other spots, gives you a leg-up on your competition.

The most obvious pro is that you get multiple first-round players that you cannot get in a regular draft. Do you want to grab three first-round players? You can do it, but you also have to sacrifice the majority of your budget to do so.

We try not to write in the first person here, but I’m going to break the rules a bit here. In February 2020, I used the FantasyPros draft simulator to put together an article around a mock draft auction. I wanted to go stars and scrubs to see how it turned out.

You can see the full results here, but using a $260 budget, I was able to leave the draft room with Mike Trout ($60), Cody Bellinger ($40), Trea Turner ($32), and Trevor Story ($27), giving me four first-round talents. I had to spend $159 of my $260 budget on these hitters, but that’s the cost of doing a stars and scrubs approach.

The pitching wasn’t a mess, either, as I could still grab two top 10 starters in Walker Buehler ($32) and Mike Clevinger ($26), leaving me with $43 to fill out the remaining 15 spots of my roster. That’s less than $3 per remaining position. 

Be prepared to wait on players and not be able to get in on the bidding for quite some time. There will be some buyer’s remorse when you see a player who should be going for more than they went for, but you know you don’t have the money to get them. Same with popular sleepers, as their draft price will go for more than you are able to spend.

With that remaining $43, you have to decide how you want to spend it carefully. You are going to have more than one weakness when you go as big as you are forced to in stars and scrubs, so just decide at this juncture what you’re comfortable with. For me in this draft, it was catcher and reliever – the two spots I’m usually OK leaving the draft with uncertainty, anyway. 

I left the aforementioned draft spending a combined $4 on three relievers (one SPARP, two closers-in-waiting) and one catcher. 

With taking the cheap route there, it allows for one more value pick, where you can spend around $15 or so. I took the chance on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for $13, but it may have been an overspend, seeing as Josh Donaldson ($11) and Matt Chapman ($8) went for a lot less. Every dollar counts in the auction, and especially so for stars and scrubs.

If everyone stays healthy, the team will be a favorite to win it all thanks to the elite talent on the team. But one of the cons to the approach is that if you suffer an injury or two to the elite talent that you acquired, you don’t have the balance across your roster to make up for the loss – even coupled with the replacement-level player that you find off the waiver wire.

That’s why for your scrubs section of your lineup, it’s important to fill it with high-upside guys who could breakout or find that next level to help fill those voids when injuries occur. Players like Dinelson Lamet, Mitch Keller, Kyle Tucker, Franmil Reyes, and MacKenzie Gore all have huge upside, and Rhys Hoskins has bounceback potential. If they don’t reach that potential, you can always cut them, but with the stars and scrubs approach, it’s important to shoot for upside in the positions that you punted on over boring veterans. 

The stars and scrubs approach isn’t a guaranteed recipe for success, nor is it for everyone. There’s just as much credence to having a well-balanced draft as there is to the stars and scrubs approach. It all depends on your level of taking on risk for reward. The well-balanced team may get you to the playoffs, but the stars and scrubs team will either get you a first-round bye in the playoffs or cause you to miss the playoffs altogether. 

It’s kind of like being the real-life Oakland A’s. You have the roster that is built for the regular season, but when you get to the playoffs, you realize the Mike Fiers and Edwin Jacksons of the world aren’t going to get it done against the elite-level talent in a series of games. 

If nothing else, give it a try using our FantasyPros mock draft simulator and see if it’s the right fit for you.

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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