Mike Trout and the Price of a Pick
By the time this post publishes, my partner and I will have selected Mike Trout first overall in the new Dynasty Guru Experts League. Participating in this league is going to be a challenging ride. In fact, challenging describes the process through which our team got the #1 pick in the first place. To put it simply, each team will have a 40-man roster of both major and minor league players. The default number of keepers each year is 35, but since this is the inaugural season, teams were permitted to “bid” on draft positions by sacrificing a certain number of keepers in a blind auction. Our bid of 15 keepers did the trick for the #1 spot. Bret spelled it out in more detail on Tuesday. In this post I’ll try to lay out our thought process in our bid for the first pick.
I should probably introduce my co-owner, Paul Clewell. We’ve been playing fantasy baseball together for years, and he’s one of the reasons I started writing in the first place. After countless conversations about baseball on the phone, we decided one of us should write some of it down. We even pipe-dreamed about playing in an experts league one day. Well, here we be. So how did we arrive at the number 15, and what were we thinking? It really boils down to 5 points…
1) Mike Trout.
This is kind of obvious, but when we were thinking about the #1 pick we were thinking about a player named Mike Trout. At 22 years old he’s already the best player in baseball and barring a major injury, we believe he’ll be the best player in baseball for quite a while. We love Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, and Paul Goldschmidt just to name a few others. We bid on more than just the first overall pick. But to us Trout is in his own tier. There is nobody we would rather build our new dynasty team around with the opportunity. That’s what this was — an opportunity.
After we sacrifice our 15 keepers next year, we’ll be down to 20 players kept. That’s still half of our 40-man roster. The players we’ll be cutting will be in the #400 – #800 range since this league is so deep. In our minds Trout is worth that, and we’re confident in our ability to find values in next year’s player pool despite the penalty.
2) We didn’t want to draft outside of the top ten.
To us it was really important to be in the top ten picks, and more specifically the top seven based on some of our biggest player targets and where we thought they would go. We’re starting a franchise, and we want to build around the best possible player from day one. On Tuesday, Bret pointed out the value of the higher picks in a league this deep: “In a 20-team league, the emphasis on those big, high-end superstars is more prominent because there’s a much bigger difference between the #1 pick and #16 pick than there is between the #25 pick and #40 pick.”
Our bids actually descended in value from picks 1-10, but we even placed some small bids on picks 10-15.
3) It’s a one-time penalty, but Trout is a multiple-year investment.
Yes, next year we will only be keeping half of our 40-man roster and that will sting a little. I’d imagine it will be a bit like ripping off a Band-Aid. As I mentioned above, we’ll be throwing back players and prospects in that 400-800 range. In 2016 the penalty lifts and it’ll be business as usual. And well…we’ll still own Trout.
4) We like having back-to-back picks at the turn.
This will be a slow draft. With up to 4 hours between draft picks, we like the idea of being able to pair our picks at the turn. We’ll be able to watch how the draft progresses 38 picks at a time and then draft two targets at once.
5) We wanted to be bold.
Let’s face it. For Paul and I, this is really our first experts’ league. We didn’t necessarily want to barge through the front door and pee on the rug, but we also didn’t want to come in all shy just because of how much respect we have for our competition. I originally suggested that we go 8 picks. Then the conversation turned to “someone will go double digits”. Then it became more of a guessing game. Would other teams wager in the teens? Was this method as new for them as it was for us? Without much to reference for a new system like this or even much knowledge of what the other owners’ styles were like, it was really tough. 15 felt high enough to give us a chance to land the pick. It felt solid. We wouldn’t be leaving anything on the table and 20 keepers would still be a lot to build from. Honestly, a part of this decision was about the fun in taking a risk and not being afraid to put ourselves out there. After all, if I was afraid to put myself out there, I wouldn’t be in this league or writing this post in the first place.
Footnote: There was another bid of 15 keepers, but we won the pick based on how that team prioritized their picks (5-1 instead of 1-5). There was also a bid of 13 keepers for the top spot and in all there were four bids in the double digits. Looking in the rear-view mirror, we feel as though we bid exactly what we needed to in order to get the job done. No more, no less.
In case you’re wondering (I was), if we hadn’t placed any bids at all and everyone else made their same bids, we would have ended up with pick 12. Not terrible, but not what we wanted. If it were based solely on the computer’s random draft order and had no other teams placed any bids, we would have ended up with pick 3. Go figure!
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