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Big Daddy Baseball League

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slant.gif (102 bytes) From the Desk of the Commish


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January, 2019

2019 Draft Day Preview

In 2002, the year before our free agent auction was born and all free agents were acquired via the draft, the Allentown Ridgebacks selected Randy Johnson with the #1 overall pick. He went on to win the EL Cy Young that season.

In 2007, Ed McGowan paid a whopping $21 million to sign Johan Santana. He then traded Santana to the Kansas Law Dogs at the Chapter Three deadline. Santana went on to win the EL Cy Young award.

In 2016, Kansas GM Chris Luhning won the bidding for Jake Arrieta at $16 million. Arrieta, too, went on to win the EL Cy Young award.

Believe it or not, those are the only three times in BDBL history that a team has signed a free agent who went on to win the Cy Young award that same season. We may very well see it happen a fourth time this year. Arguably, never before have we seen so many Cy Young-caliber aces available on the free agent market. Justin Verlander, Patrick Corbin, and Zack Greinke could not only win the award this season, but are solid bets to win it in either of their next two contractually-obligated years. Chris Sale, Clayton Kershaw, and Madison Bumgarner would also be candidates to win the award this season if only they had pitched a few more innings.

The second tier of starting pitchers in this auction (Miles Mikolas, Dallas Keuchel, Jose Urena, Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Lester, and Jake Arrieta) is of better quality than we are used to seeing this time of year. Each one of them could easily fit at the top of most starting rotations in the league.

Then there is the hitting. As strong as this auction is on the pitching side, the hitting side is equally weak. Many of the top hitters (Joey Votto, Edwin Encarnacion, Ben Zobrist, Ryan Braun, Jose Bautista, Shin-Soo Choo, Brett Gardner, Denard Span) are 35 years old or older. Signing any one of them to a Type-H contract means locking yourself into an expensive third season at age 37 or older.

Each of the other hitters available has some issue that drags his value down. Buster Posey can't hit righties (.698 OPS) and is becoming injury-prone at age 32. C.J. Cron also has trouble against righties (.767), and his MLB performance last year seems like a fluke. Brandon Belt had a terrible second half after a brilliant first half, and is useless against lefties (.628). Daniel Murphy only had 351 plate appearances, and is 34 years old. Josh Donaldson had just 219 PA's, and posted a mediocre .756 OPS against righties. Justin Turner amassed just 426 PA's and is 34 years old.

Arguably, the only hitters available in this auction who aren't over the age of 35 and don't have any obvious issues are Matt Carpenter and Andrelton Simmons. Because of that, expect both to be signed to massively-inflated salaries.

There is another "X-factor" this year that could add to some artificial inflation in the auction. We have two new owners in the league who will be experiencing the BDBL auction for the very first time. Between the two of them, they have over $100 million available to spend. If one -- or both -- of them decides to try to buy his way into contention in 2019, we could see some outrageous bidding.

How does this year's auction class compare to others?

Overall, this auction class ranks near the middle in terms of VORP:

2003: 2,006.9
2004: 2,210.3
2005: 2,155.9
2006: 1,903.2
2007: 1,858.0
2008: 1,522.4
2009: 1,239.8
2010: 1,475.4
2011: 1,230.1
2012: 995.3
2013: 947.0
2014: 1,237.1
2015: 898.1
2016: 1,146.6
2017: 1,532.9
2018: 1,426.6
2019: 1,270.5

This class also ranks seventh from the bottom in terms of VORP from the top ten players only:

2003: 729.6
2004: 680.8
2005: 762.0
2006: 621.8
2007: 654.2
2008: 579.5
2009: 524.4
2010: 582.9
2011: 488.3
2012: 415.6
2013: 373.5
2014: 434.9
2015: 314.6
2016: 425.3
2017: 523.1
2018: 517.7
2019: 506.4

The problem with this measure is that VORP doesn't account for the added value in consistency and reliability. The pitchers at the top of this auction aren't merely good; they're consistently and reliably good. The risk in spending so much money on one player is lessened when the player in question is Justin Verlander, Pat Corbin, Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, etc..

What about the draft class?

Thud. That is the sound of my head hitting my desk over and over again since I began looking into this draft class. For the first time in franchise history, I have the #1 pick in every round of this draft...and it has to be the weakest draft class in league history.

On the hitting side, this draft is filled with aging old vets playing out the twilight of their long and storied careers: Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Hanley Ramirez, Joe Mauer, Alex Gordon, Ian Kinsler, and Victor Martinez (to name only a few.) Another group of hitters are under the age of 35, and yet play the game as though they also have one foot in retirement: Evan Longoria, Jason Heyward, Jason Kipnis, Eric Hosmer, Jay Bruce, and Yonder Alonso.

On the pitching side, every draft class typically includes a handful of closers who can be picked up for a one-year, $5 million rental. Not so in the Class of 2019. Ryan Pressly and Brad Hand are the only two decent relievers available this winter -- and both of them are in the auction. The crumbs that have fallen into the free agent basket are hardly worth wasting $5 million to sign -- and yet that is more than likely what I will do.

How much money is out there this year?

The league as a whole has $523.6 million to spend this winter, which is pretty much in line with recent years:

Year Total cash available ($MM) # of free agents needed Cash per player ($MM) $ spent in auction
2003 $557.1 360 $1.55 $328.5 (59%)
2004 $606.2 343 $1.77 $363.5 (60%)
2005 $498.2 292 $1.71 $318.0 (64%)
2006 $621.3 327 $1.90 $341.5 (55%)
2007 $569.0 296 $1.92 $364.5 (64%)
2008 $595.5 320 $1.86 $324.0 (54%)
2009 $543.3 292 $1.86 $289.5 (53%)
2010 $417.5 261 $1.60 $289.5 (69%)
2011 $472.9 295 $1.60 $269.0 (57%)
2012 $361.0 267 $1.35 $214.5 (59%)
2013 $511.8 293 $1.75 $272.0 (53%)
2014 $489.0 297 $1.64 $296.5 (61%)
2015 $352.5 275 $1.28 $201.0 (57%)
2016 $540.9 291 $1.85 $278.5 (51%)
2017 $589.7 306 $1.93 $294.0 (50%)
2018 $505.9 295 $1.71 $253.0 (50%)
2019 $523.6 284 $1.84 TBD

The problem, as I mentioned above, is that $102.1 million of that total spending cash is held by just two teams! That equates to roughly twenty percent!

Which teams will be spending all this money?

The Darien Blue Wave have set a new BDBL record with -- get this -- $52.3 million in spending money this winter. The previous record was held by the Chicago Black Sox, who had $52.1 million to spend in 2010. No other team has ever surpassed $50 million, and yet the North Carolina Iron Spider Pigs have nearly reached that level of spending ($49.8 million in spending cash) as well.

In case you're wondering, the Black Sox finished with a respectable 77-83 record in 2010. John Gill spent $46.5 million of his windfall on eight players in the auction, including $10 million for Cliff Lee, $9 million for Victor Martinez, $7 million for Carlos Zambrano, and $6.5 million for Ryan Dempster.

Only three other teams have more than $30 million to spend: Cleveland ($38.9M), Bear Country ($35.6M), and Buckingham ($32.5M). In terms of spending money per roster spot, Southern Cal ($5.3M per player), Salem ($4.0), Bear Country ($3.6), and Akron ($3.4) lead the way.

How does the Class of 2020 look at this point?

Next year's class looks much better balanced in terms of quality hitting and pitching. The hitting side is led by three major names: Christian Yelich, J.D. Martinez, and Giancarlo Stanton. The class also includes Kolten Wong, Justin Upton, Marcel Ozuna, Jed Lowrie, Scooter Gennett, Matt Kemp, Khris Davis, Lorenzo Cain, Robinson Cano, and Carlos Gonzalez.

The pitching side features two big aces in Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. The class also includes J.A. Happ, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Rick Porcello, Corey Kluber, Masahiro Tanaka, Dellin Betances, Rich Hill, James Paxton, Trevor Bauer, and David Price.