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Big Daddy Baseball League

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January, 2020

2020 Draft Day Preview

Last year, Chris Sale became the fourth player in league history (since 2000) to win a Cy Young award in the same year in which he was drafted or acquired in the auction. We could very well see at least one more player repeat that feat in 2020. The reigning EL Cy Young Jacob deGrom and two-time BDBL Cy Young Max Scherzer are both free agents this winter.

Likewise, the reigning EL MVP (or, at least, he should have been), Christian Yelich, is available on the open market. These award-winners barely scratch the surface of this incredibly talented, diverse, and interesting Free Agent Class of 2020. Adding to the drama of this year's auction is a higher-than-average amount of money to be spent, both in total and per player. And, as if that weren't enough excitement, this will also be the first year we will be using a real-time D-Day auction system, where bids are immediately calculated. Speculation abounds as to the inflationary effect that will have on auction prices.

deGrom (204 IP, 2.43 ERA) is the obvious crown jewel of this year's auction class. His VORP is over 17 points higher than the next-best free agent available (Yelich.) Sale went for $16 million last year, despite throwing only 158 MLB innings. Four years ago, both Zack Greinke and Jake Arrieta went for $18 million. You have to go all the way back to 2011 to find a pitcher who went for a higher salary than that (Roy Halladay, for $19 million.) deGrom could very well become the first $20 million player in the BDBL since Johan Santana ($20.5M) and C.C. Sabathia ($22M) in 2010.

Scherzer (172+ IP, 2.92 ERA) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (182+ IP, 2.32 ERA) are a pair of aces comprising the second tier below deGrom. Mike Minor (208+, 3.59), Matt Boyd (185+, 4.56), Jake Odorizzi (159, 3.51), James Paxton (150+, 3.52), Trevor Bauer (213, 4.48), and Jordan Lyles (141, 4.15) form a very solid third tier of starting pitching.

On the offensive side, in addition to Yelich (580 PA, 1.100 OPS), there are a ton of impact bats available, including Yasmani Grandal (632, .848), J.D. Martinez (657, .939), Max Kepler (596, .855), Mark Canha (497, .913), Paul Goldschmidt (682, .821), and Marcell Ozuna (549, .800).

As always, there are plenty of bullpen options as well, including Ross Stripling (90+ IP, 3.47 ERA), Kirby Yates (60+, 1.19), Matt Barnes (64+, 3.78), and Aroldis Chapman (57, 2.21). Or, if you don't mind having a child molester in your clubhouse, Felipe Vazquez (60, 1.65) is also available.

If reclamation projects are your thing, you can always take a gamble on a bounce-back year from Corey Kluber, Chris Archer, and/or Rich Hill.

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

In comparison to auction classes over the past decade, this year's class ranks near the top overall:

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
2020: 1,285.9

When looking only at the top ten, this class looks very similar to the past four classes, and almost identical to the Class of 2018:

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
2020: 517.6

Although the Class of 2018 is most similar by VORP, the two classes don't look alike at all on paper. No player in the Class of '18 topped $12.5 million in salary. This year's class will likely see at least three players top that figure. The Class of '18 was heavily-weighted toward hitting (Freddie Freeman, Jose Altuve, Charlie Blackmon, Anthony Rizzo.) This year's class is very pitching-heavy.

What about the draft class?

If you have a high draft pick this year, congratulations. Assuming you don't spend all your money in the auction, your team now has a closer. Brandon Workman (71+ IP, 1.88 ERA), Pedro Baez (69, 3.10), Michael Lorenzen (83+, 2.92), Alex Colome (61, 2.80), Zach Britton (61+, 1.91), Tyler Clippard (62, 2.90), Will Harris (60, 1.50), Yusmeiro Petit (83, 2.71), and Emilio Pagan (70, 2.31) are only a handful of the closers that are available in the draft this year.

A few mid-rotation options are available as well, including Andrew Cashner (150 IP, 4.68 ERA), Wade Miley (167+, 3.98), Brett Anderson (176, 3.89), and Bobby Sylvester favorite Michael Pineda (146, 4.01).

On the offense side, Mike Yastrzemski (411 PA, .852 OPS) somehow failed to make the top-50, as did C.J. Cron (499, .780), Robinson Cano (423, .735), and Wil Myers (490, .739). Other than those three, you'll be hard-pressed to find a useful full-time bat.

If you're in rebuilding mode, you may find some value in veterans coming off of injury-plagued seasons (Justin Upton, Odubel Herrera, Scooter Gennett, Greg Bird, Logan Morrison, Carlos Rodon, Jimmy Nelson, Jordan Montgomery, Taijuan Walker, Dellin Betances.)

How much money is out there this year?

Every year, without exception, we hear the lament: "There is SO much money out there this year! More than ever before!" And every year, it's wrong. There is more total money available to spend in 2020 than there was the past two years, but historically, we're pretty much in line with each of the past five seasons:

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 $274.0 (52%)
2020 $573.2 316 $1.81 TBD

Although the overall dollars are similar, the distribution is much different than years past. (See below.)

Which teams will be spending all this money?

Since 2007 (the first year I kept such records), we have never seen three teams with $40 million or more to spend in the auction and draft...until now. The Kansas Law Dogs ($45.2 million), Ravenswood Infidels ($42M), and Bear Country Jamboree ($40.1M) all have a TON of money to spend this winter. If it seems like Chris Luhning appears at the top of the spending list every year, it's only because he does. Luhning spends a shit-ton of money on free agents every winter, then trades away all of those big-money contracts the following winter, freeing up a shit-ton of money to spend on free agents yet again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Luhning not only has a shit-ton of money overall, but he ranks #3 in the league in available cash per open roster spot ($2.7 million.)

Trailing close behind the $40M Club are the Great Lakes Sphinx ($38.6M), Las Vegas Flamingoes ($38.3M), and -- wait for it -- the Allentown Ridgebacks ($37.5M). St. Louis ($36.2M) and Kansas City ($35.5M) also have a shit-ton of money to spend. That gives us EIGHT teams with more than $35 million to spend. Last year, only half as many teams enjoyed such a spending budget.

On a per-player basis, the KC Boulevards ($3.2M per player) and Akron Ryche ($3.1M) lead the way. On the flip side, the poor Saskatoon Sasquatch have 16 roster spots to fill, and can only fill them with $100K picks. Which means we won't hear from Kyle until about the third week of January.

How does the Class of 2021 look at this point?

The biggest fish of all, Mike Trout, will be up for grabs in 2021. The last time the BDBL saw a star that big hit the open market was when Barry Bonds was still active. In any other year, Nolan Arenado would have been the Big Kahuna of free agency. He'll have to settle for second fiddle next winter.

Starling Marte, Jay Bruce, Mike Moustakas, Michael Brantley, Jose Abreu, Jorge Soler, Eugenio Suarez, Andrew McCutchen, J.T. Realmuto, Marcus Semien, Nick Castellanos, Anthony Rizzo, Charlie Blackmon, Brian Dozier, D.J. LeMahieu, Jose Ramirez, and Paul DeJong will be free agents on the offensive side.

On the pitching side, Lance Lynn, Adam Ottavino, Cole Hamels, Charlie Morton, Carlos Carrasco, Yu Darvish, Kenta Maeda, Zack Wheeler, and Julio Teheran highlight a comparatively mediocre market.