The 2023 Fantasy baseball season is finally here which means it is time to buckle down and begin our fantasy baseball draft preparation. One of the more popular league formats in all of fantasy sports is that of the auction league. Whether you are new this year to auction-style fantasy baseball or a veteran of the game, here are some tips and strategies you will want to consider when it comes to building out your fantasy baseball auction player rankings this season.


Build How You Want

The beauty of an auction is that the player pool is your oyster. On the surface, you can have any player you want. 

Ronald Acuña Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. can all be yours if you want. Sure, it sounds exciting to roster three of the brightest young stars and best players this game has to offer. Talk about flash and sizzle. 

But don’t forget about your budget. While the auction gives you the flexibility to target whoever you want without the constraints of a snake draft, you still have a finite amount of salary to work with and while there are always going to be those dollar-darlings you can find late in your auction league drafts, you do want some balance to your construction.

Just like when you go grocery shopping; those thick-cut porterhouse steaks might look great, but don’t buy too many of them, because it might be your only meal of the day (or week) aside from tap water and ketchup packets on white bread. 

Quite simply, you aren’t going to win a league with too much tap water. You need to mix in some chicken, fruits, and vegetables with that nice steak. 

Preparation Is Key

When preparing for a fantasy baseball auction draft, the initial steps are just like any other draft. At this point, you presumably have your rankings and tiers all set and ready to go. Then, make sure you understand your league settings as far as roster construction and stat categories. So far, everything seems pretty basic (and there are resources throughout this draft guide to get you set), but now your auction-specific work begins.

What is the salary cap?  Obviously, you can quickly come up with an average cost per player, but that is just what it is; an average. There will be a few players well above that at the higher end of the salary tier and then some well below the average. The big question, and one of the determining factors as to how successful you will be, is how you distribute your available funds.

The first step is what will be the split between pitchers and hitters. In a standard league, there are five hitting categories and five pitching categories so your first inclination might be to split your budget down the middle. But considering you start 14 hitters compared to nine pitchers, that would lead to an unbalanced roster and you likely have some real deficiencies on offense. Assuming a $260 salary cap, your average salary would be $11.30. Simple math brings you to $158 for hitters (61%) and $102 for your pitchers (39%).

That is at the low end of what is generally used to budget for offense given the volatility found at the back end of pitching staffs as the general rule of thumb is to allocate around 65% to 70% (at the high end) of your budget to hitters. 

Now that we have our projections, statistical targets for each category, and overall split between hitters and pitchers, it’s time to start charting out your approach. 

Have A Plan

Make sure you have a plan and while you need a plan, you also need to have alternate versions of the plan and be prepared for it to go bust pretty quickly. The best advice I can give is to proceed as if you are trying to move furniture within a tight hallway. 


The best thing to do here is not to be too rigid. Generating your positional ranks, tiers, and rough dollar values has to be done, but leave yourself options and be realistic. Once the first player goes off the board, value begins to present itself; either with the player auctioned or for future players based on the available dollars in the auction room. 

When charting out your auction plan, it’s important to have statistical targets in mind for each category. Based on your rough estimate of auction prices, how will you get there? Break your plan into groups (tiers) of players that you are comfortable with and make sure you get one of your targets. 

On offense, it’s a little easier as you just need to make sure you hit your targets across all 14 positions with no requirement of how you get there other than having to fill each roster spot.

Pitching is where things get more interesting. Going with the dual ace strategy will likely deplete your budget pretty quickly, but that also means you have to hit on your other five or six starters. If we are going with a 65/35 split, that means you have $91 for pitching. If you take out about $26 for three closers, that leaves $65 for six starting pitchers. The dual ace strategy puts you into dollar territory pretty quickly, so I would lean toward a more balanced approach with two or three higher risks, but cheaper options for the back end of your rotation. 

While you might have to reach on a few players to secure specific production, remember that there is still a finite amount of auction dollars available. For every player that goes for $5 over value, there will be $5 of bargains elsewhere. Retaining a few dollars of flexibility is key here as, in a few cases, don’t be afraid to pay market value to secure a specific role or production. 

Knowing the player pool is a large part of being successful, but there is also an art to a successful auction. Stay liquid out there and be flexible. Pick your spots to take risks, but make sure to secure some potatoes with that steak as you need substance on your roster to secure your backbone of production while minimizing the amount of risk and volatility you take on. 


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