I like playing in leagues with a Free Agent Acquisition Budget, better known as FAAB.
In most of my leagues there is a $100 budget for the year, although in some formats, like the NFBC and the Fantasy Sports Trade Association League, that number is bumped to $1,000.
The amount is of little difference as the trick is trying to figure out how much one can spend to get a player from the free agent pool without destroying a FAAB budget, yet at the same time by bidding more than one's competitors who also might covet the same player.
However, I do prefer having to think about that bidding conundrum over a more open system that allows the priority pick to the lowest team in the standings.
Young to DL opened spot yet again
Even so, within a FAAB system, I really like the process known as "Vickrey" that Tout Wars employs.
Vickrey works such that the team making the highest bid for a player gets the rights to said commodity for the cost of the second highest bid, plus a buck.
Tout has amended the process a little, making it so that bids of 10 dollars or less go at face value, but after 10 the second highest bid plus a dollar holds true.
In Tout this year I have had the pleasure of bidding on, acquiring, and then dropping Twins outfielder Rene Tosoni not once, but twice. The first time for $9 back on May 2, releasing him May 22 when Josh Hamilton returned. Then when Justin Morneau went on the DL in June, I reacquired Tosoni, this time for $5 to help out.
Unfortunately last week I had to drop the outfielder once again as Tout only allows for four reserve players - not counting those on the DL - and since I wanted to protect my rights to Dayan Viciedo and Kevin Kouzmanoff, I chose to release Tosoni a second time on June 25, a month after the first time.
This did not really seem to be a problem, as Tosoni had just been sent back to Triple-A at the time, but, the day after I released him, Delmon Young went on the Twins DL and Tosoni was back with them, though nowhere to be seen on my team.
Truth is, I could not see myself grabbing him back a third time, though making a $0 FAAB attempt did cross my mind.
However, I had to try and do something to fill that spot, and this year I am employing the first of two basic approaches to managing FAAB funds.
The first is spending aggressively over the first few months, adding players and as much depth as possible, grabbing the likes of Mike Moustakas, Julio Teheran, and Sam Fuld trying to make sure every spot is as productive as possible.
The second path is to hold back, making $0 and $1 bids to try and fill holes, but mostly waiting for the trade deadline, when the likes of Mark Teixeira and Jake Peavy have been available over the past year.
Both paths are fine in my view, although which to employ when is pretty much up to the strategy of the owner.
The bottom line, irrespective, though, is to never let a potential impact player get by without at least a cursory bid.
A good example of both this principle, and how Vickrey adds a dimension, occurred a month back when Oakland's Jemile Weeks was promoted to the big team.
I immediately submitted a bid of $25, a fairly substantial amount, thinking that should be enough. Since I had Dustin Ackley in the wings, I did not not have to have Weeks, but I was willing to upgrade a spot if possible.
My valuation was close, as Jeff Erickson, and the team of Rick Wolf and Glenn Colton, each went a buck higher at $26, which was what Weeks went for in LABR.
Well, Jason Grey did a terrific job, sizing the value, then throwing in a Vickrey bid of $38, landing Weeks for $27, realizing his bid was both high enough to take the prize, and probably just enough of an overbid to cut us off at the knees.
It was a bold move, but surely I would not have placed that high a bid, though I cannot speak for Jeff, Rick, or Glenn, I have to think they saw it like I did.
Weeks will probably not help Jason win a title, but, he did keep the rest of us from getting the second baseman.
Either way, Jason played it to win, and that is the only way to go.
Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.