Dissecting the auction-based fantasy baseball draft, Part 3: The Kirk Hinrich strategy and series wrapup

So, you are planning to draft your fantasy baseball team through an auction format. You are looking to sneak up on your opponents and take them out ninja-style.

And so, being a good ninja in training, you have read the introduction to this series on what an auction draft really is.

You have learned that like Paris Hilton, one way to attack an auction draft is to spend big on the toys you most savor, filling out your roster with cheap upside guys.

You have also learned, from the Adolf Hitler strategy to auction drafting, that another tactic is to play psychological warfare with your opponents by bidding up players and using financial smoke screens to drain their budget and allow you to secure the players you want at a good price.

And now, let’s look at the final auction drafting persona … what I call the Kirk Hinrich strategy … and then wrap up the series with a few closing thoughts.

Kirk Hinrich? You non-NBA savy ninjas-in-training may be wondering just who he is. Let’s review.

Hinrich is a seven-year NBA veteran who still laces up his hightops for the Chicago Bulls … the same team that drafted him seventh overall in the 2003 draft despite being ranked a late-first round talent.

Although currently considered a shooting guard for the Bulls, Hinrich is known for his point guard decision making on the floor. He knows how to dish the ball to his teammates, resulting in 2,979 assists in seven seasons. He’s also the defacto captain of the team, despite being a player that most casual NBA viewers couldn’t recognize out of a lineup.

How does this define a fantasy baseball auction strategy?

For one, the Kirk Hinrich of auction drafting is all about spreading the wealth. Unlike the Hilton, who may have two or three $30-plus players and then a bunch of cheap upside players, the Hinrich has a more balanced cash flow among starting positions. He may not have one single player over $20, but will have more double-digit values than other teams in the league.

And like Hinrich’s devotion to the Bulls for his now seven years of pro basketball, the Hinrich in auction drafting is fiercely loyal to the budget and finding solid value players.

He may see that a Ryan Zimmerman at $20 is closer in stat production to a $25 Evan Longoria than most others acknowledge in the draft, hence a value player. While another owner may be paying $26 on Chase Utley, the Hinrich is securing Brandon Phillips for $14.

These two examples were from an eight-team auction draft held recently. The Hinrich of the draft spent $20 on Zimmerman, and then proceeded to fill his roster with 13 other players in double-digit dollars … easily the deepest roster of double-digit values in the draft.

Like the NBA version of the Hinrich, his team isn’t super-flashy from a stud player standpoint, but has plenty of value. Remember that one or two players don’t win you a championship, but your fantasy squad’s overall stats are what drive your success or failure each season.

To be successful at this strategy, you need to know your mid-level player values well. Again, as suggested by ep and myself through our positional players to target posts (found at our fantasy baseball hub), there are plenty of talented players that have the potential to reach the upper echelon of fantasy prowess, but will cost you much less on draft day.

These guys, such as Zimmerman, Aaron Hill, Jay Bruce and even Jose Reyes, are the building blocks to having a superbly balanced fantasy squad, which can reap benefits when the numbers start really counting.

Plus, you don’t have to reach on so many cheap players hoping for upside, but can rest assured in more proven commodities throughout your roster.

One more word of caution on the Hinrich strategy, however, is that you need to watch the values even more closely once the big names are off the board and people are starting to reach on mid-level players. You can easily start to find the asking price getting too rich really fast if someone feels they need a certain player and see you as their only competition.

Therefore, you need to have alternatives. If, for example, you see Hill as your second baseman to target but he starts to get too pricey for your taste, you need to have another option to fall back on. This means doing your homework and feeling comfortable about multiple options.

Some closing thoughts

And there you have it … the three main drafting strategies all nicely wrapped up with some illustrative alliteration (Hilton, Hitler and Henrich), as if I am trying to help you remember the key points of your Sunday morning sermon.

There are many other drafting personas you’ll meet in your auction drafting experiences, but I’ve found that a majority fall somewhere in these three categories.

I can’t suggest which one will work best for you. It depends on how many Hiltons, Hitlers and Henrichs are already in your drafting circle. It depends on how values are running and if you are willing to take more risks (the Hilton and Hitler) or play it safer (Henrich).

I personally find myself switching between the three in my auction drafts. I have tried to take a Hilton-esque approach, but find it hard to invest so much money early and usually chicken out. No one said it is easy being a diva, and you need to act line one if you want to be successful with this strategy. Again, the key here is to do your homework on as many $1-2 players so you can successfully fill out your roster.

I’ve had some success from a Hitler standpoint, and I would suggest that everyone weave a little Hitler auction savvy into their gameplan. Again, this also means the potential to get players you typically wouldn’t shake a stick at, so you need to know how to mentally and financially rebound by having some inexpensive backup plans lined up.

Typically, I find myself falling into the Hinrich vein of auction drafting. Elite players always feel too rich for my blood on draft day, and while I’ll look back at my draft and wish I had made a stronger push for a Hanley Ramirez or other elite player considering how values fell, I’m much more comfortable picking mid-level players at a value and building a balanced lineup.

All three strategies are sound if executed properly. I suggest mixing a little of each into your drafting repertoire and find what you feel most comfortable in executing.

Go to the Paris Hilton strategy of auction-based drafting.

Go to the Adolf Hitler strategy of auction-based drafting.

Check out our fantasy baseball hub.

Which auction strategy do you fall into? Which have you seen the most success with? We would love to hear your stories in the comments section below.

1 Response to “Dissecting the auction-based fantasy baseball draft, Part 3: The Kirk Hinrich strategy and series wrapup”


  1. Dissecting the auction-based fantasy baseball draft, Part 1: The Paris Hilton strategy at Chinstrap Ninjas

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