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April 10, 2012 posted by Dave Shovein

NFBC: How much to pay for saves?

NFBC: How much to pay for saves?
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Hector Santiago, RP, White Sox

Saves are one of the most frustrating aspects of the high stakes fantasy game.

To put yourself in position to compete for the overall title in the NFBC Main Event, you should try to finish in the top 20% of every category. To hit that categorical target, you need to accumulate roughly 90 saves over the course of the season.

Seeing as it’s a 15 team league, and there are 30 teams in Major League Baseball, each team averages two closers. However to hit that target of 90 saves, most teams need to add a third closer for several weeks at some point during the season.

The competition for saves is extremely intense. Most high-quality closer’s in waiting are gobbled up on draft day and remain on benches around the league anxiously awaiting an injury or demotion.

However, there are times during every season where a closer emerges who is still available as a free agent. We just so happened to witness this phenomenon twice in the first free agent bidding frenzy of 2012.

As of Saturday night, Robin Ventura finally shed some serious light on his closer situation electing to put Hector Santiago into the game to get the final three outs. He responded with a perfect inning, and fantasy owners everywhere paid very close attention. Surely, he would be an extremely hot commodity in FAAB this week. How much is too much to spend though?

Similarly, Fernando Rodney had locked down consecutive one-out saves and appeared to be the front runner for saves in the Rays bullpen while Kyle Farnsworth is out. If the job truly is Rodney’s, he would also have extreme value to those owners hunting for saves.

In the NFBC’s free agent bidding system, you get $1000 free agent dollars for the entire season. Every Sunday night you submit your blind bids for available free agents, and the highest bidder is awarded the player. Remember though, there are 26 weeks in the season and you only have $1000 that you have to make last if you want to compete.

When attempting to assess what my personal bids for these two players, I tried to recollect times in the past when similar players became available. A very comparable example I thought, was Jose Contreras last season. He had won the job at the end of spring training as the fill-in for Brad Lidge. In most Main Event leagues, Contreras went for between $200 and $300.

Currently, my team is  sitting with two closers in Mariano Rivera and Frank Francisco. Greg Holland sits on my bench as a closer in waiting, hoping that Jonathan Broxton fails in his chance in the role for the Royals. A third closer isn’t a necessity for me at this point, but I would surely put bids in on each, attempting to acquire them at a discount.

With the knowledge of the Contreras bid, and other similar situations that I could recall, I hypothesized likely winning bids for each player. Santiago would go for between $300 and $350, while Rodney should reside in the $125-$175 range.

Considering my team has two healthy closers at the moment, there is no justification for spending 35% of my season budget for a third closer. My bid for Santiago was set at roughly half of what I thought his value was ($162) and my Rodney bid was even less than that ($46). If either bid were to win, I’d have my third closer without having to overpay. The likely scenario is that both player go for way more than my team is willing to spend.

As expected, Santiago went for $407 (runner up $378) while Rodney went for $107 (runner up my $46).

This gives me another set of data points to process when the next potential  closer becomes available at some point later in the season. What about hte rest of the leagues though? How over or under-valued were these two closers on average? Let’s take a look.

Hector Santiago was picked up in 27 Main Event leagues (was already owned in the 28th). His average price was $391 with a high bid of $565 and a low bid of $177.

Fernando Rodney was picked up in 27 Main Event leagues as well (I’m assuming was owned in the 28th as well). His average price was $177 with a high bid of $302 and a low bid of $57.

Do you think it’s a good gamble to spend 56.5% of your entire season’s free agent budget on Hector Santiago? What if I told you that same guy also bought Rodney for $250? Any way you slice it, spending $815 on two potential closers in week one is an absurd gamble. Each would have to be extremely dominant over the course of the season, and you’ll still be left with very little money to fill any other holes that may arise.

Let this be a lesson and perhaps a guide to review the next time a closer is named mid-week and becomes available for your next FAAB period.

Any questions, comments or concerns on this article? Leave em’ here or hit me up on twitter @DaveShovein

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