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Risk is more than a board game ironically not produced by Milton Bradley.  It represents the only effective counterbalance in this world for ‘reward’ and grants us all the opportunity for the sweetest prosperity – the kind where you prosper more than others.  For, if everyone succeeds, isn’t success the new mediocrity?

With that spew of dystopian philosophy out of the way, welcome to my 2nd annual attempt to highlight the riskiest pitcher propositions for fantasy baseball.  (For reference, here is a link to our 2009 Top 20 Risky Pitchers.)  For the purposes of this post, consider ‘risky’ to be a “greater chance than average that they have a significant drop in their skills and/or miss over a 1/3 of the season.”  So I’m not going to cherry pick ‘lucky’ 2009 starters like J.A. Happ whose ERA was significantly lower thanks to unsustainable luck in terms of batted balls finding fielder gloves and fly balls not finding the mitts of spectators.

My criteria for judging a pitcher’s riskiness is elaborated on in this post.  In a nutshell, the two assumptions are:

  • Pitching a full season in MLB is a skill.  A player who has never pitched a full season in MLB is a riskier proposition to succeed at this than a player who has pitched 1 full season.  A pitcher who has pitched 1 full season is less likely to repeat this the next year than someone who has done it for 2 seasons, etc.  Since rookie starters are rarely guaranteed a rotation spot at the beginning of the year, we focus on pitchers with at least one year of experience who have earned a rotation spot and, potentially, your fantasy baseball draft pick.
    • Criteria #1:  Previous year was first full year (2500+ pitches)
    • Criteria #2:  Previous year was a significant leap vs. previous year in MLB pitches (700+ pitches)
  • Sliders are the most effective pitch one can throw but are worse on the arm than fastballs/changeups.  Pitchers who rely on sliders (15+% of pitchers) take this risk if they feel it’s the only way to reach their expected level of success.  Over time, some pitchers prove they can handle the heavy rate of sliders (e.g., Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, CC Sabathia).  But young pitchers relying heavily on sliders for success are more akin to a kid on his tippy-toes trying to make it on a ride – they can only keep it up so much before they fall below that line or get hurt trying.
    • Criteria #3:  Threw 15+% sliders

Here’s a quick glossary of terms reference below:

  • wSL, wFB, etc. – These stats – grabbed from FanGraphs like just about all the stats in my analysis – estimates the runs saved above average.
  • FIP & xFIP – Fielding-Independent Pitching devised by Tom Tango that uses a formula based on the items under a pitcher’s control (K, BB, IP) to devise a fielding-independent ERA.  xFIP goes one step further by adjusting HRs to the league-average rate.
  • Point Shares – My methodology for estimating fantasy baseball player values.  See here for more info.  You can see 2010 projected Point Share estimates in the ’2010 Fantasy Baseball Rankings’ button in the top menu.

One caveat before I move on to the picks.  ‘Risky’ does not mean ‘undraftable.’  Even the pitchers that satisfy all three criteria have only a 40% chance (based on 2004-2009) of either a significant drop in skills (measured by xFIP) or pitching < 2000 pitches (~20 GS).  So if you really like a pitcher and you can draft him at fair value, go ahead.  Just try to avoid drafting more than one….

#1 – Brett Anderson

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  0 -> 2,816 (+2,816)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  Yes
Slider %:  32%

Anderson is an attractive late-round flier in 2010 after a rookie campaign where the A’s lefty threw 175 IP with a 4.08 ERA/1.28 WHIP and 150 Ks.  His name also has a hint o’ Scandinavia and I think that boosts his attractiveness subconsciously. (C’mon, how much more psyched would you be if your blind date’s name was Britt Andersson vs. Marcia Buerhrle?)

So why is he #1 on the list?  He hits the criteria trifecta and he hits them hard.  Of the 72 pitchers to throw 2,700 MLB pitches last year, only Ryan Dempster (34%) threw a higher percentage of sliders.  Even more troubling, his slider is by far his most effective pitch so throwing less of it will hurt his performance – his wSL% of 22.2 runs above average was the highest in the majors (Greinke and Dempster were tied at #2 amongst starters) while his wFB% of -8.1 was less than Barry Zito.

If you can get him cheap, enjoy what you can out of his season.  Just don’t be surprised if he misses more time than bats next year.

#2 – Ross Ohlendorf

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  1,068 -> 2,693 (+1,625)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  Yes
Slider %:  24%

Ross Ohlendorf was a pleasant surprise in 2009 for those in deep  leagues, managing 11 wins with a 3.92 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in his first full season as a starting pitcher.  While his so-so K rate, below-so-so team, and Swollen Dwarf-rhyming last name aren’t helping his ADP, it’s just as troubling that his oft-thrown slider was his only above-average pitch in 2009.  Translation:  Little upside, lotta downside, leave him aside.

#3 – Kevin Correia

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  1,891 -> 3,172 (+1,281)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  Yes
Slider %:  30%

Petco : ERA is equal to:

a)      Baco : Salad

b)      Balco : HRs

c)      Maaco: Brakes

d)     Yoko : Oh no Beatles!

e)     All of the above

The correct answer is E.  Smart deep-league drafters took a flier on this converted reliever once it was confirmed he’d be part of San Diego’s 2009 scrap heap of a pitching staff – aka a Hodgepadre.   12 Wins / 3.91 ERA / 1.30 WHIP / 142 Ks earned Correia the 43rd most valuable SP according to our 2009 Point Shares.

The problem?  While Correia doesn’t qualify as a ‘young pitcher,’ it was still by far his highest yearly pitch count in the majors.  Worse, he pitched like he was still a reliever with 30% sliders (and another 11% curve balls).  You know what Shin Soo-Choo and I have in common?  We aren’t going anywhere near Correia anytime in the next year or so….

#4– Joba Chamberlain

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  1,711 -> 2,733 (+1,022)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  Yes
Slider %:  22%

I know….Joba has more warning signs than a cigarette pack – 1.55 WHIP last year, declining fastball speed, starter vs. reliever status, his mom, his surname-inherited guilt for appeasing Hitler’s pre-WWII Central Europe land grabs.

As a nominal Yankee fan, I’d send him to the bullpen anyway.   But the fact that his fastball was crushed last year (-21 wFB) while his slider was solid (+7.5) is just one more reason to do it.

Pass on him as a starter.  Pick him up on waivers if he shows promise again as a set-up guy.

#5 – Randy Wells

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  0 -> 2,543 (+2,543)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  Yes
Slider %:  27%

Despite his name being a hybrid of the tallest and plumpest lefties of recent times, the normally-proportioned Cubs righty Randy Wells – along with J.A. Happ – was one of the biggest rookie pitching surprises in 2009.  Unless, of course, you foresaw a 3.05 ERA / 1.28 WHIP over 165.1 IP from a pitcher who couldn’t manage a sub-4.00 ERA in three years @ the AAA Iowa Cubs.

While the 3.05 ERA is a bit of a mirage, his FIP of 3.88 and xFIP of 4.24 indicate that he could be a more than serviceable 4th/5th SP in mixed leagues.

But it’s the same story as with most of the above – he threw a lot of sliders and it’s his only above average pitch (#4 in wSL at 19.7 runs above average).  He shouldn’t prove too hard to avoid in mixed leagues but in NL-only – I’d cut his value in half (I have him at $6 so cut that down to $3).

#6 – Adam Wainwright

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  1,951 -> 3,614 (+1,633)
2009 was first year > 2500+ pitches:  No.
Slider %: 19%

#7 – Chris Carpenter

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  280 -> 2,670 (+2,462)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  No
Slider %:  28%

Dave Duncan (and Tony La Russa) have a reputation for rehabilitating overlooked pitchers – e.g., Dave Stewart, Kent Bottenfield, Todd Wellemeyer, Joel Piniero.  Is it possible that they might also deserve a reputation for debilitating pitchers to squeeze as much value out of them?

Case in point:  Adam Wainwright was one of the top 4 pitchers in the NL last year.  His 3,614 pitchers were 3rd in the majors behind Verlander (3,937) and F-Her (3,632).  Sabathia was #4 at 3,587.  Besides being built a tad scrawnier than those three, Wainwright also was the only one who hadn’t thrown 3,000 pitches the year before (only 1,951 after a random finger injury).   He also threw WAY more breaking pitches than anyone in 2009 – his 1,561 breaking pitches were 176 more than any other pitcher in the majors.  Who was 2nd in the most breaking pitchers?  None other than Chris Carpenter.

There is no doubt that Wainwright’s 19% Slider / 24 % Curve and Carpenter’s 28% Slider / 24% Curve helped the 2009 Cards (and fantasy owners).   For Wainwright, he had the 5th most effective slider and 2nd most effective curve amongst starters (Carpenter – 8th and 17th respectively).  His fastball was below average in effectiveness (Carpenter’s was actually the 5th most effective).

Will there be a lingering effect in 2010 for both pitchers?  Tough to say.  But it makes me wary enough to not want either as one of the top 20 pitchers on my mixed leagues draftboard.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

#8 – Jason Hammel

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  1,315 -> 2,771 (+1,456)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  Yes
Slider %:  14.9%

The longtime, long-in-the-tooth (turned 27 in September) Rays prospect found greener pastures in Colorado where his 4.33 ERA / 1.39 WHIP masked some positive underlying skills – a 3.71 FIP driven up by a .337 BABIP.  In these post-humidor times when a ‘Rockie pitcher’ is no longer an automatic pun, Hammel has some value in deep mixed leagues or NL-only leagues (est. $3 based on projections).

On the negative side, he was a reliever for all of 2008 and thus saw a big boost in total pitches.  And despite having a 92 MPH FB, his slider (14.9% of pitches) and curveball (15.6% of pitches) are his most effective pitches (the curve much more than the slider).  So he’s not too much ‘safer’ to hit his projections than the other pitchers mentioned above – I’d bid $1 in an NL-only league and hope you get at least a solid half out of him.

#9 – Jeff Niemann

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  279-> 2,890 (+2,611)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  Yes
Slider %:  12%

Now we’re getting to the level where the risk factor isn’t quite as high.  Niemann – or J-Nie to admiring Aerosmith fans – was the guy who won the Rays 5th spot over Hammel.  He made the Rays brass look good with a 13-6 season with a 3.94 ERA (4.07 FIP).  While he threw 2 less Ks per 9 IP vs. the minors (6.23 vs. 8+), it was at least solid.  And while he saw a big increase in MLB pitches, he did pitch 133 innings in AAA during 2008.

His Point Share value is below draftable in mixed leagues but this is being driven by a 148 IP estimate from Baseball Prospectus – a 32 IP drop from 2009.

This is actually an odd case where I’d say he’s worth more than his mixed-league Point Shares BUT is still not worth as much as he should be given his peripherals.  How’s that for double talk (talk)?    But in AL leagues, don’t get carried away in bidding for him.  I have him at $9 for AL 12 team – I’d probably cut that down to $3 and I’d be happy taking a chance on him at that level.

#10 – Gavin Floyd

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  3,235 -> 2,981 (-254)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  No
Slider %:  27%

The first returnee from last year!  Floyd not only maintained his 2008 performance level – he had a huge improvement in xFIP (from 4.56 to 3.69) and improved his K rate from 6.32 to 7.60.

And he went one step further by increasing the very breaking ball rate that I scoffed at as unsustainable – going from 39.2% breaking balls (20.6% Slider, 18.6% Curve) to 45.3% (26.9% Slider, 18.4% Curve).

I have two things to say to Gavin Floyd:  1) You win Round #1 and  2) Good luck winning Round #2.

I’m not touching this guy in any draft I participate in until he reads the memo that his current pitch mix is better suited for Wiffle Ball than MLB.

#11 – Ryan Dempster

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  3,341 -> 3,159 (-182)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  No
Slider %:  34%

The second returnee from last year!  Dempster was able to maintain his performance from 2008 in the face of my disbelief.  Very impressive as he had pitched relief for a couple of years prior to returning to starting in 2008.  That would seem to be a tough jump to make and he’s done it as well as one could.

I’m just not buying any pitcher who throws as many sliders as Dempster (34%).  It’s by far his best pitch (wSL of 20.1 vs. wFB of -10.1) and his fastball has lost steam over the past 3 years (92.0, 91.1, 90.6).

So be careful before you Dempster dive….

#12 – Jorge de la Rosa

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  2,256 -> 3,050 (+794)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  Yes
Slider %:  15%

George of the Rose is the last ‘trifecta’ and the one I think is least risky.  De La Rosa should be on fantasy radars after a 16 Win / 193 K (9.39 K/IP) year in 2009 after a promising 2008 season where he threw 128 Ks in 130 IP.

While he qualifies for both pitch-related criteria, it’s not by much.  He’s had 2,152 and 2,256 pitches in the two years prior so the 3,050 pitch year in 2009 shouldn’t be that big of a factor.

He also average 93.3 MPH on his fastball in 2009 and his most effective pitch was his changeup which he threw 17% of the time.

But he does still hit all three criteria so I’m hesitant to recommend him at projected value in mixed or NL-only.  If he comes cheap, grab him.  Otherwise, pass.

#13 – Max Scherzer

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  929 -> 3,073 (+2,144)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  Yes
Slider %:  12%

Scherzer didn’t quite deliver on the hype last year but 170 IP of decent ERA (4.12) and great Ks (174 Ks) isn’t bad.

Moving out of the NL West to the AL Central doesn’t portend to be a boon for Scherzer’s performance.

But he’s on this list for that pitch jump (somewhat mitigated by 100 IP in the minors in 2008) and coming off his first full season as an MLB starting pitcher.  Anecdotally, he also worries me because he seemed to throw 100 pitch / 5 inning games way too often last year.  Those labored innings would seem to be more wear on the arm.

I’ll be shying away from him but wouldn’t rule him out completely – but I wouldn’t pair him with anyone else on this list.

#14 – Ricky Romero

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  0 -> 2,989 (+2,989)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  Yes
Slider %:  13%

Similar to Randy Wells, Romero was not considered a top prospect but found unexpected success with a 13 win season, 4.30 ERA, and decent K/rate (7.13).  A higher than average BABIP (.325) as well as a bad BB rate (3.99 per 9/IP) crushed his WHIP (1.55).

My CHONE/ZiPS-derived projections of a 4.92 ERA / 1.58 WHIP would seemingly keep him off most draft boards.  Follow that instinct.

#15 – Joel Pineiro

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  2,227 -> 2,954 (+727)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  No
Slider %:  12%

Talk about an efficient pitcher.  Pineiro threw over 100 less pitches (2,954 vs. 3,050) than Scherzer in 44 less innings (214 vs. 170).  No wonder he wants his first name pronounced like Superman’s real name!

So while 214 IP for an SP who hadn’t reached 150 IP since 2006 is less than ideal, it’s mitigated by his pitch count efficiency.  And his relatively moderate use of breaking pitches (12 % sliders / 10% curveballs) – especially compared to teammates Wainwright and Carpenter – is not very troubling.  In fact, based on the previous analysis, an experienced pitcher with a +700 pitch jump really is no likelier to break down than the average pitcher.

I just put him on the list because his upside is so ridiculously low given his 4.42 K rate that I don’t want to risk the chance that Duncan and La Russa squeezed all the usefulness out of him.  If you just want Wins late in the draft (and don’t care about K’s), there are safer options like Mark Buehrle.

#16 – Edwin Jackson

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  3,056 -> 3,466 (+410)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  No
Slider %:  27%

The pitching-rich Rays decided to quit while they were ahead with Edwin Jackson in 2008 and sent him to the Tigers for a Gabe Gross-esque Matt Joyce.  Not one of the better Rays trades as the Tigers were able to flip him in a deal that brought back a much better prospect in Scherzer.

To be fair to the Rays, Jackson’s 2008 line of 5.30 K/9 and 3.78 K/9 was atrocious.  To be fair to Edwin, he improved on both in 2009 with a 6.77 K/9 and 2.94 BB/9.  In the process, his ERA went down from 4.42 to 3.62 (with similar FIP decreases).

Some of the reason for this improved performance was throwing more sliders.  His wSL the past two years is 18.8 and 17.7 runs above average where his fastaball – despite coming in at 94.5 MPH – is at -13.4 and -9.1.  Translation – he throws a hittable fastball and the slider is his key to success.

The move to the NL West should help him but it might be asking too much for him to put in a full year after the high total pitch count + high slider count.

#17 – Scott Feldman

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  2,481 -> 3,179 (+698)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  Yes
Slider %:  2%

Texas finally found the second coming of Rick Helling – an average SP that can pitch enough IP in Texas to stockpile some wins.  17 wins?!  AJ Burnett only managed 13 wins for the Yanks and Feldman gets 17?!

Feldman’s 4.08 ERA / 1.28 WHIP last year had its share of luck (.275 BABIP – 4.31 FIP) and he doesn’t have good K (5.36 K/9) or BB (3.08 BB/9) rates.  So it’s doubtful that he’ll be getting much attention in 2010 for mixed leagues.

The part that worries me about him is that his pitch mix is so odd.  44% FB / 33% Cutter / 15% Curve.  He threw the cutter at an average of 90.5 MPH last year – yelling Hamotzi after each one to the amusement of Ian Kinsler and befuddlement of everyone else.  That cutter speed is impressive and, not surprisingly, he had a lot of success with it (wCT of 25.9).  The only starting RHPs throwing a higher % of cutters are Brian Bannister (52%) and Roy Halladay (42%).  Bannister throws it at 87.2 MPH.  Halladay throws it at 91.2 MPH.  Esteban Loaiza dominated for a year with a 90+ MPH cutter before plummeting to 85-86 MPH and losing his effectiveness.  Lefties Jim Abbott and Steve Avery saw early success fade away as they lost velocity on their cutter.

Net-net, when a pitcher’s effectiveness is hinged so much to a pitch that has proven to be difficult to sustain at the necessary velocity, it’s risky.

#18 – Ricky Nolasco

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  3,243 -> 3,035 (-208)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  No
Slider %:  25%

Like Mssrs. Floyd and Dempster, Ricky Nolasco proved me wrong last year by putting together a successful season with one of the most anomalous 5.00+ ERAs ever.  How does one manage a 5.00 ERA and still manage more than a K per inning (9.49 per 9 IP) and only 2.14 BB per 9 IP?  You need the 3rd worst BABIP (.336) and the worst left on base (LOB) percentage (61%).  If he pitches in 2010 anywhere close to as well as he did in 2009, you’re looking at a top 20 pitcher.

All that said, Nolasco scares the hell out of me.  He threw a ton of breaking pitches in 2008 (which was why he was near the top of my 2009 risky pitcher list) and he did the same in 2009 – except he made it worse by throwing a lot more sliders (15 to 25%) than curveballs (25 to 15%).  Maybe he’s got a bionic arm and can throw that many breaking pitches year after year.   But I’d only draft him if you can get him several rounds after his ADP.

#19 – Tommy Hanson

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  0 -> 1,986 (+1,986)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  No
Slider %:  24%

Mmm…flop?  No, definitely no.  Putting Tommy Hanson on the list pains me more than any other pitcher.  I still want him on at least one of my teams.  The projections (13 W / 3.50 / 1.24 / 188 K) look great and he might come at a bargain on draft day like Kershaw did last year.

The reason he’s on the list is that his pitch mix is similar to Nolasco’s.  24% sliders and another 14% curveballs.  He’s also got a changeup that he threw 4% of the time in 2009 that hopefully he’ll feature more in place of the breaking pitches.

I’m hoping the best for him but I’m not brave enough to pair him with anyone else on this list.

#20 – Josh Johnson

MLB Pitches 2008-2009:  1,412 -> 3,284 (+1,872)
2009 was first year > 2,500+ Pitches:  No
Slider %:  25%

Like Tommy Hanson, Josh Johnson is a pitcher I really like, would draft, and sounds like an actor on the CW (b/w him and fellow Marlin John Vander Wal Rick Vandenhurk, their pitching staff reads like a Dawson’s Creek reunion).  He’s got a great fastball (95.1 MPH).  He’s got a decent changeup but just doesn’t use it that much.

But with that slider rate, I’m a little more hesitant to draft him than I otherwise would be.  I know he’s built like a truck but so was Kerry Wood.  Discount him a little bit and don’t cry to me in June if your Tommy Hanson and Josh Johnson-led staff has some injury troubles.

98 Responses

  1. jsp2014 says:
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    very disappointing to see some of the players on this list. it’s like a list of pitchers I’ve been targeting in mocks. Anderson, Floyd, de la Rosa, Scherzer, Nolasco, Hanson, and Johnson. that blows!

    thanks for your hard work. i had been eagerly awaiting this list since the last post.

    btw, i read the tangotiger forecasters challenge results yesterday and was surprised to see razzball on there. was that one of you or a team effort? well done. looked like you beat out some respected projection systems.

    http://tangotiger.net/forecast/ if anyone wants to check it out.

  2. giantJJ says:
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    20 team mixed. i have my 14th round (#274) pick coming up in the morning. this seems like a fine time to take rauch and possibly get a steal. guerrier was taken last round. this sounds like i am making a statement but i am really not that confident and would like a stamp of approval.

  3. giantJJ says:
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    my alternative to taking rauch is coco. thanks!

  4. Tony says:
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    I searched risky pitchers from 2009, but couldn’t find the post?

    I hate seeing wainy, JJ, and some others on here, but wasn’t greinke on the list last year? I swear I remember him on there. What was the % of right and wrong calls last year year?

  5. incognithole says:
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    Thanks Rudy, great info. Does this mean youre confident in Lester (appeared on last yrs list)…..

    wondering your approach on my draft position: i have 10th pick overall…I’d be happy w/a 1B + wright or holliday….but if kemp falls to me do you take him or a more proven 1B.
    Lastly, if both holliday and wright are off the board for rd 2….do u like J-up 15 overall? I know you dont like grabbing MI/SP there (tulo/kinsler/Lincecum)….

    1B/wright- kemp/wright – 1b/holliday…..thanks again

    @Tony: 2k9 link is in rudy’s intro

  6. 101 MPH says:
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    Wow…. that’s a veritable potpourri of pitchers I was keen on drafting. I regard this as being a rationale for spending most of my money on hitting.

    And this raises a related question that I hope you can answer. My 14 team (mixed) auction league is a bit unique in that it has no minimum innings pitched requirements, and a 1600 innings pitched maximum. As you can imagine, the closer you get to 1600 innings pitched, the more difficult it is to maintain a respectable ERA and WHIP (although, meeting or nearing the innings pitched cap does pad your Ks and wins). The more closers you roster for saves, the fewer innings pitched you’ll have. It’s a dilemma.

    Do you have any advice/strategy on how to successfully budget and purchase a pitching staff within a 1600 innings pitched cap, taking into account:

    a) the volatility of pitching in general;
    b) the adverse effect of higher inning totals on WHIP and ERA; and
    c) the need (?) to remain competitive in saves?

    I will appreciate any insight you can offer.

  7. sean says:
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    What is it with the fucking Mets?!?

    In an interview with Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, Jose Reyes denied having a thyroid problem. “The specialists who took care of me in New York have told me that I’m fine and that there’s nothing wrong with my thyroid,” said Reyes. “The test [taken to follow one conducted during his physical] showed that I’m fine. We just have to wait for the results of the additional test. The [doctors] found inflammation in my throat and no medicine to treat the thyroid or any other condition has been prescribed.” This is counter to what the Mets told the media earlier this evening, so we hope to hear some clarification on his diagnosis.
    Source: ESPN.com

  8. Jif & The Choosy Mothers says:
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    Sorry to post on this thread but if anyone is interested in a 20 team dynasty, I have two more openings for what’s shaping up to be a strong league. Drafting the night of Sunday, March 28. For reference, if it matters and it probably doesn’t, I was LM of the top-ranked RCL league last year.

    Thanks all.

  9. sean says:
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    @Tony: It wasn’t very impressive and a lot of the guys that met the criteria but arbitrarily weren’t chosen as “risky” ending up having problems with injury, fatigue and ineffectiveness. I think Rudy re-tooled for this year (see the earlier risky pitcher posts from last month), but I don’t think any red flags can be predictive enough to stay away from certain guys when we’ve got an endless pit of pitchers in the FA pool.

    The Verducci effect that this whole thing grew out of was supposed to be aimed at finding whether a steep increase in workload could hurt a young pitcher. Since we Razzballers are focused on picking up young power arms, I’m not really concerned about the vets or the finesse pitchers that litter this post (Olendorf, Correia, Wainwright, Carpenter, Dempster, Pineiro). Sensible owners were going to avoid most of these guys anyway.

    So, where is the value of this post? In putting some much needed parental advisory stickers on Anderson, Joba, Nolasco, Hanson, and Johnson. Ultimately, this is like a pairings post to me. You can’t have two guys on this list on your staff unless you’re throwing a Hail Mary. I think you can safely select any ONE of these pitchers for your staff, but you have to start to get itchy when you’re taking Johnson and Nolasco and you’re hoping that Anderson falls to the 15th.

  10. mc serch says:
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    Phenomenal job, Rudy, as always. I was smiling as I scrolled through because none of the pitchers I’ve been targeting were on the list (except DelaRosa but i’ve been getting him very late). And then it happened….Ricky Nolasco! I’ve been taking Nolasco/Hamels as my first two SP’s off the board in most mocks — rounds 7-8 respectively. I thought Hamels was the riskier one of the two! In a 12 teamer, at what round would you say the potential benefits of Nolasco outweigh the risk?

  11. ichirosan says:
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    In one of my uber keeper 20-man leagues, my pitching rotation is composed of Adam Wainwright, Josh Johnson, Yovani Gallardo, John Danks, Rick Porcello, Paul Maholm and Bud Norris.

    How close should I be to the panic button?

  12. mc serch says:
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    @sean: Well said, and I agree with your assessment. However, if the one guy you draft who appears on this list happens to be your top SP [i.e., Wainwright/Carpenter/Johnson/Nolasco] then you’ve got a bit of a problem. It’s not insurmountable, but its gonna leave a mark.

  13. Rico says:
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    I think the key piece of information lacking here is how this relates to the rankings, which may or may not already include this risk in their assessment. For example, from the top 100 2010:

    71. Cole Hamels
    72. Josh Johnson (risky pitcher)
    73. Cliff Lee
    74. Ubaldo Jimenez

    Does this make us prefer Cliff/Ubaldo to JJ? Or does the riskiness of JJ combined with his talents outweigh Cliff/Ubaldo to merit the added risk?

  14. By omission, does this validate a selection (& Grey’s ranking) of a potentially undervalued but risky Johan Santana over a Wainwright or Johnson?

  15. Jif & The Choosy Mothers says:
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    @sean: Thanks Sean. Sent you an e-mail.

  16. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    @ichirosan: in a 20 team league, i think you inherently are taking more risk. i mean, your staff looks pretty damn solid for a 20 team league, risk or no-risk. you have 3 potential #1 SPs, a future #1 SP and a solid #3/4 type in danks. i guess you could see what your could get back for wainwright or johnson, but i wouldn’t blow it up. by rudy’s admission 60% of these guys aren’t gonna fail.

  17. Mikey boy324 says:
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    Rudy does this mean your not gonna draft any of these guys or say a guy like Josh Johnson who’s ranked 20th who I’m targeting in most drafts should I just be more cautious?

  18. Sir Larry says:
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    Great work, again, Rudy. This is the kind of stuff that leads to championships and will definitely help me. If it wasn’t so great, we wouldn’t care to find some critique…

    I am a bit concerned with your only limited concern of Tommy Hanson. It is good you acknowledge him here, but when I saw your previous article on the risky pitcher criteria you would use this year, Hanson stuck out to me like Kate Moss at a fat camp.

    I am not sure how you do not have Hanson’s 2009 season as the first he was over 2,500 pitches? Perhaps this is because you only took MLB work into this calculation. But, while FanGraphs does not have minor league pitch counts, it does show he pitched 66.1 innings at AAA last year in addition to the 127.2 MLB innings (where he recorded 1986 MLB pitches). It is reasonable to assume that even at a reduced pitches/inning figure at AAA, he pitched well over 2,500 pitches in 2009 over his 194.0 combined innings. Compare that to his prior innings counts, 2008: 138.0 inn, 2007: 133.0 inn, and you’ve got a guy taking a big jump in pitch count for the first time.

    In my opinion, Hanson is a 5-star risk in 2010, and I am keeping my distance.

  19. Peter says:
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    @Jif & The Choosy Mothers: I’m interested in your league too. Email: peterwang1212@yahoo.com

    Thanks!

  20. David_C says:
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    -Nolasco is a risky pitcher just for the fact he has starts where he allows 8-10 runs ! He’s the definition of a combustible pitcher
    He actually threw more pitches in 2008 but his slider usage did take a uptick in 09. However the usage of his sliders in 09 wasn’t extremely high IMO. If it was closer to 30 than 20 , I would raise my eyebrow

    -Jorge De La Rosa isn’t such a risk for the fact that he’s had 2 season already where he started at least 22 + games. He does use a slider but it’s his 3rd pitch behind the change up/fastball. 2009 he did pass the 2500 pitch plateau but I would be more worried if he passed the 3200 pitch plateau

    -Brett Anderson is worrisome, he does use his slider a lot, way more than I would like but he is a big kid and his mechanics are solid. However I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes down with a injury of some sort. We’ll see what happens though..

    -Tommy Hanson is not so risky for the fact he’s logged in many pitches and innings before 2009. He does use a slider but it’s not extreme usage. Tommy Hanson not providing solid numbers in 2010 would be more due to the league catching up to him than his slider usage.

  21. @jsp2014: sorry for the disappointments. don’t take these guys completely off the draft board but i’d be a bit careful of drafting more than one of them…especially the first 8 or so.

    yeah, i’m a big fan of Tangotiger’s (aka Tom Tango) work and got in on that contest last year – I believe via a tip from a commenter here. I placed okay – I think I would’ve done better if my catcher picks didn’t bottom out so bad. I had calculated a rather large Catcher scarcity vs. other positions but….downgraded Mauer b/c of the back injury. Ended up with Russ Martin, Geovany Soto and Ryan Doumit on just about every team. Ugh! On the positive side, I had Matt Cain on just about every one. I’m in it again this year…hope to do even better…

    @giantJJ: take rauch.

    @Tony: The 2009 risky pitcher link is in the beginning of this post – http://razzball.com/20-risky-pitchers-for-2009/. I went over my ‘performance’ in http://razzball.com/predicting-risky-pitchers-take-deux/.

    All in all, last year didn’t prove to be a success. I was about league-average in my picks. I redid the analysis and made a couple tweaks. But there were a few picks from last year that do not look good in retrospect – Greinke, Lester, Vazquez…

    @incognithole: I’m as confident in Lester as just about any other pitcher out there to deliver on his statistical projections. Last year was a make-or-break and he, um, maked?

    @incognithole: At #10, you should have a solid 1B in the 2nd round open to you so you have flexibility with the 1st pick. If Kemp fell that far back, it would be tempting. Point Shares have him and Holliday as a virtual coin flip. Don’t think you can go wrong with either one. Point Shares loves D-Wright (b/c the projection systems do) but I’d lean towards the OF over him. With the question of his power potential in Metco, I’d pull the trigger on A-Rod before D-Wright and probably even Longoria before him.

    @101 MPH: It’s tougher to dominate pitching in a 14-team league b/c it can turn into playing high-low poker – one group playing for high W/K, the other for low ERA/WHIP. I think you need to make sure you have 6 SPs out of the draft. I think if you can grab 3 SPs in the top 20, you’re golden. I wouldn’t want any less than 2. Use the 14-team PS as a guide – basically bid on every top 20 SP up to about $2-$3 before their PS. If you don’t get your 2, at least you’ve exhausted some budgets and then can grab more in the next tier. Also, don’t bid more than a $1 for guys in the $1-$5 range that have little upside. They’ll be available in Free Agency.

    @sean: See http://razzball.com/fantasy-baseball-terms/#Minayal

    @mc serch: I really like Hamels for this year. Last year seemed like bad luck and maybe a bit of exhaustion after carrying the team on his back in 2008. For Nolasco, somewhere around pick #110? But after he proved me wrong last year, maybe i’m wrong…:)

    @ichirosan: that’s a solid staff for 20-team! you just need 2 of those big 3 (Wainwright, Josh Johnson, Gallardo) to come through. If there are any HodgePadres hanging around on waivers, might be worth parking one on the bench. (just read comment #17 – right on)

    @Rico: Those rankings are Grey’s so they wouldn’t factor in this analysis. I would recommend Cole and Cliff over Josh Johnson. I think Ubaldo is down a whole other tier according to my Point Shares analysis (12-team $ values from Point Shares (unadjusted for riskiness unless Baseball Prospectus limiting the IP): Cliff Lee – $21, Cole Hamels – $23, Josh Johnson – $15, Ubaldo – $12. I’d keep everyone the same except knock Josh Johnson down $1-2.

    @zombie: Johan isn’t risky based on my criteria. He is coming off an injury and his stats are on a steady upswing. I’d take Johan ahead of both even though Wainwright projects slightly higher on 12-team Point Shares – Johan $24, Wainwright – $26, Josh Johnson – $15.

    @Mikey boy324: Just more cautious and I won’t be taking more than one unless i’m getting a GREAT bargain on the 2nd.

  22. mrbaseball says:
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    was hanging and watching espn and they had some doctor on – the name escapes me so for identifying purposes we can call him/her – The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu – The Doctor stated something interesting – if pitchers have bone spurs removed from his elbow like Joe Nathan they are at risk for problems with the ulnar collateral ligament – removing the bone spurs can weaken the ulnar collateral ligament so this is something to watch out for in the future if a pitcher has bone spurs removed -

  23. grandysdandy says:
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    in my keeper league, we keep 6, and we start drafting in the 7th…

    i just traded up..so instead of having the 6th pick of the 7th round, i have the 1st…
    i had to swap my 2nd pick for his…which puts me back 8 spots…
    but now i draft 1st overall…

    i did this with the intent of drafting jason heyward…good move? or no??…
    I know the 5 owners in front of me wanted him…

    but now im second guessing the trade…thoughts?

  24. @Sir Larry: Fair point. I didn’t factor in minor league pitching into the initial analysis as it would’ve been a ton of work and i can find only IP not pitches (which, as shown in the Piniero writeup, can vary greatly per pitcher).

    I also think – but can’t prove – that 100 pitches in an MLB game is tougher than 100 pitchers in a minor league game. Maybe he can throw more fastballs by AAA and has to use more sliders in MLB. Tough to say.

    I think Hanson is slightly more of a risk than the average pitcher to make his projections but I also think he may go for less b/c he’s not as ‘proven’ as other guys. Given his upside, I’d go up to $15 for him in MLB 12-team draft.

  25. Van Hammersly says:
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    I’m wondering whether Lincecum is coming into this year with some risk. Buster Olney apparently said that some scouts thought he was running on fumes late last year, which saw his fastball velocity decline something like 3 MPH throughout the season.

    I have one more year of Lincecum in a 12 team H2H keeper league that is standard except that CGs are a “wild card” stat each week. I’m wondering whether it would be wise to swap Lincecum for Halladay prior to our draft, since Halladay is so consistent (and routinely racked up CGs in Toronto). Would a deal like Lincecum/Rollins or Lincecum/Votto make sense for Halladay/Granderson or Halladay/Werth? I’m on the fence.

  26. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    @grandysdandy: if it’s like one of my league where you just straight up keep 6 guys, and the league does a snake draft after the keepers, and there is no contracts or limits on how long you can keep a guy, then i would say it’s not the worst move. if you really want the guy go for it. he might not give you goo value this year, but i’d feel pretty good about him for 2011 and beyond giving you keeper worthy numbers.

  27. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    @Van Hammersly: i’d imagine lincecum is the higher valued guy over halladay, so i don’t see why you need to include a 2nd player. especially a 2nd player that is better or approximately the same as werth or granderson. i guess there could be keeper implications or position needs involved.

  28. 101 MPH says:
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    Thanks so much, Rudy. You’ve managed to de-mystify starting pitching strategy for my league.

    Cheers!!

  29. Eddy says:
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    Like many other commenters, JJ has been a pitcher that I’ve constantly targeted in all my mocks. Luckily I always draft Hamels too, but being a die hard Marlins fan I don’t know if i can resist drafting him. Same story with Nolasco but he’s not a must-have. I just like my first pitcher with a lot of K potential, and Cliff Lee doesn’t provide that (and he’s usually drafted anways). I’m going to have to make some tough choices come draft day.

  30. Great stuff, Rudy. I know everyone is sad about finding a guy they were targeting on this list (for me, it was Brett Anderson), but you’ll inwardly cackle with glee when your league mates reaches for one of these guys too early.

    For me, any thoughts I was entertaining of keeping Max Scherzer on my team are gone. NL to AL move + injury risk = doubleplus ungood.

  31. Van Hammersly says:
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    @ThePoonTycoon: Yeah, I agree. Thanks for replying. Those combos were the best I could do with the other manager’s current keepers, and I’m not too crazy about trading Votto or Rollins either. With Granderson in the deal, however, I’d have a stacked OF with him, Kemp and Braun.

    I guess the big question I’m dealing with is whether Lincecum (1 year contract) and Halladay (2 year contract) is a wash. I probably will just stand pat, but was curious what others thoughts were.

  32. @Van Hammersly: All pitchers are a risk. Lincecum and Halladay are the top 2 ranked pitchers so swapping them for each other is a judgment call. I’m taking Lincecum.

    @Eddy: I like Josh Johnson a lot. Was frustrated last year that I couldn’t get him at a good price. He’s pretty low on this list in terms of risk – I can say he hasn’t had 2 straight complete seasons under his belt and that makes him risky…..but that could’ve been said about Greinke too. Just don’t pair him up with Wainwright or Carpenter :)

    @Mark Geoffriau: Yeah, I find there are enough pitcher bargains that even if I’m wrong on some risks – last year Volquez would’ve been a much better selection than Vazquez – I still find enough bargains to have an above-average pitching staff. Agree on Scherzer – not worth keeping but definitely draftable b/c of that sweet, sweet K rate…

  33. grandysdandy says:
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    @ThePoonTycoon

    yeah…keep 6 and then snake draft afterwards (with no contracts or limits)…

    i dont know…it retrospect, maybe i got too caught up in Heyward-fever…but people make it seem like he could be the next braun…
    i dont want to miss out, but it seems like i kill my year this year by doing the deal to trade up and take him…

  34. Simply Fred

    Simply Fred says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Didn’t have a single one of these schmo’s targeted. Feelin’ good!. Thank you, Rudy!

  35. Thanks for all of the useful feedback Rudy! Factoring in your “risk criteria” Johan goes above Wainwright (despite a couple higher point shares). Would the same be said of Haren? Perhaps elevating him above Johan as a more reliable/full productive season arm? Recapping some of the other pitchers brought up so far, would you rank the non-elite tier at: Haren, Santana, Wainwright, Lester, Hamels, JJ, Lee, Hanson, Nolasco? Where’s Gallardo & Kershaw squeeze in? Thanks again!

  36. mrbaseball says:
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    # 18 Mikey boy324 Says:

    Zack Greinke was number 11 in the ranks last year – its just another chart – any pitcher is one pitcher away from the DL – its cool to look at and if its a choice of two equal pitchers than you might what to consider the other pitcher but no one can predict the future
    except maybe the Mayans

    Mayan End Times Prophecy 12-21-2012 hey Mike you are worried

  37. Tony says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: thanks for the link rudy, dont know why i couldnt find it in the search bar…. i’m not gonna put too much thought into whether a guy is risky or not… i mean last year like you said it wasn’t too accurate. Pitchers in general are risky. If its time for their arm to go its time. I’ve got my guys I want, a good group of them. I just try and mix and match a good staff together.

  38. Tony says:
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    @Simply Fred: good fred, i’ll take them…. if rudy missed on greinke, lester and vazquez last year i’m sure some of these will be wrong…. (no offense to that rudy).

    @mrbaseball: thats what i’m saying MR….. you just never know…..

  39. David_C says:
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    @mrbaseball:

    Do you happen to be in Makenzie’s fantasy lgs?

  40. FredayCouples says:
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    Rudy — In a competitive 12 team H2H with 4 keepers, would you try to trade Lincecum for a bat. I love me some Tiny Tim but sometimes I think I could get away with drafting 2 SP in the top 9/10 rounds and that would work fine with the league set-up. Other keeprs are Utlery, Votto and Zimmerman.

  41. giantJJ says:
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    van hammersley, i don’t buy it. i think lincecum has just learned how to pitch most effectively by taking something off and hitting his spots. if he had simply lost velocity, it would show in his numbers. his stats are fantastic.

  42. giantJJ says:
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    you don’t K 260 when you are losing your stuff.

  43. Frank Rizzo says:
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    So I’m confused. How is it that Gallardo isn’t on this list? How far apart are Grey and Rudy’s rankings on Gallardo, and others? Is Rudy more bullish on Hanson and Gallardo, while Grey is more bullish on J Johnson and Nolasco? I’m not sure what to think after this post about risky SP’s.

  44. Jeff W. says:
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    Rudy:

    I’m your Risky-Pitcher Huckleberry: I’ve already got Adam Wainwright and Tommy Hanson as keepers.

    Can I wait on getting my 3rd starting pitcher until later — say, 160th overall to focus on getting SS (Andrus or A. Cabrera) and 2B (Uggla, Stewart or Weeks)?

    Or should I grab my choice of Hamels or Jimenez before focusing on those MI slots?

    If I weight this season at 60% and the future (next 2-4 years) at 40%, do you think Hamels or Jimenez is a better pick?

    [I asked Grey this question in another thread, just to see his POV.]

  45. Lava says:
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    None of them are on my team, but I consider my starting rotation somewhat risky already with Lester, Ubaldo, and Baker.

    When forced with a choice between say, Price or Oswalt, which would you prefer? I’m interested in both your and Grey’s opinion, as it seems like you differ more on pitchers than other players.

  46. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    @grandysdandy: i don’t know that you killed yourself this year. look back at last year’s 8th round picks, you are probably about as likely to find a guy with your new pick that will provide value as you are in the 8th round with your old pick. not to mention, i think worst case scenario is that heyward ends up giving you something like .280-80-20-80-15 if he plays 150 games. not to mention, he’s showing off his patience with 5 BBs in spring training already.

    the good part is that you hold all the cards now. if you puss out on drafting heyward, you can probably auction off the #1 pick to the highest bidder.

  47. Jif & The Choosy Mothers says:
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    @Peter: Thanks for joining. We have just one more spot in this 20-team dynasty league. Awesome!

  48. Pat says:
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    Is Nolasco too risky as a 3rd SP in a 10 team head to head league?

  49. teddyballgame says:
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    my keeper league rotation pre-draft has J. Johnson and Hanson (and Greinke) at the top. Sweeeeeeeeeeet. Should I still draft another ace-like guy as insurance?

  50. CoreyII says:
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    Adam Dunn vs Carlos Pena? If you had to take one to help your power, who would you guess will have the better year?

  51. cubbies299 says:
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    Who would you take in a minor league system between Michael Saunders, Hector Rondon, Jhoulys Chacin

  52. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Frank Rizzo: http://razzball.com/fantasy-baseball-concerns-i-have-a-few/ I’m worried my concern about Gallardo’s innings jump may be just being paranoid since it wasn’t an arm injury. But his 2nd half performance wasn’t great either.

    @Lava: With that staff, I’d take Price. With riskier staffs, I’d take Oswalt.

    @Pat: I wouldn’t kick him out of my third SP spot.

    @teddyballgame: I wouldn’t, but there’s where I may take an Oswalt type.

    @CoreyII: Dunn

  53. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    @CoreyII: dunn. position flexibility. less injury prone. more consistent. hits for a higher avg generally (granted it’s like .260 v. .240, but still).

    @Pat: i’d probably more inclined to gamble in a 10 team league. if he gets hurt or under-performs there are tons of guys out there you can pick up to spot start.

    @teddyballgame: you might if you can get good value, but i wouldn’t imagine you’d want to go overboard. i mean, jj and hanson were at the bottom of his list, and even still it’s not a perfect science. the main thing i take from this list is that if i am looking at say wainwright or lester, i would go with lester. but if for some reason i found myself looking at wainwright or oswalt, then i’d probably still take my chances on wainwright.

  54. incognithole says:
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    @Grey: I have the 10th pick and was wondering what youd consider to be the ideal pick/pairing at that slot. 1B or kemp would prob be my 1st rd option. Ideally, id like to have a 1B/3B combo…..but was wondering if you think itd be a mistake to pass on Kemp should he fall to me…..also considering grabbing holliday in rd2 if i dont get that 1b/3b option on the way back

    Finally, do you like the combo of reyes/2B (hopefully phillips or cano) in the 3rd/4th rds and take OF 1 in the 5th rd or would you take an OF/2B in rds 3/4 instead and forget the risky reyes…..thanks for the insight

  55. Lava says:
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    @Grey: Two AL East pitchers isn’t pushing it too much? I’m sure I’ll be able to even out that risk with a NL player later, but I was looking towards Slowey or Sanchez later, or both. That would be like 5 AL pitchers, two of them twins, which would be inherently kind of risky, no?

  56. PJtres says:
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    in a 12 team keeper…we all keep 6…(so 72 kept)

    based on talent/stats alone (not taking into acct pitcher vs position)

    how would you rate the top options available to me:

    Hamels, nolasco, scott baker, abreu, choo, carlos Lee, heyward

  57. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Lava: Lester’s just a powerhouse and he’s not facing the Sawx. Price is inherently risky, but you have three solid guys already. Oswalt would be safer, but you can afford the risk there. I like Slowey and Baker, though it’s not ideal on the same team. If you want, take those three grab Oswalt, Sanchez and Hudson. Then you have 4 NL pitchers.

  58. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @PJtres: Hamels, Nolasco, Choo, Lee, Heyward, Baker…

  59. incognithole says:
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    @Grey: Ha, thanks

  60. Bill Lumbergh says:
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    Anyone else concerned about Wandy’s rough preseason stats thus far?

    Here is his line from today’s start:
    IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
    3.0 6 6 4 0 1 2 12.60

    And from his previous start:
    IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
    2.0 3 3 3 3 1 0 13.50

    Yikes!

  61. Bill Lumbergh says:
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    @Bill Lumbergh: Sorry about the formatting issue! :-(

  62. Lava says:
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    @Grey: Hmm, good things to think about. I guess it all comes down to how much I want to minimize risk. Price might fall further than any of the others at the 173rd pick, though, so it might be worth it to take either Oswalt or Dempster (just realized he’s on the board) now and wait for price coming back down.

    Or is that a dumb move, with you wanting Price more than both of them?

  63. Mikey boy324 says:
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    Grey I did a mock last night and heyward went in the 12th round in a 12 team mock is that too early for him and if so whats the earliest you would take him?

  64. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Mikey boy324: That’s way too early. I might reach for him in the 16th or so round.

  65. @Frank Rizzo: Gallardo was on the borderline with Josh Johnson. Both had big pitch jumps on their returns from injuries. Johnson’s was arm-related. Gallardo’s wasn’t. Johnson throws more sliders (25%) than Gallardo (10%). So I think Johnson is a bit riskier.

    I looked at ADP vs. Point Shares in 12-team league. My Point Shares has Gallardo 39 picks (41 vs. 80) while ADP has Josh Johnson ahead 68 to 85. The big reason why Gallardo is higher is projected K rate (IP, ERA, and WHIP are really close). CHONE has Gallardo at 1.1 K/IP with Johnson at 0.9 K/IP. ZiPS has Gallardo at 1.06 K/IP and Johnson at 0.88. That 0.2 per IP over 180 innings is 36 Ks which is worth about 1 point in the standings.

    When you factor in that Gallardo can be had for cheaper than Josh Johnson, there’s no doubt which one will be more likely drafted by moi.

    @Lava: Unless they are on this list, I’m generally ranking them where the Point Shares comes out. A few typical injury concerns are factored in (Harden ALWAYS has to be discounted) I’ve got Oswalt vs. $9 in 12-team MLB and Price worth -$2. Yes, negative $2. Projected stats of 155/9/4.62 ERA/1.43/123. His upside makes him definitely draftable but he’s not my top 50 SPs. Oswalt comes in around #40.

    Last point on Point Shares, I freely admit there are some odd things in here – e.g., Haren is #3. Vazquez above F-Her. I’ll be honest – the differences are so small around the top 20 or so that I’m really looking for the best bargain. I’ll be posting Point Shares minus ADP in the next day or two to highlight the bargains. The biggest bargain right now is the aforementioned Harden whose ADP is 210 but I have at #70. Getting him at #140 is a steal and worth the risk assuming you didn’t go with Wainwright/Josh Johnson as your top 2 (and, even then, you can roll the dice…)

  66. Lava says:
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    Thanks for your input too, Rudy. Appreciate everything as always from both of you!

  67. majortommy says:
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    Rudy or Grey. Would you keep Josh Johnson or Clayton Kershaw in a 12 team, 7 man, 6×6(OPS and QS) H2H keeper league with no contract lengths or compensation picks?(holy cow that’s a dorky mouth full) Neither one would make it back to me at my pick and I was going to go Johnson, but I think I may be in love with Kershaw. And this post may be all I need to give me the stink eye towards Johnson.

    p.s. My team is very competitive and is almost assuredly a top three squad with either guy if that makes a difference.

  68. Keith Law says JA Happ was lucky, that’s enough to convince me he’ll be solid this year.

    @Bill Lumbergh:

    For what it’s worth, first start last spring, 2 IP, 2 ER, 4 hits, 1 walk, no Ks. The next start I could find was like, 2 weeks away and was solid. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/teams/schedule?team=hou&season=2009&seasonType=1 if you want to find more Wandy starts.

    I like the dude for this year and would lean towards not being worried about it. He’s like 31 and coming off his best year, without seeing him pitch or reading about him, I’d think that would make for a solid candidate for a guy who would tinker in Spring Training.

  69. @majortommy: i’m keeping kershaw. both pitchers are great but, when in doubt, stay in the NL West. (and i like that Kershaw relies less on sliders)

  70. @Maitland: Wow, a Keith Law jab. I’m not an admirer per se of ESPN Fantasy Baseball coverage but I like Law as well as Neyer and Olney. Curious to hear what your beef is with him…

  71. majortommy says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Thanks, been agonizing over this descision, especially since last year when I cut Mauer and F-Her for Chris Davis and Cole Hamels. Hate double guessing myself

  72. Adam says:
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    Pulled off a big trade last night…10 teams 5×5 roto league

    Get: Teixeira, Napoli, Brian Wilson

    Give: Dunn, McCann, Marmol, Scherzer

    Are you as high on this trade as I am?

  73. @Rudy Gamble: I just don’t think he can analyze worth a damn. I think he can spit out sabrmetrics numbers well enough, but, when it comes to making sense of them within the game, he struggles. I’ve just never looked at anything he’s written and thought he’s had solid insight.

    I’m not gonna get on him for the evaluating prospects aspect of what he does, because that’s so hit/miss anyway, and frankly, I have no idea how often he gets a call on a prospect right. But, I just don’t think he knows anything about the major league game.

    Where I really started to dislike Law was after the Cardinals/Tigers World Series, which, he pretty much chalked up to a complete fluke and the Tigers were way better. The Tigers are the 2nd team I root for, I live in Michigan, I lived in Michigan for that World Series, and really dislike the Cardinals. And yeah, the Tigers played pretty bad, but, the lengths he went to in order to disparage the Cardinals were silly.

    He made points that could be boiled down to something like, “yes, the Cardinals did things that put pressure on the Tigers to make plays, but had they not done that, the Tigers win this series easily.”

  74. Neil says:
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    Great read, but I’m going to try and forget all of it. As a bunch of folks said, every pitcher is risky and when it’s time for the injury, it’s time. Brett Anderson may be on a path towards destruction, but who says it has to be in 2010 and not 2011 or 2012?

    I already miss out on the top 10 or 15 starters because I like to go with hitters in rounds 1 to 8. I avoid pitchers with bad control, I try to avoid guys in the AL East, I’m not crazy about guys who have efficiency issues (Harden, Scherzer, Kershaw), I avoid ALL pitchers with K/9s under 6.0. I try to avoid guys on the Pirates, Nationals and other poor teams. I’m not crazy about drafting pitchers who pitch a lot of games against my favorite real life team. If I start avoiding guys because they threw a lot of sliders or had a huge inning spike, then I’m basically left with what….8 guys in all of MLB, LOL. Wainwright, Carpenter, Nolasco and JJ are 4 of the top 10 pitchers in the NL!

  75. @Adam: Ran it quickly through 10 team 5×5 Point Shares:

    Your side:
    M-Teix – 0.90
    Napoli – -0.69
    B. Wilson – -0.22

    Sum: Almost exactly 0.00 Point Shares (or that you got the equivalent of three average players – that’s not bad)

    Dunn – 0.14
    McCann – 0.70
    Marmol – 0.38
    Scherzer – -1.31

    Sum: -0.09 but all negative driven by Scherzer.

    Assuming your replacement for Scherzer is below 10-team league average (~ James Shields), I’ve got you coming in slightly behind on it….

    Just my POV (w/ data). Others may feel that M-Teix over Dunn is worth paying a premium of McCann over Napoli + Marmol & Scherzer over B-Wilson.

  76. Eddy says:
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    Who has a better chance of reaching (or going over for that matter) their Razzball prediction,

    Hunter Pence or Carlos Quentin?

  77. Eddy says:
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    @Grey:
    Thanks. It usually always comes down to those two in ESPN since they’re ranked aqbout two spots from each other. Looks like I made the right choice in this mock then!

  78. Sean says:
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    @Maitland: Dude, happ had a strand rate and a babip that would be unsustainale for sandy Koufax. He’s due for regression. Maybe not to awful but to league average. League average is probably not draftable in a shallow league.

  79. Sean says:
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    @Grey: Does that speak to some love for pence or you being bullish on q’s projections?

  80. tyler says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: “YEEK! Looks like half of my pitching staff will double-sucking through a Siebe Gorman Savox!”

    When you get Repoz to link to fantasy baseball, you know you’ve hit the big time.

  81. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Sean: Always liked Pence. He’s safer, Quentin’s upside is a bit higher.

  82. Martin says:
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    @grey- i realized if I have the option between a-gon and votto, i would pick votto. A gon has more power, but i think your right. A-gon is a 40 homerun hitter going on 35 and votto is a 30 homerun hitter going on 35. Votto also has the better average and potential steals. I feel comfortable taking a small risk in the 2nd round with votto.

  83. cruisinkc says:
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    In a 12 team…6X6 keeper league with doubles and quality starts as the extra categories and each team keeps 5…would you trade:

    BJ Upton for Jon Lester?

    I would get Lester in the deal and my other keepers are Braun, Teix, JRoll, and Cano.

  84. Eddy says:
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    As if Grey’s tremendous man crush on Jonathan Sanchez hasn’t
    created enough hype among us Razzballers, he went out and threw 3 scoreless innings with 5 Ks and ZERO walks today

  85. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Eddy: Aw, man. I’m so excited about owning this guy this year.

  86. Eddy says:
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    @Grey:
    Ditto, my good man.

  87. mrbaseball says:
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    Jose Bautista

    He’s 9-for-14 with three homers and four doubles so far this spring. That’s good for a 1.571 slugging percentage.

  88. Steve says:
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    @Grey: Hey – get those Sanchez googles off. It’s only spring training!

    Batters must have been working on something ;-)

  89. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @mrbaseball: I’ll have to remember those numbers for when people overstate spring training stats.

    @Steve: Ha!

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