It started with a simple email. Hey Grey and Rudy, wouldn’t it be cool if someone wrote about the top pitchers broken down by month? And within those months, to evaluate with and without wins to ascertain who pitched well and gave good value vs. who pitched for a 90 win club and had a 4-0 month? Response was a resounding yes, of course. And of course, it was my own damn fault for having such a good idea because now I’m here giving you offseason content prior to January. Clearly the time that everyone is reading about fantasy baseball. Oh well, let’s get to it. Here’s a look back at April’s pitching to see if it holds any keys going forward to 2015 fantasy baseball:
So what the heck am I looking at, you might ask yourself. Well, unfortunately, the names I gave those secondary columns just won’t cut through so I gotta give you some breakdown. The first column labelled simply ‘$’ is Rudy’s formula for evaluating streamers. I can’t share the secret formula, though I have been told if used in the kitchen it makes some great baked beans. The column to its immediate right is what I simply called ‘Minus Wins.’ It’s Rudy’s numbers minus the impact of wins on their value. Clearly it knocks a few bucks off the top for everyone, but it does go to show whether a guy pitched well or if it was the wins that pushed them through the gate. The third and final column is ‘Win Value Difference.’ This is simply to show the separation between their value when counting wins vs their inherent value without them. Some are drastic, some are not and some may be misleading. Also notice the spreadsheet itself has two different tabs to peruse: ‘April With Wins’ and ‘April W/out Wins.’ I don’t think this needs further explanation. If it does, please refer to Appendix I-IV. Hint: there is no appendix.
Preseason Top 20 Pitchers for 2014 Fantasy Baseball in the top 25 for April without wins: Adam Wainwright, Zack Greinke, Jose Fernandez, Max Scherzer, Julio Teheran, Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee – Seven Total
Largest Positive Win Value Difference: Zack Greinke (15.7)
Largest Negative Win Value Difference: Jason Vargas (-6.8)
Collin McHugh – Actually gained value from wins. Pretty much the only month that happened.
Zack Greinke – How dramatic his drop was without wins; Greinke dropped from second best to 12th best pitcher based on core stats.
Jason Hammel – Well, that was fun.
Injuries – Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish both missed significant time to injury to start the year. I’m not holding this for or against the pitching debate in the same way I’m not bringing up Matt Moore. On the one hand, pitchers do hold a larger injury risk than most top hitters in the league as their minimal start count of 30 to 35 limits their upside to begin with. On the other hand, factoring injuries into the evaluation process hampers the biggest part of the argument: the FA pool provides plenty of pitching if you’re searching correctly.
26% – The amount of the top 20 pitchers in the top 25 for the month of April. Yes, that’s the median between the wins/no wins debate. Note I’m giving a five spot window. We’ll see if this trend holds for the year.
We’re just getting started. This is by no means a clear-cut ‘win’ in the #PitchingIsSoDeep argument but it’s definitely a start. We have proven that – for at least the month of April – you could’ve drafted or streamed between seventeen and eighteen different pitchers that were not ranked in the top 20 who gave top 25 performances. Some of the arms listed were guys on many people’s radars. Johnny Cueto didn’t surprise too many, nor did Michael Wacha or Masahiro Tanaka. But getting Tim Hudson late or from free agency and getting his April production? If you predicted it…well, you probably held him too long and suffered the consequences. That’s what you get for bragging. Tune in next time as we explore May and see if any trends emerge.