My God, is it 2015 already? My how the time flies. It seems like only 365+ days ago it was January 1st, 2014! I hope you all had a Merry Festivus, a Happy New Year and maybe a great…President’s Day? IDK, I don’t know when you’ll get this blast from the 2014 fantasy baseball season past. It ain’t my place to say when this shall see the light of day. I just know I started a job and Imma finish it. We’ve been looking back at the fantasy baseball season through the eyes of pitcher rankings by month. We’ve now looked back at April, May, June, July, August (it’ll be out tomorrow because we like to keep you on your toes around here) and now, those who failed the sequence aptitude tests, guess what? We’re looking at September. It’s been an interesting series IMHO. IYHO, it was probably the worst but since IYHO isn’t real textual slanguage, I win so you will listen to every damn word I have to say. We’ve been exploring if #PitchingIsSoDeep really has merit which so far, there is some merit to it. That said, there’s a reason Kershaw finished numero uno on the player rater. But who’s that at #5? OH! *Fans self*. In reality, I wanted to see what the numbers had to say so I’ll let them speak for themselves. Here’s the final go at 2014 Fantasy baseball as we look back at the top pitchers from September…
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: ‘September With Wins’ and ‘September 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. PS, if this looks familiar from the previous posts in this series…it is! It’s a breakdown of what you’re looking at, I don’t see a reason to recreate the wheel. Unless the original wheel were inefficient, of course. Maybe it needs spikes? YES! Back to the drawing board we go! JK, moving along…
Largest Positive Win Value Difference: Clayton Kershaw (13.3)
Largest Negative Win Value Difference: Jeff Samardzija (-7.6)
Jeff Samardzija – Lady Luck hates you. Please come with me to Vegas so we can play poker against each other. Heck, I don’t even know half the rules but I fully expect to win. I’ve talked about this a few times simply because it’s an odd stat to see. A guy who pitches as a top 20 caliber arm but consistently can’t get a win even when moving to a good team or improved environment. I fully expect to see him go 8-10 for no good reason for the White Sox this year.
Francisco Liriano – He’s gonna troll us all in 2015 by finally pitching 190+ and keeping his walk rate steady all year. He’s totally a ripening pear. And for this I’ll forever hate him…and yet probably draft him because of his K-rate anyway. I’m such a strikeout whore!
Carlos Carrasco – Finally had a month in which the training wheels came off and he excelled with his first 40+ IP month as a starter in his career. Don’t look, I didn’t. I don’t have to. His career has been as up and down as Asia Carrera on a movie set, mostly going down. Oh and Grey pointed out how undervalued he might be heading into this year’s draft with a Carlos Carrasco Sleeper post. You should read it cuz it’s like, 2015 content and you’re obviously into fantasy baseball if you’re here reading about 2014 pitching lines.
I had to filter so many closers out – September is a weird month. With so many guys getting skipped in the rotation or shut down altogether, it’s no wonder I had to filter out eight relief arms. One or two? Sure but eight would’ve been nearly 33% of my rankings. Goes to show September is a fragile month for your staff.
22% – The amount of top 20 arms in the top 25 for this month. As we talked about in August, top 20 don’t mean much right now but it’s still a fun factor to consider. Unless you owned Homer Bailey; then the fun never stops…because the fun never really began.
Unlike previous conclusions, we’re gonna look through and see what arms finished the year in the top 20 based on Rudy’s Player Rater to give a final verdict on whether pitching really was deep or if the concept is a little foolhardy. Well, based on these results, a majority of your top 20 pitchers for 2014 were either from the Top 20 or from the Top 40. In fact, only one arm finished inside the top 10 that wasn’t part of the original top 20 from the pre-season and that was Corey Kluber. But, your top 20 overall was comprised of guys like Garrett Richards, Jake Arrieta, Tanner Roark, and Tyson Ross. And those guys don’t even take into account the pitchers you drafted as depth such as Lance Lynn or Phil Hughes who ended up becoming stars. So of your top 20, around 35% could’ve been had late in drafts or from free agency. And since we’re talking top 40, might as well look at some FA names from that view as well since not all FAs pitch a full year, meaning they don’t reach innings pitched levels to reach the top 20 but the stats were just as good: SP25 Collin McHugh, SP27 Matt Shoemaker, SP33 Dallas Kuechel, SP34 Carlos Carrasco, SP36 Wily Peralta, SP38 Wei-Yin Chen. In the end, it really comes down to approach. On the one hand, you can’t say drafting Clayton Kershaw or Felix Hernandez was a bad investment if you drafted them early but on the other hand, you can’t say that hanging back and aiming for late round targets like Corey Kluber or being hyper vigilant on waivers and nabbing a player like Jake Arrieta is a bad approach either. A player could conceivably have drafted/picked up a top 10-capable rotation in 2014 if they were paying attention and had the right approach. But in kind, the Kershaw/Felix approach could’ve made you more attentive to your hitting needs, allowing you to land a guy like J.D. Martinez or Devin Mesoraco. That said, in terms of philosophy, it’s much easier to dump an arm than it is a bat in my experience and it’s also a position that lends itself to more churn given you can have anywhere from 7 to 9 spots you can fill with any type of pitcher. The player who drafts pitching high and has perhaps Buster Posey is going to be disinclined to pick up Mesoraco. You’re not sitting Posey and how often to you slide a catcher into your utility spot? Obviously this is just conjecture at this point since we didn’t do a similar experiment with hitters from 2014. Perhaps we can aim for a similar approach in 2015. New Years resolutions, gotta love’um! Until next time, I think I’m gonna say I’m still on team #PitchingIsSoDeep. Good luck with your 2015 drafts with whichever direction you lean.