Razzball is hosting the Fantasy Roundtable this week.  Very stressful.  Had to clean up my bachelor pad.  Was busy baking all day.  One guy only drinks decaf because caffeine keeps him up all night.  Two guys had torn hip labrums and needed to be Bela Karolyied up the 4 flights of stairs to my apartment.  Good times.  So here was the question for the group:

What category(ies) do you think about least when drafting and managing your fantasy roster?

Brett Greenfield – Fantasy Phenoms
Wins.  You have the least control over predicting it.

Tommy Landry – RotoExperts.com
When I am drafting my fantasy teams, I almost completely discount the Wins category at the draft. In fact, I so dislike it as a fantasy category that I altered my main league to count Quality Starts instead. Why do such a thing? First, pitchers are inconsistent and never a sure thing. How can I possibly value a number of wins for a guy who might start three games and go down for the year with a busted UCL? Or get removed from the rotation? Demoted? You get the picture. The second, and more important issue, is that wins are highly dependent upon team defense, quality of bullpen, and just plain dumb luck. It’s easy to see why, if your team can’t field a ball, you’ll lose out on win opportunities (Hence the FIP metric). Same goes for teams with shoddy bullpens who can both blow the win/save and trash the SP’s ratios (via inherited runners scoring) in only a few short pitches. But the one factor that can absolutely kill fantasy value for pitchers (even on the elite teams) is luck. This is the reason BABIP has become such an important stat in fantasy over recent years, because it demystifies the impact of luck on the game. That said, I never again want to suffer through a season like Roger Clemens had in 2005, where his shiny happy 1.87 ERA was only good for 13 wins in 32 games started. Go for Ks and especially the ratios, and cross your fingers about the wins, because you simply can’t predict that category with any degree of certainty on a year-to-year basis.

Tim Dierkes – RotoAuthority.com
The two I think about the least are wins and saves.  With wins, I feel that I just can’t control it.  I wouldn’t draft an OK pitcher on a good team, like Chien-Ming Wang, just in search of the W.  It doesn’t always work, but I don’t worry too much about the quality of a team or offense if I like the starter.  Even during the season I don’t change that approach, I just try to assemble guys who will succeed in ERA, WHIP, and Ks.

With saves, I’ll wait until late in the draft and go for the Frank Francisco/Huston Street/George Sherrill class, for the most part.  But during the season I am vigilant in making sure I have three or more active closers.

Mike Podhorzer – FantasyPros911.com
Technically, I think about every category equally since I calculate dollar values for every player. If I didn’t though, the Wins category would be the easy answer. We all know how flukey the category could be, whether it’s the bullpen blowing your win or your pitcher’s offense deciding not to show up for the game; there are too many variables that go into wins and losses that are out of a pitcher’s control. Last year, Gavin Floyd won 17 games with the White Sox, while posting a 3.84 ERA in 206.1 innings. In just 10 fewer innings, his rotation mate John Danks only won 12 games, despite posting a superior 3.32 ERA. The difference? 8.51 runs of support behind Floyd compared to just 6.51 for Danks. Wins should not be completely ignored as the odds are a pitcher on a team with a good offense like the Red Sox will win more than a pitcher with the backing of a weak offense like the Pirates, but focusing on the pitcher’s underlying skills is the much better approach.

Adam Ronis – Newsday
The category I pay the least attention to is wins. There are too many factors involved in wins that are beyond a pitchers control. They need run support, defense and the bullpen to hold the lead since most pitchers rarely go the entire game. Johan Santana easily could have won 20 games last season and won 16 because of poor run support and a shoddy bullpen. This season it has been even worse. He has two losses and didn’t allow an earned run in either one. He is 4-2 with a 0.78 ERA. Dan Haren has a 2.09 ERA and a 56/9 K/BB ratio in 56 innings and is 3-4. For most other stats you can go by a players skills, but for wins too many elements are involved that are outside of the pitcher’s control.

Patrick Cain- Albany Times Union
Without a doubt average is the least thought about. I use to pay little attention to WHIP, but now its average. If I’m taken a bunch of Adam Dunn-like players I’ll be sure to grab one high average guy, but that’s the extent of it. One reason could be I focus most on my H2H league. And avg in a H2H is incredibly variable. Even great avg hitters like Albert Pujols has 0 for 10 streaks, so you can still have week of a team .250 followed by a followed .450.

Jon Williams – Advanced Fantasy Baseball
I try not to concentrate too much energy thinking about the actual 5×5 categories especially when it comes to pitchers. I prefer to look at K/BB ratio, K/9, and Ground Ball percentage. I believe this gives a much truer indication of a pitcher’s skills than Wins, Saves, ERA, or WHIP. I also look at the defense and lineup of the pitcher’s team. If a pitcher shows good skills and pitches in front of team with a quality defense and/or a great lineup, they go even higher up my rankings.

Hitters are another story. It is impossible to ignore the traditional categories with hitters but there are still better indicators of skills. I like to look at Ground Ball/Line Drive/ and Fly Ball percentages. Consistently high Line Drive rates are a solid indication of a skilled batter, especially when it comes with high walk rates and low strikeout rates. In potential power hitters, I want to see a high Fly Ball percentage and consistent HR/FB ratios. A player’s team and position in the lineup helps when estimating potential Runs and RBI totals.

Rudy Gamble – Razzball
I can’t argue with the consensus that Wins are the flukiest stat.  I just look for SPs with solid ERA/WHIP/K potential and generally get boned on Wins (how does my boy Randy Wolf have a sub-3.00 ERA on a 27-13 team and have 2 wins?).

I tend to discount AVG more than others.  I find low AVG guys like Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds, and Dan Uggla fall in drafts further than they should given their value in other categories.  I just look to complement with cheap AVG/Runs guys  like Freddy Sanchez or Placido Polanco.

As for Runs, RBIs, and Saves, I consider all three to be highly driven by opportunity.  I find Runs/RBI are driven mostly by lineup spot and will adjust expectations if shifts are made (e.g., Kemp loses value getting put so far down in LA lineup).  For Saves, I’ll pickup just about any guy who is closing.  My goal is to draft enough Saves that I can live without pickups but, if I’m successful picking up Saves on the waiver wire, I’ll start trading closers at some point during the season.

  1. Jareth Cutestory says:

    I saw batting average listed a couple of times in there and I think that is a mistake. It is a very hard category to fix once the season has started and your team is failing at it.

  2. Stephen says:

    Rudy- I marvel in your brilliance, and melt in your knowledge

  3. @Jareth Cutestory: I think that’s the case for all stats, no? If you fall behind in SB, you’ll have to sacrifice power. If you fall behind in power, you’ll likely give up in SB and AVG. Of all these, I put the least stock in AVG and focus more on the other four.

    @Stephen: Thanks…I think.

  4. wreckless says:

    I have to agree with Williams. We see the volatility every year in pitchers’ ERA and, to a lesser extent, WHIP. It’s easy to dismiss wins and saves as “luck”, but I look at it more as a team metric. Teams that win a lot of games on offense tend to get wins for their starting pitchers. Teams that win a lot of games, especially small ball teams that win by manufacturing runs, tend to produce more saves.

    Batters depend just as much on other batters for their Runs and RBIs as pitchers depend on their batters for run support. The only difference is that the sample size for starting pitchers is much smaller than for everyday players, so there is more volatility among SPs. However, if one is looking to win the league, is volatility a bad thing? Chien-Ming Wang had back-to-back 19 win seasons that he probably didn’t deserve, just for being in the right place at the right time. But everyone who drafted him knew that he was in the right place, and if he showed up at the right time as well he would pay off big.

    ERA and Wins are both volatile, if you don’t look at the deeper picture. The difference is that “the deeper picture” for ERA will include WHIP and Ks, so its values are tied to other categories that affect the pitcher’s value. Wins are less tied to these factors, and more tied to categories that don’t hinge on the pitcher himself. This, along with the volatility of the category, made Wang an incredible value pick for his first and to a lesser extent his second 19-win season despite his mediocre ratios.

  5. Adam says:

    I usually look at stuff like K/BB and K/9 and let the ratios take care of themselves, don’t even both trying to predict wins (which is the main reason I didn’t talk myself out of taking Greinke in the middle rounds of my draft) and try to snag a few mid-low tier closers for saves, and stream the rest of the season. Rather than hold mediocre/bad starters and multiple offensive backups like the rest of the league, I prefer to have multiple middle relievers with great ratios and K numbers to help in those areas. Conveniently, they also generally end up being the guys to fill in when a closer goes down.
    As for offense, I don’t concern myself too much with average, and usually just base R/RBI on lineup position.

  6. brad says:

    @Rudy Gamble: @Jareth Cutestory: I agree with you Rudy, partially because once the season has started it is much easier to find a guy who will help you in BA (over replacement) than it is to find a guy who will help you in RBI, R or HR.

  7. Jareth Cutestory says:


    I find that average is much harder to fix than just about any category. It is truly a battleship, not a speed boat, and cannot be easily turned on a dime. In contrast a single thief like Crawford can change a team’s fortunes on the base paths. Average also correlates strongly with runs scored and rbi. Runs scored is also a bitch to fix.

    A single closer can also dramatically impact standings. In addition a 10 team mixed league will cap out at 300 hr or so, and clearly a single player that hits 40-50 taters will dramatically influence an owner’s ability to reach 300 and get that 10. I guess what I am saying is that a single player can be acquired and go a long way to fixing certain categories.

    The cumulative totals of at bats, runs, and rbi are so high though that an owner has to be mindful of average at every turn in building a squad. Last but not least, it is one thing for a player not to contribute in a category, it is quite another for them to actually HURT you with low average.

    Batting average is like the lime that keeps you from puking after a tequila shot.

  8. ScoutAbout says:

    Great roundtable! I particularly enjoyed the discussion about looking at a pitcher’s K/9 and K/BB ratios. I’m still pretty new to fantasy baseball so I have a very novice type question. What are elite ratios, solid ratios and sub-par ratios in these categories. Put another way, what ratios should I be looking for that indicate an elite pitcher vs. a solid pitcher vs. don’t draft/leave ’em on the waiver wire?

  9. brad says:

    @Jareth Cutestory: agree totally about a difference between not helping and not hurting. i guess taking pains to draft players who won’t hurt your average is giving a certain importance to the category.

  10. cws05nuts says:

    Hey Rudy –

    Is this the BTR Fantasy Baseball Roundtable Podcast?

    Or, a podcast at all?

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