Member the last time we looked at FIP?  You were younger, you!  Still looking good.  Love the touch with the bitten down fingernails.  You’re like the Krueger brother who had to open jars for Freddy.  Billy, could you open these pickles for me?  These stupid nails. Okay, so I usually look at which pitchers are being lucky or unlucky monthly during the season, but let’s do a recap of who was lucky last year.  It might help with your drafting, but I do go over all of this in individual blurbs in the 2010 fantasy baseball rankings, where it’s applicable.  But thinking gives you the Mondays, so here I am.  On Friday.  xFIP — stands for Expected Fielding Independent Pitching.  It’s basically ERA without those pesky fielders helping or hurting you.  It’s a pure ERA.  It’s like when you go to the Supercuts and then you don’t want to shower for like 2 weeks because you’ll never get your hair styled again like Jeffrey does it.  It’s your hair right after Jeffrey styles it and before you wash it.  That’s xFIP.  Okay, so let’s take a Exhibit A pitcher, who has an ERA of 2.75, but his xFIP is a 6.75.  A -4.00 difference.  That means he’s been very lucky and there’s a good chance his ERA is going to go way up.  So here’s a list of pitchers with the biggest difference between their actual ERAs and their xFIPs for all of last year. (If your guy’s on the list, it’s not a great sign.)

Jair Jurrjens – -1.74 difference.  And that was before he went for an MRI on his shoulder.  P.W. Botha isn’t the only one getting The Gas Face.

J.A. Happ – -1.59.  Can Happ avoid the sophomore slump?  Sure, if Ryan Howard gives up cheesesteaks, learns to fly and knocks every ball down that is hit off of Happ.

Matt Cain – -1.32.  He should’ve regressed the entire year last year, but he Keyser Soze’d his way through it.  Unlike the above two names, Cain’s above a 7 K/9, so I have some love for him.

Randy Wells – -1.19.  Okay, Wells was also lucky last year.  Not great, but he does keep his walks down.  Kinda like my overweight aunt.

Bronson Arroyo – -1.16.  Eh, he shouldn’t be owned until July anyway.

Johan Santana – -1.00.  But he was injured.  But what if he’s not fully healed?  And the falling K-rate?  I don’t know… Damn, random italicized voice, you’re supposed to be for comic relief, not for making actual points.  My bad.

Randy Wolf – -0.93.  I don’t think anyone, including Wolf, really thought he was for real last year.

Edwin Jackson – -0.78.  Don’t you just love it when pitchers I’m not excited about end up on the list of pitchers to avoid?  Yeah, don’t wanna blow your mind right here, but it was kinda planned that way.

John Danks – -0.77.  Last year, I liked Danks and disliked Floyd.  This year, the opposite.  Danks for the memories.  Danks, but no Danks.  Danks for nothing.  You pick the bad wordplay.

  1. Beau says:

    How am I supposed to get work done when you guys make me laugh so damn much. Funny I just made Jair, Happ, and Cain’s names italicized on my tiered scarcity report/cheat sheet so i dont forget during the draft to avoid them like the plague unless i get them for 50 cents on the dollar.

  2. Andre says:

    I’m staying far away from Jair this season and not just because his name sounds like an infectious disease. Happ and Danks too. I do like me some Cain though, since as you said he K’s.

    I think it’s safe to add Rick Porcello to this list, no? I don’t know his xFIP, but son managed a 3.96 ERA with a 4.77 FIP last season. He don’t miss bats so will he step forward or back this season? I’m thinking the later.

  3. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Beau: Cool…

    @Andre: Yeah, Porcello must’ve just missed xFIP list, but he’s not going anywhere any of my teams.

  4. El Famous Burrito says:

    Great post.

    Are you going to do the inverse of this phenomona (doo doo do do do!)?

  5. Eddy says:

    Hmm, Johan is a bit of a surprise here. I’ll draft him if he falls to me in the 6th round but I’d be lying if I said I fully trust him to dominate this year.

  6. Beau says:

    Others who may have been unlucky include lester and verland, but you were already going after them anyways. Also on the list are Pavano, Livan, pelfrey (no thanks) and penny, hamels, JDLR, lowe…definitely some interesting names.

  7. matthole says:

    @Grey: John “Shwag”

  8. ichirosan says:

    I know Wolf wasn’t for real, but how hard do you see him falling? He’s on the waiver wire of one of my 20-man leagues.

  9. Grey

    Grey says:

    @matthole: Hmm, you lost me.

    @ichirosan: He should be owned in that deep of a league. He’s a low 4 ERA guy.

  10. matthole says:

    @Grey: reefer reference : DANK = good; shwag=bad

    He is no longer John “Danks”…….yeah, I’ll keep those to myself

  11. Grey

    Grey says:

    @matthole: Ah… See, I smoked too much pot when I was younger to get that.

  12. Nate Marcum says:

    @Grey: The biggest dilemma I face is in a keeper format. With Jurrjens only being .30 with a $50 cap.

    1. Keep him because of value
    2. Let him go because, well, a .30 piece of crap is still a piece of crap.

  13. Steve says:

    @Grey: @ichirosan: And he goes by The Wolfman. What’s not to like?

  14. Nate Marcum says:

    All right guys…I only have 2 hours before my NFBC draft, I sit in the first spot, and I am increasingly growing worried that Zimmerman will not be around at the turn. If he is gone, should I do Youk and a top flight OF, Reynolds and top flight OF, Youk and B.Phillips? I really don’t want to take Reynolds, but I don’t want to have to worry about 3B all draft long.

    Thanks guys!!!

  15. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Nate Marcum: Youk and an OF or Phillips is fine.

  16. mapwheel says:

    Arroyo put up something like a 2.20 ERA in the second half last year. I hate to cram sunshine up his ass, but not many pitchers did better than that.

    Definitely a second half pitcher. He must be too busy working on his terrible music during the first half to be bothered to throw a decent fucking game.

  17. Erock says:


    It’s like when you go to the Supercuts and then you don’t want to shower for like 2 weeks because you’ll never get your hair styled again like Jeffrey does it.

    just killed me. Thank you.

  18. Eric says:

    Hey guys, I haven’t posted in here in a while. I’ve taken some months off for some R&R from the fantasy world.

    I am going to be playing in a 10-team 5X5 roto mixed league (2 catchers, 5 OFs, MI, CI, 9 pitchers, 6 reserves). Just thought I would mention my initial draft strategy and look for some feedback.

    The plan is to draft hitters in rounds 1-5 loading up on whoever is the best valued player who has slipped. No targeted players, just the best value. Rounds 6-15 I plan to alternate taking a starting pitcher and a hitter, so that’s 5 more hitters and 5 SPs. Those SPs will be the anchors of my staff at least for the beginning of the season. Rounds 16-19 will be two more hitters and two closers. Rounds 20-23 will be two closers and two high upside SPs. Rounds 24-25 will be my final two hitters, probably MI and Utility. I know these guys will be weak hitters. Essentially, they are guys I can cut without much fanfare to pick up whoever gets hot to start the season. Rounds 26-29 will be high upside SPs and also guys who can easily be cut when needed.

    I’m going to fill my reserves with SPs and use 5 starting pitchers with 4 closers to begin the season. Last year I got burned in ERA and WHIP early in the year and never really recovered. To keep that ERA and WHIP reasonable I’ll do that strategy for the first 5 weeks of the season or so. I know I’ll fall behind in strikeouts and wins, but I should be in 1st place in saves. I’ll make it up later. During April I’m looking to aggressively play the waiver-wire looking for upcoming SPs, but not starting them. I’ll just hold them as reserves until they can string together many good outings. After about 5 weeks of that, I plan on cutting 2 closers and going with 7 starters and 2 closers since by mid-May we should know who’s good and who’s not. At that point, I’ll start moving up the rankings in Wins and Strikeouts and down the rankings in saves. I should have enough saves to at least stay in the middle of the pack though. If I can gather together enough good pitchers I can rotate them around and maximize the number of starts per week to make up a lot of ground. Meanwhile, the hitters should be dominating across the board. Is this a good strategy? Any recommendations? Comments?

  19. Bring Back Pluto says:

    “but let’s do a recap of who was unlucky last year. ”

    Should this read “who was lucky this year?” I’m not sure if I’m nit-picking or just confused.

  20. Beau says:

    @Eric: You should check out the draft strategies grey and rudy published. Not sure you need to hold yourself to a strict hitter/pitcher alternating sequence, but otherwise the overall idea is sound.

  21. Eric says:


    There’s some flexibility. It doesn’t have to alternate. If someone good slips I’ll grab him. It’s just a general strategy of what rounds to target what positions.

  22. Bring Back Pluto says:

    ack, and then I make my own typo. I meant to ask if it should read “who was lucky LAST year.”

    Yeah, I need a life.

  23. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Eric: That strategy makes sense.

    @Bring Back Pluto: Nah, you’re right. My bad. Stupid fingers.

  24. zorob says:

    @Grey: hey, where would Figgy rank among your 2Bs? Sure he can’t hit a HR to save his life, but don’t the OBP and steals count for something?

  25. Grey

    Grey says:

    @zorob: He’d rank top 5 for 2nd basemen.

  26. Big League Chew says:

    @grey: I know that Wolf’s xFIP says that he was lucky, but doesn’t the bad luck of his good offense ironically never giving him a chance at a win kind of offset that? :)

  27. The Dude says:

    @Eric: When you say “cutting 2 closers and going with 7 starters” you mean trading them right?

  28. Steve says:

    @Grey: You’re not the only one.

  29. Maitland says:

    I like Edwin Jackson for this year. He had a really good first half of the year, really bad second half of the year. I lean towards thinking he’ll be more like the first half than the second half.

    I felt like he was a pitcher that had for the first half of the year figured out a lot of things about pitching, and then the second half, was like, “oh shit, I have to do those things under the pressure of a pennant race now?” And, he just fell apart.

    But, I think he’s got great potential as a pitcher and even though he leaves a pitchers park, I think he’ll be closer to the first half of his season than the second half.

  30. Maitland says:

    Also, I don’t think you can look at a guy like Randy Wolf and apply FIP. I just don’t see how that makes any sense. I mean, just look at the formula, then look at Wolf’s career. Really? Wolf knows his fielders, knows their weaknesses, knows hitters and works around it.

    It’s the same reason Jaime Moyer had success. That success will be there until for whatever reason they just lose a step in terms of the thinking aspect of the game.

  31. Euroalien says:

    Im starting to “over think” my early picks in my draft tomorrow… I was planning on taking Hamilton (or Quentin) and a SP to round out my top eight, but the injury risk has me a little worried and I’m thinking Victorino or Span might be a better option to couple with a pitcher. (League setup in an earlier post…..) AmI over analysing?

  32. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Euroalien: No, I don’t think Victorino and Span are bad picks. Depends on what you’re looking for them to provide. If I took BJ Upton, I wouldn’t want Span. If I took Carlos Lee, Span doesn’t seem as bad.

  33. Tony says:

    just sent invites to TWO razzballers for my main money league, what am i thinking?

    wish some of my old friends just weren’t huge bags of vagina….. crap happens when you get old, or married, or are a bum and lazy and dont work…

  34. Euroalien says:

    I have Howard, Bay, Granderson and Youk, plus Beckett and Santana….. I’m thinking Span or Victorino plus a Wandy type might be better…….. as they’ll give me some speed…. but I don’t want to reach for them too early either (I know I want the best of both worlds). I’m planning on taking Stewart with my 9th pick then possible an RP or two from the Bell tier…….. I really appreciate the advice! :)

  35. Rabbit says:

    P.W. Botha gets The Gas Face…classic. And when I say “classic,” I mean the only website in the world where you can get invaluable fantasy advice while soaking up references to early 90s white rappers commenting on South African politics. And I give M.C. Hammer The Gas Face. BwwhraBwwhraBwwwhra (<–Gas Face sound).

  36. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Rabbit: Nice sound effect.

  37. peter says:

    What’s the highest you’d draft Chapman in keeper league (12 team, mixed)?

  38. Grey

    Grey says:

    @peter: Around 12-14th.

  39. Tony says:

    grey would you rather go Miggy/tulo or Miggy/wright at the turn in a 12 team draft…. had the option in this mock i just did….

  40. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Tony: Miggy/Wright

  41. Steve says:

    @Tony: I’d say Wright cost that’s what I did in a for-real slow draft I’m doing.

  42. Tony says:

    @Grey: @Steve: ya i went wright, got andrus around the 11th, and took everth in the 22nd or somethign for backup? was a pretty good mock, people were sniping my wish list pretty hard, thats actually a good thing…. anyways my first two sp’s were gallardo and nolasco….. didn’t feel great about that… i almost wanna get a SOLID SP around the 5th ish, just so i KNOW i have one… i mean depending what format and draft pick i have, near the end of a draft i’ve found i dont like what comes back inthe 7/8th….

  43. Steve says:

    @Tony: Gotta say I’m a little spooked about any decent SS who’s not Hanley or Reyes after reading Rudy’s value post the other day. Took Reyes at 40 in this draft.

  44. SotoMojo says:

    I finished up my draft the other day. 12 team H2H, 6×6 (the extra stats being OPS and Holds), with 4 OF and an IF spot. How did I do and what should I address in-season?

    IF-Garret Jones
    Util-Carlos Gonzalez

    RP-Mike Gonzalez
    B-Clay Buchholz

  45. Tony says:

    @Steve: ya, if i take a andrus i almost always take an everth later too, i like to at least have some options if one of them bombs, if both do…. UH OH

    Here’s my completed mock, 12 teamer from the 12 slot:

    1. Miguel Cabrera (Det – 1B)
    2. David Wright (NYM – 3B)
    3. Curtis Granderson (NYY – OF)
    4. Robinson Canó (NYY – 2B)
    5. Nelson Cruz (Tex – OF)
    6. Yovani Gallardo (Mil – SP)
    7. Ricky Nolasco (Fla – SP)
    8. Hunter Pence (Hou – OF)
    9. Elvis Andrus (Tex – SS)
    10. Jay Bruce (Cin – OF)
    11. Carlos Quentin (CWS – OF)
    12. Kevin Slowey (Min – SP)
    13. Jonathan Sánchez (SF – SP)
    14. Geovany Soto (ChC – C)
    15. David Price (TB – SP)
    16. Chris Davis (Tex – 1B,3B)
    17. Matt Capps (Was – RP)
    18. Jon Rauch (Min – RP)
    19. Frank Francisco (Tex – RP)
    20. Francisco Liriano (Min – SP,RP)
    21. Travis Snider (Tor – OF)
    22. Everth Cabrera (SD – SS)
    23. Cameron Maybin (Fla – OF)

    isn’t it wild i took pence, andrus, bruce before CQ? then got chris davis in the 16th…. how is my pitching? and i tried to sagnof it but man, the closers got worked…. theres always inseason pickups. THOUGHTS?

  46. Tony says:

    @SotoMojo: nice team, ur pitching is going to be your question mark…. some guys step up you’re gold, some guys tank, watch out….ubaldo, wandy, nolasco could be rough….

  47. Tony says:

    @Grey: can that team i just drafted compete slash win a roto league? slash RCL?

    drinking, again, slash….

  48. Steve says:

    @Tony: Your first three picks are AWESOME! Hehe – same as mine in the slow draft. If guys play to potential that OF could be huge. See what you. Mean about pitching. Looks like you need an Oswalt or a Baker type.

  49. Tony says:

    @Steve: ya grandy, cruz, pence, CQ and bruce? some of that has to pan out…. ya i feel all my SP’ing is wishful, no real locks, if there is such a thing in pitching…. i’ve got more upside on this team than anything… which is good and BAD.?

  50. Grey

    Grey says:

    @SotoMojo: Looks like a solid team, I think for H2H your pitching should be fine. You might have to work the waivers, but everyone does. Your hitting looks real nice.

    @Tony: Your pitching looks like it could give you problems, if this were a real league. It hinges on Gallardo. Hitting looks real solid.

  51. SotoMojo says:

    @Grey Thanks. I expect to be able to pick up a starter in the first couple of months that will really be a help to my team. We’ll see what I get from Scherzer and Buchholz, but I really think this is the year we see Cueto break out.

  52. Eddy says:

    Strasburg had a pretty sweet line today. It just adds fuel to the fire and probably boosted his draft spot a round or two.

    Strasburg (W, 1-0) 4.0 innings…4 hits…2 Earned Runs (Solo homers)… 8(!) SO.

    He’s currently sporting a 2.00 ERA for spring and has 12 Ks over 9 IP.

    Man, if the opportunity falls to me, I’m drafting this kid and hanging him in front of my league mates for some trades.

  53. Roger Lodge says:

    Wow, this article just crushed my keepers. Perhaps a little help from the man…

    My Roster:

    OF: A.Lind, M.Ramirez, C.Granderson, B.Abreu, Ad.Jones, R.Ludwick
    1B: M.Cabrera, M.Teixeira
    2B: C.Utley
    3B: P. Sandoval, Ar.Ramirez, C.Figgins
    SS: Al.Ramirez, C.Barmes
    C: K.Shoppach
    SP: J.Santana, M.Cain, T.Hanson, D.Price, E.Bedard, M.Garza
    RP: B.Jenks, B.Lidge

    Here’s my 9:
    M.Cabrera, M.Teixeira, C.Utley, P.Sandoval, A.Lind, C.Granderson, J.Santana, M.Cain, T.Hanson

    Should I reconsider not including Price and/or Aramis?

    Roger Lodge, Love Guru

  54. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Roger Lodge: Nice username. Johan and Cain shouldn’t invert to unusable. And your other options aren’t that enticing. I’d go with what you have. Maybe if Cain gets off to another nice start, you look to move him.

  55. Nate Marcum says:

    Drafted my NFBC Double Play team…not entirely pleased, but ok with it.
    C. Ramon Hernandez
    C. JR Towles
    1B Pujols
    2B J Lopez
    SS S. Dres
    3B Zimmerman
    OF Sizemore
    OF Werth
    OF A Jones
    OF D Span
    OF D Fowler
    CI I Stewart
    MI Everth
    UT Konerko
    P Lester
    P Nolasco
    P Baker
    P Slowey
    P Liriano
    P Aardsma
    P Lidge
    P Capps
    P Niemann
    B Rzepczynski
    B R Madson
    B C Headley
    B Randy Ruiz
    B Motte
    B Carlos Santana
    B M Bumgarner


  56. Chris says:

    Just finished drafting my 14 team keeper league, 6×6 H2H with OPS and Quality Starts. I’m obviously happy with my lineup, but do you think I have enough pitching to win the league?

    OF-J Upton


    Travis Snider
    Kevin Gregg
    Kevin Slowey
    Jonathan Sanchez
    Brandon Morrow
    Justin Duchscherer

  57. Chris says:

    Grey, also on an unrelated note, do you have any suggestions for a simple way to manage rankings for an odd H2H points-based league? If not, maybe some general suggestions based on the settings below?

    Scoring for Batting Categories
    1B – Singles 1 point
    2B – Doubles 2 points
    3B – Triples 3 points
    BB – Walks (Batters) 1 point
    CS – Caught Stealing -1 point
    GDP – Ground Into Double Plays -1 point
    HP – Hit by Pitch 1 point
    HR – Home Runs 4 points
    KO – Strikeouts (Batter) -0.5 points
    R – Runs 1 point
    RBI – Runs Batted In 1 point
    SB – Stolen Bases 2 points

    Scoring for Pitching Categories
    BBI – Walks Issued (Pitchers) -1 point
    ER – Earned Runs -1 point
    HA – Hits Allowed -1 point
    HB – Hit Batsmen -1 point
    INN – Innings 3 points
    K – Strikeouts (Pitcher) .5 points
    L – Losses -5 points
    NH – No-Hitters 5 points
    PG – Perfect Games 5 points
    S – Saves 7 points
    SO – Shutouts 5 points
    W – Wins 7 points

  58. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Nate Marcum: The bottom half of your staff looks pretty wonky. Your hitting looks fine, maybe a little light on speed, but not too terrible. Fowler and Everth could make a difference there.

    @Chris: Sure, you have enough to win if two of your bench starters pan out and Dempster holds it together. Otherwise, you might have some issues. Your league is pretty weighted for SPs. I think your hitting should be fine.

    re: those seetings — That’s also very heavily weighted for SPs. Make sure you load up on quality starters. I’d go for Lincecum definitely and at least one more in the top 20 starters. Your hitting is weighted for speed/average guys. Juan Pierre would be solid in that league or someone like that. I’d go easy on the all or nothing sluggers like Howard.

  59. ChiliDavis says:

    first real draft! what do you guys think? 12 team H2H.

    1. (10) David Wright 3B
    2. (15) Matt Kemp OF
    3. (34) Kevin Youkilis 1B,3B
    4. (39) Robinson Canó MI
    5. (58) José Reyes MI
    6. (63) Jon Lester SP
    7. (82) Cole Hamels SP
    8. (87) Josh Hamilton OF
    9. (106) Ricky Nolasco SP
    10. (111) Matt Wieters C
    11. (130) José Valverde RP
    12. (135) Carlos Quentin OF
    13. (154) Brandon Webb SP
    14. (159) Frank Francisco RP
    15. (178) Jorge De La Rosa SP
    16. (183) Jonathan Sánchez SP (dropped for mike gonz)
    17. (202) Carlos Gonzalez OF
    18. (207) David Price SP
    19. (226) Scott Kazmir SP

  60. Tom Emanski says:

    Grey, is there a quick way you could make a separate top 300 rankings for OBP instead of AVG leagues? If it’s not too much trouble.

  61. Grey

    Grey says:

    @ChiliDavis: This seems like a very shallow 12 team league and, the fact CarGo went at 202, makes me think your competition isn’t the sharpest. But your team looks fine. Decent SPs. Not crazy about Webb or Kazmir if you’ve read the site at all, but it’s your team, they could be good, I guess. Your hitting looks fine.

    @Tom Emanski: The rankings don’t change that much as guys that are good at baseball tend to be good at getting on base.

  62. Mickey says:

    have you updated your top 300 lately?

    Scanning through, do you still like Brantley over Coghlan?

  63. ChiliDavis says:

    @Grey: Thanks Grey, appreciate the feedback. would you pick up Lilly or Sanchez in place of Kazmir or Webb?

  64. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Mickey: I have updated it. I don’t like Coghlan.

    @ChiliDavis: You should be able to DL Webb once the season begins then grab Sanchez.

  65. Andre says:

    What do you think the odds are of Uggla getting traded and Coghlan eventually moving to 2nd? A little multiposition eligibility sure would boost Coghlan’s value.

  66. Tony says:

    @ChiliDavis: ya kemp slipped to 15? your league must not be too bright?

  67. @Grey:

    I hear CarGo is going to be leading off, how does this affect his value if at all? (Clearly hes gonna get more run/SB less RBI)

  68. matthole says:

    David Wright went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Grapefruit League action against the Twins on Friday. Wright has now struck out twice in three straight spring games, and has seen his average fall to .241

    Only Spring ball right???

  69. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Andre: If it hasn’t happened by now, it’s not happening until late June at the earliest.

    @Elijah: You got the side effect right there.

    @matthole: Only spring ball.

  70. Carl Spackler says:

    Hey Grey, Happy Saturday…..I know that Chapman and Starsburg have been hogging the ST spotlight, but what about Brian Matusz? I know the dreaded AL East, but is this guy worth a roster spot in most 10/12 man leagues? He has had a pretty solid Spring. Thoughts??

  71. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Carl Spackler: He’s in my top 80 starters rankings. He’s a risky 4th fantasy starter with 3rd starter upside.

  72. mc serch says:

    @Grey: Elroy Cohen, gets the gas face!!!! Nice 3rd Bass ref, and a much underused term if you ask me.

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