Monday, May 12, 2008

Fantasy Generals Speculator Part Seven - The Under and Overrate Over Achievers

Check out this weeks Fantasy Generals Speculator where I wrote:

Chien Ming Wang - Wang has always been somewhat of an anomaly, providing a ridiculously low strikeout rate, with outstanding success. Apparently Wang has worked hard on his change up and his slider-fastball combination was already one of the best in the game. Currently Wang is being fortunate from his home run per fly ball rate, but his percent is normally low in that category, so it is nothing that truly sticks out.

Jair Jurrjens - Before draft day, I thought highly of Jurrjens. Upon further inspection, I worried about his walk rate. Apparently I forgot that he moved to the NEW Junior Circuit. I worry about Jurrjens HR/FB rate, but being a pitcher who owns similar stuff to Wang, it is entirely possible he falls below league average in this category. The innings spike is also of worry going forward.

John Danks - What happens when a pitcher comes to Chicago and masters a cut fastball? Ask Esteban Loaiza. Danks has, in similar fashion, added a cut fastball to his repertoire and has taken an incredible leap as a pitcher. Always one to own a nice strikeout rate, Danks now has a pitch that hitters can hit, but can hardly handle. While it is early, noting the major decrease in fly balls and thus HR/FB gives me reason to believe Danks should continue close to the success he is currently having.

Interestingly my colleagues picked pitchers whom are obvious sell high candidates right now. Zach Grienke and Cliff Lee stick out. Additionally, an Edinson Volquez, Ervin Santana, Dana Eveland and Scott Olsen are all pitchers who are vastly outperforming their statistics. That is, the batted ball data they are receiving currently are at rates that are unsustainable for prolonged success.

Now, one does need to consider that each of the aforementioned pitchers are youthful and do bring some sort of quality to the table. Whether it is the incredible stuff of Volquez, Santana, or Grienke or being a lefty like Lee. That said, one needs to do some digging before they do their trading.

In a league I am currently in, I have been trying to deal Lee and a borderline starting first basemen for a struggling starter and first basemen. The individuals are not biting; claiming that I am ‘selling high’, and indeed that could be the case. However, that is only partially true. Consider that Lee currently owns the following numbers. If I was selling high I would be trying to pedal him as the pitcher he is currently performing as. Rather, I am offering Lee as the pitcher he was prior to 2007. For a player picked up off free agents, I personally do not consider that as selling high.

Then there are the incredible stuff trio of Volquez, Santana, and Grienke. Each one, at some point was tabbed as a top notch prospect. However, they all possess obvious flaws. First and foremost, each are performing, as mentioned, well above their batted ball data would suggest. In addition to that, this performance is nowhere near where they have performed at the major league level. Keep in mind, that is not a nail in the coffin, open and shut case that each one will be a dud from here on out, but it is something to remember while negotiating.

Then, consider their flaws:

Volquez has incredible stuff that he wasn’t able to control against minor league hitters. I think he is currently experiencing the first time around syndrome, remember Dontrelle Willis?

Santana, again, sound stuff, but he has been very hittable over his career. I would be willing to bet that his strikeout rate will decline and balls will begin cruising out of the park again. It is a nice start and something to remember in the future, but until I hear anything about an added or improved pitch (like a John Danks), it’s tough to believe Santana finally found the potion to missing bats.

Grienke is in essentially the same spot as Santana. However I like his stuff a little bit more. The big difference, Grienke pitches to contact and still is not missing many bats. Playing for a team with simply adequate defensive play, its tough to imagine Grienke does not allow more base runners and consequently more runs.

There are two other issues to consider:

  1. ‘From here on out’. This is my slogan for fantasy baseball where I ask myself, how is player xyz going to perform ‘from here on out’? Obviously each of these players are going to regress, but to what extent?
  2. Which leads me to my second point regarding value. If you decide that Grienke is going to be a 3.90 pitcher from here on out and you can manage to deal him as a 3.20 pitcher, you have indeed received good value. If you are unable to get anything more then how you value Grienke, chances are you are better served sticking it out in hopes of getting lucky.

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