You Won’t Believe Who’s #6 On This Cool Spring Breeze List of Hot Sizzling Pitchers

A few days ago we focused on hitters that have been known to get off to a hot start, and today we will focus on pitchers that we have come to rely on in April, in each of the past three MLB seasons.

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Just like with the bats, there is an arm (or two) in this list that really doesn’t belong.

Let’s start with Anibal Sanchez – prior to the start of the 2013 season, the Tigers handed him $80 mil. ¬†Looking at this list of pitchers, seems like that was a great signing. ¬†However, the first number of his ERA has increased in each of his three full seasons with Detroit, up to 4.99 last year.

That being said, we are only worried about April here.  In 2013 he won three of his five starts and finished with an ERA of 1.34, 1.04 WHIP and a 41:9 K:BB ratio across 33.2 iP.  That accounted for 47% of his April points scored over the last three years.

Only Madison Bumgarner (48% ’13) and Johnny Cueto (48% ’14) had one year (month) be such a factor in them making this list.

The other pitcher that “doesn’t belong” on this list is Jeff Samardzija.

Bias aside, he is a good example of why counting wins in fantasy baseball doesn’t really make sense. ¬†In April of 2014, Samardzija went 0-3 despite owning a 1.98 ERA across six starts (41 ip). ¬†Actually, he is just 2-9 in early baseball.

Sonny Gray, Justin Verlander, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Aaron Harang each have two, 200 point Aprils in the last three years, but each had one year that prevented them for eclipsing 500 points.

2013
Remember when Yu Darvish was around striking out 13.7 batters per nine innings in April of 2013?

2014

Hey look, Adam Wainwright was the best pitcher in April for back to back years!

After just one pitcher reach 50 K in April of 2013, the MLB was falling in love with  Jose Fernandez, before Tommy John took him away, and saw Max Scherzer and Johnny Cueto have career years.

Stephen Strasburg also punched out 50 batters in April, but only lasted 34 innings – averaging less than six inning per start.

How did Nathan Eovaldi sneak in there?  The only other month he had an ERA below 4.00 was August, and still finished with an ERA over 5.00 after the All-Star Break.

2015

No pitchers struck out 50 batters last year in April, and only Clayton Kershaw and James Shields even struck out 40 batters Рand neither made this list.  Kershaw had an ERA nearing 4.00.  Both pitchers only lasted 31 innings over five starts.

Remember that start to the season Aaron Harang had last year?  He finished April with a WHIP under 1.00, and over 3.5 K/BB.

Dallas Keuchel, Sonny Gray, Chris Archer and Gerrit Cole all gave fantasy baseball a great year and are going to have live up to HIGH expectations in 2016.

2016 Auction Review – Team Canada

Team Canada

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So what happens when you skip the $80 player and sprinkle those dollars amongst 3-4 guys? Well you see here with what Team Canada was able to do with just that strategy. Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels were the only two to top the $50 threshold. Both aces look like good buys for this squad. Is there enough in the middle tier to push this team over the top though?

Hitting – Good

The 1-10 hitters on this team starting at each position are good. Robinson Cano, Anthony Rendon, Yeonis Cesdpedes, Starling Marte, and Yasiel Puig are all legit candidates to be top 5 relative to their primary position. Gregory Polanco and Joey Gallo are young and formidable. Victor Martinez has no reason to be done hitting and isn’t tied to just utility. Everything about Trea Turner seems to be unreasonably positive, so time will tell if Dusty Baker lets him play. Lucas Duda is not a slouch at first base, but he is going to disappear a couple weeks this year as he does every year. The group as a whole seems able to withstand that, the floor here is high.

Pitching –¬†Good

Strasburg and Hamels are great on their own. Weeks that you get 3 starts from the two of these guys you will be sitting quite pretty. Weeks that you only get two or God forbid less for whatever reason, there’s trouble. Can Jeff Samardzija reclaim his stellar record after returning back to¬†the National League? Samardzija was an interesting case on the auction block. Last year he seemed poised to take a step forward, but the story is the American League and poor defense could be partially to blame. Drew Smyly at $27 seems like a costly gamble. Behind those guys is a slew of back end rotation fodder. Is there a surprise lurking in that back end? The bullpen is alright, nothing flashy.

Depth – Not Quite

Assuming the primary utility guys will be filled by Victor Martinez and Jayson Werth, with a little sprinkle¬†of Pablo Sandoval and Joey Gallo, there is just not a lot of depth. Yangervis Solarte covers three positions, but not terribly well. No backup catcher. Eugenio Suarez is a fine stop gap for Turner until he gets eligibility assuming he plays in Cincinnati. And there is that mess of “could be’s” the back end of that rotation. There just is not a lot to play around with. If a few of those guys don’t break in their respective big league rotations, how long do you stash before you just your losses for useful roster spots?

Why 2016 would be bad…¬†

Team Canada’s hitters¬†will carry this team to a high floor week to week. That will keep them in most games. But, if Strasburg or Hamels refuse to be legit tier 1 starting pitchers, pitching¬†will be a headache all season long. What if Rendon can’t stay healthy? Cano could be¬†already too old? Perhaps Yasiel Puig will never mature. The possible domino affect of bad news sinks this team in a hurry.

Why 2016 would be¬†good…¬†

It starts with nobody gets hurt. Sure you could say that about any team, but the top half of this roster is rock solid full of stars. Perhaps a couple of those starters have a few hot weeks, maybe they’re even good. Either way this team could be a move or two away from being great, or simply standing pat and enjoying good luck. If some of that stuff doesn’t break that way but Joey Gallo and Henry Owens (or any of those SP) break into a star like role, they could carry this roster.

Where was the value at?

Immediately within the first hour of the auction¬†draft it was clear that value was not easy to find.¬†Prices of players were not¬†excruciatingly high or overspent. But, these prices were high enough to ensure that there was not large values at the top either. Shrewd drafting made Saturday’s event an interesting battle of attrition as the player pool continued to shrink. As the pool shrank there was a¬†seemingly never ending pile of teams with money looming over each auction.

Immediately, it looks like the teams that left money on the table are the most hurt. 50% of the league, 8-teams spent 100% of their budget. Leaving zero dollars left on the table. Of the remaining teams:

The Foundation – $1
Beach Bum – $5
Senior Squids – $6
TBD – $10
Preseason Favorite – $10
We Talk Fantasy Sports – $14
Capital City Ironmen – $21
The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses – $28

In some cases that unspent auction money being left on the table is not terribly frightening. But, at the bottom of that list, I can only imagine the day after regret. Good fantasy baseball talent auctioned off in that $10-$20 range. Even if you did not need a particular player, at least that drafted player has value. These extra auction dollars left unspent, are lost. They have no value.

Moving on to the auction money that got spent. More importantly how that money got spent. We can see how efficient teams were compared to this setting of the FanGraphs Auction Calculator. Keep in mind this calculator does not factor in our dynasty format (the hidden and unknown value of opportunity cost for keeping guys), nor does it fully understand our relievers scoring. But, for this exercise, and based on the results of the draft, it was quite accurate.

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What you see above is the chart of how each of the teams did. Teams with positive values, overspent according to the FanGraphs calculator and the teams with negative values found bargains. The rank is from 1 “most efficient” to 16 “least efficient”.

Now before you go and say well done and patting yourself on the back, this is removing a lot of context away from the story. I believe you are sitting in a great place if you were most efficient with value, and you spent all of your auction budget. My team The Foundation finds itself there, so take that bias for what it is worth.

If you did not spend all of your auction money and you were not efficient in how you spent the money either, well you may have some extra work to do. Maybe your projections and targets are valued differently than how FanGraphs did and if so you’re probably okay! FanGraphs and projections are¬†wrong more often than not.

Going a step further, let us take a look at everyone’s “best value”. What you should see below is a table¬†that has the FanGraphs calculator value, how much they were paid for in the auction, and then the difference.

 

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The best value of the day was projections wonder-boy Wei-Yin Chen who was bought for $17, and had been projected to be worth $48. Chen’s¬†transition to the National¬†League, to the Marlins ballpark and being away from the American League East is likely positive.

It does seems like pitchers stole the value show:¬†Alex Wood, CJ Wilson, James Shields, Jeff Samardzija and Jimmy Nelson were their representative team’s best value and created over $20 in value per player. Outfielders might be the next undervalued commodity in the draft as you see Alex Gordon, Nick Markakis, Melky Cabrera, Josh Reddick and Khris Davis on the list above.

Finally, we also have a look at each team’s “worst” value. Now, I must warn you. If you’re the kind of guy who’s into the hot young star and cannot stand to see them in any negative light, please look away.

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Corey Seager, Addison Russell, Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton. Phew these¬†boys cost a pretty penny to claim. Trea Turner, Noah Syndergaard, Randal Grichuk¬†and¬†Jurickson Profar were all also coveted prospects¬†on draft day. None of those guys are terribly far off in lost value, they’re all capable of being worth what they’re paid. Plus we have discussed before about the opportunity cost of getting said players. There is value in these overspends. But, how much?