Trade: Capital City Ironmen | BetterNameLater

Capital City Ironmen send: 3B Yunel Escobar ($3)
BetterNameLater send: SP Jorge de la Rosa ($1)

Jordan’s thoughts: Recently I may some data available to myself. Jorge de la Rosa was a case study I used, so I’ll share it here.

1 – 50+
6 – 30-50
3 – 20-30
4 – <20

Those are Jorge de la Rosa‘s numbers on the road by start. Any normal starter with those distributions went for $30 or more in the auction. Our Rockies pitcher at home was not quite as good, as his ceiling was much lower, and half of his home starts were below average. But, his floor is pretty high.

So why does de la Rosa go for $1, or get swapped for a decent, but not awesome third baseman? Well, projections have their limitations and guys like de la Rosa fall into these pits of despair. As a whole he’s projected to be a 23 points per start pitcher. That’s below average, his upside does not appear to exist and he is quite easy to ignore.

But, there’s value here. This is one of those guys where you dig deep, and there’s value. The context matters. You cannot rely on de la Rosa on a week to week basis, sure. But, if you blindly start him on the road, you’re going to be fine. If you’re forced to use him in a week where you’re short on starts for any reason, he’s not anymore likely to kill your staff than anyone else even in Coors.

The simulator needle does not really move for either team in this trade. Neither team really lost anything in the players they gave away, and only BNL improved slightly by replacing some back end at bats with Escobar’s slighly better projection line.

But, do not be surprised when team CAP turns ten starts from de la Rosa this year into 300 points for his team. They might seem small, but it is potentially a huge win.

Andrew’s thoughts: It’s kind of dumb to review my own trade, but we’re really just killing time until the season starts here, right?

For me, I just wanted another starting pitcher and Jorge de la Rosa is serviceable. He had three negative starts and three positive starts of less than 10 points last season, of which four came at Coors Field. He had a -1 pointer and a 1 pointer on the road. Otherwise, he had 16 starts of 23 points or more. As a back-end, emergency type, that’s useful. If for the sake of argument you say 25 points is an “average start,” de la Rosa had 14 of those. Good enough. If on a week-to-week basis your sixth and/or seventh start is getting you 25 points, you’ll probably be happy.

Yunel Escobar, meanwhile, is a nice, cheap get for BetterNameLater, who needed a back-up to Manny Machado. Last year, Escobar had 16 weeks between 12.3 and 35.3 points. He had five weeks better than that and only one bad week, where he got just 2.4 points. He’s sort of the definition of average — all floor, very little ceiling — but for $3, average can be really valuable. He was more valuable last year because he had shortstop eligibility and FanGraphs says 2015 was his best offensive year since 2011, so more blip than breakthrough maybe for the 33-year-old. But the cost is negligible, the risk is nil, and a void gets filled.

2016 Auction Review – Betternamelater

Betternamelater

bnl

The winner for Clayton Kershaw was always going to be a contender. As I’ve stated before and again. He’s almost guaranteed to be a value. I had him realistically rated as high as $150. Getting him for $117 hurts in some ways, but the team with a better name in the works, made out like bandits on a few auctions.

Hitting – Good

Manny Machado is a star in this league. Edwin Encarnacion is a fantasy star, his defense doesn’t play here. Carlos Gonzalez is still in Colorado, and even if he was not, he’s still a near lock for top five in left field. I’m higher on Adam Eaton and Curtis Granderson, lower on Ketel Marte and Dee Gordon. It will probably even out. Are we relying on Billy Butler to be a staple at the second utility spot here? Hmm. There is a lotto like about this line up, stealing Brandon Belt for $14 seems like a great buy, Keith Law probably still agrees.

Pitching – Great

Kershaw is the best player in the league. Danny Salazar, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz are all really good and interesting. I consider them all tier 2 pitchers, but if they all ended up in tier one at the end of the season I will not be surprised. I do not love Alex Wood, but between him and Nathan Eovaldi you have a solid number five and I’d be okay with Jorge De La Rosa as my sixth when he’s out of Colorado. Weeks when Kershaw pitches twice, there’s not many pitching staffs that will out-duel. He’s just so damn good. The bullpen may or may not hold this staff back. Hector Rondon has a lot of good outings, and some seriously bad ones. Joaquin Benoit is pitching in Seattle, but currently does not have a secured role.

Depth – Alright

The depth here is set to be alright. The positional flexibility plays well here. There’s no backup 2b or SS here. How many plate appearances will be left on the cutting room floor, or only slightly better, left at replacement level. Probably too many. But that could be easily patched. There is a good chance a few of these guys become legit starters as well.

Why 2016 would be bad… 

May the good lord forbid, but if Kershaw gets hurt. I mean I don’t even know what else to write. For any team if 22% of their budget was hurt early in the season for the whole season they would be easy choice as sunk. Same problem lies here. For the sake of the argument say the young three guys behind him hold up the pitching staff. Well it gets bad if Gonzalez and Granderson under perform. If Edwin Encarnacion goes missing, or worse, Machado has knee issues.

Why 2016 would be good… 

Kershaw doesn’t even have to repeat 2015, just has to be close. Salazar, Stroman and Matz all get to 25+ starts as at least tier 2 guys. Machado remains awesome, the hitters all hit above their floors and this team should be pretty solid. The question marks are probably personal preference, but it is hard to argue against he value on almost all the buys. But it hinges on, well…

Starting pitchers what say you?

Those who are new to an OttoNeu scoring league such as this are in for a real treat. Especially with our head to head rules that limit teams to seven (7) games started (GS) by a SP each week. This creates a huge opportunity cost when selecting the starts you will be using each week. So on this leap day, let’s leap into it!

Would you rather have one Clayton Kershaw or three versions of James Shields? The answer isn’t so clear. James Shields is pretty good. He’s slightly above average. He’s one of my “comfortable” starters. Meaning any given week, I’ll use his start that week without much hesitation. He’s not awesome anymore, but he’s not awful either.

Kershaw is projected to go for over $100 in the auction and no matter what, based on past production he’s certainly going to go for a value. What you’re buying with Kershaw is an ability to get deep into games. The last three years of Kershaw saw him pitch into the 7th inning 73 of his 93 starts (that’s more than 78% of the time).

You’re also buying that he’s the team ace so he’s going to rarely get pulled before the 5th. Part of his job is to give his team’s bullpen a breather. In fact, Kershaw failed to get through five innings just twice in the last three seasons, and one of those games was the last game of the year in 2015 where he was pitching for records.

What do those two things mean? Deep into games often leads towards higher points ceilings. Low chance of an early hook means higher points floors.

Now there’s more than a few aces out there who accomplish both of those things every five days. But Kershaw, as you know, is ridiculously good on top of just chewing up innings. He strikes guys out (points!), he doesn’t allow many walks, homers or hits (avoid negative points!), and he’s reliable.

Here’s the final tally on each of Kershaw’s 93 starts over the last 3 seasons:

kershaw

Wow. Starting pitchers are really cool, right? Well hold your pants. That’s a really good starter. Here’s what Shields over the same time looks like:

Keep in mind that before you look at the following graph, that James Shields makes 101 starts, with an average 32.5 points per start (getting 32.5 points from a start is very good!).

shields

Wow. Those are two different distributions. Keep in mind, Shields according to Steamer projections is set to be about the 30th best SP for 2016. In a 16-team league, Shields is a SP2. There’s two things to really take from this. Kershaw, about once a season, in one single start, is worth the equivalent of almost three GOOD starts. THREE!

Then on the flip side the awful starts. Kershaw has one a season. Shields has just enough that you’re probably not predicting when they happen to avoid. Those negative starts hurt your week. A lot. Bad starts don’t hurt your week so much, but they don’t make you feel good. Average starts you take and put in your hat and move on. Any good start gets your juices flowing.

It’s amazing what Kershaw could do for any team. He’s so far above the rest of the world that his value is basically “name a price and just pay it.” When Kershaw has a two start week, odds are great that you’re basically playing with a 30+ point jump at a minimum over any other two start combo that your weekly match-ups throw at you.

Consider that like an extra start, or like adding Ryan Braun‘s average for a week to your line up as a bonus. Unreal.

As you go down further in the pitcher pool, you’ll see what you’d expect: the distribution leans even more left (that’s the bad side). There’s some guys who will have a distribution that is much flatter, they’re inconsistently good, awful, average.

A lot of times you can guess when these guys will be good based on match-ups and you can combine a few different guys to look like a good starter, but its a risky game. For those who may be consider punting pitchers, be careful, you don’t want to be in a position where you’re praying for at least a bad start from a guy who’s a spot starter that you found in the free agent pool because he’s hot garbage. It’s very difficult to cobble together your starting pitching. The opportunity cost that the 7-start per week limit adds to these aces is significant.

Oh and so just show how Kershaw is in his own tier. Here’s SP #2 overall, Max Scherzer:

max

Leans to the right. Yes. Max was quite good. Those perfect games, no-no are seriously awesome. But, to compare to Kershaw. Kershaw had 9 starts, average or worse. Max has SIX awful starts. Eight bad starts and nine average starts. Don’t get me wrong. Max is amazing! But he occasionally has an off day. Kerhsaw is just absurdly good.

For fun, let us take a look at what an average pitcher looks like over 3 years. This becomes a hard exercise, nobody is exactly average for three straight years, so what I did was combined Jarrod Parkers 2013 with Jorge de la Rosa‘s 2014 and Mark Buerhle‘s 2015 and smashed them together to make the 27 point per start SP. Here’s the graph.

average

It’s a mixed bag. Plenty of great useful starts in there, but the red and peach columns start to add up really quick. You’re looking at a $10-$20 pitcher. Good luck!