Trade: Capital City Ironmen | We Talk Fantasy Sports

Capital City Ironmen sends: SP Tom Koehler (FA)
We Talk Fantasy Sports sends: 3B Renato Nunez (minors)

Andrew’s thoughts: This one’s kinda boring, but whatever, I wanted to make a deadline day deal.

After picking him up from free agency, I had started Tom Koehler nine times for 30.33 points per start (273 points). That’s quite good. The key is starting him at home and against weaker opponents. WTFS is still clawing for a playoff spot and¬†with Jordan Zimmermann making only one start before returning to the DL, they really needed the arm for the stretch run. For their circumstances, I really like that Koehler was even on their radar. He makes perfect sense for their need, both in terms of what he offers their lineup and what his acquisition cost was.

Koehler was going to be $5 next year and while that’s a reasonable price to keep pretty much any SP you can get mileage out of, I decided to just cash out for an interesting cost controlled prospect at a position of need. Renato Nunez plays 3B now but could end up at 1B in Oakland. He’s not had a great season, but he’s spent all of 2017 at AAA (so he’s close), has some pop, and was the 61st player off the board in our prospect draft. The latter means pretty much nothing, but shows that he was a fairly coveted prospect in the not too distant past. He’s a borderline top-100 guy. I liked the prospect and felt like making a swap.

Jordan’s thoughts:¬†Tom Koehler gets more love here than he does at home on Thanksgiving. Good grief.

The Best of What’s Left

We have all agreed that Fantrax projections are not very good. ¬†That being said, it’s probably pretty important to follow along with the FanGraphs Auction Calculator considering we are basing future prices off of it. ¬†So why not compare the two sites? ¬†Let’s see just how bad Fantrax projections really are!

Both sites project undrafted starting pitchers to have the most fantasy points, but only Tom Koehler and Jered Weaver are on both top five lists.

Koehler tops the Fantrax projections while he is second on FanGraphs – a difference of 66 projected fantasy points.

Ignoring the most recent Weaver injury, he ranks fourth on both lists, with a similar split in projected fantasy points at 64.

The three free agent starters that Fantrax projects to have a good year are Colby Lewis, Danny Duffy and Matt Shoemaker.  Lewis has the largest projected point differential between the sites at 341.  Shoemaker is just under 300 points at 295 while Duffy is just over 150 at 152 points.

Joe Kelly is projected by FanGraphs to be the top undrafted starting pitcher Р356 points better than Fantrax projects.  Yovani Gallardo slides in at third and both sides are within 30 points of Gallardo projection.  That differential slides Gallardo down to 9th on Fantrax.  Matt Garza is the fifth best free agent starter projected by FanGraphs and is actually slotted two spots ahead of Gallardo on Fantrax.

James McCann tops both sites as the top free agent catcher.  Clearly he is the the top target should you not feel comfortable with your depth chart or your team suffers an injury.  Fantrax also like Angels catcher Carlos Perez while FanGraphs prefers veterans A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Avila.

The recent announcement of Adam LaRoche‘s retirement will leave a hole in the middle of the White Sox lineup. ¬†Until we find out how the Sox plan on filling that hole, teams looking for a potential future 1B can turn to Ryan Howard, as both sites agree he is the one of the top three best options. ¬†Fantrax likes¬†Justin Morneau, despite not being on a MLB roster, while FanGraphs suggests Logan Morrison. ¬†Fantrax will then point you towards James Loney while FanGraphs will say give Darin Ruf a go.

It’s going to be tough to find replacements at first base moving forward, that’s for sure. ¬†Better hope your 1B minor leaguer makes the big league roster ASAP!

David Freese is the only player at the other CI position that both sites agree on.  Fantrax likes Cody Asche and Tyler Saladino while FanGraphs prefers Aaron Hill and Derek Dietrich.

Much like 1B there is so little left at 3B and I hope you drafted some depth at the position or have a minor leaguer that is near MLB-ready.

Both Johnny Giavotella and Jace Peterson make the top three 2B on both sites.  Jace Pederson jumps in between them on Fantrax while veteran Aaron Hill is the third best remaining option according to FanGraphs.

There is a general consensus at the SS position

SS Fantrax Pts FanGraphs Pts DIFF
Jose Iglesias 504.4 490.5 -13.9
Adeiny Hechavarria 494.6 440.8 -53.8
Jimmy Rollins 456.9 433.2 -23.7

Both sites agree that Austin Jackson is the top CF available but Fantrax prefers Angel Pagan after him while FanGraphs likes Leonys Martin next.  They return in agreement on Anthony Gose being the third best CF available.

Austin Jackson is RF eligible as well and is the top target there. Fantrax likes Alex Rios while Brandon Guyer is the next best thing on FanGraphs, despite a crowded OF in Tampa Bay.

I was very excited to see Adam Duvall get traded by the Giants last year as I have been tracking him for a while in the Minors and he was stuck there unless dealt. ¬†Now with the Reds, they have no reason not to play him¬†at 3B/LF a couple times a week. ¬†Dude can mash and FanGraphs thinks he can put up nearly 500 points this year! ¬†He doesn’t currently have 3B eligibility though, so he is strictly a LF/UTIL at this point.

Fantrax believes Cody Asche is 200 points better than FanGraphs and he can play LF as well as 3B. ¬†He won’t beat out Maikel Franco to be the Phillies starting 3B, but Peter Bourjos is little competition in LF.

Platooning pitchers can be fun, but definitely isn’t easy

One of the things that makes Dynasty Grinders unique — and challenging — is our seven start per week limit on pitchers.

There are a couple key¬†reasons this rule is in place to begin with. First, it prevents teams in our head-to-head format from having clear volume advantages. If my team happens to have 15 starters going this week and yours only has seven, you’re at a distinct competitive disadvantage and in deep leagues, you can’t simply pick up good — or even adequate — talent* and hope to keep up.

* This isn’t a universal truth. You’ll probably be able to find serviceable guys in free agency. But if you find yourself in a week where your seventh start depends on it, good luck.

The second reason is to prevent that last thing from being an option in the first place. In a deep dynasty league, streaming just doesn’t make sense. It’s a perfectly valid strategy in 10- or 12-team leagues where the free agent pool is plentiful. But fundamentally, dynasty leagues work to put owners in a position to mimic real life general managers. And real life general managers don’t pluck guys off the street, start them, and dump them the next day only to rinse and repeat as necessary.

Anyway, because of the seven start limit, you’re going to want to carry at least that many starting pitchers*, though probably more (2-3, ¬†maybe). Pitchers are notoriously prone to injuries and you’ll encounter weeks where all your guys’ spots in the rotation happens to fall on a Wednesday or Thursday, meaning they only get one outing that week.

* A game theory note here: one thing the seven start limit also does is make it so that hoarding SPs loses profitability at a certain point. You may think, logically, the best way to tackle pitching is to just buy up a bunch of arms. But¬†how much do you really want to invest in that sixth, seventh, eighth starter who won’t often be in your starting lineup, especially because doing so likely means skimping on offense? At some point you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul, and Paul’s sitting on your bench because Clayton Kershaw and Carlos Carrasco¬†are taking the bump¬†twice each this week.

So due to the depth of the league and the start limit, you’ll find yourself over the course of a season deploying¬†players you wouldn’t even imagine — but you still want to do so while giving yourself the best odds of success.

Sometimes it will end horribly. Sometimes you’ll get lucky. Either way, there’s a certain amount of fun to be had from finding pitchers who can sufficiently fill in gaps. The challenge is earmarking roster spots for these seldom used arms. Roster spots and flexibility, you’ll find, are pretty valuable commodities, especially as the season wears on and attrition impacts your squad.

My favorite example of a guy like this is the Miami MarlinsTom Koehler. Due to spacious Marlins Park and the NL’s lack of a designated hitter, Koehler pitched to a 3.80 FIP and 0.70 HR/9 at home in 2015. On the road, he got pummeled. His road FIP was 5.21 and HR/9 rate was 1.39.* Particularly in a points league like Dynasty Grinders, where allowing a home run goes for -12.5 points,¬†combustible HR rates like that will sting. And because of the start limit, you can’t simply absorb a bad start by culling a couple extras from whatever scraps are on the free agent pile. You just have to hope your other six guys do work.

* To translate out of linear stats and into our scoring: Koehler averaged 28.23 points per start at home but just 16.56 on the road, including all four of his negative point duds.

Between 2014 and 2015, Koehler averaged 31.5 starts a year. But since you can only start him when he pitches at home, he’s only a usable option for you roughly half the time (he¬†pitched 90.1 innings at home and 97 on the road in 2015), meaning that only 15 or 16 times per year will he be at his most optimal.

Also, just because he’s lined up to start a home game doesn’t mean he’s a sure-fire start for you that week. You’ve surely got better pitchers. Several of them, hopefully. What if your top three guys have two start weeks?¬†Being a startable option 15-16 times a year does not necessarily mean you’ll crack the lineup at each of those opportunities.

Of course, the same kind of platoon splits are¬†true of hitters. The list of guys who can only hit righties or exclusively get in the lineup against lefties is long. The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ 1B/OF Scott Van Slyke, for instance, had a .345 wOBA in 2015 and .447 wOBA (!!) in 2014 against left-handed pitching. But he averaged 97 games and 249.5 plate appearances a season over those two years. You can get mileage out of that.

Granted, many of those games and PAs logged came as a late-game situational hitter (so he likely wouldn’t have been in your fantasy lineup that day), but the fact remains: you’ll have many, many more opportunities to utilize a platoon hitter than you will a pitcher.

The other thing that makes having a platoon bat easier than a platoon arm: if half your team has off days, that platoon bat can fill in whether he’s in the lineup or not. If he’s not, fine. You know that if he does enter the game though, he’ll do so in a favorable spot. It’s the little things.

And this says nothing of platooning pitchers based on opponent handedness (i.e. doing a quick search of your lefty’s opposing team that day to see how they stack up when facing LHPs). Depending on the pitcher, that can whittle down his usefulness even more.

So, how much do you want to budget and pay for this occasionally useful, mostly bench-warming pitcher?

The point here is that, when assembling a team, each owner will have different strategies but most will be doing one shared thing, be it subconsciously or intentionally, and that’s trying to maximize every roster spot. It’s really hard to maximize roster spots when the guys you’ve got in them need the stars to align perfectly to be useful and may be lucky to get double digit starts for you in a given season.

But then, that’s part of the fun.