Andrew’s thoughts: What a great, great deal for Dusty’s Oysters.
First of all: I love Kyle Hendricks. You can ask Jordan, I privately gushed about him leading up to the season. I still ended up with no shares of him, but that’s fine. Here’s why I liked him so much: between 2014 and 2015, Hendricks posted a 3.34 FIP and a 0.73 HR/9. In our format and in the real world, those are some pretty fantastic peripherals. After striking out barely anyone in 2014, he K’d more than eight batters per nine innings last year, which showed growth and the promise for more.
I also loved that Hendricks came into this season largely underrated. In fact, I remember reading debates about whether he or Adam Warren would win a spot in the rotation. He’s responded to the tune of a 2.89 FIP and a 0.39 HR/9 rate. For comparison’s sake, Jake Arrieta is currently putting up a 2.47 FIP and a 0.29 HR/9 rate. Arrieta is striking out more guys and going deeper into games, but those numbers are otherwise interchangeable. Hendricks is really, really good. On a points per game basis, he’s SP28. He’s basically a team’s number two starter.
As proof that the 26-year-old (he’s super young, too!) Hendricks was being undervalued, I present this: he went for $18 at auction. Eighteen! I’m embarrassed not to have him at a price that low. Even with a $2 raise and every team slapping him with their greed buck, he’s still a good value a year from now. And beyond, probably. Given that every single team competing in this league has been actively pursuing pitching, it’s not a stretch to suggest Hendricks as one of the league’s ten or so best values.
And then there’s Byron Buxton.
Just to lay some groundwork, here are some centerfielders paid comparably to Buxton and what they’ve done this year:
Yoenis Cespedes: $32, 334.4 points, 8.36 PPG, 2.03 PT/PA
Christian Yelich: $24, 299.1 points, 7.12 PPG, 1.71 PT/PA
Charlie Blackmon: $27, 169.9 points, 5.66 PPG, 1.32 PT/PA
You know what, I need to just stop there. Because there are so many productive centerfielders that went for so, so much less than Buxton did at auction that I’d be doing this all day. Adam Eaton went for $15, Jackie Bradley Jr. went for $3, Dexter Fowler went for $12, Charlie Blackmon went for $27, Brett Gardner went for $14, Odubel Herrera went for $2, Denard Span went for $4, Colby Rasmus went for $7, Marcell Ozuna went for $14. You get the point. There are a bunch of nicely priced centerfielders.
And then… there’s Buxton.
We all know who this guy is and what he represents. He’s a stud prospect that some have boldly compared to Mike Trout (uh, okay). He’s got all the skill in the world: speed, gap power, and athleticism to burn. He’s raked at every minor league stop. The one thing he does not have — not even a little bit — is Major League production.
Over Buxton’s first 187 plate appearances, he’s put up 117.5 points*. So he’s hitting thus far in his young career at a 0.62 points per plate appearance clip. To put that futility of inefficiency into perspective: Billy Hamilton, who can steal bases and do nothing else offensively, is hitting at a 0.91 PT/PA rate through 124 PAs this year. Jeff Francoeur has had 98 plate appearances this year and has scored at a 0.83 rate. It’s only 187 plate appearances, so take it for what it is, but the point is that Buxton has been arguably the worst possible hitter on the planet in those opportunities. Factor in his salary, and he’s just been an absolute vortex of suck.
*Let the record show that in 2011, Trout debuted and had 135 plate appearances. He slashed .220/.281/.390, so he was quite bad in his first taste of the big leagues. He amassed 141.1 points, meaning he hit at a 1.04 PT/PA rate. So while Trout was bad, he was 67.7% more productive over his first 135 times in the batter’s box than Buxton in his first 187.
This is a good time to point out that Buxton is still a phenomenal talent that was likely rushed to the majors and then mishandled by the Twins (who buries their elite prospect ninth every day?). He could be special. He could be called back up this week and suddenly hit everything thrown his way. Two years from now, he could be a top three or five centerfielder. There’s really no ceiling to what this guy could do. I still like him a whole lot as a prospect, but the underlying theme here is that he is paid like a regular in your lineup, not like a prospect.
He’s being compensated $32 to be a question mark. (Might be totally irrelevant but since our league is comparable to FanGraphs’ Ottoneu, I was curious so I looked it up: across all Ottoneu leagues, Buxton’s average salary is $11.54.) Technically, since we have no in-season cap, he’s being paid nothing and WTFS can sit on him for 2016 before making a decision leading into 2017. This move is obviously WTFS’ way of looking ahead to next season, but he’ll cost $34 minimum on Opening Day. Buxton is also a great target for every team’s greed. You want to make risky players like him more expensive to either force a decision from that team’s owner or make their risk even tougher to pay off. It’s conceivable that Buxton costs $40 heading into 2017 on the glimmer of hope that he becomes Trout (uh, okay), all the while getting out-produced by lesser paid players. Guys like Fowler and Span are “boring” and “old,” maybe, but I’d rather have boring, old, productive, and cheap than possibly exciting, young, unproductive, and expensive.
I guess what it boils down to is that on the spectrum of good and bad values, Hendricks is one extreme and Buxton the other. Hendricks at his current rate of production won’t be priced out by raises and greed (assuming teams even hit him with greed) for two or three seasons minimum. He’s young and he plays a position that’s coveted. Every pitcher is risky, but it’s just great process on Dusty’s part to flip someone he probably would’ve had to cut for someone that will make an impact for his team now and that he can plan to keep at a good rate going forward. Hendricks’ price and production dictate that you make cuts to accommodate keeping him, not the other way around.
Buxton, meanwhile, appears at this moment in time to be unkeepable into next year at $34+, and acquiring him at that price is not particularly good process. Again, maybe he hits. Maybe he emerges. It’s just that he has to hit at such a level to be worth the bloated salary he’s already getting, and then even more to provide surplus value, especially when compared to his centerfield peers, most of whom are already producing and many of which are doing so at a significantly lower cost.
Jordan’s thoughts: ((picks mic off the floor))
Holy shit Bailey how do you really feel? Good lord that’s a lot to dig through and it’s about a player who offers very little for his value. I think Kyle Hendricks offers quite a bit of value to about any team in DG. So far in 2016 Hendricks has been one of the more reliable starters in the league:
This shouldn’t surprise anyone as Bailey already said, here’s what he did in 2015:
So far he’s avoided the “awful” starts, and been pretty damn good this season. I don’t need to pile on what Buxton’s worth. I think for Buxton to be worth keeping for me next season, he needs to be something sort of a top 30 hitter from the All-Star break on. I don’t believe he’s that good period, so he’s not worth keeping around.
The fact that Dusty got something for a mirage, bravo. Even if Buxton does come back and blow through and create some sentiment of an argument, great. You hit the 5% projection. Bad bets still hit.