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Thursday 25th May 2017

If you have been reading this space since the spring, you are aware one of my crusades this season has been monitoring the improved pitching and applying that to fantasy baseball game theory.  Back when we were all drafting, I suggested it was no longer the smart play to wait on pitching as the undervalued pitching usually available in later rounds was now being properly evaluated and drafted accordingly.  In addition, there was a misperception with respect to the quality of pitching as many ignored the fact value is relative.  While the 50th ranked pitcher may have better stats now than in previous seasons, in a fantasy sense, they are still the 50th ranked pitcher.

The one catch in this whole thing gnawed at me as I was unsure how it would play out.  In short, historically, more valuable pitching emerges from the free agent ranks as compared to hitting.  This has always been a primary reason to focus on hitting and build pitching as the season progresses, which is opposite of how I approached things this campaign.  If the supply of valuable free agent pitching is still plush in the present landscape, that would cause me some pause with respect to focusing on pitching again next season, or at minimum, develop a plan to get the best of both worlds, taking advantage of the market inefficiencies with respect to recognizing pitching value, but also planning on embellishing the staff during the season.

Even though we are barely past one-third of the season, I thought I would take a look to see where the positive value is emanating from in terms of hitting and pitching.  To that end, I took the average draft position from the National Fantasy Baseball Championship and assigned the picks a dollar value based on a typical distribution of value.  I then compared that projected value to the value earned to date through May of the draft-worthy players.  Obviously, no conclusions can be drawn until season’s end, but it could be beneficial to spot-check what is happening to help decipher the eventual data.

But before we e get to that, I thought we should first take a step back and take a look at how pitching fared in the merry month of May, using the root skills of strikeout rate, walk rate and home run rate.  Included is data from the past three April and May along with year ending stats for 2008 to 2010.


K/9

BB/9

HR/9

April/March 2011

7.09

3.28

0.91

May 2011

6.92

3.23

0.87


K/9

BB/9

HR/9

April/March 2010

7.13

3.66

0.95

May 2010

7.00

3.40

0.94

2010

7.13

3.28

0.96


K/9

BB/9

HR/9

April/March 2009

6.96

3.87

1.07

May 2009

6.88

3.47

1.01

2009

6.99

3.46

1.05


K/9

BB/9

HR/9

April/March 2008

6.41

3.64

0.90

May 2008

6.82

3.32

0.97

2008

6.83

3.39

1.01

As you can see, overall, pitching is still maintaining its elevated level.  The May strikeout rate dropped a bit, but pitchers walked fewer batters and more importantly, allowed fewer homers.  We will continue to monitor this as the season wears on, particularly the home run rate which tends to pick up as the weather warms.

Okay, back to our primary focus for the week.  Here are the percentages of value earned by the originally drafted hitters and pitchers.  The hurlers are broken into starters, set up and closers.


DRAFTED

TO DATE

PERCENT

HITTING

$2,593

$2,249

87%

PITCHING

$1,307

$921

70%

CLOSERS

$333

$234

70%

SET UP

$38

$46

121%

STARTERS

$935

$641

69%

I am going to let you in on a little secret.  Even though we are only two months in, that is pretty much the exact results usually observed at season’s end.  Again, it may be mere coincidence, but as someone who has been researching this for several years, I find it interesting the results look awfully familiar.

That said, we need to let the next four months play out.  It may simply be that some regression is on its way and some of the presently positively valued arms will get their comeuppance while the guys with track records will end up as they normally do.  But, if this is real, some drafting adjustments are in order.  If the emerging pitching is still bountiful, you need to plan to acquire some of this and not pay for everything in season.   This does not mean to wait on the front end, but maybe make adjustments in the middle and the end.

Comments   

0 #2 Todd Zola 2011-06-08 11:44
Good catch, the labels were bass ackwards, they have been corrected.
Quote
0 #1 Mike Ladd 2011-06-08 10:30
I'm not sure how you determine dollar values for pitchers but $333 for starters and $935 for closers is intuitively wrong.
Quote

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