Recently, my buddy Brian Walton wrote an article about team diversification. While reading it, I wondered if the team a pitcher belongs to should be one of his qualifying factors to consider while drafting.
My take is that this is a valid issue to ponder about and that the answer should be a resounding “yes". Team matters. Allow me to repeat the same old mantra about never going into a draft with must-have names on our cheat sheets. The strategy ought to consist of tiers out of which players are nominated.
However, every player is different. When selecting from a group, several distinguishing characteristics would place one player over or below another one. The ability to strike batters out, for example, is a key quality. In my opinion, the major league team, both in terms of hitters and the quality of the bullpen, is also a worthy consideration. I hate it when my starter leaves with the lead after having pitched the requisite five innings only to see the bullpen ruin it for him, and for us.
An easy method for distinguishing major league teams and placing them on a scale is to know which ones are projected to be contenders in the upcoming season. Once the non-contenders are eliminated, we are left with only a few teams to pick from. For example, the Chicago Cubs were expected to do well this year. I realize that some of you do not have confidence in the Cubs other than in their ability to blow it. Nevertheless, as of today, they are in first place in their division. Incidentally, I brought up the Cubs as an example because I prefer pitchers from the National League to those from the American League. If you have a few of the Cubs starters, you must have enjoyed a good number of Wins, an essential and difficult to project Roto category.
But here is the problem. What if the teams that were expected to do well, for whatever unexpected reasons that unmistakably pop up during the season, end up failing to live up to their potential? Look at the Arizona Diamondbacks this year. They are sellers now, and their bullpen has been weakened by the trade of closer Brad Ziegler. Arizona starting pitchers might get fewer wins from now on.
In conclusion, team diversification for pitchers is good. We should not have at any one time more than, say, two starters from one team out of the six on our active roster. Three would be pushing it. Moreover, as we have seen here, the selection should be limited to those teams that are projected to have a promising year. The same concept applies to mid-season promotions.
To further illustrate my point, let’s take a look at Jake Odorizzi from the last place Tampa Bay Rays and Jason Hammel from the first place Cubs. They belong to the same pre-season projections tier, with Hammel valued at $6, slightly ahead of Odorizzi, who was valued at $4. As of today, Odorizzi has four wins while Hammel has nine. Does the team matter? You bet it does.