When we draft starting pitchers, we are in it for wins – as well as ERA, WHIP and strikeouts, of course. The limited win potential is likely a big reason why I was able to acquire Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt this spring the National League Tout Wars draft for $16.
Pitching for the third-worst team in the NL (after Pittsburgh and Arizona) means “W’s” are at a premium, even for a pitcher with Roy’s talent. In 19 starts, the 32-year-old has just six wins to go along with 11 losses and two no-decisions. His ERA is 3.12, which puts him just out of the top ten in the NL.
For that reason, no one has asked about Oswalt in any of my trade discussions. In contrast, earlier this season, I had no trouble dealing rookie Jaime Garcia (third in ERA at 2.21) and veteran Tim Hudson (eighth at 2.47) for needed offensive help.
With trade rumors swirling around Oswalt, he has stated a desire to play for a contending team. The Twins, Cardinals, Phillies and Dodgers have all been mentioned. I thought it would be interesting to see how many more wins Oswalt’s fantasy owners would have accumulated this season had he been pitching for these other clubs instead of Houston.
Let me state right up front that I understand why any such analysis is inherently flawed. I am assuming Oswalt’s “new” teams would have scored the same with him as without him and that even more unlikely, his own results would have been the same against different offenses. I am also assuming he would have taken the mound the same 19 days.
Still, even with all the uncertainties, it is interesting – at least to me - to consider what might have been.
I took each of Oswalt’s starts in terms of runs allowed and projected them into what his hypothetical new clubs did that same day (or the next day if off on his day pitched). For example, on April 5, the Twins scored three runs. Oswalt yielded three runs that day so he would have had a no-decision had he been with Minnesota.
Roy Oswalt, 2010
|1||5-Apr||L,2-5||6||L(0-1)||3||3 ND||11 W||5 W||11 W|
|2||11-Apr||L,1-2||6||L(0-2)||2||4 W||7 W||5 W||2 ND|
|3||17-Apr||W,4-3||7||W(1-2)||0||6 W||1 L||0 ND||1 W|
|4||23-Apr||W,4-3||7||W(2-2)||3||8 W||1 L||1 L||4 W|
|5||29-Apr||L,2-4||7||L(2-3)||3||0 L||10 W||0 L||1 L|
|6||4-May||L,0-1||7||L(2-4)||1||4 W||1 ND||6 W||2 W|
|7||9-May||W,4-3||8||ND||3||6 W||11 W||2 L||5 W|
|8||15-May||L,1-2||7||L(2-5)||2||1 L||3 W||4 W||10 W|
|9||20-May||L,0-4||6||L(2-6)||3||2 L||4 W||4 W||5 W|
|10||26-May||W,5-0||8||W(3-6)||0||2 W||1 W||8 W||0 ND|
|11||31-May||L,4-14||3||L(3-7)||4||5 W||12 W||5 W||3 L|
|12||5-Jun||L,5-8||7||L(3-8)||6||4 L||5 L||3 L||6 ND|
|13||10-Jun||W,5-4||7||W(4-8)||2||8 W||5 W||1 L||0 L|
|14||16-Jun||W,4-2||7||W(5-8)||2||2 ND||1 L||6 W||6 W|
|15||22-Jun||L,1-3||7||L(5-9)||2||5 W||9 W||3 W||2 ND|
|16||27-Jun||L,1-10||5||L(5-10)||8||0 L||3 L||6 L||11 W|
|17||2-Jul||L,0-3||7||ND||0||2 W||5 W||5 W||0 ND|
|18||8-Jul||W,2-0||9||W(6-10)||0||1 W||2 W||3 W||4 W|
|19||18-Jul||L,0-9||4||L(6-11)||2||7 W (12-5)||5 W (13-5)||4 W (12-6)||6 W (11-3)|
The bottom line is that in this exercise, Oswalt, and therefore his fantasy owners, would already have between five (if with Philly) and seven (if with St. Louis) wins than he has accrued with Houston.
I can’t speak for your league, but in mine, those additional wins would be huge. In NL Tout, just four wins would vault me from a tie for third (11 points) to the lead (13 points) in that category. As I am locked in a tight battle with ESPN’s Nate Ravitz for the league lead, those two points would be the difference from being one point behind and one point in front.
To say I am rooting for the Astros to work out a deal to move Oswalt to a contender as soon as possible would be most accurate.
For you, the reminder is that the team for which a starting pitcher plays really does have an impact, no matter how good a hurler he is. It seems obvious, but remember to pay an extra dollar or two for a pitcher on a team with a good offense vs. a similar guy toiling for a bottom feeder. You will be glad you did.
Brian Walton is the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 12-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC last season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com.