Fantasy Baseball Tumbling Dice: Rethinking Freakout

by Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com on May 8, 2012 @ 09:30:10 PDT

 


Friend, let me ask you.

Is your team in the tank? Are a strikeout with points? Did you pay prime for Albert, and pass on Edwin?

Well, come closer friend. Tell you what I'm gonna do.

I am going to take that stinking Albert Pujols off you and your bottom half team's roster for Will Middlebrooks, Cody Ransom and Joe Saunders. That is right. Three for one, and my guys have six homers between them, meaning by the end of the season they should have around 30 taters, while Pujols has had it. At his pace he will be lucky to hit 10.

Does this scenario sound familiar?

Kansas City Royals SP Luke Hochevar
Too soon to replace Hochevar?

I must confess I don't hear offers like that too often any longer - and I do own Albert in a couple of leagues - but I regularly hear and see of trades of the same ilk. Where essentially the impatience of one frustrated owner is potentially compromised by another owner with his fingers on some sell-high guys, and his eye on a month down the road.

But, let's at least look at a trade that was recently offered to me in my Scoresheet League: a H2H competition where I was looking for a starting pitcher.

In Scoresheet, I believe everything emanates from a solid rotation, although while I have Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, and Shaun Marcum atop my five-man cycle, the bottom has been filled out with Francisco Liriano and Luke Hochevar.

So, I put out feelers in the league and one owner has a treasure trove of arms a la Saunders whom they were ready to deal.

The principles posed were Jake Westbrook, Barry Zito, Kevin Millwood, and Chris Volstad, and my league mates had their eyes on Mike Moustakas (whom in fairness I had shopped around).

Now, it is true that all four of these pitchers are off to OK - and in a couple of cases fine - starts, while to put it mildly, Hochevar and Liriano have blown chunks.

To start, let's look at the six pitchers and their numbers over the first month this season.

Pitcher
Wins
IP
ERA
WHIP
K
Liriano
0
21.2
9.92
2.21
17
Hochevar
2
28
9.00
1.82
18
Westbrook
3
34
2.12
1.18
19
Volstad
0
33
6.50
1.39
21
Millwood
0
28.2
5.34
1.57
19
Zito
1
30.2
1.76
1.10
19

Now, let's look at the same six pitchers once again with their career averages, based upon a 162 game season:

Pitcher
Wins
IP
ERA
WHIP
K
Liriano
12
187
4.37
1.35
184
Hochevar
10
201
5.46
1.41
132
Westbrook
12
202
4.29
1.38
113
Volstad
10
193
4.70
1.40
125
Millwood
13
208
4.12
1.37
160
Zito
13
210
3.88
1.30
156

Now, there is no question the players ponied up are having much better seasons than my "die-namic" duo of Liriano and Hochevar.

However, what the numbers also tell us is that given a normal set of circumstances, my awful pair have their best starts ahead of them still, while the numbers equally suggest that while Volstad and Millwood also have their best innings ahead, Zito and Westbrook are at present pitching over their heads.

It is possible that any of the troika of Westbrook, Millwood, and Zito could be truly having the start of a great year, but the reality is neither Zito nor Millwood has come close to touching those career means since 2009, and though last year Westbrook did win 12, and posted a 4.66 ERA, he also notched a WHIP of 1.53.

I do need to point out here that none of the offers tendered involving any combination of hurlers was even close to unfair, and the fact is with my team holding Kyle Seager in addition to Moustakas, I even have a hot corner patrolman I could swap.

The problem is while I would likely be trading Moose as an up-and-comer with his best years ahead, what I would get in return would likely not only not do the trick, but would essentially be akin to trying to plug the dyke with a band-aid.

What I am saying here is if your team is struggling, and you need to make a move (and I certainly recognize the strong possibility that I may need to) that is fine.

But, you should not only be aware that the sample size for this year is small, but that it is important to look at how a player performs over the course of a season, not just a month.

Because if you think about it in the context of Pujols, let's imagine he finishes the season with a .280-28-75 line, which for him would truly be a disappointment.

Irrespective, with Albert currently hitting .197-1-9, to reach the above line, he would hit .302-27-66 for the rest of the season, assuming 600 at-bats, and that is what you would be trading away to the competition for what was either a high priced auction price or first round selection.

So, ask yourself carefully: "Is that really what you want to do?"

Hey, now you can get me on Twitter @lawrmichaels!

You can also subscribe now to the Mastersball Platinum Package, and get the edge that has led to three Tout Wars titles, eight NFBC crowns, two Scoresheet Championship teams, a KFFL title, and a Fantasy Pro 911 title over the last three years.

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About Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com

Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.

Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.

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