Hopefully the All Star Break rejuvenated you and you're ready for your league(s)' pennant run. On the plus side, there's only 10 weeks left. On the minus side, well, there's only ten weeks left. So how are my teams doing? Have you seen
Hmm, I suppose that heading could have many meanings. The one I'm going to explore is determining which starting rotations in the NL and AL are in the best positions for fantasy success the rest of the way. We've talked a lot about wins being a function of a pitcher's team, so I won't belabor the point. However, let's look at four issues that are a combination of a pitcher's team and his own skill:
1. Bullpen ERA vs. Rotation ERA [d(ERA)] -- Remember my mantra: Blown saves mean blown wins. Let's compare the ERA's of the starting rotations against those of their bullpens. What we want is the best bullpens compared to their rotations, so the best fantasy teams will be those with the largest delta between their bullpen ERA and their starting rotation ERA.
2. Base Runners vs. Outs [d(OB)] -- When a starter faces a batter, he's either going to put him on base or create an out (yes, a fielder's choice does both and there is another alternative, an error, but let's just shelve those for now). So we'll subtract walks, hits and hit batters from the total number of outs that the starting rotations have created. Yes, it is mathematically similar to WHIP, but there is a slight difference. The best fantasy teams will have a lot more outs than men on base.
3. Strikeout Percentage [K%] -- Getting outs is good, but getting strikeouts is better. Yes, in real baseball you could argue the merits of a double play versus a strikeout, but we're talking fantasy ball here, and strikeouts are a category, which make them important. Teams whose outs are made up of a larger percentage of strikeouts (or put another way, a higher quality of outs) are more attractive to us.
4. Home Run Percentage [HR%] -- Okay, so if we look at the quality of the outs, let's also look at the quality of the hits. The teams that have fewer home runs as a percentage of their starters' hits given up are the better fantasy teams.
Got all that? I was striving for easy to calculate and understand. This analysis isn't exhaustive, but it is geared to fantasy teams. To measure all these, we'll use simple rotisserie scoring and give the best team in a category in the AL a 14 and the best team in the NL a 16. We'll number the rest of the teams in their respective leagues accordingly. Want to see how they came out?
Minnesota makes a surprising low showing on our list, but even though they're average about keeping men off base, they're well below it in giving up home runs and strike outs. This doesn't bode well for a stretch run. Baltimore made a huge investment in its bullpen, and it paid off. But considering how bad its starters are (
I wouldn't have guessed that the top three NL teams would be from the west, but there they are. If
You knew to stay away form Washington's rotation and the Astros are about to cave in on themselves (another fine night for
The only other thing to point out is how awful St. Louis has been with strikeouts. The team's success makes their pitchers attractive on the waiver wire, but just keep in mind that without the K's, they have to win to help you (and that bullpen is killing them -- I would love to see one of the Cards' young outfielders and
In my last column I said
A reliever usually comes in an inning at a time, amasses somewhere between 60 and 80 innings in a season, and sees individual batters 1-5 times a season. So the reliever worries less about adjustment and fatigue and more about just blowing away or fooling the guy he's facing. A starter sees a batter 3-5 times a game, and must adjust based on the last at-bat where the batter invariably learned something about him and his tendencies. So a reliever can have wonderful success facing different batters all the time (I think of him as the protagonist in
As for Justin (I'm avoiding spelling his last name again), he's done well to continue to fool batters as a starter, but another issue I was concerned about last March was his innings. He's been hurt the past couple of years, and I was unsure if he could get 30 starts this year. He may, but we're still on the good side of the dog days of August and we'll have to see if his arm holds up. So yes, Justin is continuing the success he had as a reliever, but there's no guarantee that will happen every time (or even continue this time).
Wow, the D-backs like to poke me in the eye sometimes. Johnson had a good thing going with
When you're spotted an 11-0 lead after three innings and you can't get the win, it's time to bail on you. Bye-bye,
Okay, the Phillies now have
Speaking of Oakland, the A's are left with an opening in their rotation. Trading away Harden and Blanton were good moves, especially considering the value they got for them. This team hasn't thrown in the towel, but they are realistic and know that the wild card will likely come from the tough AL East, or perhaps the jumbled AL Central. There will only be one team from the West, and it's likely the Angels. So getting back to that opening, for now the A's will go with
Remember my caveat about
Until next week, keep taking the bump.