By Andy Behrens
May 10, 2007
Roto Arcade This Week : May 7
| May 8 | May 9
Today we'll begin with a relatively simple comparison. I'll give you the 2006 stats for two nameless pitchers, and you tell me which guy you'd rather own in a 5x5 roto league:
Player A – 190 IP, 13 W, 173 K, 3.22 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
Player B – 215 IP, 16 W, 157 K, 4.52 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
Not such a tough choice, is it?
Player B gives you three more wins, but he's clearly inferior everywhere else. The differences in ERA and WHIP are significant enough to alter category ranks. There's really no question that Player A is better. In fact, those numbers would have made him something like the tenth- or eleventh-best fantasy starter last year. Player B was a top-50 pitcher, too, and was almost universally owned.
So who are they?
Player B is Kevin Millwood, and Player A is actually two guys: Scot Shields and Scott Proctor. If you owned both Shields and Proctor last season, their aggregate production basically gave you a staff ace. In fact, their numbers looked an awful lot like C.C. Sabathia's: 192.2 IP, 12 W, 172 K, 3.22 ERA, 1.17 WHIP. Plus you got three saves.
Just for fun, let's say you owned Shields and Proctor all year, then added Pat Neshek when he was called up in July. Those three middle relievers would have combined for 227 IP, 17 W, 226 K, a 3.05 ERA, and a 1.08 WHIP. Johan Santana was the only pitcher to post a better statistical line last season. Obviously it's better to own Santana than some three-headed middle relief monster, because you're getting all that production from only one roster spot. However, only one owner in a league gets to have Santana. Everyone else has to make compromises.
If you're fretting over the decision to add either Brett Tomko, Matt Morris, or Braden Looper to your roto roster, my recommendation is this: none of the above. Instead, consider dropping one of the replacement-level hitters you've stashed purposelessly on your bench. Then add Neshek (he's currently 4.9 percent owned) and Jonathan Broxton (38.2 percent). That middle reliever combination will be better than the vast majority of your league's un-owned free agent starting pitchers. There are lots of ways to reach the IP limit. Try to avoid doing it with horrible ratios.
And now, bullet-pointed randomness …
It's worth following up on the Barry Bonds/likeability discussion from Wednesday, since many of you wrote to say that Bonds' late-round average draft position was based exclusively on performance and playing time issues, not on his likeability. My favorite email began this way: "I totally disagree (with your column). Bonds' average draft positioning this year is based on reliability. He has played 144 games in the previous 2 years and only hit 31 HR and 87 RBI. It was a crapshoot whether he would play, travel, or be on trial."
Fine so far. But here are the next two sentences in the email: "Barry Bonds may be a very good baseball player, but he is a cheater, plain and simple. I don't care which rules you break when playing … if you cheated you are a cheater." I find it extremely hard to believe that the fantasy owner who wrote those words didn't allow his dislike for Barry Bonds to affect his decision-making during the draft.
Here's an excerpt from an email sent by someone (Michael in Denver) who deliberately avoided Bonds over ethical/personal issues: "In the big picture, it's still all about having fun. In the name of keeping it fun, I have a rule for players on my rosters that overrides any other. I do not carry any player who is a scumbag. I don't ever want to be in the position of rooting for said scumbag, or cheering when said scumbag does well. That ruins the 'fun factor' in my opinion. So at the start of each fantasy season, I go through my pre-draft rankings and exclude all scumbags from my draft lists. Barry Bonds is at the top of the scumbag list, and I don't care if he were to be ranked No. 1 in overall standings."
See, there really are owners out there who avoid specific players because of likeability issues – and I get it, too. We actively cheer for the players on our fantasy teams, and it's not unreasonable to avoid someone you completely loathe. Avoiding players you personally dislike is an obvious competitive disadvantage, but I understand why people do it. I have a rich history of Bam Morris and Ron Artest ownership, so I've overcome the cognitive dissonance thing.
Just one more email: "Are you, or anyone for that matter, a little ticked-off that Ryan Howard has been constantly disappointing owners, and reports say Howard will be out until at least May 11, so I take him out of the lineup for the May 9 game and he comes in and hits a pinch-hit grand slam?"
Those of us who own Howard in weekly transaction leagues were not, in fact, disappointed by Wednesday's 1-for-2, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI line. Not at all. It might just save a week we'd already written off. But yeah, owners in daily transaction leagues could conceivably be a little irritated.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon told the Devil Rays' website that Akinori Iwamura (oblique strain) could see minor league action next Wednesday. The third baseman is only 45.1 percent owned, and might be worth hiding on the DL if you're concerned about batting average and stolen bases.
Both Chicago starters were very good Wednesday night. John Danks finally won a game, going 6.2 innings and allowing only three hits and one earned run to Minnesota. He now has 28 Ks in 35.1 innings. All Jason Marquis did was shut out the Pirates, strike out five, and win his fifth straight start. Danks is at the fringes of ownability in AL-only leagues, while Marquis has become a streamable pitcher in mixed leagues. If you own him, he's excellent trade bait. Act now, though. His next start is at New York. The Mets lead the National League in runs and batting average.
The best of Friday's un-owned probable starters: Darrell Rasner (10.3 percent ownership) at Seattle, Joe Blanton (44.0) versus Cleveland, Randy Wolf (35.3) versus Cincinnati, and Kyle Davies (0.8) at Pittsburgh.
Andy Behrens has written for ESPN.com, the Chicago Sports Review, NBA.com, the Chicago Reader and various other publications. In all likelihood, Andy owns more Artis Gilmore memorabilia than you. Follow him on Twitter. Send Andy a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Thursday, May 10, 2007 1:24 pm, EDT
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