April 22, 2008
Here's a hypothetical four-man fantasy rotation that no one drafted, yet would have been very good through Week 3:
Scott Olsen (FLA) - 27.2 IP, 3 W, 13 K, 2.60 ERA, 0.98 WHIP
Gavin Floyd (CWS) - 19.1 IP, 2 W, 10 K, 1.40 ERA, 0.88 WHIP
Joe Saunders (LAA) - 29.1 IP, 3 W, 12 K, 2.15 ERA, 0.89 WHIP
Ryan Dempster (CHC) - 24.0 IP, 3 W, 16 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.04 WHIP
We get persistent questions about those pitchers, and they all have lobbyists within the fantasy community. I've listed them together here for a simple reason: I don't want them on my roster.
Clearly, others feel differently. Saunders and Dempster are each owned in over 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and Floyd is more than 30 percent-owned. You can expect a streaming-related ownership surge for Olsen this week, too. He definitely has his propagandists.
The red flag shared by all four pitchers is their opponent's batting average on balls in play. Olsen's current BABIP is .197, Floyd's is .136, Saunders' is .194, and Dempster's is .201. Those rates are extraordinarily difficult to maintain; a typical BABIP is in the neighborhood of .290 to .300.
These guys aren't striking out hitters at exceptional rates, either, and that limits their usefulness for fantasy purposes. In leagues with IP maximums -- like every public roto league -- you don't want to give your innings to pitchers who can't deliver Ks.
Also, Oslen's next start is against the Brewers, Floyd's is against the Yankees, Saunders will get Boston, and Dempster gets...well, OK, he gets the Nats. You'll probably want to own him for that one.
But beyond that? Use him at your own risk.
Important programming note: Evans and I are attending today's Nelson Figueroa-Ted Lilly tilt. Then, after several hours in the bleachers with Brad, I'm expected to write Closing Time. So we'll just see how that goes...