First, we look at the historical track record along with the expected 2016 stats of the pairs. For the forecasts, we use the Zeile projections courtesy of FantasyPros, since it best resembles consensus. Then, we gauge the market price for each of the pitchers by using the NFBC ADP. From these two data points we are able to compare their relative values and reach on conclusion. Buying low and selling high makes sense and it applies to anything that involves an asset, including Fantasy Baseball.
In the following cases the ADP gap is just too large given the expected production difference of the pairs of pitchers. My suggestion is that the gap should be smaller, it is not that the lower ranked pitcher is better, the pair should just be more evenly valued. The lower ADP starter being overpriced or the higher ADP starter being underpriced, or a combination of both could be the cause of the ADP difference.
For starting pitchers, try not to put too much reliance on wins, as they are not very consistent. Let’s focus more on their ratios and their strikeout and walk rates. We will also need to keep in mind other factors such as BABIP and LOB%, along with batted ball profiles.
Now that we all understand the process, let’s read about four pairs of mispriced starting pitchers.
Starting Pitcher ADP Analysis; Mispriced Pairs
New leagues = New ranking?
Jordan Zimmerman, Detroit Tigers (ADP: 120)
Scott Kazmir, Los Angeles Dodgers (ADP: 207)
Zimmerman is coming off of the worst season of his career in 2015, where he posted his highest ERA and WHIP since returning from his 2009 Tommy John surgery. He now joins the Tigers in the AL and leaves behind the offensively inept NL East lineups. I don’t like where Zimmerman is being drafted, as many of the pitchers being drafted after him provide much better value and superior numbers, especially in terms of ERA and strikeouts.
Kazmir posted a solid year in 2015, notching a career best ERA coupled with the second best WHIP of his career. He achieved this by limiting solid contact, as he finished within the Top-20 in terms of both line drive rate and hard hit rate among qualified starters. He now gets to leave the AL and join the Dodgers and their pitcher-friendly home at Chavez Ravine. Kazmir’s draft day price, which currently sits outside of the Top-50 SPs, should allow his Fantasy owners to produce a tidy profit.
When you look at their numbers, there was not much to choose between these two hurlers last year, as they were only separated by 21 spots according to the ESPN Player Rater. The only reason that Zimmerman even had an advantage had to do with their wins totals. It is puzzling why similar stats in 2015 combined with similar expectations for 2016 has resulted in a near triple-digit ADP gap, especially when you consider their offseason changes. Draft the pitcher now donning the Dodger blue and let someone else try to tame the Tiger.
Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals (ADP: 96)
Wei-Yin Chen, Miami Marlins (ADP: 221)
Wacha burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 2013, when he was stellar down the stretch and into the playoffs. However, since then, he has seen the majority of his numbers head in the wrong direction. He has experienced weakness in his ERA, WHIP, strikeout rate, and walk rate. Do not be fooled by his won-loss record last year, as he had the ninth best run support in the majors. He also had shoulder issues a couple of years ago and that has to add at least a small degree of risk.
Despite pitching his home games in a hitter’s park and playing in the dreaded AL East, Chen has managed to post an ERA of 3.44 along with a WHIP of 1.22 over the past two seasons. Now with a move to the NL along with a cavernous home park, even with the changes to the outfield fences, Chen stands to improve both his ratios and possibly his strikeout rate. He should continue to offset his middling strikeout total with his elite control. In fact, last year, Chen recorded a better K-BB% than Wacha, despite having a lower strikeout rate.
With a 10 round ADP gap in 12-team leagues, the market is focusing on the upside of Wacha and ignoring the steadiness and reliability of Chen. Once you take into account the the differences between the lineups of the AL East and the NL East, it should be clear that Fantasy owners are severely discounting the probable 2016 improvements for Chen. As long as you pass on Wacha, you do not even need to wait the full 120-plus picks to select Chen and still turn a profit.
Steven Matz, New York Mets (ADP: 113)
Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks (ADP: 196)
There is no question that Matz has a ton of talent and an extremely bright future. He was impressive in his short run with the Mets last year; however, he was aided by a 91.4% LOB% that allowed him to post a 2.27 ERA, despite a 3.61 FIP and a WHIP of 1.23. As the 30th SP off the board, Fantasy owners are already all in on the 24-year-old. It will be nearly impossible for him to meet those lofty expectations, especially when you add in his recent injury history.
Last year, Corbin returned in July and showed no ill effects of his Tommy John surgery, as he posted a career high strikeout rate to go along with a career low walk rate. His velocity was also up and settled at a new career high. On the Diamondbacks, it is easy to forget about Corbin, given their offseason acquisitions and their explosive offense. Use this to your advantage and pick him up on the cheap.
While Corbin may lack the upside of Matz, he clearly has a more proven track record at the major league level and their forecasts for 2016 are quite similar. The 83-point ADP gap is just too large given the uncertainty of Matz. If you tune out the Big Apple hype and snag the Snake from the desert, you will be more than satisfied.
Upside versus Reliability
Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals (ADP: 107)
Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox (ADP: 165)
In his first full season as a starter, Martinez had an impressive campaign. His ERA was just a shade over 3.00 and he struck out more than a batter per inning. Everything was not rosy as his lack of control played a big part in his non-elite WHIP of 1.29. The biggest cause for concern has to do with a shoulder injury that ended his season prematurely in late September.
Quintana just completed his third consecutive season where he threw at least 200 innings, and over the three-year span he has averaged a 3.40 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 173 strikeouts. Quintana’s best asset is probably his consistency, both on a year-to-year basis as well as from start-to-start. Of his 32 starts last year, Quintana notched a quality start in 25 of them, which was tied for sixth in all of baseball.
Fantasy owners love to chase upside, often disregarding risks and possible downside threats. Martinez has a higher ceiling, but he is also a much more volatile pitcher. Given the ADP gap, it appears that Fantasy owners are ignoring the volatility and injury risks of Martinez. Choose consistency over unpredictability and nab the hurler from the Windy City.
Performing starting pitcher ADP analysis, will make sure you pick the cheaper option, without forgoing any material amount of production. This allows you to build your offense with those highly coveted early round picks. Stay tuned as next week we will release our final installment of the Mispriced Pairs series, with relief pitchers being the topic.
Data courtesy of www.fangraphs.com
- 2018 Fantasy Baseball ADP Analysis: Mispriced Pairs; Pitcher Edition - March 13, 2018
- 2018 Fantasy Baseball ADP Analysis: 5 Mispriced Pairs; Infielder Edition - March 5, 2018
- The Fantasy Lookout: A Look Towards 2018; Sleeper And Bust Edition - September 20, 2017