Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy baseball starting pitcher study

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Ryan Fowler

Ryan Fowler has spent the past 10 years covering and talking sports on TV and radio, in newspapers and on the web. He joined FOXSports.com as lead Fantasy Sports Editor and also acts as Digital Content Manager at WhatIfSports.com. Follow him on Twitter. Listen to his FOX Sports Team Report Podcasts on SoundCloud and iTunes

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Following Felix Hernandez’s historic contract extension, I believe it’s time to introduce an updated style change when referring to monetary exchanges between franchises and athletes. In King Felix’s case, we could relay the stud fantasy pitcher inked a five-year, $135 million dollar extension.

OR

We could add some zeroes to highlight the hero, five-year, $135,000,000 contract, and drive the point home. He will earn $27,100,000 per season, the most in baseball history (aside from a Clemens’ deal).

Boardwalk. Park Place. Monopoly man money.

Felix Hernandez’s 2013 fantasy baseball value may not be worthy of an eight-figure deal, but I was curious to learn where fantasy baseball owners could find the best starting pitching value in 2013 by looking back at 2012 stats and average draft position.

As I reported in an earlier fantasy baseball stolen base feature, our sample size remains 1,483 public 5x5 roto leagues. The table below provides the average roto pitching stats league champions’ boasted by season’s end. Although this feature focuses on starting pitching, know those league champion averages do factor in relief pitching.

2012 Public 5x5 Roto League Champion Averages

 
W K ERA WHIP
81 1162 3.51 1.19

 

From there, I analyzed starting pitchers selected, on average, in rounds 1-10 during the 2012 fantasy baseball draft season.

2012 Fantasy Starting Pitchers Drafted Rounds 1-10

 
# of Pitchers Avg. W Avg. K Avg. ERA Avg. WHIP
27 13.4 183 3.64 1.21

 

As you can see, fantasy owners drafted 27 different pitchers, on average, during the first 10 rounds. Despite being selected in the first 10 rounds, three pitchers, Chris Carpenter, Dan Hudson and Michael Pineda, were removed from this study due to injuries that forced them to miss most of the season.

Fantasy owners enjoyed great success drafting these upper-tier pitchers. Only six of the 27 failed to reach double-digit win totals.

So, we can conclude that fantasy baseball owners got what they paid for from their starting pitchers during the first half of the draft. In other words, the assumed stud starting pitchers lived up to expectations and delivered above-average roto stats. Granted it did cost the owner one or two picks in the first 10 rounds.

What if I told you this study suggested that after drafting one (two?) stud pitcher(s) in the first 10 rounds, you could wait until Rounds 15-20 before filling out the rest of your starting rotation. Take a close look at the table below:

Fantasy Pitchers' ADP with 7-13 Wins (2012)

 
2012 Wins # of Pitchers Avg. K Avg. ERA Avg. WHIP ADP
7 16 91 3.89 1.30 19th Rd.
8 12 98 3.89 1.33 19th Rd.
9 13 118 4.30 1.35 17th Rd.
10 13 132 3.72 1.26 15th Rd.
11 14 142 4.27 1.30 16th Rd.
12 11 138 4.02 1.27 16th Rd.
13 11 153 3.71 1.26 16th Rd.

 

Ninety pitchers finished with between seven and 13 wins last season. On average, those fantasy pitchers were drafted after the 15th round.

Another tier of fantasy pitchers surprised me during this study. Eleven pitchers finished with 16 wins last season.  However, ...

16-Win Fantasy Pitchers' ADP (2012)

 
2012 Wins # of Pitchers Avg. K Avg. ERA Avg. WHIP ADP
16 11 176 3.48 1.19 13th Rd.

 

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... their average draft position was after the 13th round.  In addition to the 16 wins, these fantasy pitchers' remaining roto stats are in line with league champion averages.

Now, I'm well aware that waiting on your third, fourth, fifth, etc starting pitcher until those later rounds poses some risk to your draft strategy.  Still, I think this study paints a unique picture. Fantasy owners preparing for upcoming drafts should take note and, perhaps, interpret the data in their own way in order to create the best draft plan.

All I'm asking is that you think about it.

Tagged: Orioles, Angels, Mariners, Braves, Reds, Dodgers, Phillies, Cardinals, Rays, Felix Hernandez, Fernando Rodney, Jonathan Papelbon, Jim Johnson, Kris Medlen, Ernesto Frieri, Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Jason Motte, Kenley Jansen

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