Should I Trade Roy Oswalt?

I get quite a bit of e-mail from those asking for fantasy baseball advice. People want to know who to drop, who to pickup, and whether or not a certain proposed trade bodes well for them. Though I do not consider myself to be an expert, by any means, there are certain tips I usually give out, many of which are derived from this site.

One recent e-mail included the following question: “Should I trade Roy Oswalt? He’s got a 5.33 ERA and is giving up a ton of home runs.”

Though I initially scoffed at the idea of getting rid of arguably the most consistently good pitcher of the decade, it soon dawned on me that fantasy baseball still uses more conventional statistics. In an online world where BA, W-L, and ERA still run rampant his “dilemma” is more of, well, a dilemma. Still, though…

Oswalt has not posted an ERA+ under 125 since 2004 and has been a lock for 30+ starts, 210+ innings, and 150+ strikeouts. This year, though, he has an ERA+ of just 78, a WHIP of 1.49, and has already surrendered 11 home runs. In the four-year span prior to this season he averaged just 17 home runs.

The problem here can be solved by looking at his splits. Oswalt got off to a very rocky start but has definitely picked his game up of late. In his first three starts:

0-3, 9.00 ERA, 16 IP, 30 H, 16 ER, 2 BB, 12 K; Average Game Score = 29; Opponents hitting .400/.410/.720.

In his five starts following that:

3-0, 3.55 ERA, 33 IP, 28 H, 13 ER, 13 BB, 30 K; Average Game Score = 56; Opponents hitting .228/.307/.447.

He has definitely been more Roy-like lately but the home runs surrendered are a tad alarming. Also alarming is how his walks have increased and strikeouts have decreased from 2005 to 2007. To answer, no, unless you can get an absolutely tremendous offensive player to fill a desperately needed void, do not trade Roy Oswalt.

On the other hand, though, you might want to start convincing others in your league that he’s lost a step and you’ll “take him off of their hands.” Even if he is not exactly the same pitcher he was from 2002-2006 he is still a consistent and durable ace that any team, fantasy or professional, should be happy to have.

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

14 Responses to “Should I Trade Roy Oswalt?”

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  1. I agree. In terms of fantasy, the time is soon coming (if not already here) when you will not be able to get Oswalt on the cheap anymore. Last week or the week before was probably the time to go get him. He’s striking out more batters than last year, walking about the same amount and appears to be “just fine”.

    I read somewhere (can’t remember where) that Oswalt sort of took an extended spring training and I think that’s probably the best way to put it.

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  2. Eric Seidman says:

    Yeah I would definitely agree extended spring training is the best way to put it. ERA can be very deceiving in the early going.

    There’s a difference between him underperforming early on and Brett Myers underperforming. Myers has been very inconsistent in the early going, following a good start with a bad start. Oswalt had three poor starts to begin the season but has seemingly turned things around.

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  3. John Price says:

    OK, now do Justin Verlander. What the hell is wrong with him?

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  4. mymrbig says:

    A couple weeks (just after Oswalt’s 3rd start) I basically traded Izzy for Oswalt in an NL-only league. His BABIP was ridiculously high (and largely responsible for many of the hits he allowed his first few starts). He’s also been a better 2nd half pitcher the last few years. It might be too late to get Oswalt on the cheap from an astute fantasy manager, but there are plenty of less-than-astute managers out there!

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  5. Tom Au says:

    In evaluating Oswalt, I did what some of our old profs used to do: throw out his worst “grade” (April 11, 8 runs, 4 HRs, 4IP against the Marlins). With what’s left, I get 21 ER in 45 innings, or an ERA of 4.20. Reconstructing his FIP in the same way gives something like 4.62. I’d accept a middling offensive player, a James Loney, Jeff Kent, or Edwin Encarnacion for him.

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  6. Eric Seidman says:

    Tom, I wouldn’t. I think for someone like Brett Myers you’re approach would be somewhat sound because he has been very inconsistent. With Oswalt, though, it’s clear that his high numbers are a result of his three poor games to start the season. Trading him now would be one of those “moves that got away.”

    MyMrBig, definitely! If you can convince someone that Oswalt is washed up because of his 5.33 ERA do it. You’ll have to offer something valuable, though, because otherwise they’ll realize you have something up your sleeve. I don’t think anyone would give up Oswalt for Eric Bruntlett.

    John, will look at Verlander’s numbers next week. Dave Cameron wrote a good post here a few weeks back looking at his velocity and how it’s gone down, but it seems to have returned as of late.

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  7. John Price says:

    Thanks Eric. I remember Dave’s excellent article and look forward to your analysis as well.

    Verlander’s control seems to have declined a bit; in 2006 his BB/9 was 2.76, last year 2.99, and so far this year 3.85. It also seems that he gets worse and worse the deeper he gets into the game. Could that plus his earlier velocity issues mean he’s hurt? I’m relatively new to this so I’m interested in what others think.

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  8. Eric Seidman says:


    One of the things I’m planning on looking at is subsequent times through the order. He may have great numbers his first time though but then gets figured out. That’s a pretty drastic jump in BB/9. Could still be small sample issues but if it’s that way in another month, eeeek.

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  9. Невероятно красиво!

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  10. Clicky 2 says:

    Я участлив к вашему затруднительному положению, мои русские друзья.

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  11. Классно!

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  12. “познавательно”

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  13. “познавательная тема”

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  14. “Хорошо пишешь”

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