FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball


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  1. Last year Randy Johnson had an ERA of 5.46 after a disaterous July 1 start against Milwaukee where he gave up 7 ER in 3.2 IP. He was basically an ace over the remaining 3 months. Like this year, his K/9 was fairly strong despite his elevated ERA.

    Given the similarity to his start last year, I really expect RJ to figure it out and be very good over the course of the season. I don’t think it makes any sense to sell low at this point.

    Or if you feel like using stats, there is no way in the world his HR/FB stays at 27.0%. He has literally given up more than twice as many home runs as his career average or league average would dictate! This despite slightly improving his GB/FB ratio over last year and despite a very good 16.2% IFFB. Cut 5 HR off his total (maybe 8 ER to account for a few baserunners), and his numbers are vastly improved.

    RJ’s xFIP over at hardballtimes (basically FIP with a normalized HR/FB) is 3.77 (last year it was 3.88. He has definitely walked a few more guys this year, but that is mostly due to one bad start against Arizona. Other than that and the fluky HR, he looks the same as last year.

    So trade him if you want, but please trade him to me so I can reap the rewards!

    Comment by mymrbig — May 12, 2009 @ 1:23 pm

  2. Excellent comment, mymrbig – I had almost the exact same post written up a few minutes ago and then got distracted by my contractor and didn’t get to post it. The Big Unit’s health is obviously a concern (though his velocity this year is right in line with last) and he’s not going to go deep into games, but I suspect the innings he does pitch going forward this year will be far better (by ERA) than they have been thus far. (Oh, and just for fun: look at his crazy home/road splits this year!)

    Comment by Justin — May 12, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

  3. I concur with the above two posters.

    That was a terrible analysis of Randy Johnson. You might as well write for Yahoo! Sports with that type of junk.

    Furthermore, why is Corey Hart a long shot to reach 20/20? Zips updated projection puts him at 19/19.

    It’s so funny how you like to cherry pick your stats and pretend as though they are meaningful. Do you really believe that he will continue to strike out so prodigiously? Yes he is trending downward, but to what degree….

    Do you really think that he will continue to his 8.3% of his FB for HR? Unlikely. Maybe that affects his ISO…

    I don’t like Hart either, but I especially dislike disingenuous analysis.

    Comment by fanOFdefenseAGAIN — May 12, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

  4. I wouldn’t touch Porcello with a 15 foot pole. He clearly isn’t ready for the MLB, and two decent starts aren’t going to change that. His FIP sits at 5.30, and his K rate is terrible. He should be at A+, or AA tops right now.

    Comment by R M — May 12, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

  5. Yeah, that was a pretty terrible Randy Johnson analysis. Worse than I expect of Fangraphs or Rotographs. I mean, a couple of the numbers any writer on this site should look at for any pitcher in any fantasy analysis are BABIP, LOB%, and HR/FB. To me, these are the big three “fluke” numbers that you expect to regress to the mean and are most indicative of either good or bad luck.

    When I am analyzing a player for fantasy purposes, I use Fangraphs all the time. Here is what I look at:
    (1) Luck Factors (BABIP, LOB%, and HR/FB)
    (2) Controllable Skills (K%, BB%, fastball velocity, O-Swing%, O-Contact%, and Z-Contact%, F-Strike%)

    Looking at RJ, his BABIP, LOB%, K%, fastball velocity, O-Swing%, O-Contact%, and Z-Contact% are all pretty much in line with what he has done recently. So looking at just these numbers, he looks like the same pitcher we saw last year.

    The difference in HR/FB tells me his has been really, really unlucky on fly balls. No one gives up HR on 27% of flyballs over a statistically significant sample (except for maybe the batting practice pitchers at the home run derby). So I instantly expect massive reduction in his ERA as this regresses to the mean. xFIP over at Hardballtimes confirms this.

    Now RJ’s BB% and F-Strike% are both worse than last year, so unless he improves his control he probably doesn’t end up quite as good as last year. But with 7 BB in one game, most of this increase is probably just because of one really bad start in a small sample size. The F-Strike% is a little more concerning (54.2%, down almost 10% from last year and 8% less than his average since 2002). This means he is falling behind hitters more often, which can result in more BB and HR due to finding himself in more batter-friendly counts. That said, this is more of a small red flag than anything else and I don’t know that it really holds much predictive value this early in the season where we know his control hasn’t been as good as the past few years (particularly in one start).

    Comment by mymrbig — May 12, 2009 @ 3:54 pm

  6. Hi mymrbig – thanks for reading and commenting!

    The latest ZiPS update has Johnson producing 7 W, a 4.90 ERA, 124 K and a 1.35 WHIP for the rest of 2009.

    Would you be kind enough to predict what you expect him to do from this point forward?

    Comment by Brian Joura — May 12, 2009 @ 5:14 pm

  7. You know, Porcello was the one I expected to get raked over the coals for, not Johnson.

    I agree that he would probably be better off in the minors but since you would probably get him on the waiver wire I view him as a low-risk, high reward kind of guy.

    Comment by Brian Joura — May 12, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

  8. the FIP at hardball times show up at 5.74 for me

    Comment by Jack — May 13, 2009 @ 9:27 pm

  9. I quite often think that people tend to forget age when evaluating players. It’s irresponsible to assume 45 year-old Randy Johnson to pitch at the same level as the one or two previous seasons. Likewise with Portello. He’s an excellent talent and will only continue to improve.

    With things like smaller ballparks, steroids and ‘juiced baseballs’ we’re beginning to expect players to dominate at much older age than it seemed they did 20 years ago. I love Randy. He helped save baseball in Seattle. And I get the arguement commentators are trying to make, but at his age it could just all fall apart all the sudden. Nevermind the insults hurled out at the author, that’s just bad pool.

    Comment by Jason T — May 15, 2009 @ 7:55 am

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