- FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy -

Mock Draft: An Interesting Failure

In the next part in my series on punting, I am trying to ditch ERA. This has proven to be more of a challenge than the two previous ones in the series. After a few unsuccessful tries that my friend and colleague Paul Greco would term “drafting naked” (no outside sources) I decided to consult the Razzball Point Shares System.

Specifically, I was looking for pitchers who were worse in ERA than they were in WHIP. I was hoping to finish last in ERA yet still gain a couple of points in WHIP. So, I wrote down the names of about two dozen pitchers who fit this criterion and went off to draft. This was a 12-team mixed Yahoo Style Draft over at Mock Draft Central. I had the first pick and drafted this team:

Albert Pujols
Ryan Zimmerman
Ichiro Suzuki
Curtis Granderson
Adam Dunn
Nelson Cruz
Josh Beckett
Matt Wieters
Jason Bartlett
James Shields
John Lackey
Huston Street
Scott Baker
Gavin Floyd
Jorge de la Rosa
Chad Qualls
Brian Anderson
Leo Nunez
Julio Borbon
Nick Johnson
Mark DeRosa
Luis Castillo
Nick Swisher

This team finished first with a total of 87 points. The breakdowns were as follows:

AVG 12
HR 10
RBI 5.5
SB 9
R 11
W 10.5
S 6
K 8
WHIP 4
ERA 11

I’ve never tried to punt a category and almost ended up winning it before! Let’s see how that happened.

The best ERA among my starters last year belonged to John Lackey, who had a 3.83, which was 33rd best among SP. Of my seven SP, two had ERAs in the 3s and the remaining five had ERAs in the 4s. Two of my relievers had ERAs in the 3s and one was in the 4s. Nothing in this shouts out a team that should finish second in ERA. Andy Behrens estimated that you need a 3.27 ERA to win the category.

Obviously, we don’t know what these pitchers will do in 2010 yet and ERA has a lot of volatility. But we can check the Fans projections and get a glimpse of why this team was projected to finish 2nd in ERA. Eight of these pitchers the fans projected to have lower ERAs in 2010 than 2009. The only exceptions were Street, projected to go from 3.06 to 3.21 and Qualls, who did not have a fan projection. Using the Fans projections, I have five SP with ERAs in the 3s (lowest belonging to Anderson at 3.69) and two in the 4s. Furthermore, the highest ERA belonged to de la Rosa, who had a 4.26 projection.

So, you don’t need a star in ERA to be successful in the category.

Now I am back to the drawing board to field a money-finishing team that successfully punts ERA. I’ll be looking to trade in my pitcher picks in rounds 7 and 10 for better RBI and SB production.