Pick Six Value Picks: Starters and Relievers

To close out our series of looks at the values of players in ottoneu Pick Six, we look today at pitchers.  As before, the numbers below are based on weighted averages of THT’s Oliver and BPro’s PECOTA (more weight to Oliver b/c it includes this season’s data).  The numbers are FP (FanGraphs Points per IP), though keep in mind that for starters this number is divided by four to keep starters from being the only thing that matters in pick six.

Starting Pitchers

Elite Five (they cost a fortune, but they’re worth it)

Tim Lincecum, 5.33 FP/IP, $48
Josh Johnson, 5.21 FP/IP, $38
Felix Hernandez, 5.04 FP/IP, $49
Cliff Lee, 5.04 FP/IP, $43
Roy Halladay, 5.01 FP/IP, $52

Johnson’s injury risk has kept his value down in traditional ottoneu, but when he’s healthy (currently has shoulder ouchie), he’s the best value of this group.  But you can’t go wrong here: more than any other pitchers in baseball, these guys should give you lots of productive innings per start.

Value Five (better production than you’re paying for)

Chad Billingsley, 4.72 FP/IP, $15
Chris Carpenter, 4.57 FP/IP, $16
Hiroki Kuroda, 4.53 FP/IP, $6.50
Erik Bedard, 4.44 FP/IP, $0.75
Joel Pineiro, 4.27 FP/IP, $0.50

Fun fact: based on Colin Wyers’ new WARP at BPro, which is DIPS-like but takes into account situations in which GB’s and FB’s were made, Chad Billingsley led all of major league baseball last year in pitching value.  I don’t know if I believe that, but nevertheless, I think the guy is pretty undervalued.  I know folks are worried about Carpenter, but I think he’s still a good bet most nights.  Kuroda don’t get no respect, but was awesome last year and this year has been terrific most of this year.  Bedard’s number is iffy given that he is coming off major injury, but the guy’s been terrific for the past month.  And Pineiro is the best of a large group of other pitchers right around his cost point (minimal) and projected production level (decent).  Others include Justin Masterson, Tim Stauffer, Scott Baker, Jair Jurrjens, Doug Fister, etc.

Not-Exactly-Bargain Three

Ubaldo Jimenez, 4.48 FP/IP, $33.25
Jeremy Hellickson, 4.18 FP/IP, $13.25
Clay Buchholz, 4.11 FP/IP, $11.50

Here’s the thing about this list.  These guys are all fine pitchers.  But these three are all projected at production that is well below what pitchers of similar cost are projected to produce.  And, on top of that, all of them are also off to relatively poor starts (with Buchholz and Hellickson, their ERA is fine, but their fielding-independent stats aren’t so hot).  There are also a number of guys who my spreadsheet says are overvalued (e.g. Trevor Cahill), but are off to such impressive starts, by all measures, that I’m uncomfortable saying they’re actually overpriced.  Pitcher projections, after all, are an inexact science, and pitchers can take big steps forward in actual talent level over a short period of time.

Relief Pitchers

As mentioned in a previous post, perhaps the most important thing when selecting a reliever is to find someone who is likely to pitch that day.  That said, purely from a production standpoint, there certainly are some relievers that are better values than others.

Elite Three

Heath Bell, 5.37 FP/IP, $12.50
Mariano Rivera, 5.18 FP/IP, $15.50
Brian Wilson, 5.09 FP/IP, $14.50

These guys are the kings.  You can be worried about Bell’s reduced strikeout rate, or Wilson’s crazy walk rate this year.  But no relievers in baseball have put up the body of work that these have over the last several years.

Value Five

Sergio Romo, 5.18 FP/IP, $0.75
Francisco Rodriguez, 4.82 FP/IP (plus saves), $3.50
Grant Balfour, 4.76 FP/IP (plus saves, for now), $0.50
J.J. Putz, 4.71 FP/IP (plus saves), $1.75
Joel Hanrahan, 4.64 FP/IP (plus saves), $2.00

Romo is tied with Rivera for the second best pure rate projection of any reliever in baseball.  The only problem is that he is primarily used as a LOOGY: 19 games, 12.2 innings.  Even with the occasional hold and the ridiculous strikeout rate, that’s not going to get you as many points as you’d like.  That said, he’s almost certain not to hurt you.

The other three, however, cost next to nothing, and are all closers (Balfour is one for the next week or so), and thus will primarily be used in save situations when they can bring in those extra 5 points per save.  And on top of that, they’re all very good pitchers, good bets to net you a lot of points per outing.

Not-Exactly-Bargain Three

George Sherrill, 4.10 FP/IP, $26.25
Neftali Feliz, 4.63 FP/IP (plus save), $13.75
Chris Perez, 4.34 FP/IP (plus saves), $6.25

Sherrill’s the result of some bizarro thing that happened in an ottoneu auction somewhere.  His price tag is dropping steadily each week, and eventually his cost will be down where it belongs.  It’s comedy.  I think there should probably be an achievement for playing him and still doing well.

The others are more interesting.  Feliz was the talk of spring training because of his uncertain role, but when he was named closer he was expected to do very well.  While his ERA is a sparkly 1.20 this year, what the heck is going on with his FIP?  It’s 5.11.  xFIP is 5.69!  Walk rate is way up, k-rate is way down.  I think he’ll get better as the season wears on, but I’m not touching him for now.  Chris Perez is showing similar (though less severe) drops in his peripherals, and has an ugly 5.23 xFIP.  Both scare me right now, despite their strong-looking ERA.

Hope you’ve enjoyed these looks at player values in pick six.  You can find my look at catchers and corner infielders here, and middle infielders and outfielders here.




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Justin is a lifelong Reds fan, and first played fantasy baseball on Prodigy with a 2400 baud modem. His favorite Excel function is the vlookup(). You can find him on twitter @jinazreds, even though he no longer lives in AZ.


12 Responses to “Pick Six Value Picks: Starters and Relievers”

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  1. Tom says:

    Does BP really not use this year’s data when doing ROS for PECOTA? Doesn’t that make PECOTA pretty useless after the first few weeks of the season?

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    • Justin Merry says:

      They haven’t released updated projections for 2011 yet. I think I read at one point in the offseason that they were planning to do so, but so far they haven’t. I’m hopeful that they will.

      As for are they worthless: I weight Oliver substantially more than PECOTA because they include current season data. But at this point in the season, we’re still only dealing with 2 months of additional data. Prior seasons still matter more than current season. I could just use Oliver, but I like having PECOTA in there as they seem to balance each other out in a way that makes sense for me when I disagree with one or the other projection.
      -j

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  2. RotoChamp says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    FWIW, we do ROS updates daily using current year data.

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  3. Tom says:

    Thanks for your help.

    I subscribe to BP and use their Player Forecast Manager (PFM) that I think is based on PECOTA. They update it about once a week. Are you saying that PFM doesn’t include this year’s data?

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    • Justin Merry says:

      I don’t know a lot about PFM. I used it a little when prepping for my ottoneu draft, but not a lot. But I pulled up Jose Bautista in the PFM, and included OBP and SLG, as he’s someone who should probably see a big shift in his projection between preseason and current projections. The PFM reports this: .248/.345/.488

      In my spreadsheet, which is from data I downloaded in the preseason, PECOTA says .248/.347/.491

      Pretty much the same.

      By comparison, here’s the preseason and current Oliver projections for Bautista:
      Preseason: .248/.351/.517
      Current: .271/.379/.576

      Pretty big difference there.

      So, while I have no direct insight into what is happening with the PFM (or really anything at BPro), my guess is that it is not using 2011 data. At least, not yet.
      -j

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  4. Tom says:

    Thanks again for the info. Wow that is a big difference. How much weighting do you give BP vs Oliver?

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    • Justin Merry says:

      If they were both current, I’d go 50/50. Right now, I’m doing 66% Oliver (though the numbers above are less than that–had an error in my spreadsheet), 34% PECOTA. By end of season, if PECOTA isn’t updated, I’ll be 100% Oliver. There is no empirical backing to that, just intuition (i.e. it’s a wild-ass guess as to what’s appropriate).
      -j

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  5. williams .482 says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    has the FP/IP shown for starters been divided by four yet? It looks much larger than what my spreadsheet is giving me. Not sure If I am the one making a mistake.

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  6. microwave donut says:

    How can Romo be a LOOGY when he’s right handed?

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    • Justin Merry says:

      Yeah, what the hell, article author?

      My bad. His usage pattern matches a LOOGY, more games than innings….so the point stands. But obviously, that’s a screw-up!
      -j

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