Roster Trending 6/3/14: Drop It Like It’s Hot

Yesterday, I identified and discussed the five players most added in CBS Sports leagues. So today of course, I’ll check in on those players being dropped. Often I find the dropped players are better than the added players as fantasy owners love to weight the last two weeks of performance infinitely more than the player’s entire body of work. So let’s see if owners are making the right moves when dropping these guys.

Drew Smyly – 75% owned last week, 53% owned this week

What did I say about owners only looking at the last two weeks? Smyly has gotten the boot in many leagues after allowing nine runs over his last two starts. He still owns a respectable 3.88 SIERA, though that may be close to streamer material in shallower formats. Smyly was a popular sleeper choice as he shuttled from the bullpen back into the rotation this year, but fantasy owners may have forgotten that his skills would be in for a decline as a starting pitcher. His strike type percentages are similar to his first year when he started games and he’s actually throwing a higher percentage of strikes, but his walk rate has spiked. I think that will come down a bit, but he might remain a hot potato as he possesses a solid, albeit unspectacular skill set.

Rafael Montero – 43%, 24%

Surprise, surprise. Everyone picks up the recent hot rookie and then drop him when he has a bad start and their hopes of having uncovered the next Jose Fernandez are dashed. Montero was demoted to the minors, which was probably a slightly larger driver of the mass exodus, but he wasn’t really the type to pin your mixed league dreams on.

Clay Buchholz – 58%, 41%

Whether it’s been injury or the luck dragons taking back everything they gave Buchholz last year, he has been quite the disaster. His sudden ability to induce called strikes last year has predictable vanished and his swinging strike percentage is at a career low. His overall strike percentage is actually fine, and suggests his walk rate should come down some. However, the walks per nine rate is inflated due to that .384 BABIP which has extended innings and caused him to face more batters per inning. Since he was clearly lucky last year and it was the only time he’s ever even posted a SIERA below 4.00, it would be silly to continue holding him expecting any sort of rebound when he does eventually return from the DL.

Brandon McCarthy – 38%, 23%

McCarthy has been discussed a lot on these pages over the last month and a half and he still holds the highest HR/FB rate among all qualified starters in baseball. He’s never had such an issue before, so it’s curious. McCarthy was likely added in a lot of leagues after his two straight outings in which he allowed just one run in each, but then promptly dropped after following those up with two starts where he gave up five runs apiece. Something has gotta give here. Either his skill set is going to tumble and cause his SIERA to rise toward his ERA, or his fortunes are going to change and he’s going to be one of the best and most surprising performers over the rest of the season. Since I always bet on skills, I think he remains a prime buy candidate in all leagues.

Seth Smith – 65%, 52%

A career high BABIP driven by a Joey Vottoian zero infield fly balls, coupled with a career low strikeout rate and highest ISO has led to one of the quietest career seasons so far. Of course, Smith still doesn’t face lefties, so his fantasy upside is capped being a straight platoon player. His batted ball distance is slightly above the league average and not really at a level that would excite anyone. It’s hard to imagine him sustaining that 14% HR/FB rate and without much speed and a weak supporting cast, it means he still doesn’t have any real shallow mixed league value. I think his current ownership rate is right, but may still be too high.




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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.


17 Responses to “Roster Trending 6/3/14: Drop It Like It’s Hot”

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  1. meemahmoomoo says:

    Part of Drew Smyly’s value, at least in the type of league I am in (14-Team Mixed Keeper League w/ capped SP roster spots), is that he has RP-eligibility. Considering his current woes and positive, if tempered forecast would you suggest dropping him for someone like Alex Wood who is a more talented pitcher, but is biding his time in the bullpen?

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    • Emcee Peepants says:

      I don’t think they are worth swapping out for one another if Wood is in the pen. If Smyly pitches like he has in most of his starts as opposed to the last 2, then I think he has more value than Wood in a purely relief role (the last one wasn’t even that bad, just rang up a high pitch count and got the hook early). If Wood returns to the rotation though, I would take him in a heartbeat.

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      • meemahmoomoo says:

        Of course, another manager went and picked up Alex Wood, which for him looks like a sign that he might be conceding the season as he is presently 2-7.

        Damnit.

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    • BB says:

      I would absolutely swap Smyly for Wood in a league where RP-eligible starters have extra value. Especially in a keeper league!

      One other factor is that both Smyly and Wood are likely on innings limits. A few more weeks in the pen, and that should become a non-issue for Wood. But Smyly may continue to be skipped in the rotation (making deploying him annoyingly unpredictable), or he may end up shut down in September.

      So yeah if you can afford a stash for a few weeks, I’d *definitely* want Wood. Once he’s back in the rotation, he will hopefully be a set-it-and-forget-it starter. Smyly is likely to be a pain in the neck to own all season.

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      • Emcee Peepants says:

        But that’s the thing, Wood is not in the rotation and if the current starters continue to pitch well, he probably won’t be. Holding and using Smyly until (if) Wood returns to the rotation is the ideal scenario for both long and short term value. You do, however, run the risk that someone else snaps Wood up in the mean time.

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  2. Frederico says:

    Would you drop Smyly for a cat like Alex Meyers? Keeper league.

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  3. nealos says:

    …more shameless Brandon Mcarthyism :)

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  4. KilleBrews says:

    Smyly’s last start @ SEA (w/o Cano) was about as prime as they come for a LHP. It was painful to watch as he nibbled, buried pitch after pitch in the dirt, and grooved fastballs after going 3-2 to large # of batters. Doesnt seem to have any confidence right now.

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  5. Big Jgke says:

    Maybe I missed it earlier, but what’s the rationale for using CBS leagues as the basis of these posts?

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    • Gordon Shumway says:

      CBS fantasy baseball leagues are generally seen as more competitive and as a result ownership rates seem to better reflect player value than on other fantasy sites.

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    • FanGraphs Supporting Member

      What Gordon said, plus I don’t play in leagues on Yahoo or ESPN so I don’t even have those ownership rates.

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      • Big Jgke says:

        Thanks for the reply, Mike. It confuses me though (disclaimer: I am a yahoo player), as it seems to my thoroughly non-scientific eyes that Yahoo has always had the ownership numbers that best represent ‘ideal’ ownership rates while CBS, and especially ESPN, have some truly bizarre ownership numbers.

        Also, do you ever do any sort of calculations to discount the amount of dead teams or leagues when doing these columns?

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      • MDL says:

        @Jgke: Jose Fernandez, Prince Fielder, and Matt Moore are each currently being started in no more than 3% of CBS leagues, so I would say that’s a rough approximation for the number of dead leagues. I don’t know what Yahoo or ESPN’s numbers are like, but the CBS numbers don’t warrant any correction, since they are just a rough gauge anyway.

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  6. Sgt. Hulka says:

    I’m curious. If, big if here, Joe Kelly comes back very soon, is he a bullpen guy? Is Garcia doing well enough to keep the job? I’m wondering if he might be worth a speculative add. The wire is getting thin.

    Where would you rank him compared to McCarthy and Buchholz if he was healthy? He’d still be behind them, right? K’s and WHIP are a problem with Kelly.

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    • Mike Wimmer says:

      Kelly might get a rotation spot back, but I dont see it being Garcia unless he breaks down again. I know Lynn tweaked his knee in his last start, so maybe he gets a two week break. I would put Kelly below McCarthy by quite a bit, but ahead of Bucholz who is radioactive IMO until he shows he has gotten right.

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  7. eddiegaedel says:

    I am finding these articles on fringe fantasy players extremely helpful. Keep up the great work Pod!

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