When ADP disagrees (pitchers)

After outdoing myself last week, I figured I’d return my roots and write an article a little simpler, a little less theoretical, and more practical. Picking up from where I left off two weeks ago, today I will evaluate pitchers who have large discrepancies in their highest and lowest draft position. As Bud Light commercials say: “Here we go.”

The culprits

Javier Vazquez | ADP: 61 | Earliest: 46 | Latest: 92 |

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Javy will try to forget about the last time he was in pinstripes, and try to make the fans forget too. (Icon/SMI)

Pitchers who have renaissance years and then switch leagues make good candidates to be on a list such as this one, so it is no surprise to see Vazquez’s name here. Last season on the Braves he posted Cy Young-esque numbers of 15 wins with a 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts in 219 innings of work, vindicating Derek Carty on his mancrush of him last year.

As impressive as last year was, people are still wary of owning Vazquez because of his age (33), the mileage on his arm (2,500 career innings), his switch to the offensive powerhouse AL East, his terrible season in his last go-around with the Yankees back in 2004, and finally his flyball tendencies in the flyball haven that is the new Yankee Stadium. Whew! That is a lot to not like about a guy. On the flip side people like Vazquez for his durability, his high strikeout and low walk rates, because he is now backed by the scary-good Yankees offense, and well, because of how spectacular he was last year.

A generally unlucky pitcher, Vazquez was bestowed with a little bit of luck in 2009 as his 3.24 LIPS ERA indicates. Making adjustments from that LIPS ERA number based on the work Derek did last offseason on the impact of switching leagues we can expect his ERA to rise .40 points from the league switch and then a couple of tenths more due to the higher run environment of Yankee Stadium. With a strikeout rate regressed back into the high eights partially from the 0.6 penalty from the switch to the AL, Vazquez is looking at a season with an ERA from 3.75 to 4.00, around 200 strikeouts, and 16-20 wins.

Nothing makes that line stand out from the lines of the pitchers taken around him, though if you are going to take a pitcher around this point in a draft, Vazquez’s durability does make him a viable option.

Wandy Rodriguez | ADP: 125 | Earliest: 78 | Latest: 188 |

Like Javy, Wandy is coming off a tremendous 2009 season in which he finished with a 3.02 ERA and 193 strikeouts in 206 innings pitched. Despite his first name, Rodriguez is someone who has flown under many people’s radars the past two years, over which he has proven himself a quality starting pitcher. His LIPS ERA of 4.03 in 2009 reveals that luck buoyed him to his 2009 ERA and he is not ready to join the elite ranks of pitchers.

As was the case with Vazquez, there is little to distinguish Wandy from the other pitchers, such as Matt Garza and Chad Billingsley, who are taken around him, making it difficult to say whether it is worth the investment in him. With starting pitching a relatively deep position, avoiding elite pitchers and nabbing a few starters at this point in drafts is a solid strategy that can lead to powerful offenses with still-respectable pitching staffs and Wandy is a solid No. 2 or 3 on any fantasy team.

Jorge de la Rosa | ADP: 195 | Earliest: 132 | Latest: 245 |

DLR is an emerging fantasy pitcher with tons of potential given his ability to punch batters out. Last year was a breakout season for the late-blooming 28-year-old, throwing 185 innings, posting a 4.38 ERA, and racking up 193 K’s. Covered nicely in this Waiver Wire article, de la Rosa appears primed for an even more impressive season in 2010 with an ERA closer to his 2009 LIPS ERA of 4.03. Couple that ERA with 200 plus strikeouts and a healthy win total, and you are looking at a pitcher who is currently undervalued in drafts.

Especially considering the similarities between DLR and the pitcher we just covered, Rodriguez, de la Rosa emerges as another solid option to be that second or third starter on your fantasy team—except at a more palatable price.


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Phil
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Phil
So are you saying that Vazquez is a good value, or what?  It seems like your conclusion on him is, eh, he’s good where he goes, but I think he will go too high in most drafts to an east coast owner.  You make a good point under the picture about what happened last time in new york.  Loved him last year, avoiding him this year. Wandy and DLR are great choices late, however I’d rather have Bills or Garza for the upside.  Jon Sanchez, Wade Davis, and Max Scherzer are all guys who can K a ton and may… Read more »
Finn
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Finn

What’s a more accurate interpretation of a pitcher like Vazquez who is seen as being “generally unlucky?” This is sort of a weird analytical grey area, in my opinion. What does it actually mean to be “generally unlucky?”

Paul Singman
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Paul Singman
Phil—My conclusion on Vazquez was that he might post a slightly worse stat line than some of his similarly drafted peers (e.g. Josh Johnson) but Vazquez does deserve credit for his ability to avoid injuries, so he is still a justifiable pick around his ADP. With these pitchers its more of a ‘where’ you take them than a ‘who’. Finn—What I meant by “generally unlucky” is that from 2005-08 Vazquez did not post very good ERAs—they were mostly in the mid-to-high 4.00s—yet most people felt his indicator stats suggested he had the skills to do better. Many people attributed his… Read more »
DonCoburleone
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DonCoburleone

Here are a few pitchers I love late in drafts:  Ubaldo Jimenez; AJ Burnett; Edwin Jackson; Scott Kazmir; Rich Harden; Gavin Floyd; and my biggest pitching man-crush of 2010: BRETT ANDERSON!

Jeff W.
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Jeff W.
Paul: Sorry to ask this in the pitcher’s post, but another ADP disparity at MDC concerns my favorite infielder du jour, Mr. Ian Stewart. Ian Stewart, 3B/2B Colorado ADP: 127 Earliest pick: 69 Latest pick: 159 That is a HUGE range. I personally lean towards the higher end of this range and I am thinking seriously about keeping him as my 2B in my 12-team mixed 7×6 straight keeper league (we count OBP, SLG, and HLDs, and each manager keeps up to 8 players, so the top 80-96 players are usually off the board, including most of the top 2B).… Read more »
Paul Singman
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Paul Singman

Jeff—I agree it is hard to part with any one of those three players, though I do agree with keeping Stewart. Covered in this WW article Stewart had a rocky 2009 at times but was unlucky enough and showed some flashes of brilliance that make me excited for what he can do in 2010. With 3b and 2b probably the shallowest positions, having Stewart there to play 2B will be very helpful. A speedy outfielder will probably be easier to replace than a power MI.

Jeff W.
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Jeff W.

@Paul:  Thanks for the input—for practical purposes, my deadline is tonight, so I’m going to make this call in the next few hours.  I really appreciate the link and all your work.

-JW

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