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February Final Countdown from the MadProf: Shopping at the bargain basement.

barrelOK. This column deals with SP #76-100. These rankings are now based on data that are 4 weeks old. They are already more than a bit off because prime sleeper candidate Alex Reyes (average rank, 73; average price $2.00) will be watching the season at home.

Also, this tier is riddled with escapees from the TJS ward. #Seriously.  What is going on?  I ranted about this last year.  Why are we allowing coaches to work 10-year-olds too hard?  Have training regimens and the science of conditioning reached the point that they now exceed the capacity of the human body?  How did SP in the 1960’s throw all those pitches and survive?

taxiOK.  Enough ranting. Hang on just a moment while I trot from the on-deck circle to first base.  Yeah, let’s speed games up and help those tired pitching arms.  Yup–why bother wasting time making batters go to the batter’s box so an IBB can just be signaled?  Just imagine: at the end of 162 games,  we will have saved about 51.3 minutes (at a savings rate of about 19 seconds per IBB avoided).  Over the course of 8 seasons, that’s almost a good night’s sleep. Hey–ya know what?  If we shorten the basepaths a couple of feet and use the bullpen carts…

Hey, while we are at it, why not start extra innings with a designated runner on second?  Just saying. Oh.  Damn.  I was sub-ranting…  Now, then…

bargainbsmntSo, here we are.  My last column for February 2017.  March Madness is almost upon us.  Opening day is barely 5 weeks away.

Pick your metaphor.  We are scraping the bottom of the barrel.  We are shopping in the bargain basement.  We are in dollar-pitcher land.  Still, there is value to be found among potential sleepers here.  So, what can you do with your last couple of bucks?

Crowdsourcing 101.

The variation among these pitchers is impressive.  All of the top 25 SP were in all of our experts’ top 100 rankings.   Of the next 25, the average SP appeared in 3.68 out of 4.  From 51-76, the average was 3.52.   Here, that number drops to an average of 2.68 out of 4 expert polls.  Average dollar value in this tier is $1.25 with a spread of $2.68.  There is a nontrivial amount of negative value predicted here.  So who are the sleepers and who looks to be undervalued?

Fname Lname Team N Avg
Tyler Skaggs LAA 3 68 37 97 4.23 0 10 13 3.52 196 1.21
Jason Hammel CHC 3 69 56 79 1.67 0 3 11 4.35 172 1.28
Jeremy Hellickson PHI 4 69 18 100 4.15 -2 17 11 4.29 164 1.26
David Phelps MIA 2 70.5 55 86 2.25 0 5 4 3.15 71 1.17
Blake Snell TB 3 71.33 56 89 1.80 0 4 13 3.61 216 1.29
Wei-Yin Chen MIA 3 71.67 45 97 3.13 0 7 12 3.81 161 1.19
Brandon Finnegan CIN 1 72 72 72 1.00 1 1 10 4.51 183 1.41
Jharel Cotton OAK 2 72.5 64 81 1.90 0 4 12 4.08 187 1.28
Ian Kennedy KAN 4 72.75 57 82 1.20 0 3 11 4.27 183 1.26
Trevor Bauer CLE 2 73 66 80 1.00 1 1 12 4.23 179 1.33
Alex Reyes STL 3 73 53 84 2.00 0 5 4 3.46 77 1.29
Zach Wheeler NYM 2 74 71 77 0.65 0 1 4 3.50 68 1.24
Michael Wacha STL 3 74.33 68 79 0.83 0 3 4 3.75 56 1.25
Eduardo Rodriguez BOS 1 75 75 75 0.00 0 0 13 4.28 171 1.29
Tyler Anderson COL 4 75.5 47 96 1.38 -2 6 13 4.07 173 1.32
Steven Wright BOS 2 77 73 81 0.50 0 1 12 4.45 152 1.35
Ivan Nova PIT 4 77.75 65 88 0.40 0 1 12 3.95 152 1.27
Jordan Zimmermann DET 3 78.33 70 91 1.00 0 2 11 4.45 134 1.28
Joe Musgrove HOU 2 80 64 96 1.00 0 2 13 4.08 171 1.21
Tyson Ross TEX 2 80.5 68 93 0.50 0 1 13 3.98 181 1.34
Lance Lynn STL 4 81 71 99 0.10 -1 1 12 3.88 179 1.29
Alex Cobb TB 2 82 74 90 -0.35 -2 1 12 3.91 149 1.29
Josh Tomlin CLE 1 82 82 82 0.00 0 0 12 4.41 141 1.23
Francisco Liriano TOR 3 82.33 78 86 -0.03 0 0 13 3.94 205 1.33
Jaime Garcia ATL 4 83 59 93 0.95 0 4 12 3.54 177 1.26

Snell, BlakeFor starters, Blake Snell is hiding out down here. He’s actually predicted to threaten 200 K.  Even though he pitched only 90 innings in 2016, his 9.9 K/9 rate gives you reason to believe he can do it.  On the other hand, he might want to lower his 5.2 BB/9 rate so his arm does not fall off in the process of accumulating those Ks.  Still, if you are going to risk $5 or less, Snell offers upside that is better than many of the SP in the tier above and beyond.

Francisco-Liriano-1Francisco Liriano is an aging strikeout machine.  He has averaged 180 K the last three years.  At age 33, he certainly has good years left in him.  BUT, he left the NL East for Toronto and the AL East.  No more pitchers to strikeout.  See and contrast my discussion of Taijuan Walker last week.  Still, Liriano has displayed the skills and therefore owns them.  If he’s going for this low a price, you could do worse than spending your last couple of bucks on him.

Jharel Cotton’s trade from the Dodgers to Oakland last year does not bear the same cost as other moves from the NL to the AL.  Sure, there are no SP to strikeout.  But, Oakland is a pretty pitcher friendly park.  His K/9 rate pushes 10.  But he pitched only 30 innings in 2016. He is a solid growth stock who could pay tremendous dividends.  But, he’ll face an innings cap for sure.  Bid with confidence.  He’ll deliver more in rotisserie leagues where season-long stats matter more than H2H weekly ones.  Look to trade him midyear before the innings cap talk starts or plan to stash him as a keeper.

erodHere we also find Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez.  His injury-plagued 2016 did not hide the fact that he’s got really good stuff. You have to figure he was not completely healed from his knee injury in the first part of 2016.  But, he finished with stats that make him look like a solid #2 SP or better.



1st half 64 39 6.33 1.51
2d half 81 82 3.47 1.15


More TJS Triage

Zack Wheeler’s here too.  How will he respond to and return from TJS?  Tyler Skaggs—more TJS.  He looked good in the few innings he pitched.  But will he make it through a whole season?  Again—worth a buck or two? Lance Lynn—ditto?  It’s rough to see how many pitchers with High upsides are down here.  They own the skills and are worth late-round flier bids in hopes that they bounce back to their prior levels of dominance.

nova-ivan-imageIvan Nova also offers real value if he falls this far in your drafts.  Nova’s K/9 have been steadily ticking up and his BB/9 have been ticking down over his career.  After returning from TJS last year, his line clearly got better in the move from NYY to PIT last year.  Have a look:


NYY 7 6 4.90 97.1 6.93 2.31
PIT 5 2 3.06 64.2 7.24 0.42

Just the drinking water in Pittsburgh? Bid with confidence and hope no one is paying attention.

Steven Wright was outstanding for the first half of 2016 for Boston.  But, how to gauge knuckleballers? Wright’s season was the reverse of his colleague Eduardo Rodriguez.  His second half was abysmal.  Part of this was due to injury but another had to be due to regression.  In any event, putting your money on knuckleballers is a sure way to nurse an ulcer.

The story with all of these guys is about the same:  injuries, bad half-seasons, change of scenery.  It goes without saying that their value will show as they work through Spring Training.

General trends, Surprising patterns:

Data and more data.  Something to keep in mind while bidding:  the data don’t tell all, but they don’t lie either.  When spending your money on SP at this level, you need to balance your budget against what you can rack up with closers or good setup men.  Dellin Betances may not get you many saves or wins.  But, given his IP and K/9 rate, he’s a worthwhile investment—but, he will cost you much more than many of the SP in these articles.  On the other hand, if any of these folks returns to prior form from TJS, they will pay solid dividends

Within that context, check out the following table.  I find this pretty astonishing.  Granted, these are projected stats connected to crowdsourced average dollar values and draft positions.  Still, it’s pretty amazing to see that forking out nearly ten times the average salary for an SP will, on average, get you roughly only a 25% increase (155-198) in Ks over the course of a season.  Split that across some 24 weeks in a season and you are getting an average of 43 more strikeouts.  That is, slightly less than an additional 2 Ks per week.  If you play weekly H2H, this matters differently than if you play season-long rotisserie.  Nonetheless, in terms of smart budgeting, well, this gives me pause.


Rank Average$ Average

Draft #

Average K Average ERA Average WHIP
1-25 19.76 14 198 3.40 1.14
26-50 7.60 39 188 3.69 1.21
51-76 3.00 60 168 3.96 1.25
77-101 1.25 75 155 3.98 1.27

more-bang-for-your-buckOf course, this does not mean you should happily swap Blake Snell for Madison Bumgarner.  But, it does indicate that you should consider how much those stud SP are worth, given that every buck you spend on them comes at the expense of your bats.

More analysis to come.  Next week, we start the team breakdowns.  Comments welcome.  Best wishes!



Major League Fantasy Football 2017 League Openings

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Major League Fantasy Baseball Show: Join guest host Lenny Melnick, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday February 26th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #76 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we break down both East divisions. We will discuss potential lineups, rotations, bullpens, and any minor league potential for each team along with a heavy fantasy spin.

Our guest’s this week will be Andrea Lamont, and Hernan Batista. Hernan is a frequent guest on our shows, and an experienced MLFB league member. Andrea is a former member of the website rotoxperts, an experienced female fantasy baseball connoisseur, and is married to the Legend Lenny Melnick. Amongst other things she does baby sit Lenny and change his diapers. Lets say she is the brains of the operation. Andrea will join us from 8-9pm EST.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”


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Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 5th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #77 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we break down both Central divisions. We will discuss potential lineups, rotations, bullpens, and any minor league potential for each team along with a heavy fantasy spin.

Our guests this week are Hernan Batista, and Jesse Ellison. Jessie is the owner of Ellison Baseball Instruction in S.E. VA. You can visit his organization at Hernan is a frequent guest on our shows, and an experienced MLFB league member.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

Unrepentant Red Sox fan and all things Boston. Deflategate was a joke. Boston Latin School is awesome. Harvard and Johns Hopkins alma maters... Besides that... Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law at Washington and Lee University. Wrote for Ron Shandler's Shandler Park for two summers and have been on board with MLFS since 2011. Been at Washington and Lee since 1990 with a brief hiatus (2010-2013) in the Middle East. Currently developing that last word in Fantasy Baseball analysis. Married to Flor, Dad to William and Alex, and adopted daughter Reem. Soon to be father and law to Meaghann. Alpha male to the world's super-pup, Humphrey. Life is not bad.



  1. Pingback: Fantasy Baseball: Ranking the Top 100 SP for 2017 « Mark Rush

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