Studs and Duds: The MadProf on Undervalued assets after 30 Games, Mother’s Day and Rodney Dangerfield

Hi campers.  We are about 20% of the way into the season.  The Yankees lead the AL East.  The Twins lead the AL Central. The Cubs are playing .500 ball and the Rockies lead the AL West.  Aroldis Chapman is on the DL.

Has hell frozen over?  Or maybe this is another Russian hack attack?

With that as background, I’m taking a look at under-owned pitchers who could serve owners well.  As I write, Dellin Betances is moving off the list.  So… Let’s look at the top 50 pitchers in Yahoo!’s rankings as of high noon on Mothers’ Day.

There are not too many mysteries out there.   The usual suspects (Kershaw, Sale, Scherzer, Bumgarner) are owned in 99% of all leagues.  Folks hang onto their struggling aces.  But, then there are the not-so-acey pitchers that we hang on to when there are better performing options out there.  We could spend a lot of time on our analysts’ couches trying to sort ourselves out about this.  For today, let’s just take a look the lesser owned top performers.

pre current owned IP SV K ERA WHIP
Chris Devenski Hou 330 57 71% 23 2 42 1.96 0.65

Devenski’s performance is unknown to no one this year. He’s delivering roughly 2 K per IP and is dominating opposing batters.  Unfortunately, he remains in limbo.  His K rate makes him an asset, but his lack of IP limits his impact on your ratio stats (WHIP, ERA).  So long as Ken Giles continues to dominate, Devenski will not close.  In the real world, this is an incredibly good problem to have.  But, in fantasy, Devenski is just another casualty of how we count things.  He is owned in only 71% of Yahoo! leagues.  That is not a terribly low number.  But the fact that he is still available in nearly 30% of leagues makes one wonder:  is Devenski really no better than your worst pitcher?

 

pre current owned IP SV K ERA WHIP
Tommy Kahnle CWS 470 125 5% 13 0 25 1.38 77

Tommy Kahnle (CWS) offers similar value except that he has thrown fewer innings so far.  The rumor mill suggests that Kahnle is worth a stash because more than a few pundits out there think that David Robertson is going to be trade bait.  If so, the Chisox closer-in-waiting is worth an add.  He is seeing more action as the season rolls on soo he may become the equivalent to Devenski in terms of providing Ks.  Astonishingly, Kahnle is owned in only 5% of Yahoo! leagues.  Maybe his middle name is Dangerfield.  In fact, in honor of the King of No Respect, we’ll christen this category of pitchers “The Rodneys”.

 

pre current owned IP SV K ERA WHIP
Alex Wood LAD – P 357 64 61% 35.2 0 48 2.27 1.01

The Dodgers’ Alex Wood has secured a rotation spot in their injury-depleted pitching staff.  As long as Hill, Maeda, and McCarthy continue to nurse injuries, Wood will have the opportunity to start regularly and deliver quality performances and stats.   He’s available in 39% of Yahoo! leagues despite a 12 K/9 ratio and a 1.01 WHIP.  He clearly compares to or is outperforming pre-season studs such as Stephen Strasburg, C-Mart and Porcello.

pre current owned IP SV K ERA WHIP
Stephen Strasburg Was 49 83 99% 46.2 0 45 3.28 1.16
Carlos Martínez StL 76 103 97% 48.2 0 57 3.88 1.29
Rick Porcello Bos 102 104 96% 49.1 0 52 4.01 1.34

Wood is 10 IP behind these guys.  Nonetheless, he’s matching their performance and clearly a worthwhile add in all leagues (n.b.: Wood is the most added player in Yahoo! on Mother’s Day morning).

Several other SP who are suffering a lack of respect, available in at least 40%of Yahoo! leagues and charter members of the Rodney club are:

The Rodneys:

pre current owned IP SV K ERA WHIP
Derek Holland CWS 514 76 58% 40.2 0 33 2.43 1.16
Eduardo Rodríguez Bos 437 78 58% 35.1 0 42 2.80 1.13
Jesse Hahn Oak 880 89 20% 42.2 0 33 2.74 1.17
Héctor Santiago Min 396 90 44% 42.1 0 31 2.76 1.16
Trevor Cahill SD 368 97 54% 41.1 0 51 3.27 1.21
Ian Kennedy KC 226 106 50% 35.2 0 31 3.03 1.07
Zach Eflin Phi 870 108 10% 32 0 17 2.81 1.00
Wade Miley Bal 1001 112 45% 36.2 0 43 2.45 1.39

The K/9 rates don’t necessarily compare to Chris Sale’s (though Rodriguez and Miley are right up there). But these eight SP are delivering quality outings (Santiago’s Mother’s Day disaster notwithstanding) and counting stats as well as solid ratios that will help you ERA and WHIP.

Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez has gotten better and stronger with each outing.  He still tends to throw a lot of pitches.  Nonetheless, at the ripe old age of 24, Rodriguez is demonstrating #2 quality skills and is an ace-in waiting nominee.  If David Price returns to form, the trio of Sale, Rodriguez, and Price will be as formidable as any other pitching staff’s.  Add to this that Rick Porcello would be the #4 SP in the rotation and Boston has an embarrassment of riches.

To put these guys into perspective,  I ran their performance against Kershaw’s and Sale’s.  Sure, the studs are better—but not by much.  And when you consider how much you forked out for Sale and Kershaw and how much you would pay to pick these guys up off the waiver wire, these numbers add up to bargains. (The last three columns are Pitches per IP, Total Batters Faced/IP and Pitches/BF).

Name Team IP Pitches TBF K/9 BABIP GB% ERA PIP TBFIP PBF
Chris Sale Red Sox 58.2 868 219 13.04 0.243 38.50% 2.15 14.9 3.8 4.0
Clayton Kershaw Dodgers 55.2 778 215 9.2 0.266 49.70% 2.43 14.1 3.9 3.6
Derek Holland White Sox 40.2 680 173 7.3 0.217 35.00% 2.43 16.9 4.3 3.9
Wade Miley Orioles 36.2 663 156 10.6 0.291 48.90% 2.45 18.3 4.3 4.3
Jesse Hahn Athletics 42.2 651 180 7.0 0.256 45.70% 2.74 15.4 4.3 3.6
Hector Santiago Twins 42.1 668 174 6.6 0.248 35.00% 2.76 15.9 4.1 3.8
Trevor Cahill Padres 41.1 683 173 11.1 0.300 60.20% 3.27 16.6 4.2 3.9
Eduardo Rodriguez Red Sox 35.1 608 142 10.7 0.263 37.30% 2.80 17.3 4.0 4.3
Zach Eflin Phillies 32 482 131 4.8 0.235 47.60% 2.81 15.1 4.1 3.7
Ian Kennedy Royals 35.2 584 142 7.8 0.200 38.90% 3.03 16.6 4.0 4.1

Sale is striking folks out at an otherworldly rate. That could be sustainable since it’s Chris Sale doing the pitching.  On the other hand, Cahill’s 60.2% GB% is, uh,  probably not sustainable. So we can expect some negative regression from him.  Holland, Miley, and Rodriguez are throwing significantly more P/IP that the others.  This could definitely take its toll on someone like Rodriguez who may be subject to an IP limit (or, if anyone wakes up, a pitch limit).

Nonetheless, these guys were all probably draft day bargains (perhaps even $1 pickups) in most leagues and so far they are delivering the sort of quality that some $40 studs are delivering.  If they are available this week, snap them up.

Best wishes.

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Our guest this week is Lenny Melnick. Lenny is fantasy baseball pioneer, current FSWA Hall of Famer, and the host of his daily podcasts on lennymelnickfantasysports.com Mon-Fri at 9am EST. He also co-hosts a show every Sunday morning from 7-10am EST with Craig Mish on the fantasy sports station on Sirius.

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