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Cliff Lee a fluke?

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Cliff Lee a fluke?

Postby TheRock » Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:26 pm

Seems to be a great amount of discussion and disagreement this year about Cliff Lee. Nobody can argue that he was outstanding last year, his trophy case is proof enough of that. But could he possibly be for real, or was last year one big statistical anomaly? We don't normally see such a breakout from an aging veteran, that's for sure. I for one plan on rolling the dice on him in most of my leagues this year - he could regress substantially and still be a great value given his ADP. I remember owning him in his 2005 when he also won 18 games with solid numbers, so I don't really see a fluke, I see a guy who was finally healthy.

But it does seem a stretch. 29 year old pitcher coming off an injury-shortened season with a career ERA north of 4.50 suddenly turns to gold, even goes on to win a Cy Young? Can't possibly be real, right? Well, I did some digging, and I actually just described Chris Carpenter, 2004. I imagine if I did more digging, I could find a plethora of embarrassing posts from early 2005 where many here were bashing Carp, and saying that drafting him would be the "kick-me" sign of fantasy baseball. And we know how that ended up. Looking over their career numbers, I actually think Cliff Lee's 2008 was more believable than Carpenter's 2004 breakout.

Just food for thought...
Last edited by TheRock on Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cliff Lee a fluke?

Postby The Artful Dodger » Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:50 pm

I think Lee's inroads in control is for real, but he won't continue with a career low flyball rate either. He'll fall back some like Volquez, but it seems like he won't be a WHIP liability like Volquez could.
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Re: Cliff Lee a fluke?

Postby ScrappyDoo » Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:07 pm

I watched most of his starts last year. And I think his numbers aren't as fluky as most believe. I think he is capable of putting up a great season this year, and he should be a bargain based on his ADP. His control is on par with anyone in the league. He doesn't walk batters very often, so he can afford to give up more hits. Also a lot of his hits tend to be bloops or singles up the middle, so a lot of the contact he gets is weak at best. If he can show the same control with his fastball as last year. He could put up really good numbers. He will probably not come close to 22 wins on a crappy CLE team, but his other numbers shouldn't drop too bad.

Even if he put up a line of 18 W, 3.25 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 150 K's, which is a lot worse across the board from last year, he would still be a top 10 pitcher this year.

The other reason why I don't think he was a fluke was that he dominated all year long.

ERA by Month

April: 0.96
May: 2.88
June: 3.41
July: 3.14
August: 1.86
September: 3.08
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Re: Cliff Lee a fluke?

Postby mweir145 » Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:22 pm

I hope he was a fluke because I kind of resent him and his unworthy win last year.
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Re: Cliff Lee a fluke?

Postby mweir145 » Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:31 pm

Lee's velocity on his FB was up 1.5 MPH last year from his average. That seems to be the major difference. Well that, and the fact he turned into a GB pitcher.
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Re: Cliff Lee a fluke?

Postby Neato Torpedo » Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:37 pm

I think 2005-level production would be a fair bet.

16 W, 3.75 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 150 K

His BABIP was normal but his HR/FB rate was unsustainably low, at 5.1%. 2008 was also the first time in his career he got more GB than FB; his GB/FB rate was 1.31 and his previous career high was 0.84, which is a complete (and very suspicious) reversal. This means that in order to succeed, he has to keep the ball down at all costs. If he reverts to the Cliff Lee of 2002 to 2007 and pitches to the FB more often, he and his owners are screwed.
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Re: Cliff Lee a fluke?

Postby hot4tx » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:33 pm

TheRock wrote:he could regress substantially and still be a great value given his ADP.


He's now sitting at an MDP of 72 and a Yahoo ADP of 78, making him an end of the 6th to mid 7th pick and putting him in the Lackey/Liriano/Kazmir/Beckett/Oswalt cost range. Early on he may have been lower, but as we get closer to the start of the season and more people have done their research it seems more people are believers.
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Re: Cliff Lee a fluke?

Postby Syfo-Dyas » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:45 pm

ScrappyDoo wrote:I watched most of his starts last year. And I think his numbers aren't as fluky as most believe. I think he is capable of putting up a great season this year, and he should be a bargain based on his ADP. His control is on par with anyone in the league. He doesn't walk batters very often, so he can afford to give up more hits. Also a lot of his hits tend to be bloops or singles up the middle, so a lot of the contact he gets is weak at best. If he can show the same control with his fastball as last year. He could put up really good numbers. He will probably not come close to 22 wins on a crappy CLE team, but his other numbers shouldn't drop too bad.

Even if he put up a line of 18 W, 3.25 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 150 K's, which is a lot worse across the board from last year, he would still be a top 10 pitcher this year.

The other reason why I don't think he was a fluke was that he dominated all year long.

ERA by Month

April: 0.96
May: 2.88
June: 3.41
July: 3.14
August: 1.86
September: 3.08

I had Lee on my team last year, and he reminds me someone, I had on my teams in 2003.
his ERA by Month

April: 1.25
May: 2.65
June: 2.57
July: 2.55
August: 3.15
September: 5.30

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Re: Cliff Lee a fluke?

Postby Field » Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:03 pm

hot4tx wrote:
TheRock wrote:he could regress substantially and still be a great value given his ADP.


He's now sitting at an MDP of 72 and a Yahoo ADP of 78, making him an end of the 6th to mid 7th pick and putting him in the Lackey/Liriano/Kazmir/Beckett/Oswalt cost range. Early on he may have been lower, but as we get closer to the start of the season and more people have done their research it seems more people are believers.


His ADP is probably lower in expert type of leagues. In the 2009 Mock he went 92nd, 2009 Cafeholics Mock 107th, and the Experts Challenge League he just went 100th overall. I think that the MDPs that you posted are higher than I would consider taking him even though I do not think he was a complete fluke, more of a spike than a fluke. I still expect him to be solid, just not spectacular. He's a solid #3 SP entering the season. If he continues right where he left off last season then I'd bump him up, there's just too many variables right now to do so.
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Re: Cliff Lee a fluke?

Postby Yoda » Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:20 pm

His control was unbelievable in 08. I don't think he will blow up but he was such a different pitcher compared to previous years that it is hard to imagine that he can sustain his performance. One indicator of flukiness was his strand rate which seemed abnormally high. Also remains to be seen is whether he can continue to induce more GB than FB since he is a FB pitcher.

I would probably expect him to put up a 2005ish season but a tad better since he has matured a bit. I simply don't think that it is realistic to expect him to put up another 2008 season.
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