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Betting the farm on unproven players

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Betting the farm on unproven players

Postby bm4844 » Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:12 pm

What are you thoughts on doing this, especially with pitchers. I now have Jered Weaver, Josh Johnson, Alay Soler, all highly-touted prospects, but also Arroyo, Capuano and Penny. Has anyone had success in this sort of situation?
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Postby Sensei » Wed Jun 07, 2006 1:30 am

I've never tried all unproven starters, but I usually couple a few prospects with a few veterans that still carry my staff. For instance, I have Pedro, Schmidt, and Harden to anchor my rotation, with Verlander and Hamels being my rookies. I usually end up starting my stud 3 every time and spot-start my rookies in good matchups and get good pitching numbers overall. Your strategy seems risky, as blowups occur for unproven pitchers.
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Postby moochman » Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:12 am

If the farm I'm betting is located in the second half of my league, then what do you have to lose? Sometimes it takes hitters awhile to figure out these pitchers and you can have an immediate boost. Just don't fall in love, because a lot of these guys either get figured out, or shut down toward the end of the season to save young arms.
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Postby Bukoski77 » Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:38 am

Unproven starters.

No matter what you cant accurately predict if they will be able to handle the lime-light of the big leagues, or actual MLB talent until they get called up and face it.

For every success story like Dontrelle Willis a few years ago there are 4-10 prospects of a similar pitching talent comparison, who make their MLB debuts in a given season, with varying results ranging from the lowly level of Gavin Floyd’s chance to assume a secure roll in the rotation this year, to the stellar performance of Felix Hernandez’s debut against teams last season, to the anomaly of my said initial prospect SP example of D-Train, whom wasn’t in my recollection anticipated or excepted to compete at the level of dominance D-Train did his rookie season.

So there you have a precedence of past highly regarded SP’s performances laid out in extremely simplistic layman’s terms. Ala, they all perform to varying degrees or levels of success.

No matter what a rookie pitcher is always liable to implode regardless of the statistical analysis that is implied with the pitchers respective match up.

However there is a faint method of madness and logic that can be applied in deciding whether to take the risk on using an unproven player.

1st tier
Highly regarded strikeout pitchers are usually the first taken a chance on and already owned before they even make their first pitching debuts. Without preaching about the virtue of moneyball or metric analysis, let me say that prospects with high K-BBI ratios who’s ratios improve at each level of minor league advancement, are the prototype instant contributor.

Even if those pitchers are wild and give up too many walks or their mistakes are capitalized on by opposing batters when they reach the MLB level, their stuff is usually good enough to get an above average K/9INN ( strikeouts per 9 innings ) ratio, as opposing teams still will not have a good enough book on them in not having seen them a 2nd time around, making them useful, if not considered a must start, contributors for favorable match-ups. It can be very hard to reserve young arms of their caliber against even seemingly bad match-ups or ball parks to pitch in if they are on a streak.

Even if not their true rookie season’s young talent along the lines of Mark Prior, K. Wood, Johan. Santana, F. Hernandez, F. Liriano, Verlanderand a few others over the past few years usually pay out when utilized as unproven players their first time used as regulars in rotations. Their success level can be deceivingly difficult to assess and project over the long term though. IMHO pitchers with their talent level haven’t faced the mental edge and grind of true competition yet. Basically they had an easier time getting to where they are on account of shear ability and are less prepared to handle adversity when it inevitably happens.

2nd tier
After that comes the players who aren’t strikeout pitchers that usually project to solid 2nd –3rd pitchers for their MLB rotations as control pitchers. This level being the 2nd tier of pitching prospects I guess, are usually only owned in leagues if they play for a MLB contender or if their division rivals are regarded as light hitting teams offensively. Like Ervin Santana of the Angels last year and Jered Weavers for them this season. While never particularly dominant with their K/9INN ratios throughout their stints in the minors they had consistently low BBI per INN throughout their minor league stints. These pitchers usually aren’t acquired through the draft but are instead usually scouted out and picked up a few months to a few weeks ahead of time, by savvy fantasy owners, before their respective MLB call-ups. If they look good against lighter hitting teams initially they are usually a fairly safe match-up to fill out the back end of fantasy rotations on a given week when they face favorable match-ups.

These pitchers while maybe not having as high an upside as the 1st tier of prospects usually turn out to be safer bets for long term stability than the 1st tier of prospects after their respective debuts than the 1st tier. Their relative stability aside, performance wise substantially less upside than the 1st tier of SP prospects, as they wont be pitching the occasional 2-4 hitter, shutout, or pushing 10K’s a game the 2nd tier of SP prospects can make for surprisingly safe plays against lighter hitting teams. As an example I noted earlier, Ervin Santana had a horrible May but look for him to end up with very serviceable results during his games at Oakland, Seattle, and home verse those squads. Your not betting the farm but are making a fairly safe move if you can carry pitchers of their level as reserves for favorable match-ups.

3rd tier
After all of those prospects come the seemingly select few 1-3 pitchers every year that somehow elude every perceivable fantasy magazine, news paper, internet site, fantasy-based-source of information etc……………….. And end up making a presence after their fairly un-foreseen call up. J. Maine of the Mets and Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins are the best examples I can give off the top of my head. At one point they might have been high on prospect rankings but in my experience that haven’t really been hyped at all as being able to make a difference in a fantasy league.

Pitchers of this caliber are usually only grabbed after popping eyes with a string of 2-4 unexpected good starts. I’m not hyping either of them up or claiming they will contribute anything worthy of grabbing off the waiver wire at this point. If either of them where to manage 2 quality starts against decent competition and end up in line for a 2 start scoring week against the likes of the Nationals and Astros at home, don’t you think their perceived fantasy value would end up with them being utilized in a large amount of leagues?

You never bet the farm on unproven players. However, in the lengthy example I have laid out, you can make them serviceable assets all contingent on how you acquire them (trade, waivers, draft, and be pleased with realistic results.

Never rely on them as your 1st or 2nd option in a fantasy rotation, but you can realistically go over stats and schedules of specific prospects with hopes of semi consistent 5th- to 3rd tier fantasy rotation contributions. It will all of course be accentuated by a few random self-inflicted hair pulling out incidents after your prospects implosion, but also pleasantly present you a few pitching gems here and there, to finish off a run of fairly ordinary 5-7INN .300-.400ERA 1.2-1.4WHIP high K’s games with W’s being fairly unpredictable given talent level’s of the particular pitchers teams.

Don’t bet the farm but unproven players can be utilized.

I must finish with the fact that I love my rotation this year in a 12 team league of mine with

Brandon Webb
Mike Mussina
Kelvim Escobar
Francisci Liriano
Jered Weaver

Sidney Ponson
Cory Lidle

Bartolo Colon
John Patterson
John Maine

There has definitely been a lot of luck in the degree of Webb’s breakout with Mussin’s resurgence compiled with Liriano/Weaver’s immediate success.

However I put a hell of a lot of time and research into assembling that staff which I utilized a lot of what I just preached about. With B. Colon and J. Patterson’s impding return I feel I will adequately be able to compensate and adjust for stretches when I wont be able to utilize my rookie arms in my squads rotation.

Good thread, just my 2cents.

Hope you guys like it ;-D .
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Postby johnsamo » Wed Jun 07, 2006 7:32 am

I rarely do. For all players, I like to see a track record in the show before I invest at least a high pick. Only in desperation or in very unique circumstances have I ever picked up a non vet no matter how hot they are, because they almost always go cold the second the league figures them out.... Whether or not your in a keeper league matters a lot. I'm in a keeper league where you can keep 6 players every year, and so, particularly when I had a weak team, I'd sometime take bets.

In the last five years, I've taken early flyers on 5 guys... but only because I'm in a keeper league. If I'm in a one off season, I probably wouldn't have made any of them.

Miguel Cabrera - worked out well. When a 19 year old gets called up to the Majors mid-season, not a late season token call-up, that perks my ears up real fast. I forgot who it was, but I traded a decent player to get him.

Carl Crawford - when Lou Pinella said he'd win some batting titles before his career was done, that to got me interested, that and the fact that the D'Rays were so bad then I knew he'd get playing time soon.

Khalil Greene - I wound up dropping him but he's still a work in progress. He's got great power, but he needs much better plate discipline to get his avg. and obp. up. He's getting better, but I'm in first place right now, and I don't have the roster spots to nurse along projects.

Felix Hernandez - Again, a 19 year-old in the Majors who didn't embarass himself. Don't believe the naysayers, barring injury, I think he's going to be the best pitcher in baseball very soon. Even with his rocky start, if you examine the K and Walk numbers, he's still got ace stuff and is starting to put it together the last few starts.

Jered Weaver, hadn't intended on bringing on another rook, but I've had a string of bad starts from Pettite and Beckett, and I watched his first two games and was blown away by his deceptive windup, his pinpoint control and the movement on his fastballs. It was the kind of stuff that unlike most hot rook pitchers, teams will have a hard time finding a weakness to exploit because he's not a one trick pony. He can throw a lot of good pitches for strikes (which makes it hard to sit on a pitch), rarely walks anybody (always good), and I haven't seen him throw one right down the middle pitch in two games (no cheap homers). The only way he's going to falter is if he himself falters. If he just keeps on doing what he's doing, he's gonna be an ace for a long time. He made the Indians, a good hitting team, look like a bunch of bums, IN Jacob's field. The two runs he gave up were in the 7th inning when he already had a 10 run lead.
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Postby JohnGris » Wed Jun 07, 2006 12:25 pm

It's kind of like putting your money into a high risk stock instead of a steady one. I'm so far behind in my standings that I decided that's the only way for me to even have a chance to come back. Playing it safe with predictable mid-level people is not an option for me at this point.

It's a good strategy if you drafted some underperformers and you need to stop the bleeding. Also, some leagues seem to be adverse to accepted trades that aren't tilted drastically far in their favor. Sometimes the only thing you can do is bet on potential when players fail you.

Some of my pitchers, Garland, Pettitte, L. Hernandez, failed me bad at the first of the season and my stats still haven't recovered. The only one I've held onto is Pettitte, but I'm not using him at all for now until he puts together at least 2 straight solid starts. I've settled upon Cole Hamels and Josh Johnson as replacements for now and it's worked out so far. It can also backfire because of unpredictability. With a pitcher like Pettitte, I figure he's going to put it back together at some point, but with Hamels and Johnson, you don't know how or if they will rebound from a bad start or two. I thought I settled upon a solid pick-up earlier with Bedard and he ended up hurting my WHIP and ERA in the end beause of this inability to bounce back, or possibly his overacheiving fooled me (or both).

Brandon Phillips has done well for me on the offensive side in lieu players like Sexson and J. Peralta performing. I can't make up the lost power, but I've gained in most other categories. This could stop at any second and everyday I play him is a risk. I've had mixed results with Barfield and may drop him soon.

Nobody will give me anything close to what any rational being would perceive as a fair deal, so getting the jump on players that others are too tepid to pick up only because of the unknown has been the best option for me to make up ground. My stats have improved drastically since I started, although I'm so far in the hole that it hasn't mattered yet.

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