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Fantasy Baseball Strats & Hacks – Pitchers

2014 Fantasy Baseball Hacks & Strats for Pitchers

Last time we went over my logic and strategies toward hitting in fantasy baseball. This year I spent roughly 68% of my auction draft budget on just hitting (most of that being spent on infielders). That left me with about 32% to spend on pitching, half of which was put toward Clayton Kershaw (who was also my keeper). So with just about 16% of my budget I managed to fill 6 pitching slots with guys that I see as all top 100 fantasy pitching talent by year end. Lets take a look at how I did this.

First off, pitching in baseball is easily the most inconsistent position in the sport. There are few great men in the world that dominate year over year. I would say the top 5 reliable pitchers today are Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Stephen Strasburg, Felix Hernandez, and Justin Verlander. Honorable mentions include Bumgarner, Chris Sale, & Cliff Lee. After that you’re looking at a lot of guys who have a lot to prove in regards to their career. Last year I decided anybody outside of this “Upper Class” was worth as much as any new hot prospect coming into the league. I ended up drafting Shelby Miller, Alex Cobb, Jeff Samardzija, Addison Reed, and Greg Holland. All of these pitchers proved to be top talent and the most I spent on a single player was $12 which was Jeff Samardzija (The rest cost me $5 or less). This season, all the players I just mentioned are now in the “Middle Class” (except for Holland, he’s Upper Class material). I was determined to derive the same results with my draft this year and wanted to be more visual with my decision making.

As a result I put together a scatter plot graph that measures a pitcher’s xfip (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching) and K/9 (Strikeouts Per 9 Innings). What I ended up with were the below results that I’ve broken into two tiers (Unfortunately I was unable to reorder the axis, so the quadrant we want to focus on is the upper left).


As we analyze Tier 1 (seen above) we see a number of “Upper Class” pitchers but more importantly we see prospects. Here we see both Danny Salazar and Tyson Ross. Now these are small sample sizes from last year but you can feel safe once you’ve looked up their stats from the minors. I’ll go ahead and say I’m expecting Salazar to be a top 25 pitcher this season and he’s going in the 11th round of drafts currently. Next is Tyson Ross who I don’t think is getting drafted much at all this season, I expect him to fall within the top 75. Now most of the other names still seem familiar, so I took them out and made room for the next tier shown below.


Here we see a couple more “Upper Class” pitchers in the mix but we also see a few Oakland A’s that aren’t being drafted highly either. Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir are both healthy and ready to go this season. Gray is the #1 and opening day starter for the Oakland A’s. He’s currently going in the 15th round of drafts and Kazmir is barely being drafted. Both pitchers will see plenty of innings now that both Jarrod Parker and AJ Griffin are out. Honorable mentions at pitchers include Chris Archer, Taijuan Walker, Zach Wheeler, Yordano Ventura, Hector Santiago, Alex Wood, and Drew Hutchinson. I think that’s plenty of starting pitchers that you can draft outside the first 10 rounds, which leaves us with a couple spots to fill for relievers.

Closer is another position where we see people come and go like girls who hit the gym preparing for spring break. For instance, who was the closer for the Red Sox before Uehara?….Papelbon?…man I don’t know and I would bet most don’t. They’re constantly replaced and rarely worth the money you spend. I’ve provided a list below of closers aligned with their average costs and K/9 from last season. The guys I recommend here are Ernesto Frieri, Danny “Lord” Farquhar, Jim Henderson, and Grant Balfour. Get two or three of those guys and you’ll be all set with relievers.


In my opinion I think drafting this list of pitchers vs any other pitcher outside the “Upper Class” is just as risky of a scenario. It’s beneficial in regards to the younger pitchers because the league has yet to understand their weaknesses. What I’ve seen remain consistent with pitchers is their ability to strike out batters. I personally would rather have a pitcher with a 4.02 ERA and a 11.05 K/9 than a pitcher with a 2.78 ERA and a 5.20 K/9. Some may disagree but even though Tim Lincecum fell off the Cy Young train he’s still striking people out and maintaining a percentage of his value. Moral of the story, be sure to get at least once upper class pitcher and then draft your infield. From there, your options should be very flexible if approached properly.

Thanks for reading!

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