Trade Targets: Strasburg, Leake and Odorizzi are Undervalued Pitchers

Here are some pitchers whose perceived value is less than their real value. Each of them is a solid trade target right now because you might be able to get them at a discount compared to what it will cost you in the offseason. These guys will be ranked highly on cheat sheets next Spring. Let’s dive right in…

Stephen Strasburg — Washington Nationals

9 Wins, 194 Ks in 163 innings, 3.53 ERA, 1.21 WHIP

Strasburg’s 3.53 ERA is easily the worst of his career and ranks him only 44th out of 93 qualifying starting pitchers in the majors. Is Strasburg really only a middle of the pack starting pitcher this year? Well, his 2.94 FIP is 16th in the league, his 2.51 xFIP is 3rd (behind only Kershaw and King Felix) and his 2.62 SIERA is 4th in baseball. You know how much I like K%-BB% and Strasburg’s is 5th in baseball at a stellar 23.2%, which is the best in his career for a full season. In fact, pretty much every one of Strasburg’s peripheral stats is better than his career averages. What does this mean? It means he has been pitching better than ever despite the fact that 26 starting pitchers are ranked higher than him in 5×5 roto leagues. Strasburg has a losing record again this year just like he did last year, but much of that is because the Nationals rarely score many runs behind him. His 4.42 runs per game of run support is 70th in the league this year. The Nationals’s below average Defensive Efficiency Rating of .700 is not doing Strasburg any favors either. His .336 BABIP is 40 points higher than his pre-2014 career average and is likely to come down as the season progresses. His ERA and WHIP will improve right along with his BABIP. Continue reading

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Ace Pitchers Shot Down in Flames, Time to Panic?

This young season we are seeing a lot of top pitchers get off to terrible starts. Its scary as Hell when your ace pitcher’s stat line is as bloody as a scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie. Stephen Strasburg, R.A. Dickey and Danny Salazar may be crushing your team’s championship hopes, but at least they are not on the overloaded conveyor belt into Dr. James Andrews’ operating room.

This week I will take a look at a set of really good starting pitchers who have gotten off to terrible starts here in 2014. All of these guys were drafted early and expected to perform much better than they have thus far. Who will bounce back and who really does suck? Let’s figure out which of these guys you should try to dump and which of them you should trade for while their owners in your league are panicking over their putrid April.

Homer Bailey — 0-1 record, 8.16 ERA, 2.02 WHIP (Yahoo Rank: #1323)

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Bold Luke’s 11 Bold Predictions about Bold Baseball Players. Bold.

1. Jose Abreu goes off for 40+ HRs/100+ RBIs

He didn’t destroy Cuba because he is bad. He destroyed Cuba because he is really good and he wasn’t allowed to play anywhere else. Probably the best Cuban to compare Abreu to is Kendry Morales and Abreu blew Morales’ Cuban numbers out of the water. So assuming Abreu is better his base line should be set at 34 HRs, 40 is going to be easily reachable.

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#TDGX Recap — Team Kantecki’s First 10

By now, you are well aware that my TDG mates and I have been participating in an intense 40-round, first-year dynasty league draft called The Dynasty Guru Experts League. We’re already 34 rounds deep and the pickings are slim — we’ve recently entered the part of the draft where the CBS player universe doesn’t house all of the players we’d like to draft on our respective teams. I entered the draft with a plan to stick strictly to value, but, as you’ll see, sometimes you need to re-adjust your plan on the fly.

The first ten picks from Team Kantecki:

1.03 — Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers

After Mike Trout and Bryce Harper went first and second, respectively, there wasn’t much debate at No 3. Miggy is a top-three dynasty selection no matter how you slice it. While he’s on the wrong side of 30 and will likely lose third-base eligibility after this year, Cabrera should still provide elite numbers for at least the next three seasons. Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew McCutchen entered my thoughts briefly, but I couldn’t pass up the back-to-back American League MVP.

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The Dynasty Guru’s Top 200 Dynasty League Starting Pitchers, Nos. 1-20

From the 21st of January to the 20th of February, the writers at TDG will be taking you through our rankings position-by-position. As I mentioned in the primer, this year we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of having my personal rankings up on this site, like last year, these rankings for 2014 are of the consensus variety and being brought to you by all of the TDG staff. Everyone put a lot of work into this project, so we hope you enjoy the end result. And if you are looking for my personal dynasty league rankings, you can find them this off-season at Baseball Prospectus.

So we hope you enjoy the rankings package that we’ve put together here. And if you do, I hope that you will make a donation to show appreciation for the content you’ve seen here at the Dynasty Guru. You can do that through this link, or by clicking the “Donate” button on the top-right corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.

Starting pitching is always tough to evaluate as a whole since the group of usable starters is sooooooo big, but we have seen a shift towards more high-level performance out of younger and less-experienced hitters. In fact, were it not for Matt Harvey’s elbow explosion (dibs on that for a band name), we could have seen two pitchers in the top-five who came into 2013 with less than 60 major league innings combined. However, with great performance also comes great responsiblity–and that responsibility is for the fantasy owner to determine whether their young pitcher who was surprisingly good can continue at a high level over a long period of time. We’re pretty confident we know Jose Fernandez is going to be great, but can you say the same thing about Michael Wacha, Sonny Gray, Danny Salazar and Tony Cingrani. I’m not so confident. The other noticeable thing about starting pitching is that some of the depth we’re used to seeing is drying up a bit. But you won’t notice that with this group of studs (just wait until Thursday and Friday).

Now the 20 best starting pitchers in dynasty leagues, starting with a unanimous pick at the top spot among all TDG rankers (like you really need to ask who it is):

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Who Needs The Winter Meetings?

With the Winter Meetings a little less than a week away (Dec. 9-12), baseball’s hot stove wasted no time cranking up the heat; numerous free-agent deals of the big and small variety have already been agreed upon, and a trade no one saw coming–possibly including one of the two teams involved–might have solidified baseball’s premiere starting rotation for 2014.

(As I write this, another contract has been signed, sealed and drone delivered.)

Because my Hyper-jet Engine Status is on “Light Speed” and I can’t quite keep up with all of the baseball activity, I thought I’d take this opportunity to discuss the dynasty league implications from some of baseball’s most recent transactions involving starting pitchers. (FYI, I’m only going to focus on current major leaguers, so no minor leaguers yet. That’s for another day.) First, the big kahuna:

Tigers trade RHP Doug Fister to the Nationals 

No, it wasn’t surprising to see Detroit trade a starting pitcher this off-season, as Rick Porcello and even Max Scherzer were rumored to be on the move. But no one–and I mean no one–predicted the Tigers to trade Fister, who, over the past three seasons, has been the ninth most valuable starting pitcher, according to FanGraphs War. Fister was unlucky this year (hello, Tigers’ infield defense), posting a 3.67 ERA with 159 strikeouts in 208 2/3 innings. He performed much better than that, however, posting a 3.26 FIP and 3.42 xFIP. Fister, in fact, hasn’t had a FIP over 3.42 since 2010. He’s been really, really sneaky good, if someone would like to forward that bit of information to general manager Dave Dombrowski.

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Martin Perez and the Power of Patience

The most overused cliches in our vernacular are often overused for good reason. And the one which usually surfaces far too often in fantasy baseball columns throughout the year is “good things come to those who wait.” Unfortunately for you, the reader, you’re going to have to deal with another one–except unlike most of them, I’m going to talk about a player who won’t turn 23 years old until after the 2014 season opens.

Martin Perez has been no stranger to the spotlight in his professional career, as the hype train started early on the Venezuelan left-hander. His performance at short season Spokane, in the college-heavy Northwest League, got the blood flowing in prospect evaluators. But his 2009 season which saw him not only dominate in full season ball, but reach Double-A at 18 years and 4 months, thrust him into upper echelon of prospects. Kevin Goldstein at BP ranked Perez at #15 overall prior to the 2010 season and Baseball America had him at #17. This would end up being the height of his prospect stardom, as the his performance in the upper minors left a lot to be desired.

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