2018 Dynasty Baseball Rankings

Buying Off-Brand

One of the best pieces of advice my dad gave me growing up was to buy off-brand. He would always say, “they cost less money, and if you look at the ingredients, they are exactly the same”. This advice can be applied to fantasy baseball too. Who are some underrated players that can match the production of more acclaimed players?

We’ll start with pitchers. Some of the things I will be looking at to compare are their ranking, NFBC ADP, age, fastball velocity (vFA), strikeout rate (K%), walk rate (BB%), ground ball rate (GB%), their 2017 fielding independent pitching rate relative to the rest of the league (FIP-), and their 2017 XFIP. All stats are courtesy of Fangraphs.

Comparison 1: Two second-year pitchers

TDG Positional Rank NFBC ADP Age 2017 IP vFA K% BB% GB% FIP- XFIP
Player A 71 205 25 114 95.2 28.7 11.1 37.1 103 4.20
Player B 194 437 25 133 94.7 24.0 9.8 43.8 109 4.26

Player A has had a lot of hype this offseason, whereas Player B hasn’t been talked about much. If you look at these numbers they are fairly close: same age, similar velocity, similar sample size, and similar ERA indicators. Player A definitely has more upside with the higher k rate, but the difference isn’t huge.  So why the huge difference in both our rankings and NFBC ADP? Well Player B was really bad last year… like, really bad. He had a 6.02 ERA, a 1.52 WHIP. Yuck. That said, looking at his indicators, he is due for some heavy positive regression. He had a higher than normal 18.2% hr/fb rate and a low 67.1 LOB%.

Player A is Dinelson Lamet, who is a fantastic high upside target in fantasy leagues. Player B is Nick Pivetta. I think Pivetta is a great target given that he will cost you next to nothing in drafts and in trades. If you like Lamet and miss out, consider Nick Pivetta.

Comparison 2: 120-inning stalwarts

TDG Positional Rank NFBC ADP Age 2017 IP vFA K% BB% GB% FIP- XFIP
Player A 93 122 38 135 89.2 30.1 8.9 36.9 88 3.88
Player B 146 249 30 132 92.9 29.5 10.4 43.7 70 3.73

I consider both of these players to be similar investments. Player A has a longer track record of success and a guaranteed starting spot which Player B does not have. That said, Player A has injury concerns and is unlikely to exceed his 2017 innings total, especially with the way his team manipulates the disabled list.

Player B will start the season in a long relief role, but injuries always strike and he is likely to get 15-20 starts, even if he starts the season in the bullpen. Last year he started in a similar spot, and still got to 130 innings. 120 innings is a likely outcome, which in today’s MLB with more DL stints and starters pitching fewer innings, is enough to be a valuable pitcher in fantasy leagues. It’s a non-traditional way to use a pitcher, but he can provide just as much value as Player A. Last year, Player A was the 19th best starting pitcher in baseball and Player B was the 20th. With Player B coming at a much cheaper cost than Player A (and being 8 years younger), I’d personally much rather him in a fantasy league. Ah, and the players? Rich Hill and Brad Peacock.

Comparison 3: Veteran Crafty Lefties

TDG Positional Rank NFBC ADP Age 2017 IP vFA K% BB% GB% FIP- XFIP
Player A 17 76 30 145 89.6 21.4 8.1 66.8 87 3.32
Player B 181 497 34 197.1 91.7 17.6 6.9 59.2 100 3.76

So, let me preface this by saying this is a stretch in terms of off-brand. Player A is a luxury vehicle, and Player B is a run down 1993 down Toyota Camry. But you know, that Toyota Camry can get you to the grocery store at a cheaper price than the Lamborghini.

The main purpose of this one is to promote Player B as a valuable fantasy asset this year, and if you look under the hood, his numbers aren’t too different from Player A’s. Especially when you consider what he did in the second half of last year. From July 1st on, Player B had a 19% K rate, a 6.8% BB rate, a 3.60 xFIP (15th among qualified starters), and a 60.7% ground ball rate. Those numbers are really close to what Player A has done. Player B had some bad luck with a high .351 BABIP and a 19.4% HR/FB rate; he is due for some positive regression.

Player B’s team upgraded their team with a couple of trades and a free agent splurge. Most importantly for Player B, they brought in a strong defensive SS, something that will be a big help for Player B’s elite groundball rate. He is expected to be the team’s opening day starter. So, while Player A is a much much better investment, Player B can be a poor man’s version of him — a cheap investment with intriguing upside. Player A is Dallas Keuchel, Player B is Clayton Richard.

The Author

Kyler Jesanis

Kyler Jesanis

Kyler is a college admission counselor, currently residing in Rhode Island. An avid fantasy baseball player, Kyler has experience in deep leagues. The smallest league he currently plays in rosters 900 players. He has played in traditional 10/12/14 man leagues, both head-to-head and roto. With a wide array of interests, Kyler plans to dive in deep to a variety of topics, but primarily focusing on vouching for unheralded players.

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