Baseball’s trade deadline came and went rather quietly yesterday with only a handful of major deadline moves, most notably Ryan Dempster being traded to the Rangers in exchange for relatively little and Zack Greinke’s trade to the Angels. With the exception of the Phillies engaging in a fire sale, most teams were too afraid to give up prospects in order to make a big splash.
As a result, the fantasy baseball world remains relatively unchanged since before the deadline. Acquiring Greinke in any league is going to cost more than any increase in stats he may experience pitching in Los Angeles, while the Dodgers’ acquisitions of Shane Victorino and Hanley Ramirez should not cause an increase in stats in any worthwhile way. Moving forward, fantasy owners are going to have to try to find value where their competitors aren’t, precisely the objective I’m aiming for with this column.
Who to Add
While it’s mostly used during ESPN’s bracketology coverage, playing a quick game of blind résumé can be helpful in the world of fantasy baseball as well. In the following example, two rookies are presented, one of which is only owned in 9% of ESPN.com leagues and the other owned in 100% of leagues.
.277 BA, 35 RBI, 29 Runs, 1 Stolen Base
.261 BA, 29 RBI, 53 Runs, 13 Stolen Bases
You could make a case for either player, but a compelling case could be made for Player A, who has a higher batting average and more RBIs despite having played in fewer games . Player B is the incredibly popular Bryce Harper while Player A is the Cincinnati Reds’ Todd Frazier. Based on his availability, it would be worth picking up Frazier and dealing Harper to shore up a weakness on your team. At the end of the day, his 91% availability makes this an easy move that’s sure to benefit your team. The only issue moving forward with Frazier is his playing time once Joey Votto comes off the DL, but the fact that the Reds did not make a deal at the deadline for a hitter makes it seem as if they’re confident with their lineup, including Frazier.
In his last two seasons (he missed all of 2011), Wainwright has finished in the top three in Cy Young Award voting and has recorded at least 19 wins. This season, Wainwright stands at 8-10 with an ERA over 4 for the first time in his young career. If current stats hold true, this will also be the first time that Wainwright has finished with a losing record, a huge failure for a pitcher with a career record of 74-45. However, his 8-10 record and career-high ERA don’t tell the whole story about the Cardinals hurler. His BB/9 innings and SO/9 innings are both very similar to his past two seasons, suggesting that Wainwright’s the same dominant pitcher as before—he just isn’t catching enough breaks. His FIP of 3.14 also suggests that his ERA should be an entire point lower and that his ERA will no longer be above 4 by the close of the season. His Wins Above Replacement of 2.8 is tied for 14th in the majors as well, revealing that Wainwright should be posting much better stats than at the present. Owning the ace could prove important for a team looking to make a late-season push.
Who to Drop
Dempster seems like a player who should instead be added to a fantasy roster on first inspection—he currently owns a 2.25 ERA and is moving from the Cubs to a team that’s made an appearance in the last two World Series. However, his advanced statistics don’t support his fantasy worth. His FIP is over a point higher than his ERA and his xFIP is even higher. In basic terms, this means that his ERA should be higher than his almost absurd 2.25 and that his future increase in ERA will continue throughout the season. His Wins Above Replacement is only a 2.2, lower than the aforementioned Adam Wainwright’s. With the exception of the 2008 season, Dempster has historically been all over the place as a pitcher, with season ERAs above 6 on his stat sheet, adding more fuel to the idea that his 2.25 ERA cannot possibly last. One positive for Dempster is that his SO/BB ratio is the highest of his career, but that seems to carry little importance compared to his other statistics.
For those still not convinced that Dempster’s ERA will rise in Texas, consider the opponents he will face each start. The Oakland A’s are one of the hottest teams in baseball at the moment, and the Angels’ lineup includes All-Stars Albert Pujols, Mike Trumbo, and Mike Trout. By the end of the season, Dempster is going to be wishing he was still pitching against the Houston Astros, making this the right time to sell before his numbers take a turn for the worse.