May 29 - Finding the Justins: Improving Whip and ERA
Okay, so we're just over 25% of the way through the season. Players, teams and league rankings are settling in after an interesting start and your 2006 fantasy baseball season is taking shape. After 43+ games, you now have a reliable picture of how good (or bad) your team is, how other teams in your league look, who might be ready to make a deal and, most importantly, what categories you need to address.
While everyone else is scrambling for stolen bases and saves, consider zigging while they zag and focus on whip and era.
Hey, every category carries the same scoring weight, yet the pitching ratios tend to be reduced to after thoughts for one basic reason — innings pitched. Many argue that, except for workhorse starters, one or two pitchers won’t throw enough innings to greatly affect overall whip or era. So why bother?
Because anyone who's played the game for a while knows every little bit helps. Leagues are won and lost over hundredths of a point.
The key to improving whip and era is "chipping away" at them – even with a handful of high-impact middle relievers – continuously lowering your ratios over the course of the season through trades, FA/wire pickups and dumping underachievers.
Say what? Middle relievers?! Off the wire?! Instead of a starter?!
You damn skippy. Check it out. Using 2005 year-end stats, look at the difference two effective middle relievers can make over one top of the rotation starter:
2005 Stats Jeremy Bonderman sp (DET) – MOTY#: 20.43 14 wins, 0 sv, 145 K, 1.35 whip, 4.57 era, 2.54 K/bb in 189.0 ip
Okay, a moment of honesty — Duchscherer and Speier were not drafted in your league last year were they? And while Bonderman won 4 more games and struck out 4 more batters in 36.33 more innings, the Justins put up a much better combined whip and era on top of 5 vulture saves. In the end, two guys on the wire would've improved 3-of-5 categories for your staff without sacrificing too much in the other 2 cat's … and would've been more help winning your league.
’Course, that's past tense. How do you find the "Justins" of 2006?
The MOTY Scope™.
And you're not going to believe how quick and easy it is. Go to the most recent weekly MOTY rankings, set up the MOTY Scope advanced filters to find middle relievers meeting exceptional stat criteria, then click "Apply Filter" and you instantly get a list of the players meeting all those parameters.
Let's run through a scenario together. Say you're in an NL-only league, so start with, hmm … the Mets are looking good so far … let’s try them:
MOTY Scope settings: Tabs: YTD (time), NL (league) Basic Filters: middle relievers (pos.), New York (team) Advanced Filter 1: ip greater than 12.0 Advanced Filter 2: whip less than 1.10 Advanced Filter 3: era less than 3.00
Okay, that took about 30 seconds. Now click "Apply Filter" and …
New York results: Pedro Feliciano mr (NYM) – YTD MOTY#: 30.71 MTD: + 22.82 LW: + 6.12 YTD: 0 win, 0 sv, 11 K, 0.87 whip, 0.71 era, 5.50 K/bb
Duaner Sanchez is trending down, but Heilman and Feliciano (with a great 5.50 K/bb) look pretty good. Let's poke around a bit though. Select “Los Angeles” from the team Basic filter dropdown, click “Apply Filter” and you instantly discover these Dodgers middle relievers:
Wainwright, Saito, Feliciano, Heilman — as you can see, the MOTY Scope reduces hours of digging through stats to mere minutes. With you quickly finding the very short list of players putting up the exceptional numbers you're looking for. In this case, whip and era.
Grab one or two of them, drop a struggling starter or a guy wasting a bench spot and you'll be on your way to improving those pesky ratios. If nothing else, create a My Roster watch list of the middle relievers you like the most and keep and eye on them till you're ready to make a move.
Unfortunately, if you want to cut to the chase and find the "Justins," the name filter won't be much help — it only works for last names.