From The Fantasy Oracle 2016 MLB Draft Guide Is Here! 

Fantasy Baseball: Who Am I?

Can you guess which player was able to post elite pitching numbers in 2013 even though no one seems to have noticed?

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Every once in a while I do a little exercise where I toss out some numbers, some facts, and ask folks to guess who the player is. Sometimes the answer might seem obvious to you, but other times I bet that the answer is a bit of a shock. So make sure you're reading this sucker while sitting down. I would hate for you to fall off the treadmill or the bicycle if you're reading this at the gym.


In 2014 I had the following fantasy effort:

14 wins, a 2.80 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and 224 Ks in 208.2 IP (9.66 K/9).

Let me tell you who I'm not.

I'm not Yu Darvish (13 wins, 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 277 Ks).

I'm not Max Scherzer (21 wins, 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 240 Ks).

I'm not Anibal Sanchez (14 wins, 2.57 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 202 Ks).

I'm not Stephen Strasburg (8 wins, 3.00 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 191 Ks).

So who the heck am I?

It was a trick question.

The answer is Joel Peralta, David Robertson & Tyler Clippard.

Why did I break the rules of who am I and list three guys and not one? I did it to illustrate a point that most folks seem to have a good handle on at this stage of fantasy baseball proliferation, but there are still some out there, either because they are new to the game or have never been exposed to alternative lanes of thought, that could benefit from this little discussion. Some major data points to lay out based upon what was just tossed out there.

(1) You need not spend early round selections on pitchers in order to get strong performances. Just look at the list of names above. Twelve months ago Anibal Sanchez had an ADP of 187 while Jose Fernandez was barely being drafted (his ADP was outside the top-400). More on that ADP information shortly in point #2.

If you are wondering the best way to evaluate arms so that you can find these “gems” on the mound I've got just the thing for you. It's the 2014 Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide powered by BaseballGuys. There are a couple of articles in that sucker detailing exactly how you can go about finding the relevant cheap adds that have breakout potential in 2014.

(2) Pitching can be found at all points of a draft. Here are some names, and their ADP ranking from mid-March of 2013 (courtesy of the National Fantasy Baseball Championship).

A.J. Burnett (ADP of 206)
Wade Miley (213)
Hisashi Iwakuma (248)
Derek Holland (250)
Alex Cobb (254)
Shelby Miller (261)
Hyun-Jin Ryu (264)
A.J. Griffin (275)
Andrew Cashner (291)
Clay Buchholz (297)
Chris Tillman (298)
Julio Teheran (306)
Dillon Gee (314)
Justin Masterson (322)
Ivan Nova (343)
Gerrit Cole (352)
Patrick Corbin (363)
Ubaldo Jimenez (364)
Chris Archer (368)
Francisco Liriano (383)

You get it, right? No one was falling for any of the names I just listed on draft day 2013. You could have built your team with 5-9 of the guys listed above, been very competitive in the pitching categories, and blown the league away with your offensive prowess. You have to select the right arm, again the Draft Guide will help you to do that, but the fact of the matter is that arms can be found in the middle to late rounds every season in fantasy baseball. 

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(3) If you pick the correct relievers you can get an SP1 performance out of them. Not only can you get elite work on the bump – just look again at the numbers above from Peralta, Robertson & Clippard – but you can get those numbers for dirt cheap. While elite starting pitchers go for $30 or more in an auction, and start to go off the board in the second round in many drafts, middle relievers are often overlooked completely. Using the same ADP info as above from the NFBC, here are the numbers for our trio of relievers.

Peralta (outside the top-400)
Robertson (328 ADP)
Clippard (307 ADP)

If you're in a 12 team league, a pick in the 300's means that the player was taken in the 25th round or later. So let's say you went Clippard in the 25th, Robertson in the 26th and Peralta in the 27th. If you had done that in 2013 you would have gotten SP1 numbers from your 25-27 picks (if you were in an auction last year it's doubtful that any of our three bullpen arms cost you more than $3-5 on draft day). That group of relievers also had four saves by the way adding even more value to the pot.

The downside to this line of thought? Two main points.

(1) Since relievers have small sample sizes it's possible that there ratios could end up being artificially high ERA, WHIP). This is true. At the same time if you know what to look for, a theme I keep touching on in this piece, your odds of selection the “right” guys grow. Even if you “miss” on middle relievers, don't forget that you invested nothing in them. If your 26th round pick craps out, oh well. If your 3rd rounder hits the skids then you're in big trouble.

(2) Depending on your league set up and size it might be tough to continually roll out there three middle relievers. Again, this is totally true. If you input your lineup once a week, and let's say you start nine pitchers, are you really going to start three middle relievers? You only will if you have no closers. However, if you have a lineup you can modify daily it's much easier to get those middle relievers in there since you will have such freedom with your starting pitchers who go every five games.

Middle relievers aren't sexy names for the most part, and if they aren't in line to rack up saves the natural inclination is to ignore them completely. Depending on your league, and the experience level of your opponents, you might be able to gain a significant draft day advantage over the other folks in your league if you target highly skilled middle relievers in the later rounds of your draft.

By Ray Flowers


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    Joel 18 Feb 21:04 / Reply

    Reread this article all the time. The exact nugget that got me interested in everything Ray Flowers says. You have to be willing to make this decision, but it pays off. Just like the Draft Guide!!!! Thanks Ray! Love everything you write.

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