Collette Calls: Profits & Losses - Pitchers

Collette Calls: Profits & Losses - Pitchers

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

Pitching. The Bermuda Triangle of fantasy baseball. A dangerous place where only the brave spend money in hopes of finding fantasy glory.

Every season, we have hopes that pitching won't be as painful to own as it was the season before. Throughout draft season, we on the RotoWire staff encouraged people to take the risk with pitchers because of how offense was trending down, and that there would be bargains to be found in pitching. We practiced what we preached in Tout Wars, LABR, and NFBC drafts. How were we rewarded?

In the Mixed Tout Wars draft, just 16 percent of pitchers turned a profit in 2014. Only 35 of the 214 pitchers purchased on draft day were profitable, while 179 of them returned no profit or a loss.

The Big Investments

There were 14 pitchers acquired for at least $20 on draft day in New York City back in March, starting with Clayton Kershaw at $33. Of the 14, just four turned a profit for their owners and two of them were noticeable profits. There were four rather painful losses for owners as 4 of the 14 lost at least $20 in value during the season.

Pitcherfinal $draft $P&L
Hernandez, Felix (SEA)34259
Kershaw, Clayton (LA)38335
Wainwright, Adam (STL)27252
Price, David (DET)23221
Bumgarner, Madison (SF)2223-1
Sale, Chris (CHI-A)2224-2
Scherzer, Max (DET)2025-5
Strasburg, Stephen (WAS)1926
Pitching. The Bermuda Triangle of fantasy baseball. A dangerous place where only the brave spend money in hopes of finding fantasy glory.

Every season, we have hopes that pitching won't be as painful to own as it was the season before. Throughout draft season, we on the RotoWire staff encouraged people to take the risk with pitchers because of how offense was trending down, and that there would be bargains to be found in pitching. We practiced what we preached in Tout Wars, LABR, and NFBC drafts. How were we rewarded?

In the Mixed Tout Wars draft, just 16 percent of pitchers turned a profit in 2014. Only 35 of the 214 pitchers purchased on draft day were profitable, while 179 of them returned no profit or a loss.

The Big Investments

There were 14 pitchers acquired for at least $20 on draft day in New York City back in March, starting with Clayton Kershaw at $33. Of the 14, just four turned a profit for their owners and two of them were noticeable profits. There were four rather painful losses for owners as 4 of the 14 lost at least $20 in value during the season.

Pitcherfinal $draft $P&L
Hernandez, Felix (SEA)34259
Kershaw, Clayton (LA)38335
Wainwright, Adam (STL)27252
Price, David (DET)23221
Bumgarner, Madison (SF)2223-1
Sale, Chris (CHI-A)2224-2
Scherzer, Max (DET)2025-5
Strasburg, Stephen (WAS)1926-7
Kimbrel, Craig (ATL)1422-8
Jansen, Kenley (LA)1120-9
Darvish, Yu (TEX)728-21
Verlander, Justin (DET)-220-22
Fernandez, Jose (MIA)-223-25
Lee, Cliff (PHI)-826-34

In all, the $342 spent on draft day to acquire this class of pitchers produced $225 of fantasy value during the season, leading to a net loss of $117.

When you spend money on these types of pitchers, it isn't done looking for profits. We spend big money on certain pitchers banking on consistency and production. Seven of the 14 pitchers produced at least $20 of value during the season, but the big name and big money pitchers were far from immune to the inherent risks of investing in pitchers. Yu Darvish, Jose Fernandez, and Cliff Lee each suffered injuries that derailed their seasons.

The Closers

There were 39 relievers that saved at least 10 games in 2014, but only 27 of those were acquired in the Mixed Tout Wars auction. Of those 27 relievers, only three turned any form of a profit – Joaquin Benoit, Cody Allen, and Mark Melancon. Since Melancon took the job away from Jason Grilli early in the season, Melancon was able to achieve the only double-digit profit for a drafted reliever in 2014.

Melancon was lonely as the only double-digit closer profit, but there were ten times as many double-digit losses at closer. That group of ten pitchers cost $125 to acquire on draft day and their final accumulative value was -$37, leading to a loss of -$162. In all, the $323 spent on closers at the draft table returned $108 of actual production value leading to an overall loss of -$215. Somewhere, Lenny Melnick is giggling with delight since he has long advocated not spending money on closers.

Pitcherfinal $draft $P&L
Kimbrel, Craig (ATL)1422-8
Jansen, Kenley (LA)1120-9
Holland, Greg (KC)1518-3
Robertson, David (NY-A)1017-7
Uehara, Koji (BOS)917-8
Rosenthal, Trevor (STL)616-10
Nathan, Joe (DET)-115-16
Papelbon, Jonathan (PHI)1114-3
Perkins, Glen (MIN)514-9
Romo, Sergio (SF)413-9
Reed, Addison (AZ)113-12
Balfour, Grant (TB)-913-22
Cishek, Steve (MIA)812-4
Soriano, Rafael (WAS)512-7
Soria, Joakim (DET)-112-13
Axford, John (CLE, PIT)-812-20
Frieri, Ernesto (LAA, PIT)-1312-25
Street, Huston (ANA)11110
Chapman, Aroldis (CIN)1011-1
Hunter, Tommy (BAL)-311-14
Grilli, Jason (ANA)-711-18
Rodney, Fernando (SEA)810-2
Janssen, Casey (TOR)-210-12
Benoit, Joaquin (SD)431
Melancon, Mark (PIT)12210
Allen, Cody (CLE)918
Hawkins, LaTroy (COL)-11-2

For those that waited for closers, or speculated in the reserves or free agency, they were somewhat rewarded in 2014. A total of 12 different relievers went undrafted in the auction and went on to save at least 10 games in 2014. Nine of those 12 turned at least a $1 profit while three of them - Zach Britton, Francisco Rodriguez and Joe Smith - turned double-digit profits. In all, $54 of closer production was freely available after the auction. That group of 10 compiled 270 saves and accounted for 25% of the 1,066 saves produced by the group from the table above.

The astute mathematician will notice that all closers with at least 10 saves produced $162 of fantasy value, and 33% of that was not acquired during the auction.

Undrafted Value

Even in a 15-team mixed league, there will be pitchers that slip through the cracks and be profit centers during the season. That said, a Baker's Dozen of pitchers did so in 2014, 10 of which were starting pitchers. Garrett Richards was the leader of the pack earning $16 after going undrafted but some other familiar names found their way on the list as well:

Pitcherfinal $draft $P&L
Richards, Garrett (ANA)16016
Roark, Tanner (WAS)15015
Arrieta, Jake (CHC)15015
Hughes, Phil (MIN)14014
McHugh, Collin (HOU)14014
Britton, Zach (BAL)13013
Rodriguez, Francisco (MIL)12012
Betances, Dellin (NY-A)11011
Carrasco, Carlos (CLE)11011
Shoemaker, Matt (ANA)11011
Keuchel, Dallas (HOU)11011
Smith, Joe (ANA)10010
Davis, Wade (KC)10010

Tanner Roark piled up the wins with excellent ratios despite a low strikeout rate. Jake Arrieta added a new pitch and altered his delivery to find new results. Phil Hughes escaped from New York and stopped giving away free passes on base. Collin McHugh added a new pitch and changed his approach after the Mets cut him loose. Zach Britton shoved Tommy Hunter aside and shoved the ball all season. Nobody should have drafted Dellin Betances or Wade Davis given both were middle relievers, but both pitchers were so dominant in their roles that they became strong profit centers even while not closing games. Dallas Keuchel and Carlos Carrasco overcame awful 2013 seasons to fall into people's laps and looked like studs for a good portion of the season while Matt Shoemaker helped the Angels and fantasy owners tremendously.

In all, there was $316 of positive value from 84 pitchers that ended up on fantasy rosters that was not acquired during the auction.

Simply put, 2014 could be summed up best by the timeless Talking Heads classic, "Once In A Lifetime".

Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999, and here at Rotowire since 2011. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast every Sunday. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls, as esd the 2023 AL LABR champion. Jason manages his social media presence at https://linktr.ee/jasoncollette
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