Last week, I looked at the 2019 auction hitter bargains at mid-season. Now let’s dive into the most profitable pitchers of the first half.
To remind everyone, we aren’t looking here for the highest earning pitchers of 2019 – we are looking at pitchers with the largest values net of their opportunity cost to acquire. Gerrit Cole has earned nearly $24 of fantasy auction value – making him the 7th highest earning pitcher. However, with his $36 average auction value – he technically is in the red as far as profitability goes.
For the methodology employed and the terms used in the ensuing leaderboards, please refer to my previous post on the 2019 Fantasy Baseball Auction Bargains at Mid-Season – Batters edition.
Below are the top 20 most valuable pitchers in 2019 at mid-season (earned auction value only). These are the top pitchers of the 1st half, regardless of their cost to roster:
Both Verlander and Scherzer were consensus top 6 starting pitchers heading into 2019. At mid-season they are the #1 & #2 most valuable pitchers. Cole was also in the pre-season top 6, and he currently sits at #7.
Below are the top 20 most profitable pitchers in 2019 at mid-season (value net of AAV):
Assorted Assumptions & Notes (in no particular order):
- To coordinate with last week’s hitting column, all data is as of July 2, 2019.
- As previously stated (but noting once again) – the FanGraph’s Auction Calculator uses a Z-Score methodology, which intrinsically determines the Hitter/Pitcher % split. As the members of the NFBC are typically more pitcher centric, the NFBC empirically has demonstrated a lower Hitter% in their split. This makes pitchers appear to be less profitable relative to hitters.
- Lucas Giolito was the largest pitcher bargain of the first half. For a mere $1 average auction value, he returned over $26 of accumulated value – the 4th highest overall total for pitchers.
- Of pitchers with at most 7 wins, John Means has the highest profitability ($Value less $AAV). Most of the starters on this top 20 list have 8+ pitching victories, which underscores the kind of season that Means is having. In general, each pitching victory factors in very highly in terms of auction valuation. Although far more variable than other scoring categories, pitching wins cannot be overlooked for fantasy baseball.
- Yonny Chirinos, an ATC Projections favorite, is the highest ranking non-pure-starting pitcher. As a typical “opener-follower” (the term that I use on the The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational – Beat the Shift Podcast for a “bulk reliever”) – Chirinos’s value is elevated by the fact that he often enters the game in either the 2nd or 3rd inning. Two reasons why this helps his value:
- First, he often skips the top of the lineup, entering the game for the lower part of a team’s batting order.
- Second, he does not have to pitch 5 innings to earn a win.
- Brandon Workman is the most valuable relief pitcher at mid-season in terms of profitability. He has thrown 40 IP, has 7 pitching wins, an ERA below 2 and a WHIP of about 1.00. What is especially noteworthy, is that not only has Workman been the most profitable middle relief pitcher in baseball this season, but he has been more profitable than any closer. That is highly unusual.
- Other relief pitchers in the top 15 include John Gant (who I snagged pre-season in Tout Wars), Josh Hader, Shane Greene and Scott Oberg. Oberg makes this list ahead of closer Wade Davis with 5 pitching wins.
- Domingo German makes the top 20 list with over $10 of earned profit. German had the 3rd highest Weighted Plate Discipline Index (wPDI) in 2018.
- Justin Verlander, the most valuable pitcher YTD with a $38 value, does not appear in the top 20 above. Verlander, who had a high pre-season $AAV of $35 has only returned $3 of profit. A $3 bargain is superb on a $30+ pitcher, but unfortunately it misses the top 20 list.
- There were four pitchers who earned top 20 auction value, who have not returned a profit – Scherzer, Cole, Berrios and Buehler.
- The three most valuable undrafted pitchers have been Mike Soroka ($23 value), John Means ($15 value), and Brandon Workman ($14 value).
- There are 5 players in the top 20 that went undrafted. 13 of the top 20 players were bought with an AAV of $2 or less. That may suggest that buying a large frequency of <= $2 pitchers and churning the last few spots of your team’s roster for pitchers is an excellent use of fantasy capital.
- The average cost of the top 20 bargain pitchers (including undrafted players at $0.10) was $3. The average returned value of the players was close to $18.
Enjoy the 2nd half of the 2019 baseball season!
Ariel is the 2019 FSWA Baseball Writer of the Year. He is the creator of the ATC (Average Total Cost) Projection System. Ariel was ranked by FantasyPros as the #1 fantasy baseball expert in 2019. His ATC Projections were ranked as the #1 most accurate projection system in 2019. Ariel also writes for CBS Sports, SportsLine, RotoBaller, and is the host of the Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational - Beat the Shift Podcast (@TGFBI). Ariel is a member of the inaugural Tout Wars Draft & Hold league, a member of the inaugural Mixed LABR Auction league and plays high stakes contests in the NFBC. Ariel Cohen is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA). He is a Vice President of Risk Management for a large international insurance and reinsurance company. Follow Ariel on Twitter at @ATCNY.