Building a $245 NFBC Pitching Staff

Sadly, the NFBC team building fun comes to a close. To go along with my splendid $14 offense, I attempted to assemble a $246 pitching staff using NFBC average auction values from March 15 and on. Just as I failed to spend all my money when buying a dominant offense, I left a buck on the table here as well, only spending $245. Let’s see what such an insane staff looks like.

The $245 Pitching Staff
Player W* SV* SO* ERA* WHIP* AAV
Gerrit Cole 15 0 280 3.26 1.04 42
Max Scherzer 14 0 258 3.27 1.04 35
Justin Verlander 14 0 239 3.45 1.04 31
Clayton Kershaw 14 0 198 3.52 1.16 27
Patrick Corbin 13 0 218 3.56 1.23 25
Zack Greinke 14 0 183 4.25 1.24 24
Aaron Nola 13 0 222 3.81 1.24 23
Josh Hader 4 27 123 2.91 1.03 22
Roberto Osuna 4 33 77 3.61 1.12 16
Total 105 60 1798 3.56 1.14
*Steamer projections

Wellll daaaaaamn, look at all those strikeouts! Once again, I used my Pod Projections and calculated dollar values and did my best to maximize the value of my pitching staff. As you could guess, most of the starting pitchers bought for at least $20 were overpriced. It wouldn’t matter if every single one of them were, as that merely means NFBC owners were using a higher pitching split than I am, but that isn’t the case. I was still able to find near fair value or undervalued pitchers.

The challenge here was ensuring I actually spend all my money. Because I only had nine slots to fill, I didn’t exactly have to dip down to the lower tiers. I could have, but then I would be forced to overpay for the expensive guys who just aren’t worth it and my team’s aggregate stats wouldn’t be better…they would actually be worse because I would end up with a lower valued squad.

I ended up buying Gerrit Cole, who was tied for the highest AAV at $42 with Jacob deGrom. I valued Cole slightly higher than deGrom because of some additional projected innings and 27 more strikeouts. Both I show as overpriced, but I needed to spend my money somewhere!

I cannot believe that Max Scherzer is going on average for $2 less than Walker Buehler. That’s quite amusing. Not only do my values crown Scherzer as the number one pitcher, but it also calculates Buehler as being massively overvalued. Because of the apparent discount, Scherzer was the first pitcher I rostered.

I think the price is relatively fair on Justin Verlander, as he joined my team out of necessity to spend my money. No exciting analysis here.

No matter what his underlying skills suggest (decline), Clayton Kershaw continues to outperform his SIERA, and there’s no hint of that changing. While his HR/FB rate has finally surged to the league average over the past three seasons, he has maintained a well below average BABIP (which hasn’t been higher than .281 since his 2008 debut), while stranding runners (LOB%) at a high clip. Clearly, these are skills, but the projection systems are programmed not to believe and forecast regression. That’s why every system projects his BABIP spikes to its highest mark since that debut season, while his LOB% drops to its lowest since at least 2012 or earlier, depending on which system you’re looking at.

Patrick Corbin was no bargain, but relatively fairly valued, and has proven those strikeouts are no joke.

It’s shocking to me that I keep finding Zack Greinke on a team of mine, whether real or fake, as I didn’t think I liked him, but I guess I dislike him the same or less than everyone else! I thought Greinke here was fairly valued, but at that price, that was actually an accomplishment given the overvaluation everywhere else. Clearly, Steamer doesn’t believe that a full season in the AL is good for his value, but they are also by far the worst projection of any system. He’s another guy the projections continue to get wrong as he’s outperformed his SIERA in six of the last seven seasons and has consistently posted low BABIP marks that he isn’t being given credit for.

According to my values, Aaron Nola comes at a rare slight discount among pitchers going for at least $20. That’s not all that surprising after his ERA jumped by 1.50 runs, but it shouldn’t have been surprising given how fortunate he was in 2018. I like his overall skill set, but I also expect his control to return, meaning he’d be solid in all three skill metrics (strikeout, walk, and ground ball rates).

What was interesting is that almost all closers were overpriced, but that could just mean my closer valuations are off. Doesn’t matter, because it’s all relative. While I would never buy two top closers in a real auction or snake draft, both Josh Hader and Roberto Osuna actually came at a slight discount, and were the top two closers in my values. Since we’re not actually playing this team and I would need saves, value is value, so I went with the well-valued pair, rather than cheapening out and being forced into the overvalued starter pool just to spend all my money.

Would you have done something different? Below are the AAVs of all starters at least $15:

Guys from above I considered trying to fit onto the staff:
Stephen Strasburg
Trevor Bauer
Zack Wheeler





Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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now that’s a hellacious pitching staff