Chris Parmelee started 20 of the last 21 at 1B for the 2011 Twins by filling in for the injured Justin Morneau (55 games at 1B) and Joe Mauer (16 games at 1B). Both Morneau and Mauer are huge injury risks for the 2012 season and have a good chance to end up on the DL at some point during the season. Chris Parmelee looks like, for now, he will be the backup 1B going into the season with Michael Cuddyer still a free agent.
While Parmelee, or whoever is the backup 1B, will not put up any eye opening stats, he can be useful. In drafts, feel free to target him once your core team is set, especially if you have already drafted Mauer or Morneau. Parmelee will be a decent insurance policy if the player you drafted goes on the DL. If you don’t have the one M&M Brother that went on the DL, trade him to the other team that does need him.
The best use I could see for him is to throw him out early in an auction for $1 (before Morneau and Mauer have been bid on). Make sure to watch the rest of the people’s reactions if possible. You may be able to see who is interested in him. They may be targeting Mauer or Morneau later. If you do end up with him cheap, wait for one of the other 2 to come up in the auction. People will be less likely to bid up Mauer and Morneau knowing that they can’t get the back up.
This is a perfect example of getting the backup first, which can be done in an auction, and putting yourself in better position when the starter comes up. I like to use this move with closers I am targeting (ex. throwing out Greg Holland first if I am aiming to pick up Joakim Soria).
In 2012, Phil Hughes‘ season looked bad on paper because of his first 3 starts when he was hurt. In those starts he went:
During that time his fastball was off at least 3 MPH.
He went on the DL for a couple of months. When he came back, he produced the following stats:
For 2012, most projection systems will not throw out his 3 starts when he was injured, but they should. He was obviously injured and it affected his performance. For 2012, move him a few spots higher on your draft board if you are using a common projection system to set your rankings.
Non-Closer RP Valuations
As a general rule, closers are more valued in drafts/auctions because of the scarcity of saves. Looking at Zach Sanders’ end of season player values, some non-closer relief pitchers (<10 saves, 0 starts) ended up being valued the same as closers (>20 saves, 0 starts). I matched up 9 pairs of pitchers with similar final auction values. I wanted to see if there were any traits from the non-closer RPs that could be exploited in auctions/drafts such as a high K/BB rate. I did not find out much that was predictable. Here are the numbers:
The big difference was the low ERA of the non-closers (1.82 vs. 3.33). Being able to predict a sub 2 ERA is nearly impossible. Another difference was the number of strikeouts per pitcher (78 vs 60). The higher number of strikeouts was not because of the pitcher’s K/9 rate (9.0 vs 8.7), but was because they averaged 17 more IP. Finally, the non-closers had a 0.2 lower WHIP even though their BB/9 were nearly the same (2.8 vs 2.9). The non-closers seem to be a little luckier on preventing hits and therefore runs.
With bullpen management always in flux and being determined by small sample sizes, I see no reason to not target closers first when looking at RPs. Then go after the RP with >4 K/BB rates.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.