Jose Fernandez was having a dominating 2014 season until he needed Tommy John surgery last May. The 22-year-old righty could be one of the more dominant arms in the game when he returns. Fantasy owners would love to have him available mid-season as a boost their team. While he is on the disabled list (DL), some other pitcher must be filling in for him. Fernandez’s projection should include this replacement pitcher’s production. Here is a break down of how I put on value on players who will miss significant time.
Get a projection for the hurt player
Right now the only projection available for players is Steamer and here are Jose’s five category stats including innings pitched:
Fernandez’s rate stats may seem a bit high, but he is coming back from Tommy John surgery and pitchers initially struggle their first year back. I will keep them where they are at for now.
The main issue I have with the projection is the innings pitched. Right now the Marlins are expecting him back at the All-Star break, so 144 innings is out of the question. Also, the Marlins aren’t going to have him throw deep into games. I think 80 to 100 IP is more likely. I will go with 100 IP, but I could understand a more conservative value.
Find his first half replacement
While Hernandez is out, another pitcher will need to be on the roster taking his starts, accumulating counting stats (and bringing down the rate stats). In shallow leagues, the replacement effect is less because the available replacement level pitcher is better. As the league becomes shallower and shallower, the replacement level quality decreases. To get this replacement level pitcher, I would get the average value from three to four waiver wire/bench pitchers to create a composite replacement level pitcher.
In a shallow league I am in, Baltimore’s Miguel Gonzalez is the best available pitcher, so I will use his projection as my replacement level pitcher.
An owner will not need him for all 134 innings, so playing time can be adjusted down in the next step.
Mash the two two projections into one projection
Once you have the player’s projection and a replacement projection, combine both into one value. Here is a downloadable spreadsheet with the values filled in. Users will need to put in the 2015 projection in the first line and their projected innings pitched in the second line for both pitchers. Once the data is entered, a composite projection will be created.
Using the above values, Fernandez and his replacement should have the following stats:
Looking through the Steamer projections, here are some similar pitchers:
With every league being different, his value will not be comparable to these three pitchers. In some leagues, the composite will have higher quality comparable pitchers. In other leagues, the comparables will be worse.
Hopefully, I have helped you get an idea on how to set a draft/auction projection on a pitcher who will miss significant time. The key is to find the replacement level talent who will be in the lineup while the pitcher is out. Thanks and let me know if you have any questions.
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.