Mock Battle: Zack Greinke vs Jake Arrieta (‘s ADP)

Mock. Yeah. Ing. Yeah. Draft. Yeah.

You can follow our 12 team, standard 5×5 roto mock draft. Else, here is a summary of the first two rounds and our first outfield battle.

My first battle is my self-battle on Zack Greinke. After 63 picks in, I tweeted an image of my rankings, which had Zack Greinke literally all alone at #23 overall. Everyone else in the top 40 were gone by pick 63 except for Greinke and Prince Fielder whom I wound up drafting once pick 6.72 came around.

I would have certainly drafted Greinke if he made it back to me at 6.72. I dwelled short and hard on him during my round 4-to-5 turn where I wound up going with Victor Martinez (4.48) and Aroldis Chapman (5.49). Most of the aces were gone already: Kershaw, Sale, Felix, Kluber, Scherzer, Bumgarner, Strasburg, Price.

For reference, I used 2015 Steamer Projections and Zach Sanders’ FAVRz (position-adjusted z-sums) approach to fantasy valuation. If we z-score W, ERA, WHIP, K and SV, Greinke winds up with a 6.39 z-sum, which gets a small pitcher position adjustment to a 6.68 z-sum. Here’s the rankings up to Hamels at #27:

Name POS GS IP W ERA WHIP SO SV zSUM PosAdj
Clayton Kershaw SP 32 201 15 2.46 1.02 225 0 10.95 11.24
Max Scherzer SP 32 195 14 3.02 1.1 226 0 7.95 8.24
Chris Sale SP 30 192 14 3.02 1.09 220 0 7.91 8.20
Felix Hernandez SP 30 192 14 2.94 1.08 197 0 7.77 8.06
Madison Bumgarner SP 32 201 13 2.96 1.11 203 0 7.33 7.62
Stephen Strasburg SP 29 182 13 3.02 1.1 198 0 6.86 7.15
Zack Greinke SP 31 192 13 3.02 1.12 180 0 6.39 6.68
Yu Darvish SP 30 192 14 3.26 1.17 224 0 6.27 6.56
David Price SP 30 192 14 3.24 1.11 179 0 6.22 6.51
Corey Kluber SP 30 192 13 3.21 1.13 197 0 6.13 6.42
Aroldis Chapman RP 0 65 4 1.42 0.87 114 28 6.11 6.40
Matt Harvey SP 27 173 11 3.13 1.13 185 0 5.26 5.55
Masahiro Tanaka SP 31 192 13 3.42 1.12 171 0 5.21 5.50
Jon Lester SP 30 192 13 3.28 1.17 185 0 5.14 5.43
Craig Kimbrel RP 0 65 4 1.91 0.97 94 28 4.80 5.09
Kenley Jansen RP 0 65 4 2.04 0.96 87 28 4.59 4.88
Adam Wainwright SP 32 201 13 3.41 1.17 167 0 4.52 4.81
Johnny Cueto SP 29 182 11 3.27 1.16 174 0 4.44 4.73
Hyun-Jin Ryu SP 31 182 12 3.33 1.16 160 0 4.26 4.55
Jordan Zimmermann SP 30 182 12 3.37 1.15 155 0 4.20 4.49
Greg Holland RP 0 65 4 2.23 1.02 84 28 4.08 4.37
Sean Doolittle RP 0 65 4 2.2 1 77 28 4.05 4.34
Jake McGee RP 0 65 4 2.26 1.02 80 28 3.97 4.26
Hisashi Iwakuma SP 31 192 13 3.52 1.17 155 0 3.92 4.21
Koji Uehara RP 0 65 4 2.33 0.99 71 28 3.87 4.16
James Shields SP 32 201 13 3.62 1.2 174 0 3.68 3.97
Cole Hamels SP 29 182 10 3.49 1.17 177 0 3.59 3.88

By the rankings, Greinke was the best pitcher and player left for 43 picks. You can easily contend this, but he was ranked before Johnny Cueto, Jon Lester and Jordan Zimmermann who went just before him as well as Hamels and Wainwright who went back-to-back immediately after.

There in lies the problem. There were still a sundry of solid/arguably better options. I believe it was Chris Cwik who mentioned that he was surprised that a number of teams still didn’t have starting pitchers at some arbitrary point in the draft prior to Greinke. Mike Podhorzer didn’t have one until Greg Holland and Julio Teheran was auto-drafted to him; I only had Aroldis Chapman until Matt Harvey and Carlos Carrasco back-to-back in rounds 8 and 9; and the Blue Sox didn’t have a single pitcher until David Robertson at 7.83.

For me, the fact that there was so much quality left (and still is) prevented me from going with Greinke (or anyone else) at that time.

Still, I dwelled on Greinke. I almost went Greinke (over Chapman; not Victor Martinez), until I glanced quickly at our current version of pitch score arsenal scores.  It’s all Jake Arrieta’s fault.

Zack Greinke has a Change, Fourseam, Slider, Sinker and Curve (in this order of value). Jake Arrieta has a Curve, Fourseam, Change, Sinker and Slider (in this order of value) – pretty much the same repertoire by classification although his Slider might be a Cutter, in which case its value could actually go up since it’s being compared to other Sliders (which induce more whiffs).

Although the pitches differ in value for each pitcher, they sum up to a similar pitch arsenal score: a 2.30 for Arrieta and a 2.39 for Greinke, which ranked 27th and 24th respectively.

Verifying the similar arsenal value score, let’s look at their similar outcomes:

Would I prefer Greinke? Sure, but based on draft position? Probably not. Arrieta’s arsenal was as impressive, and he ranked two spots ahead of Greinke last year by K-BB% (20.5%, which ranked 10th among starters with more than 100 IP). Arrieta’s balls in play success is also great: groundball induction plus velocity that can force pop-ups, ensuring low BABIP’s.

When Jake Arrieta goes remains up in the air, but I will take him 4+ rounds later and Victor Martinez instead of Zack Greinke plus whichever first baseman are available, which is shaping up to be Brandon Belt or Mike Napoli.

Zack Greinke is a great option, and is remarkably consistent. Kelly from Fantasy Gameday compiles excellent mock draft data. He provided me with results back to 2010 when Greinke went 5th overall for starting pitchers after his 16 win – 2.16 ERA – 1.07 – 242 SO campaign. Since, he has been drafted as the 14th, 10th, 10th and 13th starting pitcher. In our 2015 Mock, he went 13th again.

Historically, it’s a good place to target him. I thought he went relatively late (63rd) based on the value that he can provide, but historically, it’s about right according to FGD’s ADP:

2010: 31.39

2011: 66.19

2012: 46.34

2013: 51.14

2014: 60.38

 

***Within-post update*** About 30 seconds ago, four picks before my round 10/11 turn, Paul Sporer robbed Arrieta from me! I guess I’ll end my content here.

We hoped you liked reading Mock Battle: Zack Greinke vs Jake Arrieta (‘s ADP) by Daniel Schwartz!

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Daniel Schwartz contributes for RotoGraphs when he's not selling industry leading thermal packaging. You can follow him on twitter @RotoBanter

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Bill
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Bill

I believe your analysis has two primary faults.

1. Greinke absolutely deserves to be ranked much higher than arrieta based on the fact he’s 31, and the last 4 yrs his IP totals have ranged from 171 to 212, and he plays on the better team. Arrieta, who is only two years younger, reached a career high of 156 last year, through in the extra MiLB IP if you want and all pitchers get injured but the standard deviation on his possible IP outcome lowers his value tremendously.

2. You assume that you will in fact be able to grab Arrieta later, but even thinking to take him 4rds earlier you may, in fact, be beaten to the punch and thus left with no ‘bargains’ between the two. This applies more heavily in competitive leagues who realize how good arrieta was in those 156ip last year. If you had a basket of 3 to 4 pitchers where you said ‘I would rather have them’ then I completely understand, but I think you could have taken Greinke there and felt good about yourself, especially in a league where W is still a category.