Ottoneu Keep/Cut Decisions: Kyle Freeland

I recently took over an Ottoneu team for the upcoming 2022 season. If you are unfamiliar with Ottoneu, it’s keeper league where you get to make trades from mid-November to January 31st. Any players left on your roster after that you keep, using the auction draft to fill in the missing pieces. Taking over someone else’s team kind of feels like moving into an empty office. There are a few cobwebs in the corner, the previous owner left a really cool pen in the desk drawer and there’s a very stinky sandwich in the staff refrigerator that you somehow feel like is your new responsibility.

The fun part is taking stock of what you have and trying to decide what you want to keep (cool pen) and what you want to cut (stinky sandwich). In this series of posts, I’ll write about the decisions I have to make, how I go about analyzing the data before making my decision, and then what decision I plan to make. You too could be doing this kind of thing, all you have to do is take over someone’s abandoned team and search through the desk drawers when you move in.

Kyle Freeland, $4

Ottoneu FanGraphs Points Leagues: Average salary $4.20, Median salary $3.50

Roster%: 22.87  —  7-Day change: down 1.76%. —  30-Day change: down 2.94%

Other $4 pitchers (average): Ranger Suárez PHI, Tanner Houck BOS, James Kaprielian OAK, Josiah Gray WSN, Steven Matz FA, Kris Bubic KCR, Anthony DeSclafani SFG, Jakob Junis FA, Adam Wainwright STL, Alex Cobb FA

Kyle Freeland, Steamer Projections 2022
Season Team W L GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP GB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR
2021 COL 7 8 23 120.2 7.83 2.83 1.49 0.325 45.00% 4.33 4.63 4.26 1.5
2022 Steamer 8 11 29 163 7.48 3.05 1.36 0.323 48.20% 5.09 4.60 4.41 2.1
2021 League AVG 8.90 3.34 1.26 0.290 42.90% 4.27 4.27 4.27

When looking at Steamer projections, I like the increased IPs, less HR/9, and an increased GB%. I’m not excited about the projected decrease in K/9, increase in BB/9, and a 5.09 ERA. But, for $4 I’m not expecting to start Freeland every time he actually takes the mound. Let’s dig into some of Freeland’s metrics. Want to see a funky graph? Ok, here it is:

In 2019, Freeland’s GB% was lower than his average, but still above the 2019 42.9% league average, and his ERA was gigantic. In 2020, he put a tremendous amount of balls on the ground and lowered his ERA. In 2021, his groundball rate dipped down again, but his ERA didn’t inflate to 2019 levels. Freeland has only had one season with an ERA below 4 .00 (2018) and he’s posted a 4.33 ERA in back-to-back seasons. But, a strong second half in 2021 and the usage of a developing curveball brought the 28-year old into the “stream when he’s not pitching in Colorado” category. Here’s a look at how his pitch mix has evolved over the years:

With a four-seam fastball that tops out around 92 mph, bringing the usage down in 2019 and utilizing a curveball and sinker more often, Freeland has shown flashes of a roster-able starter. Most fantasy managers just tend to stay away from Rockies pitchers completely. But, does Freeland have the ability to stick around (again, for $4) in 2022? Let’s look at his home/away splits to see if it would have been worth rostering him in 2021 and starting him only on the road:

Kyle Freeland, Home/Away Splits 2021
Season Home / Away IP ERA TBF H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG wOBA
2021 Home 59.2 4.83 261 71 11 17 53 0.298 0.351 0.504 0.365
2021 Away 61 3.84 254 62 9 21 52 0.268 0.332 0.437 0.332

The table above shows a pitcher whose home stadium is on the moon. But, for $4 I could essentially get a 3.84 ERA pitcher and 61 IPs? I think I’m still in. And what about that shoulder injury at the start of the season and that hip injury at the end of the season? Well, pitchers get hurt and that’s life. But, Freeland seemed to really perform well once healthy in the second half:

Kyle Freeland, 1st Half/2nd Half Splits 2021
Season Monthly IP ERA TBF H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG wOBA
2021 1st Half 42.2 5.48 193 53 9 18 32 0.314 0.387 0.538 0.394
2021 2nd Half 78 3.69 322 80 11 20 73 0.267 0.315 0.433 0.321

As far as the sticky stuff crackdown implications on his spin rate performance go, he seems to have been fairly unaffected beyond the drop in slider RPM as the season went on:

One last thing to show is Freeland’s pitches by value. It’s a simplistic system, yet it tells us how good his stuff is or to be more exact, “the total runs saved by a pitcher using that pitch”:

Kyle Freeland Pitch Values 2019-2021
Season wFB wSL wCT wCB wCH
2017 4.6 -4.5 -2.5 -6.1
2018 18.5 2.7 2.4 -2.7
2019 -10.2 -1.5 -3.5 -6.1
2020 -3.8 -2 0.9 4
2021 -5.7 -5.7 6.4 -5.6
Total 3.4 -11.1 -3.7 7.3 -16.5

I’m not worried about his slider spin rate dipping because it’s never really been a good pitch and it looks like he has been using it less and less often as the years have gone on. So, what is Freeland good at? He puts the ball on the ground more than average, he has decent control and he has developed a really good curveball. He’s shown signs in the past of developing a good fastball, but don’t expect it to return to 2018 18.5wFB heights. Do expect the curveball to continue to develop, for him to get hit hard at Coors and for him to have better starts away from the moon than on it.

Verdict: Keep and utilize like a streamer. 





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sonny1527Blue ShoesLucas KellyKJLCC AFC Recent comment authors
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KJL
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KJL

I appreciate the thought you put into this, but in Otto hes an easy cut at $4

CC AFC
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CC AFC

Yeah, I thought the same thing. I don’t have any shares in Freeland, but if I did, I wouldn’t have put much thought into it before I cut him. I, too, appreciate the analysis, but some respectable streaming innings are pretty easy to find for a buck or two in the auction or off the waiver wire.