Fantasy fallout: Hoffman signs with Brewers

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Trevor Hoffman moves his game to the Brewers in 2009. Is he right for your fantasy team? (Icon/SMI)

After Brian Fuentes signed with the Angels last week, Trevor Hoffman signing with the Brewers made a lot of sense. His 2008 was a mixed bag:

+------+------+---+------+------+----+
| YEAR | IP   | W | ERA  | WHIP | SV |
+------+------+---+------+------+----+
| 2008 | 45.3 | 3 | 3.77 | 1.04 | 30 |
+------+------+---+------+------+----+

Some would call this a down year due to his higher than expected ERA and a low saves total, plus the fact that the Padres used him very sparingly. He actually was quite unlucky, though, and should have been a fine fantasy option. Let’s take a quick look at how his numbers and value will be affected by the move, and whether we should count on him in 2009.

Fallout: Hoffman

If you’re new to THT Fantasy Focus and are unfamiliar with True Home Runs (tHR) or any of the other stats I’m using, check out our quick reference guide. These stats provide a much clearer picture of a player’s talent, so it’s well worth taking a couple of minutes to learn them.

+------+-----+----+------+------+------+-----+------+---------+------+-------+------+-------+
| YEAR | AGE | G  | IP   | ERA  | QERA | K/9 | BB/9 | K/BB RI | xGB% | BABIP | LOB% | HR/FB |
+------+-----+----+------+------+------+-----+------+---------+------+-------+------+-------+
| 2006 |  38 | 65 | 63.0 | 2.14 | 3.98 | 7.1 |  1.9 |    0.44 |   33 | 0.236 |   86 |   8.4 |
| 2006 |  38 | 65 | 63.0 | 2.14 | 3.97 | 7.2 |  1.9 |    0.44 |   33 | 0.233 |   -- |  10.1 |
+------+-----+----+------+------+------+-----+------+---------+------+-------+------+-------+
| 2007 |  39 | 61 | 57.3 | 2.98 | 4.41 | 6.9 |  2.4 |    0.27 |   30 | 0.278 |   70 |   2.8 |
| 2007 |  39 | 61 | 57.3 | 2.98 | 4.39 | 7.1 |  2.4 |    0.31 |   29 | 0.278 |   -- |   3.1 |
+------+-----+----+------+------+------+-----+------+---------+------+-------+------+-------+
| 2008 |  40 | 48 | 45.3 | 3.77 | 3.09 | 9.1 |  1.8 |    0.92 |   37 | 0.259 |   78 |  15.4 |
| 2008 |  40 | 48 | 45.3 | 3.77 | 3.15 | 9.2 |  1.8 |    0.93 |   36 | 0.253 |   -- |  18.0 |
+------+-----+----+------+------+------+-----+------+---------+------+-------+------+-------+

Above, we see Hoffman’s Context Adjusted Pitching Stats (CAPS) that I introduced earlier this week. The first line shows his actual numbers and the second line shows his context adjusted numbers for ballpark and quality of opponent.

While Hoffman turned 40 this past year, he still has been a solid pitcher over the past few years. He hasn’t been great, but his peripheral stats have been good and, as some relievers are capable of, he’s maintained better than average BABIPs, left on base percentages, and homer/fly ball rates for many years.

In 2008, his strikeout rate jumped while he maintained his BABIP and LOB percentage dominance. We did, however, see his HR/FB skyrocket, which caused his ERA to be higher than his QERA and LIPS ERA for the first time in a while. Plus, the move away from PETCO and into Miller isn’t going to help things. We must note, though, that Hoffman pitched just 45 innings and that this is likely just bad luck.

Looking at the CAPS lines, Hoffman’s numbers change very little (aside from HR/FB). All told, for 2009, I wouldn’t expect a repeat of his 2008 peripherals, but despite his advanced age, Hoffman still seems capable of being a quality reliever. Combining his good peripherals with his abilities in the “luck categories” means Hoffman should be able to post an ERA in the low 3.00s. This is plenty good enough for him to hold down the closing job, although because he’s older and doesn’t pitch many innings, the little value closers derive from their ERA and WHIP is even smaller for Hoffman.

While some analysts might look at his elevated ERA and low saves total (30) in 2008 and say that he’s this year’s Eric Gagne for the Brew Crew, Hoffman should be plenty capable of holding down the job and could make an excellent fantasy pick. He had been going late in drafts, based partially on the uncertainty of him not yet having a job, so it will be interesting to see where he starts going now. If we can still manage to pick him up after round 18, he would likely be an absolute steal.

Fallout: Brewers’ relievers

Back when Salomon Torres retired, we looked at the Brewers’ relievers in the closing mix. While none really looked very appealing, the value of each now plummets. Carlos Villanueva, Seth McClung and David Riske are no longer draftable in mixed leagues and are speculative picks at best in NL-only leagues.

My favorite, Mark DiFelice, falls further down the depth chart. Continue to keep an eye on him, though, as he could be a sleeper in the second half if he pitches well and Hoffman gets injured or falls apart due to his age.

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