Overspending for players in 2011

Overspending for Players in 2011

Ted Williams once said, “If I was being paid $30,000 a year, the very least I could do was hit .400.” This quote is really amazing to me because it not only shows the kind of character this Hall of Fame hitter had, but it also draws attention to the fact that $30,000 was an extraordinary amount of money back then. Most Americans could barely make it on this kind of scratch today. We are too busy with our iPhones and Hummers and blinded by our LED 3D TVs to recognize that the paper in our pockets is becoming more and more worthless. To me, that is also what’s beautiful about being an American. We live in a time where information is everywhere. Anything you want, you can have. No luxury is too great or too small if you have the means to obtain it. Spending drives the economy, and likewise, spending will drive your fantasy team. As we enter a new year and a new time of life, let’s let the nation’s economy handle itself for the day and concentrate on better understanding our fantasy baseball economy.

Since every fantasy writer in the business likes to generate lists of “value guys,” “waiver wire gems,” and “bargain bin all stars,” I will go against the grain, channel that American spirit, and give you my list of guys on which to overspend. These are players I feel are so undervalued by the masses that you would be foolish not to pay more for their services.

2011 Overspending List (no particular order)

The Stud: Ryan Braun. He is currently being drafted about 13th overall according to Mock Draft Central. He’s been drafted as high as seventh. I argue that I would draft him fifth behind Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, and Joey Votto. I believe in Tulow, but not quite enough to rank him ahead of Braun. Carlos Gonzalez is the best bet to go 30/30 next year, but I feel his strikeouts and free swinging will make that batting average dip eventually.

Here are the facts, Ryan Braun has the eighth-most home runs of any major leaguer in history through his first four seasons. He had a down year and still posted an elite line of 101/25/103/14/.304. He is the picture of consistency, and I believe that his home run to fly ball ratio of 14 percent was an aberration. Once you examine his second-half split, you see the reversal back to 17 percent which is closer to his career average. The speed dropped a little and so did his stolen base opportunities, but double-digit steals should still be expected. The Brewers will be better in 2011, and assuming Prince Fielder stays put, Ryan Braun is my favorite for National League MVP, bad boy.

The Question Mark: Madison Bumgarner. The fact that this guy is getting drafted after Paul Maholm on average, makes me sick. Guys like Jhoulis Chacin, Randy Wells, Tim Stauffer are all being taken ahead of this young gun. I can’t wrap my brain around that information.

Madison is not going to be a 200-strikeout pitcher, but he’ll pound the zone with a fastball that is regaining velocity (up from an avg 89.2 to 91.3), a plus slider and change, and his newly added curveball. He has elite control with 2.2 walks per nine innings which should help him keep his WHIP down. Only Verlander, Billingsley, Lincecum, and Weaver were better than Bumgarner through September/October according to Fangraph’s WAR data. He’ll pitch as a four on a World Series winning rotation and has the make-up of a future ace. I personally love the fact that he struggled in the minors, dealt with it, and regained his top prospect status. Guys with those intangibles make for great pitchers who are great for many years.

The Guilty Pleasure: Mike Moustakas. I know I’m going to get flack for this selection in my overspend list, but I wanted to include him because he’s not being drafted at all. I understand that the Royals are in no hurry to expose him to the terrors that await him in that line up, but he will press them to give him a chance at the hot corner after a coasting through 100+ at-bats in Omaha. Whether the Royals wait until June 1 is not important. If you are in a deep league with a decent bench or any kind of keeper league, I would not let Moustakas slip off your radar as he’ll cost much more in free agent bidding or waiver priority.

He has an extremely large ceiling, well worth a last pick. Dismiss his line 94/36/124/.293 through Double-A and Triple-A in 2010 which is quite impressive. Please concentrate on his MLE’s of 72/25/95/.289. Only rivaled by Dominic Brown in all the minors last year, these MLE’s are stellar and point to the readiness of his bat. Thanks to Alex Gordon and Scott Boras we’ll have to wait but get your popcorn ready this guy has a chance to be huge.

The Ace in the Sleeve: Max Scherzer. There’s lots to like about Max Scherzer. He has two differently colored eyes. He throws a great fastball that averaged at 93.2 mph last year. He faced adversity and became a better pitcher (see Bumgarner). After a stint with the Mud Hens, Scherzer returned to the Tigers rotation with some of the most dominant stuff in all of baseball. His ERA of 2.74 and dominance of 10.17 (k/9) after the recall made for many a chin to drop. He is a big, strong 26-year-old right hander. His raw skills have never really been in question, but his consistency has. His WHIP will creep up at times, but all signs point to a 200+ strikeout season with a 3.50 or so ERA. He is being taken as a 210th pick, and my amazingly bold prediction is that he strikes out more hitters than that draft position. Don’t be caught looking.

Here’s my final soapbox. The real problem we face as our society has grown older, we have lost our wisdom. Ted Williams had it together. He understood that with great amounts of money comes greater amounts of responsibility. A fiscally responsible fantasy manager will always beat a whimsical free spender, but a fiscally responsible, whimsically wise spender is the greatest of them all.

Ben Pritchett can be reached with any questions, comments, gripes, considerations at

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  1. Ben Pritchett said...

    Jeff. I have more faith in the Royals than you do. If he’s hitting like he did in 2010, He’ll be up before he gets 200 ABs.

    “Jhoulys” Chacin. Sorry I misspelled his name. Honest mistake when you have an “h” preceded by a “j” and y in the middle of a name. Jeff, I do like Chacin, but I wouldn’t pay more for him. His stats were very impressive last year, but I believe that he deserves to be taken after Dan Hudson, Ricky Nolasco, and definitely Scherzer. Additionally, I see his dominance dropping as he continues to seek the ground ball in Coors field. Granted his ERA has potential to drop as well.

    Here’s my list of guys I’d rather have that are currently going after him on MockDraftCentral.

    1. Madison Bumgarner, obviously
    2. Brandon Morrow
    3. C.J. Wilson
    4. Jeremy Hellickson, assuming Starter in Spring
    5. Johnny Cueto
    6. Brian Matusz

    With all that said, I do like him at the bottom of this tier of late middle round starting pitching.

  2. Jeffrey Gross said...


    I have to disagree about your “guys id take ahead” of Chacin. J.C. is a super polished Ubaldo Jimenez type. He’s got Ks and GB up the ying yang and coors doesnt scare me in that regard. He’s capable of a 3.75ish ERA, a 1.30 WHIP and an 8.2+ K/9 on a team that scores runs. On the other hand, Matusz has not shown sustained success (7 starts to close the season does not count), his K rate is lackadaisical and he still pitches in the AL East as baseball’s most extreme FB pitcher.

    I love Hellickson, but I doubt he eclipsed 150 IP this season. Thus, more value to CHacin, or it is damn close. I have hellickson ranked right with bumgardner and chacin in my rankins.

    Brandon Morrow still walks way too many batters. his improved control is a mere illusion. look at the f-strike rates by month and the walk rate. while the former decreased, so did the latter. Thats baffling. Morrow owners are going to be in for a high 1.4 WHIP, mid 4 era disappointment next year.

    C.J. Wilson walked the most hitters of any pitcher in baseball last yr

    Johnny Cueto…seriously? The guy is not even a top 50-60 starter for fantasy. he’s got scott baker’s k rate, ubaldo’s “control” and an avg GB tendency.

  3. Jeffrey Gross said...


    Read “A Well Paid Slave.” It’s a great book (and was written by my Con Law II professor). He’ll tell you all about $30,000, lol.

    Regarding Moustakas, however, the Royals will want him enslaved while they are competitive. I do not expect him till 2012 at the earliest full time.

  4. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Also, I have Chacin ranked 33 and Bumgardner ranked 31. So, its not like taking either over the other is that crazy… But yeah, not after P.M., who isn’t even ranked on my top 100.

  5. James Dickson said...

    To be fair the MDC rankings for SP and RP are simply awful. No way Scherzer goes after round 13 by the time draft day rolls around. Similarly, I think JJ Putz is going undrafted

    It would be a good call to repeat this analysis for the ESPN and Yahoo ranks when they release, as those have much more effect on the actual market value of players in our draft

  6. Jason B said...

    “His stats were very impressive last year, but I believe that he deserves to be taken after Dan Hudson, Ricky Nolasco, and definitely Scherzer.”

    Dan Hudson??  Any relation to Tim?

  7. YUp said...

    To be fair the MDC rankings for SP and RP are simply awful.

    ^^ i am in an MDC draft right now and it’s a joke with Morrow and Scherzer going in the 15th. Something weird is going on there with the small sample sizes on drafts done.. i think it’s a selection bias as so many people are just drafting off the pre-ranks, which while being optimized aren’t that “right” yet.

  8. Ben Pritchett said...

    @James Dickson and YUp- Very, very good points by you both, and I will try and do a similar piece with ESPN and Yahoo when the season draws nearer. I, too, believe some of the pitcher rankings, especially in the 200’s, are ridiculous. I also believe that the normal fantasy baseball player isn’t drafting right now either. So while this piece is current, it may not be the case in two months. That’s why we do what we do and why we love this hobby so much.

    @James Simmons- Right there with you partner. I like Hudson’s skill set alot too. He had a 2.50 ERA and WHIP of 1.00 in the second half. He throws hard with decent other pitches. You know my feelings on Scherzer.

  9. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Jeffrey Gross- As for you, it sounds like we have another board bet. I bet Johnny Cueto has a better dominance rating (k/9) than Jhoulys Chacin in 2011. You want to add that to the list?

  10. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Jeffrey Gross-

    C.J. Wilson- walks aren’t everything in determining a pitcher’s value (see Nolan Ryan). He also gave up an OBA of .219 in both halves of the season. He was consistent and his Dominance (8.6) and Command (2.2) showed growth in the second half. I’m not worried about his skill set. Though, I am worried about his innings load and if his arm will get tired this year.

    Brandon Morrow and Brian Matusz- I see and know your points and agree about the AL East. I would probably put Chacin in with this group, but I absolutely love Morrow’s raw ability and Matusz has a much better pedigree than Chacin.

    P.S. I’m going to ignore your reference to Chacin being a “polished Ubaldo Jimenez”.

  11. Jeffrey Gross said...


    Ask around the Fantasy dept about my opinions on Morrow smile. They’re well regaled. I used to love the guy, but he’s got Daniel Cabrera written all over him.

  12. Ben Pritchett said...

    Ok so I studied those graphs and while I do see what you’re saying about the control issue, I noticed that other than Chacin’s slider, C.J.‘s cut fastball and fastball performed markedly better than any of Chacin’s other pitches. C.J.‘s movement and velocity were better even if he sacrificed some control. Chacin’s slider looked really good though. I’ll give you that.

    Other point I thought about while I was laying in bed last night, was that alot of these hitters were probably trying to watch pitches seeing as they had never really seen him. That could also be a strategy to run his pitch count. There are things in the MLB clubhouses that we still can’t account for with our beloved sabrmetrics.

    Good debating with you, Mr. Gross

  13. Ben Pritchett said...

    That’s some unbelievable stuff. I’m impressed. I’ll be looking at all that deeper when I have more time. The only problem I have with taking that data like Swinging strike rate and F-strike% and comparing them from ‘09 to ‘10 to show a deterioration in skills. He went from a reliever to starter

    But in regards to what you’re saying about C.J. for 2011 is that yes those numbers are alarming but he also had the second to least amount of ZSwing%. That means they’re not swinging at the balls in the zone either. Look at his pitch values. His wFB, wCT, and wSL all performed in the top 20 of starters. Plus Cahill, Lincecum, and Jimenez had comprable F-Strike%.

    I guess my argument is there are called strikes too and his Zone% was decent so it’s not like he was missing the strike zone completely.

  14. Jeffrey Gross said...

    My research reveals Zone% has almost no real connection to BB%. It’s all about the F-Strike%, baby!

    Also, Lincecum’s control is hardly impeccable wink

  15. Ben Pritchett said...

    I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on C.J. You have to admit that with lincecum and ubaldo in generally the same boat, it might just point to these guys just trying to throw out of the zone to test the hitter. It’s a theory. wink

  16. Jeffrey Gross said...

    I don’t particularly think its intentionally testing hitters with out-of-the-zone pitches. I believe its flatly poor control. Let me look at the pitch f/x data and get back to you

  17. Jeffrey Gross said...

  18. james simmons said...

    i feel that scherzer and hudson are keys to winning our leagues this year. their low salaries will allow an upgrade in relievers and quality outfielders.
      and the most important thing is that hudson’s diac and magga ratings are very close to hernandez and carpenter’s.

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