What’s the big deal with Jose Arredondo?

Why is Arredondo owned in so many fantasy leagues? (Icon/SMI)

What is the big deal with Jose Arredondo? Throughout the offseason, everyone talked about how great he was and how he would be saving games in Anaheim this season, and even once Brian Fuentes signed with the team this kind of talked subsided only to a certain degree.

Arredondo is owned in 48 percent of Yahoo! leagues, 35 percent of ESPN leagues (down from 45 percent after his rough first week), and 25 percent of CBS leagues. I just don’t get it.

Saves potential?

Sure, early in the off-season we weren’t sure who would be closing for the Angels, but now Scot Shields seems pretty firmly entrenched as the No. 2 in that bullpen. The official team depth chart has Shields above Arredondo.

Arredondo has been entering the game first with Shields coming on later to set up Fuentes. Shields was even used in the ninth inning to secure a save the other night. In 2008, Shields’ leverage index (gmLI) was 1.62. Arredondo’s was 1.38. Through the first week of 2009, Shields again leads 1.49 to 1.33. Mike Scioscia seems to trust Shields more in the later innings and the tighter spots.

Some will argue that Shields’ age is a deterrence to becoming a closer, should Fuentes get injured. They say that at 32 years old, Shields is too old to be a closer and that the team would be better off handing the job to the younger player. Yet how often do we hear teams talk about the importance of “experience” for closers? Now, in this case, it’s suddenly a bad thing?

Last year, of the 20 players who saved more than 25 games, nine of them were at least 32 years old and another three were over 30. So what makes Shields different than these guys? You could argue that he’s different because some of these guys began closing before they hit 30, but Shields was behind Francisco Rodriguez. How was he supposed to close?

This isn’t to say that the Angels see things this way, but it sure seems like they prefer Shields.

Good ERA and WHIP?

Maybe people are holding onto Arredondo for his ratios? It’s certainly acceptable to play elite relievers to bring down your ERA and WHIP, but Arredondo doesn’t fit this bill.

Of the non-Marcel projection systems (I exclude Marcels because there is not enough major league data on Arredondo for me to put much weight into it), the best projection is a 3.67 ERA from the always-optimistic Bill James system. THT’s system projects a 4.67 ERA, and PECOTA comes in at 4.09. The best WHIP projection is 1.33 from ZiPS with THT and PECOTA both over 1.40.

His minor league numbers aren’t even all that great. He has a K/9 in the 7.0s at both Double-A and Triple-A for his career (albeit with a near 8.0 K/9 in Double-A and a small sample size at Triple-A), and that’s before converting to an MLE.

What I will give him, however, is his 1.62 ERA in the majors last season. This probably has a lot to do with everyone’s expectations for him. He also has pretty good stuff with a high-rising fastball (although he only gets average velocity of around 92 MPH with it) and a biting splitter. This portends potential future success, but for now, I just can’t see owning Arredondo in anything but an AL-only league or very deep mixed league.

Closing up

Arredondo is third in his team’s pecking order and posts mediocre fantasy ratios. Sure, Arredondo is a good pitcher and probably belongs in the upper ranks of real-life relief pitchers, but with ERA expectations above 3.75, he won’t be helping your fantasy team’s ratios.

If you’re looking for saves upside, go out and get Ryan Franklin, Brandon Lyon, Scott Downs, or even guys like Jensen Lewis, Leo Nunez, or Manny Corpas.

If you’re looking for ratios, go get Rafael Perez, Hideki Okajima, Takashi Saito, Manny Delcarmen, or Cla Meredith. All are under 10 percent owned in ESPN leagues and 30 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues (some are under 10 percent here too). Even guys like Hong-Chih Kuo and Grant Balfour are available in more than half of all leagues.

Don’t take this as me saying “Arredondo sucks and won’t save any games.” He has solid skills and some definite saves potential. My point is that there are better guys available in both regards.

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  1. Scott said...

    I know you didn’t list them all, but no Chris Perez/Chris Ray mention in the “saves upside”. I’d rather have Corpas than Franklin or Lyon.

  2. Mike Podhorzer said...

    Amen! This has boggled my mind as well. For some crazy reason, everyone just assumed he was next in line for saves, despite there never being any indication whatsoever from the Angels that this was true. I figured Shields was the better bet.

    Of course his ridiculously lucky ERA last year also made people believe that he was a potential future star closer. Obviously these people ignored his lucky .250 BABIP and 5.8% HR/FB ratio.

  3. Tim Dierkes said...

    I think he’s just owned because Yahoo and/or ESPN had him ranked too highly and their rankings have a large effect on who gets drafted.

  4. go zips said...

    if you play gamedayritual.com, you absolutely have to have a guy like arredondo on your roster.  he scored a ton of points in week one.

  5. Derek Carty said...

    Certainly a justifiable reason for owning him.

    Yeah, I didn’t list them all, and Perez and Ray both fall into that category.  You could also make a case for David Aardsma and Santiago Casilla.  As far as prefering Corpas, sure he has better skills, but if all we’re looking for is saves, Lyon is just a week or two of Rodney being Rodney from closing, and Franklin already looks like he’ll be getting the majority of St. Louis’s save opps.

    If the Rockies are going to trade Street at the deadline, as I imagine they will try to do, it would take so serious suckage for him to lose the job before then.

    You’re definitely right here.  I didn’t mention it, but I believe that this has a lot to do with it… although it shouldn’t.

  6. Jeff W. said...

    I drafted Arredondo in the late-middle rounds of my 12-team mixed keeper draft because our league counts holds.

    In 2008, I got buried in holds, but I’m leading the league in them so far, with good Ks.  Arredondo has been an important part of that mix: 3 IP in 4 appearances, 4 holds, 5 Ks.  His ERA and WHIP are a bit messed up right now, so I snagged up Perez in case Arredondo’s rate states don’t improve.

    I have another theory—I think there is a “homer” effect when it comes to middle relieves. 

    Arredondo is owned in lots of leagues because LA is a big market and, to the extent people know middle relievers, lots of Angels fans know his name.  Managers who don’t know that many middle relievers naturally gravitate to the bullpens of teams they like to follow.

    I have seen this in my keeper league.  We are mostly Chicago and Milwaukee residents, and we own virtually the entire Cubs, White Sox, and Brewers bullpens, while leaving some bullpens completely untouched.

  7. Derek Carty said...

    That “homer” affect also probably has something to do with it, Jeff.  And even if fantasy owners don’t live in LA, the fact that Arredondo plays in a big market makes it more likely that they’ve heard of him.  It also increases the amount of hype and exposure the player gets in the media.

  8. Derek Carty said...

    This is true, Rev.  I was surprised Okajima wasn’t more widely owned (though he is generally above 20% in most leagues).  I think Holds might have something to do with it, as well as Arredondo’s ERA and rookie appeal.  Younger players feel like better picks to many people.

    Soriano does have saves upside.  All it takes is an injury to Mike Gonzalez or some poor pitching (though that isn’t super likely), although Soriano will need to stay healthy himself – something he’s been incapable of for quite some time.

  9. Rev Halofan said...

    If Jeff W’s theory was true, Okajima would be in every “Nation’s” fantasy league. There is 1% of the hype to the LAA that BOS gets.

    Holds is the answer.

  10. Fred Ennison said...

    This is a nice article and the comments are good, too.

    Rev – I think people are still skeptical of Okajima and they also assume Saito will get the majority of 8th inning duties instead of the less-regular(?) matchup hold.

    If you’ve seen Scott Shields in the occasional 9th inning over the last few years, he seems to get inside his head too much. I’d be curious if any Angels fans felt the same way…

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