Deep Auction League Strategy: Hitting versus Pitching

Stephen Dunn

Christopher Rizzo discusses the different attributes of hitting versus pitching.

Every owner usually has a unique approach to their own drafts when it comes to drafting hitting versus pitching. Some will overweight in pitching, others overweight in hitting, and most will have a balanced approach. Shown below are some factors to consider when you plan your own strategy.

Player performance is more variable for pitchers than hitters. Anyone who owned Justin Verlander in 2008 or Tim Lincecum last year knows one year you'll have one of the best pitchers in the league and the next they have an awful season from a fantasy perspective. Listed below are the top 12 hitters and starting pitchers going into the 2012 season, their draft values, and their final rounded values in a typical AL-only or NL-only 5x5 league last year:

NL Hitters

Price

Final

Change


NL Starters

Price

Final

Change

Ryan Braun

43

46

5%


Clayton Kershaw

41

36

-12%

Matt Kemp

43

24

-45%


Roy Halladay

39

9

-77%

Joey Votto

40

20

-51%


Cliff Lee

37

22

-42%

Carlos Gonzalez

39

30

-22%


Tim Lincecum

29

-1

-104%

Justin Upton

37

26

-30%


Cole Hamels

28

29

2%

Troy Tulowitzki

37

7

-81%


Zack Greinke

27

22

-21%

Giancarlo Stanton

31

28

-11%


Matt Cain

26

33

24%

Hanley Ramirez

30

25

-15%


Stephen Strasburg

24

23

-2%

Andrew McCutchen

30

39

31%


Ian Kennedy

24

13

-43%

Hunter Pence

29

23

-22%


Mat Latos

23

21

-8%

Pablo Sandoval

28

15

-48%


Madison Bumgarner

22

25

15%

Michael Bourn

28

28

-1%


Josh Johnson

21

10

-50%

Total

415

310

-25%


Total

342

243

-29%

Standard Deviation of Change:

30%


Standard Deviation of Change:

38%

AL Hitters

Price

Final

Change


AL Starters

Price

Final

Change

Albert Pujols

38

28

-28%


Justin Verlander

44

41

-7%

Miguel Cabrera

37

41

9%


Felix Hernandez

37

31

-15%

Jacoby Ellsbury

34

10

-72%


Jered Weaver

35

34

-3%

Adrian Gonzalez

33

24

-27%


Yu Darvish

32

22

-31%

Jose Bautista

31

16

-47%


CC Sabathia

32

28

-14%

Robinson Cano

30

31

3%


Dan Haren

32

13

-58%

Dustin Pedroia

30

24

-21%


David Price

29

38

31%

Prince Fielder

30

29

-4%


Jon Lester

24

7

-71%

Evan Longoria

27

13

-53%


C.J. Wilson

24

16

-31%

Curtis Granderson

27

27

1%


James Shields

24

29

21%

Ian Kinsler

26

24

-7%


Michael Pineda

21

0

-100%

Josh Hamilton

26

34

31%


Josh Beckett

20

8

-62%

Total

369

299

-19%


Total

354

267

-25%

Standard Deviation of Change:

29%


Standard Deviation of Change:

38%

Although the deviation of prices between pitchers and hitters does not seem to be a major difference (38% versus 29/30%), these values are based on 5x5 league values. If I had used a 4x4 league example, the pitcher values would have been more amplified than in the example, both on the high side and the low. That said, in the chart above five of the six players listed with a final value of less than $10 are pitchers, and typically pitchers have a higher percentage of players who will have negative value versus hitters. Generally, hitters with negative values are those who do not get at-bats and have a batting average below .200. Pitchers who have negative dollar values are not necessarily those who don't pitch but play full seasons e.g. Ubaldo Jimenez or Ricky Romero last year.

Adding to the variability of pitching valuations is the high turnover in the closer position. Going back only two years ago, only 13 closers heading into the 2011 season are still expected to be closers heading into this year: John Axford, Jonathan Broxton, Frank Francisco, Joel Hanrahan, Craig Kimbrel, Carlos Marmol, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Chris Perez, J.J. Putz, Mariano Rivera, Fernando Rodney, and Huston Street.

So this leads to a previous point I've made, which is...

Success in hitting categories is more correlated to playing time (i.e. at-bats) than the pitching categories (i.e. innings pitched). This has a few implications during your auction. One is that if you are in a league where you have a utility position that can be either a hitter or a pitcher, it is optimal to have a hitter in that spot. Another is let's say your league has gone through a significant portion of the auction and you think you've gotten an adequate amount of good pitching, but still have an ample amount of money left with both hitting and pitching spots still open. When you're deciding on how you should focus the remainder of your money on hitting versus pitching, you should probably focus it on hitting to ensure you get the at-bats you'll need.

All else being equal if you are behind in the standings during the season in either hitting or pitching, it is easier to come from behind in the pitching categories than the hitting categories because rate stats (versus counting stats) are less influenced by playing time. Given how most deep fantasy leagues are set up, the free agent pool for hitters is usually bare - if there is a full time starter playing, he's probably on someone's team. But in terms of pitchers, usually there is an available starting pitcher and/or good relievers in the free agent pool that could help your pitching staff.

Hitting wins leagues more often than pitching. This may be a small sample size or unique to the leagues I've played in, but in the 25 league-seasons where I was able to collect data, 16 of those seasons the team that won the league scored more points in the hitting categories than in the pitching categories.

Given that pitching results are more of an unknown quantity versus hitting, this does not mean that you should always overweight on your budget towards hitting. After all, if all of the owners in your league focused more on hitting then this will drive the price of hitters up. Personally, I prefer a balanced approach that tries to make sure I have a full lineup - with no holes - and have a robust enough pitching staff.

Next up: Drafting Catchers and Replacement Value

SB Nation Featured Video

Latest News

In This Article

Players
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Fake Teams

You must be a member of Fake Teams to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Fake Teams. You should read them.

Join Fake Teams

You must be a member of Fake Teams to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Fake Teams. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker