CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Transaction Analysis: ... (04/26)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Beat: Donnybro... (04/05)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Beat: Compete ... (06/25)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Pi... (04/27)

April 27, 2011

Fantasy Beat

Your Wolf Pack: Should It Grow By One?

by Bill Baer

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Randy Wolf is not a household name in fantasy baseball circles; he is all but forgotten about. In ESPN leagues, for example, he is the 73rd pitcher drafted on average, 228th overall. A quick scan of his career numbers reveals he is a boringly average player. He had that nice 2009 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but has usually been found with an ERA in the mid-4.00's. He has not won more than 13 games since 2003.

That makes his start to the 2011 season all the more surprising. He held the Houston Astros to one run in eight innings of work on Sunday. With a home run in the eighth, J.R. Towles ended Wolf's scoreless innings streak of 19 and two-thirds innings, which spanned three games. Wolf's popularity, as expected, has been skyrocketing. He is owned in 54 percent of ESPN leagues, over 37 percent of which has come in the last seven days. Yahoo! players are a bit slower, as Wolf is only owned in 34 percent of leagues there.

Obviously, the big question — the reason why you come here — is, "Is it sustainable?" While I certainly do not buy into him being 2.64 ERA-good, I do buy into him improving on his usual level of production. His current 3.41 SIERA is not bad at all; it would have ranked 16th among starters with 100 or more innings pitched last year.

Digging into his peripherals, we see that he is striking hitters out at a rate (8.5 per nine innings) he has not reached since he was a rookie with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1999. The walks are down as well, averaging fewer than 2.5 walks per nine. While that rate is certainly lower than his career average, he has reached that level before on several occasions, including in 2009. As Matt Swartz and Eric Seidman, among others, have shown with their rigorous studies, strikeouts and walks are great predictors of pitchers' future success and failure (given appropriate sample sizes, of course).

The BABIP on batted ball types yields some surprising results as well. Wolf has actually been unlucky on ground balls and line drives, but very fortunate on fly balls compared to the 2010 National League average.

 

2010 NL

Wolf 2011

Ground

0.235

0.265

Fly

0.137

0.086

Line

0.719

0.833

Wolf has induced eight infield flies out of 40 total fly balls, a rate of 20 percent — very high. Wolf's career average infield fly rate is 12.5 percent. The higher-than-usual infield fly rate helps explain the low BABIP. Additionally, he is allowing line drives and ground balls at rates below his career norms. Expect his overall .274 BABIP to rise when his infield fly rate normalizes, but his ground ball and line drive BABIP regression should help counter-balance that — his overall career average BABIP is .284.

There has been very little change in Wolf's pitch repertoire. Thus far, he has used his fastball rougly five percent less than he did last year, forcing a four percent increase in slider use. Interesting, but not significant.

30 innings is not nearly enough information for us to make grand conclusions such as "Randy Wolf is a changed man," but with what he has shown thus far, he is likely better than a lot of people realize right now. Being a conservative fantasy player, I take his 3.41 SIERA and place expectations of Wolf in the 3.75-4.00 ERA range, which is absolutely a steal in any format if he is still available in your league. I, for one, am buying what Wolf is selling.

For your convenience, here is a list of Wolf's next four starts, assuming there are no skipped starts:

  • Saturday, April 30 @ Houston (4.48 runs per game, 7th in NL)
  • Thursday, May 5 @ Atlanta (3.92, 14th)
  • Tuesday, May 10 vs. San Diego (2.92, 16th)
  • Monday, May 16 vs. Los Angeles (4.04, 12th)

Quite a few pitcher-friendly parks and a nice selection of bottom-feeding offenses. This is a good stretch for Wolf.

Bill Baer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bill's other articles. You can contact Bill by clicking here

Related Content:  Randy Wolf

1 comment has been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Transaction Analysis: ... (04/26)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Beat: Donnybro... (04/05)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Beat: Compete ... (06/25)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Pi... (04/27)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Freestyle: Going All-In on Hyun-jin ...
Premium Article Minor League Update: AFL Recap for Games of ...
Hot Stove Scouting Report: Max Scherzer
Hot Stove Scouting Report: Nelson Cruz
Premium Article Pitching Backward: Sing, Sing, Sing, for the...
Premium Article Painting the Black: That Time We All Hated t...
Playoff Prospectus: The Giants Win The World...

MORE FROM APRIL 27, 2011
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Return of the Up-the...
Collateral Damage: Where No Man Has Gone Bef...
Spinning Yarn: A Soria Subject
Premium Article On the Beat: Bizarro World in the AL Central
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Running In Opposite Directions
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Outfield
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: BABIP Bugaboos

MORE BY BILL BAER
2011-05-13 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Rotation
2011-05-06 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Rotation
2011-04-29 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Rotation
2011-04-27 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Your Wolf Pack: Should It Grow...
2011-04-22 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Rotation
2011-04-15 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Rotation
2011-04-08 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Rotation
More...

MORE FANTASY BEAT
2013-04-12 - Fantasy Beat: Weekly #streameroftheday Updat...
2013-03-30 - Fantasy Beat: My Razzball Expert League Team
2011-06-25 - Fantasy Beat: Compete Against Resident Fanta...
2011-04-27 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Your Wolf Pack: Should It Grow...
2011-04-05 - Fantasy Beat: Donnybrook - Mike Stanton
2011-04-05 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Walden In, Rodney Out in Anahe...
2011-03-26 - Fantasy Beat: Improved SS/SIM for 2011
More...