June 3, 2014
Success Stories in the Endgame, Part Two
Last week, I looked at cheap “endgame” ($1-3) hitters in the American League and National League and concluded that there were some bargains to be found at the end of the auction that could help your team next year if you’re dumping.
This week, I will take a look at the cheap pitchers.
Table 1: Rate of Return on $1-3 AL and NL Only Pitchers: 2009-2013
Table 1 lists all of the pitchers purchased in the CBS, LABR, and Tout Wars AL and NL only leagues for an average salary of $3 or less between 2009 and 2013. There aren’t going to be this many endgame pitchers in your home leagues since this table is working off of an average price. However, the numbers above give a rough idea of what your endgame dollar buys you, and in the aggregate it doesn’t buy you that much. This is the same table that appeared last week except I added a column to the far right to show what the hitters did.
I anticipated that the cheap pitchers would earn more on average than the cheap hitters. However, on a dollar-by-dollar basis it is pretty close most seasons and the better values fluctuate back and forth between hitters and pitchers every season. Much of this is due to the fact that the worst pitchers carry a far greater negative value in only leagues than hitters do. As you can see in Table 2, there is a great deal of value to be derived from the pitching bargains every single year.
Table 2: The Cream of the Crop: Best $1-3 Auction Pitcher Buys, 2009-2013
Table 2 shows only the best of the best cheap pitching buys. Removing the total busts creates quite a different picture and the pitchers do quite well. Given that the average NL or AL-only league pitchers purchased at auction earn $1020 overall, a significant amount of value comes from the cheapies. In an earlier discussion this year, I cited the availability of cheap quality pitching as a reason not to spend aggressively on pitching. This chart is an excellent illustration of this point. An average of 21 percent of a league’s pitching value will come from these cheap and effective pitchers.
But we all know that there are pitching bargains to be had at the end of your draft or auction. The larger question is whether or not these bargains can be counted on the following season.
Table 3: Best $1-3 Auction Pitcher Buys, 2009-2012 One Year Later
The results are kind of what I expected to see; nevertheless, it is startling to see the difference between the best hitters and the best pitchers. The best cheap hitters earned an average of $12 in their big bargain season and an average of $9 the following year. The pitchers earned an average of $14 and then slipped to eight dollars the next year.
Still, an $8 pitching bargain is almost as good as a $9 hitting bargain. It stands to reason that you should dump for these pitchers, right?
Perhaps. An $8 bargain on a $1 investment is strong, but the overall volatility in the pitching market has a different impact on your future bargain than it does on the hitters. Since so much of the cheap pitching market every year turns into a significant bargain, it doesn’t make as much sense to acquire a $1-3 pitcher in a dump trade unless you’re getting at least a second-tier pitcher. This year’s Jesse Chavez might hold some of his value, but next year’s Jesse Chavez isn’t going to be that difficult to find in the auction.
I’m not completely advocating against dumping for cheap pitching, but I would push harder for cheap hitting in the dump market instead. You are more likely to find bargains in the discount bin on the pitching side every single year, which oddly enough makes the cheap hitting more valuable on the trade market when you are playing for next season.