Fantasy MLB: Open-Letter Trade Offer (A.K.A. Jose Fernandez is REALLY Good)
By Michael Jokinen 7/10/13
(Future star? Nah, kid’s a star right now …)
Okay, so I’m a total fantasy junkie – my mind is usually whirring 24/7, thinking about how I can fleece, eer, I mean, come to a fair trade with my league-mates. I usually like to talk through a trade with my friends over the phone. But sometimes a trade is complicated. Sometimes you want to give your friend a bunch of stats. Sometimes your friend is really busy and would rather just read over your proposal. In any event, I’ll often resort to sending e-mails to my league-mates instead. I sent one of these letters to a league-mate the other day, and I thought you all might enjoy a peep. Mind you, my format is a keeper league (we get seven) and 5×5 mixed-league rotisserie. Also, of note, Hisashi Iwakuma – a centerpiece in this trade – just got shellacked AGAIN last night, after I had already sent my trade proposal. So what do you guys think? Who is the winner is this prospective trade? My friend is still deliberating …
YOUR POTENTIAL KEEPERS (and keeper grades):
Stephen Strasburg ($12)
GRADE = A+
Yu Darvish ($24)
GRADE = B
Adrian Beltre ($25)
GRADE = B
Andrew McCutchen ($22)
GRADE = B
Jay Bruce ($16)
GRADE = B
Hisashi Iwakuma ($10)
GRADE = C
Pedro Alvarez ($1)
GRADE = C-
Tragically, the BigWillies are out of the hunt – it’s now time to focus on getting the best keeper talent you can, and the deadline is fast approaching. Above is your list of potential keepers. Not a bad group at all, but not without its blemishes. You only have five/six legit keepers in my mind (Iwakuma is fringe, I’d lean yes, but Alvarez is most likely a no) and some of them are a tad pricey. You could use a little keeper help, and that’s where I come in. I have a slight keeper surplus, but could really use some more punch to make a run this year. Let’s help each other. Help. Me. Kill. Tags. Here’s the trade I have in mind:
I GET: Jered Weaver ($28) / Hisashi Iwakuma ($10)
YOU GET: Jose Fernandez ($10)
THE KEY PLAYERS:
Jose Fernandez – Okay, you probably remember some of what I wrote about Fernandez in my last trade proposal from a month ago, or whenever it was. You remember the imperious prospect pedigree and outrageous minor league production. You remember he’s a puppy, merely twenty years old. So I’ll tell you about what he’s done this year at the big league level. Since I last spoke to you about Fernandez, his stock has been soaring.
Since the start of June, Fernandez has been the best pitcher in baseball. He’s racked up five wins, while posting the best ERA (1.75), WHIP (0.89), and OBA (.157) in the entire Majors in that span. His total production to date is now terrific, and as I’ll show, it’s historic performance from a 20 year old.
On the season, his 2.83 ERA is the 19th best in baseball. His 3.23 FIP is 17th best in baseball. His 1.07 WHIP is 17th best in baseball. His average fastball velocity (FBv) sits at 94.8mph, the fourth best in baseball, trailing only Harvey/Strasburg/Samardzija. His .194 OBA is fourth best in all of baseball. His K% (24.8%) is 10th best in baseball. Additionally, his 9.03 K/9 is the 14th best in baseball, and the 2nd best ever by a 20 year old (one spot ahead of Doc Gooden, and one spot behind Rick Ankiel). Jose Fernandez is in the midst of one of the greatest seasons ever from a 20 year old. Age aside, he’s having a great season, period – just validated by being named to this year’s All-Star team. And as his numbers since the start of June suggest, he’s in a real groove now, only continuing to trend upward.
Fernandez will surely be a top-20 pitcher on everyone’s draft sheet for next year, and a fringe top-15 pitcher. He’d go for around $25. As such, I see him as a B keeper.
Hisashi Iwakuma – So why do I see Fernandez as a B keeper and Iwakuma as a C keeper, if they’ve had comparable production this year? While Iwakuma’s 2.60 ERA is great, his 3.66 FIP is more than a full run higher, suggesting he’s been very, very lucky (as well as very good). Indeed, his LOB% (83.1%) and BABIP (.224) suggest he’s in for some steep regression. It’s already started, as Iwakuma has been very ordinary as of late. He hasn’t had a quality start in exactly a month, and his ERA is 5.54 in that span. Iwakuma’s rest-of-season projections, according to ZiPS (the best saber-projections you can find … far more accurate than your run of the mill fantasy magazine, or ESPN.com projections) has him pegged to post a 3.86 ERA the rest of the way. So Fernandez is trending up, Iwakuma down. In Iwakuma’s only other season, last year, his FIP was 4.35. And he’s 32. And he’s never been a good strikeout option, as his career K/9 is a mediocre 7.4, and this year it sits at 7.6. I do think Iwakuma could be a keeper, but only a decent 7th keeper. And there’s zero potential at being a multi-year keeper, whereas Fernandez has the upside to be a 3-4 year keeper.
Jered Weaver – The erosion of Jered Weaver over the past few years has been startling. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a quality pitcher, but he hasn’t been an ace since 2011. His FIP this year is 3.79. His FIP last year was 3.75. At age 30, he’s sneaky old, and his velocity has declined every season for three years running. He’s never been a strikeout guy (career 7.60 K/9), but the past few years have been even worse – his K/9 has declined in each of the past three seasons, and over the past two, he hasn’t even reached 7.0 K/9. That’s downright bad. He’ll still post good ratios, but at this point, Weaver can no longer be considered a top-15 pitcher. And obviously, at $28, his keeper value is zero. Ultimately, Fernandez is a sizeable keeper upgrade over Iwakuma, and a $28 Jered Weaver is a small price to pay for that difference in keeper value. So what do you think of this trade? … Last thought, I view Justin Upton ($23) and Jay Bruce ($16) as very similar keepers. However, if it made a difference to you, I’d also be willing to swap Upton/Bruce. Let me know what you think!