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2015 Fantasy Baseball Strategy: Sell High on Madison Bumgarner


Stop the Madness: Now is the Time to Deal Madison Bumgarner

Buy low and sell high. It’s a simple motto to understand, but nearly impossible to live by. The challenge is recognizing what’s the peak and what’s the valley. Back in 2011, I tried to use this strategy on the stock market. (Uh-oh.)

I just started to manage some of my own money because I wanted to be in control of my own destiny. My first order of business was simple – buy Apple. I loved the company and was infatuated with the products. I remember a 3-6 month period where I noticed that literally every human being that had their phone out was holding an iPhone. So I invested.

Luckily, I got in at the right time and Apple’s stock soared – nearly doubling from where I bought it in less than 14 months. I was sitting pretty. This is the greatest company in the world! Every media outlet agreed with me. Not only did they agree with me, but they thought the stock could nearly double AGAIN! Best investment ever. Unfortunately, the only place the company could really go from there was down. A few pieces of bad press came out (expectations were unrealistic), and the stock fell about 40%. What the ####. I’m an idiot.

The lesson learned is that it’s important not to get caught up in the hype. Sometimes when you think you’re at the peak, it really is the peak, and it’s important to impartially recognize that. Insert the Madison Bumgarner madness.

Bumgarner is coming off arguably the greatest postseason performance ever – 52.2 innings with a 1.03 ERA and a WHIP that’s too small to type. I’ve seen Bumgarner listed as high as the third best starting pitcher heading into 2015 (ESPN). He’s an incredible pitcher, but the third best in the game? I’m not paying that price on draft day. If you’re in a keeper league, this is your impartial moment to deal him.

Bumgarner’s 52.2 IP in the postseason are the most ever; 4 more than Curt Schilling in 2001, and 8 more than Deacon Phillippe in… 1903. This concerns me – it’s one thing to see an innings increase year-over-year, but it’s another thing to have a guy pitch so many high leverage innings in the season’s final month, especially when the Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, and Johnny Cuetos of the world are at home getting ready for 2015. Although impossible to predict, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bumgarner ends up with some arm fatigue at some point next year, or if the Giants limit how aggressively they use him. He pitched 270 total innings in 2014, up from just 201.1 in 2013.

I mentioned his 1.03 ERA, but how did his peripherals look in the postseason? Not nearly as good. His FIP remained solid at 2.62, but his 3.40 xFIP is human. His K rate was also significantly lower at 7.7 per 9 innings vs. 9.1 per 9 during the regular season. It’s normal to see performance deteriorate in the playoffs against the league’s best teams, but Bumgarner threw 36.2 innings against Kansas City and St. Louis, the 14th and 24th best offenses in terms of runs scored – hardly what I would call upper tier offenses.

In Summary

When you combine his potential overuse, fortunate statistics, and unconditional media affection, it’s a confluence of items that tell me now is the time to move on from Bumgarner in keeper leagues. If you can get top 5 SP value (or even more), pull the trigger. Now’s the time to do it while an owner is too focused on fantasy basketball and riding the Bumgarner bandwagon like everyone else. If you're in a redraft league, let someone else draft him in the 3rd round and opt for David Price or Chris Sale instead.


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