Question Submitted to RotoBaller >>
Fantasy Baseball Question: Which two guys should I keep out of these 4: Weaver, Bumgarner, McCutchen, Bruce?
Player Pool: Mixed
# of Teams: 11-13
League Info and Categories: Weekly Points League. Pitching weighted toward IP, W/L and K. Hitting weighted toward OPS. Overall elite pitchers more valuable than elite hitters.
Roster Positions: No CI or MI. 3 OF Shallow Hitting and DEEP Pitching.
League Host: Yahoo!
RotoBaller Detailed Analysis >>
Thanks for your question. We haven't gotten a points league question yet! It always makes for an interesting analysis angle.
Even in a points league where pitchers are more valuable than hitters, McCutchen MUST BE one of your two keepers. Here's a guy who may still have more growth before hitting his prime, and though his BA will surely regress, his OPS should rise as his power continues to develop.
The other easy choice is letting Bruce go. In a H2H league, he can be borderline cancerous. Sure, he'll single-handedly win you 2 weeks throughout the year, but he is SO damn streaky that he will also act as a blackhole on your OF all the other weeks. Consistency is a really significant factor in this kind of format, and Jay Bruce is simply not yet consistent enough on a weekly basis to warrant keeping him.
That said, the REAL choice comes down to Bumgarner vs. Weaver. This is a really tough choice, buddy. Weaver was ranked eighteenth overall and the sixth best SP (5x5 rankings) in 2012. And in a points league where Pitcher Losses are a factor, Weaver was probably even better than that for you. Bumgarner was the fourteenth best SP and ranked 42 overall in 5x5. That is still fairly elite. He had a very respectable record at 16-11 but with fewer losses, he certainly would've cracked the top-ten SP list. So, you have two bona fide aces on your hands. Let's dig a little deeper and see if we can picture what 2013 has in store:
Weaver's ridiculous 20-5 record will come down to Earth; considering that he only threw 188 IP, there is a substantial amount of good luck in that record. His K-Rate has fallen big-time, to below the average for the top-100 SP-- in a league where Ks equal points, this points to trouble ahead. One other worrisome statistic is his .240 BABIP. A fly ball pitcher like Weaver can sustain a fairly low BABIP, but .240 is crazy-low, especially considering his fairly high line-drive % (21.1). Weaver's BABIP will likely regress to the .260-.270 range, which means more hits, in turn leading to more runs. All together, I think a line of 17-8 with 160 K and a 3.5 ERA is much more realistic expectation than a repeat of his eye-popping 2012.
Madison Bumgarner, conversely, is on the rise. His K-BB ratio is elite (18th overall) and will improve even further. His IP totals have been rising and he could easily surpass the 210 mark this year. If that happens, he'll also pass the 200 K mark for the first time in his career. Unlike Weaver (an extreme fly-ball pitcher), Bumgarner keeps the ball on the ground at a high rate, which is a much more reliable way to control run-scoring. San Francisco is always a good ball club, so Bumgarner should be good for a pretty similar record to last year's 16-11. Perhaps most significantly, he's only 22 years old, and he already has TWO high-end seasons under his belt. That is nasty! A reasonable projection for the Giants' young gun is a line of 16-9, 200 K and a 3.4 ERA.
YOUR ANSWER! >>
In summary, while McCutchen over Bruce is an easy call, Bumgarner vs. Weaver is much more difficult. In the end, I would go with Bumgarner for the following reasons: age, NL pitcher, K potential in a fantasy league format where points are tied to Ks, Weaver's diminishing Ks / huge IP totals of recent years, and the fact that sometimes you've just gotta go with your gut. Weaver is the EASY choice to make, but my gut is telling me he's in for a decline while Bumgarner is just about to take his game to the elite level.
Hope this was helpful and thanks for your submission!
- The RotoBaller Staff