One of the keys to success in Fantasy Baseball is capitalizing on values. Just take a glance at early drafts and it’s easy to see the recency bias based on last season. The players that performed well or had a good second half to the season are pushed up to the upper half of drafts and players that disappointed fell far.
Figuring out the bargains in the middle of drafts can yield a lot of profit. One of the players who had a bad season in terms of surface stats, but was better when digging deeper is Giants pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
The right-hander went 9-15 with a 4.42 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Samardzija had a 24.2 percent strikeout rate, the second best of his career, and a 3.8 percent walk rate, a career-best. One of the biggest problems for Samardzija, as it was for many pitchers last season, was home runs. He allowed 30 in 207.2 innings, a 1.30 HR/9.
Samardzija had a 67.5 percent strand rate, which was below his career mark of 70.7 percent. He had a 205:32 K:BB ratio, which is as good as it gets. Even with the high ERA, Samardzija still had a 1.14 WHIP.
Pitching is becoming a premium with so few reliable pitchers. In early drafts, pitchers are flying off the board quickly. Only 15 pitchers threw 200 innings last season. Chris Sale led the majors with 214.1 innings pitched. In 2015, 28 pitchers reached 200 innings.
While Samardzija has been inconsistent, he has pitched at least 203 innings in five consecutive seasons and he his skill set is excellent. He threw first-pitch strikes 65 percent of the time and has at least 202 strikeouts in three of the last five seasons.
In 21 of his 32 starts last season, Samardzija allowed three earned runs or fewer. A few bad starts inflated the ERA. Samardzija had a 3.61 FIP and all the underlying numbers indicate Samardzija should have had a better ERA. The average ERA in baseball was 4.36 last season, so Samardzija wasn’t as bad considering the landscape of pitching. Samardzija had a stretch from May 3 to July 16 where he had a 100:4 K:BB ratio in 92.2 innings. That’s simply outrageous.
While Samardzija didn’t help in the wins category with the Giants tying for the worst record in baseball with the Tigers, he helped in WHIP and strikeouts. If Samardzija can reach 200 innings again, there’s a good chance he reaches 200 strikeouts or comes close. Only ten pitchers in baseball did that last season. All of those pitchers are going in the first five rounds or drafts yet Samardzija has an ADP of 161.44 on fantrax.com as the 40th starting pitcher taken off the board. If you’re looking for a workhorse pitcher at a discount, Samardzija is the guy.