We are down to the stretch run in Ottoneu, and in our league 52, there are really only 3 remaining contenders. Interestingly, two of them (the current league leader and the lowest ranked of the 3 teams) just completed a blockbuster trade. The particulars are below:
Though the swap of closers is interesting because Aroldis Chapman has the potential to slide into the rotation and because of the price difference, my primary focus was the starters – King Felix and Adam Wainwright.
To date, both have produced like true aces. Both have made 23 starts, Wainwright is 3rd in Ottoneu points among SPs with 971 (5.77 P/IP over 168 IP) while Felix is 4th (5.74 over 160 IP). Felix strikes out a few more hitters but issue slightly more free passes – their xFIP numbers are nearly identical and Wainwright sits at 5.1 bWAR while Hernandez stands at 4.9.
With that as background, I asked WAR’s owner (@JedMcEff, for those of you looking for another baseball follow, one of our league’s most active and best informed owners) about the trade. For me, it was in essence a swap of identical pitchers, one of whom comes with a price tag that likely makes him a salary cap casualty in January and one of whom is priced to keep for at least a few years. For WAR, Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw are head and shoulders the two most dominant pitchers in Ottoneu – and it is hard to argue, as since the start of 2012 they are the top 2 scorers in the league. Wainwright missed all of 2011 with injury and while he had dominated in 2013 his 2012 was merely All-Star quality. With only 40 roster spots, durability matters and Felix is a workhorse.
Interestingly, WAR also made the point that Hernandez has dominated of late – outscoring Wainwright by almost 80 points over their last 5 starts. Again – exactly right. Since both pitchers have 23 starts, I lined up their starts side by side for the season in the table below:
WAR is correct – over the last 5 starts Felix has been smoking hot to the tune of a 79 point lead over Wainwright. The table also offers some additional data points
(1) If we line up the starts as head to head matchups, Wainwright has outscored Felix in 15 of 23 starts
(2) Over their first 18 starts, broken into groups of 6, Wainwright outscored Felix over each 6 start block
(3) Both have 10 starts of greater than 45 Ottoneu points, but Felix has 6 “bad” starts (arbitrarily defined as fewer than 20 points) and Wainwright only 3.
If you asked me to bet on which pitcher will be better over the next 10 starts, it would be a coin flip for me. Both pitch in ballparks that are neutral to slightly pitcher favorable. Wainwright has the benefit of facing NL pitchers, though the NL Central features better offenses than the AL West. Given Felix’s durability, I would likely bet on Hernandez simply on the basis that he takes the ball every 5th day. However, if I had been managing WAR Horse there is no way I would have taken on Hernandez’s $47 salary at the cost of Wainwright’s $28 salary (never mind taking on Mujica for Chapman, despite Mujica’s success this season). However, perhaps that explains why I sit in 9th place while WAR looks like the odds on favorite to hoist his first banner. I wouldn’t have made this trade (and think it’s a steal, obviously for Durham) – but I love that WAR had the courage of his convictions and is pulling out every stop to win this season.