Tuesday, December 3, 2013

MLB Trades Fantasy Baseball Impact

UPDATE: Heath Bell has been traded to the Tampa Bay Rays and will fill in at the closer role for free agent Fernando Rodney.   It's hard to imagine Bell putting up Rodney like numbers but the opportunities will be there

The MLB offseason is heating up and the Detroit Tigers have already retooled their roster.  First they traded Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler, then they let Jhonny Peralta sign with the St. Louis Cardinals and now they have dealt Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for Steve Lombardozzi, Robbie Ray and Ian Krol.  But that was not the only trade in baseball last night.  The Oakland Athletics send Jemile Weeks to the Baltimore Orioles for closer Jim Johnson, who had back to back 50 save seasons. 

Let's be honest here, both trades were lopsided and the Nationals and Athletics are going to benefit greatly, but the bigger question is which player is going to have a greater impact on the upcoming fantasy baseball season?

The Starter

After Doug Fister was traded from Seattle to Detroit during the 2011 season, he has racked up 32 wins compared to just 20 losses.  However, his 24 wins since 2012 sits him just 36th amongst all starters.  42 pitchers has tallied 24 wins, and Fister ranks 28th in ERA, 29th in K/9, and 34th in IP.  He is 9th in BB/9, yet his 1.26 WHIP still has him at the bottom of the group at 32nd.  Fister gives up hits but does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground with 52.9 GB%, good for 4th.  Moving to the National League, and the weak hitting National League East should help Fister improve his ERA.  He will also get the Nationals stacked bullpen to help preserve some of his wins.  He will miss the 4.38 runs in support of his starts from the Tigers offense, but new teammate Jordan Zimmermann had the same support from the Nationals lineup and Gio Gonzalez got even more than that, so it is a possibility that won't change much.  Drew Smyly now slides into the Tigers rotation.

Overall, Fister should produce Zimmermann like statistics, pitching in a cavernous ballpark, in the National League East, with a great bullpen seeing a boost in fantasy draft rankings.

The Closer

Jim Johnson has been productive saving 101 games for the Orioles since 2012, but he has also had the most opportunities.  Baltimore has had 157 save opportunities since '12, 20 more than the Kansas City Royals who are 2nd.  So while Johnson has been great in one category, his ERA, WHIP and K/9 have been anything but great.  Of the 18 closers with at least 50 saves since 2012, Johnson's ERA (2.72) is the 5th highest, he is last in K/9 and his 1.15 WHIP is 5th highest.  It is pretty clear that Johnson has lost some value moving to Oakland as the save opportunities are highly likely to decline, and he is more likely to end up with 30 something saves, not 50.  He will join 18 other Closers who saved at least 30 games, making him just an average option this coming season.  Tommy Hunter COULD be the Orioles next closer.

Jim Johnson is no longer a closer you should target, but if you find yourself late in the draft and without a closer, and Johnson is available, you could do worse.

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