I know that I’ve said this before, but I genuinely enjoy writing the Dixon’s Picks column every week. I enjoy researching these guys, figuring out what matchups are good, or at least worth gambling on, and going from there.
Also, something that we believe in at this site is being accountable. We’re not afraid to admit that we got something wrong, and analyze what exactly happened there. All season long, I kept a tally of how the guys I recommended actually performed. Take a look at the final count:
Starts IP ER H BB K ERA WHIP QS W-L 117 714 281 691 200 536 3.54 1.25 69 40-33
You’re probably looking at the ERA and WHIP standings in your leagues and seeing middle-of-the-road or below numbers. At a glance, that doesn’t appear that great. But keep in mind, I am not suggesting that anyone build 100 percent of their innings by following my guys, or by streaming in general. No, only suggesting that it’s a strategy that can be used through the season.
I would like to show you two sets of numbers, though, each produced by a quartet of pitchers.
- Quartet 1
- Quartet 2
- Quartet 1 was comprised of: Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, C.C. Sabathia, and Justin Verlander.
- Quartet 2 was comprised of: Andrew Cashner, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jose Quintana, and Travis Wood.
The first quartet is four guys that were probably very heavily targeted is just about every fantasy league. Fantasy players who drafted any three of those guys probably weren’t thinking that pitching was going to be an issue in any way.
The second quartet was four guys who were all Dixon’s Picks at one point. Cashner, Jimenez, and Wood were all Dixon’s Picks in September, while Quintana was selected in Dixon’s picks for more starts than anyone but Cashner. He was also available in more than 50 percent of ESPN leagues (the standard to be in Dixon’s Picks) all the way until the end of the season.
Pitchers in a lot of ways are like running backs in football. In 2011, Michael Turner was 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards. Now, not even two years after the end of that season, he doesn’t even have an NFL contract. So, while you have stalwarts Adrian Peterson and to a lesser extent, guys like LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster, you generally don’t go early in your fantasy draft on last year’s star running backs because, well, you don’t know if they’re going to be this year’s back. Meanwhile, guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers can be counted on every year to produce monster numbers.
At the beginning of 2013, Matt Cain and Justin Verlander were about as safe as pitchers came. Neither did much in 2013, though both were better by season’s end. So, in 2014 you’ll have your stalwart arms like Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez, but you’re probably a little hesitant to take them. Because, if they have even a down year, you can replace them fairly comparably on the waiver wire. You really can’t do that with a Miguel Cabrera, even if his 2014 numbers don’t end up being quite as good as they’re sure to be projected.
Every year, there are pitchers who hit a wall. It happened to Tim Lincecum in 2012 and Roy Halladay in 2013. Stalwart, Cy Young contending and winning pitchers who look great one year, and awful the next. Now, unlike those two, I do think Cain and Verlander will bounce back, but the point is that the position is a lot less predictable, and a lot easier to make up.
The fact that my Dixon’s Picks guys put up comparable numbers to four guys who were considered aces in the preseason shows that. The fact that four of my Dixon’s Picks guys put up better than comparable numbers certainly shows that. I’m going to be doing Dixon’s Picks again in 2014 and while I don’t know the names, I can pretty much guarantee that the same things will apply next year.
So, what we learn from my guys is that if you stream wisely, you can be on your way to a good staff. You still need some solid arms for K’s and probably wins, and a solid bullpen never hurts, but don’t give yourself a star-studded pitching rotation in next year’s draft. Chances are, you’ll end up frustrated missing out on a lot of offense.