This is the perfect time of year to try and buy low on certain players. Stat lines can be highly skewed due to small sample size and early season struggles get magnified due to their affect on fantasy league standings. However, if you believe in your projections and you do the research, there are great bargains to be found.
A trade was just processed in the FB365 League in which my team gave up Todd Helton to acquire Gavin Floyd. Good trade? Bad trade? Even trade? You can be the judge of that, but allow me to explain why I made this deal.
My team started this season with Lance Berkman on the DL. Unfortunately, I didn’t draft a first baseman that could fill in for Berkman, so I added Luke Scott to begin the season. While Scott provided me with a quick home run, he soon fell into a slump that produced little of anything. Not knowing how long I’d be without Berkman, I went out in search of a trade that would serve as a temporary fix to my first base worries. I quickly found that dealin the form of Franklin Morales for Todd Helton.
Helton is about as steady a player (when healthy)as you can find, albeit far, far, removed from his glory days. His outstanding plate discipline and line drive contact skills make him a reliable source of AVG (if healthy) as well as some RBI hitting in the middle of Colorado’s lineup. This is exactly the type of player that I wanted. Not a stud, but someone who could help steady the ship until Berkman came back.
When Lance Berkman did finally come off the DL, Helton was sent to the pine.
One of my team’s early struggles has been a lack of depth in the rotation. Ricky Nolasco and Francisco Liriano are leading the way, with Shaun Marcum doing a very good job as a late round pick. However, Josh Beckett has struggled mightily early on and Carl Pavano, my fifth and final starter, has been up and down.
One look at what was available via the free agent list (Livan Hernandez, Carlos Silva, Aaron Harang) and I knew that I needed to start looking at some buy low options.
One starting pitcher that was on my radar on draft day was Gavin Floyd. Last season Floyd posted an above average 7.6 K/9 and a well above average 2.75 BB/9. He also missed bats (caused swings and misses) at an above average rate. He was a pitcher that I thought had the potential to outperform his draft day value.
Things have not gone so well for Floyd to start the 2010 season. His ERA currently sits at 8.38 with a 2.02 WHIP, but remember what I said about small sample size? Floyd has been a victim of a some bad luck early on and it has reflected tremendously bad in only 19.1 innings of work. His BABIP against is an incredibly high .416, good for sixth highest in baseball, and he has stranded only 55 percent of his base-runners. Those factors have led to his high ERA, but kept his FIP* at 3.79.
There have been some issues with free passes early on as evident by Floyd’s 5.59 BB/9, but his track record suggests this will adjust soon. Over the past three seasons Floyd has posted BB/9 rates of 2.44, 3.05 and 2.75. On the other hand, Floyd is striking out hitters at an impressive pace (8.38 K/9) and missing bats at an extremely good rate (28.2 percent). Again, based on track record, Floyd’s strikeouts, whiff rate and walk rate should begin to regress a little, but there is a chance he improves in all three categories overall this season due to his age (27) and the fact that he has seen an improvement in all three categories from 2008 to 2009.
Seeing an opportunity to buy low on Floyd, I offered Helton straight up knowing that the other team was starting Kevin Kouzmanoff at CI. The trade was accepted soon thereafter.
If this were the day after the draft would someone have accepted Helton for Floyd? I would say no based on ADP, but everyone has their own opinion. Though I felt good about buying low on Floyd, there is still risk involved in this deal for me. I gave up my backup plan at first base and, though Berkman has hit the ball well since returning, his knee could be an issue that lingers all season long. Also, I am adding a pitcher with a career 4.79 ERA (4.82 FIP).
Another way to look at this deal from my team’s perspective is to go back to my first Helton trade, the one in which I sent Franklin Morales the other way. I traded Franklin Morales for Todd Helton and then flipped Todd Helton for Gavin Floyd. Essentially trading Franklin Morales for Gavin Floyd.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the deal. Also, be sure to vote on the deal by going to the main page and finding the poll section on the right sidebar.
*Fielding Independent Pitching, a measure of all those things for which a pitcher is specifically responsible. The formula is (HR*13+(BB+HBP-IBB)*3-K*2)/IP, plus a league-specific factor (usually around 3.2) to round out the number to an equivalent ERA number. FIP helps you understand how well a pitcher pitched, regardless of how well his fielders fielded.