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  • Michael Simione

Players at a Cheaper Price That Can Produce Similarly to "Name Brand" Players.

Stock Photo: USA Today

I’m Not Cheap.

People who know me in “real life” always say that I am cheap (don’t listen to them). See, I’m not cheap I just don’t go after the unnecessary/materialistic things in life. For instance, people who buy expensive clothing. Why would I buy a $150 shirt when I can get one for $10? It does the same thing, it covers my body. I prefer to find things that are similar but at a cheaper price. If you don’t see where I am going with this I have lost faith in you. Much like in “real life” when it comes to fantasy baseball I prefer to find value. Grabbing a player at a cheaper price that can produce similarly to “name brand” players.

Note: All ADP is pitcher ADP and based off of NFBC which does include relievers. Also, all ADP was as of 1/16.

“Name Brand” vs “Not Sexy”

Brandon Woodruff

ADP: 26

Steamer: 183 IP - 9.90 K/9 - 3.11 BB/9 - 4.06 ERA

Adrian Houser

ADP: 103

Steamer: 155 IP - 8.39 K/9 - 2.99 BB/9 - 4.44 ERA

It’s funny I was actually listening to a podcast from Pitcher List where they were talking about NL fringe starters. In the past on podcasts and I am sure in articles I have always said Adrian Houser is essentially a Brandon Woodruff lite. And when Houser came up on the podcast Nick Pollack said: “I look at him as a Woodruff lite.” I lost it because I now know I’m not crazy for thinking that. It really is true. While Woodruff does have the potential third pitch in his changeup, he and Houser rely on two fastballs. Both of their fastballs induce a lot of weak contact and are well above average. While Woodruff will certainly provide more strikeouts, Houser is a great option as the 103rd pitcher off the board. He is very similar to Woodruff and is capable of giving you similar production.

Mike Soroka

ADP: 35

Steamer: 189 IP - 7.85 K/9 - 2.43 BB/9 - 4.13 ERA

Kyle Hendricks

ADP: 59

Steamer: 179 IP - 7.57 K/9 - 1.63 BB/9 - 4.31 ERA

Not going to lie, this one blows my mind. Kyle Hendricks highest ERA in a season was 3.95. That was in 2015 and came with a 3.36 FIP. Since then he has produced an ERA of 2.13, 3.03, 3.44, and 3.46. He has been one of the most consistent pitchers for fantasy baseball in the past five years. I know Soroka is young and has the pedigree but I highly doubt he grabs an ERA under three in 2020. You can get literally identical stats 20 pitcher picks later. Why not skip Soroka, grab a hitter and take Hendricks a couple of rounds later?

Dinelson Lamet

ADP: 41

Steamer: 162 IP - 11.33 K/9 - 3.56 BB/9 - 3.74 ERA

Robbie Ray

ADP: 57

Steamer: 174 IP - 11.06 K/9 - 4.16 BB/9 - 4.13 ERA

Ah, the Dinelson Lamet hype train just keeps on rolling. Don’t get me wrong Lamet is a force and his high strikeout potential is through the roof. In the second half, he was fourth in K/9. Higher than Giolito, Buehler, Clevinger, and others. Robbie Ray was sixth in K/9. Only about 0.30 behind Lamet. Robbie Ray has a track record of having a high strikeout rate and has posted a sub-four ERA several times. While steamer shows their ERA’s to have a significant difference in ERA, I’m not buying it. They are two in the same, as they both will be erratic at times and will certainly have those “blow up” games. I expect similar production and Robbie Ray goes 15 pitchers later.

Madison Bumgarner

ADP: 39

Steamer: 199 IP - 8.71 K/9 - 2.40 BB/9 - 4.50 ERA

Mike Minor

ADP: 67

Steamer: 201.0 IP - 8.34 K/9 - 2.86 BB/9 - 4.64 ERA

Bumgarner had a nice little bounce-back season in 2019. He once again became a workhorse who provides decent strikeouts with decent ratios. Have you ever seen his splits though? At home, he had a 2.93 ERA and on the road, he had a 5.29 ERA. Bumgarner now goes to Arizona. Minor also put up over 200 innings pitched and provided a sub-four ERA. While he does have a good fastball/changeup combo there are warning signs here. Regardless, look at how similar their steamer projections are. While I do think both will see a low four ERA I think steamer is pretty accurate. Minor is going almost 30 pitchers later.

Miles Mikolas

ADP: 83

Steamer: 192 IP - 7.18 K/9 - 1.77 BB/9 - 4.21 ERA

Jeff Samardzija

ADP: 127

Steamer: 191 IP - 7.25 K/9 - 2.61 BB/9 - 4.73 ERA

This one is interesting and I have to say I can sort of see it going two ways. Mikolas had a great 2018, but his 2019 was not so good. He weirdly went away from his slider which was one of his best pitches. He needs to throw it more often. Samardzija had a great bounceback season in 2019. He pitched 181.1 innings with a 3.52 ERA. I am a Samardzija fan and I don’t even believe that ERA. Steamer expects major regression for him but I think we see a low four ERA. That home-field advantage makes a big difference. I think Mikolas is ahead because of the potential upside. Still, Samardzija did have a good year last year and could potentially beat the underlying metrics once again. But would you be shocked if they both finished with 180 innings pitched, a 7.20 K/9 and 4.20 ERA? I wouldn’t, and Samardzija is going 50 pitchers later.

Matthew Boyd

ADP: 62

Steamer: 183 IP - 9.94 K/9 - 2.66 BB/9 - 4.32 ERA

Caleb Smith

ADP: 84

Steamer: 179 IP - 9.47 K/9 - 3.49 BB/9 - 4.59 ERA

These two are very interesting as they both had really good first halves of the season but a terrible second half.

Matt Boyd

First half: 3.87 ERA - 11.94 K/9 - 3.57 FIP

Second half: 5.51 ERA - 11.03 K/9 - 5.35 FIP

Caleb Smith

First half: 3.50 ERA - 11.00 K/9 - 4.39 FIP

Second half: 5.42 ERA - 8.85 K/9 - 5.75 FIP

I am a firm believer that Smith just got fatigued in the second half. Smith only pitched 77.1 innings in 2018 and climbed to 153.1 in 2019. He is at the age of 28 and I think he will have more stamina next year. His velocity also dipped from 92.1 to 91.3 on his fastball. With a solid slider and changeup, I think Smith does well in 2020. Boyd very well could have as well but it is tough to tell. If you are in need of strikeouts and want to wait further into the draft you could grab Smith 20 pitchers later and get very similar production.


Looking for similar production later in drafts is important. If you like a Brandon Woodruff and miss out, knowing you can grab Adrian Houser later who is similar with not as much upside can let you focus on other draft aspects. Or if you don’t want that $150 shirt and prefer the $10 one you can just wait for the cheaper less “sexier” pick. Thanks for reading and if you have any questions or concerns feel free to reach out!