Selling David Price

I’ve been thinking about this one a lot, and I think people in general still view Price as a top-10 pitcher. I’ve seen him appearing in expert lists as such, and that’s the general vibe I’ve gotten from the fantasy community. I just think top-10 at this point is too high, especially when we’ve got such talented young stars ranked below him, both according to the expert lists and public perception (I’m talking about guys like Archer, deGrom, and Cole).

I’d actually have him closer to top 20-25 at this point (there are so many great pitchers). His K/9 has plummeted to 7.6 and K-BB% has fallen nearly nine percentage points to 14.3%.

At 14.3%, David Price is the No. 39 pitcher in the league in K-BB%.

Am I putting too much stock into a small sample, or has the decline begun, but people haven’t realized it yet (he still sports a solid 3.15 ERA)?

His peripherals also support his regression, as his xFIP is 3.94 and SIERA is 3.87.

Encouraging signs: FIP still has him at 3.27. Swinging strikes are similar to last year at 10.4% (only 0.2% difference). No velocity loss — in fact, his fastball is faster this year than last year.

Over his career, however, Price has been only slightly better than average at giving up/suppressing home runs, so I think xFIP and SIERA are the better ERA estimators than FIP. League average HR/FB is 10.8%, and Price was at 9.7% last year, 8.6% in 2013, 10.5% in 2012. So he may be slightly better than average, but unlikely to maintain 6.6% going forward.

It’s also worth noting that last year’s 9.8 K/9 was a career high. In 2013, he had a 7.3 K/9. From 2010-2012 his K/9 hovered in the 8s (and in 2008 and 2009 his K/9 was also sub-8, although I don’t give any weight to that at all as he was still developing as a pitcher). It could be that his high K/9 last year was an aberration.

I’m choosing to give weight to his current K-rate and peripherals (the sample size is now significant), while accounting for some improvement (this is David Price after all). Doing that, by my rough calculations, I’m looking at about a 3.5+ ERA ~8 K/9 pitcher going forwards.

Those are quality numbers, but not top-10 numbers, which is where people still value him. I’d flip Price for any top-20 pitcher with upside in an instant.

I don’t have an answer as to why the K-rate has plummeted so far. I did take a look at his usages, and he seems to have reduced the usage of his two-seam fastball. His entire career, that has been his most-used pitch. Last year he used it 40%. This year, he’s only throwing it 23% of the time, instead favoring a four-seam fastball as his dominant pitch. I believe this *may* be related to his K-rate drop, but it’s just an observation at this point. Regardless, we’ve reached the point in the season where it might be wise to be proactive.

Law student and fantasy baseball junkie.

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Al godwin
8 years ago

So, if u get to pic ur sp for game 7, there are two doz in front of price?

8 years ago
Reply to  Al godwin

the article is recommending to sell him in fantasy baseball, the common format of which does not include any game 7’s…you’ve jumped to a conclusion there, whether it’s true or not.

8 years ago

Hmmmm. I just shopped a surging AJ Pollock for D Price. Any thoughts on this? Figured I’d take advantage of Pollock’s recent hot streak.

8 years ago

I saw this same post on reddit a couple of days ago and I’ll make the same argument I made then

I just couldn’t disagree with this any more. For starters, you’re treating his K rate like it’s going to be stable under 8 per 9 the whole year. It could, but track record says it won’t. Take away that start in freezing cold weather against New York where he gave up 8 runs and his K rate, BB rate, FIP, xFIP, etc. are all back to “normal.” Is it unfair to cherry pick one start like that? Sure, but that game seems like a very likely outlier.

Next is assessing Price’s most valuable trait which is to eat innings. He’s averaged nearly 7 innings per start over his career and while his K rate, ERA and BB rate have always been great but mostly not elite, expanding his ability across 7+ innings more starts than not increases his value tremendously.

Lastly, with likely full season top 10-20 starters this year like Archer, De Grom, return of Harvey, Cole, Gray etc new to the group it is possible Price lands outside the top 10 at year’s end and by some dramatic amount of luck outside the top 20. From this point of the season on though I would still rather have him then most of those guys and would really only want Kershaw, Henandez, and Scherzer before him if there was a redraft today… it’s just consistency, reliability, and remaining potential. No innings limits, no bad defense behind him, a great team for wins, and a great pitcher. There’s just no weakness. Also some of those guys in the top 20 may have already peaked this season… I doubt anybody is saying Price has.

I understand the concept of selling high but it would have to be a hell of a return. Missing him from your rotation is a big hole, even if you get a pitcher in return. In my opinion, the best of Price is yet to come, and you’re overanalyzing early season performance.