Fantasy Baseball: Jose Fernandez Is Better Than Yu Darvish?

By: Mike Cardano

This morning on our Sirius/XM RotoExperts in the Morning program, I was challenged by fellow Fantasy Sports Radio host Craig Mish (@CraigMishon a number of my draft order preferences, as he perceived me to be blindly throwing things out there and making baseless prognostications about a players that I liked. In short, Craig claimed that my preferences couldn’t be backed up with facts.

Craig was a guest on our morning show during the 8 am ET hour, and since we asked him to come on and give his expert opinions, it wasn’t appropriate for me to use the show’s forum in an attempt to justify myself. The segment, after all, was intended for listeners to hear Craig’s view on the topics, they had already heard mine. Craig is undoubtedly a qualified Fantasy guy and he’s certainly entitled to his opinions. However, it is appropriate for me to take the time here and use this forum justify my position on the matters in question.

Marlins_Jose_Fernandez_2013Firstly, I had opined that I preferred Jose Fernandez as the second starting pitcher off the board behind Clayton Kershaw, which by default meant that one of the pitchers I liked him better than was Yu Darvish. The 21-year old Fernandez has just one MLB season under his belt and the 27-year old Darvish has two, so while it’s not an apples to apples comparison, a one-year difference in their MLB body of work isn’t exactly like comparing a wily veteran to a rookie.

In his two MLB seasons, Yu Darvish has averaged 200.5 IP, 14.5 wins, 249 Ks and compiled a 3.34 ERA, a WHIP of 1.17 and an impressive 11.2 K/9. In Jose Fernandez’s lone 20-year old season he had 172 2/3 IP, 12 wins, 187 K’s an ERA of 2.19, a WHIP of 0.98 and 9.7 SO/9 while under an innings limit.

I expect Jose Fernandez to throw more innings this year than the limited amount he pitched last season, I feel that number will come in somewhere near the 200 IP range, as I think an increase of about 30 innings is expected. At last year’s strikeout rate, that would give him approximately 215 strikeouts. That’s an impressive number for any pitcher, let a 21-year old, however although it’s impressive, it is likely to be less than those of Yu Darvish. Check mark in the Darvish column.

I’m hearing lost of talk about how the Marlins aren’t any good and that Jose Fernandez isn’t likely to get many wins because of that, and my answer to that is, has been and will always be, that you draft the best pitcher regardless of the quality of the team he’s on. The worst team in the Major League Baseball usually wins about 1/3 of it’s games and the best team usually loses about 1/3 of it’s games. The point here is that there are plenty of wins to be had for a quality pitcher on any major league team. Last year for example, Jose Fernandez, who played on those same stinky Marlins teams he’ll be playing with again this year, won 12 games. Yu Darvish by comparison, with all his strikeouts and the mighty Rangers offense to support him, won 13 games, just one more. End of discussion. You can’t chase wins.

Many of you are too young to remember Steve Carlton when he pitched for the God-awful Phillies, but in 1972 they went 47-97 but Carlton went 27-10, accounting for a remarkable 46% of Philadelphia’s wins. Oh, did I say he pitched over 346 innings with a 1.97 ERA, 30 complete games and 310 strikeouts? But hey, you wouldn’t have really wanted to draft a guy like that early in a Fantasy league, his team sucked.

There is no reason that I know of to believe that Yu Darvish will have a significantly higher number of wins than Jose Fernandez. And albeit a small sample of just one season, Fernandez has proved that he can pitch to both a lower ERA and WHIP than Darvish. Yu’s sample isn’t huge either, but both Fernandez’s ERA and WHIP in his first season were better than either of the two years that Yu Darvish has put up.

In the end, I expect Yu Darvish to have more strikeouts than Fernandez this season, probably 50 more or so. I see no reason to believe they will not have similar win totals and I expect Jose Fernandez to have both a better ERA and WHIP. The way I see it is that’s two categories for Fernandez, one for Darvish and one push. To me that all ads up to taking Fernandez before Darvish.

The other comment Craig seemed to have major problem with was that I happen to like Wilin Rosario as the best catcher over some other good ones, including the apparently sacred Buster Posey. Who knew? Hey look, my preference of Rosario over Posey isn’t meant to be an insult to Posey, in fact, I like him and he would be my second catcher off the board. I just feel that Rosario will have a more productive Fantasy season in 2014.

Looking at the last two seasons (Rosario only has two full seasons), Wilin Rosario has 204 less at-bats than Posey. This is germane to my position, because with Rosario also getting some time at first this year, he will not lag behind Posey by 100 at-bats and he will likely cut that number in half. Back to my logic: With 204 at-bats more over the past two seasons, Posey has scored just 9 more runs than Rosario, he has just 25 more RBIs and 10 less HRs. Keep in mind this includes Posey’s 2012 MVP year where he hit .336 with 24-HRs, 103 RBIs and 78 runs scored. Posey is unquestionably a better hitter for average, that’s not even up for discussion, however Rosario’s .282 career average after his first two seasons is more than respectable for a catcher, particularly one that has parked 49 long flies in the cheap seats during that span.

In summary, my point here is that I believe the number of at-bats Rosario will get this season will be a lot closer to what Posey gets this year, perhaps just 50 or so less. If that is indeed the case, I believe that Rosario will score more runs, hit more home runs and drive in more or equal to the number that Posey does, while Posey hit’s for a higher average. I’ll take that two and possibly three to one category advantage and put my money where my mouth is, as I don’t think the the difference in batting average will be worth it. In fact, I’m not 100% convinced that it will even be a walk-away win category for Posey. Two years ago it was, but last season it wasn’t as Posey hit .294 and Rosario hit .292.

Memo to Craig Mish: While I concede the fact that my position on these matters may or may not end up in my favor and it remains to be seen, to suggest in a public forum that I was pulling these things out of my butt willy nilly simply is not true. Also, I disagree with you that my comment to Nando DiFino (@nandocbs), which he agreed with by the way, stating the Cincinnati Reds arguably had one of the best total pitching staffs top to bottom, from #1 starter to closer, is flawed logic and way off base. Sure it’s a debatable point, but to suggest that they aren’t worthy of being in that discussion is an ignorant comment.

And that’s what makes this so fun, everyone is entitled to their opinion (except me, for some reason this morning…) Lest we forget… I do have the privilege of advising the Dos Equis Guy on all Fantasy matters for a reason….