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Fantasy Baseball 2012 Outlook: Why Ryan Vogelsong Is Too Big of a Risk to Draft

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Fantasy Baseball 2012 Outlook: Why Ryan Vogelsong Is Too Big of a Risk to Draft
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

In 2011, Ryan Vogelsong went from castoff—having not appeared in the major leagues since 2006—to fantasy savior. 

How could you consider him as anything else? Those who claimed him struck fantasy gold, as they got the following numbers:

  • 13 Wins
  • 179.2 Innings
  • 2.71 ERA
  • 1.25 WHIP
  • 139 Strikeouts (6.96 K/9)
  • 61 Walks (3.06 BB/9)
  • .280 BABIP

The resurgence has earned him a two-year contract from the San Francisco Giants.  That means that he will continue to call a favorable ballpark home (2.15 ERA over 109.0 innings in ’11), which will certainly help his cause.  Does that mean we should view him as a viable option once again for 2012, though?

There are a few numbers that are certainly working against him.  That home success came courtesy of an 84.6-percent strand rate.  Is that a number we can anticipate him replicating in 2012? 

He was at 74.7 percent on the road (which helped lead to a 3.57 ERA).  It’s also not a perfect comparison, but let’s see how other Giants pitchers fared at home in 2011:

  • Tim Lincecum – 76.4 percent
  • Matt Cain – 71.3 percent
  • Madison Bumgarner – 72.3 percent

Is it the ballpark that helped Vogelsong, or was he just extremely lucky at home?  You can easily say that the other three starters are better pitchers, yet his home-strand rate was far superior. 

Yes, the ballpark helps, but not to that level.  The luck is going to run out at home for him, which means the numbers are going to regress based on that alone.

It’s hard to draw conclusions on his other numbers, because he was so far removed from pitching in the minor leagues or the major leagues. 

Do we look at his numbers from Japan from 2007-2009 to help?  We have all learned that those numbers are no lock to translate to the majors, so that doesn’t work.

The strikeout rate we can accept, but the walk rate is a completely different story.  Consistency was certainly not the story in 2011 (BB/9):

  • April – 1.74
  • May – 2.80
  • June – 2.81
  • July – 4.02
  • August – 4.03
  • September – 1.93

Considering that over his minor league career he posted a 3.53 BB/9 and over his major league career he is at 3.91, there is reason to believe that his July/August numbers are closer to the truth.

So, we have a potential regression in his control, which will also mean a fall in his WHIP (which also may be affected by a fall in his BABIP, though that is not a lock). 

We also have a regression coming from his home performance and a strikeout rate that is far from elite.  Does that sound like a player you want to buy into?

Vogelsong was a tremendous story in 2011, though don’t go into 2012 assuming that you will get similar production.  With a current ADP of 223.41 (according to Mock Draft Central), you may figure, why not? 

The fact is that there are other options available at that time (like a Jonathan Niese), on whom I would much rather roll the dice.  There is just too much risk involved in Vogelsong regressing significantly and not enough overall upside.

What are your thoughts of Vogelsong?  Is he a pitcher you would like to own in 2012?  Why or why not?

Make sure to check out our 2012 projections:

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