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Fantasy Baseball: What Scott Feldman to the Orioles Means for Fantasy Owners

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Fantasy Baseball: What Scott Feldman to the Orioles Means for Fantasy Owners
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On Tuesday, ESPN reported that Cubs pitcher Scott Feldman had been dealt to the Baltimore Orioles for middleman Pedro Strop and other considerations.

For Orioles fans, this means that a fairly weak Orioles rotation is adding a much-needed arm. But what does this mean for fantasy owners?  Has Feldman’s stock gone up or down?

To analyze this, I believe four factors need to be looked at: whether he was properly valued prior to the trade, differences between leagues, run support and park factors.

Let’s start with proper value. In 91 frames of work the season, Feldman is 7-6 with nine quality starts, 67 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.46. Those numbers are good enough to be ranked 41st among MLB starters by ESPN and 42nd by Yahoo! Sports, two of the most commonly used fantasy sites. 

Though those stats would suggest an ownership rate between 70 and 80 percent in each league, the actual ownership rates are 32 and 43 percent, respectively. So Feldman is coming into this trade relatively undervalued by fantasy owners.  

However, it’s worth noting that Feldman’s stats have been relatively weak of late: in the last two weeks, he’s had just one quality start and his ERA is a calamitous 6.35. Not exactly the numbers you want from a pickup, even in a 12-team league.

The next things to consider are house factors of switching from the National League to the American.  This season, AL pitchers are allowing about three-tenths of a run more per nine innings than NL pitchers (4.07 versus 3.79). In 2012 that number was a little closer (4.08 for the AL versus 3.95 for the NL). Look for Feldman’s already not-that-great ERA to worsen while on the Junior Circuit.

What about run support? The short answer is that Feldman is trading in Anthony Rizzo for Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Adam Jones. But the long answer is more complex. On the season, Baltimore has 410 runs scored and a .776 OPS, while the Cubs have a mere 330 and .704 respectively.

As a team, Baltimore offers 5.06 runs per nine innings; the run support the Cubs offered Feldman during his starts was 4.47 per game. Not as much of an increase as you’d expect from being traded from a team with some of the coldest bats to some of the hottest; apparently Chicago’s bats showed up when Feldman was on the mound.

The final factor is park factor. Park factor offers mixed results when both this and last season are considered. This season, Wrigley Field (1.289 run factor) is a much better hitter’s park than Camden Yards (0.923).  

However, in 2012, Oriole Park (1.173) was a much better hitter’s park than Wrigley (1.024), according to ESPN’s park factor stats. Whether a shift from Wrigley Field to Oriole Park at Camden Yards will favor Feldman or his opponents remains to be seen.           

Bottom line: Though the trade may cause fantasy owners to give Feldman a second look, Feldman’s potential improvement from earlier in the season is slight at best. Though he will continue to pile up victories, his ERA could very well balloon to over 4.00 by season’s end.

Most stats courtesy of ESPN.com, except where listed.            

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