Draft and Hold League Strategy: Why I Drafted Seung Hwan Oh
by Ray Kuhn
This will be an ongoing trend all season, and I haven’t exactly made it a secret thus far, but saves are frustrating. Out of the 10 standard roto stats, it is by far the one that causes the most angst for me.
If you could shape your draft strategy on skill and it was clear how the hierarchy for each bullpen would be, not only to start the season but for its duration, then I would feel a lot better about the situation. However, we know that is not the case.
Alright, so now that we have gotten that rant out of the way, onto the matter of Seung Hwan Oh. But before get deeper into Oh, let’s take a closer look into an issue that fantasy owners are forced to deal with this off-season. The hope, is that this winter is an aberration and the free agent market will behave more like we are accustomed to next season, but we can’t be so sure.
And with the over abundance of free agents still on the market, it creates multiple headaches. Doing draft prep and creating a game plan is hampered as there are so many free agents yet to find a home and so many roles yet to be determined. With that being said, when do you schedule a draft? If the draft is a slow draft, then when do you start the draft?
Obviously, you want to draft as soon as possible, and drafting early can give you an edge. Plus, depending on the format, early, slow drafts are great practice for the real thing. I have found myself in plenty of these leagues over the past month or so, and it is quite possible that on Tuesday the slow free agency worked to my advantage.
It happened to be my turn in the 23rd round of a 15 team NFBC style draft and hold Tuesday morning when some news broke. Now, this wasn’t exactly breaking news, but it was news regardless. Seung Hwan Oh had just signed with the Texas Rangers.
You know how I happen to feel about the closer position, if not see above, and at this point in the draft, I only had two closers. I did chose to invest in the position by taking Corey Knebel and Arodys Vizcaino, but you can never have enough saves.
At the time Oh’s ADP on Fantrax was at least 100 spots lower than I was taking him, but you have to make sure you don’t get bogged down by ADP and let it dictate your draft. This is especially true as you get deeper and deeper into your drafts. So with that being said, I didn’t see an issue in snatching up Oh.
Prior to the signing of Oh, Alex Claudio was slotted in as Texas’ closer. However, that had more to do with the fact that Claudio was the last man to hold the job than anything else. Due to the Rangers’ lack of starting pitching, the plan is for Matt Bush to transition into the rotation, and the same can be said for new addition Mike Minor. Keone Kela is also in the mix, but he has failed to grab a hold of the job in the past, and the Rangers don’t appear to be overly enthused with him.
Claudio is a left-hander who doesn’t over power hitters, just 56 strikeouts in 82.2 innings last season, but he did have a successful 2017. The southpaw had a 2.50 ERA with just a 1.04 WHIP to go along with a FIP of 3.21. Overall, not bad at all as Claudio saved 11 games, but his value is likely higher as a set-up man.
That brings us to Oh who has extensive closing experience. Prior to joining the Cardinals in 2016, Oh had seven seasons where he eclipsed 35 saves. He then grabbed a hold of the closer’s job during his first year with St. Louis and saved 19 games in 2016 while putting up a 1.92 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Last season wasn’t nearly as successful as he lost the job and finished the year with a 4.10 ERA and 1.40 WHIP; although he did save 20 games.
After striking out 103 batters in 79.2 innings in 2016, that dropped to 54 strikeouts in 59.1 innings last season for Oh, and since he is 35 years old, there has to be some cause for concern. The good news, is that he was able to maintain his control of the strike zone, as he has just a combined 33 walks over the past two seasons.
All was not good for Oh last season though, as overall he didn’t appear to as sharp with his command. His slider certainly was lacking and he gave up seven home runs while seeing his fly ball rate increase from 41% to 49% while his ground ball/fly ball rate dropped from 1.09 to 0.63.
It doesn’t make the situation any better, but the majority of Oh’s struggles can be centered on seven games and seven innings; in which he allowed 16 earned runs. In his other 52.1 innings, 55 games, Oh allowed just 11 earned runs. At the same time though, we can’t discount the impact that has on your ERA and WHIP.
If he has a strong spring, it is very possible that Oh opens the season as Texas’ closer and keeps the job all season. Of course, we know well enough not to expect that to last, but given the price on draft day, it is worth a shot. At the very least, Oh will be in play for saves at some point next season, and in a draft and hold league, that is all you can ask for. He won’t be as strong as he was in 2016, but he likely will be at least slightly better than he was last year. And maybe he does, he keep the job.
Oh isn’t much more than a third closer, but had he signed prior to the start of my draft, he likely would have gone a few rounds earlier.
When doing a slow draft, it pays to be on top of the news. With spring training getting closer, we should see an uptick in signings over the next week or so, and that means you need to stay on top of the news to be ready to capitalize on the situation.