Anonymous wants to know if the same thing applies to pitchers.
A.L. Pitchers Bids vs. Earnings 2008
First, I'll provide a simple explanation of the chart. The tiers break the pitchers bought last year in CBS Sportsline, Tout Wars, and LABR into groups of 12 (one per Roto team); pitchers are sorted by average salary. The three expert leagues paid an average of $949 per the 108 most expensive pitchers, while these pitchers earned $1,013. The average Roto league bought 108 pitchers worth $1,020, so the three expert leagues technically did slightly worse than average.
It would be easy to jump to the same conclusion with the pitchers that I reached with the hitters and say that the most expensive pitchers offer a poor return on their investment. They were the second worst group of pitchers last year, earning only 88 cents on the dollar. The second tier of pitchers - who are usually worse - almost broke even and brought back 95 cents on the dollar.
I have a couple of problems passing that kind of judgment, though.
I should have pointed this out when I wrote up the hitters, but the average earnings for the first 108 hitters were completely linear. The experts might have paid too much or too little for each group, but in terms of how these hitters ranked, they were very predictable.
The pitchers blow their predictability with the third group. Twelve dollars doesn't seem like much to pay for a pitcher, but given that most teams invest $85 in their staffs, that's about 14% of your investment right there. Getting back $7 on that is very poor.
Second, there aren't enough in the way of earnings to go around to simply say, "I'm going to wait for the pitchers at the bottom of the heap and get profits!" If you added three pitchers from tiers 6, 8, and 9 for their average cost and they provided average earnings, you would have spent $15 on $48 worth of pitchers. That's a nice ROI...but you're still finishing near the bottom of the pitching categories.
You do need to mix and match all the way around to win and - since there are fewer pitchers - you need to get luckier in one of the bottom groups than you need to get with the hitters.
Does this hold in the N.L.?
N.L. Pitchers Bids vs. Earnings 2008
This is much closer to what I would have expected from this type of chart, and hews far more closely to the conventional wisdom about "paying top dollar for top talent".
Yep, the top 12 N.L. pitchers lose money. But they return 92 cents on the dollar, compared to a so-so 79 cents on the dollar for the Tier 3 pitchers and a miserable 61 cents on the dollar for the Tier 2 pitchers.
Once again, you start seeing profits as you move toward the bottom of the chart. However, Tier 7 is a great example of how you're not guaranteed profits even if you're swimming near the bottom of the pool.
You don't want to take a loss on any player. But to get the stats you needed from your pitchers in 2008, whether it was in the National League or the American League, it looks like you didn't have much of a choice.