In his rookie year of 1995 yours truly was the proud owner of Brad Radke in an AL-only auction league. My faith in him was not justly rewarded, to put it bluntly. Radke’s rookie year resulted in a dismal line of 11-14 5.32, with only 3.73 K/9 and 2.34 BB/9.
How on earth could any team think that a player with such horrible results warranted 28 starts? They essentially left him in to get hammered again and again. This was a team with good front office and manager, so why would they ignore such obvious bad results?
There were only two answers to this: either the Twins were the dumbest franchise in baseball or they knew or had reason to know that Radke was going to develop or would otherwise justify their faith. The answer was clearly not the first, so was the second possible? It seemed like there was no other solution.
Radke became a target in next year’s auction and he only cost a buck. My faith was rewarded with an 11-16 record but a much better 4.46 ERA, which was league average or so in 1996. In an AL-only league you win titles with such guys at $1. The best part was that the rules allowed me to renew him at a dollar and then sign long term. The next year, 1997, Radke won 20 games and put up a good 3.87 ERA in 239 IP for that one dollar. At that point the term “The Brad Radke Rule” was coined.
As with many ideas in fantasy baseball we are not doing a full work-up of a player’s projection. We are looking for reasons why the general view of a player might be wrong. So, we look for an angle that might lead to a huge profit, which we call “angle shooting.”
The angles we are looking for can be anything, from a simple rule like this to a more intense analysis, but the angle is something that can be stated simply and has at least anecdotal predictive value. Using angles like this is a pure case of caveat emptor so do not take the Brad Radke Rule as anything more than it is meant to be, namely a ray of light in the dark universe of a bad pitcher.
The basics of the “Radke Rule”:
1. Find a first-time, full-time starting pitcher with poor results. The rule as applied is limited to rookie-type players, but do not get bogged down in qualifying a pitcher as a ‘rookie” technically. By “rookie” we mean “a youngish starting pitcher with less than a full season in the Majors under his belt.”
2. Did the team leave him in as a starter without demoting him to the pen or minors?
3. If the answer is “yes” then you have profit potential. If this were horse racing these angle-shots would be long shots: low probability bets with huge profit potential. Use at your own risk. Here are the most intriguing Radke Rule players in my mind:
Wily Peralta MIL – 11-15 4.37 is not great on the surface; that ERA was 10% below league average per baseballreference.com. His K/BB ratio is well below the 2.50 threshold that we want for SP, making him a nice Radke Rule pickup. The bigger picture is even rosier. Peralta gets a ton of ground balls and has a 95 mph fastball. His mediocre 6.3 K/9 last year is going up.
Tom Koehler MIA – In 23 starts Koehler went 5-10 with a 4.41 ERA for a terrible team with very weak peripherals to boot. As Radke Rule candidates go, he is well-qualified. If you look at his minor league record there is a lot to like. He is well worth a buck or two in an NL-only league.
Jonathan Pettibone- PHI – Pettibone was shelved with an injury but before that had 18 starts with a 5.92 K/9 3.41 BB/9 and a 4.04 ERA. His minor league numbers do not give us much faith as compared to Koehler. That makes him even more juicy if you buy into the rule, since he is more Radke-ian, doesn’t it?
Brandon Maurer – SEA – Maurer might be number one with a bullet on this list. He was horrible on the surface, going 5-8 with a 6.30 ERA, but peripherals were good with a 7.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9; he was done in by a .346 BABIP. However, he comes with a Radke Rule Asterisk: he began as a starter and was demoted, but then he got the starting job back. Consider him a codicil exception to the rule and make sure you bid on him-he is going to be a big profit source.
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