Archive for ‘Starting Pitchers’

Thursday: 02.14.2013

Countdown to Spring Training: 8 Days – SP Contracts

Only 8 days until live game action…

Just a quickie here. To make any sort of sweeping judgment one way or another about what to do in leagues is always dangerous, it’s never black and white and circumstances change. That’s why you often the first part of any answer in a chat of fantasy baseball questions be: “it depends”. One such area is extending pitchers. It, too, lives in the gray, but I’d say it is closer to the definitive are than other rules. Extending pitcher contracts is rarely a great idea, though it can still be a good one, just one rife with risk. Now before you email me citing your offensive player extension that went awry because of injury, let me be clear that I’m aware of the fact that every player carries risk of getting hurt. That’s just the nature of sports.

However, you cannot deny that there is heightened risk with starting pitchers and knowingly assuming that risk isn’t always a good idea. Even the most rock solid guys can turn at the drop of a hat. Consider these three recent cases. Let’s start at the low-end where the breakdown wasn’t an overwhelming shock if only because of his age. Roy Halladay was coming off six straight amazingly strong seasons during which he went at least 220 innings and averaged 236. There was no way he was on anyone’s roster at a cheap price this time last year, but he might’ve been at a fair price once you factor inflation leading some to hang onto him thinking it was as safe as can be for a pitcher. He was kept in one of my NL-Only leagues for a mid-$30s cost when he’d have easily gone north of $40. We know how it turned out. He looked human for the first time since 2004 pitching just 156.3 innings and posting a 4.49 ERA. Now at 36, he’s going at a discounted rate as if 2012 is the new norm and his previously insane track record of awesomeness is but a memory.

Next up is Dan Haren heading into the 10th year of his career, he too wasn’t on anyone’s roster for $15 dollars or anything, but coming off of his 2010 where he had a 3.91 ERA, he came at a discount in 2011 drafts making him someone who was likely below market in many leagues and could be another guy who you keep just to avoid any inflation in the auction. He’d made 33 starts a year or more for seven straight seasons including 34 four times and even 35 once. He averaged 226 innings during the stretch with an excellent set of base skills. His workhorse reputation led me to say this in 2012’s pitching guide:

He remains one of the most rock solid pitchers in all of baseball with no fewer than 216 innings since 2005 and increasing workloads yearly since 2008 topping out at last year’s 238.

Whoops. A balky back proved too difficult to pitch through and he went just 176.7 innings with stretches of ugliness that led to a 4.33 ERA. We saw runs of the brilliant Haren, too, but not enough to cancel the bad. No one is immune.

And the most disastrous of them all whose retirement actually prompted the idea to discuss this a while back: Brandon Webb. If there was one thing you could rely on Webb for it was innings and good ones at that. He struggled with walks in his second season leading to an ugly 1.51 WHIP, but his 3.59 ERA was still pretty solid and proved to be the worst of his career (not counting the 13.50 in his 4-inning swan song “season” of 2009). Starting in 2004 he went 208, 229, 235, 236.3, and 226.7. All before 30 years old.

Then poof!

Done.

He tried to work his way back, but it wasn’t to be and at 33, he is done.

Just keep these three cases (and many, many more) in mind this winter when you are deciding on your keeper lists. The more pitchers you have, the more risk you’re assuming. Again, this doesn’t mean that you should cut your $3 R.A. Dickey loose or not give Chris Sale a contract for 2013. But start thinking long and hard about extensions to pitchers. How many years do you want to commit to Sale beyond this one? Say you had him at $1 because he used to be a reliever, but now he’s due up for a contract at $5 per year.

Sure, $16 sounds plenty reasonable because he’d sure as hell go for more than that this year in the auction, but now you’re betting on 2013, 2014, and 2015. Just go $6 and enjoy the crazy value this year (assuming he’s stay upright of course) and work on finding the next Sale. How many of your are in the midst of Brandon Beachy or Cory Luebke contracts? This goes double for leagues where they let you out of contracts if they go sour, but charge penalties to do so. Those of you enjoying a David Price contract should be very thankful. It has worked out brilliantly. It’s the exception.

Go back and look through top prospects lists and see how many guys didn’t work out as panned and try to recall some of the trades you made to earn their rights. Again, there is risk throughout our game, but the point is to minimize how much you can incur. Extending a pitching beyond the upcoming year is the easiest way to get a double serving of risk you thought you were ordering.

OK, that wasn’t as quick as I thought. I tend to get going sometimes and end up much longer winded than anticipated.

Monday: 02.4.2013

2013 Starting Pitcher Guide Sample

As we turn the calendar over to February, baseball season is right around the corner. Many football fans close the book on that sport with the end of the Super Bowl and turn their attention back to baseball. Two weeks ago, I began taking pre-orders on the 2013 Starting Pitcher Guide and that will continue for another 10 days through Valentine’s Day. Perhaps you’re on the fence about the purchase and a trip down memory lane through the previous guides isn’t what you looking for to get you over the proverbial hump. Well how about a sample of what you will be getting in this year’s guide? Yeah, that does sound nice, doesn’t it?

I had Doug send over his report card on Oakland youngster Jarrod Parker and paired it with my profile on him to give you a taste of the 2013 guide in the PDF found below.

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right-click to save file to desktop)

Notice how robust the coverage is for the 24-year old Parker. Nearly 500 words went into it. I mentioned this in the SP Guide Announcement, but I’ll reiterate here that the effort expended in the guide will be spent on those who can move the needle forward on your 2013 season. There will still be prospect coverage without question, but there were instances in last year’s guide of a Low-A prospect with no shot of contributing in 2012 getting a 200-plus word write up when 75-100 would’ve been sufficient and that surplus could’ve been better spent elsewhere.

This is especially important because not the majority of folks do no play in dynasty leagues or leagues with a minor league taxi roster of three to five guys. Don’t worry, dynasty leaguers, I’m not leaving you out in the cold. The top prospects and those are on the rise will still get their due, but I can tell who to chase down in a more efficient way than I did last year.

Finally, for those unfamiliar with 20-80 scale used in Doug’s Mechanics Report Card, don’t fret as it will be explained in an essay from him in the guide. In the meantime, understand that a 50 grade is average and not at all an indictment of talent.

Questions & comments can be directed to thespguide@gmail.com

Order now to save 25%!!!

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Wednesday: 01.30.2013

ESPN Rankings Summit: Top 25 SPs

The ESPN fantasy crew is in the midst of the rankings summit where they get together and hash out the initial run of their positional ranks. It accompanies a chat moderated by one of the parties involved and it’s a pretty interesting watch/read. They are coming down the home stretch with their starting pitchers where I believe they’ll go 50 deep. Here are the top 25.

  1. Justin Verlander
  2. Clayton Kershaw
  3. Felix Hernandez
  4. Stephen Strasburg
  5. David Price
  6. Matt Cain
  7. Cliff Lee
  8. Cole Hamels
  9. Jered Weaver
  10. Zack Greinke
  11. Gio Gonzalez
  12. Adam Wainwright
  13. Madison Bumgarner
  14. Yu Darvish
  15. R.A. Dickey
  16. C.C. Sabathia
  17. Chris Sale
  18. Johnny Cueto
  19. Mat Latos
  20. Jordan Zimmermann
  21. Roy Halladay
  22. Aroldis Chapman
  23. Kris Medlen
  24. Matt Moore
  25. James Shields

I had some minor quibbles early, but my first real contention was Chris Sale at 17. Of course that was immediately blown out of the water by Aroldis Chapman at 22. I just can’t get behind that on any level. It assumes so many things go perfectly for him. Bret Sayre did point out that it’s a tough rank on overall value because if he implodes, he will likely move back to the bullpen. A fair point, but I just don’t see how they came to this ranking because even if Bret’s scenario comes to pass, he will have x amount of horrible innings on his ledger before transitioning back. I think he’d have to be truly awful to go back into the bullpen, not just fantasy bad. A 4.20 ERA/1.35 WHIP would be fantasy bad, especially at his cost, but Cincinnati can definitely live with that out of their fifth starter especially if he’s fanning 25 percent of the batters he faces and going six innings a game.

Chapman basically has to have Sale’s season to fulfill that ranking and while there is at least chance of that, it’s pretty low on the probability spectrum making such a lofty ranking tough to justify for me. I also think Kris Medlen is too high at 23, but at least he has starting experience at the major league level and an actual arsenal of pitches. Chapman has major name value and Medlen has his brilliant end to 2012, factors that will keep both very high on most lists this year. I just think the talent pool is too deep to take the added risk of them in lieu of more consistent performers who also have greatness in their profile (e.g. Matt Moore, Max Scherzer).

The summit is a very cool event that ESPN does every year. I love reading some of the thinking going on in the room and I hope they show some videos again as they’ve done in the past.

What do you think?

Wednesday: 01.30.2013

Trevor Bauer Shows Us His Pitches

Found this circulating in my Facebook and Twitter feeds this morning. It’s from Trevor Bauer on January 25th when he answered a YouTube viewer’s question about his pitch grips. He proceeded to go through each one of his grips explaining how he does it with little tips and tricks and insight into the kind of movement he expects based on pressure points or arm/wrist movements. Remarkably fascinating stuff and a must-watch for baseball fans, in my opinion. I imagine this would be really cool to see as a teenager who pitches as I’m sure you could pick up a thing or two to take on the mound your next time out. Instead I’ll just have to try these out next week when warming up for softball.

“Hey idiot, stop throwing crappy-ass backup sliders in the dirt with a softball, you’re doing it wrong and I’m tired of chasing after them.”  -Paul’s throwing partner before next week’s game

Tuesday: 01.22.2013

Top 10 SP – Review

On Friday night, MLB Network unleashed their Top 10 Starting Pitchers Right Now along with input from host Brian Kenny, co-host John Smoltz, and special guest to the series Bill James. The results were interesting and perhaps unsurprisingly, I had more gripes with this list than I have any of the previous ones.

Here are all four lists from MLB Network-related folks and then I’ll address them separately:

top10SPListsThe Shredder

Let’s start with the list that comes from their objective machine they call “The Shredder”. Kenny suggests that it is cold and calculated in its evaluation relying heavily on the most recent season, but also not forgetting track record. I have to call heaping amounts of BS on it. It just doesn’t add up. First off, it you’re focusing on “RIGHT NOW”, then how does Roy Halladay still finish fourth? There has to be a lot of subjectivity used to get him there. But that’s far from the most egregious infraction.

If this is supposed to be the most objective tool relying on data only for projection analysis, how does Chris Sale not only make the list, but finish ahead of Stephen Strasburg, Cole Hamels, and reigning Cy Young winner David Price? It had to rely heavily on track record (or pure subjectivity) to get Halladay that high, so then track record would send Hamels and Price rocketing past Sale. Meanwhile, Sale wasn’t better than them last year, either.

Strasburg is probably skewed because he threw just 160 innings, but he was so stellar in that allotted time that it is still a surprise to see him so low. Plus, since I think they had to finagle things to get Halladay that high, surely they could’ve just done the same to get Strasburg into a more reasonable slot. Whatever the case is, I’m done believing that The Shredder is purely objective on any level. And if it is coming to these conclusions based on the data it is being fed, it’s broken and Master Splinter does in fact need to take over.

Maybe I got too caught up in Jered Weaver’s peripherals when leaving him out because I didn’t even give him an honorable mention. I recognize the fact that he is a damn fine pitcher, but I am a strikeout whore and looking over the numbers again I think I focused too much on the plummeting strikeout rate and not enough on his incredible ability to keep runners off the bases, specifically by preventing hits. I still think six is a little high, but I can see how he would fit nicely at 10 bumping the NL version of him (Matt Cain) up to nine and Gio Gonzalez getting moved to an honorable mention.

My inclusions they didn’t list: Cain, Gonzalez, and R.A. Dickey

Bill James

Without treading over well-worn ground too much again, I just can’t see how on a “RIGHT NOW” list James saw fit to put teammates Cliff Lee and Hamels so far below Halladay who is 36 and coming off of an injury-marred season. Plus there’s the fact that he and the Phillies were going to start discussing an extension, but worries about his shoulder scared them off a bit. I still love Halladay as an undervalued fantasy commodity, but as the #4 pitcher right now, I’m a bit more skeptical.

James was the only one to list C.C. Sabathia which I think says more about the depth at the top of the pitching heap than anything else. I certainly don’t fault James for including him nor would I have faulted any of the other participants. He was basically tied with Adam Wainwright on my list at that 13/14 spot, but I gave Waino the mention because I honestly thought CC would appear on most of the lists and didn’t need the extra love.

My inclusions he didn’t list: Cain, Gonzalez, and Dickey

John Smoltz

Smoltzie’s list was close to being my favorite list but including Sale at the expense of Lee was just too much to overlook. Frankly, it doesn’t even matter if Lee wasn’t 11th, just the inclusion of Sale over many more deserving (at least in my estimation) candidates is tough for me. I’m not anti-Sale overall, just when it comes to ranking him this high among the best pitchers right now. Another big season in 2013 could elevate him onto my list next winter, but he hasn’t done enough to pass enough all of these guys just yet.

My inclusions he didn’t list: Gonzalez, Dickey, and Lee

Brian Kenny

I guess by sheer virtue of the fact that we had the most matches (eight), Kenny’s list should be my favorite, but it boggles my mind how he could wind up with Price at nine. Apart from that, our lists are pretty close on the matches we had usually off by just a spot, maybe two, and we had three direct matches (JV, Strasburg, and Hamels). He was adamant about getting Dickey on his list and was the only one to do so which obviously I support, but I just kept coming back to the Price thing. If you go off of mostly last year, then Price has to go above Weaver (and obviously Halladay) and even when you factor in track record, it’s not like Price is without one. You’d have to weigh track record pretty heavily to Halladay above Price which I thought went against the conceit of these lists.

My inclusions he didn’t list: Cain and Gonzalez

All in all, I know these lists are still just fun and filled with opinion (yes, even yours Shredder), but I can’t make sense of it sometimes when arguments supporting guys contradict where you rated them or others.

I’ve still got my reliever review upcoming and then the LF and RF lists are due this week before Friday night’s airings.

Monday: 01.21.2013

2013 Starting Pitcher Guide Announcement

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It is with great excitement that today I announce details regarding the 2013 Starting Pitcher Guide. This is the sixth year of the guide and it has grown exponentially since that first iteration which actually started on a message board (the now-defunct Rotojunkie.com which has morphed into RJ Bullpen). In the 2008 debut, I ranked 100 guys (or 112 if you consider “12 Under 30” add-on) in about 11,000 words growing to last year’s 400 player/76,000 word epic that spiked download count by 2x over 2011 and was even mentioned by Bill Simmons on his podcast. We’re ready for another step forward in 2013.

The first big piece of news related to the 2013 Guide is the addition of Doug Thorburn (Twitter) as a contributor. Doug is my colleague over at Baseball Prospectus and does some of the most amazing work on the site analyzing pitcher mechanics. He has also co-authored a book with Tom House on the mechanics of pitching. He has worked at the National Pitching Association (NPA), too, adding yet another impressive notch on his pitching resume (and those are just the highlights!). Both this 2008 interview with him at BP (before he started working there) and his latest article on Gio Gonzalez are free to view.

Take a look at the Gonzalez piece especially because that will give you a feel for what he will be contributing to the guide (and because it’s amazing). In addition to an essay on pitch mechanics to help us better understand them he will also be contributing a series of Mechanics Report Cards similar to the one you saw in the article. The report card list will be hand-selected by Doug with each team being represented by at least a couple players, though some teams will have a more robust offering. There will also be insight attached to the report cards crystalizing the information found within the card. We are still fleshing out some details, but this gives you a general idea and the one thing I can promise is that it will be awesome.

The next big news is the addition of bullpen coverage! Closers, for better or worse depending on your view, are a big part of fantasy baseball and having a firm handle on how to evaluate those who have a beat on the role as well as (and perhaps more importantly in some cases) those who might end up in the role can be extremely helpful to your success. It will also create an avenue to discuss the Middle Reliever Methodology that I have long been a fan of utilizing, especially in AL/NL-Only auction leagues.

Essays are returning to the 2013 guide! In 2011, the front of the guide contained a series of essays on various pitching-related topics, but they were absent a year ago. They are coming back with a vengeance this year with the only difference from 2011 being that I will be writing all of them (except for Doug’s pitching mechanics one, obviously). Topics will include strikeouts, prospects, bold predictions (often found here yearly, but this time tied to the guide), and park factors, plus much more. I have some other ideas, but they aren’t as set in stone so I’ll go with “plus much more” instead so you can dream about what might be included (you’re welcome!).

Projections are returning for 2013! Last year was my first attempt at putting together a projection set and it went well so I’m going to do it again this year. The ERA ranges will be used again spanning four to seven earned runs. I think it gives a better idea of what I’m expecting out of the pitcher, plus it covers a bit of luck on both ends. The ranges aren’t too wide over 185-200 innings and that’s another reason I do it. When you see 3.29-3.60, it feels quite significant, but it’s a seven run difference or one every five or so starts.

Of course this is all in addition to the player capsules you’ve grown accustomed to year in and year out. There isn’t a set number of capsules and there won’t be an announced number ahead of time so I don’t paint myself into an unnecessary corner by excluding someone to stay under an arbitrary round number. Instead, I’ll just say that it will likely be a number between 400 and 600. I have over 700 names on the initial list to be pared down as some situations became clearer and some low upside far-from-the-majors minor leaguers are eliminated.

Like last year, the focus will be on plentiful profiles of those with the most impact and upside, so Jason Hammel is going to get more attention than Carlos Martinez (Cardinals prospect at Double-A), but Martinez is going to get more attention than Nick Blackburn. Hammel is impacting 2013 and Martinez is impacting 2014 & beyond for dynasty/keeper leaguers. Blackburn, by costing the Twins $5.5 million dollars this year, is only impacting their ability to buy a free agent better than Kevin Correia. Blackburn isn’t even on the 40-man roster. That’s a foolproof sign that your signing has gone awry.

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With the continued enhancements to a product you’ve hopefully already come to enjoy, we are moving to a very affordable pay model. The guide will available in late-February just in time for the fantasy season and is available for $12.

The guide comes via email in PDF form.

Order now!

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Questions & comments can be directed to thespguide@gmail.com

Monday: 01.21.2013

2013 Starting Pitcher Guide Now Available

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Full details on the 2013 Starting Pitcher Guide

With the continued enhancements to a product you’ve hopefully already come to enjoy, we are moving to a very affordable pay model. You can order for $12! The guide, which comes via email in PDF form, is now available.

We now have a sample entry available for you to peruse so you have an idea of what you’re getting in the 2013 Guide. Click below to see both mine and Doug’s thoughts on Oakland A’s youngster, Jarrod ParkerDownload the Sample Here.

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Available Now

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Questions & comments can be directed to thespguide@gmail.com

Friday: 01.18.2013

Top 10 Starting Pitchers Right Now

Tonight MLB Network will continue the 2013 iteration of their “Top 10 Right Now” series at each position capped off with a “Top 100 Overall”. They will air both the relief and starting pitcher shows on Friday evening. I always enjoy this series and generally look forward to it after the New Year since I eat up just about any fresh baseball content I can as we wait for pitchers & catchers to report. Instead of putting up my lists after they air their selections, I’ll post mine ahead of time and then compare notes after the shows air.

This is not a fantasy list!!

(Ed. note: I swore my DVR said the reliever episode was first which is why I posted that list first. Sorry about that!)

This list was even harder than the relievers one as I just want to include so many guys. To spare you, the reader, I’m only going to include a few of honorable mentions.

Roy Halladay (PHI) – Since it is “right now”, I couldn’t justify his inclusion coming off of an injury-marred season that was easily his worst since 2004. From a fantasy angle (which isn’t entirely relevant in this NON FANTASY list) I still think he’s being criminally underrated early on in mock drafts and rankings I’ve seen, but he’s not a top 10 guy right now.

C.C. Sabathia (NYY) – This has a lot more to do with how deep the top of the starting pitcher pool is than anything Sabathia hasn’t done. There are no obviously flaws in his games, he’s absolutely amazing, but there are only 10 spots, so he’s on the outside.

Yu Darvish (TEX) – I couldn’t just play favorites and put Darvish in ahead of more deserving candidates. He took a while to get his feet under him last year and while I think he will show his top 10 worthiness this year, this list is about right now as opposed to projection. So it is with great pain that I leave Darvish out.

Also: Adam Wainwright (he was great coming off of TJ, but not great enough to include just yet.)

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THE LIST

10. Matt Cain (SF) – See what I mean? Leaving Cain off would’ve felt silly yet that’s what I would have to do to get Darvish included. Track record doesn’t weigh heavily on a “right now” list, but even just the 2012 track record favors Cain in terms of pure results. He’s awesome and he’s getting better each year. He doesn’t post the gaudy strikeout totals I drool over, but he’s proven you can be great with just a solid 20ish percent rate.

9. Gio Gonzalez (WAS) – If you think this rating is crazy, you haven’t watched him pitch enough. He keeps adding to his strikeout rate going from 20 percent in 2010 to an NL-best 25 percent last year. Meanwhile he made his first real dent in his walk rate last year dropping it a full percentage point to nine, which isn’t great, but easier to overlook when a quarter of the guys you face are walking back to the dugout after three strikes.

8. R.A. Dickey (TOR) – Absurd. Just completely absurd. His 2012 season was so freaking incredible. Seemingly out of nowhere, he ups his strikeout rate from 15.3 to 24.8 percent while actually incrementally improving his walk rate from 6.2 to 5.8 percent. Just bananas. He deservingly won the NL Cy Young and now gets to peddle his wares in the AL East with Toronto. I basically had Dickey and the next two guys neck and neck so I used track record as the tiebreaker. I’d still take these next two over him in a one-game situation.

7. Cole Hamels (PH) – When you factor out how much I’m responsible for myself, Hamels just doesn’t get enough love as an ace-level pitcher. Part of it is that he’s obscured by his rotation mates, but part of it is just that I think some fail to recognize how great he’s been the last three years. He had the 8th-best strikeout rate (24.9 percent) in the majors last year among qualified starters and only Dickey bested his 6.0 percent walk rate among those eight and it was by 0.1 percent.

6. Cliff Lee (PHI) – How did he win six games and fan 207 batters last year? I know wins and strikeouts don’t exactly go together, but the point is that he was just too good to be saddled with such a lame record (6-9). He walked a laughable 28 guys in all last year, too. His 3.3 percent walk rate was baseball’s best by nearly a full percent over Bronson Arroyo and Joe Blanton (4.2) and then of course there is the fact that he was also light years better than them in every other skill-based metric.

5. Felix Hernandez (SEA) – The top five were pretty easy for me in terms of who belonged in it. You can quibble over the order, but the group should be pretty consistent among anyone making such a list. Listing Felix fifth just doesn’t feel right, but I don’t see how I could get him any higher even as he continues to dominate. A career-best six percent walk rate accompanied fifth straight spike in strikeout rate, though just a small bit from 23 percent in 2011 to 23.8 last year. Oh, and he threw a perfect game.

4. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) – There is little doubt in my mind that he could’ve gone well past his innings limit without issue, but the Nats painted themselves into a corner. In the 159 innings he did throw, he was simply amazing. If he had qualified (requires 162 innings), his 30.2 percent strikeout rate would’ve topped Max Scherzer’s gaudy 29.4 mark for baseball’s best. He has three excellent pitches that he uses to devastate hitters. His changeup might be the best of the bunch generating a ridiculous 29 percent swing-and-miss rate. It was accountable 53 percent of his 197 strikeouts, too.

3. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – As I mentioned earlier, I thought Dickey was a deserving Cy Young winner, but he wasn’t the only deserving candidate. Kershaw was right there and you can probably argue that wins and a great story are the only things that cost Kershaw a repeat. He led baseball in ERA for a second straight season, posted the same 6.7 H/9 mark which not only led the NL like it did in 2011, but all of baseball this time, and he led the NL in WHIP for the second straight season 1.02. His 14-9 record plus not being a knuckleball journeyman likely did him in.

2. David Price (TB) – Price showed flashes of greatness in 2010, though his 2.72 ERA was probably a bit more favorable than his numbers seemed to “deserve”. Then in 2011, he went the other way improving his underlying numbers and likely should’ve ended up with a result better than his 3.49 ERA. He finally found the right potion in 2012 repeating his 2011 base skills (24% Ks, 7% BBs) while adding a crapton of groundballs (moving 44 to 53% groundball rate) and sharpening up with runners on (moving from 73 to 81%, second to only Jeremy Hellickson at 83%) to turn in a Cy Young performance. His curveball was the driving force yielding a meager 368 OPS and generating 44 percent of his 205 strikeouts.

1. Justin Verlander (DET) – Verlander had an amazing follow up campaign to his Cy Young/MVP season in 2011 and like Kershaw, he had a very strong case for a repeat at Cy Young, but it wasn’t to be for him. He lost out by four points (whereas Dickey inexplicably crushed Kershaw, whose repeat case was probably stronger than JV’s). He again paced the entire league in innings and total strikeouts, but dropped seven wins off that flashy 24 count from last year dropping below the famed 20-mark.

By the way, Verlander is an instructive case for why I’m referencing strikeout percentage a lot more these days. He had an 8.96 K/9 in 2011 and 9.03 K/9 last year so there’ll be plenty of analysis stating that “he even raised his strikeouts!!!”, but he didn’t actually do that. He fanned 25.8 percent of batters in his dream season of 2011, compared to a flat 25 percent last year. Small difference, but important nonetheless.

Despite not winning any end of season awards, I doubt you will get much argument on Verlander as the best pitcher in the game, though the latest chic thing to do is to project a 2013 injury for him based on these recent workloads. It’s the most risk-less “bold” prediction you can make, so don’t fall into the trap of doing so to appear ballsy. Predicting any pitcher to get hurt is like guessing that Lindsay Lohan will be arrested soon. Both are ticking time bombs. Always.

Thursday: 01.17.2013

Baseball Prospectus Work

My latest piece at BP went up covering three more pitchers in the Keeper Reaper series. Today’s theme was converted relievers and included Chris Sale, Lance Lynn, and Jeff Samardzija. The fantasy team has been doing the KR series across all positions this off-season. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a series where we discuss the guys who are tough keeper choices depending on league size. You don’t need help on how keeper-worthy Justin Verlander is regardless of league size, but someone like Brandon Morrow is a tougher decision. The league sizes covered are shallow (30 keepers), ,medium (60), deep (90), AL/NL only (60), and super-deep (200). Obviously we assume it’s straight keeper without round and dollar values otherwise it’d be impossible to answer on just about anyone. All of a sudden a $42 Verlander isn’t such a no-brainer. But your league simply keeps five apiece across 12 teams, we can tell you how we feel about players.

Here’s a taste of the Sale entry:

Of course, it wasn’t all roses and rubies (new phrase, use it!); his mechanics are so wretched that they will make your arm hurt worse than Hawk Harrelson makes your ears hurt when watching a game, and he came back down to earth in July through the rest of the year. His 3.6 K/BB wasn’t too far from the first half’s 3.9 mark, and his 9.5 K/9 topped his 8.5 from the first half. His ERA, however, ballooned from 2.19 to 4.03 and his WHIP from 0.96 to 1.34. The worst part was his home run rate exploding from 0.4 to 1.4. Righties obliterated his fastball to the tune of a 1077 OPS in the second half after he kept it at 685 through the first half.

Read the entire piece here.

In my Keeper Reaper entries, I’ve covered:

-Kris Medlen, Roy Halladay,and Morrow

-Wade Miley, Matt Moore, and Jarrod Parker

-Zack Greinke, Yu Darvish, and Aroldis Chapman

-Chris SaleLance Lynn, and Jeff Samardzija

If you’re not subscribed to Baseball Prospectus, you can do so here.

Additionally, Jason Collette and I will be recording our podcast tonight with guest Todd Zola of Mastersball and we will be talking a lot about player valuation methodology.

Friday: 01.11.2013

FakeTeams Guest Post on Homer Bailey

The fantasy site over at SBNation, FakeTeams, is wrapping up Starting Pitcher Week and Bret Sayre asked if I could contribute a guest post on a starting pitcher-related topic of my choice. With the release of their 51-100 rankings, I decided to choose a favorite of mine from that segment. The result was a breakdown on Homer Bailey that turned out pretty well if I may say so myself.

Here’s an excerpt:

In 2012, [Bailey] had just five implosion starts, or 15 percent of his 33 outings. He also cut down the damage from his worst outing of the year. Last year he had a nine earned run shellacking that did a number on his ERA (accounted for 14 percent of his total earned runs), but this year his worst outing was six earned runs. Everyone is going to have a bad outing (Justin Verlander had an eight run disaster last year), but mitigating the overall damage helps stem the tide on a poor composite ERA. Bailey isn’t Verlander so he will have trouble recovering from an eight earned run outing. Whereas Verlander put up a 1.93 ERA in his next six starts.

Some highlights from week of Starting Pitchers:

Plus so much more including other profiles similar to the Bailey on guys like Jarrod ParkerJordan Zimmermann, and C.J. Wilson

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