Michael Salfino

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Quintana makes his case

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 15 hrs ago

    Let’s look this week at, roughly, the last month of action to see which pitchers are performing well in ERA while also having a strong foundation in the K-minus-BB metric.

    I went back to June 25 to account for the All-Star break. The standard sample is about 35–to-40 innings but Corey Kluber is kicking it old-school with 53.1 somehow. 

    Here’s the full list. But let's pull the top 30 (out of 81) sorted by (strikeouts minus walks) divided by innings pitched here.

    [Play a Daily Fantasy contest for cash today!]

    The pitchers who are excelling in both ERA (less than 3.00) while being elite in (K-BB)/IP are Kershaw, Keuchel, Sale, Lester, Fernandez, deGrom, Quintana (!), Price, Arrieta, Syndergaard, Lynn, Greinke.


  • Pitching by the Numbers: Model behavior

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago

    There’s no sugar-coating it: This year has been a really bad one for the strikeout-minus-walk pitcher prediction model. That’s  after two really good seasons for it in 2013 and 2014.  

    So what went wrong? Remember, we used the model to highlight the bargains that you could get in double-digit rounds, thus loading up on hitters and power closers in the single-digit rounds.   Among the recommendations that were busts for non-injury reasons: Phil Hughes, Colin McHugh, Matt Shoemaker, Ian Kennedy, Drew Hutchison, Shane Greene. There were some hits in there but this is really bad. Most of the cheap recommendations have been brutal.

    Still, this in no way was enough to allow us to make up ground for those draft-season busts. So the owners who used this model as a tool to help win their leagues in 2013 and 2014 are hating it now. 

  • Pitching by the Numbers: All-Fantasy Team and best values

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 21 days ago

    Let’s continue to honor the concept of the midsummer classic in non-parochial style by naming our All-Fantasy Pitching Staff through July 8.

    We did the hitters last week.You have to actually be an all-star to be named here. We’re going by estimated dollars earned season-to-date in 12-team mixed leagues, as calculated by our friends at TG Fantasy Baseball.

    And Inside-Edge scouting will help us assess a player’s likelihood of maintaining this rate of performance in the second-half.

    Stats for pitchers are: dollars earned to date,wins, saves, innings, Ks, K/9, ERA, WHIP

    Max Scherzer, WSH: $33, 9 wins, 0 saves, 123.3 IP, 143 Ks, 10.4 K/9, 2.12 ERA, 0.80 WHIP

    Zack Greinke, LAD: $33, 7 wins, 0 saves, 115.3 IP, 98 Ks, 7.6 K/9, 1.48 ERA, 0.89 WHIP

    Dallas Keuchel, HOU: $32,  11 wins, 0 saves, 130.3 IP, 110 Ks, 7.6 K/9, 2.14 ERA, 0.99 WHIP

    Jacob deGrom, NYM: $27, 9 wins, 0 saves, 113.7 IP, 112 Ks, 8.9 K/9, 2.14 ERA, 0.92 WHIP

    Sonny Gray, OAK: $25, 9 wins, 0 saves, 114.7 IP, 102 Ks, 8.0 K/9, 2.20 ERA, 1.01 WHIP

  • Hitting by the Numbers: All-Fantasy Team and best values

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 28 days ago

    Kansas City Royals fans may have ruined the “game formerly known as the All-Star Game” but we still can honor the concept by naming an All-Fantasy Team through July 1. You won’t find any Salvador Perezes or Omar Infantes on this team. You have to actually be an all-star to be named here. We’re going by estimated dollars earned in 12-team mixed leagues, as calculated by our friends at TG Fantasy Baseball. And Inside-Edge scouting will help us assess a player’s likelihood of maintaining this rate of performance in the second-half. While we’re focusing on the best players at every position, we’ll also name “All-Value” players at each spot, since it’s the surplus value of our players that enables us to win championships. Stats for hitters are dollars earned to date, average, runs, homers, RBI and steals. We’ll full out a pitching staff next week. Catcher: Buster Posey ($24/.304/41/12/54/1) Not a lot of surplus value here. I doubt Posey is the reason anyone is winning their league. But we also have to park a lot of money in safe assets and Posey is the definition of that strategy. You don't need me to tell you there are no fleas in Posey’s game. Posey trails only Stephen Vogt in the Inside-Edge grading scale that spans 23 statistics in eight broad hitting categories. All-Value: Russell Martin ($17/.262/46/11/37/4) The runs have been golden on the best offense in baseball. Martin has extra value in OBP leagues, which factor in his 28 walks. I frankly thought he’d be playing more but he remains the best cheap catcher drafted mostly because he crushes runs and is far from a drag in power while also adding a handful of bags that could make a difference. First Base: Paul Goldschmidt ($41/.350/55/20/65/15) The steals are what’s really insane. Can he keep it up? Those are likely to fall by the wayside in all likelihood as the grind of the hot summer continues. Steals are pretty meaningless in reality, after all. But Goldschmidt probably will keep running if there’s a chance for a 30/30 or even 40/40 season. So his owners need a milestone. The average is coming way down going forward, too, of course. All-Value: Stephen Vogt ($13/.295/39/13/53/0) He’s been solid and the fundamentals are sound according to Inside-Edge (96 on their 100-point hitting scale). Don't expect much, if any, regression. Second Base: Dee Gordon ($34/.350/41/1/21/26) He’s really a one-category guy now with Stanton out (and who knows how Stanton will hit once he comes back)? So you have to buy the plus-plus batting average. Even accepting his speed (infield hits including bunts), he profiles more like a .290 hitter. Major regression in BABIP severely cuts into the stolen-base totals, too. I’d sell, but then I never own these 1.5-to-3 category guys. All-Value: Matt Duffy ($12/.300/31/8/37/3) Duffy truly came out of nowhere and qualifies at short and third in many leagues, too. Inside-Edge is slightly bearish, granting him a 90 on their 100-point scale. The big worry: his well-hit average is low (13.7% vs. MLB average of 15.4%). I am bearish on Duffy in the second half. Third Base: Todd Frazier ($35/.281/54/25/54/8) I believe the power, of course. But Frazier’s batting average upside is compromised by poor plate discipline: his chase early percentage, chase with two strikes percentage and chase non-hittable pitches are all worse than the MLB average. Expect .240-to-.260 going forward. All-Value: Justin Turner ($13/.314/30/11/37/1) Turner’s made adjustments the last two years, supposedly with the tutelage of Marlon Byrd in the off-season. How hilarious is it that the Mets had Turner and Byrd and let them both go and now can’t hit to save their lives or their electrifying young pitching (something I’ve touched on before). The only thing that can slow Turner down are his troublesome knees. Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki ($29/.320/40/8/41/0) Nothing to say here. The cream rose. But the 15/57 BB/K ratios bother me a lot. His career is 426/698. He may really need that Coors bump now (.756 OPS on the road, 922 at home). I’m mildly bearish and would look to sell if someone is willing to pay the preseason price. All-Value: Yunel Escobar ($21/.321/38/4/27/1) This is shocking. But .361 BABIP plus a below-average well-hit rate. That means he’s still a .280 hitter going forward and then he becomes useful but marginal. Outfield : Bryce Harper ($49/.340/53/24/58/3) Mike Trout ($41/.303/57/21/44/9) Brett Gardner ($32/.304/58/9/39/15) We all have known since he was 15 and on the cover of Sports Illustrated that Harper was coming. He plays the game hard and thus has a higher injury risk than most players but you see he’s running less and he hasn't been running into walls. He seems to be dialing it back. Trout is one of the few players ever who could put up these kinds of numbers and be viewed as a mild disappointment. Early in Gardner’s career, I wrote his lack of power and high K percentage for a powerless hitter would cripple his ability to generate a high-enough walk rate to succeed as a leadoff hitter. But he proceeded to not only defy those historic comps but suddenly develop power at age 29. Now he’s nearly doubled his isolated power (ISO is slugging average minus batting average) to nearly .200. The walks are down, not ironically, because he’s now doing damage early in the count. Expect only mild regression, mostly in batting average. All-Value: Joc Pederson ($18/.243/45/20/38/2) The steals are disappointing. But the power is real and he has such tremendous bat speed that the average should be much higher. His .287 BABIP feels about 50 points too low, at least. All-Value: Nelson Cruz ($30/.307/39/20/48/1) Seattle has hurt his power. Check out his home and road splits, which are backwards. Hitters have an OPS about 40 points higher at home, on average, but Cruz’s OPS is about 200 points higher on the road.

  • Hitting by the Numbers: Bad luck burying Valbuena

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Armed with Inside-Edge well-hit data, we’re branching out from our usual pitching analysis and tackling expected batting average in this debut of Hitting by the Numbers. The pitching analysis will return next week.

     Inside-Edge uses video scouts to track how often a hitter hits the ball well. Generally, well-hit average should correlate to batting average, meaning if you hit the ball well far more than most you should get more hits (about 70% of well-hit balls are hits) and thus a higher average.

     Of course, some players will not see this correlation. Luck is the biggest factor. But so is speed, the degree to which you strike out and how susceptible your spray chart makes you to shifts.

     The average hitter hits 115 points better than his well-hit rate. But of course, that’s assuming the hitter is also average in strikeouts, speed, batted-ball type, everything. Individual mileage, thus, will vary. 

     Let’s look at the other hitters who have a very small difference, relatively speaking, between their well-hit and actual batting averages. These stats are as of Thursday.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Well hits and misses

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Let’s look at well-hit data via the cross-checking of multiple video scouts of MLB stat provider, Inside-Edge, who actually watch every at bat. We’re focusing on pitchers’ rates of well-hit average allowed.

    These rates are as a percentage of at-bats. So they include strikeouts and homers. This makes the well-hit stat far better than line-drive percentage, which is only calculated based on balls in play. So if you strike out 10 guys, those count. With LD%, they don’t. So being absurd for the purposes of illustration, if you strike out 98 of 100 hitters but one hits a line drive, your LD% is 50%.This way, your well-hit average is .001, as it should be. 

    Let’s set the averages. MLB pitchers allow well-hit balls on 15.4% of at bats. I’ve also included Inside-Edge’s swing and miss rates as a percentage of strikes. All the sites seem to do variations of this. This DOES NOT count a first-strike foul ball though. You have to miss the pitch. And its not a percentage of pitches, either, it’s a percentage of strikes. So know the league average — 16% — and work from there.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: What have you done for me lately?

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    You never get a second chance to make a first impression. But this rule of relationship building can be a handicap in fantasy baseball. We wait so long for the season to begin that how our players perform during it can become the pole to which we tether our season-long perceptions.

    Of course, the first five weeks of the season is a significant sample. But we’ve now had five weeks since then. So let’s back out the first five weeks entirely and look only at the five weeks since, taking us from May 7 through Wednesday (June 10).

    I believe this is a far more important exercise with pitchers than with hitters. Pitchers are more prone to turning on a dime for reasons that we detailed before training camp even began. While you don’t want to chase a five-week sample with a hitter, necessarily, I do think it can be smart to do this with a starting pitcher. There’s just a lot more data with pitchers over five weeks than with hitters, in addition to pitchers having so many more ways to make seemingly small adjustments that can have very big results.

    Shelby Miller I do not believe in one bit. Trade him now to the guy who needs ERA and who won’t realize you’re actually hurting him. 

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Taking a swing at strikeouts

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Strikeout rates and swinging strike rates have generally stabilized, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t change. It merely means they are bettable.

    But assuming that they are stable can provide some predictive insight into a handful of pitchers who have greatly divergent rates of swinging strikes and strikeouts. It stands to reason that both of these rates should correlate. And since strikeouts are more rare events than swinging strikes, we would reasonably have a bias in favor of the guys who are much better in SS% than K%, and against the pitchers who are significantly lower in SS% than K%.

    Looking at our sample of all starters who qualify for the ERA title, meaning they’ve pitched at least one inning per team game, we see that these stats tend to track pretty nicely. The average K% of all these starters is 19.8% and the average swinging strike rate is 21.5%. Pretty close. So we’ll expect SS% to be about 2-3% points ahead of K%. Note these stats are current through Wednesday.

    Fiers is a (K-BB)/IP champ but should we believe the Ks? This model says, “No.” He’s earned about 54 Ks, not 69, which would lower his (K-BB)/IP to 0.61 from 0.87 — or to just okay from great.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Special K relievers

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 2 mths ago

    We have enough of a sample now to look at relievers given that it takes only about 70 at bats for a pitcher’s K-rate to stabilize. The stat we’re interested in with them is primarily saves but also their ability to generate surplus Ks. My formula is keeping their K-rate at a solid 9.0 per nine innings (a winning number in innings-capped leagues) and giving the surplus Ks from that reliever to the rest of your staff.

    Basically now we have a closer ranking that includes this surplus strikeout statistic: Chapman, Miller, Robertson, Allen, Kimbrel, Tolleson, Grilli, Storen…..

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Harvey climbs the charts

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 2 mths ago

    We did our draft do-over at Roto Arcadeand were limited to two starting pitchers each. Let’s look at some of the pitchers whose value has changed the most since our Friends and Family draft back in March.

    1. Clayton Kershaw (1) 2. Max Scherzer (2) 3. Felix Hernandez (4) 4. Matt Harvey (11) 5. Johnny Cueto (14) 6. Corey Kluber (9) 7. Madison Bumgarner (7) 8. Chris Sale (6) 9. Gerrit Cole (15) 10. Zack Greinke (8) 11. Stephen Strasburg (3) 12. Jake Arrieta (20) 13. Sonny Gray (36) 14. David Price (5) 15. Jacob deGrom (19) 16. Cole Hamels (12) 17. Chris Archer (52) 18. * Danny Salazar (51) 19. * James Shields (18) 20. * Carlos Carrasco (23) 21. Jon Lester (13) 22. * Dallas Keuchel (64) 23. Michael Pineda (53) 24. Shelby Miller (77)