Michael Salfino

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Examining dominance of fantasy starters

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 13 hrs ago

    Let’s take an early season look at dominance with the help of our friends at Inside Edge. These are the pitchers entering Wednesday’s action who had an A-minus or better overall grade based on three statistical categories: 1-2-3 innings as a percentage of complete innings, strikeouts in four pitches or less and swinging strike rate. All are graded based on the league averages. The numerical grade is based on a 100-point scale in the chart below.

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    Again the point here isn’t to go out and get these ungettable pitchers who everyone knows are great. Rather, note the lesser names who are keeping such elite company. And this is also a check against overreacting too much to highly volatile and statistically insignificant (at this point of the season) ERA. If your pitcher is bad in ERA but good in our dominance metric, you should just relax and hold him.

    Just ignore all Rockies pitchers, who pitch on the moon half the time. 

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Ross is boss of weak contact

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 7 days ago

    We’re transitioning to 2016 stats only this week in Pitching by the Numbers with a look at well-hit averages (of at bats) from our friends at Inside Edge. Small sample caveats obviously apply. But then how do we view these leaders in being toughest to hit thus far?

    I would view it exactly like I would view anyone who at this point has great fantasy pitching stats. It means they are healthy and sharp. It’s bullish for their prospects going forward. If the pitchers in question have good fantasy stats, this is solid support that these stats are real. And if they are struggling to any degree in our fantasy averages (ERA and WHIP), this POSSIBLY supports the notion that a turnaround is bettable.

    As is going to be the case here every week, the chart is a couple of days behind the writing of this piece but I will update as needed.

    Joe Ross was our Pitching by the Numbers poster boy this draft season, I’m currently proud to say and has moved up to the top spot entering Friday. But he’s still tightly grouped with Jaime Garcia and Vincent Velasquez.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Method for finding undervalued starters

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    Strikeouts are a pitcher’s best friend. They leave little to chance. But the next best attribute a pitcher can have in run prevention is a high ground-ball rate. So in our last column that focuses primarily on last year’s stats (though 2016 stats are also included), let’s combine the two rates into one number and see who the leaders are in K percentage plus GB percentage.

    We’re doing things a little different, something not unusual in this space. These numbers have been combined before with a threshold of 75 percent or so being elite. However, the K percentage is based on batters faced while the GB percentage commonly is based on ground balls as a percentage of balls in play. In other words, apples and oranges.

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    So when you see Tyson Ross at 87 percent by that metric, you instinctively think that 87 percent of the batters Ross faces either strikeout or hit a ground ball. But that is false. That 87 percent doesn’t mean anything besides adding up two percentages that have no common denominator.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Examining dominance of starters

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 21 days ago

    I get accused fairly all the time in this space of being strikeout obsessed. And if you’re going to be obsessed about anything in pitching, it definitely should be that. But this week as we still wait for 2016 numbers to have any weight, let’s look more broadly at dominance with the help of our friends at Major League Baseball stat provider Inside Edge.

    They track three stats relative to league average in their “dominance” category in their individual pitching report cards. Dominance then as a whole receives a numerical grade on a scale of 1-to-100. The stats are: 1) percentage of outs that are strikeouts on four pitches or less, 2) 1-2-3 innings as a percentage of completed innings, 3) swing and miss percentage of strikes.

    So let’s pull all starting pitches who threw at least 800 pitches last year and who in these stats pulled an overall dominance grade of at least 88 — meaning they were B-plus or better in dominance. Note there are only 19 pitchers who made the grade, led by four who scored exactly 94 cumulatively: Jacob deGrom, Corey Kluber, Jake Arrieta and Joe Ross.

    Travis Wood should not be on this list given how many of those pitches were as a reliever. Ignore him.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Score draft deals by focusing on velocity

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Pitchers are throwing harder than ever. And though there are many exceptions to the rule that velocity really matters, with some flamethrowers consistently disappointing while select soft tossers manage to flummox hitters with the subtleties of their craft, that doesn’t disprove anything.

    Bottom line, last year, starting pitchers whose fastballs averaged over 94 miles per hour in starts allowed a .683 OPS while all of those under 94 mph on average allowed hitters to rake to the tune of .741 — an 8.5 percent increase.

    Based on historical data across both leagues, a .683 OPS allowed by the flamethrowers typically translates into a 3.50 ERA while the .741 allowed by everyone else works out to about 4.12. Oh, and don’t forget strikeouts — 23.3 percent for the high velocity and 18.8 for all others. (Note that these numbers are for the pitchers on all pitches, not just fastballs.)

    So let’s whittle this down. Verlander and Colon are the best examples of this approach and Colon originally popped in 1998 at age 25. Verlander was even younger in 2007.

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  • Strikeouts key to finding closer value

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    We rank our closers incorrectly. Projecting saves for guys who have the job is a fool’s errand because there is a poor correlation between team wins and team saves.

    Consider that last year, the AL East champion Blue Jays, winner of 93 games, ranked 27th with 40 wins of three runs or less. The Phillies who led the majors in losses with 99 had 42 of these wins that broadly met the save criteria.

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    By looking only at the projected strikeouts that exceed the innings pitched, the goal is to transform as many innings for my starters as possible; for every K over IP, you earn a boost of a K/9 for nine innings. This adds up fast. And if done correctly, it can turn a fantasy staff near average in strikeout efficiency to one that’s good.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Strikeouts key to finding closer value

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    We rank our closers incorrectly. Projecting saves for guys who have the job is a fool’s errand because there is a poor correlation between team wins and team saves.

    Consider that last year, the AL East champion Blue Jays, winner of 93 games, ranked 27th with 40 wins of three runs or less. The Phillies who led the majors in losses with 99 had 42 of these wins that broadly met the save criteria.

    [Sign up for Fantasy Baseball | Play for $40K | Expert rankings | Mock draft ]

    By looking only at the projected strikeouts that exceed the innings pitched, the goal is to transform as many innings for my starters as possible; for every K over IP, you earn a boost of a K/9 for nine innings. This adds up fast. And if done correctly, it can turn a fantasy staff near average in strikeout efficiency to one that’s good.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Stat that can help you find fantasy value

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Last year was not a good one for projecting pitcher performance based on the prior year’s strikeouts and walks, the way we do it here is (K-BB) divided by innings pitched.

    But it worked wonderfully in 2014. Of course, the truth lies somewhere in between. This stat is the best tool we have in the pitcher projection toolbox but that is all contextual. It just means that players who demonstrated elite ratios of Ks and BBs in the prior year are bettable to have similar ratios in the upcoming year. They are not bankable to do this. Nothing is bankable. 

    What this methodology comes down to is betting on stats. We hope the (K-BB)/IP stat is as bettable as the obvious stats that directly impact our fantasy categories — ERA and WHIP especially. It generally should be. But individual mileage varies. So to gamble on the outliers — the pitchers who were much better in Ks and BBs than they are currently projected to perform in fantasy — we need to be paid. That means we need to acquire these players at prices very close to ADP.

    Let’s focus on two things in the accompanying chart — where the pitcher ranked in the (K-BB)/IP stat and where they are being drafted. 

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Studying most misunderstood projection stat

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Let’s start the 2016 season of Pitching by the Numbers by examining batting average on balls in play and the false assumptions that make it the most misunderstood and dangerous statistical tool in our projection toolbox.

    BABIP was designed explicitly to isolate luck. Last year, the league’s BABIP was .299. If a pitcher allowed a higher BABIP, he was unlucky. Anything lower, he was lucky. We should expect him to allow exactly a .299 BABIP because that’s what hitters do against pitchers. Or so the theory goes.

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    Enter Inside Edge, stat provide to Major League baseball. I prefer their approach of using two scouts to view each play and needing to agree on whether a ball was well hit. We all have watched many baseball games and deciding if a ball is well struck is pretty cut and dried. I’d rather bet on eyeballs here than an algorithm. Though I note for the record that there can be a wide variance between the Inside Edge data and the data on other sites.

  • Week 16 Fantasy Football Power Rankings: Stacking all the games

    Michael Salfino at Roto Arcade 4 mths ago

    Let’s put a fantasy spin on the this week’s action by ranking the games in expected order of point-producing relevance using the over/under totals from Las Vegas, specifically as listed at VegasInsider.com.

    Note: Dollar values in parentheses denote a player's current week price in the Yahoo Daily Fantasy game. It is displayed for point of reference.

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    The Big Five

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    Middle Ground

    Defensive battles