- Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
At the unofficial and annoyingly untrue “halfway mark” of the season (we’re not even close, fellas), let’s look at the top-rated fantasy dollar values of pitchers in 12-team, mixed leagues with $260 budgets. Thanks to LetsPlay2 for the calculations.
But before we list them, I note that I, of course, strive to project post-all-star break value with the help of the best tool in our stat toolbox: (K-BB)/IP. We’re interested in seeing which elite performers (the 37 pitchers who have thus far earned $11 or more) do not have foundational strikeout and walk dominance in line with their dollar values. But, of course, many surprising performers are structurally sound and therefore good bets to continue performing well.
Let me also note my general annoyance with analysis that says that a pitcher is a fluke just because he was projected to perform much worse. I need a reason why. “Fluke” can’t be the end of the sentence. And we know that most elite performers are going to regress whether we expected them to be good or not. So this is really non-analysis.
- Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports14 days ago
Generating swings and misses is a very important skill for pitchers, but clearly not the only important part of pitching. Some finesse guys consistently get away with having deficit when it comes to “stuff” and some dominators like Francisco Liriano struggle even when, like this year, they are actually the most unhittable pitcher in the majors by this measure.
When you combine raw stuff with elite control, you are Clayton Kershaw or Felix Hernandez or Masahiro Tanaka — one of the game’s true aces.
What we’re trying to do here is identify upside, meaning finding the pitchers who have dominating stuff — arguably the most important attribute. The ones who are generating empty swings without a commensurate ERA or WHIP are the pitchers who are capable of making sudden dramatic surges in value when they even temporarily (like Liriano in 2013) fix their other flaws (e.g., control).
- Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports21 days ago
We think of the all-star game separating the first and second half of the season but that line was basically drawn this past Sunday. So what better time to look at full calendar year stats to see which players have been consistent, one way or another, but just not over a time frame we typically measure.
Here are the June 29, 2013 to June 29, 2014 leaders in (K-BB)/IP with the ERA noted, too:
Here is the entire chart.
This is out of 87 pitchers who threw at least 162 innings in the period. All of these pitchers should, by their performance in strikeouts and walks, sport winning ERAs. But you can see the wide variance that seems to have no rhyme or reason.
- Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports28 days ago
We talk a lot about hits and luck generally, but not enough about hit sequencing.
Let's assume that the best barometer of a pitcher's ERA is his overall batting average allowed (the larger sample) and not the relatively meager sample of the batting average allowed by a pitcher when there are runners in scoring position. Yet the smaller sample in this case is likely going to have a greater influence on ERA. Is this bad luck? Is it bad "clutch" pitching (assuming such a thing even exists)? Or is it the lack of a skill (pitching out of the stretch vs. out of the windup)? I'll investigate these questions in a bit, but first let's note the pitchers who are way better with runners in scoring position than overall and those who are way worse (through Sunday).
Here are the positive outliers, meaning way tougher/luckier/more clutch with runners in scoring position than they are overall:
Let’s isolate performance in the last month in the statistic that best predicts ERA and WHIP — (strikeouts minus walks)/innings pitched.
We’re looking for reasons to believe in pitchers who are performing well in the averages, i.e., they are also performing well in the statistic. But we’re especially looking for pitchers who are doing well in the statistic while having an inflated ERA because these ERAs can make them cheap or even free (because they've been cut).
I’d never isolate a month of performance with a hitter. And I hate chopping up samples, period. But pitchers can undergo significant changes in season due to fatigue/injury, the elimination of a nagging injury, a mechanical change, an adjustment in pitch usage or even in the development of a pitch. The possibilities are many, if not quite endless. And you know a stat is working when the reaction to most of the high achievers is, “Well, duh, we know those guys are great.” Again, we’re looking for outliers. Here’s the top 25 in the stat from May 16 through June 16:
Let’s look at the relievers that are most valuable in Yahoo! leagues with innings caps, which are therefore not really strikeout leagues but actually K/9 leagues.
The idea here is simple. We subtract the innings of relievers (minimum 20) from their strikeouts. Each surplus K gains you an increased K/9 rate of 1.0 for every nine innings thrown by the rest of your staff while that relievers K/9 stays at 9.0 (a winning number). So Dellin Betances has 25 surplus Ks (61 in 36 innings) that we can “give” to the rest of our staff while keeping Betances' K/9 at 9.0. That effectively raises the K/9 of the remainder of your staff by 1.0 for 225 innings (25 multiplied by 9). That’s very valuable, more valuable I would argue than many closers even though Betances has zero saves, especially when combined with Betances’s sterling averages. Plus, Betances finds extra value in his high inning total relative to other relievers.
Here are the other leaders in K/9 value behind Betances (again, this is Ks minus IP multiplied by nine):
Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner recently told Eno Sarris that he is pitching to contact to keep his pitch counts lower so he can pitch deeper into games.
Cashner’s subsequent injury is inconsequential. A number of other pitchers have said similar things in this era of the strikeout. And it’s bound to become more prevalent given Dr. James Andrews advising pitchers to stop maxing out velocity on every pitch.
We’re heading into June, which means we have more than enough innings to bet on our key stat, (strikeouts minus walks) divided by innings pitched.
A couple of key points first. We’re using this stat because it predicts future ERA better than ERA. It’s also a good shorthand for WHIP and when it is not, it’s because of really bad luck on balls in play. So it covers our two ratio categories, for projection purposes, very nicely. And, of course, strikeouts are at the heart of this stat and we count them, too.
- Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports2 mths ago
Since we know that offenses/hitters generally control outcomes, it’s important especially when streaming pitchers to pick the most favorable matchups. Most of the time, that’s more important than picking the right pitcher.
Here’s an overview of where we stand on this, and I do respect the skeptics. While I’m citing just one study, I’ve confirmed this with multiple experts who are very careful with their numbers and their analysis since it’s gambling based. Here’s a link to “Who Controls the Plate” by Benjamin Alamar from the Journal of Quantitative Analysis of Sports.
Here’s the key takeaway:
“ The results of this calculation show that in an at bat between an average batter and an average pitcher, the batter should accrue 62% of the resulting expected (expected run value) and the pitcher should accrue 38% of (it). …The skill of the batter has a greater effect on the outcome and thus receives more credit for the outcome of the plate appearance. ”
- Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports2 mths ago
It’s been said that the most important pitch in baseball is the first pitch. This year, if you get ahead 0-1, hitters subsequently manage a .598 OPS. But if you fall behind 1-0, that rises to .797.
A proxy for this is the frequency with which pitchers throw first-pitch strikes. The higher, the better -- unless, of course, they are just tossing pitches over the plate that get hammered mercilessly. We sure don’t want that.
This is the rub with first-pitch strike percentage. It includes pitches put in play as strikes. So let’s combine two stats this week in Pitching by the Numbers: first pitch strike percentage and batting average allowed when hitters swing at the first pitch. Who is finding the sweet spot most often by either starting off 0-1, which is good, or – even better -- actually getting hitters to unsuccessfully put the ball in play on the first pitch by limiting batting average (or perhaps just getting really lucky on BABIP, a distinction for another day).