Michael Salfino

  • Examining effectiveness of starting pitchers deep in games

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    The third time is not a charm in baseball. Meaning, the third time through the order. This year, pitchers allow a .778 OPS the third-time through the order compared with .717 the first time and .744 the second. Of course, individual mileage will vary. We want guys who are capable of pitching deeper into games because each out they get on their own increases the likelihood that a tied or trailing game can turn into a win.

    While Scott Pianowski put values on starting pitchers the rest of the season earlier this week, we're going to focus on the pitchers who have proven to be much better than average — and much worse — the third-time around (minimum 80 at bats vs. batters ). You could of course note career averages for broader context but pitchers are really more “of the moment” performers versus hitters, who you can usually count on to level out to the back of their baseball cards.

    We’ve isolated pitchers who are either very good (OPS allowed .630 or lower) or really bad (OPS allowed .900 or greater). Stats are through Wednesday.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Power rankings for relievers

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    We have enough 2016 data to put closers under the stat microscope to form a power ranking for all of those who have at least five saves through Wednesday, regardless of whether they’re currently in the job.

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    We’re using two metrics to accomplish this. The first is of course (K-BB)/IP because dominance in this area is arguably more important in the one-inning role than it is overall. The second is ISO Allowed (ISO is slugging average minus batting average), which is a proxy for hit quality because you of course want your closer to have to allow three hits to give up a run.

    We’ve made an index of just these two stats. That’s simply adding the ranking of each of the 34 qualifiers in (K-BB)/IP and also in ISO Allowed and then adding those rankings, so the lower the sum of these rankings, the better the pitcher.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Trying to uncover starters worth an add

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 18 days ago

    Today we isolate the recent month-long sample for starting pitchers to examine their (strikeouts-walks)/inning pitched. 

    I’d never do this with hitters because I can’t really think of a reason generally why a hitter would greatly improve in a slice of a season beyond a natural peak-age progression. Of course, hitters do radically improve and sustain that improvement but I don’t view it as something you can confidently bet on at its outset. But there are so many reasons why a pitcher can improve or decline for at least the remainder of the season including refining a pitch, developing a new one, eliminating a pitch, optimal health, injury, a mechanical change that significantly boosts or reduces velocity, a sudden emphasis or fear of throwing inside, etc., etc.

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    Plus the best part of isolating current samples is that they are masked by the full-year where perhaps some of the issues mentioned above were conversely in play.

    Finally, just drop Jaime Garcia, Marcus Stroman and Francisco Liriano.

  • Hitting by the Numbers: Overlooked adds for your fantasy team

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 25 days ago

    We’re going to take a short break from pitching this week and use our Inside Edge well-hit metrics to look at select hitters in the context of the MLB-wide average rate of .138. 

    While that’s the main statistic, I also noted each hitter’s slugging percentage through Wednesday and also their rate of quality at-bats. Of course a quality at-bat is any at-bat resulting in a hit or walk, but also includes well-hit outs and any at bat regardless of outcome that lasts at least seven pitches. The MLB average for this is 39 percent. (It also includes sacrifices and hit by pitch.)

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    Ryan Zimmerman is hated due to declining production and the ever-present injury risk and is just 38 percent owned but we see that his declining hitting is a bit of a myth. He’s also on pace for about 24 homers and 80 RBI with a healthy number of runs scored. Well-hit says his .277 BABIP is way low. I’d project him to hit about .275 going forward.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Luckiest and unluckiest fantasy starters

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    We’re told that batting average allowed is largely luck, making so much bottom-line pitching performance (ERA and WHIP) largely random. This is depressing. But the solution isn’t to curse that our faults lie in the stars but rather to strive to better isolate luck by cross-checking batting average against contact type.

    We use well-hit data here from Inside Edge, where scouts review each batted ball for whether, to their eyes, it was well struck. Balls out of play — homers — are counted as they should be as well-hit. Grounders are assessed. Not all line drives are well hit. Strikeouts count because the stat is tethered to at bats. The MLB well-hit average this year is .134, meaning that pitchers allow batters to hit the ball well 13.4 percent of the time.

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  • Pitching by the Numbers: Fantasy Baseball's most dominant relievers

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    We’re going to focus on relievers this week in Pitching by the Numbers, using a combination of obvious run prevention and less obvious dominance and control — irrespective of saves.

    But first a statistical analysis of Matt Harvey focusing on the central question of whether the game’s most disappointing pitcher to date is a buy-low candidate. 

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    Let’s start with FIP, where his ERA now sits at an expected 3.66. His actual ERA of 5.77 is driven by an absurd .390 BABIP. While line-drive stats say this is earned given that clocks in at 34 percent, I’m not a fan of this stat. There are many soft line drives.

    Hector Rondon not having save opportunities is a fluke. He’s arguably the best closer after Aroldis Chapman, who is just the master of our surplus K stat. Craig Kimbrel is worth way more than the conventional metrics that so heavily weigh his completely non-predictive ERA. While Mychal Givens is looking very closer worthy, his path is blocked by the solid Zach Britton. 

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Judging starters by their fastball

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    The No. 1 criteria upon which to judge a starting pitcher is his No. 1 — the fastball. Is it a pitch that hitters can sit on since on average this year starters throw it about 55 percent of the time? Or can it vex them even when they guess right?

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    So this week let’s put fastball pitching performance under the microscope with our friends at Inside Edge. The criteria was that you had to throw 300 fastballs thus far, which would seemingly eliminate all non-starters. But Scott Feldman snuck onto the list even though he’s recently shifted into the bullpen. Carlos Torres is also a reliever so ignore him, too. The relievers remember are facing batters one time mostly and can just max out. Also note that the league averages are a .228 well-hit rate on fastballs and 15.9 percent miss rate on fastball swings. 

    Jon Lester has been incredible and I was not on board in March. I see no reason to be skeptical now. Who cares about holding on runners when no one runs anymore? 

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Luckiest and unluckiest starters

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    In this week’s edition, we’re looking at walks and strikeouts. The latter has already stabilized and as the former is about to, given you only need 170 batters faced for walk rate, according to Fangraphs.

    The formula I’ve been using here for years is slightly different because it came about before K%-BB%. Mine is (K-BB)/IP. I have no problem with the K%-BB% except that it’s harder to track in a game because we typically don’t know exactly how many batters a pitcher has faced. 

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    These stats are through Tuesday’s action. We’re going to make them through Wednesday starting next week. Make sure you check for subsequent starts before making any moves with the players referenced. Note that the MLB average in (K-BB)/IP is 0.56, meaning 0.56 more strikeouts than walks per inning for a typical starting pitcher. That’s the bar to clear.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Examining dominance of fantasy starters

    Michael Salfino at Special to Yahoo Sports 1 mth 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 2 mths 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.