June 10, 2009
Kevin Millwood(notes) is scheduled to face the Blue Jays tonight in Arlington. Despite the fact that he's currently sixth in the American League in ERA, you couldn't pay me to start him in a fantasy league. (Slight exaggeration there. We all have our price). Millwood has a low strikeout rate, he pitches in a hitter-friendly ballpark, and he's about to face one of the highest-scoring lineups in baseball. It's not a great set-up. He carries plenty of risk, and for me the potential reward (1 W, 4 K) is just too small.
But let's not make this about Millwood, per se. He's simply the most glaring example of a starter who has massively outperformed his Fielding Independent Pitching ERA (FIP) so far this season. FIP is a measurement of a pitcher's performance based on walks, homers and Ks. It deemphasizes fielding and it's massaged to look like an ERA.
If you're trying to identify a group of sell-high pitchers, it's not a bad idea to check out
Salfino's roster the list of players who have ERAs substantially lower than their FIPs. (Fangraphs makes it ridiculously easy. Bookmark 'em). You'll find such a list below, complete with K-rate, BABIP and Yahoo! percent ownership. Not everyone listed here is a strong sell, obviously. Johan Santana(notes) is over-performing his FIP, but that FIP is awfully low (3.36) and his K/9 is terrific (10.37).
The most remarkable thing about this list is that Zack Greinke(notes) and his 1.55 ERA aren't on it. You'd think that in order to put up Dead Ball Era stats in 2009, a guy would have to be a little lucky. But Greinke's FIP is 1.80, his BABIP is .309, his K/9 is 9.41, and...well, he's just good.
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