Pitching by the Numbers: Draft analysis

With the alarm about to go off for real league-wide, let me share what pitchers I drafted in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League and also opine about what I would have rostered, pitching wise, had I participated in the Tout Wars Mixed League auction. The rule for the Tout Wars exercise is pretty simple -- a dollar more than the winning bid gets me the player.

Friends and Family (round, overall pick, player)

5. (66) Greg Holland (KC - RP)
7. (96) Danny Salazar (Cle - SP)
11. (156) Bobby Parnell (NYM - RP)
12. (175) Justin Masterson (Cle - SP)
13. (186) A.J. Burnett (Phi - SP)
14. (205) Yordano Ventura (KC - SP)
16. (235) Tyson Ross (SD - SP,RP)
21. (306) Tim Lincecum (SF - SP)
22. (325) Kelvin Herrera (KC - RP)

Holland was the best available in Ks minus IPs, which I weight very heavily with closers. But it seems my colleagues did, too. To summarize, last year, Holland’s 36 Ks more than innings kept him at a winning rate of 9 K/9 IP while raising the K/9 of other pitchers one full K/9 for 324 innings. This is huge for leagues like Yahoo that are innings capped. I wasn’t able to get a closer who fit the model at near value in Round 6 so had to audible by drafting Salazar in Round 7 at a spot where he was about the top player in the queue.

Parnell was strictly a saves play and he actually eats away at Holland’s K/9 overflow, which is depressing. But look at those next three picks. Masterson at 175th overall coming off a season with elite K/9 and near-league-high ground-ball rate. Then 11 picks later, I get the actual K/9 AND ground-ball percentage leader in the National League in Burnett.

Look, we do not play an overly complex game. If you only tell me that a pitcher is top-notch in K/9 and ground-ball rate, I will take them, thank you. That is also more solidly predictable from year-to-year than most pitching stats. So I need to ask no other questions and have no other concerns. At that price, there isn’t even any risk. That’s where the streamable pitchers go.

Ventura was a big reach down in the queue. But I had no idea where he’d go in a 15-team expert league. I thought he was a value there. I mean, the guy throws 100 miles per hour and is at least a freak in that regard. The scouts love him, too. As Gene McCaffrey of www.wiseguybaseball.com says, “In order to be very right, you have to be willing to be very wrong.” What’s the risk at pick 200-something?

Ross I just love. Again, he’s never done it before. But the more you dig deeply into his stat profile looking for skills issues, the more impressed you are that his 2013 breakthrough was for real.

Lincecum in this format can be played only at home, where I think he has value given his K/9. He requires discipline in sticking to the only-at-home plan and not varying depending on how he happens to pitch otherwise.

I love Herrera. He’s not merely Holland insurance as his surplus Ks last year raised the K/9 of pitchers by one K/9 for 141 innings.

Moving on to Tout Wars, here are the pitchers I would have reasonably landed by paying a dollar more then they were successfully purchased for without me. I would not want to spend more than $85 on pitching.

Closers: Fernando Rodney ($11) and Ernesto Frieri ($13).

I have $61 left but have gotten enough surplus Ks by my formula to add about 44 Ks over the one per inning we target for our closers. Try buying 44 Ks over innings pitched from a reliever. It’s very costly.

Starters: Scott Kazmir ($4), Anibal Sanchez ($15), Justin Masterson ($8), Sonny Gray ($12), A.J. Burnett ($5), Danny Salazar ($17).

That’s exactly $61. One NL starter is dumb but nothing ever goes perfectly. Just trying to be as realistic as possible. And I need to roster one more pitcher, so I am going a dollar over budget. Have no idea who I’d get in the endgame. Let’s assume Herrera, who went in the reserves. For why I picked these starters, see my tier rankings column, but remember to adjust for injuries since publishing date.

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