Draft Strategy: Trends in 5 x 5 Pitching Categories 2010 -2013

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Ray takes a look at some trends in the 5 x 5 pitching categories for the period 2010 - 2013.

On Saturday, I took a look at the trends in the 5 x 5 fantasy baseball hitting categories across each position for the period 2012 - 2013, and we learned that power and speed hitters are becoming more and more valuable on draft day.

Today, we look at the trends in the 5 x 5 fantasy baseball pitching categories. For this research, I only looked at all qualified starters using FanGraphs leader boards,. Below is a summary of the category breakdowns for this analysis:

15+ Wins

12+ Wins

Sub 3.00 ERA

Sub 3.50 ERA

Sub 3.00 FIP

Sub 3.50 FIP

Sub 1.00 WHIP

Sub 1.15 WHIP

200+ Strikeouts

175+ Strikeouts

K/BB > 3.00

Ground ball rate > 50%

Ground ball rate > 45%

K/9 > 9.00

K/9 > 8.00

K/9 > 7.00

I wanted to look at the 5 x 5 pitching categories for starting pitchers, but also added in some other statistics I like to track when evaluating starting pitchers, so that is why I added the K/9 and ground ball rate trends.

Let's take a look at the table for the results of my research. For each of the categories, if a pitcher won exactly 15 games, he was included in the 15+ win totals. The same goes for each of the other stats I tracked.

Source of stats: FanGraphs

Categories

2013

2012

Diff

2011

2010

Diff

2013 vs 2010

15+ wins

14

26

-12

20

24

-4

-10

12+ wins

45

57

-12

50

57

-7

-12

Sub 3.00 ERA

12

10

2

17

15

2

-3

Sub 3.50 ERA

41

28

13

39

33

6

8

Sub 3.00 FIP

9

4

5

11

6

5

3

Sub 3.50 FIP

36

22

14

29

24

5

12

Sub 1.00 WHIP

4

0

4

3

1

2

3

Sub 1.15 WHIP

23

16

7

21

15

6

8

200+ Ks

12

13

-1

14

15

-1

-3

175+ Ks

33

26

7

31

30

1

3

K/BB > 3.00

38

34

4

36

24

12

14

GB% > 50%

13

21

-8

21

22

-1

-9

GB% > 45%

44

46

-2

51

48

3

-4

K/9 > 9.00

12

11

1

7

10

-3

2

K/9 > 8.00

27

27

0

29

23

6

4

K/9 > 7.00

52

52

0

48

48

0

4

# SP Qualified

81

88

-7

94

92

2

-11

What we learned

The number of starting pitchers who qualified, according to Fangraphs definition, has dropped since 2010, with the biggest drop occurring in 2013. That tells me that while pitching continues to dominate, the number of pitchers who meet the 160 inning pitch limit is dropping, which indicates that managers are using their bullpen more than ever. I will have to confirm this in further research.

Wins are so unpredictable, but the table above tells us that the number of pitchers with 15 or more, and 12 or more, wins has dropped over the last four seasons. The reasons are many, but one of the more obvious is bullpen usage is becoming, or has become, a huge part of the game. Maybe more so in 2013.

As we can see in the ERA and FIP categories, the number of qualified starters with an ERA/FIP under 3.50 is growing, even though the number of starters meeting the 160 innings pitched requirement is dropping. So, on draft day, it may behoove you to grab an ace or two early if you want to compete in the pitching categories.

The number of starters who strike out a lot of batters and limit the free pass (K/BB > 3.00) is growing as well. My previous research indicates that starters who strike out more than seven batters and walk less than three batters every nine innings, usually perform very well. If you filter those starting pitchers who keep the ball on the ground at a 45% clip, the ERA drop is even larger. The higher the strikeout rate, the better the ERA.

But. this research indicates that the number of ground ball pitchers who meet the requirements is dropping, but it is still more than 50% of the pitchers included in this research.

This research supports the notion that the Wait on Starting Pitching strategy is one that many should use again in 2014. I know I will, but if you are in a keeper league and are loaded with hitting, feel free to spend top dollar on at least one of the aces available in your drafts. I like to draft at least one ace in every draft I participate in.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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