Fooled You! The Luck Smokescreen

Leon Halip

You may be waiver-wiring it up at this point in the season to displace injured/faulting starters, and you may be looking deeper than you thought or the waiver-wire looks like a sh*t-show and you have to get creative – streaming/spot starts, using reliever peripherals, etc. This post is to point out some of the options you may be dwelling on and either motivate you or keep you grounded while you are doing so by seeing if it’s skill or luck that’s really driving their performance to date.

You may be waiver-wiring it up at this point in the season to displace injured/faulting starters, and you may be looking deeper than you thought or the waiver-wire looks like a sh*t-show and you have to get creative – streaming/spot starts, using reliever peripherals, etc.

This post is to point out some of the options you may be dwelling on and either motivate you or keep you grounded while you are doing so by seeing if it’s skill or luck that’s really driving their performance to date. If you want me to delve into a specific (group of) player(s) or why their skill/luck is the more dynamic factor, then as always, please send me a request.

My arbitrary Skill score incorporates SIERA (skill-based ERA), Ct% (contact rate), K/BB (strikeout to walk ratio), SwStr% (percentage of strikes that were swung at and missed), GB/FB (groundball to flyball ratio) and F-Strike% (percentage of first pitch strikes). Not necessarily in order of their significance/relevancy but SIERA does have the most weight while F-Strike% has the least. Obviously there’s redundancy since SIERA factors in Ct% and balls in play data already, but because we don’t necessarily have a sufficient sample size for SIERA to stabilize yet, the other factors are still important to look at individually. For reference here’s the SIERA formula:

SIERA = 6.145 – 16.986*(SO/PA) + 11.434*(BB/PA) – 1.858*((GB-FB-PU)/PA) + 7.653*((SO/PA)^2) +/– 6.664*(((GB-FB-PU)/PA)^2) + 10.130*(SO/PA)*((GB-FB-PU)/PA) – 5.195*(BB/PA)*((GB-FB-PU)/PA

My arbitrary Lack of Luck/Potential for Rebound score on the other hand will incorporate BABIP (batting average on balls in play), LOB% (percentage of runners left on base) and HR/FB (homerun to flyball ratio).

I will focus only on pitchers (potentially of value) that are owned in less than 75% of Yahoo! Leagues as of 24April2013. At this point, you’re looking for supplemental SP value – maybe wins but those have little face so I am solely focusing on the peripheral here.

So let’s break it down by skill, potential for rebound and the overall scores. Feel free to skip down toward the end of the post to read the random recommendations and send me your requests, but I suggest a gander.

Here are the top 66 options ranked by their Skill and Unlucky/Rebound scores combined. Due to the size of this post I left off the lists by Skill and Luck separately. If you want the complete lists, please send me a request with your email. The complete lists will also have red and green font for comparative purposes to MLB average.

Name

%

SIERA

K/BB

GB/FB

BABIP

LOB%

HR/FB

Ct%

F-Str%

SwStr%

SKILL

LUCK

Total

2012 MLB Avg

owned

3.88

2.48

1.33

0.293

72.50%

0.11

79.70%

59%

9.10%

SCORE

SCORE

Score

1

Dan Straily

12

0.98

11

0.71

0.357

60.0%

0.00

56.1%

68.0%

24.50%

8.71

0.76

9.470

2

Ryan Dempster

70

2.96

3

1.05

0.245

74.8%

0.18

64.7%

67.0%

14.90%

2.65

0.02

2.670

3

Gavin Floyd

6

3.61

2.4

1.94

0.361

71.4%

0.19

74.1%

69.4%

11.30%

1.11

1.54

2.650

4

Edwin Jackson

44

3.53

2.18

2.86

0.292

49.0%

0.07

77.8%

53.9%

9.30%

0.57

1.92

2.490

5

Hyun-Jin Ryu

66

3.08

5.2

1.08

0.353

68.4%

0.12

79.5%

58.8%

8.90%

1.38

1.08

2.460

6

Roberto Hernandez

2

3.6

2.5

2.18

0.286

60.2%

0.12

74.6%

59.5%

10.20%

0.80

1.21

2.010

7

Zach McAllister

7

3.5

5.33

0.95

0.296

56.1%

0.05

79.1%

57.3%

8.60%

0.89

0.99

1.880

8

Bartolo Colon

11

3.67

17

1.1

0.266

80.2%

0.07

85.4%

61.6%

7.60%

3.38

-1.52

1.860

9

Marco Estrada

74

3.2

6.25

0.75

0.338

85.4%

0.17

75.4%

63.4%

11.40%

2.13

-0.30

1.830

10

Jaime Garcia

64

3.69

2

2.8

0.333

71.4%

0.13

76.3%

64.4%

9.90%

0.68

0.71

1.390

11

Wily Peralta

3

4.36

1.18

3.92

0.288

64.9%

0.25

84.2%

56.0%

7.30%

-0.82

2.08

1.260

12

Tommy Milone

54

3.91

4.2

0.72

0.308

66.0%

0.08

76.5%

68.5%

10.40%

0.76

0.50

1.260

13

Mark Buehrle

21

4.31

2.67

1.32

0.342

62.1%

0.12

79.0%

52.8%

8.90%

-0.53

1.60

1.070

14

Josh Beckett

68

3.92

3.33

1.1

0.27

72.0%

0.19

79.9%

64.2%

9.90%

0.35

0.63

0.980

15

Garrett Richards

13

2.9

3.5

3.1

0.125

76.1%

0.20

77.3%

60.3%

11.00%

2.04

-1.17

0.870

16

Vance Worley

3

4.31

2.17

1.71

0.403

52.0%

0.05

90.5%

63.0%

3.70%

-1.73

2.50

0.770

17

Brandon McCarthy

37

4.49

2.75

1.7

0.391

57.6%

0.09

90.1%

69.5%

4.70%

-1.45

2.21

0.760

18

Eric Stults

9

3.82

5.67

1.16

0.329

70.9%

0.10

85.6%

59.6%

7.10%

0.27

0.36

0.630

19

Jose Quintana

30

3.37

4.25

1

0.265

73.9%

0.05

77.2%

69.4%

10.00%

1.29

-1.05

0.240

20

Drew Smyly

12

2.58

4.25

0.93

0.289

80.0%

0.00

76.9%

59.3%

10.50%

2.00

-1.92

0.080

21

Ervin Santana

47

3.4

5.2

0.91

0.278

87.1%

0.12

77.3%

65.2%

10.60%

1.52

-1.53

-0.010

22

Bronson Arroyo

21

4.1

5.33

1.16

0.253

66.1%

0.06

83.4%

72.2%

7.40%

0.23

-0.26

-0.030

23

Brett Myers

1

4.71

2.4

0.88

0.271

75.0%

0.29

82.5%

52.6%

7.50%

-1.45

1.34

-0.110

24

Wade Davis

20

3.39

5

1.07

0.348

93.8%

0.13

78.3%

59.7%

9.90%

1.26

-1.38

-0.120

25

Joe Blanton

2

5.07

1.6

1.39

0.381

69.4%

0.19

86.9%

64.1%

6.00%

-2.13

2.00

-0.130

26

Phil Hughes

35

4.16

4

0.74

0.353

76.9%

0.16

89.8%

67.7%

5.80%

-0.80

0.64

-0.160

27

Trevor Cahill

63

3.84

2.63

1.59

0.268

71.9%

0.09

76.9%

61.9%

8.60%

0.13

-0.41

-0.280

28

Wade Miley

75

3.48

3.29

1.57

0.282

76.1%

0.04

79.3%

58.3%

9.40%

0.69

-1.17

-0.480

29

Mike Pelfrey

1

5.35

1.2

1.31

0.397

50.0%

0.00

87.9%

57.1%

5.80%

-2.71

2.16

-0.550

30

Julio Teheran

26

4.54

2.14

1.27

0.312

77.4%

0.17

84.2%

65.1%

8.80%

-0.84

0.24

-0.600

31

Jeremy Hellickson

70

3.94

3

1.22

0.221

77.3%

0.15

79.9%

61.5%

8.90%

0.03

-0.85

-0.820

32

A.J. Griffin

49

4.83

2

0.64

0.273

66.0%

0.09

79.7%

66.7%

9.10%

-1.09

0.23

-0.860

33

Shelby Miller

75

3.15

3.71

1.26

0.226

78.7%

0.04

81.7%

73.2%

8.70%

1.12

-1.99

-0.870

34

Mike Leake

5

4.18

2.25

1.67

0.304

79.3%

0.13

82.0%

59.1%

8.00%

-0.58

-0.45

-1.030

35

Dillon Gee

7

4.74

1.75

1

0.306

73.0%

0.15

81.5%

56.7%

7.50%

-1.53

0.43

-1.100

36

Jon Garland

3

4.64

1.57

2

0.275

73.0%

0.19

86.9%

69.6%

4.70%

-1.75

0.54

-1.210

37

Jorge de la Rosa

14

4.15

2.13

1.35

0.228

79.2%

0.12

77.6%

64.3%

9.80%

-0.09

-1.27

-1.360

38

Lucas Harrell

4

4.94

1.15

2.31

0.302

83.9%

0.31

86.9%

52.6%

5.00%

-2.32

0.95

-1.370

39

Kyle Kendrick

68

3.88

2.71

1.76

0.303

83.3%

0.14

86.4%

61.0%

5.60%

-0.71

-0.68

-1.390

40

Wandy Rodriguez

63

3.48

11

1

0.119

75.0%

0.00

87.6%

64.3%

5.40%

1.60

-3.12

-1.520

41

Jason Marquis

2

4.72

1.5

1.6

0.211

69.2%

0.20

83.5%

49.0%

5.90%

-1.95

0.38

-1.570

42

Bud Norris

16

5.07

1.45

0.84

0.321

69.1%

0.06

81.3%

60.2%

8.10%

-1.75

0.12

-1.630

43

Ricky Nolasco

5

4.35

2.71

1.03

0.283

72.3%

0.08

84.5%

57.9%

5.70%

-1.31

-0.38

-1.690

44

J.A. Happ

13

4.41

2.11

0.65

0.23

69.0%

0.06

80.9%

57.6%

8.40%

-0.97

-0.82

-1.790

45

Chris Tillman

14

4.68

1.64

0.85

0.333

73.8%

0.12

86.1%

50.0%

5.40%

-2.17

0.29

-1.880

46

Jeremy Guthrie

23

4.04

2.71

1.37

0.243

89.0%

0.22

86.6%

63.6%

5.90%

-0.85

-1.06

-1.910

47

Alex Cobb

74

4.04

2.5

1.75

0.313

79.0%

0.06

85.8%

54.0%

5.50%

-1.04

-0.95

-1.990

48

Barry Zito

57

4.44

2.43

0.71

0.296

78.0%

0.07

84.6%

60.2%

7.20%

-1.19

-1.00

-2.190

49

Jason Vargas

16

5.57

1

1.17

0.386

73.5%

0.07

81.4%

59.4%

6.60%

-2.64

0.39

-2.250

50

Carlos Villanueva

33

3.42

3.5

2

0.164

100.0%

0.19

80.2%

57.1%

10.00%

0.97

-3.27

-2.300

51

Alex Sanabia

1

5.91

0.79

1.36

0.303

77.3%

0.12

76.6%

63.6%

10.70%

-1.99

-0.31

-2.300

52

Patrick Corbin

33

3.9

2.86

1.32

0.243

85.9%

0.04

79.1%

72.8%

8.20%

0.12

-2.57

-2.450

53

Kevin Correia

6

4.5

3.25

1.28

0.283

78.8%

0.06

89.6%

63.1%

5.80%

-1.29

-1.23

-2.520

54

Miguel Gonzalez

11

5.52

1.08

0.97

0.268

76.4%

0.12

80.3%

57.8%

9.50%

-2.03

-0.56

-2.590

55

Joe Saunders

5

5.3

1

1.76

0.312

68.5%

0.05

86.4%

60.2%

5.70%

-2.55

-0.06

-2.610

56

Jason Hammel

44

5.04

1.75

0.74

0.237

68.2%

0.10

87.4%

58.7%

5.40%

-2.41

-0.23

-2.640

57

Andy Pettitte

71

4.3

2.4

1.5

0.258

89.6%

0.08

80.0%

64.7%

9.30%

-0.29

-2.36

-2.650

58

Dylan Axelrod

1

4.99

1.44

1.12

0.273

72.5%

0.08

83.8%

55.6%

6.50%

-2.11

-0.56

-2.670

59

Travis Wood

22

4.62

1.8

0.93

0.222

79.0%

0.03

78.4%

62.8%

9.50%

-0.83

-2.15

-2.980

60

Juan Nicasio

1

5.56

1

1.23

0.262

76.6%

0.15

85.8%

63.4%

6.20%

-2.74

-0.31

-3.050

61

Ross Detwiler

59

4.44

2.6

1.5

0.286

88.2%

0.04

84.0%

59.1%

7.80%

-0.88

-2.39

-3.270

62

Jhoulys Chacin

30

3.77

2.67

2

0.221

87.4%

0.05

86.8%

61.5%

5.30%

-0.62

-2.81

-3.430

63

Jeff Locke

1

5.33

1.09

1.43

0.246

87.6%

0.19

86.0%

55.3%

7.40%

-2.35

-1.21

-3.560

64

Kevin Slowey

4

4.53

2.5

0.79

0.288

91.9%

0.07

85.4%

72.2%

6.60%

-1.19

-2.43

-3.620

65

Wei-Yin Chen

34

5.39

1.57

0.61

0.264

76.3%

0.06

88.1%

60.2%

5.80%

-2.75

-1.24

-3.990

66

Jake Westbrook

16

5.73

0.57

3.07

0.257

87.9%

0.00

89.9%

61.3%

4.30%

-3.17

-3.03

-6.200

Stats courtesy of FanGraphs customized leaderboards


Random Recommendations:

I wish I was in a league where Shelby Miller was on my waivers. His BABIP and HR/FB ratio kept him from being higher on this list, but he shouldn’t even be on this list - he’ll be owned in 99% of leagues very soon.

Absolutely pick up Dan Straily (12%). While he has the smallest sample size (1 start), he probably has the most dominating stuff and AJ Griffin at this point is no lock, Brett Anderson loves missing time and meh on Bartolo Colon who coincidentally winds up at #8 on this list. I’ll have to look more into him one day, but I’m just not motivated enough. He does have an Adam Wainwright-esque K/BB ratio to date: 17 SO and 1 single walk. That bodes well almost anywhere – especially in Oakland where his below average GB/FB ratio won’t kill him, but it certainly factors in significantly to his SIERA and his overall skill here. I do think his Luck factors (where he wound up at 55/66) will certainly catch-up to him, but he knows what he has to do, and if you’re in a league that incorporates K/BB somehow, he will have his value.

100% of the time, 60% of us say that Gavin Floyd (6%) should be serviceable. He’s got a solid enough SIERA and an excellent GB/FB ratio to date with an average K/BB – his contact rate is even below the 2012 MLB average and his own career rate, but he’s a SP whose ERA continually comes in at 20-30 points higher. His contact rate should regress negatively, making his elevated HR/FB ratio andincreasing BABIP’s that much more concerning. You should stay away from him unless you’re in the deepest of leagues. The only thing keeping him serviceable is the potential for 150 K, but his BB% is also on a negative trend.

I absolutely recommend picking up Hyun-Jin Ryu (66%) whose sporting a 4.01 ERA (3.08 SIERA) while having an elevated .353 BABIP. That should come down and his 5.20 K/BB ratio is elite. He should be owned in almost any league.

Ryan Dempster(70%)is another sure-thing pick-up if he’s actually available. His HR/FB should stay elevated in Fenway’s confines and his BABIP should catch up, but his SwStrk% is surging with an excellent approach in a new league. With offensive support, here’s one guy that should provide you with some wins at some point.

Jaime Garcia (64%) is sporting a 2.89 ERA with 2 wins already. I’m surprised he’s owned in only 66% of leagues. If he can up his K/BB ratio to 2012 levels, he has an elite GB/FB ratio that should hover above 2.00. With some luck in the BABIP department and a relatively average LOB% and HR/FB he’s a definite pick-up. If you already have him, keep him and hope he doesn’t miss time.

Trevor Cahill (63%) should be owned in more leagues as well. Even though he’s in Arizona, he has an excellent (and positive trending) GB/FB ratio (1.93>2.21>2.69). Right now this sits at 1.59. While he’s throwing his sinker to LHB less and cutter more - even that’s inducing ground balls and I expect this rate to rise. If his K/BB continues to rise (1.79 > 2.11 and 2.63 to date this year), he could become a 3.50 ERA and 160+ K guy for good. Buy now.

Deeper Additions:

Drew Smyly (12%)Rick Porcello has a 11.00 ERA (4.93 SIERA) and should remove himself from the rotation sooner than later making way for Smyly who would complete an excellent Tigers rotation. What a collapse-proof team! Hopefully they start stretching Smyly out. If he starts 20 games, expect a 3.85 ERA, 1.25 WHIP with 115+ K’s and win-potential.

Willy Peralta (3%) – bench and wait for some command – not that he’ll have control but even if it was remotely serviceable he has an elite GB/FB ratio (approaching 4.00 this year) with good velocity. HR/FB and LOB% should also regress positively.

MMMMMM Drop Or at least sell high/don’t get too excited if you see them on waivers in shallower leagues:

Patrick Corbin(33%) – I simply want to point out Patrick Corbin. He’s been extremely impressive thus far – 1.71 ERA and 20K but has a 3.90 SIERA and a 2.86 K/BB ratio (still certainly sufficient). I think he’ll be a good option here-on-out, but this year his luck statistics have had a major impact on these numbers. He came in at 62 of 66 in our unlucky list. He has the 13th lowest BABIP, 11th luckiest LOB% and has given up only 1 homerun off 25 Fly Balls. REGRESSION ALERT. He’s good but if you can get value for him, send me the offers you see and I’ll probably motivate you to accept.

Wandy Rodriguez’s (63%) curveball is fun to watch. You would hope he would have less Ct% and a better SwStr% overall and he’s been heavily supported by a .119 BABIP and 0% HR/FB ratio.

Jake Westbrook (16%) - Worst skill score and third worst luck/rebound score on this list. Ew.

Jhoulys Chacin (30%) – I almost thought about offering something in my unique dynasty league for Chacin. Something like Peter Bourjos for Chacin. I needed a SP and had extra OF. Instead I traded Michael Morse for Doug Fister – jackpot. In any case, I’m glad I didn’t make the offer and he and Corbin were two of my motivators for this post. Coming in as 4th luckiest, SELL HIGH! In Colorado his HR/FB will certainly regress although he’ll be intriguing if he can continue his GB/FB ratio and keep his BB% where it’s at, but the latter is less likely which will exacerbate the effect that his LOB% regression incurs. His Ct% is an ugly rate to have in Colorado. If he has another solid start when he’s activated from the DL and people are willing to jump just see how high.

Play up (not pick-up) Travis Wood (22%) in your deep leagues. He’s got a 2.08 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 18 K in 26 IP thus far. Solid 4x4 line in any fantasy league! Would you even believe me if I said his SIERA is 4.62? His K/BB ratio is well below average as is his GB/FB ratio. He’s only given up 1 homerun off 29 Fly Balls and he calls Wrigley home! I wouldn’t even have to mention his BABIP if it was say .250 to .275 but I have to because it’s at .222! Tradsies with someone remotely interested.

...

This is where I open the doors to your requests. Who(m?) from this list are you tunneling in on and who do you want me to delve more into? Send me your requests here.

Dan Schwartz owns and contributes for Rotobanter.com – a fantasy baseball site dedicated to visitor requests and live discussion. You can follow him on twitter @rotobanter.


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