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2 to Watch Special Edition: Pitch Arsenal Scores

Normally, I profile two players in this space every week, but this week I'm going to do something different. I'm presenting the latest pitch arsenal score rankings. This ranks every starter based on their individual pitches' whiff and groundball rates. There may be some second half sleepers in here.

Carlos Carrasco tops the list of the best arsenals in baseball. There may be better roads ahead for him.
Carlos Carrasco tops the list of the best arsenals in baseball. There may be better roads ahead for him.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to week 17 of 2 to Watch! To read previous editions of 2 to Watch, check out this link. All stats are from Fangraphs or Baseball Prospectus. We'll check in on last week's players (David Peralta and Alex Wood) next week, when we return to the regularly scheduled programming.

As you may have guessed, this is not a normal 2 to Watch. This week, instead of picking two interesting players and diving deep into their numbers to figure out if they are on the up or down swing, I'm going to focus on a list. This list is based on one of my favorite things in fantasy baseball: finding breakout pitchers.

If you've read any of my pitcher analysis, you probably know how much I love pitch type peripherals like, say, fastball swinging strike % (aka whiff %) or slider ground ball rate. Here is an intro to the concept and here is some more recent info. Oh, and here is some even more recent info. In case it wasn't clear, Eno Sarris gets all the credit for coming up with this concept and doing all the initial work. I am just re-creating what he did and updating it for the 2015 season.

Basically, the idea is to capture the things a pitcher can control that produce consistently good results over time. This is primarily swinging strikes (since called strikes rely on umpires, catchers, and other uncontrolled things) and ground balls, which produce low BABIPs (compared to line drives) and generally lead to outs. By looking at these two primary numbers on a pitch-by-pitch basis, we can see if a pitcher has more than one good pitch in his arsenal. If he has several pitches that are above average in these two measures, he starts to become a very interesting target for fantasy players, even if his current ERA doesn't suggest so.

I improved on my earlier arsenal scores (first link in the line with all the links) by not just giving a pitcher a "1" or a "0" if they were above or below league average for each pitch value but instead including how far above or below average they are. I did this using z-scores, which is a statistics thing. This essentially measures how many standard deviations away from the league average you are. I added up all the z scores for all a pitcher's pitches (starters only) and compiled a list of the best arsenals in the league.

Without further ado, here's the list (sorry, you'll have to scroll a ways before getting to my analysis):

Rank Pitcher Arsenal Score
1 Carlos Carrasco 10.24
2 Jose Fernandez 8.16
3 Rubby de la Rosa 7.67
4 Clayton Kershaw 7.40
5 Danny Salazar 6.88
6 Jon Lester 6.67
7 Cole Hamels 6.41
8 Jacob deGrom 5.81
9 James Shields 5.72
10 Lance McCullers 5.67
11 Chris Capuano 5.51
12 Brett Anderson 5.36
13 Corey Kluber 5.18
14 Gerrit Cole 4.86
15 Dallas Keuchel 4.86
16 Gio Gonzalez 4.84
17 Chad Bettis 4.54
18 Garrett Richards 4.27
19 Joe Ross 4.26
20 Noah Syndergaard 4.16
21 Chris Sale 4.14
22 Michael Wacha 4.04
23 Aaron Sanchez 4.03
24 Carlos Frias 3.98
25 Carlos Martinez 3.97
26 Francisco Liriano 3.95
27 Ian Kennedy 3.95
28 Jaime Garcia 3.91
29 Sonny Gray 3.87
30 Madison Bumgarner 3.86
31 Yordano Ventura 3.55
32 Matt Harvey 3.51
33 Shelby Miller 3.50
34 Jose Quintana 3.39
35 Carlos Rodon 3.33
36 Felix Hernandez 3.32
37 Kyle Lobstein 3.19
38 Archie Bradley 2.88
39 Max Scherzer 2.82
40 Patrick Corbin 2.79
41 Chris Rusin 2.77
42 Michael Pineda 2.77
43 Jimmy Nelson 2.77
44 Tyson Ross 2.72
45 Zack Greinke 2.66
46 Kevin Gausman 2.53
47 Dillon Gee 2.47
48 Michael Lorenzen 2.43
49 James Paxton 2.24
50 Chris Heston 2.19
51 Chris Archer 2.14
52 Jeff Locke 2.12
53 Hector Noesi 1.99
54 A.J. Burnett 1.84
55 Jarred Cosart 1.84
56 Collin McHugh 1.81
57 Jorge de la Rosa 1.75
58 Tim Hudson 1.75
59 Erasmo Ramirez 1.75
60 Jeremy Hellickson 1.69
61 Tom Koehler 1.69
62 Andrew Heaney 1.66
63 Drew Pomeranz 1.65
64 Dan Straily 1.62
65 Adam Wainwright 1.56
66 Tanner Roark 1.37
67 Stephen Strasburg 1.37
68 Wade Miley 1.35
69 Trevor Bauer 1.33
70 Taijuan Walker 1.29
71 Clay Buchholz 1.27
72 Jose Urena 1.19
73 Ricky Nolasco 1.15
74 Charlie Morton 1.13
75 Kyle Ryan 1.06
76 Jake Arrieta 1.03
77 Mike Bolsinger 1.03
78 Brandon Morrow 1.02
79 Brandon McCarthy 1.00
80 Ervin Santana 0.96
81 Wily Peralta 0.87
82 Mat Latos 0.78
83 Nathan Eovaldi 0.73
84 Edinson Volquez 0.71
85 Mike Foltynewicz 0.71
86 Chase Whitley 0.65
87 Joe Kelly 0.64
88 Taylor Jungmann 0.61
89 Jesse Hahn 0.57
90 Jake Peavy 0.57
91 Drew Smyly 0.55
92 Ivan Nova 0.49
93 Trevor May 0.47
94 Matt Cain 0.45
95 Kyle Gibson 0.44
96 David Hale 0.43
97 Raisel Iglesias 0.41
98 Matt Garza 0.35
99 Adam Morgan 0.34
100 Cody Anderson 0.32
101 Shaun Marcum 0.31
102 Lance Lynn 0.26
103 Nate Karns 0.25
104 Allen Webster 0.22
105 Mike Fiers 0.18
106 Scott Baker 0.15
107 CC Sabathia 0.11
108 Asher Wojciechowski 0.06
109 Jake Odorizzi 0.02
110 Travis Wood 0.02
111 Joe Blanton 0.01
112 Matthew Wisler 0.00
113 Nicholas Tropeano 0.00
114 R.A. Dickey 0.00
115 Michael Montgomery 0.00
116 Felix Doubront 0.00
117 Tyler Cravy 0.00
118 Scott Copeland 0.00
119 Brad Hand 0.00
120 Martin Perez 0.00
121 Alex Gonzalez 0.00
122 Steven Matz 0.00
123 Manuel Banuelos 0.00
124 Aaron Nola 0.00
125 Clayton Richard 0.00
126 Justin Nicolino 0.00
127 Jon Moscot 0.00
128 Trevor Cahill 0.00
129 Matt Harrison 0.00
130 Steven Wright 0.00
131 Homer Bailey 0.00
132 Rick Porcello 0.00
133 Jeff Samardzija -0.02
134 Severino Gonzalez -0.09
135 Johnny Cueto -0.11
136 Daniel Norris -0.11
137 David Price -0.14
138 Andrew Cashner -0.17
139 David Buchanan -0.22
140 Tommy Milone -0.23
141 Drew Hutchison -0.29
142 John Lackey -0.34
143 Jon Niese -0.36
144 Tsuyoshi Wada -0.48
145 Roenis Elias -0.49
146 Justin Masterson -0.50
147 Matt Andriese -0.54
148 Alex Wood -0.54
149 Scott Kazmir -0.67
150 Brett Oberholtzer -0.70
151 Henderson Alvarez -0.73
152 C.J. Wilson -0.75
153 Tim Lincecum -0.77
154 Vance Worley -0.85
155 Jordan Lyles -0.85
156 Jordan Zimmermann -1.04
157 Bud Norris -1.09
158 Jerome Williams -1.12
159 Hisashi Iwakuma -1.13
160 Miguel Gonzalez -1.24
161 Tyler Lyons -1.29
162 Alex Colome -1.31
163 Scott Feldman -1.34
164 Yovani Gallardo -1.38
165 J.A. Happ -1.42
166 Nick Martinez -1.42
167 Justin Verlander -1.43
168 Vincent Velasquez -1.43
169 Eddie Butler -1.47
170 Josh Smith -1.51
171 Chris Tillman -1.51
172 Jason Vargas -1.63
173 Matt Moore -1.65
174 Odrisamer Despaigne -1.69
175 Jason Marquis -1.72
176 Buck Farmer -1.73
177 Kevin Correia -1.77
178 Chase Anderson -1.85
179 Kendall Graveman -2.02
180 T.J. House -2.29
181 Eduardo Rodriguez -2.33
182 Ubaldo Jimenez -2.39
183 Williams Perez -2.44
184 Jesse Chavez -2.48
185 Chad Billingsley -2.49
186 Mike Leake -2.71
187 Marco Estrada -2.80
188 Tim Cooney -2.81
189 Julio Teheran -2.83
190 Chris Young -2.86
191 Anibal Sanchez -3.03
192 Anthony DeSclafani -3.19
193 Adam Warren -3.24
194 Bartolo Colon -3.27
195 Danny Duffy -3.36
196 Kyle Hendricks -3.38
197 Wei-Yin Chen -3.41
198 Roberto Hernandez -3.46
199 Mike Wright -3.63
200 Masahiro Tanaka -3.79
201 Ross Detwiler -3.97
202 Shane Greene -3.97
203 Eric Stults -4.00
204 Jason Hammel -4.05
205 Hector Santiago -4.12
206 Ryan Vogelsong -4.13
207 John Danks -4.28
208 Sean O'Sullivan -4.54
209 Phil Hughes -4.74
210 Tyler Matzek -4.90
211 Robbie Ray -4.94
212 Wandy Rodriguez -4.95
213 Chris Bassitt -4.95
214 Matt Shoemaker -5.08
215 Mike Pelfrey -5.53
216 Mark Buehrle -5.69
217 Kyle Lohse -5.78
218 Alfredo Simon -6.35
219 Josh Collmenter -6.78
220 David Phelps -6.78
221 Jered Weaver -6.78
222 Kyle Kendrick -7.10
223 Colby Lewis -7.10
224 Doug Fister -7.23
225 Jeremy Guthrie -7.55
226 Aaron Harang -10.49
227 Dan Haren -11.15

So, first, I should point out that this list isn't a list of the best pitchers in baseball. There are other lists for that. This list doesn't account for walk rate and penalizes fly ball pitchers like Jake Odorizzi, Hector Santiago, and others. Those guys are unfairly hurt by this. David Price and Johnny Cueto are buried deep down the list, but their elite command and hard-contact limiting skills outweigh any shortcomings in their arsenals. However, the point of this list is to identify guys with good "stuff" that might not have translated that to good results yet.

We do see at the top of the list some names we would expect to have good "stuff", like Carrasco, Fernandez, Kershaw, Salazar, Hamels, deGrom, etc. We also see some eyebrow-raisers like Rubby de la Rosa, Chris Capuano, Brett Anderson, Chad Bettis, and others.

This list is a good sign for young breakout pitchers like McCullers, Joe Ross, Syndergaard, and Carlos Rodon. While I still worry about McCullers' and Rodon's walk rates, they clearly belong in this group of talented young arms that you should be buying. Ditto Carlos Martinez, who is more experienced than those guys but is in the midst of a real breakout. He was number one on this list last year when Fangraphs did a similar experiment.

The list also supports my belief in some veterans like Gio Gonzalez, Garrett Richards, Francisco Liriano, Jose Quintana, Shelby Miller, and Jaime Garcia (if he could just stay healthy). Ian Kennedy has all the skills and peripherals going for him, but hitters just seem to be able to square him up well and he gives up way too many homers. Otherwise, he would be a good buy low. Yordano Ventura still has hope as well, by showing up on this list. Kevin Gausman isn't a lost cause yet, either.

My love for Patrick Corbin a few weeks ago looks better by his placement on this list. As for those eyebrow-raisers I mentioned earlier, Capuano is out because he walks too many batters (he was just DFA'd), Bettis is on the DL and didn't quite convince me yet, Brett Anderson is Dallas Keuchel-lite (lots of grounders, few Ks) and is actually useful, and Rubby de la Rosa just needs to cut down on the homers and he could be very relevant.

Those are just my observations from the top 50 or so on the list. I'm sure you all can find lots of good info buried in this list and I hope it proves useful when planning your starters for the rest of the year. Feel free to ask me questions, dig into the list, and see what you can find! The regular 2 to Watch is back next week. Tschus!