If you’ve read my previous posts (just about any of them), you know I love swinging strike rate and ground ball rate to evaluate pitchers. You might also know how much I love looking at those rates on individual pitches and comparing them to league averages. You probably don’t know that I recently adopted a dog named Angus, but that’s beside the point and really only here for humor and to justify this picture of him.
Anyway, I’ve detailed my method (shamelessly borrowed from Eno Sarris and the team at Rotographs) in previous posts, so I won’t go over it here. Basically, I looked at the swinging strike rate and ground ball rate on each pitch type a pitcher throws and gave them a score based on their value relative to league average. I totaled up all the individual pitch scores and ended up with a single number for every starting pitcher. I cut the list off at 100 to keep it readable. Plus, they start to get pretty mediocre at that point anyway. Here is the big list:
|12||Rubby De La Rosa||5.66|
There aren’t many surprises near the top of the list. By the way, this list is for the entire 2016 season and I used minimums of 200 four seams, 100 sinkers, and 50 of the other pitches to weed out the very small samples. Syndergaard, Kershaw, Kluber, Arrieta, Lester, and Carrasco are names that we all expected. It’s nice to see deGrom up there despite the lower velocity.
There are still some unexpected names up there. James Paxton’s new velocity has him at number 2! Wow, maybe I was too low on him and his newfound speed. He’s always an injury risk, but he clearly has excellent stuff right now and you should use him with confidence. I still love Lance McCullers, whose stuff is so good that his awful 5.4 BB/9 isn’t enough to keep his FIP over 3. His strikeouts are that high. He’s always had control issues, but the upside is way too high to let his walk rate scare you away.
Bud Norris is definitely a surprise. He has turned into a useful fantasy starter this year, against all odds. He added a cutter and that has been very helpful. Despite his high standing on this list, I worry that his xFIP and SIERA both being very close to 4.0 and his overall swinging strike rate being a mediocre 9.5% mean he won’t be a reliable fantasy starter the rest of the way. With the Dodgers’ rotation depth, he’s not even guaranteed starts in August and September, so don’t get too attached.
I’m ignoring Charlie Morton because he’s injured. Rubby de la Rosa did very well in the 2015 edition of this list as well, but hasn’t been able to turn that into success. Sadly, he too is injured. His teammate Robbie Ray is just below him and I wrote about him recently. Hey, look, I wrote about Luis Perdomo in the very recent past as well!
You’ll notice that this list is littered with 2016 breakouts. Trevor Bauer, Aaron Sanchez, Jon Gray, and Michael Fulmer say hello. There are some very interesting fantasy sleepers in Chad Bettis, Tyler Anderson, and Chad Green here as well. There are six Rockies pitchers in just the top 50, which is a little scary, but also shows that the Rockies have quietly acquired some decent pitchers. I wouldn’t trust most of them (outside of Gray) at home yet, but Bettis, Chatwood, Anderson, and maybe even Rusin on the road are options in some leagues. I like Gray and then Anderson as the clear top two in the rotation and the players with the most mixed-league value.
Oh, and Chad Green would be very interesting if a rotation spot opens up in New York.
This list is far from perfect, with duds like Ivan Nova (his crazy ground balls get him here), Matt Garza, Jose Urena, and other heavy grounder guys scattered through the list. But, it still has use for identifying how many weapons a pitcher has to work with.
There is good news here for Dallas Keuchel and Sonny Gray owners. Also, young guns Jameson Taillon, Sean Manaea, and Cody Reed all look good here. I endorse all of them. The 50-100 range is much more hit-or-miss and there isn’t much differentiation between them, so I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions among that group. I mean, Bumgarner, Darvish, and Rich Hill are right around Nathan Eovaldi, Cody Anderson, and Patrick Corbin, so it is a big mixed bag.
Feel free to draw your own conclusions about the list. I will try to update it later in the season as well. Thanks for reading and Tschus!