Tagged: Jarrod Parker

Don’t shy from injured pitchers

Drafting injured players can be tricky. The success of the strategy is largely dependent on your league’s rules. In a single-year format, where all players are thrown back into the pool for next season’s draft, the room for error is much narrower. In a dynasty format, however, where players are kept for X number of years or at an additional premium to the player’s salary of Y dollars, it can be used much more effectively because the chances for success are spread distributed temporally.

For example: An owner in my primary 10-team standard rotisserie league with an auction draft purchased an injured Hanley Ramirez last year for $6. Had he been healthy, he probably would have gone for $25, but his estimated time of arrival in 2013 was uncertain; he actually played his first game April 1, 2013, but appeared in only three more games between then and June 4. This uncertainty greatly reduced his value.

I should re-phrase: the uncertainty greatly reduced his 2013 value. With four days until draft day, I’m realizing now that Ramirez’s value at $6, even in 2013, was immense for the format of our league, because now he will be owned for a measly $9 — all because the owner was willing to plug a hole with a replacement-level shortstop for two months. Now his team is poised to dominate this year with cheap retention prices for Chris Davis and Paul Goldschmidt to boot.

Breaking down the strategy, it makes a lot of sense. Stream someone like Stephen Drew, ESPN’s 18th best shortstop of 2013, for two months while Ramirez heals. Their patchwork stat line would have looked like this:

.302 BA, 80 R, 24 HR, 78 RBI, 12 SB

That is a solid line for a shortstop, regardless of whose name — or names — show up in the box score.

If you fancy yourself a bargain hunter or someone who can spot the late-round sleepers, this strategy makes even more sense: Draft a superstar for less than face value, stash him on the DL and fill the opening with whomever this year’s Jean Segura may be. Even if you can’t find this year’s breakout star, the replacement-level strategy still has the opportunity to be effective.

Upon further reflection, I may take a chance on players such as Cole Hamels and Hisashi Iwakuma whose draft stocks may take a hit. There’s enough pitching depth for me to make their absences painless, and I have a chance to retain them next year at a discount (relative to their expected salaries).

It’s important, though, that the player has already established a high benchmark for himself. In this case, Jurickson Profar wouldn’t be as smart a play here; he wasn’t going for a lot of money (or too quickly off draft boards) in the first place.

The best opportunities, therefore, are found in the best players who are out for two or three months. It’s important to wring out as much 2015 value as possible, but you don’t want to clog your DL all year and hamper your 2014 value too much, or it defeats the purpose. Clearly, one must strike a fine balance.

But, basically, if you see an injured player heavily discounted on draft day, and you’re  in a league that rewards bargain hunting, take a stab at him.

Here are some so-called “eligible” players for this injured-player strategy and what I predict their discounts might be:

Hamels, SP, expected to miss a month | $10, three to four rounds
Iwakuma, SP, expected to miss a month | $11, seven to eight rounds
Mike Minor, SP, expected to miss a month | $8, six to seven rounds
Aroldis Chapman, RP, expected to miss 6 to 8 weeks | $9, four to five rounds
Manny Machado, 3B, expected to miss a week, but could miss a month | $3, three rounds
Michael Bourn, OF, expected to miss a couple of weeks, but could be longer | $4, four rounds
Matt Harvey, SP, expected to miss entire year | $18, 12 to 15 rounds
Kris Medlen, PS, expected to miss entire year | $15, 10 to 12 rounds ***DISCLAIMER: may not return to form after second Tommy John surgery

Players for whom the strategy may not work so well:

Mat Latos, SP, will only miss a couple of starts
Homer Bailey, SP, will only miss a couple of starts
Profar, 2B, will miss 10 to 12 weeks but isn’t valuable enough
Jeremy Hellickson, SP, will miss two months but isn’t valuable enough
A.J. Griffin, SP, will miss entire year but isn’t valuable enough
Jarrod Parker, SP, will miss entire year but isn’t valuable enough
Brandon Beachy, SP, will miss entire year but isn’t valuable enough

Players who are wild cards:

Matt Kemp, OF, depends on if you think he’ll return to form

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Updated SP rankings

Click here for updated SP rankings.

I have updated the starting pitcher rankings to reflect offseason signings, rotation battles and spring training injuries — and holy cow, have there been a lot of spring training injuries.

I also truncated the list to the top 90 pitchers. I will write about my favorite pitchers outside the top 90 because a lot of them are really good; they simply won’t get enough get enough starts or pitch enough innings for them to crack the top 90 in value. In terms of stuff, though, there are plenty of diamonds to find in the rough.

Stock up: James Paxton, Justin Verlander, Ervin Santana

Stock down: Cole Hamels (shoulder), Hisashi Iwakuma (finger), Kris Medlen (elbow), Patrick Corbin (elbow), Jarrod Parker (elbow), A.J. Griffin (elbow), Brandon Beachy (elbow), Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

Pitchers due for strikeout regression using PITCHf/x data

If FanGraphs were a home, or a hotel, or even a tent, I’d live there. I would swim in its oceans of data, lounge in its pools of metrics.

It houses a slew of PITCHf/x data — the numbers collected by the systems installed in all MLB ballparks that measure the frequency, velocity and movement of every pitch by every pitcher. It’s pretty astounding, but it’s also difficult for the untrainted eye to make something of the numbers aside from tracking the declining velocities of CC Sabathia‘s and Yovani Gallardo‘s fastballs.

I used linear regression to see how a pitcher’s contact, swinging strike and other measurable rates affect his strikeout percentage, and how that translates to strikeouts per inning (K/9). Ultimately, the model spits out a formula to generate an expected K/9 for a pitcher. I pulled data from FanGraphs comprised of all qualified pitchers from the last four years (2010 through 2013).

The idea is this: A pitcher who can miss more bats will strike out more batters. FanGraphs’ “Contact %” statistic illustrates this, where a lower contact rate is better. Similarly, a pitcher who can generate more swinging strikes (“SwStr %”) is more likely to strike out batters.

Using this theory coupled with the aforementioned data, I “corrected” the K/9 rates of all 2013 pitchers who notched at least 100 innings. Instead of detailing the full results, here are the largest differentials between expected and actual K/9 rates. (I will list only pitchers I deem fantasy relevant.)

Largest positive differential: Name — expected K/9 – actual K/9) = +/- change

  1. Martin Perez — 7.77 – 6.08 = +1.69
  2. Jarrod Parker — 7.74 – 6.12) = +1.62
  3. Dan Straily — 8.63 – 7.33 = +1.30
  4. Jered Weaver — 8.09 – 6.82 = +1.27
  5. Hiroki Kuroda — 7.93 – 6.71 = +1.22
  6. Kris Medlen — 8.38 –  7.17 = +1.21
  7. Francisco Liriano — 10.31 – 9.11 = +1.20
  8. Ervin Santana — 8.06 – 6.87 = +1.19
  9. Ricky Nolasco — 8.47 – 7.45 = +1.02
  10. Tim Hudson — 7.42 (6.51) | +0.91

Largest negative differential:

  1. Tony Cingrani — 8.15 – 10.32 = -2.17
  2. Ubaldo Jimenez — 7.68 – 9.56 = -1.88
  3. Cliff Lee — 7.11 – 8.97 = -1.86
  4. Jose Fernandez — 8.15 – 9.75 = -1.60
  5. Shelby Miller — 7.20 – 8.78 = -1.58
  6. Scott Kazmir — 7.71 – 9.23 = -1.52
  7. Yu Darvish — 10.41 – 11.89 = -1.48
  8. Lance Lynn — 7.58 – 8.84 = -1.26
  9. Justin Masterson — 7.84 (9.09) | -1.25
  10. Chris Tillman — 6.60 (7.81) | -1.21

There’s a lot to digest here, so I’ll break it down. It appears Perez was the unluckiest pitcher last year, of the ones who qualified for the study, notching almost 1.7 fewer strikeouts per nine innings than he would be expected to, given the rate of whiffs he induced. Conversely, rookie sensation Cingrani notched almost 2.2 more strikeouts per nine innings than expected.

There is a caveat. I was not able to account for facets of pitching such as a pitcher’s ability to hide the ball well, or his tendency to draw strikes-looking. With that said, a majority of the so-called lucky ones are pitchers who, in 2013, experienced a breakout (Cingrani, Fernandez, Miller, Darvish, Masterson, Tillman) or a renaissance (Jimenez, Kazmir, Masterson — woah, all Cleveland pitchers). Is it possible these pitchers can all repeat their performances — especially the ones who have disappointed us for years? Perhaps not.

(Update, Jan. 24: Cliff Lee’s mark of -1.86 is, amazingly, not unusual for him. Over the last four years, the average difference between his expected and actual K/9 rates is … drum roll … -1.88. Insane!)

Darvish and Liriano were in a league of their own in terms of inducing swings and misses, notching almost 30 percent each. (Anibal Sanchez was third-best with 27 percent. The average is about 21 percent.) However, Darvish recorded 2.78 more K/9 than Liriano. Is there any rhyme or reason to that? Darvish is, without much argument, the better pitcher — but is he that much better? I don’t think so. Darvish was expected to notch 10.41 K/9 given his contact rate. Any idea what his 2012 K/9 rate was? Incredibly: 10.40 K/9.

More big names produced equally interesting results. King Felix Hernandez recorded a career-best 9.51 K/9, but he was expected to produce something closer to 8.57 K/9. His rate the previous three years? 8.52 K/9.

Dan Haren didn’t produce much in the way of ERA in 2013, but he did see a much-needed spike in his strikeout rate, jumping above 8 K/9 for the first time since 2010. His expected 7.07 K/9 says otherwise, though, and it fits perfectly with how his K/9 rate was trending: 7.25 K/9 in 2011, 7.23 K/9 in 2012.

I think my models tend to exaggerate the more extreme results (most of which are noted in the lists above) because they could not account for intangibles in a player’s natural talent. However, they could prove to be excellent indicators of who’s due for regression.

Only time will tell. Maybe Jose Fernandez isn’t the elite pitcher we already think he is — not yet, at least.

————

Notes: The data almost replicates a normal distribution, with 98 of the 145 observations (67.6 percent) falling within one standard deviation (1.09 K/9) of the mean value (7.19 K/9), and 140 of 145 (96.6 percent) falling within two standard deviations. The median value is 7.27 K/9, indicating the distribution is very slightly skewed left.

Hot Stove: Wow, I have a lot of catching up to do

Sorry. SORRY. I apologized last time. (Or maybe I didn’t. I don’t know.) School has hoarded my time… Until now. I took my two incredibly difficult finals and turned in my final paper (“Risk assessment by Major League Teams when signing international professional agents” — I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s in the Nobel Prize running this year) and now I am ready to devote approximate 18 percent of my waking moments to Need a Streamer.

So, let’s see. What has happened since I last posted? I don’t know, EVERYTHING?

I’ll write about signings and trades that occurred recently over several installment so I don’t overwhelm anyone. (“Anyone” = “myself”. Because reading this will take about two minutes but writing it will take 30.)

OK! Let’s get down to bidness.

Phillies sign OF Marlon Byrd
I don’t know, man. Byrd’s 2013 stats are wacky. Like, don’t-put-any–stock-in-his-2013-performance wacky. Outrageous HR/FB? Check. Career-high strikeout rate? Check. Career low percentage of balls put into play? Check. He’s good for a .280 average but I would be elated if he chalked up 15 homers next year. In his defense, he did hit a lot of line drives, so he obviously had some kind of power stroke going on last year. For the annual price, it’s pretty low-risk for Philadelphia, but two years is pushing it.

Winner: Byrd
Preseason rank: Not a top-50 OF

Dodgers sign SP Dan Haren
As much as I hate Haren for the putrid outings I endured in April, his seasons stats weren’t that bad. I mean, he had a 1.23 WHIP. That’s Zack Greinke‘s career WHIP. So it was mostly the long ball that plagued him, and guess what? He gets to pitch in the friendly confines of Dodger Stadium. It’s pretty much a best-case scenario for both sides, especially considering Haren will likely pitch in lower-leverage situations as the No.-4 or 5 starter for a great team. I’ll go on the record now and say he bounces back! Contingent on if he gives up a home run in his first start. Because if he does, I swear …

Winner: Both
Preseason rank: 64th, with upside

DET SP Doug Fister traded for WSN OF Steve Lombardozzi, others
You know it’s a bad trade when the marquee name you get in return is Lombardozzi. The Nationals worked their magic and replaced Dan Haren with an above-average pitcher while letting go of a backup outfielder and lackluster prospects. Lombardozzi will back Jose Iglesias at shortstop, but even when arguing for bench depth, I’m still not a big fan. Also, I’m guessing the Tigers were looking for some salary relief in order to make more moves and/or sign starting pitcher Max Scherzer to a long-term contract.

Winner: Washington Nationals
Fister’s preseason rank:
35th

Athletics sign SP Scott Kazmir
Honest question: Was Kazmir ever that good? He struck out a buttload of batters from 2004 to 2008, yeah. But he has pitched more than 200 innings only once in his entire career — which spans 10 years, by the way — and topped out at single-season bests of 13 wins, a 3.24 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. He’s a back-end rotation guy at the very best, and while his strikeout potential is enticing in I don’t know what kind of league in which the only category is strikeouts, he’s not worth your time. What’s the A’s rotation now… Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily, Sonny Gray, Kazmir? I would say his spot in the rotation is fair game, but with two years and $22 million spent on the guy, I would say the A’s will be too proud to bench him in June, kind of like the Dodgers wouldn’t let Kenley Jansen usurp Brandon League‘s right to the closer throne.

Winner: Kazmir
Preseason rank: 79th

Alright, fools. Tune in tomorrow for more hot stove action! (Disclaimer: I may not actually write something tomorrow. I accept your apologies in advance.)

Early SP rankings for 2014

I wouldn’t say pitching is deep, but I’m surprised by the pitchers who didn’t make my top 60.

Note: I have deemed players highlighted in pink undervalued and worthy of re-rank. Do not be alarmed just yet by what you may perceive to be a low ranking.

2014 STARTING PITCHERS

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Adam Wainwright
  3. Max Scherzer
  4. Yu Darvish
  5. Felix Hernandez
  6. Cliff Lee
  7. Stephen Strasburg
  8. Jose Fernandez
  9. Cole Hamels
  10. Justin Verlander
  11. Anibal Sanchez
  12. Chris Sale
  13. Mat Latos
  14. Madison Bumgarner
  15. Alex Cobb
  16. Homer Bailey
  17. Gerrit Cole
  18. Zack Greinke
  19. David Price
  20. James Shields
  21. Jordan Zimmermann
  22. Michael Wacha
  23. Danny Salazar
  24. Jered Weaver
  25. A.J. Burnett *contingent on if he retires
  26. Kris Medlen
  27. Mike Minor
  28. Jake Peavy
  29. Corey Kluber
  30. Lance Lynn
  31. Matt Cain
  32. Hisashi Iwakuma
  33. CC Sabathia
  34. Gio Gonzalez
  35. Doug Fister
  36. Patrick Corbin
  37. Francisco Liriano
  38. Sonny Gray
  39. Ricky Nolasco
  40. Hiroki Kuroda
  41. Tim Hudson
  42. Marco Estrada
  43. Shelby Miller
  44. Trevor Rosenthal
  45. Tony Cingrani
  46. A.J. Griffin
  47. Brandon Beachy
  48. Tim Lincecum
  49. Clay Buchholz
  50. Ubaldo Jimenez
  51. Alex Wood
  52. Julio Teheran
  53. Tyson Ross
  54. Hyun-jin Ryu
  55. Matt Garza
  56. Andrew Cashner
  57. Johnny Cueto
  58. C.J. Wilson
  59. John Lackey
  60. Justin Masterson
  61. R.A. Dickey
  62. Kevin Gausman
  63. Jon Lester
  64. Dan Haren
  65. Ervin Santana
  66. Derek Holland
  67. Chris Archer
  68. Jeff Samardzija
  69. Bartolo Colon
  70. Ivan Nova
  71. Matt Moore
  72. Ian Kennedy
  73. Dan Straily
  74. Rick Porcello
  75. Jarrod Parker
  76. Carlos Martinez
  77. Jeremy Hellickson
  78. Kyle Lohse
  79. Scott Kazmir
  80. Jason Vargas
  81. Tommy Milone
  82. Wade Miley
  83. Dillon Gee
  84. Brandon Workman
  85. Chris Tillman
  86. Zack Wheeler
  87. Yovani Gallardo
  88. Miguel Gonzalez
  89. Jose Quintana
  90. Garrett Richards
  91. Robbie Erlin
  92. Felix Doubront
  93. Jhoulys Chacin
  94. Jonathon Niese
  95. Chris Capuano
  96. Nick Tepesch
  97. Alexi Ogando
  98. Bronson Arroyo
  99. Travis Wood
  100. Trevor Cahill
  101. Tyler Skaggs
  102. Randall Delgado
  103. Martin Perez
  104. Mike Leake
  105. Carlos Villanueva
  106. Todd Redmond
  107. Brandon Maurer
  108. Tyler Lyons
  109. Ryan Vogelsong
  110. Zach McAllister
  111. Wily Peralta
  112. Brett Oberholtzer
  113. Erik Johnson
  114. Jorge De La Rosa
  115. Paul Maholm
  116. Hector Santiago
  117. Burch Smith
  118. Jeff Locke
  119. Joe Kelly
  120. Jason Hammel
  121. Jake Odorizzi
  122. Danny Hultzen
  123. Anthony Ranaudo
  124. Archie Bradley
  125. Rafael Montero
  126. James Paxton
  127. Taijuan Walker
  128. Yordano Ventura

Buck the Trend: The Oakland A’s pitching staff

Buck the trends. You don’t need to add a player just because everyone else adds (or already owns) a player. Using the Oakland Athletics’ pitching staff, I will demonstrate why fantasy owners just don’t make any darn sense sometimes. 

Player A: 19 GS, 6-6 record, 3.95 ERA, 1.193 WHIP, 6.1 K/9
Player B: 20 GS, 8-7 record, 3.82 ERA, 1.131 WHIP, 6.9 K/9
Player C: 15 GS, 6-3 record, 4.14 ERA, 1.126 WHIP, 7.2 K/9

Of these three players, which would you rather own? It’s a tough decision. All of their ERAs are pretty inflated, so I would whittle it down using WHIP and K/9 (which are better indicators of actual performance anyway). Using this method, I would pick Player C.

Now let’s reveal who’s behind the curtain..

Player A = Jarrod Parker (66.2% ESPN ownership)
Player B = AJ Griffin (44.5% ESPN ownership)
Player C = Dan Straily (9.8% ESPN ownership)

Yes, it’s not fair to Straily that his ownership is so low because he was recently sent down to AAA. However, one can argue that Straily has pitched the best of the three players mentioned. He has improved his BB% and K% and cut down on home runs big time (although it’ll probably regress, pushing his ERA up a little). His main problem now is keeping runners on base from scoring: nearly one in three do score, compared to the MLB average of about one in four.

The bad strand rate could be a result of inexperience or it could simply be bad luck. If it is a matter of experience, though, one would assume it’s a problem that will correct itself over time.

So Straily’s high ERA (and on again, off again love affair with AAA) prevents him from being owned in more leagues. But he’s only three spots behind Jarrod Parker on the ESPN player rater for starting pitchers — and he has started five fewer games.

Meanwhile, AJ Griffin is 34th and 35th on the ESPN and CBS player raters, yet he is owned in fewer than half of leagues. Just to clarify, most leagues operate using nine pitching slots, most of which commonly use six or more starting pitchers. In a 10-team league, this would justify the top 60 pitchers getting the nod. Griffin should simply have double the ownership based on this logic alone.

Moral of the story is don’t let ownership trends dictate a player’s value.

 

Now, just for fun, let’s look at Griffin’s stats the last two season.

2012: 3.06 ERA, 1.130 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 7.0 K/9
2013: 3.82 ERA, 1.131 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 6.9 K/9

The word “identical” will get thrown a lot as an exaggeration to prove a point, but seriously, look at those stats. They’re identical. Except for the ERA. What’s the deal?

Turns out he’s giving up long balls more frequently than last year. Griffin’s an extreme fly ball pitcher — two in three balls put into play are in the air — so he will naturally be more prone to the homer. He’s just running into a rough patch, giving up 2.3 percent more home runs than last year and 2 percent more than the MLB average. He may not be safe to deploy now, but when he settles down, he should be good to go.