With the All-Star Break behind us, Fantasy owners are now looking towards the season’s second half. However, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at some of the first half’s pitching surprises.
In last week’s Fantasy Lookout, we unveiled our All-Value Team for hitters. This week, we will uncover the pitching members of our inaugural All-Value team.
All seven pitchers that made the cut have significantly outperformed their preseason ranking and ADP. They have provided a solid return for their Fantasy owners, especially when you consider that they were probably picked up off waivers sometime during the year.
We will be using the overall roto data provided by Yahoo Sports for both the preseason rankings as well as the current year-to-date rankings.
In addition to naming our 2016 First Half All-Value Team of pitchers, we will also take a look at their peripherals and see what in store for the second half.
2016 First Half All-Value Team
|QS||K||ERA||WHIP||Pre-Season Rank||Current Rank|
Drew Pomeranz, Boston Red Sox
Pomeranz, who would be the captain of the staff for the All-Value Team, was so good in the first half that the contending Red Sox acquired him from the floundering Padres. The BoSox must have loved the fact that Pomeranz ranks in the Top 20 in a number of statistics including K-BB%, WHIP, ERA, and FIP.
Pomeranz has posted an impressive batted ball profile, especially with his 15.1-percent line drive rate; however, his .240 BABIP still seems a touch lucky. He has also posted a LOB% north of 80-percent courtesy of fortuitous pitching with runners in scoring position (.132 average and .191 BABIP).
Despite his remarkable first half, Pomeranz continues to struggle with his control, as his walk rate of 10-percent is among the worst in baseball. An innings cap may also be in play as his career high came in 2012 when he threw 147.1 innings with the Rockies organization.
The move to Boston, along with the tougher home park and tougher divisional opponents, should be the start of a weaker second half for both Pomeranz and his Fantasy owners.
Marco Estrada, Toronto Blue Jays
Since coming over to the Jays prior to the 2015 campaign, Estrada has been a master at outperforming his FIP (3.15 ERA vs. 4.32 FIP). This has been driven by both his BABIP and LOB%.
This year, Estrada has a .193 BABIP, which ranks first in all of baseball by over 40 points. This does not seem sustainable as both his line drive and hard hit rates are higher than last year when his BABIP was at an already miniscule .216 mark. Given the similarity of his 2016 batted ball profile to his career numbers, I think a second half BABIP closer to his .253 career mark seems reasonable.
Estrada’s elevated LOB% of 80.3-percent, which ranks 13th, has been assisted with incredible luck when pitching with runners in scoring position. He owns a .133 batting average against and .143 BABIP thanks in large part to an unsustainable 5.4-percent line drive rate.
Currently on the DL with a back injury, it is easy to see a scenario where Estrada’s second half ERA will be at least a full run higher than his spectacular first half figure.
Rich Hill, Oakland Athletics
After four electric late season outings for the Red Sox last year, Hill has picked up right where he left off so far in 2016. Among starters with at least 70 innings pitched, Hill ranks fourth in ERA, 10th in K%, and 20th in WHIP.
Hill should continue to provide solid value in the second half; however, there are a few areas of concern. His walk rate is quite poor (95th out of 117 starters with 70 IP) and his 3.4-percent HR/FB is sure to regress. Durability has also not been one of Hill’s strong suits. His current total of 76 innings is the most he has pitched at the major league level since his 195 way back in 2007 with the Cubs.
It would not be shocking to see a second half ERA with a three handle along with plenty of punch outs and a solid WHIP.
Aaron Sanchez, Toronto Blue Jays
In 2016, Sanchez has had a much smoother transition to the starting rotation than he did last year. He has improved his control, while also maintaining his elite ground ball rate and velocity.
Sanchez has greatly improved his control as he has lowered his walk rate from 11.6-percent to 7.6-percent year-on-year. This has been supported by a first pitch strike rate of 60.4-percent, a mark that is a 7-percent improvement over 2015. He has once again been a worm burner as he has posted the sixth best ground ball rate with a mark of 56.6-percent. Sanchez has also been incredibly consistent given the fact that he has recorded a quality start in 14 of his 18 outings.
Jays manager John Gibbons has already stated that Sanchez is on an innings limit and will finish the year in the bullpen. Despite his slightly shortened tenure as a starter in 2016, Sanchez should continue to post solid results in the second half, and as an added bonus he may be a source of holds too!
Steven Wright, Boston Red Sox
Wright’s headline numbers have been impressive over the first half; however, everything is not rosy. His 11th ranked ERA comes with plenty of baggage and question marks.
His lackluster K-BB% of 10.7-percent ranks 71st out of 96 qualified starters. He has also benefitted from a .271 BABIP, despite having a batted ball profile inline with the league average.
Overall, Wright’s peripherals only look marginally better than a league average pitcher. I believe that his second half numbers will reflect this and an ERA closer to 4.00 along with a WHIP in the 1.25 neighbourhood should be the expectation.
Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals
Roark has taken full advantage of his opportunity to start so far in 2016. He has bounced back admirably after spending some time in the Nats bullpen last year.
Roark has been dominant when it comes to limiting solid contact, something that he has done over his entire major league career. His miniscule hard hit rate allowed of just 22.7-percent is the best in baseball. Roark also owns the top soft hit rate with an impressive mark of 27.2-percent.
With an improved strikeout rate and career high ground ball rate, Roark should repeat his solid first half performance over the second half, making his Fantasy owners ecstatic.
Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers
Despite opening the 2016 season in Triple-A, Fulmer has had an extraordinary rookie campaign in the first half and has to be one of the favorites for AL Rookie of the Year. However, once you dig into Fulmer’s numbers, you can see why he may face a slightly rockier road ahead.
Luck has been on Fulmer’s side when you consider both his .252 BABIP and 85.2-percent LOB rate. With a league average batted ball profile, it would be safe to expect a second half BABIP closer to the league average mark right around .300. Fulmer has also taken advantage of a .119 average and .143 BABIP with runners in scoring position. These numbers should both negatively regress, putting further pressure on his ratios.
Fulmer, the lone rookie member of the All-Value Team, could also be facing an innings cap as he currently sits at 92 total innings, especially when you consider he had thrown 98.2 and 124.2 over the previous two seasons. Expect a second half ERA closer to 3.50 and a WHIP around 1.20.
Man, it is so great to have baseball back! As the playoff drive kicks off, you need to remember that first half success does not necessarily translate into the second half. As we have explained, the majority of the pitchers on the First Half All-Value Team should experience some form of performance regression over the season’s second half. Until next week’s Fantasy Lookout, enjoy the games!
Data courtesy of www.fangraphs.com
- 2018 Fantasy Baseball ADP Analysis: Mispriced Pairs; Pitcher Edition - March 13, 2018
- 2018 Fantasy Baseball ADP Analysis: 5 Mispriced Pairs; Infielder Edition - March 5, 2018
- The Fantasy Lookout: A Look Towards 2018; Sleeper And Bust Edition - September 20, 2017