Don’t judge a book by its cover. The age old expression that has an incredible amount of relevance when it comes to Fantasy Baseball.
You can’t always blindly look a player’s historical headline stats and assume that their future can be accurately predicted. You need to dig deeper and see if the under-the-hood stats are in agreement, good or bad.
Before coming to a conclusion on a player you need to consider both year-to-date performance as well as their historical track record. The larger sample size of their career numbers provides the best context, but you have to remember that players can learn new skills too.
In this week’s Fantasy Lookout, we will be comparing three different pairs of pitchers and suggest that the future may look completely different than the past.
We will be showing the pairs of players in a blind resume format so you can focus solely on the numbers and not get biased by the player’s name.
The Fantasy Lookout: Starting Pitchers Blind Resumes
AL East Showdown
At first glance, this comparison of a pair of starting pitcher blind resumes looks like no contest. Pitcher A has an ERA nearly three runs higher along with a WHIP disadvantage greater than 0.30. According to Yahoo’s overall player rankings, Pitcher A is ranked 816th and Pitcher B is ranked 159th. The wins category impacts a portion of this ranking as Pitcher B has seven wins while Pitcher A only has three. Any Fantasy owner would surely take Pitcher B straight up in any deal, right?
Well, not so fast. Once you see the peripherals, I think you may have to think twice and actually go the other way. Pitcher A has a better strikeout rate, walk rate, FIP, Hard%, swing strike rate (nearly double), first strike rate, and contact rate. Pitcher A has also been extremely unlucky with respect to BABIP and LOB%, especially when compared to Pitcher B. Do you still prefer Pitcher B now?
Impressively, due to preseason hype and rankings, Pitcher A still owns a slight ownership advantage according to Yahoo figures, 62-percent against 56-percent for Pitcher B. Going forward, Pitcher A is the one to own. Regression works both ways and Michael Pineda (Pitcher A) should outperform J.A. Happ (Pitcher B) from here on out, in some ways he already has.
There is no doubt that Pitcher A has posted significantly weaker roto stats when compared to Pitcher B. This set of starting pitcher blind resumes shows that with an ERA that is essentially double and a WHIP that is over 33-percent worse, Pitcher A has done plenty of hurt to his Fantasy owners. Yahoo ranks Pitcher A as the 761st best player year-to-date, while Pitcher B has been the 127th best player. Pitcher B’s mark of eight wins against Pitcher A’s five wins definitely plays a role in the difference.
However, upon further examination, Pitcher A’s underlying stats show a different story. First off, despite the large ERA differential, they both have an identical FIP. Pitcher A has a K-BB% that is nearly double that of Pitcher B, and it is fully supported by his swinging strike and first pitch strike rates. Luck has been on Pitcher B’s side as he has posted a BABIP essentially 100 points lower along with an seven percent higher LOB%. When it comes to batted ball profile, they are quite similar, absent a higher ground ball rate for Pitcher B.
Pitcher A has been a mixed league worthy asset over the past two years, while Pitcher B has been limited to just 24 major league innings over the previous two campaigns. Pitcher B also calls Coors Field home, so half of his starts will likely be sketchy at best. Despite all of this, it is mildly interesting that Pitcher A only holds a slight Yahoo ownership advantage, 60-percent versus 56-percent. For the remainder of the year, buy into the peripherals and expect Collin McHugh (Pitcher A) to outperform Tyler Chatwood (Pitcher B) across all of the relevant roto stats.
Deep League Cage Match
This is one the deep leaguers only. These starting pitcher blind resumes suggest that both are probably on the waiver wire in most standard mixed leagues, as they should be.
On the surface, Pitcher A should not be owned and Pitcher B has been on the cusp of being mixed league relevant. According to Yahoo ranks, Pitcher A has been the 576th best player, while Pitcher B comes in at number 234. Once again, the controversial “Wins” statistic help skew the rankings a bit as Pitcher B holds a five versus two advantage. Let’s now look at what the under-the-hood numbers say.
Pitcher A ranks within the Top 30 when it comes to K-BB%, while Pitcher B’s mark is dangerously close to the hideous zero line. This has helped Pitcher A post a FIP nearly one full run better than Pitcher B, despite having an ERA nearly two runs greater, let that sink in. The FIP/ERA difference for both can also be explained by their BABIP and LOB% marks. Pitcher B’s BABIP is over 60 points lower and his LOB% is nearly 20-percent better. Luck has definitely not been in Pitcher A’s corner this year.
It is not surprising, but Pitcher A only has a three percent ownership rate according to Yahoo, while Pitcher B comes in at 12-percent. Based on the underlying statistics and what the expectation should be going forward, Pitcher A should hold the ownership advantage. Once the luck factors even out, as they should over the rest of 2016, Ricky Nolasco (Pitcher A) should outperform Martin Perez (Pitcher B) through the end of the year.
Look at all statistics that you have access too, not just the headline ones. The full picture is worth more than a thousand words. Looking at starting pitcher blind resumes is as great way to focus the mind. Remember that the past does not equal the future and we play for tomorrow, not yesterday. Use the past for clues and the future should be less of a guess. Until next week’s Fantasy Lookout, enjoy the games!
- 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