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There are sleepers. And then there are chubby husbands that get woken up by their wives when they snore uncontrollably. We’re going to take the latter approach to this series of three posts. This first post of the series will present a unique process of how I pinpoint out SP sleepers, explained after the jump.

Next up in the series, I’ll score some repertoires (weighing each “Pitch Score” by usage) to see how I should rank my Top-5 second year pitchers– Jose FernandezMichael WachaSonny GrayDanny Salazar and Gerrit Cole. And to wrap up the seires, I’ll highlight a some general sleepers based on their pitch repertoires.

The approach in a nut-shell:

We’re going to look at a pitcher’s stuff through Baseball Prospectus’ Pitch F/X leaderboard, and then focus on the outcome level (i.e. each pitch):

1) Whiff per swing rate. (How dominating the pitch is.)

2) Groundball/Flyball ratio. (Balls-in-play mix.)

3) Line Drive per Ball in play. (We know line drives fall for hits about 70% of the time vs. ground balls and fly balls which hover around 20% of the time.)

Let me preface the post to say that I wish infield flyball% and home run-per-flyball were also included in Baseball Prospectus’ Pitch F/X leaderboard for a slightly more comprehensive view, but this approach still has a ton of value. We’re not looking at pitch features (velocity, movement, release points, etc.) – I’m only focusing on the outcomes. Why not just Fangraphs pitch type linear weights (PTLW)? Because I want a more predictive way to look at a pitch’s value. The PTLW’s aren’t the end-all-be-all, but they are utterly descriptive vs. predictive and take into account the full context (run values before and after a pitch, what it did to the hitter’s count, who was on base and how that pitch prevented the run, etc. etc.).

Whiff rates and the GB/FB ratio actually have great year-to-year correlations (the two highest between 2002-2012, per Matt Klaassen): GB/FB = .871 Y2Y correlation; SwStr% = .804 Y2Y correlation

*The Pitch Score = I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details, but in short, I found z-scores for each outcome in the Pitch F/X leaderboard and then weighed each outcome by their correlation to an average of xFIP, SIERA and actual ERA from 2010-2013. I summed the weighted z-scores which gives us each “Pitch Score.” Comment away if you want to further discuss. Results: You can scroll all the way to the bottom for the full Top-25 Fastball Pitch Scores.

Here are the top 25 Fastballs, Sinkers, Changeups, Sliders, Curveballs, Cutters and Splitters. I can email you the full Pitch Score matrix if you provide your email below:

RK

FB

SI

CH

SL

CB

CU

SP

1

Burch Smith

Zach Wheeler

Stephen Strasburg

Patrick Corbin

Brandon Maurer

Tim Hudson

Jeff Samardzija

2

Josh Beckett

Bruce Chen

Clay Buchholz

Tyson Ross

Yusmeiro Petit

Zack Greinke

Ryan Dempster

3

Matthew Magill

Martin Perez

Jarrod Parker

Derek Holland

Josh Johnson

Lance Lynn

Tim Lincecum

4

Danny Salazar

Justin Masterson

Kris Medlen

Jenrry Mejia

Yu Darvish

Josh Beckett

Hiroki Kuroda

5

Danny Duffy

Travis Wood

Corey Kluber

Matt Garza

Ivan Nova

Jerome Williams

Danny Salazar

6

Madison Bumgarner

J.A. Happ

Cole Hamels

Mat Latos

Roy Halladay

Corey Kluber

Yu Darvish

7

Yu Darvish

Ian Kennedy

Allen Webster

Max Scherzer

Andre Rienzo

Andy Pettitte

Roy Halladay

8

Erasmo Ramirez

C.C. Sabathia

Burch Smith

Francisco Liriano

A.J. Burnett

Ian Kennedy

Ricky Nolasco

9

Jaime Garcia

Christopher Archer

Matt Cain

Dallas Keuchel

Douglas Fister

Christopher Rusin

Tim Hudson

10

Roy Oswalt

Homer Bailey

Gio Gonzalez

Josh Johnson

Madison Bumgarner

Shaun Marcum

Homer Bailey

11

Zack Greinke

Justin Grimm

Felix Hernandez

C.J. Wilson

Gerrit Cole

Stephen Fife

Hisashi Iwakuma

12

Hisashi Iwakuma

Tim Lincecum

Anibal Sanchez

Tyler Lyons

Zachary Britton

Dan Haren

Ubaldo Jimenez

13

Hector Santiago

Scott Kazmir

Jaime Garcia

Jacob Turner

Tyler Skaggs

Wade Davis

Miguel Gonzalez

14

Edinson Volquez

Wily Peralta

Martin Perez

Tim Lincecum

Charlie Morton

Carlos Torres

Jake Westbrook

15

Tom Gorzelanny

Tyler Skaggs

Joe Blanton

Johnny Cueto

Stephen Strasburg

Jake Peavy

Freddy Garcia

16

Anthony Cingrani

John Lannan

Johnny Cueto

Brad Peacock

Dylan Axelrod

Mike Pelfrey

Alexander Cobb

17

Taijuan Walker

Johnny Cueto

Jose Alvarez

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw

Joe Blanton

Kyle Kendrick

18

Johnny Cueto

Wade LeBlanc

Chris Capuano

Justin Masterson

Cliff Lee

Jeff Samardzija

Jorge De La Rosa

19

Shelby Miller

Jose Quintana

Jason Vargas

Edwin Jackson

Sonny Gray

Yu Darvish

Brandon Morrow

20

Gavin Floyd

Lance Lynn

Francisco Liriano

Corey Kluber

Lance Lynn

Lucas Harrell

Dan Haren

21

Brandon Workman

Jose Fernandez

Jered Weaver

Garrett Richards

Mike Minor

Erik Johnson

Jason Marquis

22

Matthew Harvey

Jacob Turner

Jeff Locke

Paul Maholm

Trevor Cahill

Trevor Cahill

Douglas Fister

23

Lance Lynn

Edwin Jackson

Mat Latos

Ervin Santana

Jeff Francis

Yusmeiro Petit

Charlie Morton

24

Clay Buchholz

Jon Garland

Taylor Jordan

Chris Sale

Jordan Zimmermann

Cliff Lee

Mike Pelfrey

25

Sonny Gray

Ivan Nova

Wade LeBlanc

Daniel Straily

Hiroki Kuroda

J.A. Happ

Hey there, Burch Smith! Burch got shellacked last year in the majors, but still duplicated his minor league-dominating ways with a strikeout rate that approached 28%, validated by a swinging strike rate of 13% (both the 3rd best MLB SP rates > 30 IP). This matrix backs that up 100%. The problem is that the Padres have a slew of starters: Ian KennedyAndrew CashnerEric Stults and Tyson Ross basically locked in; Josh Johnson and Cory Luebke so long as they’re healthy + Robbie Erlin and Casey Kelly should be MLB ready. In all likelihood this might send Burch to the bullpen, but there’s enough question marks to keep Burchy on your radar because of the elite fastball and changeup combination. His flyball tendancies killed his value last year, but moving forward he could be an asset in San Diego. Keep him in mind for your Dynasty drafts. He was drafted in the 6th round of my 20-team dynasty league… I was freaken’ eyeing him a round later.

Post II of the series:

Again, this post focused on the approach. Next I’ll score some full repertoires (weighing each Pitch Score by usage) to see how we should rank the Top 5 High Impact 2nd Years:  Jose Fernandez, Michael Wacha, Sonny Gray, Danny Salazar and Gerrit Cole. FYI, I think Grey loves Danny Salazar and Sonny Gray and all of these mentioned players in his rankings.)

Post III of the series:

Lastly, I’ll highlight a slew of chubby, snoring sleepers based on their pitch repertoires.

 *Here is the full Pitch Score Matrix:

 *Here is the full Pitch Score Matrix:

RK

Player

Tm

H

Count

Whf/Sw

zWhf/Sw

GB/FB

zGB/FB

LD/BIP

zLD/BIP

Pitch Score

1

Burch Smith

SDN

R

361

0.31

2.89

0.50

-0.97

0.37

1.98

1.92

2

Josh Beckett

LAN

R

194

0.31

2.80

0.23

-1.30

0.22

-0.44

1.70

3

Matthew Magill

LAN

R

314

0.30

2.69

0.38

-1.12

0.18

-1.09

1.60

4

Danny Salazar

CLE

R

525

0.29

2.47

0.73

-0.70

0.20

-0.76

1.50

5

Danny Duffy

KCA

L

252

0.27

2.05

0.80

-0.62

0.38

2.14

1.41

6

Madison Bumgarner

SFN

L

1216

0.27

2.18

1.08

-0.28

0.23

-0.28

1.38

7

Yu Darvish

TEX

R

1036

0.27

2.07

0.88

-0.52

0.23

-0.28

1.29

8

Erasmo Ramirez

SEA

R

325

0.26

1.99

1.46

0.18

0.23

-0.28

1.28

9

Jaime Garcia

SLN

L

119

0.26

1.84

2.50

1.42

0.22

-0.44

1.26

10

Roy Oswalt

COL

R

238

0.26

1.84

1.44

0.15

0.26

0.20

1.21

11

Zack Greinke

LAN

R

1063

0.25

1.78

1.19

-0.15

0.32

1.17

1.21

12

Hisashi Iwakuma

SEA

R

846

0.26

1.95

0.75

-0.68

0.21

-0.60

1.18

13

Hector Santiago

CHA

L

1372

0.26

1.97

0.62

-0.83

0.18

-1.09

1.15

14

Edinson Volquez

LAN

R

172

0.24

1.58

1.22

-0.11

0.34

1.49

1.10

15

Tom Gorzelanny

MIL

L

170

0.25

1.66

0.54

-0.93

0.33

1.33

1.09

16

Anthony Cingrani

CIN

L

1342

0.25

1.74

0.89

-0.51

0.22

-0.44

1.06

17

Taijuan Walker

SEA

R

139

0.25

1.80

0.88

-0.52

0.17

-1.25

1.05

18

Johnny Cueto

CIN

R

215

0.24

1.52

1.17

-0.17

0.29

0.69

1.01

19

Shelby Miller

SLN

R

2093

0.24

1.48

1.29

-0.03

0.26

0.20

0.97

20

Gavin Floyd

CHA

R

148

0.23

1.40

1.17

-0.17

0.32

1.17

0.96

21

Brandon Workman

BOS

R

146

0.25

1.72

1.13

-0.22

0.05

-3.18

0.91

22

Matthew Harvey

NYN

R

1524

0.23

1.43

1.34

0.03

0.20

-0.76

0.88

23

Lance Lynn

SLN

R

1750

0.23

1.40

0.58

-0.88

0.28

0.53

0.88

24

Clay Buchholz

BOS

R

485

0.24

1.44

1.08

-0.28

0.19

-0.92

0.86

25

Sonny Gray

OAK

R

434

0.21

0.96

3.70

2.86

0.28

0.53

0.84

 

Dano owns RotoBanter.com.  You can follow him on Twitter @Rotobanter.

From Around The Web

  1. Al lydon says:
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    I’d like to have your full pitch score matrix e-mailed to me please. bigallyd@comcast.net Interesting stuff your bringing onboard. This year more than ever the pitching pool that is above average is huge. Deeper than it’s ever been. So much 1st and 2nd year talent flooded Major League Baseball in the last 2 years. I usually draft my first SP around 5-6. This year I’m thinking more like 9-10 before I draft a SP. I’ll take a stud if he falls between 5-7, but I don’t see a reason not to wait. The above average hitting pool is getting shallower every year, but the SP pool is deep like blue ocean deep. Tools like yours will help us cherry pick the pitchers this year. Looking forward to the rest of the posts.

    • Dano

      Dano says:
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      @Al lydon: Thanks AL…agreed. Im more and more comfortable (less and less anxious) drafting high impact 1st/2nd years…this is a way to validate their stuff beyond expected ERA’s and discipline/balls in play ratios. this shows the specific pitch dominance…only problem is that it weighs GB/FB and LD/BIP very little, but that’s okay – the table & z-scores themselves (prior to the weights) show how dominant the pitches are (sending you the full matrix now) – each pitch within it’s own tab. you can ignore the tabs after.

  2. Jay

    Jay says:
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    Any post with Padres gets me hot n bothered. Totally your goal, I’m sure.

    • Dano

      Dano says:
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      @Jay: haha Burch Smith might really get you bothered with an opportunity

    • James says:
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      @Jay:

      Padres pitchers get me going, any time i hear about their hitting i get skiddish. When Venable is likely the best hitter on the team (for fantasy), you know it is boring. But the same park that hurts every hitter helps every pitcher.

      On that note, Thanks, Burch was not even on my radar (the deepest league i am in is a 14 team dynasty with 25 man rosters). With that in mind, is that league deep enough to have him on my radar, what about a 12 team dynasty (i am in 2 of those). I am thinking a 6th rounder in a 20 team league is 120th, but was that of unowned guys (slim pickens) or a new dynasty (deep options) or a mix. Without some context that 6th round pick means little.

      • Dano

        dano says:
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        @James: since it’s a dynasty league…burch went round 6 in our minor league portion (20 team). Hope that helps. He might get stuck in relief there w/ all the in-house options so don’t go overboard.

        • James says:
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          @dano:

          so 120 overall prospect is where he would rank. Generally in those leagues I am dealing mostly with top 25-30 prospects, but more managers are starting to learn that to keep up with the top 2-3 teams they need to invest in prospects too (instead of using thier bench for a 5th OF when we only start 3)

          • Dano

            Dano says:
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            @James: thats a good question. I’d consider him a top 150 prospect. He’s ranked around 9 in the Padres system but tha’ts because they now have a slew of high impact prospects.

            Even in dynasty leagues i take a win-now approach and he can provide value as soon as this year.

            we have a 20 round minor league draft so he’s a no brainer in the 6th-8th round to me.

  3. Joseph says:
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    Be nice to highlight any guys that show up three times on that matrix.

    • Dano

      Dano says:
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      @Joseph: good idea – not sure i can edit. but the full matrix is available to all if they want. next post will show just how dominating Salazar is and point out some late round values, including one of the many mariners

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Dano: cueto hit 18/17/16/15 in the first four pitch types. kershaw seemed to only be on 2, i think strasburg (top change though) also only on 2.

        • Dano

          Dano says:
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          @goodfold2: yeah other than the cutter each of his pitches were in the 15-30 range i think. Last year was his best SwStr% rate of his career (in limited starts).

  4. JR says:
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    I’d love to get the matrices if possible. jcmunt5@gmail.com!
    Thanks!

  5. hotlanta says:
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    Whats your take on duffy? Draftable or wait until he shows some signs

    • Dano

      Dano says:
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      @hotlanta: on a pitch level – sick fastball, meh changeup, sinker was solid but didnt induce enough grounders. Curve was below average but got lots of grounders (albeit a small sample altogether). I think right now he’s considered their #4 which is good but both Davis (if SP) and Ventura could knock him off.

      **Last year he was solid but he was very lucky in all three “luck” categories (HR/FB, LOB% and BABIP). His K/BB ratio was gross and won’t induce enough grounders initially.

      One dominating pitch isn’t enough.

  6. BTD says:
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    I’ll be stalking Salazar in the later-ish rounds myself. I’m sure Zach Wheeler will find his way onto a roster or two as well… I imagine M’s pitchers will get a boost in value this year too.

    • Dano

      Dano says:
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      @BTD: i think Salazar will start going earlier and earlier so dont wait too long! my next post will show just how dominating he was on a pitch level relative to the guys i mentioned above (wacha, gray, cole & jose fernandez).

  7. bobby bonilla says:
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    this is nice work – would love to see the full sheet behind the analysis!
    mkodesch@gmail.com
    thanks Dano

  8. Ry says:
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    Intriguing. Would you send me the full analysis? Thanks.

    Rymattson@yahoo.com

    Ry

  9. I also would love to see your “full analysis” spreadsheet

  10. John Darby says:
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    Please send me the full matrix. Email provided with submission. Thanks, Very interesting stuff. J

  11. Eric W says:
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    Looks interesting and excited to see your next few posts, however no disrespect to you but I would rather see more pictures of that dog wearing a hat than the spreadsheet.

    • Dano

      Dano says:
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      @Eric W: ha thanks. noted. next few posts are more content driven….had to intro the approach this one.

  12. Clyde Prompto says:
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    This is great. Nicely done, Sir.

  13. Simply Fred

    simply fred says:
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    Dano, some of these stats a little new to me. I have been relying on 0-Swing% as indicator of a pitcher ‘missing bats’. Burch with a POOR 26.8 doesn’t compute for me. How does he have a 26.8, yet rank #1 for FB your chart? (I figure I am missing something of import.)

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @simply fred: o-swing is how often hitters swing at their pitches outside of the zone. It doesn’t say too too much… You then have to look at o-contact to see how much contact they make against that pitcher out the zone. The data on sharing would associate mostly to swstr% …strikes swung at and missed. This data is on the pitch level whereas what you’re looking at is on every pitch they threw.

      • Simply Fred

        simply fred says:
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        @dano: You are doing good so far. Thanks for reminding me why I liked 0-Swing%–I like pitchers that get hitters to chase…:-)

        So, I see Salazar with a 14.6 swstr% and B.Smith with 13.1. Seems like Salazar should be ranked higher? Which stat on Fangraphs relates to your #1 ranking for Smith for FB?? (not trying to be difficult, just trying to get up to speed)

        • Dano

          dano says:
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          @simply fred: yup…this included 2 other outcomes: gb/fb and ld/balls in play…+ its Bp’s pitch f/x which I believe is from brooks baseball…might be slightly diff than fangraphs data…forgot where that comes from

        • Simply Fred

          simply fred says:
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          @simply fred: my bad. I re-read and see that you have calculated it.

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @simply fred: oswg is still valuable…it can show how often a pitcher gets hitters to swing outside the zone. This post focused on the pitch’s pitch dominance…on an outcome level…there’s Many other important factors like control (how often the pitch is called a ball/strike beyond the swinging strike rate)..those features can be zscored on the pitch level and incorporated but didn’t want to get too crazy here.

  14. Last Chance says:
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    Excellent work Dano, quite impressive.
    Would love to see the complete analysis.
    stuckb1986@gmail.com

  15. Jeff says:
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    What are your overall thoughts on Lance Lynn? Any chance we see him take a notable step forward?

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Jeff: I believe both his k/bb and gb/fb have been trending not great so hopefully that curtails. I think hes a 3.9 era 1.30 pitcher without luck affecting him more than usual.

  16. duder says:
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    I like Salazar but if he starts creeping further into the first 10 rounds, which seems pretty likely, he isn’t really a sleeper no mo. I think Yahoo will have him ranked in the top 100. At a certain point you’re paying as if his 50 innings are totally going to translate over 170, which we’ve seen with many pitchers doesn’t always happen (thinking Daniel Hudson, Matt Moore types).

    To super early drafters who got him in the 15th or on the cheap, bravo. In mid March he’ll cost too much for me. He went in the 9th in an early draft I just finished.

  17. Nick Gil says:
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    Can I get the spreadsheet please! This stuff looks great!!

  18. c0wfunk says:
    (link)

    Sign me up!
    Worldwisewebs (at) gmail (dot) com

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @c0wfunk: your logo bring my world and my dads world together in one image! awesome

  19. henncoop says:
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    I would love a copy of your work …thanks for sharing your expertise
    henncoop@msn.com

  20. Daniel says:
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    I’d also like a copy of the full matrix if possible. Thanks alot, this is great stuff. Daniel_Sharfstein@hotmail.com

  21. Softie says:
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    I just traded for Duffy… After seeing this, I feel like I won the lottery.

      • Softie says:
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        @dano: My back up Catcher. Weiters. Its a Dynasty league, and I already have Rosario

        • Dano

          dano says:
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          @Softie: wowza – wasn’t expecting that! He’s got potential but that’s relatively expensive

  22. Softie says:
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    Agree, but better to buy now and give up a bench guy than him blow up and his asking price double. Not to mention the pts system in our league over values pitchers… Exapmle : Kershaw, Max, Wainright & Kimbrel ALL outscored Trout / Goldy / Miggy in our league.

  23. Kyle says:
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    I’d love to get the matrix emailed to me and also great work!
    Clearykyl@gmail.com

  24. Tim Shand says:
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    Great job! Please email me the full matrix. Thanks. shand9003@yahoo.com

  25. stml says:
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    Would love to have a look at the full matrix… thestml@gmail.com

  26. Yitzi says:
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    I would love to get the full spreadsheet ycsites@gmail.com, Great stuff thanks for tipping me off to burch smith.

  27. AJ says:
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    So, just to see if I’m grasping this is – in a 14 team, h2h, salaried keeper league with 3 RP slots and the Saves+Holds stat, where would Burch Smith rank among other RP? I’m extremely interested, seeing as I’d love to plug him in at SP and maybe get a hold or two, along with a high K total. Just curious!

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @AJ: not sure he’d make your league next year. i see more value in ’15. He’s like 8th on SP depth chart and 4th/5th on RP depth chart. He’s a dynasty asset (went in my 6th round MiLB portion). He’s a radar guy is all right now unfort.

      • AJ says:
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        @dano:Ok that’s fair. I appreciate the quick response. I do have a dynasty league I’ll be keeping him in mind for, but I’m currently on the hunt for cheap RP who will finish with a good bit of saves or holds. While everyone else targeted closers in the early and middle rounds, I bulked up on offense and starting pitching. I have 1 of the 3 RP slots filled with my pick last round (Cody Allen), but am scouring for others. Any suggestions? Many of the top ones are gone, but guys like Storen, Rondon, Siegrist, Scheppers, Ramos, Doolittle, D. Hernandez, Kintzler, Black…. They are available. Sorry for writing a novel, but any of those or others i didn’t name that you like in 2014? Thanks again.

        • Dano

          dano says:
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          @AJ: doolittles an asset – 25 saves, solid K/BB for a reliever. Siegrist great k% but he had like a 99% Left on base rate last year. He should be a 3.55/1.25/70K/20HLD guy. I’d put Kintzler, Hernandez & Ramos in a similar tier to Siegrist. I’d put Black in the next tier or two. I’m assuming Paco Rodriguez & Mark Melancon are off the board? they’re both assets over the others. I might put Scheppers in the same tier as Paco & Melancon – high impact arm/lock for 27+ Holds.

          • AJ says:
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            @dano: Paco is still around. I think everyone was kinda scared off by all the arms in the pen. I’d definitely jump on him tho if you thought he was my best option. What about Soria? I hadn’t seen that he was available until after I sent my other post, but I just snagged him before you responded. The right call or too early? Paco will be my next target and then Doolittle – or are you thinking other way around? Ryan Cook is there too. Can’t tell ya how much I appreciate the advice!

          • AJ says:
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            @dano: A couple more if you don’t mind. Feel free to shut me off whenever I grow annoying. Gorzelanny? Crow? Walden? And lastly, Herrera? Trying to find who is available is tough since we use a poorly organized spreadsheet – so I find names I would have otherwise found much sooner. Thanks again! I’ll leave ya alone after this haha

            • Dano

              dano says:
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              @AJ: paco/gregerson then cook then Doolittle …I like crow and Herrera but believe both could find high whips/bad effects on era. As u can see there are infinite hold options. Gorz not as high impact and there’s 3 others in front of him too for the counting stats

              • AJ says:
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                @dano: This is exactly the insight I needed. Much appreciated. You and Grey always keep me coming back so keep it up.

  28. PDXviaSTL says:
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    please send me a copy of the full matrix. Thanks!

Comments are closed.