Yes, that’s a fantastic neck curtain I’m rockin’. Besides the point. Don’t stare. What this IS is (who you callin’ stutterer?) an attempt to translate some nerd speak into some useful fantasy baseball draft strategy.
More statistically-inclined minds than my own (mainly a guy with the handle “matthan” at DRaysBay) have figured out a pretty reliable way to calculate expected Ks from pitchers. “Tell us something we don’t know, Dick Anderson.” Okay, how about the coefficient of determination for this particular model is over 90%? *crickets* Considering most number crunchers take 70% and like it, 90% is like jumping-a-dead-battery-with-aspirin-and-chocolate useful. Oh, and it’s reliable like that down to 30 IP. That’s door-breaching-charge-out-of-steel-wool-and-a-fountain-pen exciting!
Here’s the formula: eK%=(ClStr%*.9)+(Foul%*.5)+(InPly%*-.9)+(InZSwStr%*1.1)+(OZSwStr%*1.5)
So why aren’t we reading about this magical formula all over the place? Well, it’s a trip to the dentist to compile the holey data and it uses wisps of cotton-candy-fuzzy math. Regardless, it’s fairly reliable if you floss through it and definitely useful despite the caveats. Having said that, I now say it’s crazy talk to produce something this potentially powerful, then shelve it. That’s like developing an armor-piercing laser, but scrapping it because it’s a smidgen inaccurate and only works a good chunk of the time. There’s still potential for making some big holes in stuff here!
I admit, I do possess some nerd genes and I’ve read through the boring stuff. That doesn’t mean YOU (yeah, you too, I suppose) should have to though, loyal Razzball readers. So what do we do with it then? For one, we can look at actual Ks from pitchers in 2011 vs. their expected Ks based on this formula. That ought to help tell us, in part, who was sandbaggin’ and who was overachievin’. I’ve arranged the numbers so positive is positive and negative is negative (fancy that). I’ve cherry picked players I wanted to highlight and to avoid some of the stat goofs. If you want to check out any others, you can sift through all the source data like I did. I’ve shown my work on a separate sheet, just like in math class.
This part is obligatory, really boring stuff. If you just want to get to the the T & A, skip this section. Just don’t ask questions that are answered here, because then you’ll be “that guy”.
A few players showed up one one set of source data and not the other, or repeated exactly within the same source data, so I’ve eliminated those.
Lists only include players who had 30+ IP for one specific team, not over several teams combined.
A few SP show up on the list multiple times due to having 30+ IP for multiple teams.
Data is split between SP and RP, so players should only be credited with stats for one role or the other per each list, respectively.
Some of the data is skewed by differences in pitch counts, spot starts by RP, relief appearances by SP, trades, and/or other statistical errors between sources.
If you’d like to peruse the data for your favorite players, check out the full document here and comment below with questions. Thanks for reading!
SP Sandbaggers (eK% / K% / K% Diff):
Randall Delgado – 18.0 / 12.2 / 5.8
He represents the biggest difference, postive or negative. Control remained an issue and he was pretty lucky with a .220 BABIP and 86.5 LOB%. However, if he can manage to tack down more first pitch strikes and harness some BBs, he could rein in even more upside. He and everybody else… If he ends up in the majors over Minor/Teheran, I certainly wouldn’t expect a Beachy-like season. I wouldn’t hold my breath for a Minor’s-minors-like season either.
Guillermo Moscoso – 17.9 / 13.9 / 4.0
He should have had enough Ks to place him slightly below the league average 7.13 K/9. However, he was fortunate hitters made enough bad contact (79.1 O-Contact%) to get themselves out when his control lapsed. There’s enough downside to spoil any upside, and the move to Coors won’t help. In the interest of manipulating time and space, let’s just pretend most of these schmohawks are invisible. Collmenter to Vargas: “Hey, can you believe that sh…”
Phil Hughes – 17.8 / 14.2 / 3.6
If you’re reading this (skimming counts), chances are you’ve been burned by Hughes at some point in your fantasy career. He dealt with injury and “hittability” last year, but showed flickers of that sweet, sweet flame. Sure there’s reason for concern, but he’s only 25 and here’s one more reason for optimism. There’s reasoning for ya. If he’s traded or somehow ends up Yanked back into the rotation despite the acquisitions of Pineda and Kuroda, keep the fire burning.
Shaun Marcum – 21.9 / 19.2 / 2.7
2.7% doesn’t sound like a whole lot, does it? However, at 200 IP and 823 batters faced, “U” should’ve been looking at about +20 K and +1 K/9. Yeah, Grey probably had good reason to like him so much. There isn’t much NOT to like about his numbers, so Marcum down for improvement.
Doug Fister – 17.4 / 14.8 / 2.6 (SEA), 20.8 / 20.9 / -0.1 (DET)
And here you thought Fister was fun to mention before? It looks like he had potential to get more guys to swing & miss, it just took the move to Detroit for him to capitalize more, and then some more on top of that. He’s likely to regress a little and his 17.2% slider usage might land him at the bottom fringe of Rudy’s Top 20 Risky Pitchers For 2012 list, but some of his stuff is legit. Welcome, fister+bottom+stuff Googlers!
Edinson Volquez – 23.8 / 21.3 / 2.5
Yes, he strikes dudes out. Yes, he walks them too. Yes, his consistent velocity and plate discipline, absurd 20.7 HR/FB%, and 1st inning ineptitude tell me some of his struggles were fluky. Yes, he will get less run support in SD. Yes, PETCO should help. Yes, he could pull a post-Dusty Harang-ment. Yes, I’m telling you to keep at least a lazy eye on him.
Jake Peavy – 21.6 / 19.3 / 2.3
Though some of his metrics looked like imperials and vice versa, there appears to be a millibigass (that’s a thousandth of a bigass) light at the end of the tunnel. But… and that’s a badonkadonkeykong-sized but… he needs to stay healthy long enough to get his conversion tables sorted out. Sometimes you don’t need standardized OR fanciful measurements to tell you what you should already know.
Jeremy Hellickson – 17.3 / 15.1 / 2.2
Bad news is, his K/9 was only 5.57. Good news is, it should have been about 6.4. “Wait, that’s good news?” Bad news is, his ERA/WHIP were artificially low. Good news is, the extra Ks should balance those out somewhat. “Some what?” Bad news is, he fits the risky pitcher bill. Bad news is, he’ll cost too much come draft time, regardless. “But…”. Yeah, I know good news was supposed to come next.
Danny Duffy – 20.6 / 18.4 / 2.2
On the other hand, I’m hoping this dude eventually ends up back in the rotation since he’s poised for a rebound. He’d been blowing everyone away up until his MLB debut (say that five times fast), and I don’t envision Duffman totally switching from blow to suck. Duff just didn’t trust his stuff. Know who else has had issues with nerves? His name rhymes with slinky… “Ohhh, yeahhh!”
Dan Haren – 22.0 / 20.1 / 1.9
Hairy Dan’s ratios got a little trim from a lower than normal HR/FB rate and BABIP, but his Ks should have been a little fuller. Ironically, his increased cutter use (+20.5% vs. 2010!) seems to be working, as his O-Swing% and O-Contact% go up as his Zone% goes down. All in all, y’all, he ought to retain comparable value. Did I get that “y’all” right, y’all?
Scott Baker – 24.2 / 22.3 / 1.9
Similarly, Baker’s Ks should’ve continued to rise while his ratios collapsed to an extent. Yep, even past his career high 8.22 K/9. It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly his secret ingredient was, but the measurements support it. He’s someone I would not sleep on in 2012, lest you get burned… or accused of assault. Don’t stand so close to me, space invader.
John Danks – 20.2 / 18.5 / 1.7
Danks refined his cutter to a lesser extent than Haren, but he also got more aggressive at pounding the zone and was actually a bit unlucky. There’s every reason to expect him to see both a bump in Ks AND a reduction in his ratios. It could have been more than a little if he’d been dealt, but Danks don’t stank.
There we have it, a Scott Baker dozen. There are about three times as many SP Sandbaggers than Overachievers (nope, no idea why and not too worried about it), so it’s time to move on before we get too bogged down in this shizzpile.
SP Overachievers (eK% / K% / K% Diff):
Clayton Kershaw – 24.7 / 27.2 / -2.7
Here I figured the opposite of Marcum was Mucram… CK won the CY, and deservedly so, but would he have won it with 23 less Ks and .9 less K/9? Probably. Just consider this gap, a smidgen of good fortune and his 25.5% slider use before you start wearing his cologne and get all reachy, reachy for him.
Zack Greinke – 26.1 / 28.1 / -2.0
Knocking his K/9 down to 9.8 from 10.5 isn’t a big deal in the context of a 7.96 career rate. He’s suffered bad luck from various sources the last two seasons, so there’s a chance his ratios rebound some too. However, his F-Strike% and Zone% dropped 2% and 7.5% during that time and a move to the NL. His stuff has bumped his O-Swing 5.1% to compensate, but reading between the percent signs, it might be more than nerves. My gut tells me not to invest too heavily for 2012. If you hear my gut too, hand me the Cracker Jack, will ya?
Ubaldo Jimenez – – 20.3 / 22.2 / -1.9 (COL), 19.8 / 21.4 / -1.6 (CLE)
He was a bit less than fortunate both in COL and CLE, so his ratios should trend up. However, his velocity went down along with his GB%, F-Strike% and SwStr%. In short, I’m not expecting massive regrowth. Count on Big Jim too much and you could very well end up spending 2012 pulling out your hair, wondering “Why, Ubaldo?!”
Cliff Lee – 24.5 / 25.9 / -1.4
It’s like a freakin’ barbershop with all these cutters cropping up… er… down. The Adverb still would have bested his previous career high K/9 rate with about 10 less Ks and he’s capable of producing similar, though probab-Lee slight-Lee less spectacular numbers again. Of course, investing too much into last years numbers could easi-Lee end like another crusade for eternal youth; poor-Lee.
Next time, I’ll go over the relievers that should see an increase or decrease in Ks. Until then, I will comb my mullet.