Last week, while I was wilting away in my cube, I had the pleasure of staring off into space for a few minutes. What was in my ears while I did it? The soothing sounds of Donkey Teeth and B_Don. They were discussing all the different league offerings the NFBC can provide with Darik Buchar of SportsHub on Razzball’s Goin’ Deep Podcast. I enjoyed the informative nature of the podcast, but it brought to a head something; a belief has been simmering inside of me for quite some time. My belief is that the NFBC, and the strategies used by those who play in those leagues, has become the principal source for many fantasy baseball content consumers, but the strategies applied in these leagues are misused by content consumers as they aren’t applicable to single league set ups.

The 2020 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It is important to maintain the fundamental rules of society. One of those rules being, respect your elders. Last week, I introduced luck regression candidates with less than 400 career innings pitched, and piggybacking off of that premise we must also account for our Restored Vets. In order to identify Restored Veteran pitchers who suffered from poor luck in 2019 I performed the following:

  • Gathered all starting pitchers with over 50 innings pitched in 2019. Thanks, Fangraphs.
  • Removed pitchers with less than 400 career innings pitched to isolate for Restored Vets.
  • Sorted to find only pitchers whose ERA was 0.5 greater than one of FIP, xFIP, or SIERA.
  • Eliminated any pitchers who did not have a metric under 4.5.
  • Deleted any pitchers without a top 30 WAR season in the past 3 years.

The result? 9 pitchers. I’ve removed 4 of those for reasons noted at the bottom. The rest of the group is evaluated below:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This week, I’d like to focus on the benefits of a contrarian mindset. It helps make clear life choices without needing the approval of others. It helps maintain an even approach to the highs and lows of life. Most importantly, it helps in predicting outcomes. One of my favorite contrarian principles is regression to the mean, the philosophy at the heart of this week’s finding aces segment. When I introduced the series and background group of pitchers, the term luck was mentioned regularly. Quantifying luck is a difficult premise. However, in leveraging regression to the mean we can increase our chances. If a pitcher suffered from poor luck in 2019, that same pitcher is more likely to benefit from good luck in the future. We hope that future is the 2020 season.

In order to identify young pitchers who suffered from poor luck in 2019 I performed the following:

  • Gathered all starting pitchers with over 50 innings pitched in 2019. Thanks, Fangraphs.
  • Removed any pitchers with more than 400 career innings pitched to isolate for Youthful Jumps.
  • Sorted to find only pitchers whose ERA was 0.5 greater than one of FIP, xFIP, or SIERA.
  • Eliminated any pitchers who did not have a metric under 4.5.

The result? 10 pitchers. I’ve removed 5 of those for reasons noted at the bottom. The rest of the group is evaluated below:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Razzball is one of the more incredible communities in fantasy baseball, and the quality of the comments is one of the first places I would point towards for proof. Although after one sentence this seems like a kiss ass article, it is not. This is merely a thank you to commenter LenFuego for the premise of this week’s article. In the first article of the series, I offered Zack Grienke as a bounce-back pitcher of note from 2017.  LenFuego pointed out that Grienke had a handful of poor starts in the 2016 season that anchored his ratios at career highs. Thus, his 2017 bounce back was primarily due to eliminating these outlier starts.

It is a dangerous task to simply take out the poorest starts in a pitcher’s season. As much as we don’t want them to, the blowups still count. However, I certainly think it is relevant to locate pitchers who had a deceptive 2019 due to a segment of their season, or a single game, not being representative of their year.

This is was my process in identifying a few pitchers who may have had deceptively good 2019s and qualify as a Restored Vet:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Is it a corny acronym? No doubt.

Does it have a purpose in fantasy baseball? Absolutely.

I’m not the smartest person on the planet. There is zero chance I can combine hundreds of metrics into a special formula to conveniently spit out 2020 breakout pitchers. Ask Rudy for that. However, I can break down the game to simple components and use a few metrics at a time. That is exactly what I plan to do in this series for the next month. Keep It Simple, Pat. K.I.S.P.!

Last week, I highlighted a group of pitchers who exceed expectations in the past 3 seasons. Time after time in reviewing these pitchers a commonality was the use of a highly effective secondary pitch. Additionally, the usage of this secondary pitch contributed to a rise in the effectiveness of the player’s fastball. This cohesion leads to the hypothesis of this week’s article, locating exceptional secondary pitches. If a pitcher throws hard with at least one valuable secondary pitch they will generate more strikeouts, more poor swings, and infrequent hard contact.

In order to find players that matched to this premise I did the following:

  • Started with 2019 Fangraphs pitch data and filtered out anyone with less than 50 MLB innings pitched and more than 400 career MLB innings pitched to isolate for Youthful Jumps.
  • Brought in the average fastball velocity for the last two years and removed all pitchers throwing less than 93.4 MPH. This isn’t an arbitrary number; Shane Bieber was the average velocity floor from the Youthful Jump group at 93.4 MPH.
  • Highlighted only players with a Standardized Pitch Value (Pitch Type Linear Weights per 100) for a secondary pitch over 0.5 for the 2019 season.

Shockingly, there were only 12 pitchers from the 2019 season who met the criteria. Of those, seven could be removed for various reasons mentioned at the end of the article for clarity. The five pitchers who remain are detailed below:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Some of you may be saying, “Is this the guy from the football side who is obsessed with defensive pressure rates?” Yes, it is.

Some of you will then ask, “Is this man as funny as Grey?” Sadly, no.

Everyone will then most definitely ask, “What does this man know about baseball?” Enough to spew 1000+ words per week into WordPress.

Baseball is far and away my favorite fantasy sport. I’ve been a Razzball consumer since I was a pimple faced teenager. My background with Razzball is important. It explains many of my philosophies, primarily those in regards to pitching. Typically, I wait on starting pitching far later than the norm and complete pre-season prep with that notion in mind. Instead of spending hours sorting top ranked pitchers, I focus in on pitchers who have the highest probabilities of far exceeding expectations.

This concept is at the core of the series, in which the sole purpose is to find the likeliest 2020 breakout pitchers. To start, I will delve into a group of 12 pitchers who exceeded draft day value from the last 3 seasons. Using their backgrounds, I hope to find some cohesion to locate what changed and led to the breakout. Finally, I’ll take those commonalities and locate 2020 pitchers meeting the same criteria to find who is most likely to win us our leagues.

Please, blog, may I have some more?