A few weeks ago, we looked at some interesting hitter stats over the last few years. If you didn’t find the stats and trends that were highlighted in that article to be particularly interesting, at least you might have been mildly amused by the inclusion of names such as Jack Cust, Candy Nelson, and Silver Flint. Today, it’s the pitchers’ turn. Perhaps I can find an excuse to reference Cannonball Titcomb in this post. There’s only one way to find out! (spoiler alert: he won’t be mentioned again)
Just as I did in the hitter edition of this series, I’ll be listing various statistics with little to no analysis so that you can be the judge of how relevant each statistic and/or trend is in regards to the 2016 season. This article focuses on pitchers only, and the stats that will be highlighted range from the basic (strikeouts, win-loss record, innings pitched, ERA, WHIP) to the slightly more advanced (K/BB ratio, LOB%, batted ball profile, SwStr%).
Let’s get to it. Here are some interesting pitcher stats and trends to consider entering the 2016 fantasy baseball season:
• Over the last three seasons (2013-15), Clayton Kershaw led all MLB starting pitchers in strikeouts (772), innings pitched (667), ERA (1.92), WHIP (0.89), K/BB ratio (6.18), batting average against (.193), and SwStr% (13.8%). He’s tied with Max Scherzer for the most wins (53) over that span as well.
• To put Kershaw’s career accomplishments into historical context, lets’s take a look at where he ranks among all SPs through their respective age-27 seasons (min 600 IP) in the post-World War II era (1946-2015): 2.43 ERA (1st out of 516 qualifiers); 1.03 WHIP (t-1st with Johan Santana); 1608 IP (30th); 1742 strikeouts (3rd behind Sam McDowell and Bert Blyleven).
• Speaking of strikeouts, Yu Darvish is the only starting pitcher in MLB history (min 400 IP) to produce a career K/9 > 11 (11.22). Just six other SPs have a career K/9 > 10 (Randy Johnson, Stephen Strasburg, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Chris Sale, and Pedro Martinez).
• Since 2012, only five starting pitchers have produced a K/9 > 10 (min 400 IP) – Darvish, Scherzer, Strasburg, Sale, and Kershaw.
• Chris Sale has exhibited fantastic control to go along with that elite K-rate during his young career. His 5.08 K/BB ratio is the best mark among SPs (min 400 IP) in MLB history. Only seven other starting pitchers (Matt Harvey, Corey Kluber, Hisashi Iwakuma, Strasburg, Michael Pineda, Curt Schilling, and Kevin Slowey) have produced a K/BB > 4.5 throughout their careers.
• Veteran workhorse James Shields has thrown 200+ innings in nine consecutive seasons, the longest such streak in MLB. He’s 32 games over .500 during that span for a combined winning percentage of .576.
• Shields’ current teammate, fellow Padre and Opening Day starter Tyson Ross, has never thrown 200 innings or produced a winning record in any single season during his 6 year career. He’s 20 games under .500 in his career with a winning percentage of .381.
• Shields is one of nine SPs who have pitched at least 200 innings in three consecutive seasons (2013-15). Madison Bumgarner, Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels, Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija, R.A. Dickey, Jose Quintana, and Scherzer are the other eight.
• Only Scherzer, Samardzija, and Dickey logged at least 210 IP in each of those three seasons.
• Looking for a low WHIP, high strikeout workhorse to lead your fantasy staff? Only one pitcher has 200+ IP, 240+ strikeouts, and a sub-1.1 WHIP in each of the last two seasons: Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber.
• Few aces have been as consistent as Madison Bumgarner in recent years. Over the past three seasons (2013-15), he’s the only pitcher in MLB to record 200+ innings, a K/9 > 8.5, a BB/9 < 3, an ERA < 3, and a WHIP < 1.1 each year. Kershaw and Scherzer are the only other pitchers who have accomplished this feat more than once during this time period.
• 32-year-old Marco Estrada had the best season of his career in 2015, setting career best marks in wins (13), innings pitched (181), ERA (3.13), and WHIP (1.04). The Blue Jays resigned him to a 2 year, $26 million deal this offseason.
• Despite those stellar numbers in 2015, Estrada owns the highest HR/9 (1.53) in MLB among 122 qualified starting pitchers over the last three seasons, as well as the 8th highest FIP (4.59) and the 14th highest xFIP (4.36). Estrada’s .220 BABIP allowed as an SP in 2015 was the lowest by any qualified starting pitcher in a single season since Tom Browning, Pascual Perez, and Jeff Robinson in 1988.
• Zack Greinke led all MLB starting pitchers with a 0.84 WHIP and a 1.66 ERA last season. He also led MLB with an 86.5% LOB%.
• Greinke’s 86.5% strand rate is the 5th highest single season mark among starting pitchers in MLB history (min 150 IP), and is the highest LOB% among starters since Pedro Martinez in 2000 (86.6%).
• Britton also leads all MLB relievers in GB% (77%) and Soft% (32.4%) during that span.
• When it comes to relief pitchers, Aroldis Chapman is the strikeout king. His career 15.40 K/9 is the highest mark in MLB history among relievers (min 100 IP). Craig Kimbrel (14.55 K/9) is the only other player with a K/9 >14, and Kenley Jansen (13.98), Dellin Betances (13.83), and Andrew Miller (13.15) round out the list of RPs with a career K/9 > 13 when pitching as relievers.
• Chapman, Betances, and Miller are all scheduled to pitch out of the Yankees bullpen in 2016.
• As dominant as Chapman has been in the strikeout category throughout his career, he didn’t lead MLB relievers in K-rate last season. That distinction belongs to Carter Capps, whose 16.84 K/9 and 49.2% K% led all RPs in 2015 (min 30 IP).
• Capps also had the 3rd best K/BB ratio (8.29) among RPs with a minimum of 20 IP last season. Jansen (10.0) and Evan Scribner (16.00!) were the only two players who finished ahead of him in that category.
• On the flip side, four RPs somehow managed to walk more hitters than they struck out in 2015 (min 20 IP): Bobby Parnell, Ross Detwiler, Drew VerHagen, and Carlos Contreras. Despite this, VerHagen was able to post a 2.05 ERA thanks to a .198 BAA as well as an 85.4% LOB%.
• Sixteen pitchers logged at least 70 IP out of the bullpen in 2015. Only two relievers, Pirates teammates Mark Melancon and Tony Watson, have thrown that many innings in each of the last three seasons.
• More accurately, Melancon and Watson are the only two MLB relievers outside of one other pitcher to log three straight 70+ IP seasons out of the pen. Tyler Clippard has accomplished that feat in six consecutive seasons (2010-15).
That’s it for this edition. I hope you found some of these pitching statistics to be interesting and/or helpful for your 2016 fantasy baseball needs. Thanks for reading.