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%).

• Over the last two seasons (2014-15), only one MLB relief pitcher has averaged 35+ saves with an ERA under 2 and a WHIP under 1 – Orioles closer Zach Britton.

• 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.

  1. GhostTownSteve says:
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    Sweet merciful stats Magoo great work. Notice how often The Stras shows up on the yay lists?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @GhostTownSteve: Stras is the ultimate tease. Can he stay on the mound for 200 innings? That’s the question.

  2. The Great Knoche says:
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    2 Jack Cust Razzball references in the same day! Long live the Cust!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @The Great Knoche: The three true outcome player is alive and well!

  3. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:
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    That K/9 for the Yankees pen. Someone will have to throw sunflower seeds at Castro to keep him awake after the 6th.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Dr. Kenneth Noisewater: They’ll probably have to do that in the first six innings as well

      • Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:
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        Teixeira could throw loose bone fragments and fling worn ligaments like rubber bands.

        • mauledbypandas says:
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          @Dr. Kenneth Noisewater: maybe the right field roll call crew can work on something. Wake up castro… clap clap clap etc

          • Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:
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            How old is Beltran again? I’m sure he has a hip or some dentures to lightly toss….can’t throw too hard or there goes his back.

            • Big Magoo

              Big Magoo says:
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              @Dr. Kenneth Noisewater: He’s old even by Yankee standards. Probably grabs some hot chocolate and a snuggie after the games.

  4. Hometown Heroes says:
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    Good article! I had a question related to a 12 team AL only keeper league. What do you think of Henry Owens this year? What about beyond? Seems like he is an overrated pitcher…

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Hometown Heroes: Thanks! The thing that I like about Owens is his changeup. It’s already good, and has the potential to be a true out pitch going forward. Don’t love his lack of control and mediocre K-rate though. He’s fine as a back-end upside option in that format.

  5. mauledbypandas says:
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    Great work Magoo. I feel nestled and a warm blanket of statistical goodness

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @mauledbypandas: Pandas! Thanks man. Glad to help you into your statistical comfort zone.

  6. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    great work thanks for the stats

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @AL KOHOLIC: No problem, Al. Good luck defending your title this year!

  7. Sport says:
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    Nice work and stats! My mind can’t handle it though! I want so many guys going in rounds 5-8!

    My first yahoo staff is deGrom, Syndergaard, Carrasco, Matz, Darvish, and Iglesias.

    Too many Mets? Too much pitching?

    Thanks!!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Sport: Thanks, Sport! How many teams? If it’s a twelve teamer, you probably don’t need both Syndergaard and Carrasco. Either one of those guys would be a strong #2 and it would free you up to draft a hitter with the other pick. Matz, Darvish, and Iglesias are all interesting high upside options but it depends where you’re taking them. Don’t want to come out of the draft with too many offensive question marks.

      • Sport says:
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        @Big Magoo: yeah it’s a yahoo 12 team that I drafted last week. I just couldn’t resist Syndergaard and Carrasco in the 5th/6th, went with Matz in the 12th and Darvish in the 13th. Thought I was done with SP but Iglesias was there in the 15th and thought it would be good value. I was punting catcher, and knew Deshields and Lawrie would be there to round out my offense.

        C-Mesoraco, 1B-Chris Davis, 2B-Lawrie, SS-Bogaerts, 3B-Franco, OF-Harper, Springer, Soler, UT-Deshields and Adams/Schoop.

        Afterward my regret was not taking another hitter in the fifth or sixth. My closers are solid. You think the hitting needs help where I should move one of the top three? If so, which one would you move? Thanks in advance. Using Grey’s rankings I like most of the team, but like you said I wondered if it was too much #2 starters (or even too much Mets).

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @Sport: Harper, Davis, Springer, Franco, and Bogaerts give you a nice core on offense. That extra 5th/6th rounder could’ve been used to upgrade your 2B or OF3 spots, but that’s a solid team. I wouldn’t worry about owning too many Mets pitchers. They don’t directly affect one another, and that’s a good situation (team, park, division) for a pitcher to be in.

          I’m not a huge fan of either Adams or Schoop though. You could play matchups with Lawrie/Schoop, so Adams is the player to upgrade, I think. Soler is kind of in limbo after the Fowler signing too. Might want to offer one of your pitchers for another bat.

        • Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves says:
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          @Sport: 6 P (you didn’t even mention RP) is too many in first 15 rounds, and soler is EXACTLY why you don’t draft this early. if i’m right and you also grabbed 2 RP in those rounds that would make 8/15th of those picks being pitchers. i’d shoot for more like 5-6 total pitchers in those rounds, only 1 of the 5th/6th round guys (and that’s if you HAVE to grab 1 SP earlier, which you don’t), and only 1 of darvish/iglesias. same 2 RP (if my assumption about 2 of them by round 15 was true), but not a top end closer, as if you have to have both degrom and 1 of carrasco/thor you also shouldn’t be drafting RP that early.

  8. 'Saul Goooood, Man says:
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    Holy statgasm. I love these write-ups.

    Looking forward to my first attempt in RCL in your Razzballero1 league, should be interesting.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @‘Saul Goooood, Man: Thanks! RCLs are always fun. Glad you joined mine! It’s pretty much like a standard 12 team mixed league format. Just keep in mind that there are daily transactions, only 3 bench spots, and a 180 games started limit for pitchers.

  9. I'mgettingsomeHeadley says:
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    I Always Enjoy Your posts. I’ve been in a long running 12 team roto that uses different cats than most. It’s 11 cats with OPS as the added hit category making 6 for hitters. The pitchers have wins and net wins with no WHIP. So a SP can only get me 4 cats plus 2 of them are based on wins. A guy like Ross or S. Miller can kill 2 cats. What would your Draft strategy be in a redraft snake format?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @I’mgettingsomeHeadley: Thanks! In that format, you’d want to bump up the sluggers with high walk rates (Votto, C. Davis, Ortiz) and move players like Dee Gordon and Starling Marte down a bit. Target pitchers on good teams with solid K-rates. Might be able to wait a bit and grab SPs like McHugh, Samardzija, and Kennedy.

  10. ScreechOwl says:
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    Those stats make Tyson Ross sound like he’s not a good pitcher.

    That’s what I was going to say, but his worst record was in 2012, when he really wasn’t very good. Then he turned into a great pitcher when he moved to San Diego. So, hmm.

    One thing I think is interesting about Ross is that he’s one of those rare guys who had by far the best year of his career last year but is projected to be almost as good next year. Contrast Steamer projections even for guys like Harper and Goldschmidt.

    Let’s hope Ross and those other slider-reliant pitchers all have good years this year. I’d love to see an analysis comparing Ross’s slider to those of Chris Archer, Carlos Rodon, Francisco Liriano, and, of course, Clayton Kershaw.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @ScreechOwl: I never said that Ross isn’t good. He’s never had a winning record or thrown 200 innings in a season though. Those are facts.

      He’s a pitcher who’s reliant on getting hitters to chase his slider outside of the strike zone on a regular basis. That allows him to rack up the Ks but also leads to high BB-rates and elevated pitch counts. That has prevented him from going deep into games and has hurt his win potential.

      Kershaw is much more efficient, has much better control, and multiple plus pitches. No comparison there. Archer is what Ross could hope to be with improved command. He can beat hitters with velocity in addition to the slider, which is something that’s more difficult for Ross to do. Liriano and Rodon are solid comps (with the exception that they’re both lefties). I even referred to Liriano as the left-handed version of Ross prior to last season. Rodon will be on an innings limit this season though.

  11. Matt alldaymon says:
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    I see most rankings have Glasnow well above berrios this year. Berrios is ready to take on 180+ innings with more control and still good k/9… Not to say Glasnow is not a potential stud, but Other than size differential am I missing something?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Matt alldaymon: NL vs AL, better park, and the Ray Searage factor for Glasnow is driving a lot of that hype, I think. Both players have high ceilings. Berrios does have a higher NFBC ADP (259.61 to 283.94) though, so a majority of those drafters prefer him in redraft leagues.

      • Matt alldaymon says:
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        @Big Magoo: thanks man! Really enjoy what you guys do.

  12. Crapshoot Kershaw says:
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    wait a minute, so all THREE of those guys going back to 1988 are the only ones to have that lucky of a hit%, but they also did it in the SAME YEAR! that’s crazy.

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