Greetings all, and welcome to the first installment of The Numbers Game. “Boy, that title sounds about as exciting as it would be to draft Omar Infante in 2015.” Hey, quiet in the peanut gallery! Fantasy baseball is, as the title of this series makes blatantly obvious, all about the numbers. The idea behind these posts is to identify players who fit a specific set of search criteria using statistics accumulated over the past three seasons. The various criteria that I’ll be using will be established based on player comps and/or the MLB averages in key statistical categories. Some results will include data from 2014 only, while others will include some combination of the previous two seasons as well. The ultimate goal of these exercises is to provide a different perspective that will help to confirm your evaluations of certain players and perhaps reconsider your opinions of others. While I’ll be providing my two cents from time to time, it’ll be up to you to decide how valid the results truly are.

Phew, that was a Bartolo Colon-sized mouthful right there, but we got through it. And now, with Spring Training (and fantasy baseball draft season) just around the corner, I thought it might be a good idea to try to identify the next breakout pitcher for this upcoming season. That player in 2014 was Corey Kluber, but who are the most likely candidates to make a Kluber-like jump into ace territory in 2015? Let’s see if we can figure that out.

While I won’t be revealing the specific criteria that’s being used in this exercise until part two of this article (to hopefully maintain some sliver of suspense), here are a few things that I believe are important to consider when looking for the next breakthrough starting pitcher in the Kluber mold: the ability to consistently miss bats, the ability to limit free passes, and the ability to force hitters to keep batted balls on the ground. All of that is just a fancy way of saying high K-rate, low BB-rate, and high GB%.

First, let’s take a look at the MLB averages in some key statistical categories for starting pitchers during the 2012 and 2013 seasons:

Season K/9 BB/9 K/BB SwStr% GB% BABIP WHIP ERA xFIP
2012 7.14 2.84 2.51 8.60% 45.10% 0.294 1.32 4.19 4.06
2013 7.19 2.83 2.54 8.70% 44.60% 0.295 1.31 4.01 3.91

Now that we have a reference point to provide some context, here’s the list of starting pitchers who fit the “Kluber criteria” in 2012 (filtered by innings pitched as a starter only):

Name Team IP K/9 BB/9 K/BB SwStr% GB% BABIP WHIP ERA xFIP
Kris Medlen ATL 83.2 9.04 1.08 8.4 11.60% 54.70% 0.248 0.8 0.97 2.5
Stephen Strasburg WAS 159.1 11.13 2.71 4.1 11.20% 44.20% 0.311 1.15 3.16 2.81
Felix Hernandez SEA 232 8.65 2.17 3.98 10.60% 48.90% 0.308 1.14 3.06 3.2
Chris Sale CHW 191 9 2.36 3.82 10.40% 44.70% 0.294 1.13 3.06 3.23
James Shields TB 227.2 8.82 2.29 3.84 10.90% 52.30% 0.292 1.17 3.52 3.24
Clayton Kershaw LAD 227.2 9.05 2.49 3.63 11.00% 46.90% 0.262 1.02 2.53 3.25
Jeff Samardzija CHC 174.2 9.27 2.89 3.21 12.10% 44.60% 0.296 1.22 3.81 3.38
Madison Bumgarner SF 208.1 8.25 2.12 3.9 9.00% 47.90% 0.276 1.11 3.37 3.45
Dillon Gee NYM 109.2 7.96 2.38 3.34 10.60% 50.30% 0.301 1.25 4.1 3.54
Matt Garza CHC 103.2 8.33 2.78 3 9.80% 47.30% 0.271 1.18 3.91 3.59
Anibal Sanchez – – – 195.2 7.68 2.21 3.48 9.80% 46.40% 0.31 1.27 3.86 3.6
Corey Kluber CLE 63 7.71 2.57 3 10.70% 44.80% 0.342 1.49 5.14 3.99

As you can see from the names that appear on this list, some of the top talents in the game meet these requirements. Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Stephen Strasburg, Chris Sale, and Madison Bumgarner might be the five best pitchers in all of baseball. James Shields probably isn’t that far behind. Remember how incredible Kris Medlen was in the 2nd half of ’12? If you happened to forget, here are the numbers to remind you. Unbelievable run.

Beyond these players, several interesting names appear. Jeff Samardzija is considered to be an above-average SP now, but at the time, he was making the transition back to being a starter after working exclusively as a reliever in 2011. Anibal Sanchez was already an established pitcher at this time, but was known for having issues with control. Matt Garza and Dillon Gee seem to be the outliers here, perhaps due at least in part to a limited sample size. Kluber himself struggled in his first go-round as an MLB starting pitcher, but his underlying stats showed the potential for improvement down the line (spoiler alert – he’ll be appearing on each of these lists. Shocking, I know.).

Let’s move on to the 2013 qualifiers. Here’s that list in it’s entirety:

Name Team IP K/9 BB/9 K/BB SwStr% GB% BABIP WHIP ERA xFIP
Matt Harvey NYM 178.1 9.64 1.56 6.16 12.50% 47.70% 0.28 0.93 2.27 2.63
Felix Hernandez SEA 204.1 9.51 2.03 4.7 10.70% 51.40% 0.313 1.13 3.04 2.66
Clayton Kershaw LAD 236 8.85 1.98 4.46 11.40% 46.00% 0.251 0.92 1.83 2.88
Anibal Sanchez DET 182 9.99 2.67 3.74 12.40% 45.40% 0.307 1.15 2.57 2.91
Chris Sale CHW 214.1 9.49 1.93 4.91 10.80% 46.60% 0.289 1.07 3.07 2.95
Sonny Gray OAK 60 9.15 2.85 3.21 9.10% 53.60% 0.278 1.13 2.85 2.99
Jose Fernandez MIA 172.2 9.75 3.02 3.22 10.10% 45.10% 0.24 0.98 2.19 3.08
Corey Kluber CLE 142.1 8.28 2.09 3.97 10.40% 44.90% 0.328 1.27 3.92 3.12
Gerrit Cole PIT 117.1 7.67 2.15 3.57 9.20% 49.10% 0.308 1.17 3.22 3.14
Stephen Strasburg WAS 183 9.39 2.75 3.41 10.60% 51.50% 0.263 1.05 3 3.15
Madison Bumgarner SF 201.1 8.9 2.77 3.21 11.10% 46.80% 0.251 1.03 2.77 3.32
Homer Bailey CIN 209 8.57 2.33 3.69 10.70% 46.10% 0.284 1.12 3.49 3.34
Patrick Corbin ARI 208.1 7.69 2.33 3.3 10.70% 46.70% 0.283 1.17 3.41 3.48
Mat Latos CIN 210.2 7.99 2.48 3.22 10.30% 45.10% 0.299 1.21 3.16 3.56

Out of these 14 qualifiers, 7 make a second consecutive appearance: Hernandez, Kershaw, Sanchez, Sale, Kluber, Strasburg, and Bumgarner. Medlen, Shields, Samardzija, Gee, and Garza all failed to meet the criteria in ’13 for various reasons and fell off of the list.

Here are the seven players who didn’t appear on the ’12 list but qualified in ’13: Matt Harvey, Sonny Gray, Jose Fernandez, Gerrit Cole, Homer Bailey, Patrick Corbin, and Mat Latos. Both Harvey and Corbin missed the entire 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Fernandez proved to be one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball since his debut in ’13, but he also succumbed to TJS midway through the ’14 campaign. Gray had by far the smallest sample size out of this group, as well as the lowest swinging strike rate and the worst K/BB ratio. His GB% was the highest of the lot though. That leaves Cole and a couple of Reds in Bailey and Latos. Bailey suffered through a disappointing ’14 season due in large part to a drop in K-rate and an increased BB-rate. Latos missed half of the ’14 season due to injury, and experienced a significant drop in velocity and K-rate upon his return. Cole put up solid yet unspectacular numbers during his rookie season while logging the second lowest IP total on this list.

What does all of this mean and which SPs qualified for this list in ’14? Check out part two of this article which should be coming soon to a razzball near you. Until then, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to post any thoughts, questions, or concerns in the comments.

 
  1. CMUTIMMAH says:
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    Haha – silver of suspense for sure, since I don’t care about any of this data… well, I guess I mildly care about 2013, 2014 is key. Pitching isn’t one of those things when a guy has a down year and then is back to being a stud without injury. Usually when they lose it, the consistently get worse until water finds it’s level, which is why I wouldn’t draft Verlander for his asking price… at best I’d take him as a SP 4 or 5, which my drafting strategy would put into the 13-14th round or later.

    There isn’t a “flex seal” for a pitcher whose stats are leaking (barring injury, of course).

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @CMUTIMMAH: Yeah, I hear you as far as being bearish on older pitchers in decline. The idea behind this two-part post is to find the next breakout pitcher though. I put an age filter on these searches which would make it impossible for Verlander to qualify. Even without the age filter, Verlander wouldn’t qualify for any of these lists.

      • james says:
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        @Big Magoo:

        I think you can land verlander that late with ease… he is on my no fly list at all (maybe round 25 plus in a really deep league, but he would be my SP 8 or 9 in a 12 team)

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @james: Yeah, I agree. I only brought up Verlander in response to the above comment. He has no relevance at all in terms of this particular exercise.

        • McNulty says:
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          @james:

          you wouldn’t bid $5 on Verlander to see if he’s healthy again?

  2. Why Not says:
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    Good work!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Why Not: Thanks, Why Not!

  3. Cram It says:
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    My candidate is Drew Hutchison.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Cram It: Good guess. Hutchison is certainly an interesting pitcher going into this season. Is he one of the 11 first-timers to appear on the ’14 list? Stay tuned…

    • GhostTownSteve says:
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      @Cram It:

      He’s shown up on some of my lists. There’s a very aggressive prediction for him over on Fangraphs this morning based on expected rates as opposed to observed. Him and Odorizzi.

      • Cram It says:
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        @Big Magoo: @GhostTownSteve: I believe it. I’m probably a year too early on him. Because I’m usually a year too early on everybody. But he could follow that curve.

        • james says:
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          @Cram It:
          walker

  4. GhostTownSteve says:
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    From Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize economist in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow”

    “A classic application of this approach is a simple algorithm that has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of infants. Obstetricians had always known that an infant who is not breathing normally within a few minutes of birth is at high risk of brain damage or death. Until the anesthesiologist Virginia Apgar intervened in 1953, physicians and midwives used their clinical judgment to determine whether a baby was in distress. Different practitioners focused on different cues. Some watched for breathing problems while others monitored how soon the baby cried. Without a standardized procedure, danger signs were often missed, and many newborn infants died.

    One day over breakfast, a medical resident asked how Dr. Apgar would make a systematic assessment of a newborn. “That’s easy,” she replied. “You would do it like this.” Apgar jotted down five variables (heart rate, respiration, reflex, muscle tone, and color) and three scores (0, 1, or 2, depending on the robustness of each sign). Realizing that she might have made a breakthrough that any delivery room could implement, Apgar began rating infants by this rule one minute after they were born. A baby with a total score of 8 or above was likely to be pink, squirming, crying, grimacing, with a pulse of 100 or more—in good shape. A baby with a score of 4 or below was probably bluish, flaccid, passive, with a slow or weak pulse—in need of immediate intervention. Applying Apgar’s score, the staff in delivery rooms finally had consistent standards for determining which babies were in trouble, and the formula is credited for an important contribution to reducing infant mortality. The Apgar test is still used every day in every delivery room. Atul Gawande’s recent A Checklist Manifesto provides many other examples of the virtues of checklists and simple rules.”

    • GhostTownSteve says:
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      @GhostTownSteve:

      What Kahneman is saying above is that often a small amount of critical data inputs compared consistently generally beat “expert” opinions when making predictions. Algorithmic quantification.

      I’ve been doing this for years. I think it’s part of what Shandler does over at HQ.

      For what it’s worth, I know you were on Kluber last year and had him in the NFBC last year, Magoo.

      • Big Magoo

        Big Magoo says:
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        @GhostTownSteve: Haha, thanks. On the lookout for the pink, grimacing pitchers with healthy pulses only!

        The results are kind of surprising, once I reveal the search criteria. Only one of the criterion could even be construed as being somewhat strict, yet these lists are reasonably short. Tried to cast a wide net. I found the exercise to be very interesting.

      • Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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        @GhostTownSteve: yeah, it’s shandler’s mayberry method.

        • Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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          @Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey: idea being to pretend we lived in a simpler time(i.e.Mayberry)

  5. Chris says:
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    Hey Big Magoo,

    Need some insight.

    12 Team Mix League, H2h. 7 offense cat. and 6 pitching stats.
    First 3 picks are keepers: Stanton, Rizzo & Freeman.

    These are the best players that will be available starting the draft:
    SP: Sherzer, Bummgarden, Kluber, Price, Cueto, Greinke, Wainwirght & Darvish
    OFF: Desmond, Beltre, Brantley, Donaldson & Pence

    I traded last year for the championship run (finished 3rd), my Round 5.

    With this in mind, should I target a offensive player with round 4 (I would pick 10th out of 12), knowing that my next pick is in Round 6, where most likely all aces will be gone. Perhaps I can end up with Cole Hamels. I will have a very good offensive core, but soft SP.

    I know all drafts depends on what is on the board, but after playing on this league for 7 years, I know the managers would go SP heavy in RD. 4 and 5.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Chris: If I’m reading this correctly, your keepers occupy the first three rounds and the 4th round represents the first redraft round, right? I’d take the best player available and worry about filling out your team later on. That would mean any of those first four SPs (Scherzer, Bumgarner, Kluber, Price) or one of the hitters that you’ve listed. Good luck!

      • Chris says:
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        @Big Magoo: ypu understood correctly. thanks

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @Chris: No problem

  6. Tingling says:
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    Hanley and Rendon or Miggy and Cano? Which side do you like in an OPS keep forever league?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Tingling: If your team is built to win now, I’d take the Miggy side. If you’re looking to rebuild, Rendon is a terrific piece moving forward. Without more info, that’s the best advice that I can give you. Good luck!

  7. e says:
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    need some keeper help. Choose 3 please.

    Jose Abreu – rd 9
    Tyson Ross – round 20
    Josh Donaldson – last round (rd 22)
    Jacob Degromm – last round (rd 22)
    Garrett Richards – last round (rd 22)

    Thanks

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @e: Abreu and Donaldson are no-brainers at those prices. The last keeper comes down to who you like the most out of those three pitchers since the penalty isn’t an issue. I’d prefer Richards if healthy, but with the uncertainty in his recovery process, I’d probably go with DeGrom there.

  8. bigbear says:
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    Garrett Richardson and Zach Wheeler are interesting names heading into 2015.

    Phil Hughes broke out in 2014. Does he carry it over to make legitamize him? It’s a word, trust me (or don’t, I’m still using it).

    Curious about your take on Rick Porcello? He wouldn’t fit your model obviously. I wouldn’t bank on a 9+ K/9. But would a sub-3.50 ERA and sub-1.10 WHIP be too outlandish? In Boston, that should net 17ish Ws you’d think.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @bigbear: Agreed on Richards and Wheeler, though I’m a bit concerned about Wheeler’s control issues for ’15.

      Hughes should be solid once again, though I’d expect there to be some regression in his numbers. It’ll be difficult for him to repeat that historically low .69 BB/9 rate.

      Porcello’s a groundball pitcher who doesn’t miss a ton of bats. More valuable in real life than in fantasy, I think. I’d look for an ERA in the high 3s with around 130 Ks from him. 1.25ish WHIP as well. He should have a solid win total though as you mentioned.

  9. Smokey

    Smokey says:
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    Gotta love a guy traded for Nick Greenwood going all cy young

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Smokey: At the time, several front offices were enamored with Jake Westbrook too. It’s always fun to look at those types of trades in hindsight.

      • Smokey

        Smokey says:
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        @Big Magoo: Yea I agree which leads me to think that a guy to look at is Drew Pomeranz. Traded, exactly one year later struggles here and there and similar K numbers and potential. Now I just need to get the fact that he’s lefty figured out.

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @Smokey: I find that Pomeranz/Anderson trade fascinating. A couple of big, young lefties who can miss bats and have elite ground ball rates, but have trouble staying healthy. It’s like the A’s just traded for a slightly younger version of Anderson who’s under team control for longer. Quite the Beane-esque move.

  10. mauledbypandas says:
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    Eagerly awaiting part 2!

  11. Kid A says:
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    I can’t believe you’re projecting Omar Infante for a Cy Young. That’s wild! He’s a real renaissance man.

    Also, I took a Coursera last week called “Speed Reading in the Digital Age”. You should check it out – so useful.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Kid A: Haha, Infante sure is something. About as exciting as day old meatloaf.

      Thanks for the suggestion. Sounds like it might be a bit beyond my level of comprehension, but it sounds interesting.

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Big Magoo: I love a day old meatloaf sandwich

  12. J-FOH says:
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    If this is my brain exercise today then you my friend are razzball’s Richard Simmons

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @J-FOH: I’m even wearing short shorts in the dead of winter too. Weird!

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Big Magoo: not if you’re a razzballero

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @J-FOH: more like a freeballero

          • J-FOH says:
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            @Big Magoo: gross, my Italian dinner plans just got altered to lasagne

            • Big Magoo

              Big Magoo says:
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              @J-FOH: better go meatless if you’re getting squeamish

              • J-FOH says:
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                @Big Magoo: sausage and meatballs are off the table

                • Happy Vegans says:
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                  @J-FOH: two for two

              • Happy Vegans says:
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                @Big Magoo: Bingo!

  13. Lemmingness says:
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    Hey Magoo,

    In a 10 team, 5-keeper points league favoring pitchers (Last year VMart at 525 pts and Kershaw/Cueto at 730 pts, for some scale), which side between Darvish + 7th rnd pick, or Arenado + 6th rnd pick?

    Thanks a bunch

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Lemmingness: In a format that favors pitchers that strongly, I’d probably go with the Darvish side there. It depends how confident you are in his health, but I like him to rebound nicely this season. 220+ strikeout pitchers are extremely rare.

  14. Grays Sports Almanac says:
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    big magoo sells us the whole seat, but we only need the edge. Looking forward to part two!

  15. SwaggerJackers says:
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    The suspense is killing me!

    Will your results match everyone else’s and proclaim Carrasco, Arrieta, Gerrit Cole, and Stroman as the next big thing???

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @SwaggerJackers: Well, Cole did make the 2013 list, so he’d be trying to qualify in consecutive seasons. I will tell you this – more than one of those pitchers make the ’14 list, but not all of them do.

  16. Wake Up says:
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    My guess is Lowrie…but, you can’t have him…consider my heart set…

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Wake Up: It’s all good. I’m targeting Jaso in that draft range anyway…

  17. Wake Up says:
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    Nice idea for a column.

    Feels like I’m missing something here…but, why is it important to evaluate player A independent of his home park if he is playing in said home park once again this year?

    Also, in a 12 teamer who are you looking at drafting in the fourth round?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Wake Up: Yeah, I thought it was a pretty cool idea. You can thank the mustachioed master himself for that one. It’s his brainstorm.

      Huh? Not following you here. Are you referring to something in this post?

      Depends who’s on the board. I’m not averse to drafting anybody if the value is right. I suspect that there’s a master Wake plan behind these questions…

      • @Big Magoo: Who me? I’m just some schmo who tries to crack stupid jokes…

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @Wake Up: Keep em coming. I catch on every once in awhile. You just have to dumb em down a bit for me.

          • @Big Magoo: Yeah right. We both know you’re sharp as a really sharp thing! And so is the stache! !!
            I wasn’t referring to your post specifically but I keep hearing about park factors held against players as if they wouldn’t be playing there again this year. And I don’t get it.
            Anyway, glad you’re writing for the site. Not glad the sour blueberry I made just kicked…

            • Big Magoo

              Big Magoo says:
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              @Wake Up: The only thing that’s sharp right now is this cough that I’m trying to kick…

              The park factors thing doesn’t seem to make any sense to me either. Not really sure what to say about that except that most people have specific angles that they’re looking to play, and are willing to cherrypick and manipulate stats in order to support their opinions. It is what it is.

              Thanks! Just make more… And then more…

    • Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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      @Wake Up: it shows the player in comparison to other players, and what would likely happen if said player was ever traded.

  18. Matt says:
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    I hope I’m not ruining the suspense, but I got a bit carried away…

    I reckon Alex Cobb missed the 2013 list by a single strikeout, and will feature prominenly on the 2014 one.

    K/BB of 3+, GB% of 44+, swst% of 9+ ? And k/9 above 7.5, to exclude guys like Kuroda & 2012 Homer Bailey?

    hmmm, also age being 30 or less? Else 2012 Blanton, Sabathia & Dickey would be there.

    So I predict the 2014 list is: Kershaw, Tanaka, Strasburg, Jaime Garcia (unless IP limit is 50+), Felix, J. Fernandez, Carrasco, Arrieta, Alex Wood, Cueto, Darvish, Teheran, Cole, deGrom, G. Richards, Cobb.

    Greinke, Lester, Cole Hamels all just young enough. Anibal Sanchez as well, though he just missed 7.5 k/9.

    No Price, no Sale due to lack of GB.

    Sabathia would’ve qualified again with his 46 IP if not for age. Gavin Floyd’s 45 IP too, if he got 1 more k/1 less out. They might actually be worth a final round gamble just in case they really are healthy.
    T.J. House (who names their pitcher TJ???) just misses due to being 5 strikeouts short of 7.5/9, Shane Greene just makes the list because his 1 out, 3 walk relief appearance isn’t counted. They’re both also on my list of end of draft targets.

    Gerritt Cole & Alex Cobb to do the Kluberesque jump into #1 starter territory, I reckon. And not just because I had to choose between Cobb & Kluber last year in the draft for my dynasty league, and took Cobb. If I didn’t take Marco Estrada ahead of both of them, I’d be in a much better spot. Made sense at the time, he had the k/9, BB/9 and swstr.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Matt: Great analysis, Matt! It’s addicting once you get hooked on doing these leaderboard searches, isn’t it?

      You’re very warm. I will say this. The main reason that I didn’t like Estrada going into last season and I’m not very high on pitchers like Fiers and Hutchison this year is that they’re flyball pitchers in hitter-friendly parks. Very dangerous.

      What do you think of this exercise? Do you find it useful?

      • Matt says:
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        @Big Magoo: Yeah, it does get a bit addicitive.

        2012/13 Estrada was similar to, though maybe slghtly better than, 2010/11 Max Scherzer. So I was having visions of 2014/15 Estrada turning into the current version of Scherzer/Darvish. Which didn’t quite work out.

        I still do like that sort of pitcher. I’m a sucker for good k-rate, good control and decent swstr numbers, even if they’re flyballers. Fiers & hutchison, also the likes of Kazmir, Shoemaker, Kennedy, Petit, Tomlin if he starts. Might have to be a bit more wary of the more extreme FB guys though. Though I’m still tempted by the likes of Estrada & Odorizzi late. Got too many people to target, not enough draft picks to take them with.

        I do expect Shane Greene to appear on tomorrow’s post, and I think he & House are going to be my #1 options for the final draft pick, especially if either/both look like the favourites for the 5th rotation spot as spring training continues.

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @Matt: Just wanted to let you know that part two isn’t going to be posted tomorrow, but keep an eye out for it in the near future (and two-parters won’t be common for this series – just had too much info to comfortably incorporate into one post).

          I don’t have a problem with flyball pitchers in general, just ones who start half of their games in hitter-friendly environments. I like players such as Salazar and Petit and even wrote posts on those guys earlier this offseason. Fiers, Hutchison, and Estrada are just in tough situations for their skill sets. Kazmir, Shoemaker, and Kennedy are a few interesting names that you mentioned above though. I could see those players having solid seasons.

  19. Oranje says:
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    In a contract/keeper league and I am coming back with the following team:
    Stanton, Posey, Tulo, Rendon, Harper, Hosmer, Strasburg. (These options cannot be changed)
    I have one more spot and I have been going back and forth between the following 2 players: Arrieta or Frazier. In terms of salary, I get Arrieta at $5 and Frazier at $10 but the indecision is based on more than the cost. I only have 2 picks (rounds 3 and 4) in the first 7 rounds of the draft and need my last keeper to solidify my roster. I like Arrieta to maintain his level or improve upon last year and see somewhat of a decline from Frazier (even though I still expect for him to be just outside of the top 5 3B). Yet, I am really struggling with which player makes the most sense for my team moving forward.
    Will Arrieta be Kluber and worth the roster spot or should I complete my infield and keep Frazier?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Oranje: Wow, that is a tough call. In your situation, I think that I’d opt for the potentially unpopular option and keep Arrieta over Frazier there. In a vacuum, I’d prefer Frazier. I think that Arrieta makes more sense for you though. Would you be able to move Frazier for a draft pick or two?

      • Oranje says:
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        @Big Magoo: Thanks for the thoughts. I continue to struggle with the call. Every other week I add one to active roster and move the other to the bench just to see if I like that better. In the end, I think that Arrieta gives me some flexibility with my first 2 picks in that I don’t have to go pitching and can get the best stud left or look for upside picks who I may want to contract. I have been offering Frazier but most teams are already set on their keepers as well. I think he may still be available in the 3rd round…so I may take him then. I will dangle him and see what I can get.

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @Oranje: Yeah, I’d try to dangle Frazier. I don’t think that either Arrieta or Frazier would be a bad choice to keep though. I know you mentioned that your first seven keepers were locked in, but if you had the option somehow, I’d keep both Frazier and Arrieta and let Hosmer go.

  20. sport says:
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    Great write up. Thank you for all the time invested into the research. I have strongly considered drafting 4 or 5 straight SP in rounds 6 through 9/10 just because I can’t decide who to take between Samardzija, Arrieta, Cole, Cobb, Ross, Carrasco, etc. I want them all. Drafting all of them is illogical I know, but it is going to be so hard seeing their names go off the board!

    Can’t wait for part 2!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @sport: Thanks, sport! The danger of falling in love with those players is that while all of them have #1/high-end #2 potential, none of them are guaranteed to produce at that level. I think it’s a good idea to grab a proven ace and then try to get a couple of those guys later on, depending on format.

      • Fuzzy Dunlop says:
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        @Big Magoo: cobb’s been doing it for more than 1 season (or part of one season). shark is close too.

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @Fuzzy Dunlop: Cobb career high in IP at the MLB level is the 166 that he produced last season. Ideally, you want to be able to depend on your ace to throw 200, or close to it. I like Shark too, but he’s been a bit inconsistent at times to rely on as a #1, and he’ll be making half of his starts in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball now.

  21. MyOMy says:
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    All these guys are Free Agent pitchers in my keeper league….please rank in order who I should nab…

    Danny Salazar
    Fiers
    Hutchinson
    Odorizzi
    Duffy
    Porcello
    Trever Bauer

    Thanks ahead of time

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @MyOMy: I like Salazar the best out of that group, followed by Odorizzi and Hutchison, especially if you’re playing for 2016. Porcello is the high floor option there, depending on needs.

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @MyOMy: No problem

  22. MyOMy says:
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    Oh…I should mention I’m a middle of the pack squad who is looking like a top 3 team in 2016 with the cap I’ll have and some nice minors

  23. Ante GALIC says:
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    Big Magoo!!!

    Great read, man! Saw that I was reading the last paragraph and started to cry. This reads better than an Edgar Allan Poe short story! Eagerly anticipating part II.

    Drafted Jansen. Sad emoji. Possible replacements on the wire include…

    A. Rondon
    B. Feliz
    C. Broxton
    D. Casilla
    E. Pomeranz (has dual SP / RP elgibility)

    1. Would you replace him? I can drop Rusney Castillo on my bench in a very shallow H2H seasonal re-draft league. Whom do you like to replace Jansen in the lineup?

    2. Would you just take a ‘0’ for weeks 1/2 until he comes back?

    Cheers,
    Ante

    • Sad Lit Prof says:
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      I realize that may have been hyperbole, but…really guy? Comparing an imaginary sport article on the internet to freakin’ Poe? That’s kind of sad, dont take it personally but…

      simmer down, now!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Ante GALIC: Thanks, Ante!

      1. I would try to grab Rondon or Feliz if possible. Is Castillo your most droppable player? I’d prefer to hang onto him, but if it’s a very shallow league, I would make the switch.

      2. Jansen’s recovery timetable has been set at 8-12 weeks, so there’s a chance that he might not be back until May. I’d grab one of the available closers to fill in.

  24. Schwab says:
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    Hey Big Magoo,
    A keeper question. 8 Teams H2H points league. Can keep players for as long as you want. Each team keeps 15 players. Would you trade Hosmer, Cueto & Kluber for Goldy, Latos and his 1st round pick(2nd overall)?
    Thanks.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Schwab: That’s a difficult call. I’ve never played in a points format before, but I understand that high-end pitchers are very valuable in that format. That being said, Goldy is the best player in this deal, so I’d be inclined to do it. Might want to try a 2-for-1 counter involving Hosmer + Cueto for Goldy first though.

  25. Jax says:
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    Good stuff, BM.

    My guesses for the next breakout season this year would be Hughes, Cole, Arrieta, Carrasco, or Odorizzi

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Jax: Thanks, Jax! Good guesses. Stay tuned for part two.

  26. booya says:
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    How do you rank Hahn, Cingrani, Liriano and Eovaldi?

    Thanks

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @booya: Good question. In a vacuum, I’d probably rank them Liriano, Hahn, Cingrani, then Eovaldi.

      Liriano always produces an elite K-rate and SwStr rate – his only issues are with control at times and durability. Hahn in Oakland is intriguing. I think that he could have a solid year. I think that Cingrani is better suited to coming out of the bullpen considering his lack of secondary pitches, but he still has potential. Eovaldi throws hard, but it’s never translated to production on the field. Yankee Stadium is much less pitcher-friendly than Marlins Park as well.

  27. Yeebus…looks like our Freeman convo has gone viral round here!
    Better to be late to the party than not come…

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Wake Up: I miss 2nd round Freddie already…

  28. Dr. Sauce says:
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    Interesting read; I look forward to Part deax!
    Keeper question for you: ESPN Standard 5X5 head to head, 6 player keeper league (Keep as long as you like), Standard positions (1 Utility, 5 of’s, 5 sp’s, 4 rp’s)
    Locked in – Stanton, Goldy, Cutch
    Nearly Locked in – Donaldson, Arenado (2 – 3b not great but willing to use the utility spot)
    Decisions, decisions – Braun, Kipnis, Javy Baez (I realize there is risk, but I’m kind of a fan), and Aroldis.
    After my 3 locks who are your next 3 keeps? Thanks in advance and props to your writing style and ability … always look forward to reading your pieces.

    Cheers!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Dr. Sauce: Thans, Dr. Sauce! I really appreciate the kind words.

      I’d go ahead and keep Donaldson and Arenado. It’s not ideal to lock up your utility slot prior to the draft, but both of those players are very solid keepers.

      The last spot is down to Braun and Chapman for me. I’m bullish on a Braun bounceback season as long as his thumb is healthy. That is a question mark though. Chapman is the best closer in the game, especially as far as fantasy is concerned. His K-rate is just absurd. Seeing as how you’re required to start 4 RPs, I’d probably lean Chapman as the last keeper. I think you’ll be able to get Baez back in the draft, and Kipnis is a just a notch below the other keeper options.

  29. Schoolboy P says:
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    This article is such a cock tease. I was hoping to get Part Two today!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Schoolboy P: Haha, but isn’t the anticipation the best part? Like I mentioned to a commenter above, the two-part articles will be few and far between. There was just too much content to try to cram into one post. Part two should be out around Tues/Wed of next week. Not too much longer!

  30. sport says:
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    The anticipation is killing me!!!!! When can we see part 2?

    5×5 12 team yahoo roto. Strasburg fell to round 3 so my starters are currently Strass, Arietta, Cole, Corrasco, and Salazar. Really want one of those guys in your part 2 article.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @sport: There were a lot of articles that were previously scheduled to post this past week, so part two got bumped back a week. Sorry for the confusion. Should be posted by Monday or Tuesday though.

      That’s a really strong looking staff. You might see a few of those names appear on the ’14 list. In a 12 team format, you’re in good shape at SP. Nice drafting!

      • sport says:
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        @Big Magoo:

        No problem, thanks for the heads up. I have used a lot of streaming methods in the past and barely get by in the middle of pitching cats. The last couple years this site, especially you and Rudy, have opened my eyes with a new logic in pitching philosophy. Thanks again.

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @sport: No problem. Part two should be up soon, so drop on in. Thanks for the kind words.

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