Though it’s been since never that I read the The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood I know that Robin Hood was said to have been a skilled archer that stole from the rich to give to the poor. While it sounds well intended, isn’t it still stealing? Wouldn’t that make him a criminal? I just did a quick Google search as to whether he was a thief and, as it turns out, there is quite the public opinion with many taking both sides. Here’s what side I’m taking. Neither. Don’t care. If I remember correctly, I had a teacher in high school that said the real thief was the leader of the country. Apparently he levied absurd taxes upon the common folk and oppressed them when they could not pay. But like I said, that’s not why either of us are here.
Typically my posts are hitter centric. Every now and then I throw you a pitching bone, but for the most part it’s much easier to talk hitter. Well it looks like my pitching bone bucket has one too many bones in it. Something I often focus on with hitters is points per plate appearance. The reuse my favorite explanation, it’s how many points a batter gets every time he steps into the batters box. How about the equivalent for pitchers? The stat I’ve used most over the years is points per start (PPS). How many points does a pitcher get every time he starts a game. This feels like a safe stat to use to compare starting pitchers.
Carlos Rodon has consistently fallen short of the lofty expectations that come with a number three overall pick. His 2015 rookie season wasn’t too bad on paper, but he averaged only 13.2 points per start. 2016 saw that number fall to 11.9 PPS. After that he earned nearly as many frequent flyer points on the DL as Troy Tulowitzki did during his hey day of injuries. As we have all read, Rodon being non-tendering by the White Sox back in December has fueled him to prove he can succeed. So far he is succeeding to the tune of 29.75 points per start. To put that into perspective, last season Shane Bieber finished with a 25.25 PPS.
Rodon does not have the highest PPS. That honor belongs to none other than Jacob deGrom. With 59 strikeouts in 35 innings pitched, this shouldn’t surprise anyone. deGrom’s 31.4 points per start is staggeringly impressive. Right now he is the best pitcher in points leagues. It’s just too bad for him that he pitches for the Mets. His ERA is 0.51 yet he has only two wins in five starts. Seems to be the story of his career. With those numbers he should have five wins which would up his PPS to 34.4!
After deGrom and Rodon is Lance Lynn. I don’t know why I continually ignored my preseason spreadsheet when it told me it was time to draft Lynn, but I’m certainly regretting it right about now. I know they say hindsight is 20/20, but I did have some foresight here and I did nothing with that information. Shame on me. Lynn has 27 points per start. He just got off the IL and I’d expect him to somewhat quickly pickup where he left off.
Coming in at number four is Gerrit Cole with 25.67 points. Cole has been a beast. With 62 strikeouts only Shane Bieber has more (68). Not much to say here considering this really is par for the course.
The last pitcher I want to touch on is Alex Wood. I’ve got wood! And I want to touch it. Yes, I’m sure every baseball writer with the slightest sense of humor has used that line when discussing Wood. Here’s what I wrote about Alex write about this time of year back in 2017.
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Speaking of Alex Wood, he’s got my sundial pointing a high noon. Maybe that’s because I picked him up this week in every one of my points leagues and started him for Monday’s 11 strikeout win. Do you know what I call it when you start a pitcher from the Dodgers in a late game and wake up to find out that he struck out 11 batters? Morning Wood! Click here to see my woody.
I’m not sure how I feel about Wood moving forward. In his five starts so far he has made it past the fifth inning just once. However, he is averaging a little over 17 points per start and a stellar 11.53 K/9 rate. Only Robbie Ray, Jacob deGrom, Chris Sale and Danny Salazar have a better K/9. Alex is a very good pitcher, but his career has been injury riddled, making him hard to trust. If I can erect a decent trade I’d be more than willing to sell. And let’s not forget that Wood goes both ways, having SP and RP eligibility in some leagues.
I feel like I’m in a similar position. With a K/9 of 10 and 25 points per start I jumped at the opportunity to pick him up this week and look forward to starting him for his two-start week this week. I don’t care if one of those starts is in Coors Field. By the way, 2017 was Wood’s best season of his career. Considering he pitches in a very pitcher-friendly stadium I am taking a shot.
Here are the next several names on the points per start leaderboard:
Shohei Ohtani – 24.67
Trevor Bauer – 24.17
Shane Bieber – 23.67
Tyler Glasnow – 23.00
Zac Gallen – 22.67
Corbin Burnes – 22.60
Joe Musgrove – 22.40
Johnn Cueto – 22.23
Anthony DeSlafani – 21.80
Eduardo Rodriguez – 21.50
John Means – 21.17
Freddy Perralta – 21.00
Yu Darvish – 20.67
Aaron Civale – 20.60
Brandon Woodruff – 20.60
Keven Guasman – 20.40
Clayton Kershaw – 20.33
Cristian Javier – 20.25
Danny Duffy – 20.25
Aaron Nola – 20.00
Let’s dig a little deeper than points per start. What would that be you ask? How about points per inning pitched. I’m not sure how valuable this stats is as a whole for comparing starting pitchers, but I was curious, so I ran the numbers. It kinda seems like a better metric for middle relievers. Here are the top 13 or so:
Shohei Ohtani – 5.61
Carlos Rodon – 4.76
Jacob deGrom – 4.49
Lance Lynn – 4.22
Zac Gallen – 4.20
Alex Wood – 4.17
Gerrit Cole – 4.14
Cristian Javier – 4.01
Corbin Burnes – 3.88
Joe Musgrove – 3.86
Freddy Peralta – 3.75
Eduardo Rodriguez – 3.74
Tyler Glasnow – 3.71
This list should look familiar as it’s awfully similar to the leaders in points per start. Some names that appear in the top 25 that didn’t for PPS include:
But like I said, points per inning pitched is only an indicator. In order for it to mean something the pitcher needs to throw a decent amount of innings per game. And by “decent” I’ll go with six innings. You know, the number of innings you need to pitch as a starter in order to qualify for a quality start.
While we are on the topic, let’s dive one stat deeper. This would be points per batter faced. Here’s that top list. Again you will see some very familiar names.
So what does it all mean? It means that I should have drafted Lynn as my top pitcher and then filled in the rotation with Carlos Rodon, Alex Wood, Anthony DeSlafani, John Means and Freddy Peralta. Had I done so I would have a very strong pitching staff. One of the best in fact. And just imagine what I could have done with all of those draft picks I wouldn’t have had to burn on big ticket pitchers. Although as an owner of both Rodon and Wood I am going to try and package them both in a trade offer. I will keep you posted.
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