Monday, February 16, 2015

Fantasy Focus: Thoughts On Starting Pitchers

I ranked all of the MLB SP's with WHIPs of 1.30 or less by total PROJECTED strikeouts according to Steamer.  My rationale for this is the 5 standard fantasy pitching categories are Wins, ERA, K's, WHIP and Saves.  Saves are obviously a completely separate issue pretty much limited to Closers.  Wins are a complete crapshoot and WHIP is more stable from year-to-year than ERA while approximately paralleling it. K rates are quite stable, so if you can project innings, you should get pretty close to yearly K's.  When I draft pitching, I draft for things that are projectable, which is K's and WHIP and factor in health if there is something I know about the pitcher.

I was able to find a total of 74 MLB SP's with projected WHIP's of 1.30 or under.  The K leaders in that group were generally not surprising.  The top 5 were Kershaw, Scherzer, Darvish, Sale and Bumgarner.  There were a few names that might surprise you and seem to be unknown to early mock drafters.

#10 Ian Kennedy 186 K's, 1.25 WHIP.
#19 Tony Cingrani 170 K's, 1.30 WHIP.
#20 Mike Fiers 169 K's, 1.20 WHIP.
#23 Marcus Stroman 168 K's, 1.24 WHIP.
#24 Drew Hutchison 165 K, 1.28 WHIP.

Cingrani had some injury issues last year and his health status for 2015 is largely unknown, so I would pass on this one in a draft unless he appears to be completely healthy in spring training.  The rest of these look pretty reliable.  Kennedy gets hurt in drafts by a history of high ERA's but he was in the mid 3's last year and will be pitching in Petco Park again.  On the other hand, that Padres OF looks like it could cause Padres'  pitcher BABIP's to soar.

Here are some pitchers outside the top 20 with WHIP's under 1.20:

#27 Hyun-Jin Ryu 160 K's, 1.17 WHIP.
#37 Hisashi Iwakuma 155 K's, 1.17 WHIP.
#38 Jordan Zimmermann 155 K's, 1.15 WHIP.
#44 John Lackey 150 K's, 1.19 WHIP
#63 Brandon McCarthy 131 K's, 1.15 WHIP.

Valuation of players is different in standard snake drafts vs auction drafts.  In standard drafts, you simply rank your players and take the best available  In this situation, Kershaw would clearly be your #1 ranked pitcher.  In auction drafts, you can buy any player(s) you want, but you have bid against other players and you have a spending cap, usually $260 for 23-26 man rosters.  Even though Kershaw is clearly the #1 pitcher, if you have to pay $8-10 more than you would pay for Max Scherzer or Chris Sale, you might prefer to save the extra money and draft Scherzer or Sale as your ace.  Or you might elect to save even more money and wait to draft a Zach Greinke or Jon Lester or David Price as your ace.  With 74 SP's projected to have WHIP's of 1.30 or less, you can get very good pitching very late in your draft, whether you are in a standard draft or an auction draft.

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