MLB '09: Starters whose luck is bound to change in 2009
For readers who are in leagues with owners who know about some of the more advanced statistics, it might be difficult to get top value on a pitcher simply because he was unlucky with his BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) last year. Here at THT Fantasy, though, we have access to stats (CAPS) that will tell us whether a pitcher got unlucky with his peripheral skills (K/9, BB/9, GB%), something your competitors surely don't have access to.
As an example, most people know that
To qualify for the "Double-Unlucky Rotation," a pitcher's 2008 ERA must have been higher than his QERA (QuikERA, a figure that indicates what a pitcher's ERA would be if calcualted only on strikeout rate, walk rate and GB/FB ratio), which must have been higher than his CAPS QERA. This indicates that not only was he unlucky with one or more of his luck indicators (BABIP, HR/FB, LOB%), but he was also unlucky with one or more of his peripheral stats (K/9, BB/9, GB%).
If you're unfamiliar with CAPS (Context Adjusted Pitching Statistics), it's a stat I invented and then improved upon earlier this offseason. It's a stat that can't be found anywhere else and can give us a much better picture of a pitcher's true talent than unadjusted number. CAPS adjusts each of a pitcher's component stats based on the following factors:
* Past home ballpark
To qualify for the unlucky rotation, a pitcher also must have thrown at least 100 innings in '08, have a chance at a starting role in '09, have a final CAPS QERA under 5.00 (to assure relevance to fantasy leaguers), and be selected by my subjective means (since there are more than five guys who fit this criteria).
Without further ado, the "Double-Unlucky Starting Rotation":
Beckett's bad luck isn't very noticeable in the underlying numbers, but as you can see, his CAPS QERA of 3.05 is a full point better than his actual ERA of 4.03. The original bad luck comes a little bit from BABIP, a little from HR/FB, and a little from LOB%. Put it all together and you get his QERA of 3.23. From there, the drop to 3.05 can mostly be attributed to his GB% being three percent lower than it should be, as well as a pinch of bad luck with his strikeouts and walks.
In '07, his CAPS QERA was 2.99, so Beckett could very well be the best pitcher in the AL in '09.For those who bought Rotoworld's Draft Guide, you'll notice that Beckett was actually my pick for AL Cy Young.
According to MDC, he's currently the 11th pitcher selected on average, the fifth from the AL, and is being taken at the beginning of the sixth round. This is later than is deserved, and he's even further down on ESPN's list as the 16th starter (although he's also going in the sixth round here). He makes a great pick if you decide to take pitchers early. A rotation topped by Beckett,
Unlike Beckett, Myers' bad luck is pretty easy to pick out. He had an 18 percent HR/FB rate, making up a large portion of the gap between his 4.55 ERA and his 4.04 QERA. The gap between that QERA and 3.86 CAPS QERA can be explained mostly by his BB/9 (3.1 to 2.8) but also a bit by his K/9 (7.7 to 7.85).
Myers has a very strong history, so don't let his '08 season deter you. From '05 to '08, his CAPS ERA was 3.46, 3.58, 3.16 and 3.86. Last year was his worst, but at 27 years old and with a history like he has, I'm not worried at all. His CAPS HR/FB trend is a bit worrisome, though: 17.6, 14.2, 13.6, 16.3. Part of that is Citizens Bank Park, but part can also be attributed to Myers, and after four years I think it's safe to say he won't regress to league average. Even if he posts a 14 HR/FB, though, he should still be able to post an ERA under 4.00.
He's currently the 31st starter being taken on Mock Draft Central, toward the end of Round 11, and has lasted as long as Round 15. On ESPN, he's the 51st starter taken, in Round 16.
Note: As Pedro is still a free agent, his '08 home and road park factors are assumed to be neutral. This will change based upon the team he signs with.
Martinez is getting up there in age, but he's not nearly as bad as that 5.61 ERA would indicate. He's still capable of fanning nearly 7.5 batters per game and maintaining respectable walk and groundball rates. He was extremely unlucky with his BABIP (0.329) and HR/FB (16.5 percent), making up a large portion of the ERA-CAPS QERA gap. Going from his QERA to his CAPS QERA, we see that he was aided by a combination of more strikeouts, fewer walks, and more ground balls.
From '04 to '07, Pedro's CAPS QERAs were 3.13, 3.22, 3.49, and 3.21. While '08 was significantly higher, there is some potential upside here because of that terrific past.
Pedro doesn't make the top 71 pitchers listed on the ESPN ADP sheet, and he's the 99th pitcher on Mock Draft Central. That would put him toward the end of the 27th round, drafted only in deep mixed leagues. He's a guy who you could consider at the end of a moderate-depth mixed league and makes a solid sleeper pick in NL (or AL)-only leagues.
Bannister's CAPS QERA has been on the rise for the past three years, moving from 6.67 to 5.09 to 4.85. If he sees anymore improvement, he could become noteworthy in deep mixed leagues.
Bannister is not listed on ESPN's ADP sheet or MDC's mixed league sheet. He is being drafted as the 46th starter in MDC NL-only leagues, at the end of round 16. He could probably stand to be taken a little earlier, ahead of guys like
Robertson was so "bad" in '08 that he lost his rotation spot toward the end of the season, making his final four appearances out of the bullpen. He got incredibly unlucky, though, with his BABIP (0.350), LOB% (64 percent), and HR/FB (14 percent), leading to a 4.97 QERA that was much better than his 6.35 actual ERA. CAPS also sees his strikeout and walk skills to be better than they were as well, resulting in a final 4.70 CAPS QERA.
Since '05, Robertson has posted CAPS QERAs of 4.61, 4.46, and 4.67, putting his '08 figure right in line with the rest. I'd expect some big-time improvement for Robertson's surface numbers in '08, although he'll need to impress the Tigers in spring training to get a spot in the rotation. He has
He's currently the 66th pitcher off the board in MDC AL-only leagues, being drafted in round 21 on average. He makes a great speculative pick here and has a lot of profit potential if he manages to make the Tigers' rotation. Continue to monitor the situation throughout spring training.