Author Archive

Challenge #2 Follow-Up: BABIP and Weak Contact

The second of last week’s challenges asked you to prove that a low BABIP means that the pitcher induced weak contact. I’m tired of reading that Pitcher X has a .220 BABIP and so that means he has “kept hitters off-balance”, “induced weak contact” or that “hitters have a difficult time squaring him up”. The opposite is equally as annoying, reading that Pitcher Y, sporting a .330 BABIP, is “hittable”. With no evidence ever presented to support such a conclusion aside from the BABIP itself (and perhaps, if we’re lucky, a mention of the batted ball distribution allowed), the claims are meaningless.

All of those descriptions may very well be true, but we still have no real proof of it for any specific pitcher, so it’s all just conjecture. That has no place in fantasy analysis when these statements are made as if they were facts. It’s misleading to the reader and a real disservice.

I’ll climb down from my high horse now and get to discussing the comments.

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Challenge Follow-Up: Brandon McCarthy & HR/FB

Last week, I issued a challenge. If you’re the type to call a pitcher who sports an inflated HR/FB rate “homer-prone”, I asked you to prove that this was not merely bad luck, but skill-related (or a lack of skill). I have been writing about fantasy baseball for 7+ years now and nothing bothers me more than when a definitive claim is made with no supporting evidence. There is a difference between “Pitcher X is homer-prone” and “Pitcher X has been homer-prone”. The former suggests an inherent lack of skill in keeping fly balls in the park, while the latter makes no such commentary on the pitcher’s home run avoidance skills, but merely describes what has happened.

Since it’s clear that we really don’t know for sure what leads to home run suppression skills or a lack thereof, at this point, only the aforementioned latter description seems appropriate in my mind. So Brandon McCarthy‘s early struggles with gopheritis, which has carried over from last year’s issues, was what motivated me to challenge you, as I figured the homer-prone label would start popping up everywhere.

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Challenge #2: Prove that a Low BABIP = Inducing Weak Contact

Yesterday, I issued my first challenge. Sparked by Brandon McCarthy‘s bizarre outing on Monday, I asked you to prove that his HR/FB rate was not bad luck. The challenge led to some great discussion, which is exactly what I had hoped it would do.

Now it’s time to move on to the second, and likely final, challenge. It’s a topic that I am more interested in and has been debated ad nauseam. Of course, I’m talking about pitcher BABIP. We have been taught that pitchers will tend to regress toward the league average, which has sat around .295 in recent years, as hitters actually possess the majority of control over how often balls in play falls for hits. So early on, we eventually came to accept this.

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Challenge: Prove Brandon McCarthy’s HR/FB is Not Bad Luck

In two starts spanning 12 innings, Brandon McCarthy has allowed six home runs. Out of 12 fly balls. For a 50% HR/FB rate. After witnessing the last of those homers in Monday’s game, I Tweeted about it. Because that’s what all the cool kids do nowadays, Tweet, right? After a couple of back and forths, I then Tweeted the following:

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More Starting Pitcher Velocity Thoughts

Yesterday I analyzed the ultra small sample size of one outing when discussing four starting pitchers. But that’s kinda okay because fastball velocity stabilizes quickly and instantly provides useful information. Since I don’t know what else one writes about a week and a half into the season, let’s talk about a couple of more names with regards to fastball velocity.

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Reacting to Early Season Velocity Data

Fastball velocity has seemingly received increasingly greater attention over the past couple of years. Perhaps it’s because it just keeps rising. A quick Google search yielded this interesting article detailing recent trends and confirming that average fastball velocity has risen every year since 2008. For us fantasy owners, velocity is important because a spike is often the precursor to a breakout. So let’s talk about a couple of pitchers and what we have seen from their velocity in the early going. These guys have all started just one game, which is as small a sample size as ever. But, velocity stabilizes very quickly, so it’s still worthwhile to discuss.

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AL Starting Pitchers Just Missing the Cut

Last week, I posted the first iteration of the American League starting pitcher tiers. Naturally, I couldn’t possibly include every starting pitcher, even if they conceivably have the upside to push their way into the rankings at some point. So let’s discuss a couple of names that could quickly make a debut appearance.

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Trevor Cahill & Ryan Rua: Deep League Wire

Baseball in 2015 has finally begun! Well, the version that actually counts has. So it’s time to dig deep and uncover those hidden gems that could lead you to victory. As usual, the deep league wire will include names owned in 10% and less of CBS leagues and usually be players whose value is confined to deep mixed or mono leagues, unless otherwise noted.

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2015 Spring K% Surgers & Breakout Candidates

So, it’s been a busy preseason and I had a list of all the articles I wanted to publish before the season officially began. Unfortunately, I failed. And as a result, Eno beat me to the punch. But I’m going to do it anyway. A whole three years ago, with help from math wizard Matt Swartz, we discovered that spring pitcher strikeout and walk rates actually do hold value and using them could improve projections, even if just marginally. This was validated recently by another math wizard, Dan Rosenheck. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at which pitchers enjoyed a strikeout rate surge during spring training.

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2015 Pod’s Picks: Starting Pitcher

Opening day is finally upon us! I conclude this year’s (condensed) Pod’s Picks series with starting pitchers. If you missed them, here are the infielders and outfielders. The bullish group will only include those I ranked within my top 75 and the bearish only players the consensus ranked within their top 75.

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