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AL Starting Pitcher Z-Contact% Improvers

What do we do to analyze players this early in the season? Focus on the underlying metrics that stabilize quickest and try to spot early changes. While our sample size stabilization points don’t include any advanced metrics, I would bet that the plate discipline metrics, including Z-Contact%, would sit on the low end in terms of how many plate appearances or batters faced they require to reach the calculated stabilization points. So let’s dive into the American League starting pitchers that have improved their Z-Contact% most from last year. Is there anything more illustrative of the quality of a pitcher’s stuff than making a batter miss a pitch in the strike zone?

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Adam Frazier & Chris Coghlan: Deep League Wire

Get out the pom-poms, it’s the first Pod deep league wire of the season! As a reminder, I’ll discuss two players that are owned in 10% or less of CBS leagues.

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Discussing CBS Leagues Most Added Hitters

I struggle enough with pitcher analysis this early in the season, but it’s even more difficult to evaluate hitters. At least for pitchers, we have pitch metrics, such as velocity and movement, along with pitch mix and batted ball distribution that stabilize relatively quickly. We have no such metrics with which to analyze hitters, so it’s difficult to conclude with anything other then “small sample size, expect regression toward career averages” for each hitter. Let’s see how well I could avoid such a phrase as we take a look at the six hitters that have been added the most in CBS leagues over the last week.

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Starting Pitcher Pitch Mix Changes

We know that pitch velocity stabilizes rather quickly and while a pitcher’s pitch mix each game could vary, sometimes wildly, it’s generally consistent from year to year. But often times, pitchers introduce a new pitch or switch up their current pitch mix in an effort to be more effective. Those changes could lead to a breakout if the pitcher lands on the optimal mix. Although we’re still only a couple of games started into the season, let’s take a gander at those starters who have thrown any of their pitches 15% more or less frequently than last season.

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Discussing the Most Added AL SPs in CBS

What do you look for in second-week-of-the-season pitcher pickups? I’m solely looking at quality of stuff improvements, such as increased velocity, a spike in swinging strikes from a guy who rarely induces lots of them, and perhaps a new pitch mix featuring more prominently a pitch that has been effective, but less frequently thrown, in the past. Unfortunately, 99% of fantasy owners are simply picking up the guys who happened to only allow a run or less in their first start. While a blind squirrel will eventually find a nut, it’s not the most efficient path to success. That said, let’s take a gander at which American League starting pitchers fantasy owners are picking up on CBS.

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Buying Shelby Miller

I’m a sucker for velocity spikes. We know that all else equal, higher velocity is better. And when a pitcher makes it to the Majors with certain expectations, those expectations are built upon his current velocity. What if that velocity improves? Well, then we should probably increase our expectations. So when I was reading of Shelby Miller‘s velocity surge during spring training, my interest went from zero to, well, not zero.

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More Batting Order Value Changes

Yesterday, I discussed five players whose spot in the batting order was a surprise, to me at least, and perhaps everyone else as well. I didn’t include everyone though, so let’s take a look at six more hitters whose value is in line to change if these new lineups stick.

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Batting Order Value Changes

As difficult as it is to keep up with during the spring, my Pod Projections reflect a hitter’s expected position in the batting order. For the best projections, they must, as all the counting stat forecasts are affected by a hitter’s spot. And yet even when we think we know where a hitter is going to slot in, when the games finally start to matter, there are always surprises. So here are a bunch of hitters whose spot in the batting order differs from my projection and whose value would therefore be affected meaningfully if it sticks.

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2017 Bold Pitcher League Leaders

Yesterday, I unveiled my bold hitter league leaders, with the acknowledgement that these are a lot tougher to hit than the generic Bold Predictions. The pitching side of the ledger is a bit easier, but still difficult, of course. Given that there is more luck and factors outside the specific pitcher’s control involved that shape his surface results, it’s more conceivable that a non-favorite leads the league in a category.

In an effort to avoid double dipping and naming the same pitcher in two categories, there may have been a slightly better bold choice for a particular category. I opted to come up with different names in each. Also keep in mind that it is difficult to balance boldness with realistic. I eliminated many names that I didn’t think were bold, but maybe you do. I also eliminated names that have no real chance at leading in the category.

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2017 Bold Hitter League Leaders

Every season, in addition to posting my standard bold predictions, I up the ante with my bold league leaders. If you thought nailing a bold prediction was tough, the bold league leaders is even more difficult! Just getting one right is worthy of celebration. Because these are bold, I automatically disqualify players I don’t personally believe should be considered bold. So I challenge myself and it typically causes me to bat .000 (though last year I actually hit one!).

We’ll start with the hitting league leaders in each of the five categories, split up by league.

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