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Future SP Disappointments: SIERA Outperformers

Every so often, I like to look at the difference between starting pitchers’ SIERA and ERA marks and rank them to determine who has been luckiest and unluckiest according to the former metric. This is an especially important exercise to do during trading season, both when looking to identify pitchers to trade for and which pitchers you own you should be looking to sell. Today I present the SIERA outperformers, those whose ERA is most below their SIERA marks. These are your potential sell high candidates.

Ryan Vogelsong 6.2 3.5 0.247 84.7% 5.7% 2.26 4.44 -2.18
Brandon Beachy 7.3 3.3 0.206 79.0% 7.0% 1.98 3.96 -1.98
Jeremy Hellickson 6.3 3.5 0.248 84.2% 11.6% 2.65 4.50 -1.85
Barry Zito 5.1 3.7 0.242 75.2% 8.6% 3.24 4.95 -1.71
Jarrod Parker 6.5 4.9 0.265 76.9% 3.6% 3.19 4.85 -1.66
Neftali Feliz 7.8 5.0 0.217 81.9% 7.5% 3.02 4.56 -1.54
Ted Lilly 5.7 3.5 0.224 64.4% 5.5% 3.14 4.62 -1.48
Wade Miley 6.0 1.8 0.268 74.0% 3.2% 2.44 3.84 -1.40
Brandon McCarthy 6.0 2.3 0.297 79.1% 6.3% 2.79 4.13 -1.34
Johnny Cueto 6.0 2.2 0.295 81.1% 6.8% 2.63 3.90 -1.27

As one of last year’s biggest surprises, Ryan Vogelsong is once again defying logic by posting weak peripherals, but managing to keep his ERA below 3.00. His HR/FB ratio is nearly identical at home and away, and his xFIP is rather close as well. The difference is a ridiculous .214 home BABIP and nearly 91% LOB%. There are a couple of factors likely contributing to the low overall BABIP though, but it still doesn’t seem like enough to drive it that low. And of course, there’s no way he’ll sustain that LOB%. His O-Contact% is higher than league average, suggesting weaker contact, while his LD% is below league average and IFFB% above it. That means he probably should post a better BABIP than the average pitcher, but still, his current mark and LOB% is just crazy.

The luck Gods are feeling bad for screwing around with Brandon Beachy last year (2.94 SIERA vs 3.68 ERA) that the pendulum has now swung the other way. His ground ball rate is up, which is nice, but his strikeout rate has taken a dive, while his walk rate is up a bit. He has induced popups at a below league average mark and the LD% is only a bit below league average. His O-Contact% is also barely above league average. So basically, there is absolutely no explanation here besides just amazing luck so far. With a SwStk% surprisingly below league average, he is a perfect sell high candidate.

I attempted to talk about Jeremy Hellickson a couple of weeks ago and he just continues to boggle the minds of stat heads across the world. A high O-Contact% provides a bit of an explanation. He and Vogelsong should start a pitching school. They are like clones of each other right now. I simply have to throw up my hands at this point.

This is why I am not a fan of Jarrod Parker unless it is a very deep league. While he may suddenly show the skills he has in the minors, his ownership and perceived value would obviously be a lot lower if his ERA actually matched those weak peripherals.

Neftali Feliz‘ injury was a blessing in disguise for his owners. They got all the good and he never had the chance to regress and give them the bad.

Too bad Ted Lilly got hurt, he was looking like another prime trade candidate before that.

Based on SIERA, Wade Miley of all pitchers has actually been the best performer on this list. He had a fairly underwhelming minor league career, though enjoyed a strikeout rate surge at Triple-A last year. His F-Strike% is only league average, suggesting his walk rate is due to rise, while his stuff isn’t exactly the swing and miss type. It’s easy to say he shouldn’t have any value in mixed leagues the rest of the way.

I was questioned several times about my placement of Brandon McCarthy in last week’s updated tier rankings. This is why. He’s on a bad offense, which means wins should be tough to come by, and his strikeout rate stinks, so he won’t contribute in that category. Plus, his ERA should be close to 4.00. So basically, he could be useless in mixed leagues quite quickly.

Johnny Cueto is working his magic once again and doing nearly exactly what he did last year. Though his BABIP has regressed as expected after last year’s .245 mark, he clearly hasn’t gotten the memo that the GABP is a home run haven. His overall HR/FB ratio is just 5.9% at home and only 6.8% overall. I think his name value has increased enough that you can get a fairly nice return for him.