Kuroda Fantasy Value Drops With Yankee Signing

By signing with the Yankees, Hiroki Kuroda‘s fantasy value took a huge hit. He has had a few good seasons with the Dodgers putting up numbers near 3.50 ERA, 7 K/9 and 2 BB/9 in the weaker league. The 37-year-old has not had much of a history of time on the disabled list, so he should be expected to throw the entire season.The Yankees get a good starter, but his overall fantasy stats will suffer for a few reasons. He will get a boost to his fantasy value from his teammates, but it will not be enough to offset the downside.

First, he is moving from the National League to the American League. There is probably not much difference in the leagues now in overall talent, but there is some. He will have to face a designated hitter every game instead of a pitcher, too. AL DH’s hit for a triple slash line of .266/.341/.430 while NL pitchers hit a staggering .142/.177/.184. He should expect to see his WHIP and ERA take a hit because of the DH. Besides the extra hits, DHs strikeout less than pitchers (18.1% vs. 32.5%) and walk more (9.7% vs 3.4%).

Other than the disadvantage of having to face a DH, most of the teams he will go against will be from the AL East because of the unbalanced schedule. On average in 2011, the other four teams in the AL East scored 4.7 R/G. In the NL West, Kuroda faced teams that averaged 4.05 R/G game. The competitive AL East could put a dent in his ERA. The dent will grow further by pitching his home games in New Yankee Stadium. It has a 108 batter’s park factor while Dodgers Stadium only has a batter’s park factor of 98. He should expect to see a 10% jump in run scored against him because of the new home park.

Not all is lost with the move to the Yankees. He will have the rest of the Yankee team to help him out. First, the Yankees are generally a good defensive team with with team UZR 20 points higher than the Dodgers in 2011. This will help limit some hits and runs. Second, the Yankee’s bullpen should give him enough support to keep any lead. Last season the Yankees’ bullpen had a 3.12 ERA while the Dodgers had an ERA of 3.92. Finally, the Yankees’ offense should be considered on of the league’s best by scoring 5.4 R/G. He will get good run support and a decent number of Wins.

In all, Kuroda should see a worse ERA and WHIP and some drop in strikeouts because of signing with the Yankees. He should see an increase in wins, but it will not be enough to offset the drop in the other three categories. Good move by the Yankees, bad move for Kuroda’s fantasy owners.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

8 Responses to “Kuroda Fantasy Value Drops With Yankee Signing”

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  1. Aaron says:

    I would have liked to see some more quantification, here. If he starts 30 times and faces the pitcher spot about three times per start then he’s totally about 90 DH AB’s instead of pitchers AB’s. With their difference in hit and walk rates that’s about 33 times on base for the DH’s, 16 for the pitchers. That’s just quick and dirty but it’s easy to do and you could then turn that directly into a WHIP impact by looking at total number of batters faced.

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  2. mtackman says:

    Re NL pitcher AB’s….3 is prob a good estimate but it’s probably less with pinch hitters and double switches.

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  3. JREwing says:

    Yes three pitchers faced per game may be high, but then you’d have to factor in the difference between AL DH’s and NL bench hitters. Plus the number of at bats per game a poor NL hitter gets because he was a defensive substitution, which would be less than 1 per game, but still >0. All in all it does have an effect on starting pitchers ratios and k/9. Relievers not as much because they aren’t as likely to face pitchers at the end of games.

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  4. Dan says:

    Also the DH usually hits in the middle of the lineup, pushing back the rest of the hitters so he will be facing the worst hitters on the team less often.

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  5. Big Baby says:

    His homerun rate would go up. But his BABIP could easily fall. I’m not so sure his ERA adjustment would be so bad as to cancel out the wins. He had 16 losses last year, he might have 6 this year. That’s huge.

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  6. rotofan says:

    Last time I checked the Yankees only played half their games at home, just one of the problems with the certainty in which you project 10% more runs because of the switch from Dodger to Yankee stadiums.

    Kuroda posted a lower ERA on the road than at home two of the past three years. While I would expect Kuroda to give up more runs in Yankee Stadium over the course of several seasons, projecting one season is problematic.

    What is more certain in a season’s sample is the Yankees will produce more run support and blow fewer wins, factors that should boost his win totals.

    And if Kuroda struggles more with ERA and WHIP, it’s more likely to be because of the stiffer competition playing unbalanced schedules, with three strong offensive teams in the AL East and only one dud compared to two duds in the NL West (Padres, Giants) in pitchers’ parks, I suspect Kuroda’s ground ball tendencies will reduce the negative impact of Yankee Stadium.

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  7. Derek says:

    So designated hitters are better at hitting than pitchers? Thanks for the insight.

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