Pitcher Rankings with Bill James Projections

On Monday, I looked at the top hitters according to the recently added Bill James Handbook Projections. Today, I will see how the projection system sees the pitchers performing this season.

A few items to keep in mind.

1. Again, the projections are provided to FanGraphs by Baseball Info Solutions. Our agreement with them states that the data is only to be on each player’s page and not in one location. If you want the complete data, it can be bought from BIS. Don’t ask for a full list, it can’t be given out.

2. For the rankings, I used Zack Sander’s ranking system to rate the pitchers against all pitchers. Then, I divided the pitchers into 2 lists, starters and relievers. If the pitcher was projected to make more starts then relief appearances, I put him as a starter. Otherwise, the pitcher was grouped in with the relievers.

3. I completed 3 rankings. The first ranking used the 5 values (Wins, K, ERA, WHIP and Saves) as the Bill James Projections reported them with no adjustments. For he second list, I adjusted all the numbers to 200 IP for starters and 60 IP for relievers. Also for the second list, I removed Wins and Saves from the calculations. This ranking represents more of the pitcher’s talent level instead of his role and the talent around him. For the third list, I used my work from last year where I found a pitcher’s fantasy value can be determined from their K% and BB%.

Here are the rankings

Non-adjusted rankings
Starters

Rank Name Wins ERA K WHIP Saves
1 Stephen Strasburg 17 2.68 255 1.04 0
2 Clayton Kershaw 18 2.65 227 1.04 0
3 Justin Verlander 18 3.00 220 1.10 0
4 Matt Cain 17 2.95 188 1.08 0
5 Jered Weaver 17 3.07 187 1.09 0
6 David Price 16 3.13 202 1.14 0
7 Chris Sale 14 3.09 214 1.11 0
8 CC Sabathia 16 3.28 211 1.17 0
9 Cliff Lee 15 3.17 193 1.11 0
10 Kris Medlen 14 2.94 173 1.08 0
11 Cole Hamels 14 3.23 211 1.12 0
12 Felix Hernandez 14 3.18 216 1.16 0
13 Jake Peavy 14 3.20 200 1.12 0
14 Mat Latos 15 3.16 194 1.16 0
15 Roy Halladay 15 3.21 189 1.14 0
16 Yu Darvish 14 3.45 247 1.23 0
17 Matt Moore 13 3.25 232 1.21 0
18 Dan Haren 15 3.47 186 1.16 0
19 Zack Greinke 15 3.45 209 1.22 0
20 Chris Carpenter 15 3.25 157 1.17 0

Relievers

Rank Name Wins ERA K WHIP Saves
1 Craig Kimbrel 5 1.38 109 0.86 39
2 Mariano Rivera 6 1.89 59 0.92 46
3 Kenley Jansen 4 1.55 95 0.93 35
4 Jason Motte 5 2.52 85 1.03 45
5 Joe Nathan 5 2.28 79 1.00 37
6 Aroldis Chapman 4 2.42 98 1.13 48
7 Jonathan Papelbon 5 2.51 81 1.06 41
8 Grant Balfour 5 2.22 83 1.05 35
9 Sergio Romo 6 1.83 75 0.89 16
10 Huston Street 4 2.53 59 1.04 44
11 Fernando Rodney 4 2.77 72 1.17 47
12 J.J. Putz 4 2.29 65 1.00 28
13 Chris Perez 4 2.79 59 1.10 41
14 Rafael Betancourt 4 2.55 65 1.03 29
15 Drew Storen 4 2.50 50 1.11 33
16 Addison Reed 4 2.67 65 1.11 32
17 Joakim Soria 4 2.70 53 1.12 33
18 Vinnie Pestano 5 2.72 89 1.14 25
19 Ernesto Frieri 5 3.04 79 1.21 36
20 Jose Valverde 5 3.04 73 1.22 37

200 and 60 IP, only WHIP, ERA and K
Starters (200 IP)

Rank Name ERA K WHIP
1 Stephen Strasburg 2.68 245 1.04
2 Clayton Kershaw 2.65 205 1.04
3 Chris Sale 3.09 216 1.11
4 Brandon Beachy 3.09 217 1.13
5 Kris Medlen 2.94 182 1.08
6 Justin Verlander 3.00 190 1.10
7 Matt Cain 2.95 166 1.08
8 Jered Weaver 3.07 170 1.09
9 Cory Luebke 3.02 181 1.13
10 Jake Peavy 3.20 190 1.12
11 Cole Hamels 3.23 189 1.12
12 Matt Moore 3.25 230 1.21
13 David Price 3.13 187 1.14
14 Cliff Lee 3.17 172 1.11
15 Mat Latos 3.16 187 1.16
16 Felix Hernandez 3.18 186 1.16
17 Michael Pineda 3.37 196 1.14
18 Yu Darvish 3.45 231 1.23
19 A.J. Griffin 3.24 162 1.12
20 Roy Halladay 3.21 164 1.14

Relievers (60 IP)

Rank Name ERA K WHIP
1 Craig Kimbrel 1.38 101 0.86
2 Kenley Jansen 1.55 98 0.93
3 Sergio Romo 1.83 70 0.89
4 Mariano Rivera 1.89 57 0.92
5 Joe Nathan 2.28 71 1.00
6 J.J. Putz 2.29 66 1.00
7 Koji Uehara 2.25 59 1.00
8 Grant Balfour 2.22 65 1.05
9 Jason Motte 2.52 68 1.03
10 Rafael Betancourt 2.55 65 1.03
11 Jonathan Papelbon 2.51 71 1.06
12 Huston Street 2.53 62 1.04
13 Aroldis Chapman 2.42 88 1.13
14 Mike Adams 2.45 60 1.09
15 Joel Peralta 2.66 57 1.06
16 Jake McGee 2.59 66 1.10
17 Darren O’Day 2.71 54 1.05
18 Addison Reed 2.67 72 1.11
19 Joaquin Benoit 2.75 66 1.08
20 Drew Storen 2.50 56 1.11

Core Talent (K% and BB%)
Starters

Rank Name K% BB%
1 Stephen Strasburg 31.7% 7.1%
2 Chris Sale 27.5% 7.3%
3 Clayton Kershaw 26.5% 7.0%
4 Brandon Beachy 27.8% 8.4%
5 Kris Medlen 22.9% 4.8%
6 Jake Peavy 23.7% 5.6%
7 Yu Darvish 29.3% 10.4%
8 Matt Moore 29.5% 10.7%
9 Cliff Lee 21.3% 3.5%
10 Cole Hamels 23.8% 5.9%
11 Justin Verlander 24.1% 6.4%
12 Max Scherzer 25.6% 7.8%
13 Michael Pineda 24.8% 7.6%
14 Mike Fiers 24.7% 7.6%
15 Zack Greinke 23.2% 6.3%
16 Felix Hernandez 23.3% 6.5%
17 Yovani Gallardo 26.2% 9.2%
18 Dan Haren 21.0% 4.6%
19 CC Sabathia 22.5% 6.0%
20 Brandon Morrow 25.7% 8.9%

Relievers

Rank Name K% BB%
1 Craig Kimbrel 46.2% 9.3%
2 Kenley Jansen 45.0% 10.9%
3 Sergio Romo 30.4% 4.5%
4 Mariano Rivera 24.4% 4.1%
5 Joe Nathan 30.5% 6.2%
6 J.J. Putz 28.3% 5.2%
7 Koji Uehara 24.8% 3.8%
8 Grant Balfour 28.6% 9.7%
9 Jason Motte 29.1% 6.2%
10 Rafael Betancourt 27.5% 4.2%
11 Jonathan Papelbon 30.3% 6.4%
12 Huston Street 26.6% 5.9%
13 Aroldis Chapman 38.9% 12.7%
14 Mike Adams 25.6% 7.0%
15 Joel Peralta 24.2% 6.5%
16 Jake McGee 28.1% 6.9%
17 Darren O’Day 22.8% 5.5%
18 Addison Reed 30.7% 7.5%
19 Joaquin Benoit 28.3% 7.5%
20 Drew Storen 23.6% 7.5%

Notes

1. Looking at the non-adjusted rankings, there is no real surprises. For the relievers, having some predicted Saves was key to getting ranked.

2. One the second set of lists, a few good non-save relievers make the jump into the rankings (Uehara, Peralta, McGee, Benoit, O’Day Adams). With the starters, Brandon Beachy and Michael Pineda make an appearance near the top even though both will have limited innings in 2013 because of injuries.

3. With the relievers on the final list, not much changed. With the starters, several names, Greinke, Morrow and Scherzer, make the list. The third ranking uses no batted ball data and those three pitchers have always had higher ERA than FIP because they give up a bunch of hitss. Also, Mike Fiers makes an appearance.

I did not find as many surprises on the pitcher rankings compared to the hitter rankings. As we get more rankings added here at FanGraphs, I will run this analysis on them and compare them to previous rankings.




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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.


15 Responses to “Pitcher Rankings with Bill James Projections”

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  1. jon says:

    pretty surprising Wainwright wouldn’t make these lists… esepcially given that guys like Pineda and AJ Griffin and Luebke are making it

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  2. Schu says:

    No Dickey!

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  3. Bill says:

    whoa, how did Pineda make that list? Aren’t torn labrum’s pretty dicey to come back from? even if he was healthy I don’t know if he makes this list. Beachy James has only pitching 70ip, I don’t know how he gets that many K’s.

    I have a lot of respect for James, but somehow I have to question whether James is actually putting together this data after awhile, the projections are consistently too optomistic for both hitters and batters.

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  4. Ben says:

    Along with what jon said in a way, no Jordan Zimmermann in the house anywhere?

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  5. Stuck in a slump says:

    I gotta disagree with James on Verlander’s ranking and Medlen. I just can’t see how Medlen will be, or even could be, better than Verlander, add that to the fact that Gio doesn’t break into the top 20 and I’m really skeptical.

    Going back three years Verlander has been the best pitcher in the majors, and Gio ranks as the #15 overall pitcher. I think James weighs the past year’s numbers a little too heavily for my taste when it comes to pitching.

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  6. Brother Fox says:

    So R.A. Dickey — with a 24.8 % K rate, a 5.8 % BB rate, a 2.73 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP, 20 Wins, and 230 K’s — doesn’t make this list.

    How does that work?

    And why are Wins, ERA, and WHIP — team-dependent metrics — even factored into a list ranking pitchers? Oh, that’s right…this is fantasy baseball, not the real thing. Even so, why is Dickey omitted, since his numbers in the fantasy categories crush the majority of the pitchers who made these lists? Is Bill James really an anti-knuckleball analyst? Wow. So much for “advanced metrics.” And, fantasy or not, Zimmerman says:

    “Also for the second list, I removed Wins and Saves from the calculations. This ranking represents more of the pitcher’s talent level instead of his role and the talent around him.”

    You removed Wins and Saves but left ERA and WHIP, and that eliminates the factor of the talent around him? Cue the Rod Serling narration:

    “You’re on a popular fantasy baseball website, reading a ranking of Major League pitchers…but this is no ordinary fantasy site, and these are no ordinary rankings…for you’ve just crossed over into…the 1960’s.”

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  7. ThirteenOfTwo says:

    Uh, wow. James thinks Tom Wilhelmsen is going to get more saves than all but five of the relievers in the top 20, and he didn’t even make the list? That’s a weird projection, too… I wonder why he thinks the K rate is going to fall below any of Tom’s previous years and the BB rate is going to climb back to 2011 levels? The BABIP and the HR/9, OK, I can see why you’d regress those up, but why the strikeouts?

    Huh.

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  9. Dan says:

    So Dan Haren could be a super buy-low, then? I assume he’s gonna fall big time in most 2013 drafts compared to 2012. I didn’t see much of him this season to know if it was mostly his back that plagued him, or if there was real skill deterioration.

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