Pitcher’s Luck: Part Time Starters

A few weeks ago, I looked at the luckiest and unluckiest pitchers that pitched over 180 innings in 2011. Today, I am looking at the pitchers between 120 and 180 IP. These pitchers are starters, but missed some starts in 2011 because of time in the minors, injuries or being shut down at season’s end.

I assumed a league average BABIP and LOB% for each pitcher. There is some evidence that some pitchers are able to have control over the values. Feel free to adjust the ranking if you believe the numbers to be incorrect for a pitcher. Here are the leaders and laggards for 2011 for the 53 pitchers that made the list (a complete list of hitters and pitchers from 2009 to 2011):

Rank Name Luck LOB% BABIP HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP
1 Johnny Cueto 8.8 76.4% 0.249 5.8% 2.31 3.45 3.90
2 Vance Worley 7.4 78.2% 0.283 7.2% 3.01 3.32 3.66
3 Guillermo Moscoso 7.1 67.8% 0.221 6.2% 3.38 4.23 5.02
4 Jair Jurrjens 6.7 81.0% 0.269 8.0% 2.96 3.99 4.23
5 Jordan Zimmermann 6.6 74.2% 0.291 5.9% 3.18 3.16 3.78
6 Josh Collmenter 5.7 74.6% 0.255 7.7% 3.38 3.80 4.18
7 Roy Oswalt 5.5 74.0% 0.316 6.3% 3.69 3.44 3.95
8 Ryan Vogelsong 5.5 80.4% 0.280 8.2% 2.71 3.67 3.85
9 Scott Baker 5.0 79.4% 0.297 8.7% 3.14 3.45 3.61
10 Charlie Morton 4.8 72.5% 0.320 5.8% 3.83 3.77 4.08
44 Jonathon Niese -2.5 67.0% 0.333 10.4% 4.40 3.36 3.28
45 Kyle McClellan -2.5 74.4% 0.265 13.8% 4.19 4.92 4.34
46 Kevin Correia -2.9 69.1% 0.292 12.6% 4.79 4.85 4.38
47 Tim Wakefield -2.9 59.0% 0.274 10.5% 5.12 4.99 4.81
48 Brian Duensing -3.0 66.5% 0.330 11.1% 5.23 4.27 4.05
49 Brett Cecil -3.1 73.3% 0.267 13.3% 4.73 5.10 4.47
50 Randy Wells -3.8 72.2% 0.275 13.8% 4.99 5.11 4.45
51 Nick Blackburn -5.0 70.0% 0.317 14.1% 4.49 4.84 4.32
52 Zack Greinke -5.7 69.8% 0.318 13.6% 3.83 2.98 2.56
53 Chris Volstad -6.6 68.9% 0.310 15.5% 4.89 4.32 3.64

A quick look at some of the pitchers:

Johnny Cueto: On the surface, Johnny looks to regress quite a bit in 2012. He had career bests in BABIP (0.249), HR/FB% (5.8%) and LOB% (76.4%). These numbers, especially the BABIP and HR/FB%, are just not sustainable.

One item that will be keeping his value up is his GB%. It went from 42% in 2010 to 54% in 2011. This increase happened at the same time he increased his sinker ball usage from 31% to 40%.

Vance Worley – He will get plenty of attention going into the 2012 fantasy season. A young pitcher on a good team. For 2012, ignore the Wins and ERA and value him with pitchers that look to have similar K%, BB% and GB%

Jair Jurrjens – Jair had an All-star first half to the 2011 season. That is about where the good news ends. There are some huge red flags hanging over his head besides regression heading into 2012.

Before 2011, his K/9 was around 6.5 K/9. In 2011 it dropped to 5.3 K/9. At the same time, his fastball has gone from averaging 92.5 MPH to 88 MPH:

He is one pitcher to put on a ST watch list and get any reports on his fastball speed.

Nick Blackburn: Nick is an extreme GB pitcher (53% in 2011, 48% for his career), but once a player does hit the ball in the air, it is more likely to be a home run.

Nick main issue for 2011 was his 3.3 BB/9. The number is not horrible, but it is not good when you only strike out 4.5 batters per nine innings. He had both back and elbow injuries in 2011 causing him to miss some time. I would expect nothing out of him in 2012.

Zack Greinke – After spending the first part of the season on the DL, he pitched good once he was back. The results aren’t seen with his ERA (3.83) even though his FIP was 9th best in the majors. Ignore the near 4 ERA and concentrate on the 10.5 K/9.

I expect a nice turn around from him in 2012, especially if the Brewers improve their IF defense. Fielder and Betancourt will probably both be gone. Any player brought in to replace them can’t be much worse defensively.

Chris Volstad – Chris was prone to the long ball in 2011 (15.5% HR/FB) and it led to a miserable season with a near 5 ERA. His xFIP puts his talent level at 3.5. While not a great number, it is still decent and useable in most leagues. Again, ignore the losses and ERA and look to buy low with other pitchers around the 6 K/9, 3 BB/9 and 50% GB rate.




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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.


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