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Players ottoneu Loved (and Hated): SP Edition

Posted By Chad Young On December 11, 2012 @ 8:15 am In Ottoneu,Rankings,Uncategorized | No Comments

After weeks of reviewing hitters, position by position by position, it is time for me to offer up my response to Zach Sanders’s rankings of starting pitchers.

As with Zach’s rankings, we are limiting ourselves to pitchers with more than 140 IP this year, giving us a list of 101 starting pitchers, including a few whose values varied greatly between 5×5 and linear weights points leagues. One slight change from hitters to pitchers – because an IP is so valuable in linear weights (almost every team should be using up all 1500 IP over the season in an ottoneu league), we are going to rank pitchers based on Points/IP, not based on total points.

ottoneu’s True Loves
Five SP ranked at least 30 spots higher in linear weights than they did in 5×5 and, not surprisingly, four of ottoneu’s favorite pitchers (relatively speaking) are players who posted very low HR/9. Josh Johnson (61st in 5×5, 23rd in linear weights), Chad Billingsley (58th, 26th), and Edinson Volquez (75th, 45th) all posted HR/9 below .7 and Kevin Millwood (87th, 57th) was not far behind (.73). And linear weights will absolutely punish a pitcher who gives up too many HR. Here’s an example of a bad inning from two different pitchers:

Pitcher A: 1 IP, 1 K, 4 BB, 3 ER, 0 H, 0 HR
Pitcher B: 1 IP, 1 K, 0 BB, 1 ER, 1 H, 1 HR

In 5×5, you clearly prefer the results from Pitcher B (WHIP of 1, ERA of 9) compared to Pitcher A (WHIP of 4, ERA of 27). But in linear weights? The four walks hurt, but the HR allowed by Pitcher B is a killer. Total points for A = -2.6; total points for B = -5.5.

All three of these guys had their own issues in 2012, including low win totals (for all four), high walk rates (for Volquez and Millwood), average-to-below average K/9 (for Johnson, Billingsley and Millwood), and more, but simply by keeping the ball in the yard, they kept their ottoneu values relatively high.

The fifth riser for ottoneu was Francisco Liriano (92nd, 59th) and his increased value seems to have more to do with bad luck in 5×5 than anything he did right in linear weights. His high K/9 (9.59) certainly helped, but his BB/9 (5.00) and HR/9 (1.09) did him no favors. Instead, he appeared near the very bottom of Sanders’s list and near the middle of mine largely due to a terrible LOB%. His 66.5% LOB% was the fourth lowest on the list and all those extra runners coming around to score beat up his ERA to the point that it was a full run higher than his FIP (5.34 vs. 4.34). Linear weights will always value a pitcher closer to his FIP than his ERA. In fact, of the 15 pitchers with an FIP at least half a run better than their ERA, all 15 posted higher rankings in ottoneu than 5×5.

ottoneu’s Worst Enemies
So who did ottoneu not love? For starters, guys who can’t get Ks. Of the four pitchers with rankings at least 30 spots worse in ottoneu than 5×5, three had K/9 below 6.5. Jason Vargas (33rd, 81st), Jeremy Hellickson (42nd, 75th), and Clayton Richard (57th, 89th) all put up double digit wins, all maintain sub-4.00 ERA, but all posted unimpressive strike out numbers. Even with low HR/9 numbers (which none of these three had), the lack of strike outs severely limits upside in pitchers. Another A vs. B, this time over a season.

If you had two pitchers throwing the same number of innings with all the same stats EXCEPT for one pitcher with a K/9 of 8 and the other with a K/9 of 7, over the course of 180 innings, the former will be worth 40 more points than the latter. Instead, if you compare Richard’s 4.4 K/9 to Liriano’s 9.59, you are talking about Liriano having a more-than-one-point-per-IP advantage, assuming all the other numbers are the same. That is an awfully big gap to overcome.

The fourth pitcher ottoneu disliked is a reminder of an issue mentioned earlier — ottoneu despises HR-prone pitching. Phil Hughes (47th, 85th) post a 1.65 HR/9, outdone only by Ervin Santana‘s 1.97 (Santana, by the way, ranked 83rd in 5×5 and, despite having no room to fall, still fell to 97th in ottoneu). His other numbers weren’t terrible, including 7.76 K/9, 2.16 BB/9, and a relatively low BABIP (.285), all of which are things ottoneu should reward. But if you are giving up a HR every time out, not much else matters. A pitcher who goes out and strikes out the side but gives up a HR in the middle has just LOST points for your team (7.4 for the innings + 6 for the Ks – 14.9 for the HR leaves you with -1.5 total). A pitcher who strikes out the side but in the middle walks four players has done BETTER for you (7.4 for the inning + 6 for the Ks – 12 for the BBs leaves you with 1.4).

ON Rank Sanders Rank Diff Name Pts IP Pts/IP
1 6 5 Gio Gonzalez 1146 199.1 5.76
2 3 1 Clayton Kershaw 1297 227.2 5.71
3 16 13 Stephen Strasburg 877 159.1 5.51
4 2 -2 Justin Verlander 1312 238.1 5.51
5 4 -1 David Price 1133 211 5.37
6 10 4 Felix Hernandez 1243 232 5.36
7 1 -6 R.A. Dickey 1202 232.2 5.18
8 28 20 Yu Darvish 981 191.1 5.13
9 5 -4 Matt Cain 1109 219.1 5.06
10 12 2 Chris Sale 966 191 5.06
18 24 6 Wade Miley 934 186 5.02
11 20 9 Zack Greinke 1060 212.1 5.00
12 8 -4 Cole Hamels 1070 215.1 4.97
13 19 6 Cliff Lee 1033 211 4.90
14 36 22 Adam Wainwright 967 198.2 4.88
15 14 -1 CC Sabathia 969 200 4.85
16 23 7 Max Scherzer 904 187.2 4.83
17 9 -8 Johnny Cueto 1045 217 4.82
28 32 4 Lance Lynn 811 169 4.80
19 7 -12 Jered Weaver 902 188.2 4.79
20 13 -7 Madison Bumgarner 995 208.1 4.78
21 41 20 Jarrod Parker 855 181.1 4.72
22 15 -7 James Shields 1072 227.2 4.72
23 61 38 Josh Johnson 897 191.1 4.69
24 11 -13 Kyle Lohse 989 211 4.69
25 43 18 Jeff Samardzija 815 174.2 4.68
26 58 32 Chad Billingsley 690 149.2 4.62
27 39 12 Doug Fister 745 161.2 4.62
29 25 -4 A.J. Burnett 930 202.1 4.60
30 17 -13 Jake Peavy 1003 219 4.58
31 22 -9 Jordan Zimmermann 893 195.2 4.57
32 31 -1 Ryan Dempster 788 173 4.55
47 62 15 Ross Detwiler 685 151 4.54
33 29 -4 Ryan Vogelsong 852 189.2 4.50
34 21 -13 Mat Latos 940 209.1 4.50
35 26 -9 Jon Niese 835 190.1 4.39
36 56 20 Anibal Sanchez 854 195.2 4.38
37 49 12 Edwin Jackson 823 189.2 4.35
38 38   Tim Hudson 773 179 4.32
39 60 21 Matt Moore 764 177.1 4.31
40 48 8 Trevor Cahill 862 200 4.31
41 67 26 Lucas Harrell 832 193.2 4.31
42 64 22 Roy Halladay 672 156.1 4.30
43 30 -13 Yovani Gallardo 874 204 4.28
44 18 -26 Hiroki Kuroda 939 219.2 4.28
45 75 30 Edinson Volquez 766 182.2 4.20
46 54 8 C.J. Wilson 846 202.1 4.19
48 37 -11 Chris Capuano 826 198.1 4.17
68 65 -3 Kyle Kendrick 603 145.2 4.15
49 51 2 James McDonald 708 171 4.14
50 40 -10 Paul Maholm 778 188 4.14
52 59 7 Wandy Rodriguez 828 203.2 4.07
59 92 33 Francisco Liriano 606 149.1 4.06
51 34 -17 Homer Bailey 840 208 4.04
53 44 -9 Mike Minor 720 179.1 4.02
80 85 5 Luis Mendoza 584 146 4.00
54 53 -1 Bartolo Colon 608 152.1 4.00
55 72 17 Aaron Harang 715 179.2 3.99
56 27 -29 Matt Harrison 846 213.1 3.97
57 87 30 Kevin Millwood 632 161 3.93
60 68 8 Joe Blanton 740 190.1 3.89
58 74 16 Jake Westbrook 677 174.2 3.89
61 35 -26 Mark Buehrle 782 202.1 3.87
62 55 -7 Scott Diamond 668 173 3.86
63 91 28 Tim Lincecum 716 186 3.85
64 45 -19 Ian Kennedy 801 208.1 3.85
65 50 -15 Tommy Milone 727 190 3.83
66 46 -20 Bronson Arroyo 770 202 3.81
67 81 14 Bud Norris 640 168.1 3.81
69 80 11 Ricky Nolasco 721 191 3.77
70 84 14 Josh Beckett 641 170.1 3.77
71 88 17 Jon Lester 765 205.1 3.73
72 93 21 Justin Masterson 768 206.1 3.73
82 71 -11 Kevin Correia 593 160.2 3.70
73 52 -21 Wei-Yin Chen 704 192.2 3.66
74 82 8 Felix Doubront 581 161 3.61
75 42 -33 Jeremy Hellickson 638 177 3.60
76 76   Joe Saunders 625 174.2 3.59
77 70 -7 Gavin Floyd 598 168 3.56
78 66 -12 Dan Haren 627 176.2 3.56
79 69 -10 Travis Wood 553 156 3.54
83 63 -20 Derek Holland 606 171.2 3.54
81 33 -48 Jason Vargas 761 217.1 3.51
84 73 -11 Barry Zito 636 184.1 3.45
85 47 -38 Phil Hughes 648 191.1 3.39
86 79 -7 Clay Buchholz 636 189.1 3.36
87 96 9 Rick Porcello 583 176.1 3.31
88 78 -10 Tommy Hanson 575 174.2 3.30
89 57 -32 Clayton Richard 711 218.2 3.26
90 86 -4 Mike Leake 582 179 3.25
91 95 4 Jordan Lyles 442 141.1 3.13
92 98 6 Luke Hochevar 578 185.1 3.12
93 89 -4 Ivan Nova 518 170.1 3.05
94 90 -4 Bruce Chen 565 191.2 2.96
95 77 -18 Blake Beavan 438 152.1 2.88
100 94 -6 Jeremy Guthrie 461 169.1 2.73
96 99 3 Ubaldo Jimenez 479 176.2 2.72
99 100 1 Randy Wolf 402 149.1 2.70
97 83 -14 Ervin Santana 465 178 2.61
98 101 3 Ricky Romero 469 181 2.59
101 97 -4 Henderson Alvarez 453 187.1 2.42

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