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The Most Overvalued Pitchers

Yesterday, I looked at the most overvalued hitters at every position (sans catcher), comparing my dollar values to the player’s ADP within his position. Today comes the more enjoyable part for me, the pitchers. This is where the most disagreement always lies. If you looked at my LABR team, you can quickly see how my opinions may not match up with many other fantasy owners’ opinions on the pitching side of the ledger! I decided to look at the 5 most overvalued starters of the top 24 starters being drafted, since that would equate to the top 2 starters per team in a 12-team league. In order from most overvalued to fifth most overvalued…

Ricky Romero
ADP- 23
My Rank- 46
Diff- 23

This surprises me somewhat. I like Romero’s skill set. Acceptable walk rate, above average strikeout rate and tons of grounders. But I guess when you post a .242 BABIP, it’s hard to avoid getting massively overvalued. His SIERA of 3.78 was well above his actual 2.92 ERA. Unfortunately, it looks likely that he is going to reverse his trend of improving walk rates, as his F-Strike% hasn’t budged, and remains below the league average. His SwStk% gives us the perception that he has some strikeout rate upside, but he gets a below average percentage of both called strikes and foul balls, so that explains why his K/9 is just barely above the league average. I project a 3.86 ERA, which is actually better than what the Steamer and Bill James systems project.

Daniel Hudson
ADP- 22
My Rank- 38
Diff- 16

This was another surprise as I thought I kinda liked Hudson. I am even projecting a nice strikeout rate spike to 7.6 The problem is his fly ball rate, of which he owns a career 42% mark. Since his strikeout rate is good, but not great, he’s really only excellent in not giving out the free pass. But even his walk rate looks a bit shaky as his F-Strike% was just barely above the league average. All these peripherals mix together and produce a 3.83 projected ERA, which is apparently much worse than fantasy owners are expecting as they draft him as the 22nd starter off the board. The Steamer projections are the only system that projects a worse ERA than I do, but their 4.10 mark shouldn’t be completely ignored.

Ian Kennedy
ADP- 18
My Rank- 31
Diff- 13

I could have guessed this one. 21 wins will do that for a player’s perceived value. He’s not going to repeat a 79% LOB% or the 7.7% HR/FB ratio. His SIERA was 3.44, 0.56 runs above his actual ERA. Not an enormous difference, but enough to notice that he was quite fortunate last year. I expect regression in both his walk rate and strikeout rate, meaning the SIERA rises. His F-Strike% barely budged from 2010, yet his BB/9 dropped a full point. Maybe 2010 was the unlucky year, and he probably did deserve a lower rate, but I would not expect another walk rate of 2.2. His SwStk% was just barely above the league average, but his K/9 was well above the league average. There’s only downside here. I have him projected for a 3.77 ERA, which is much worse than the majority of the projection systems. However, the just added Steamer system, which has performed well in the past, is even more pessimistic than me, projecting a 3.87 mark. So maybe I’m not so crazy after all.

C.J. Wilson
ADP- 21
My Rank- 32
Diff- 11

Oddly enough, I have Wilson worth just 8 cents less than Kennedy in my LABR values. Most of the analysis will simply look at his park switch and project more great things from Wilson. I, on the other hand, see another pitcher who was lucky to post the ERA he did last year and begin by adjusting it to what it should have been before projecting what he will do in the future. With a below average F-Strike%, I doubt he posts another sub-3.0 walk rate, especially after walking 4.1 per nine in his first year as a starter in 2010.

Next, his SwStk% was actually below the league average, yet he somehow managed to punch out 8.3 batters per nine. That has nowhere to go but down. The park change won’t matter since he was posting a below average HR/FB ratio as it is, so I wouldn’t expect that to dip even further below the league average now. And last, as a ground ball pitcher, it’s hard to imagine him continuing to post BABIP marks much below the league average. He has regression written all over him. My ERA projection? 3.71. Same story with the other systems, as they are all well below that mark, yet Steamer once again makes me look like I’m not on drugs after all, as they project a worse 3.76 mark.

Stephen Strasburg
ADP- 16
My Rank- 24
Diff- 8

I cannot believe he ended up here. I was tempted to just skip over him, but since this is a completely quantitative exercise, I had to include him. The thing is, I love Strasburg. He is a joy to watch pitch, his peripherals match his stuff and both match his ERA. Really, this simply comes down to his innings limit. He will be capped at 160, which obviously takes a bite out of his value. Since the only way to do these comparisons of ADP to my value is by valuing only the production of the specific player, I cannot assume a replacement’s stats for when Strasburg is shut down. If you consider the purchase of Strasburg more like filling a roster slot with 160 innings of his stats and then another 40 or so innings of replacement level innings (which you should), than he is probably valued properly.

That said, it would still be worthwhile to point out some potential red flags. First is obviously the velocity. It was to be expected it would be down last year, and it dropped 1.5 miles per hour. Of course, that means he still averaged 95.8. That’s plenty good enough to strike out boat loads of hitters, but it’s certainly a lot less likely that he strikes out significantly more than a batter per inning throwing 95.8 on average rather than 97.3. Hopefully we get a read on his velocity during the spring to see if it has fully returned. Last is his ground ball rate. He posted a nearly 48% mark in 2010, but that fell to just about 38% in his limited innings last year. That was artificially deflated due to an absurd 26% line drive rate which won’t be repeated, but even if you assume 6% of those line drives become grounders, that still leaves him with just an average GB%.