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Largely Irresponsible Leaderboard: Spring Training Pitchers

Over each of the past three Mondays, the present author — who has written the majority of what follows while seated alongside his shockingly loquacious grandfather — has published a largely irresponsible leaderboard of regressed pitching leaders from spring training so far. This particular Monday, the author has produced another of those same kind of leaderboards — in this case, such as are current through Sunday, March 24th.

As noted last week, the existence of these leaderboards is predicated on three conditions, as follow:

(a) Spring-training stats don’t appear to be very predictive of regular-season stats; but

(b) The return of baseball is exciting, and invites consideration of some sort; and

(c) Research suggests that, of all spring-training stats, pitcher strikeouts and (to a lesser degree) walks are probably the closest thing to predictive.

Below is the current SCOUT leaderboard for all spring-training pitchers. SCOUT- combines regressed strikeout and walk rates in a kwERA-like equation to produce a number not unlike ERA-, where 100 is league average and below 100 is better than average. Note that xK% and xBB% stand for expected strikeout and walk rate, respectively.

Player Team G GS IP TBF K BB xK% xBB% SCOUT-
James Shields KC 5 5 20.2 74 24 0 32.4% 4.5% 55
Max Scherzer DET 5 5 20.0 76 24 1 31.6% 5.0% 59
Drew Hutchison TOR 3 3 9.2 36 16 1 32.0% 6.8% 63
Drew Pomeranz OAK 7 0 11.0 49 18 2 31.3% 6.8% 64
Lance Lynn STL 4 3 11.1 51 19 4 32.2% 7.9% 65
Alex Cobb TB 3 3 11.2 46 16 1 29.3% 6.4% 68
Joaquin Benoit SD 7 0 6.1 25 12 1 29.2% 7.4% 71
Taylor Jordan WSH 5 3 15.0 65 18 1 27.1% 5.5% 72
Edwin Jackson CHC 4 4 14.0 64 18 2 27.3% 6.1% 73
Justin Masterson CLE 5 5 19.0 71 20 4 28.2% 7.0% 73

Here’s a second leaderboard — in this case of the top-10 spring-training pitchers to have also recorded starts in at least half their appearances:

Player Team G GS IP TBF K BB xK% xBB% SCOUT-
James Shields KC 5 5 20.2 74 24 0 32.4% 4.5% 55
Max Scherzer DET 5 5 20.0 76 24 1 31.6% 5.0% 59
Drew Hutchison TOR 3 3 9.2 36 16 1 32.0% 6.8% 63
Lance Lynn STL 4 3 11.1 51 19 4 32.2% 7.9% 65
Alex Cobb TB 3 3 11.2 46 16 1 29.3% 6.4% 68
Taylor Jordan WSH 5 3 15.0 65 18 1 27.1% 5.5% 72
Edwin Jackson CHC 4 4 14.0 64 18 2 27.3% 6.1% 73
Justin Masterson CLE 5 5 19.0 71 20 4 28.2% 7.0% 73
C.J. Wilson LAA 5 5 21.2 96 28 8 29.2% 8.2% 73
Ivan Nova NYY 5 5 19.2 80 21 2 26.3% 5.4% 74

Finally, here are some notes of various utility: