- FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball - https://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy -

Potential K% Decliners

After discovering on Monday that K% and BB% are indeed meaningful for pitchers during spring training, I looked at which starters might see a better K% than initially projected given their spring performance. Today I look at the opposite end of the coin, those who are in for a potential decline in their K% based on what they have done in the spring so far. Again, I compared their spring K% to their Steamer projected K% and looked at the largest differences on the negative end of the spectrum.

Player IP TBF K Spring K% Steamer K% Diff
Happ, J.A. 13.2 68 5 7.4% 17.9% -10.5%
Strasburg, Stephen 19.2 83 14 16.9% 26.9% -10.0%
Rodriguez, Wandy 16.0 75 7 9.3% 19.3% -10.0%
Hamels, Cole 18.0 80 10 12.5% 22.0% -9.5%
Eovaldi, Nathan 15.2 64 6 9.4% 18.2% -8.8%
Bailey, Homer 14.2 64 6 9.4% 18.0% -8.6%
Leake, Mike 11.0 53 4 7.5% 16.1% -8.5%
Bard, Daniel 18.2 85 11 12.9% 21.4% -8.5%
Collmenter, Josh 12.0 57 4 7.0% 15.4% -8.4%
Kershaw, Clayton 18.1 73 13 17.8% 26.1% -8.3%

Note: TBF is Total Batters Faced

Again, we have some very surprising and interesting names on this list. Before jumping again, just a reminder that we’re still dealing with a tiny sample size. Although the study confirmed these spring peripherals do matter, that was on an overall basis and doesn’t mean it has equal significance for every pitcher individually.

Stephen Strasburg– Not the list you want to see his name on if you are a fantasy owner. Pretty amazing to think he ranks number two on it. I have not seen any recent articles with definitive velocity readings, but I believe it is still well below what he was throwing in 2010 before his surgery. Though this might improve his control slightly, it will probably have a negative effect everywhere else. Still, that just means he is less likely to have a 10+ strikeout rate (or the ridiculous 12.2 he posted in 2010), but he can more than get by obviously throwing in the mid-90s. With a 160 innings limit though, he cannot afford to disappoint in the ratio categories since his counting stats will already be hurt.

Wandy Rodriguez– I have not found anything about any arm or velocity issues with Wandy, so do not know if there is an explanation here or if it’s a small sample size thing. He has been pretty darn consistent over the last four years. Any loss of strikeout rate is going to hurt, as his WHIP is already mediocre and his win total will likely be underwhelming given the weak Astros offense.

Cole Hamels– No news to be found either. Man this search is proving futile! On a somewhat related note, it will be interesting to see whether Hamels can maintain any part of that ground ball rate spike he experienced last year. It led to a career best SIERA and xFIP.

Homer Bailey– Not a great way to impress Dusty Baker on the quest to win the fifth starter job. Also cuts my optimism a tad, as I own him in all three of my leagues. As usual, no velocity news, though I did see a snippet that his shoulder is pain-free, which I guess is good to know.

Daniel Bard– Though I do like Chris Sale better (and drafted him in all three leagues), I also liked Bard and drafted him in the LABR mixed league. His spring means more than most given his situation, so it is disconcerting to see such a dip in K%, especially combined with his awful control. This could get him sent back to the bullpen, but it’s not like the Red Sox’ other options are very exciting. I still think the Sox would be best off by at least giving Bard a chance when the games actually count rather than going by a mere 18.2 innings of meaningless spring games to make a decision.

Clayton Kershaw– I found nothing newsworthy of note to report, so I have to assume his stuff and velocity are fine. I wish I had some unique insight and something smart to say here, but just like for Hamels above, I got nuttin’.

So it is clear that it is a lot easier to find news that would explain some of the potential K% surgers. This is why my initial thought was that dramatically higher K%s were more significant than dramatically lower ones. The data did not bear that out though, so it might be worth hesitating before going the extra buck on some of the above names.