Tag Archive | "Statistic"

Yovani Gallardo And The No “K” Corral

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Yovani Gallardo And The No “K” Corral

Posted on 08 May 2013 by Will Emerson

Sometimes you may not notice certain things about certain players because you don’t pay attention to their every at bat, inning pitched, or whatever. Even in this wonderful age, where so much information is at our fingertips at virtually all times, things can slip past and go unnoticed to the baseball-loving masses. I mean, sure, if it is a “superstar” that is struggling mightily or a mighty struggler producing like a “superstar” then, yeah, the media and talking heads will notice and sort of force feed this information down our proverbial throats. However, for the majority of players, you know the tweeners or those on the cusp of stardom or, for that matter, mediocrity, certain statistics or information can be widely missed. All of this, as you should have guessed from the title, brings to me to the ever talented, Yovani Gallardo.

Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers, must frustrating pitcher ever?

First, let me set the scene, even though many of you reading this are probably familiar with YoGa’s tale. Yovanni Gallardo broke into the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007, with ace-like potential. A young stud ready to become the Brewers’ ace of the future. Well, Yovani has never quite made the jump from very good to superstardom. Gallardo has been very solid in his almost six (he missed almost all of 2008) major league seasons with Milwaukee. Gallardo has not posted an ERA over four since coming onto the scene, however he also has not posted an ERA below 3.52 in the majors. Okay, well, YoGa did have an ERA of 1.88 in ’08, but that was in only four starts, so I am not really going to count that, if you don’t mind. Of course, as you may also know, I don’t hold complete faith in the statistic that is ERA, so to really paint you a picture, his SIERA has fallen between 3.22 and 4.08 in those seasons. Surprisingly, that 4.08 SIERA was during that extremely short ’08 season, so again, I don’t hold much stock in that year’s numbers. Regardless, you can kind of see that Gallardo was decent, solid, or any number of synonyms for decent or solid, but never quite made the leap to stardom. Many probably thought of Yovani as an ace coming into 2013 and, to be fair, he is the Brewer’s ace. Gallardo, definitely was thought of as a guy who was very close to becoming that breakout stud picther. Gallardo has been better than a great deal of starting pitchers in his career, that is for darned sure. Gallardo’s, ERAs, WHIPs, FIPs and K/9s have regularly been a good deal ahead of the league averages each season that he has pitched. Still, Yovani was not quite in that first tier of starting pitchers and there were still folks waiting for a big breakout season from the Brewers’ ace.

The Brewers tried to stack the cards in their favor, by adding Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to their rotation, which would definitely take some pressure off of young Gallardo, where he would not be expected to carry the rotation on his back. Now those guys are gone and the “ace” label was now, without question, affixed to Gallardo in Milwaukee. So would this be the breakout season? Sure, Yovani does have control issues and little lapses at times, but every picther does, at least every now and then, right? Well, fast forward to today. Gallardo, possibly poised to take the next step, has struggled a bit in this young 2013 season.  Gallardo’s current ERA is 4.25, with a WHIP of 1.47, which of course will not tell us the whole story. The SIERA at 4.48 does give one pause here though. Seems like his ERA is pretty much an accurate depiction of Gallard’s season thus far. Now, it is early in the season, so generally I would not be ready to push the panic button on Yovani just yet. However, here is the thing, regardless of those fluctuating ERAs or WHIPs, bits of wildness here and there, or anything else that could be simply attributed to a slow start, my main concern falls more with Gallardo’s strikeouts, or lack thereof.

See, a lot of mistakes can me covered up/ fixed by a good strikeout picture and this tried and true mantra has certainly applied to YoGa throughout his career. Yovani Gallardo is a strikeout pitcher. Well, perhaps it should be was? Yovani Gallardo, was a strikeout pitcher. Below are YoGa’s K/9 numbers for his career coming into 2013:

2007- 8.24

2008- 7.50*

2009- 9.89

2010- 9.73

2011- 8.99

2012- 9.00

So basically throught his career Gallardo could generally be counted on to strikeout roughly a batter per inning pitched. That, right there, is a good strikeout pitcher, folks! So, what the heck (pardon my French) is happening now?

Gallardo, went into Monday night’s start not only having been very hittable in his first five starts, but posting a K/9 of 5.28. In fact in four of his first five starts, Gallardo struck out three or fewer batters. Could this be a cause for concern? Well, kind of depends on why this is happening, I suppose. First place I look, when I notice a big strikeout drop is  velocity. in 2010, Gallardo’s average fastball was clocked at 92.6. It was the exact same in 2011. In 2012, it dropped almost a mile per hour, to 91.7. This year? Another drop of about a mile per hour on his average fastball, to 90.6. All of his other pitches have also dropped roughly the same amount in velocity. I am not sure this drop should be a huge concern just yet, as it is still early in the season and YoGa may need to still work the arm out a bit. I am not entirely sure, in that regards, but here is another interesting nugget, Gallardo’s four seam fastball percentage thus far in 2013 is 31.9%, which is almost ten precent less than his percentage last year. Gallardo has instead been going to the two seamer much more than he has in the past, 25.4% in ’13 as opposed to 14.5% in ’12.  So, is it possible, that Gallardo is not as confident in the four seamer and or is not fooling many hitters with his two seamers? Or maybe he is just not fooling hitters, much at all? With any of his pitches? Batters are making contact on just about 75% of Yovani’s pitches they chase out of the zone. Now, I don’t have any data with how hard these balls have been hit, but considering this percentage was 65% last year and has only been higher than that once in his previous six seasons, I think we can make the general assumption that Yovani is just not baffling hitters nearly as much as he has been in the past.

Now, again, it is early and maybe this is absolutely something that can be worked on and adjusted. Heck (there’s that potty mouth of mine again), maybe it is just an early season slump that is not indicative of how the season will pan out for Gallardo. The sample size is very small and it is always dangerous to read much into early season numbers, but I think you can see some things that may bear monitoring with Gallardo as the season progresses. Gallardo did put together a very good outing on Monday, against the Pirates, and while I don’t see updated pitch data from that game, it should be pointed out that in his previous start against the Padres, his average fastball was the fastest it has been all season, at 91.4%. Interestingly, in the Padres start, Gallardo threw far more changeups than any other previous 2013 start, but also only struckout two batters, while walking five, so not sure what is really going on with Yoga. Hopefully Monday’s outing, in which he finished by striking out three of the last five batters he faced, will be more indicative of things to come for Gallardo, even if those three batters were Gaby Sanchez, Clint Barmes and Jonathan Sanchez.

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Sabermetric Mining – Leverage Index

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Sabermetric Mining – Leverage Index

Posted on 07 September 2012 by Blake Murphy

With the baseball regular season winding down, fantasy owners have very little time left to make appreciable gains in the standings. With rosters expanded, out-of-contention teams experimenting, and injuries shutting players down early, September baseball does not always resemble what we see from April through August. Thus, it can be difficult, albeit valuable, to mine for advantages this late in the fantasy season, especially with most trade deadlines having long since passed.

With that in mind, today’s Sabermetric Mining piece will look toward next season a bit more than usual, although there are still practical rest-of-season implications for save chasers. Today, we will examine pLI, or Leverage Index, a statistic that can be used to identify how relief pitchers are deployed and hopefully give us insight into their future saves potential.

The Stat
pLI – Leverage Index is an index of how important a game situation is. Based on the game situation (inning, score, outs, etc), it assigns a grade to how important the situation is when a pitcher pitches, across the totality of their appearances. The higher the Leverage Index, the more the game is “on the line,” when that pitcher is on the mound. A pLI of 1 is a neutral situation, while roughly 10% of situations have an LI of 2 and 60% have an LI of less than 1, per Fangraphs.

inLI – This is Leverage Index broken down to more specific situations, in this case only the LI when a pitcher starts an inning. This is generally a good indicator for closer usage, since few managers will still deploy their closer at any time except the start of a new inning.

gmLI – This is Leverage Index broken down to just when a pitcher enters a game, and thus more often includes runners on base. This is generally a good indicator for identifying relievers that managers trust a great deal as their “firefighters” so to speak, brought in to handle tough situations.

How To Use
Unfortunately with Leverage Index, we are doing an analysis that involves intuition, logic, and attempting to predict the actions of sometimes irrational managers. I won’t get on a tangent about managing to the save rule, but you will soon notice that if a closer is the best reliever on a team, they are sometimes deployed sub-optimally based on game situations.

With that said, we can use LI to attempt to predict future closers. The logic here is that if a manager trusts a reliever in high-leverage situations, they should, in theory, be in line for the closing gig should it open up. It can also help us to identify closers that appear to be closers in name only, those whom managers do not trust a great deal. These are closers that are likely to be replaced with a string of poor performances or with a manager change.

Again, we cannot take pLI as a clear ordering of the bullpen roles. Managers are a funny breed when it comes to bullpen usage, plus we can introduce unintended bias when using a catch-all like pLI due to the deployment of handedness specialists, ground ball specialists, and more, whereby a pitcher can be deployed for a particular skill rather than his overall effectiveness.

Given that we are taking pLI as only a rough indicator of bullpen hierarchy, it suffices as a general means of trying to predict future save opportunities. Our assumption will be that, for the most part, a high pLI or gmLI is indicative of a manager’s trust and thus, a manager’s likelihood of promoting that player to the closer’s role if the opportunity opens up.

Vinnie Pestano – Pestano has long been thought to be a potential closer-in-waiting thanks to strong success, a high strikeout rate, and great peripheral numbers. For the second year in a row, Pestano has a large pLI (1.80) indicating he pitches in situations that are 80% more influential than a neutral situation, on average. He has a gmLI of 1.82, further indicating that he usually enters the game in these high-leverage situations, rather than creating them due to poor performance. His exLI, which I did not explain but is the average LI when a pitcher exits the game, is 1.52, highlighting Pestano’s success in lowering the leverage of situations, on average from 1.82 to 1.52. Pestano is the ultimate firefighter and would make a great closer should Chris Perez stumble in the role.

Addison Reed – Reed is currently the closer, so this is not necessarily in the spirit of the analysis, but it is worth pointing out that Reed leads all relievers with a 1.99 gmLI and is second to Jonathan Broxton with a 2.09 pLI. Basically, Reed is being deployed more optimally than any other closer in baseball. His 4.28 ERA is inflated by some early-season struggles, and it’s clear from these numbers that he has the complete trust of manager Robin Ventura.

Josh Roenicke – There are multiple pitchers that fit this same narrative, but I chose Roenicke because as a prospect he was identified as a potential future closer. This year, Roenicke has a 2.67 ERA over 81 innings, which would lead some to tap him as the potential heir apparent behind Rafael Betancourt. Alas, beyond his 4.43 FIP we also see that Roenicke simply does not have the trust of his manager, checking in with a miniscule 0.67 pLI and a 0.64 gmLI. Even worse, his exLI is 0.89, meaning that he has increased the leverage of situations while pitching. While this could be skewed by things such as the Rockies catching up in games where they’re behind, it could also be indicative that he is getting into trouble, a narrative backed up by him being among the league leaders in Pulls, or times removed in the middle of an inning. Add it all up and the 2.67 ERA is a mirage, not backed up by peripheral pitching stats or his usage pattern.

Carlos Marmol – Marmol has been in and out of the closer role this season, but our leverage stats allow us to examine how he has been deployed overall. Basically, Marmol is our best example of a “closer in name only,” someone who is deployed based on the save rule but not used in important situations. Despite the 17 saves, Marmol is around the league median for reliever pLI with a mark of 1.28, while his gmLI is just 1.04, by far the lowest mark of anyone with at least 10 saves.

Candidates
Potential Buy Low – These pitchers have less than 10 saves on the season but have strong pLI, inLI, and gmLI marks. These are relievers that are trusted a great deal by their managers and may see closing opportunities down the stretch, or, for those of you in keeper leagues, next season.

Potential Sell High – You probably can’t sell off closers in most leagues at this point, but for those of you in keeper formats, these are pitchers with 10 or more saves but poor pLI, inLI, and gmLI marks, indicating they have yet to earn the full trust of their managers.

The saves chase is a difficult but necessary evil in most leagues. The axiom “don’t pay for saves” is a good one, but only if you can effectively identify those players who will be losing or acquiring closer gigs. Leverage Index stats are a good means of evaluating a manager’s trust in a pitcher, as well as a pitcher’s success relative to the game situation. Identifying pitchers deployed in high leverage situations can be a key asset for identifying future closers and thus, future sources of saves.

Follow me on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.
All stats courtesy of Fangraphs, for games through September 5.

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Official Scoring Change

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Official Scoring Change

Posted on 20 August 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Eye chart for official scorer’s eye exam…

That ball that bounced 14 times before being booted by the guy playing 3rd base?  Base knock.  Oh, he booted the ball into the 2nd deck where it caromed off of 2 nuns before dropping on the head of a baby 25 feet below?  Base knock plus 1 base error.  The bunt that the pitcher fielded cleanly off his noggin after 3 hops?  Infield hit.  At this point, a defender must basically kick a ball at rest into the opposing dugout and hit a camera operator to earn an actual error.

Honestly, baseball’s official scorers probably deserve to be classified as “invertebrate” for the lack of backbone shown in the face of overwhelming pressure to improve batting averages while simultaneously inflating fielding percentages.  The double laced down the left field line may show up as a line drive in the box score the next day, but all the credit really goes to the third baseman/matador who practically turned 2-dimensional while watching the ball shoot over/under/through his glove.

The problem with a lax attitude about scoring only covers the distance between “correct” and “no integrity”.  Batting averages (and subsequently OBP, OPS, and OPS+) get inflated artificially by E10′s which represent errors on the official scorer.  Sure, fielding percentage represents an outdated means of gauging defensive performance, but the statistic becomes entirely meaningless when officials err on the side of stupid.  More importantly, any defensive metric that uses an algorithm or formula that includes fielding percentage or errors becomes basically useless as well.  Bring rational thinking and a consistent approach back to official scoring, and watch fielding percentage gain back a modicum of respect.

While MLB considers this recommendation, maybe Emperor Bud and JT (Joe Torre) can rethink the way fielding errors on pitchers get treated as well.  If a pitcher fields a ball and proceeds to launch it into the right field bleachers, he gets charged with a fielding error, but then he basically gets a pass on earned runs for the remainder of the inning.  Why not rule the error an error but leave the “earned run” potential intact?  Who really gets hurt by this?  The pitcher who committed the heinous error, of course.  In that case, maybe he will spend a bit more time focusing on his fielding practice instead of starting on that 3rd bag of sunflower seeds in the shady dugout.

While Bud and Joe do that, maybe they can have a word with the rules committee about assuming the double play.  Maybe some broadcasters can’t make the determination about whether a double play should be assumed, but the thought that a good, impartial official scorer cannot differentiate remains an asinine, arcane approach.  Keep it simple, though.  If the runner at first base tackles the guy who touches 2nd base or violates any treaties with his slide, then all bets are off.  If the runner on first base barely makes it halfway to 2nd and the batter trips over his bat or home plate, the defender who receives the throw and bounces it off the first baseman and into the popcorn vendor deserves an error.

Maybe it is time for an official scoring change, and by that I mean change the official scorer.

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Sabermetric Mining: SwStr%, K%, and K/9

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Sabermetric Mining: SwStr%, K%, and K/9

Posted on 17 August 2012 by Blake Murphy

Strikeouts are not always the most obvious statistic to predict. While velocity, movement, and deception can all play a part, there are still instances where soft-tossers manage to get strikeouts or flamethrowers struggle to do the same. While there is no catch-all metric to help predict future strikeout performance, fantasy players can use Swinging Strike Percentage (SwStr%) as a backwards-looking tool to see which pitchers have over- or under-performed relative to their strikeout expectations. Thus, SwStr% can help players identify potential breakouts or downturns in the ever-important ‘K’ category.

The Stat
SwStr% – Simply put, this stat is the percentage of pitches a pitcher throws that a batter swings at and misses. Mathematically, it is just “swings and misses” divided by “total pitches thrown,” and it acts as a good proxy for a pitcher’s dominance level. While pitchers can generate looking strikes as well, swing and miss pitches are a better indicator of dominant performance.

K% – this is the percentage of at bats that end in a strikeout, or, K%=K/AB. While it is not the statistic used in fantasy leagues (usually just strikeouts, or perhaps K/9), it is a good indicator of strikeout ability in batter-comparable terms.

K/9 – Strikeouts per nine innings, or K/9=K/(IP*9). This statistic can be more useful than strikeouts alone, especially in leagues that use innings limits, as it allows owners to identify pitchers who strikeout many or few batters, isolating for the amount of innings they pitch. For example, if you are nearing your innings limit, a pitcher with a 9.0 K/9 but with fewer anticipated innings the rest of the way may be more valuable to you than a pitcher with a 7.0 K/9 expected to have a heavy workload down the stretch.

As a rough estimate, a K% of 25% will lead to approximately a 10.0 K/9, while a 10% K% will lead to approximately a 4.5 K/9, with the points between trending together as you would expect.

How To Use
At the end of last season, Bradley Woodrum at Fangraphs looked at how Swinging Strike rate relates to K%, or the percentage of at bats that end in strikeouts. He found that, while the error terms vary quite a bit, strikout percentage and swinging strike percentage correlate pretty strongly (.6928 R^2 value, or, stated otherwise, swinging strike rate can explain about 69% of the variance in strikeout percentage). Woodrum’s regression allowed me to create the following chart, which can act as a rough approximation of the K% we should expect at given SwStr% levels.

Using this chart and standard leaderboards, we can try to identify pitchers who have a high SwStr% but a low K% or a low SwStr% but a high K%. Those with a high SwStr% and a low K% should be expected to strikeout a higher percentage of batters than they have so far, and vice versa.

Edwin Jackson – Jackson has an impressive 11.7% SwStr%, tied for the 6th best mark in the league, but boasts just a 19.3% K%. Our chart above indicates that an 11.7% SwStr% would be more in line with a 24% K%, which would greatly help Jackson improve on his 7.23 K/9 mark. In fact, based on SwStr% alone one would expect Edwin to strikeout about a batter an inning. While this might be high as an expectation moving forward, based on other factors in his profile that may impact strikeout proficiency, we can safely anticipate some measure of uptick in strikeouts for the remainder of the year.

Vance Worley – Worley has somehow managed to put up strikeout rates in line with Jackson despite causing far fewer batters to whiff. His 5.5% SwStr% would indicate an expected K% of about 13%, but Worley checks in at 18.8%. Either Worley has found a way to make batters only miss on third strikes, basically “saving up” his good stuff, or he has been a little lucky and probably won’t be striking out more than six batters per nine innings moving forward.

Gio Gonzalez – While nobody will argue Gonzalez’s dominance this season, his strikeout proficiency has been a but overstated based on his SwStr%. His SwStr% of 9.6% is more in line with a K% of 21% and a K/9 of 8.25 rather than his marks of 25.8% and 9.63. He is still an ace, but those relying on him for seven or eight strikeouts a start might be slightly disappointed down the stretch.

Candidates
I should note here that the ‘candidates’ section this week is a bit thin because I had to pick arbitrary endpoints. Really, you would want to download the leaderboards and create an “Expected K%” column and compare that to actual K%. These are just a few of the more extreme examples.

Potential Sell High – These pitchers have a SwStr% of less than 7% but a K% of greater than 15%, indicating a potential decline in strikeout rate forthcoming.

Potential Buy Low – These pitchers have a SwStr% of greater than 10% but a K% of less than 21%, indicating a potential increase in strikeout rate forthcoming.

Strikeouts can be a difficult statistic to predict as the season rolls along. Sometimes, the stats do not match what we see with our eyes, or curiosities defy logic like Aaron Cook not being able to generate a swinging strike if I was batting. While more goes into the art of the strikeout than just causing batters to whiff and any pitcher worth his salt can attest that there are a dozen factors that go into a strong SwStr%, SwStr% remains a strong metric for aiding fantasy owners in identifying potential value in the K category.

Come get to know me on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs, for games through August 15.

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fake stats

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Starting Pitching Valuation (SPv) Leaderboard

Posted on 16 August 2012 by Dylan Cain

Loyal Full Spectrum Baseball readers may remember an article I wrote a while back about an innovative new stat, one I call Starting Pitcher Valuation (SPv).  For a brief introduction to the statistic for those who have not read the article, SPv is a stat that encompasses 1) the number of base runners a starting pitcher has allowed, 2) how many earned runs he’s allowed, 3) how many batters he strikes out as opposed to how few batters he walks 4) and how well he can lead his team to a victory.

I have taken all these stats and “blended” them together, creating a pitching stat that ranks starters (not relievers) on a scale of 100%-0%. This gives analytically-minded  fans like you the chance to see one stat that is “easy-to-digest” as opposed to reading a long line of the 10-15 most commonly used statistics.  I wrote this article in hopes of providing a weekly “leaderboard” of SPv and to also give my opinions and some notes about how they (starting pitchers) have done of late.  Here are your season-to-date SPv leaders (as of  August 12th). Enjoy!

1) Jered Weaver (84.87%)- The Angels’ ace has been dealing this year, even in an offensive powerhouse division like the AL West. He’s only lost one game this year and with the offensive production of the Halo’s lineup, he doesn’t seem to have that much pressure on him.  With guys like Mike Trout (.340 AVG) and Albert Pujols (Did you hear about his 24 homeruns?? Talk about coming back after a slow start…), any pitcher would feel relaxed on the hill.  His fastball isn’t Aroldis Chapman caliber but it’s enough to get the job done.

2) R.A. Dickey (81.19%)- The Tim Wakefield impersonator has looked slightly more human of late, with his ERA going up .74 points since his second consecutive one-hitter.  Remember, he still has the best SPv in the senior circut, meaning he is on track to have the best season a knuckleballer has ever had, statistically. His 15 wins are tied for the most in the the bigs, he still makes batters look silly, and he is still very likely in line to win the NL Cy Young Award.

3) Chris Sale (80.96%)- The lanky southpaw for the Chicago White Sox has given his rotation a big boost, even with his young, inexperienced arm.  He puts on a show with the radar gun and can shutdown powerful lineups.  He does have an advantage of facing some weaker offensive teams in the AL Central, however.  Six of his 13 wins have come against the Royals, Indians and Twins.  He is a great pitcher but needs a little more experience to convinced me. The addition of Jake Peavy helped him greatly and Francisco Liriano will give him more of an advantage.

4) David Price (79.77%)- The three-time All-Star is on pace to get the most wins of his career and as far as the AL Cy Young Award voting is concerned, he is breathing down the neck of Sale and Weaver.  The only thing he actually lacks is a big bat to support him offensively.  Evan Longoria coming back will hopefully help with that problem.  If any pitcher can help Tampa Bay get a playoff spot from the A’s it will be Price.  He WILL have a Cy Young Award on the wall before his career is done.

5) Justin Verlander (78.62%)- Finally on the list, Verlander comes in at fourth place in the junior circuit, quite surprising for the Detroit Tigers ace. In my opinion, he is the most overrated pitcher in baseball.  Sure, he has a blazing fastball. Sure, his ERA is under two and a half.  But, he has been inconsistent at moments and is on pace to have the most losses in his career since 2008.  I will give him credit, however, because he tends to dominate one of my favorite statistics (WHIP).

6) Stephen Strasburg (77.71%)- The Strikeout king is now on the list and he is very deserving.  In seven of his twenty three games this year, he has struck out nine batters or more!  That is 30.4% of the time.  Looking for a whiff?  He’s the guy you have to call.  His innings limit has been in the news lately and I think if the Nationals want to keep winning he must be in the rotation. We’ll have to wait and see how this all plays out.

7) Matt Cain (76.7%)- “Mr. Perfect”, “Cain-O Insane-O”, “The San Fran Man”…regardless of what you call him, he is still a dominant force on the hill out on the west coast.  His ERA is under 3 for only the second time in his career but he’s currently regarded as the best pitcher in the Giants’ stacked rotation.  This is due mostly to Tim Lincecum‘s recent struggles, and the fact that most of the rotation is considerably “young talent”.  One of his statistics which catches my eye the most is the fact that his walks per 9 is the lowest in his career.

8) Felix Hernandez (76.44%)- “King Felix” is one of my favorite pitchers and I feel he is very underrated.  Although he may only have 10 wins, he already has 3 shutouts, leading the league.  He continues to strikeout batters (he is nearing his 1,500th strikeout) and his ERA is staying low.  His division rivals include the Texas Rangers and the LA Angels, two huge offensive teams.  Hernandez continually gets the job done, though.

9) Madison Bumgarner (76.4%)- When looking at the ERA leaders, you could easily think his fellow teammate Ryan Vogelsong has the edge. However, Bumgarner has a higher SPv for a couple of reasons.  One, he strikes out more batters and walks less, as opposed to Vogelsong.  And secondly, Bumgarner has a better WHIP.  Walks plus Hits divided by Innings Pitched is a crucial statistic in the makeup of SPv.  The first round pick in the 2007 draft is off to a good start in his career and he makes a good #2 behind Matt Cain.

10) Kyle Lohse (76.27%)- I was very surprised when I realized Lohse had made the Top 10. When we look at his stats, he has the second most wins on the St. Louis Cardinals staff (12, just behind Lance Lynn‘s 13) against only has 2 losses.  He hasn’t had much popularity since 2008 when he had 15 wins but the baseball community should know that Kyle still has his stuff.  His WHIP and ERA are at career bests and along with Jake Westbrook and Lance Lynn, they are filling the hole left by the Chris Carpenter injury quite nicely.

11) Johnny Cueto (76.18%)- I can truly say that in my mind, Cueto is the best pitcher in the packed NL Central.  I say this because he doesn’t allow many base runners, keeps batters guessing and even when things do get out of hand, he can still often get the win.  This is because of an offense led by Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips.  These athletes, led by Cueto, will help the Reds gain an even larger lead over Andrew McCutchen and the Pittsburgh Pirates as the season winds down.

12) Jordan Zimmermann (76.14%)- I know I say the word underrated too often, but it’s one of the few words that describes Zimmermann accurately.  The reason I feel he hasn’t had instant stardom is due to the fact that, earlier in the year, he lacked run support.  At one point he had a losing record with an ERA under two and a half.  He doesn’t strikeout very many batters but he doesn’t walk many either. This keeps men off the base, keeping his WHIP low.  If anyone on this list will win the NL Cy Young Award in dramatic fashion, it’s Zimmermann.

13) Cole Hamels (75.75%)- This southpaw has been the talk of trade rumors year in and year out, but he remains in Philly, being the only pitcher to have double-digit wins for the Phillies.  He also has the most strikeouts, most innings pitched, leads in ERA+ and the lowest hits per nine innings.  Once the #2 pitcher to Roy Halladay, he is now the ace of the struggling team.  He just signed a huge, $153 million contract, so expect him to stick around for a while.

14) Clayton Kershaw (75.17%)- “The Claw” is the same man as he has been his whole career but isn’t quite as dominant as he was last year.  He is in the very pitching dominant NL, hurting his chances of winning back-to-back Cy Young Awards.  He strikes out a whole batter less per 9 inning than he did last year but he still has a WHIP of 1.027.  He leads the league in shutouts (2), is still the ace for the NL West leading (tied) Los Angeles Dodgers and no longer has to face Melky Cabrera due to a 50 game suspension.

15) CC Sabathia (75.06%)- CC has been on the DL for an extended period of time.  I think the Yankees are in a good enough position to where they can retain first place in the AL East without him.  If you asked me a year earlier, I would’ve told you that New York couldn’t have competed without Mariano Rivera and with Sabathia out, however, that’s exactly what they are doing.  Yankees’ fans just need to hope that C.C. can bounce back from the injuries, and continue on the pace where he left off.

16) A.J. Burnett (74.81%)- I would’ve expected the Pirate’s righty to be higher on this list, with 14 wins and a new beginning in Pittsburgh, however, he is not.  Like many of the pitchers ranked above him, he doesn’t possess a high number of K’s.  Through 21 starts, he already has the most wins in his career since 2008 in Toronto.  Not only does he have a career low WHIP (with 21+ games started), but he has a one-hitter under his belt.

17) Ryan Vogelsong (74.64%)- The reason this guy may not quite be a household name is because he hasn’t performed in the past, as he is just showing signs of greatness.  The last season that he had 25 or more starts before San Fransisco, he had an ERA of 6.50 with a 6-13 W-L record. He has redeemed himself, however, in his second stint for the Giants.  His two years back have been astounding, posting 249 strikeouts and a 23-13 record.  He does walk a few too many, but nothing to worry about. Expect him to have more than one all star selection in his career.

18) Scott Diamond (74.35%)- I consider this young man the only “stud” in the Minnesota Twin’s rotation.  He isnt like many of the guys on this list as far as strikeouts are concerned (5.0 strikeouts per 9 innings), but he makes up for it because he doesn’t walk many either (1.3 walks per 9 innings, a league lead).  He’s only pitched 18 games, and I really don’t expect the trend to continue, as he allows almost a home run a game.  That’s low enough to be a quality pitcher, but not to consistently be on this list.

19) Gio Gonzalez (74.15%)- Gio is one of the best parts of the Washington Nationals “Big 3″ (Strasburg and  Zimmerman included).  He has the most wins out of all of them (15, 2 away from a career high), he has the league lead in home runs per 9 innings (0.4), and the league lead in hits per 9 innings (6.9).  His wicked curveball is similar to those of fellow teamate Stephen Strasburg and Barry Zito.  With Strasburg supposedly being out of postseason play, Gio is the man who needs to step up even further, if possible.  This would be by walking less and staying consistent.

20) Ryan Dempster (73.62%)- The Texas new-comer is lucky to even be on this list.  His ERA has gone up 79 points in 4 games, but I think he still has some success in him.  He is aging, however, and is struggling to get wins.  He is a great #3 or #4 in the Rangers rotation, and run support won’t be an issue anymore, as it was with the Cubs.

Think one of your favorite pitchers deserved to be on the list or would you like to just discuss Starting Pitching Valuation, contact me on Twitter @pitchingstats or use the comments section below. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about about this list, how to calculate SPv and/or how to apply its usage to fantasy baseball. Thanks for reading and be sure to check back next week.

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