Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2012 Draft Prep: Starting pitching tiers using K/9 and ERA

  •  

We have been writing about the merits of drafting by tiers on this site for several years now and many owners subscribe to this method of selecting players on Draft Day. The concept is pretty simple: cluster similarly productive players together within each position and restrain yourself from drafting players at a position while the highest remaining cluster is still well stocked. When there is a surplus of similar options available at a given position, it's a good time to fill a need elsewhere.

Follow us, Like us, Join us
Want more? Join the discussion on our Facebook page and Google+ and follow us on Twitter for additional insight while interacting with a community geared toward Fantasy Baseball.

That's easier said than done. There are many ways to assess a player's value and the methods owners use will affect whom they deem to be "similarly productive." ERA correlates well with Fantasy value for pitchers, regardless of whether it's Rotisserie or Head-to-Head value that is of concern, and it provides a good starting basis for arranging a series of tiers. (WHIP correlates nearly as well, but it overvalues pitchers prone to allowing homers.) Still, ERA doesn't tell the whole story. Mark Buehrle and Michael Pineda, for example, are projected for nearly identical ERAs, but the harder-throwing Pineda helps Fantasy owners far more with his high strikeout rate.

A pitcher who is an ERA liability can still have at least as much Fantasy value as a good ERA pitcher with the help of strikeouts. For a starting pitcher who throws 200 innings in a season, an extra strikeout per nine innings is worth about 40 ERA points in Rotisserie and 50 ERA points in Head-to-Head. That's how Ubaldo Jimenez (projected 8.5 K/9) can manage to be a little more valuable than Jaime Garcia (projected 7.5 K/9), even though Jimenez's ERA is projected to be 35 points higher.

Because strikeouts matter so much, I take a two-stage approach to creating tiers for starting pitchers. First I see how they cluster in terms of ERA ranges. Then, within each range, I promote pitchers who have strikeout rates that are high enough to put them on a par with those who reside in a higher-ranked tier. Based on his projected ERA, Jimenez is no more than a low-end fourth-tier starter, but his ability to strike out close to a batter per inning makes him valuable enough to be included in the third tier.

In fact, merely promoting high-strikeout pitchers to a higher tier may not emphasize their value enough. According to research conducted by Keith Woolner and CBSSports.com Eye on Baseball blogger Dayn Perry, strikeout rates are far more consistent year-to-year than ERAs are for individual pitchers. ERAs capture several factors -- from the defensive ranges of teammates to strand rates -- that can vary widely, even when a pitcher's skill set is stable. So while Jimenez and Garcia project to be very similar in value, the more reliable indicator of success, i.e., strikeouts, is stronger for Jimenez. That makes the Indians' ace a safer and, in all likelihood, a better pick than Garcia. That's why I have culled the high strikeout pitchers in each tier into a separate "K-factor" group, which represents those pitchers who pose a lesser risk of not performing up to the tier's standards.

What follows are four tiers of starting pitchers for standard mixed leagues. They do not correspond with Fantasy rotation spots (e.g., No. 1, No. 2, etc.), but rather they are clusters of pitchers who should produce similar levels of production. You could get your No. 1 starter from the first tier, but once the last top-tier option comes off the board, there is no need to reach for one of the top-ranked pitchers in the second tier in order to get your ace. In each of these tiers, players are listed according to their rank within the group, but remember that the top strikeout artists are separated out in a separate subgroup. If you want to bank on the stability of a pitcher's high K-rate while taking a potential risk in ERA, priortize the pitchers on K-factor list. If you're already secure in the strikeout category but are looking for a better bet with ERA, stick with the main ranked list within the tier.

First tier (sub-3.00 projected ERA): Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels, Tim Lincecum.
K-factor: Justin Verlander.
Summary: With the exception of Verlander, ranking the elite starters is a straightforward exercise. However, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner provides owners with a conundrum. He may have the best combination of strikeout ability and control among all starting pitchers, but for an elite, he has the potential to be homer-prone due to a mediocre ground ball rate. Because of his high K-rate, though, Verlander should be considered a top three starter, if not the best overall option.

Check out our Fantasy Baseball podcast!
Stay a step ahead of your competition in 2014 by checking out our popular Fantasy Baseball Today podcasts. Adam Aizer, Scott White and Al Melchior will entertain you and help you dominate all season.
Latest episode | Subscribe!

Second tier (3.01-3.40 projected ERA): CC Sabathia, David Price, Dan Haren, Jered Weaver, Ian Kennedy, James Shields, Yovani Gallardo, Jon Lester, Josh Johnson, Mat Latos, C.J. Wilson, Madison Bumgarner, Josh Beckett, Adam Wainwright, Matt Cain, Tommy Hanson, Gio Gonzalez, Brandon Beachy.
K-factor: Zack Greinke, Michael Pineda, Matt Garza, Stephen Strasburg, Anibal Sanchez, Yu Darvish.
Summary: Greinke's projected K/9 rate of 9.8 is high enough that he could go ahead of Sabathia and Price, but owners will have to have faith that he can reverse two years of subpar strand rates. Each of the remaining K-factor pitchers has some risk, even as sources of strikeouts. Garza and Sanchez have not had consistent K-rates, Pineda's velocity is down this spring, Strasburg's value will be constrained by an innings limit, and Darvish is still unproven in the big leagues. Each should be considered a lower-end pitcher in this tier, albeit with upside.

Third tier (3.41-3.60 projected ERA): Daniel Hudson, Ricky Romero, Ervin Santana, Jordan Zimmermann, Cory Luebke, Chris Carpenter, Wandy Rodriguez, Johnny Cueto, Justin Masterson, Jaime Garcia, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Clay Buchholz, Vance Worley, Jhoulys Chacin, Brandon McCarthy, Jair Jurrjens.
K-factor: Ubaldo Jimenez, Max Scherzer, Derek Holland.
Summary: As mentioned above, Jimenez should be taken ahead of Garcia, and he could conceivably get slotted in between Rodriguez and Cueto. As home run risks, Scherzer and Holland fit in towards the back end of this tier. Some may be surprised to see Hudson and Romero as third-tier starters, Hudson actually just missed the cutoff for the second tier, and if you see more than incremental increase in his strikeout rate this year, you could give him a bump up. Playing it conservatively, I'd prefer to wait on him. Similarly, I doubt that Romero can repeat last year's 14 percent line drive rate and the 2.92 ERA and 1.14 WHIP it helped to produce, so I chose not to include him in the second tier. Moore may look odd here, since he begins the year elgibile only as a reliever in Head-to-Head, but he will be a legitimate third-tier starter.

Fourth tier (3.61-3.80 projected ERA): Hiroki Kuroda, Jonathon Niese, Doug Fister, Trevor Cahill, Scott Baker, Tim Stauffer, Mike Minor, Mark Buehrle, Neftali Feliz.
K-factor: Francisco Liriano, Brandon Morrow, Colby Lewis, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Bud Norris, Ryan Dempster, Jonathan Sanchez, Edinson Volquez.
Summary: Here is where you will find Fantasy's flawed strikeout pitchers. Liriano, Morrow, Sanchez, Norris and Volquez fit this description best, as each can strike out more than a batter per inning but also be an ERA and/or WHIP risk due to unfavorable walk and strand rates. They have higher ceilings than nearly all of the pitchers on the main list, but because of the potential for a high ERA, it would be a mistake to reach for any of them while any of the previous tiers are still populated. Minor should post a low enough ERA to belong in this tier, but he may not compile enough innings to deserve third-tier K-factor status. Fister and Buehrle are risky due to their tendencies to pitch to contact. Either is a strand or BABIP rate fluctuation away from a highly disappointing season.

A few oddities: If not for his recovery from surgery, Tim Hudson would qualify for the third tier. Because he will miss roughly a month to start the season, he is more of a fourth-tier option. Shaun Marcum and Ted Lilly could post ERAs in the upper 3.00s, but if you need WHIP, they are worth considering in the fourth tier. Mike Leake and R.A. Dickey are both very economical pitchers, and because of their potential to rack up innings, both should be considered as fourth-tier pitchers in Head-to-Head leagues.

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Mariners pitcher J.A. Happ hit hard again in start Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) Mariners pitcher J.A. Happ gave five runs on 11 hits in five innings of work Sunday against the Padres in his second consecutive rough outing.

"I was being way too tentative early on," Happ said to MLB.com. "I just wasn't finishing and as aggressive as I was later in the game. Maybe trying to be a little too fine after the previous outing. I think if I throw like I did the second part of that game, I'll be OK."

Happ, who is expected to be the fourth starter in Seattle's rotation, is now 1-3 this spring with a 7.90 ERA.


Rangers release outfielder Ryan Ludwick from minor league deal
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) The Rangers have released outfielder Ryan Ludwick from his minor league contract, the team announced Sunday.

Ludwick hit .200 with one home run and three RBI in 30 plate appearances during spring training.


Report: Yankees' Domingo German may need Tommy John surgery
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) Yankees pitching prospect Domingo German may be on the shelf for awhile. German may reportedly need Tommy John surgery for his injured elbow, according to MLB.com.

The team is yet to confirm the report. German went 9-3 in 25 starts with a 2.48 ERA in Class-A Greensboro in 2014.


Indians pitcher Austin Adams still in contention for roster spot
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) Indians relief pitcher Austin Adams still has a chance to make the final roster, reports MLB.com.

Adams, who was a non-roster invitee to camp, has posted a 5.87 ERA in eight appearances this spring with nine strikeouts and 11 hits allowed.

"We wanted to tell him he'd done a really good job," manager Terry Francona said of his morning conversation with Adams, "but we still don't know."


Rangers remain undecided on pitcher Keone Kela
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) Rangers pitcher Keone Kela tossed one scoreless inning Sunday with no hits and two strikeouts against the Dodgers. Kela has now gone 8 1/3 innings without giving up a run this spring, but the team is undecided still on his role this season, reports MLB.com.

"I haven't said if he was or wasn't on the team," Banister said. "That decision will be made at the appropriate time. You see what he has done. He has been impressive this spring."


Indians pitcher T.J. House gives up four runs in six innings
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) Indians pitcher T.J. House, who was given a spot in the starting rotation Sunday, struggled in his appearance Sunday. House gave up four runs on six hits with two walks in six innings of work against the White Sox.

"This spring it looks a little glaring, that one inning is kind of getting to me in the box scores," said House to MLB.com. "It's nice to get them out of the way now and maybe during the season we won't see them.

"My ball kind of flattened out a little bit [in the fourth]. Besides that, I felt good. I pounded the zone and got to see some guys I'm going to see during the season, so I'll make a mental note of that."


White Sox second baseman Micah Johnson has edge in position battle
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) White Sox second baseman Micah Johnson appears to be in the lead for the position when the season begins, reports MLB.com. Manager Robin Ventura likes what he's seen from Johnson enough to give him a vote of confidence at the position, even though nothing has been officially set.

"He's done well enough to kind of be the leading guy," said Ventura of Johnson, who had two hits in Sunday's 4-1 win over the Indians.

Third base coach Joe McEwing likes the progress Johnson has sowed on defense this spring.

"Initially what we wanted to do was try to slow things down because everything Micah does, he does fast," McEwing said. "Everything in his game is fast. Just, defensively, try to slow him down and allow him to focus on his feet and his hands and everything working together."


Athletics pitcher Kendall Graveman posts another stellar performance
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) Athletics pitcher Kendall Graveman continues to impress this spring. Sunday, he went 6 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits with three strikeouts and no walks. Manager Bob Melvin loves how the young pitcher has performed this spring, reports MLB.com.

"He doesn't blow you away, although you look at the radar gun and at times we've seen 93, 94 this spring," Melvin said. "But he's a pitcher; he's pretty cerebral in the way he does it.

"He reads swings very well. You know, it's late movement off the barrel of the bat, whether it's sink, whether it's cut, offspeed just enough. But he knows what he's doing and he's aware of what the hitters are trying to do against him."

Graveman has a minuscule 0.74 ERA in five starts this spring.

"There's a reason that he went from [Class] A-ball to the big leagues [in 2014 with Toronto], and then continued to pitch this well for us. It means he's real confident in what he's doing," Melvin said.


Nationals pitcher Doug Fister struggles again in outing Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) Nationals pitcher Doug Fister surrendered six runs in four innings of work Sunday against the Marlins, pushing his spring training ERA to 7.02 in five starts. Fister gave up three more home runs in the outing.

"I can't let any of that affect me. I know I have to get the ball down regardless," Fister said to MLB.com. "I felt good today. I felt I was almost back in the swing of things. There are obviously some things I have to fine tune at the end of spring.

"I left the ball up, and it allowed the Marlins to get good contact on the ball. I don't let outside influences affect the game. It's a game I have to control and make adjustments."


Tigers targeting 200 pitches for pitcher Anibal Sanchez
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez tossed 10 strikeouts in Sunday's game against the Phillies, going 6 1/3 innings and surrendering four runs on five hits. 

"That means he's hitting his spots. It means he's locating," manager Brad Ausmus said to MLB.com. "When a guy takes a pitch, he thinks it's a ball or just off the corner and they end up getting the call. ... So he must have been locating. It looked like he was locating his fastball."

Ausmus also indicated he hopes to see Sanchez reach 200 innings this season.

"If we get 200 innings out of Sanchy, I'll be extremely happy. I think we'll be in a very good spot," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Sunday morning. "We talk about a lot of things, but if Sanchy can stay healthy, that would be an enormous plus for us."


 
 
 
Rankings