The Casual Sabermetrician – First Half 2011 analysis

Welcome back to the Casual Sabermetrician.  It’s July, Summer is in full swing, and we’re at the half way point of the season.  We again look back on our pre-season exercise  and First Quarter Analysis of looking at tERA vs. ERA to find out which pitchers are pitching above their heads and which have been unlucky so far.  For fantasy purposes this translates to who we can sell high on and conversely who we might be able to buy low on.

Again, our method involves extracting tERA and ERA stats from Fangraphs into a spreadsheet and creating a formula to view tERA-ERA.  We can also look and see if the guys we looked at 7 weeks ago have regressed to the mean or not.

“The Unlucky aka Buy Low”:

Note: I’ve left out most pitchers whose tERAs are above 4.00 and focused on those whose other peripherals point to a 2nd half turnaround.

Pitcher, ERA/tERA/E-tE

Mat Latos, 4.26/3.06/1.20

Fausto Carmona, 5.78/4.64/1.14

Clayton Kershaw, 3.23/2.58/0.65

David Price, 3.56/3.14/0.42

Daniel Hudson, 3.75/3.34/0.41

Chris Capuano, 4.14/3.76/0.38

Jaime Garcia, 3.33/3.01/0.32

“The Lucky aka Sell High”:

Note: I’ve left out most pitchers with ERA’s over 3.50 and focus on those off to hot starts that could be due for a negative regression over the rest of the season.

Pitcher, ERA/tERA/E-tE

Freddy Garcia, 3.07/5.10/-2.03

Jair Jurrjens, 1.89/3.80/-1.91

Randy Wolf, 3.33/4.96/-1.63

Matt Harrison, 3.30/4.74/-1.44

Paul Maholm, 3.08/4.43/-1.35

Jhoulys Chacin, 3.10/4.40/-1.30

Hiroki Kuroda, 2.90/4.14/-1.24

Jeremy Hellickson, 3.21/4.40/-1.19

There continue to be far more “Lucky” pitchers than “Unlucky.”   There are only 7 pitchers with a 0.50 or higher ERA-tERA while there are 45 with a -0.50 or lower.  This is disappointing since we’re always looking for those diamonds in the rough.  This caused me to explore looking at ERA-xFIP, because I know I haven’t converted you all to tERA yet and xFIP is much more often sited throughout fantasy baseball and saber communities.  This does increase our arbitrary half run delta to 24 unlucky pitchers which is of interest, though not many players are of real fantasy value.  Our list of lucky pitchers decreases to 26.   Max Scherzer at 4.90/3.90/-1.00 is of most interest and Scherzer owners like me already know this based on his 8+K/9 and .322 BABIP.

When comparing to our First Quarter Analysis, there are only two hold overs in Jhoulys Chacin and Fausto Carmona who both continue to struggle this year.  This shows us that even over 7 weeks, regression will take place.  But let’s look at that regression more specifically.  Jordan Zimmermann topped our list of the unlucky, all he did was lower his ERA from 4.13 to its current 2.82 (2.63 before his last start).  Cliff Lee was a guy we all knew would come around and he lowered his ERA from 3.78 to 2.92 (2.66 before his last start).  On the flip side, Josh Tomlin’s ERA went up a full run from 2.70 to 3.78 as did Zach Brittons.  Alexi Ogando has regressed, but not nearly as much as people expected as he has gone from 2.17 to a still excellent 2.86.

Finally let’s look at our best buy low/ sell high candidates heading into the second half.  Matt Latos is our prime buy low candidate.  He is striking out 8.42/9 and is capable of 9/9 or more.  Walks and a high BABIP have hurt his season as has the short leash he gets as his highest pitch count is 107.  While Kershaw’s 3.23 ERA is still more than respectable, it wouldn’t hurt to float some offers to his owners to see if you can pry him loose, perhaps below market value.  He leads MLB in K/9 at 10.13.

Freddy Garcia has been a nice story in the Spot Starting world, but the real sell high at the break is Jair Jurrjens who might very well be the NL’s All Star starter.  He has ridden an unsustainable .257 BABIP (15th lowest in MLB) to a league best 1.89 ERA.  His low K rate of 5.42 is very sub standard (83rd).  Hellickson, the hot pre-season AL ROY pick has been even luckier with a .224 BABIP (4th) and is another low K/9 guy who I would sell high on.

All for now, keep checking out my usual Spot Starting articles and I’ll be back again in another few weeks or so to look at SPs who can help you in your league’s playoff stretch run.

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