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Monday, September 21, 2009
In last week’s article, I looked at how Yahoo’s preseason top 50 have performed this season. Not surprisingly, the overall reliability of the rankings were low and it's logical to presume the the reliability of the rankings from 51-100 would not be better.
For me, many of the toughest draft or keeper decisions arise when evaluating players in the 51-100 range. By that part of the draft, the sure things have already been taken, so managers often use pre-rankings to differentiate between players. So, let’s take a look at how Yahoo did predicting the performance of this segment of players.
So, what conclusions can we draw from this?
Finally, I want to expand a bit on a disclaimer I made in the comments section of the first part of the pre-rank analysis. I don’t really know what a laudable success rate would be for pre-ranking. A 42 percent success rate when picking the top 100 players may actually be very good. Further, this analysis was somewhat crude, and there are many alternative ways to evaluate the pre-rankingss. For example, I could have analyzed ranking by position, or used “within 25 slots of the pre-rank” as the criteria for “success.” The greater point of interest is that it seems there hasn’t been much of a formal movement to promote accountability for pre-rankings by fantasy heavyweights like Yahoo.
The goal of this (mini-) series was to give fantasy baseball players perspective on the amount of credence to pay to pre-ranks, not to bash Yahoo’s performance. Because fantasy baseball is very unpredictable, it would be unfair to judge Yahoo's pre-rankings based solely on success rate; as long as the rankings are independent and based on sound reasoning, they can add value for fantasy players. Sites like The Hardball Times may not always be correct either, but we do strive to meet the same standard of sound reasoning and independent analysis. And with that, it seems like a perfectly opportune time to plug The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2010 because that's the type of content you can expect from the good folks here.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 1:04am
The wins are less than the typical total for a Cy Young winner, but as the times change seasons like Tim Lincecum's get more attention. Lincecum pitches for the worst offense in baseball and Zack Greinke's Royals are not far behind, as they rank sixth from last in wOBA. On the defensive side Lincecum gets much more help with a 4.4 UZR/150 behind him, while Greinke has to contend with the third worst defense in baseball. First lets look at the numbers to see how they match up.
IP ERA W K K/9 K/BB HR/FB BABIP LOB% xFIP Zack Greinke 210.1 2.14 14 224 9.58 5.09 5.00% 0.314 79.40% 3.27 Tim Lincecum 207.1 2.3 14 244 10.59 4.14 5.40% 0.301 77.20% 2.84
Anyone need not look further than Joe Posnanski's blog each day for the daily update on Greinke's run to the Cy Young. He really has been dominant this year with one of the top K/BB rates in the league at 5.09. He has always been a solid pitcher, and has improved numbers in each of his seasons. The result his that he has now reached elite status despite playing on a poor team.
His K/9 has gone up every season since 2005, when he threw a 5.61, to his current 9.58. This gain has made his solid walk rate that much more impressive as it started around 2.0 and gone to 1.88 this season. Only four other pitchers this season have a K/BB over 5.0; Roy Halladay, Dan Haren and Javier Vazquez. He is also ranked 86th of all time in K/BB for a single season. He has elite numbers this year and truly Cy Young material.
If Greinke has to contend with such a poor defense, why is his xFIP so much higher than Lincecum's? He has been having a bit of luck on home runs so far. He holds a HR/F of five percent despite a career rate of 8.9 percent. That's a bit of a jump, but since Kauffman Stadium depresses homers we can expect him to have an ERA that is lower than his xFIP most seasons. Greinke can drop his home run rate by continuing to up his groundball rate, which has increased to 40 percent this season.
The Freak is only getting better and it seems only health could slow him down at this point. He has a solid strikeout rate of over 10.0 per nine innings and has even improved his walk rate, decreasing it by almost a full walk per nine innings. His K/BB is a great at 4.14, but the extra strikeouts really help him relative to Greinke.
His loss in fastball speed is a bit concerning, as he's gone from 94.1 mph to 92.5 mph over the course of the season, but he has relied less on it this season. he is throwing the change-up more and getting very good results. His change-up value per 100 pitches is up from 1.23 in 2008 to 5.05 in 2009. This makes sense as he has a 10mph split between fastball and change and hits the zone with all his pitches well.
Ground balls are up this year for Lincecum, and with such a good defense behind him, he's managed to hold his BABIP at .301. He is also doing a good job of keeping fly balls in the park, with a HR/FB of 5.4 percent. This is fairly normal for Lincecum, as he pitches in a lot of NL West parks, which tend to depress homers. His career rate is 6.3 percent a look at him and Matt Cain shows they can maintain lower HR/FB numbers in San Francisco. This is one of the faults of xFIP; FIP, which has Lincecum at 2.22, seems like a better tool to project a pitcher like Lincecum.
Lincecum had to be scratched this month because of back spasms, but has since made an impressive start against the Colorado Rockies. His numbers looked good and he struck out 11 hitters in seven innings. The Giants are nearly eliminated and should be winding down Lincecum and limiting his innings. While many speculated that his previous workload could cause him to deal with injuries this year, he has once again totaled over 200 innings and is contending for another Cy Young.
If you have to pick between these two you are the envy of your league. In keeper leagues they are at the top of the heap for pitchers, but come with limited upside for wins. When it comes time to pick between the two I have to go with Lincecum. He has superior K/9 and GB% numbers, and also has a better defense behind him and better track record for a HR/FB. In no way do I think Greinke will take a huge fall, but he isn't quite at Lincecum's level right now.
Posted by Troy Patterson at 12:39am
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