Strength of schedule: Adjusting pitcher valuesby Moe Koltun
May 23, 2013
Last week, I wrote a piece Evaluating Hitter Schedules This week, I will mimic that format while substituting in pitchers for hitters, although there is one main difference in that pitcher results in schedule-rating barometers come less often in team-wide waves than the hitters. So, here are five players whose perceived values should be altered thanks to their strength of schedule.
Note: all data used in this article was aggregated by the fantastic website BaseballProspectus.com, and it only includes pitchers with at least 25 innings pitched.
Matt Moore, Rays
On the surface Matt Moore has all the sabermetric characteristics of a guy destined for regression. He has an absurdly low .197 BABIP so far this season, a 91.8 percent Left On Base Percentage (LOB%) which is the highest in major league baseball, and his ERA is only a little more than half his xFIP (2.29 ERA, 4.24 xFIP). However, Moore also has the highest Opponent’s Slugging Average (oppSLG) in baseball at .448, meaning that the hitters he has faced have hit for more pop for the year than the hitters any other pitcher has. I still think he’s going to regress because of that LOB%, but instead of up towards his 4.24 xFIP, I think he’ll regress more towards a 3.50 ERA or so the rest of the way as he faces worse hitters.
Jordan Zimmerman, Nationals
To me, Jordan Zimmerman is one of the most blatant sell-high candidates among starting pitchers. He has a huge name, has already amassed seven wins, his 1.62 ERA is less than half his xFIP, and most importantly for his trade value he is currently the number four pitcher on the ESPN Player Rater. Added onto those basic regression indicators is the fact that Zimmerman also has the fourth lowest oppSLG in major league baseball (.395), meaning the batters he has faced have hit for essentially no power. That probably is a large part of the reason his HR/FB rate is only 5.4 percent so far this season, and as he faces better hitters, I’d look for him to get worse and worse. Sell high while you can.
Tony Cingrani, Reds
Cingrani impressed in his short stint in the big leagues, but due to a crowded rotation, he still got sent back down to Triple A. Over his six starts, Cingrani posted 11.18 K/9 to only 2.45 BB/9, which would seem to indicate that he has the upside to be elite despite never being touted as an ‘elite’ prospect.
Well, that indication would be wrong, and is a big reason why digging deeper pass the base-most stats is a good idea. Through those six outings and 33 innings, Cingrani also has the lowest Opponent’s On Base Percentage (oppOBP) in major league baseball at .310, meaning the aggregate OBP of every hitter he has faced is only .310. So, that means that his 2.45 BB/9 rate is definitely in question, as he was facing hitters that were already prone to not walk, as is the 11.18 K/9 rate, as guys with low OBP’s generally strike out more. In a keeper format, if I owned Cingrani, I’d be looking to move him right now.
Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
A quick glance at Gallardo’s stats would make it seem like the Brewers starter has become way, way worse this season, dropping from his usual nine or more K/9 rate down to a sub par 6.67 K/9. However, Gallardo also has the second highest oppOBP in major league baseball at .340. Given that, his walk rate of 3.26 BB/9 so far this year is actually really encouraging, and implies that once he faces worse competition that number should come down, perhaps even to around 3.00 BB/9. I wouldn’t pay draft day value for Gallardo, but if I could flip a Cingrani or sell high on a Patrick Corbin type for him, I’d happily do it.
Roy Halladay, Phillies
Anyone who watches baseball could tell you that Roy Halladay just didn’t look like himself this season, but his awful statistics before his recent surgery belie just how bad Doc really was in 2013. Yes, an 8.65 ERA speaks for itself, as does his 6.24 FIP and 4.17 xFIP—however, what the casual fan might not know is that these stats were accumulated against the second lowest oppOBP in all of baseball. That means that not only has Halladay been horrible, but he has been horrible against some of the worst competition in baseball. I hate to say it, but unless he looks drastically different after these surgeries, I don’t think Doc is going to have any fantasy value the rest of his career. I wouldn’t even speculate on him in a keeper league, as sad as that might be.
Moe Koltun is a co-founder of RotoAnalysis.com and hosts the weekly RotoAnalysis Fantasy Sports Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @moeproblems.
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