The Roto Grotto: rookie pitchersby Scott Spratt
July 18, 2013
A few weeks ago, I looked at the Z-score per game calculations for rookie hitters. Pitchers are a bit less interesting because ERA and WHIP are already rates that make them easy to compare, even for two pitchers with a different number of innings. However, wins, strikeouts, and saves are also important, and for someone like Tyler Skaggs who is constantly yo-yoed between the majors and minors, it is about the only way you can make comparisons.
I decided to take some extra steps, which required some extra assumptions, to handle pitchers. Since starters and relievers have different expectations for wins and strikeouts in a given appearance, I made a manual adjustment based on the ratio of wins and strikeouts starters had relative to all pitchers in 2012. In addition, I used 200 starts as an estimation of a full season in fantasy, which I used to estimate per game stats.
Here are the 2013 qualified rookie starters through the first half of the season, using the eight-point roto tiers:
There have been several quality rookie starters this season, although none who are breaking the game the way Yasiel Puig did when he debuted on the hitters’ side. Shelby Miller has been best. He and Chris Archer, surprisingly, have been the only two rookie starters to contribute positively in every category.
Tony Cingrani and Jose Fernandez have hurt owners versus expected wins. With Fernandez, that has to be expected. He will be stuck on a bad Marlins for years where double digit wins will be an accomplishment. In contrast, given the quality of the Reds offense, Cingrani would likely stabilize as a positive contributor in wins with more starts under his belt of similar performance. The question is whether hitters will adjust to someone who succeeds on deception more than stuff.
A bit lower on the list, the aforementioned Tyler Skaggs has had the sixth-highest strikeout Z-score in his limited starts. To date, Gerrit Cole has been more valuable because of the wins, but if both are in the majors to stay, Skaggs looks like the better bet this season based on the strikeout rate.
On the bottom of the list, Allen Webster has been terribly wild en route to a 9.57 ERA and 1.90 WHIP. However, for those looking for positive signs, the strikeout rate is not as bad as it looks in this presentation. Since the Z-scores are based on per-game statistics, Webster’s short outings penalize his strikeout score. If he can find some command, expect that to rise.
Scott was named Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for his fantasy football writing at Pro Football Focus. In addition, he contributes to ESPN Insider as a research associate for Baseball Info Solutions. You can reach him on Twitter.
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