2018 Pod’s Picks — Starting Pitchers — A Review

Alas, we have reached my final recap of the season. Finishing things off, it’s time to review my Pod’s Picks again, but on the starting pitcher side. I limited the list to pitchers that landed in my preseason top 60 and excluded pitchers like Rick Porcello and Julio Teheran that earned their projected value through volume, rather than good ratios. Let’s see how these pitchers performed.

2018 Pod’s Picks Results
Player Pod Consensus FG Actual CBS Actual FG Winner CBS Winner
Kyle Hendricks 17 42 31 27 Consensus Pod
Felix Hernandez 52 70 177 133 Consensus Consensus
Jon Lester 21 37 44 32 Consensus Consensus
Joe Musgrove 49 65 76 96 Consensus Consensus
Sonny Gray 36 51 157 112 Consensus Consensus
Patrick Corbin 53 68 11 12 Pod Pod
Sean Manaea 43 57 36 39 Pod Pod
Kenta Maeda 30 41 55 60 Consensus Consensus

After looking at the category earnings from the FG Auction Calculator, I decided to also include the CBS rankings that I manually put together. Since I haven’t yet figured out how to determine which ranking/valuation system is most accurate, it makes sense to include a couple when evaluating how your rankings performed. Actually, the best way would be for me to run my own end of season values using the same valuation method. But it’s too much work.

Either way, look at that, another drubbing! Boy, I picked some baddies, huh?

I almost nailed my Kyle Hendricks projection (like, I can’t believe how close I was on all his fantasy stats), so it’s very surprising to me that he ranked so far below what I projected him for. He finished with a slightly better ranking on CBS which was actually closer to my ranking versus the FG ranking closer to the consensus. For the third season in a row, Hendricks dramatically outperformed his SIERA. How much longer can this last? He seems to be a ticking time bomb to me and I would be nervous to purchase him at his likely cost.

LOL, I actually thought Felix Hernandez was due for a marginal rebound. Instead, his sinker velocity dropped below 90 mph for the first time, taking his SwStk% and strikeout rate down to career lows. He also suddenly struggled to strand runners, as his LOB% fell below 72% (to just 64%) for the first time since 2006, his first full season. It’s hard not to believe that the end has come. So sad.

Wow, Jon Lester’s season was odd. I was projecting a rebound from his down 2017, but he won more games and posted a better ERA, and yet still underperformed my ranking! Ya just can’t win. FYI — he’s one of the most obvious bust candidates for 2019 given the massive discrepancy between his ERA and SIERA, along with his declining skills.

Injuries killed Joe Musgrove’s chances of hitting my ranking, but he also underperformed my expectations. I figured a full season in the National League would boost his strikeout rate, but that didn’t happen. Still, with an elite changeup and strong slider, I like him again, health permitting.

Somehow I managed to allow Sonny Gray to wreck nearly all my teams. So much for those nearly 500 innings of SIERA outperformance to start his career! Depending on where he ends up and what his role is, I might be interested in buying low here.

Sure, I hit on Patrick Corbin, but a ranking of 53 didn’t exactly convey “MUST BUY!” I had guessed that one of the reasons I was more optimistic is that I factored in the use of the humidor in Arizona, which reduced both his BABIP and HR/FB rate projections. Sure enough, both marks declined to the second lowest of his career. Of course, that wasn’t what fueled his huge season. Instead, it was all about that slider, which he threw more than 40% of the time. Do you understand how incredible that slider was? The pitch’s SwStk% was an absurd 29.3%! It allowed a wOBA of just .195! Wowzers. He’s basically a two-pitch pitcher though (when your second pitch is that good, you could get away with it for a while), but with his fastball velocity down, I wouldn’t pay the going rate in 2019. Between the injury risk from all those sliders and the risk the fastball velocity loss leads to a decline in slider effectiveness, I’ll pass.

I lucked out with Sean Manaea for as long as he remained healthy, and it’s anyone’s guess whether he would have maintained that rank if he didn’t hit the DL.

Kenta Maeda performed well, but what hurt his value was a move to the bullpen, which limited him to just 125.1 innings. I certainly didn’t expect that. He’ll remain a nice buy regardless of role.

We hoped you liked reading 2018 Pod’s Picks — Starting Pitchers — A Review by Mike Podhorzer!

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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“For the third season in a row, Hendricks dramatically outperformed his SIERA. How much longer can this last? He seems to be a ticking time bomb to me and I would be nervous to purchase him at his likely cost.”

For the third season in a row, this is the narrative surrounding Hendricks. For the third season in a row, I will likely buy him when everyone else bails. It’s funny to me that a pitcher who consistently out performs our understanding of what he should be able to do is denigrated because he doesn’t fit our understanding of what a pitcher should be able to do.