2020 Bold Pitcher League Leaders – A Review

With two ratio categories as opposed to one for hitters, a shortened season is an even better opportunity for me to get a bold pitcher league leader correct! Let’s see if I did.

American League

ERAAndrew Heaney

For the third season in a row, Heaney underperformed his SIERA. He continues to post solid peripherals, but this time a sub-70% LOB% did his ERA in. Last year it was inflated BABIP and HR/FB rate marks, while the previous season it was a slightly inflated HR/FB rate and slightly too low LOB%. It’s clear that he’s not actually a consistent underperformer in these “luck” metrics, but he seems to get hurt by at least one each year. It’s hard to believe such a solid skill set has only resulted in one sub-4.00 ERA in his entire career, and that came all the way back in 2015. I’ll keep buying.

WHIPKenta Maeda

THERE WE GO! I was far more bullish than the projection systems on Maeda, but sadly failed to roster him in any leagues. Not only did his skills not deteriorate upon the move to the AL like the projection systems forecasted, his skills actually surged to new heights. He easily led the AL in WHIP with a tiny 0.75 mark and actually led all of baseball among qualified starters.

SOJosh James

What a mess of a season for James. Injury resulted in him throwing only 17.1 innings and making just two starts. His strikeout rate plummeted, while his walk rate skyrocketed. It’s anyone’s guess what James’ future looks like, but I’ll probably still take a stab in an AL-Only league for cheap next year.

SvMychal Givens

The Orioles were happy to provide save opportunities for literally every rando in their bullpen except the best one at the time in Givens. They then shipped him away to the Rockies and that was that. Not only did he fail to come close to leading the league in saves, he recorded just one.

National League

ERAJoe Musgrove

Injury once again limited a pitcher, and Musgrove ended up starting just eight games and amassing 39.2 innings. He did post his first ever sub-4.00 ERA, so the idea here was correct. His strikeout rate also skyrocketed over 30%, backed by a career best 14.4% (a mark that has increased every season). He’ll likely be on a lot of sleeper lists again next year.

WHIPZac Gallen

Gallen vastly outperformed his SIERA once again, thanks to excellent fortune in BABIP and LOB%. The low BABIP reduced his WHIP to just 1.11, but that wasn’t close to the league lead. I’m a bit concerned his 28.2% strikeout rate came with just a 12.1% SwStk%, suggesting he’s getting those strikeouts more by called and/or foul strikes, which are a bit less repeatable. Sure, I like him, but I’m betting he’s overvalued next year.

SODinelson Lamet

Great thought, but missed a true win here. Lamet’s 93 strikeouts tied with Yu Darvish for fourth in the NL, 11 behind Jacob deGrom. It’s amazing how dominant he has been as strictly a two-pitch pitcher.

SvNick Burdi

It was a good idea to boldly bet on a Pirates reliever to lead the league in saves, only because the field was wide open and any choice would be considered bold. Unfortunately, Burdi didn’t make it very far before an elbow injury ended his season. In fact, he ended up throwing just 2.1 innings, which is par for the course for players in my boldies.

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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Wow, is this the first time you actually got one of these bold league leader predictions right?


Hence the term “bold”.