2022 Pod vs Steamer — ERA Downside — A Review

Last week, I reviewed six starting pitchers whose ERA Pod Projections were significantly lower than their Steamer projections. Now let’s flip to the list of pitchers I highlighted as having ERA downside.

ERA Downside
Name Pod ERA Steamer ERA Diff 2022 ERA Winner
Framber Valdez 3.94 3.53 0.41 2.82 Steamer
Jose Quintana 4.68 4.33 0.35 2.93 Steamer
Carlos Rodón 3.83 3.48 0.35 2.88 Steamer
Martin Perez 5.00 4.65 0.35 2.89 Steamer
Robbie Ray 4.01 3.69 0.32 3.71 Steamer

It was a clean sweep for Steamer, time to stop making my own forecasts! Of course, as another reminder that I mentioned in my ERA upside article, leaguewide starting pitcher ERA was at its lowest since 2014. So of course most downside lists are going to look silly. Let’s discuss each of the pitchers.

Both Steamer and I were far too pessimistic about Framber Valdez’s ERA, who posted his first sub-3.00 mark over a full season. Despite an extreme ground ball rate, he continues to manage a better than average BABIP, which is quite the trick given that ground balls fall for hits significantly more often than fly balls do. He upped his strikeout rate and improved his walk rate, though his CSW% was nearly identical to his 2021 mark.

Notably, his sinker fastball spiked to a career best 93.9 MPH, though that surge didn’t result in a higher SwStk% or GB%. I’m betting that as soon as I give him full credit as a consistent SIERA-beater, he’s going to disappoint and I’ll end up being too optimistic with his ERA!

Where on Earth did these results come from, Jose Quintana?! Seriously, I thought he spent most of the season in relief that led to this ERA and totally missed that he actually started 32 games and still managed his first sub-3.00 ERA. Did his underlying skills improve? Nope. His strikeout rate actually finished below his career average, while his CSW% sat at its lowest since 2016. Instead, his HR/FB rate finished at a microscopic 5.3%, which was easily the lowest mark among all qualified starters. You just can’t predict these things!

Forecasting Carlos Rodón this year was more like an educated guess, as the oft-injured former top prospect hasn’t recorded 100 innings since 2018, before he enjoyed the surprise breakout in 2021. Amazingly, he ended up posting nearly identical skills, with barely a loss in strikeout rate and SwStk%. Even better, he stayed healthy enough to amass 178 innings! Of course, lady luck was on his side, as he allowed just a 6.5% HR/FB rate, which was easily a career best.

Is that Martin Perez’s stat line or am I looking at Jose Quintana’s again? The two posted nearly identical skills and outperformed their SIERA marks for the same reason — a significantly better HR/FB rate than the league. Perez’s skills were actually a bit better than than had been, with a career best strikeout rate and his lowest SIERA since a short season in 2015. But, they certainly weren’t worthy of a sub-3.00 ERA! It was a nice combination of the low HR/FB rate, plus a high LOB%, tied for his career high, that led to these shocking results. I look forward to his overvaluation in deeper leagues next year.

Robbie Ray was the only pitcher who finished with an ERA anywhere close to our projections. He was another tough projection as his performance has really been up and down throughout his career, mostly depending on his control and his BABIP gyrations. This year, his strikeout rate fell and walk rate rose, driven by his lowest CSW% since 2015. So from that perspective, it was kind of a disappointing season. He also wasn’t able to maintain his 2021 fastball velocity spike. However, he managed to post a below league average BABIP for the second straight year, and a LOB% above 80% as well. These are the kind of rates that are extremely tough to predict, so Ray remains a high risk, high reward buy.

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.

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
22 days ago

Does anyone know the reason why ERA was down so much this season?