2022 Pod vs Steamer — ERA Downside

Yesterday, I compared my starting pitcher ERA Pod Projections to Steamer and discussed what was driving the gap. Let’s now review the pitchers I’m projecting for a worse ERA than Steamer. Remember in yesterday’s article I mentioned that my ERA projections are lower in aggregate, so the gaps are much smaller here. The important part is the ERA relative to the projection set, so these are larger differences than the absolute gaps would indicate.

ERA Downside
Name Pod ERA Steamer ERA Diff
Framber Valdez 3.94 3.53 0.41
José Quintana 4.68 4.33 0.35
Carlos Rodón 3.83 3.48 0.35
Martín Pérez 5.00 4.65 0.35
Robbie Ray 4.01 3.69 0.32

Framber Valdez has groundballed his way to success, having generated an insane 66% GB% throughout his short career. Despite a meh strikeout rate and worse than average walk rate, he has managed to keep both his ERA and SIERA below 4.00 because of all those grounders. My strikeout rate projection is slightly higher than Steamer’s, but walk rate is slightly higher as well, which mostly cancels each other out. Our HR/9 forecasts are similar as well, while my BABIP projection is lower. It appears that the difference stems from our LOB% projections, as mine is lower than all the systems. I don’t actually project LOB%, as it’s calculated as an implied value after my Base Runs formula calculates ERA. It’s also worth noting that Steamer’s ERA forecast is the lowest of all the systems by a decent margin. With a mediocre strikeout rate and a poor WHIP, Valdez is not super appealing to me.

José Quintana pitched nearly half his season in relief last year, boosting his strikeout rate and SwStk% to a career high. He’ll be back in the rotation for the Pirates, so we should expect his underlying skills to revert back to where they were. My strikeout rate projection is just below Steamer’s, but my walk rate forecast is well below. The difference here is clearly BABIP. Steamer is projecting the lowest of the systems by far as the only one below .300. I’m at .316, which is right around the rest of the systems. Since 2015, his xBABIP sits at .314, so it’s hard to believe a sub-.300 mark is coming.

It was a shocking, and unbelievable season for Carlos Rodón who hadn’t recorded more than 100 innings since 2018 and amassed the most number of innings since 2016. His strikeout rate skyrocketed above 30% for the first time as his fastball velocity surged, while his walk rate dipped to his lowest career mark. Given his injury history and shoulder issues, it’s really difficult to guess how he’ll follow-up. What if he can’t maintain the added velocity, whether because he’s not 100% healthy or simply because of natural regression? I’m clearly playing it conservative here, projecting a strikeout rate well below the other systems, and a significantly worse walk rate. Moving to San Francisco definitely helps, but he’s quite the risk at his expected cost.

Martín Pérez just signed with the Rangers and is likely to return to the rotation full time. That could mean a drop in strikeout rate, which is already below average to begin with. My strikeout and walk rate projections are both a bit worse than Steamer’s, while my BABIP is quite a bit higher. Again, Steamer’s BABIP projection is the lowest of the bunch, while mine is actually lower than the rest of the non-Steamer systems. Steamer is actually lowest on Perez’s ERA, so it’s possible the Rangers were consulting its projections when making the decision to sign him!

Robbie Ray is another coming off a career season that saw his SIERA drops to a career low, driven by a career best walk rate. Can he do it again? Beats me if I knew! No one is questioning the strikeout rate, but after four straight seasons of double digit walk rates, it’s hard to believe he’s finally gotten his control under control. So I’m a bit more pessimistic than Steamer is there. In addition, Steamer is the lowest on Ray’s BABIP, which is surprising given his .305 career mark. It’s pretty clear Steamer isn’t using Ray’s Statcast xBABIP at all to inform its projection. Ray’s xBABIP going back to 2015 sits at .314, and the only time it fell below .300 was last year, when it finished at .293. My BABIP projection is at .296, which matches THE BAT for the highest of the systems, and is still well below both his career mark and his xBABIP since 2015.

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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