2023 Projection Showdown — THE BAT vs Steamer Starting Pitcher ERA, Part 2

Yesterday, I moved on to comparing ERA forecasts as part of my 2023 projection showdown, pitting THE BAT against Steamer, discussing the starting pitcher THE BAT was more bullish on. Now let’s switch on over to Steamer’s favorites.

Steamer Starting Pitcher ERA Favorites
Name THE BAT ERA Steamer ERA ERA Diff
Kodai Senga 4.61 3.72 -0.89
Patrick Corbin 5.31 4.45 -0.86
Nick Martinez 4.99 4.16 -0.82
Daniel Lynch 5.12 4.35 -0.77
Trevor Rogers 4.50 3.78 -0.71
Madison Bumgarner 5.58 4.95 -0.63

As usual, there are some names I already covered in the Steamer K% favorites post, but we also find a bunch of new names.

As discussed previously, there’s a massive disconnect between Steamer and THE BAT’s Kodai Senga projection. While Steamer’s forecast is relatively in line with the other systems, THE BAT is on an island by itself, far more bearish than every other system. Projecting foreign players in their first year in MLB is much more difficult than MLB veterans, or even minor leaguers making the jump. The differences here stem from a strikeout rate disagreement and HR/9 rate. I think Steamer’s more bullish strikeout rate might prove too high, but it’s hard for me to understand how THE BAT is forecasting such a significantly lower mark. The difference in strikeout rate helps explain the HR/9 discrepancy, as more strikeouts means fewer balls in play that could potentially leave the yard. Just based on his Japanese league history, I would have to imagine Senga’s ERA finishes closer to Steamer’s projection, even if it proves too optimistic.

Patrick Corbin’s career has been wild, as he broke out for two elite seasons, driven by strikeout rate spikes, in 2018 and 2019, and then immediately regressed like those seasons never occurred. His strikeout rate just hit a career low, while his SwStk% hit its lowest since his 2012 debut. It’s odd, because his velocity has been find, and his sinker velocity actually reached its highest since 2015. Amazingly, THE BAT is projecting another decline in strikeout rate to set a new career low, which seems like a very low percentage play. Surprisingly, over these last three seasons of climbing ERA marks, his xERA has actually been either pretty close or higher than his actual mark. That suggests it hasn’t been bad luck and these inflated BABIP marks and HR/FB rates have been deserved. I’m kind of thinking he finishes with an ERA in the middle of the two forecasts, but simply because these are such bearish projections, think the percentages favor the slightly less pessimistic from Steamer.

Nick Martinez also appeared in Steamer’s K% faves, as THE BAT isn’t buying his strikeout rate surge, compared to his earlier time in the Majors. I think he’s a different pitcher now and that it’s an easy call siding with Steamer’s ERA projection.

Former top prospect Daniel Lynch has been a disappointment so far in about a season’s worth of innings over two years. Steamer is more bullish on his strikeout rate than Steamer, despite healthy SwStk% above 11% in each of his first two seasons. I don’t see any reason to believe he’ll ever again be around an 18% strikeout rate. The two disagree on his BABIP as well, as THE BAT is projecting the highest mark among systems, while Steamer the lowest. Lynch’s xERA was close to his 2022, and much higher than his already high 2021 mark, suggesting the high BABIP has been deserved. That doesn’t mean that’s his true talent though and his hit prevention skills won’t improve. I think I’m feeling the same way I did about Corbin above — that Lynch’s ERA might fall in between the two, but due to how bearish THE BAT is, the odds are much greater his ERA finishes closer to Steamer.

After a breakout 2021, Trevor Rogers battled injury and disappointed in 2022. His strikeout rate plummeted, while his BABIP spiked. Steamer is projecting a more significant rebound in his strikeout rate than THE BAT, whose far lower than any of the other systems. With consistent velocity and a similar pitch mix as 2021, it’s surprising to see such a decline in both strikeout rate and SwStk%. That could be blamed on his changeup, which went from elite from a SwStk% perspective, to below average. I think there’s far more room for a rebound here than THE BAT is giving him credit for. However, I think Steamer’s ERA projection might prove too optimistic. I do think he’ll finish closer to it given how much higher THE BAT sits.

Gee golly, remember when Madison Bumgarner was one of the top fantasy pitchers?! As usual, the difference here starts with the strikeout rate projections. If you thought it couldn’t get worse, welp, THE BAT thinks it could! It’s projecting the lowest mark of his career, while the rest of the systems are forecasting a slight rebound. Furthermore, THE BAT is oddly projecting a walk rate spike, which would represent the third worst mark of his career. Finally, its LOB% forecast is one of the lowest I’ve seen for a starting pitcher and would represent a career low. Steamer is forecasting the second worst ERA of Bumgarner’s career and yet THE BAT is even higher…that’s bad! I’m going to side with Steamer on this one, but sadly, it still doesn’t make him draftable in any league format.

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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