I’ve been working through a series of posts on how to prepare for leagues that use non-traditional categories. My concern is that people are going into drafts with materials that are geared toward 5×5 categories because almost any set of rankings or values from a major industry source services the traditional categories. Unless you’ve created your own rankings with projections for non-traditional categories or found rankings geared toward them, your draft materials are hurting you to some degree.
You can read my post on OBP replacing batting average here and my post on slugging percentage replacing home runs and OPS being a sixth category here. The methodology for this exercise is in that OBP article. Today I’m switching to the mound and looking at the players most affected when K/9 replaces strikeouts and when quality starts replace wins. We’ll start with those most helped by K/9 replacing strikeouts.
The common thread here is that I have each of these guys projected for 150 innings or less, and I have each projected for a K/9 above 8.00. I made sure to weight K/9 contributions for innings pitched.
There are two types of pitchers on this list. The first is young guns. Brandon Beachy, Kevin Gausman, Marco Estrada, Drew Smyly, Tyson Ross, Hector Santiago and Tony Cingrani all have less than two full seasons worth of innings pitched as a starter under their belt. But it’s not like this is a list of young guys who are destined to be the next big thing as they all have warts. Unless you think one of these guys is going to approach 175 innings, I’d probably stay away.
The other type of pitchers on this list are veterans who have had a high level of success in the past but who have struggled with consistency both in performance and in health. Brandon Morrow, Josh Johnson and Scott Kazmir have all had at least one season of 3.5 WAR or better, but Morrow and Johnson haven’t had a season like that since 2010 and Kazmir since 2007. But this group of pitchers is more likely return value if they can top 150 innings by any substantial measure.
Unsurprisingly, this list is the exact opposite of the last one, full of older inning eaters. These guys didn’t make it on this list necessarily because they have a bad K/9 but more because the advantage of a high raw strikeout total is neutralized in this format. These aren’t guys you should avoid in a K/9 league, just guys you make sure not to overpay for.
The Mets and Cubs were bad last year and will be bad again, so it’s no surprise to see Bartolo Colon and Jeff Samardzija here. The Royals were above .500 last year, and we have the Mariners projected to top .500 this year. But neither team is great and neither is projected to finish top ten in runs scored per game, so their workhorses are still helped out by quality starts as a category. And then oddly we find Alex Wood and A.J. Griffin on the list. Both play on good teams, so the obvious reason they would be helped by quality starts isn’t in play. Neither one pitches particularly deep into games either. That’s especially true for Wood who barely topped five innings per start in his 11 starts last year. This could just be an issue of me projecting their win totals too low. But I guess they might be worth more than just a buck at the end of a draft with quality starts as a category.
This list is much more straight forward as all six guys play on teams with good playoff odds. As you can see I’m not all that high on Scott Kazmir and Matt Moore no matter the format, but I’ll be avoiding them altogether in QS leagues. Of course I’ll never end up with them in wins leagues either because they’ll be long gone by the end of the draft where I would feel comfortable taking them. Again, this isn’t a list of pitchers you should avoid in QS leagues. Just be conscious of their price.