Reviewing 2014 Pod’s Picks: Starting Pitcher

It’s starting pitcher recap time, woohoo! So let’s kick things off by checking back with my preseason Pod’s Picks. I only included pitchers from my top 78 in the bullish section, while the bearish section lists only pitchers included in the RotoGraphs consensus (which excluded my ranking) top 78.

Bullish

Hiroki Kuroda

My Preseason Rank: 19 | Preseason Consensus: 50 | Actual Rank: 52

In previous Pod’s Picks recaps, I shared my confusion as to how players would perform close to my projection, yet their ranking would still be far off from where I valued them. Kuroda is another example. His ERA finished a bit above my projection, but his WHIP was below it, offsetting each other. Meanwhile, his strikeout total was almost dead on with my projection. It might very well have to do with the wins. He won just 11 games, versus my 13 win projection. I wonder where he would have ranked if he won just two more games. Anyway, after a slow start, he did what he always does and even posted a career low walk rate. No sign of impending doom just yet, despite his advanced age (40 next season!).

Closer Ranking: Consensus

R.A. Dickey

My Preseason Rank: 18 | Preseason Consensus: 48 | Actual Rank: 48

Okay seriously, this is ridiculous. Check out my projection versus his actual:

  IP W ERA WHIP SO
Pod 215 14 3.73 1.22 170
Actual 215.2 14 3.71 1.23 173

That’s like the best projection I have ever developed. And yet it led to a preseason ranking of 18 and end of season ranking of 48?! Crazy. For what it’s worth, Dickey was the 37th most valuable pitcher in CBS, so perhaps it’s a difference in valuation methodologies. Expect another upper-3.00 ERA, assuming he avoids some poor HR/FB rate fortune again.

Closer Ranking: Consensus

Ervin Santana

My Preseason Rank: 43 | Preseason Consensus: 70 | Actual Rank: 67

Santana was a bit worse than I projected, but that was primarily due to an inflated .319 BABIP, the second highest mark of his career and just the third time it jumped above the .300 level. He enjoyed a strikeout rate bump upon his move to the National League as expected. He may be undervalued again next year, but it will depend on where he signs.

Closer Ranking: Consensus

Tim Lincecum

My Preseason Rank: 34 | Preseason Consensus: 55 | Actual Rank: 114

LOL. Am I allowed to type that here? Too late. This time, we couldn’t just blame an inflated HR/FB rate and low LOB%. For the first time, Lincecum’s strikeout rate fell below 20% and actually tumbled from where it sat in 2013. His future is now up in the air.

Closer Ranking: Consensus

Scott Kazmir

My Preseason Rank: 54 | Preseason Consensus: 75 | Actual Rank: 32

Finally, someone I was right about! Kazmir limped to the finish line, posting a 7.80 ERA in August and a 4.35 mark in September. But his first four months were so strong (no monthly ERA above 3.12) that he still handily beat my more optimistic ranking. His velocity and strikeout rate fell from his 2013 resurgence levels, but still combined to form a solid overall skills package. Given his poor finish, he might come cheaper than expected.

Closer Ranking: Me

Bearish

Bartolo Colon

My Preseason Rank: 91 | Preseason Consensus: 64 | Actual Rank: 63

It was an innings and a win thing that lost this for me. Because from a ratio standpoint, I was rather close. I had projected 170 innings, versus the 202.1 he actually recorded. He clearly received excellent run support, leading to 15 wins, compared to my measly 9 win projection. For as long as he continues issuing free passes at such a minuscule clip, he will earn some fantasy value.

Closer Ranking: Consensus

Julio Teheran

My Preseason Rank: 53 | Preseason Consensus: 28 | Actual Rank: 14

For the second year in a row, Teheran outperformed his SIERA. This year, however, he did so by a far greater degree. He’s been a fly ball pitcher, which has likely helped keep his BABIP down, but it’s just hard to believe this is completely sustainable. I’m with Steamer, once again expecting major regression next year. Given his likely exorbitant cost, I’m staying far away.

Closer Ranking: Consensus

Andrew Cashner

My Preseason Rank: 64 | Preseason Consensus: 41 | Actual Rank: 69

Well, I’ll take it. I was obviously much closer because Cashner missed time with elbow and shoulder injuries, because when he actually took the mound, he was fantastic again. Of course, he needed a whole heaping of seemingly unsustainable luck, with both a low HR/FB rate and BABIP. Since the strikeouts haven’t returned, he’s a candidate for significant ERA regression next year.

Closer Ranking: Me

Ivan Nova

My Preseason Rank: 79 | Preseason Consensus: 58 | Actual Rank: 212

Another injury win. Nova was limited to just four starts before falling victim to the dreaded torn UCL, which eventually resulted in Tommy John surgery.

Closer Ranking: Me

Dan Haren

My Preseason Rank: 67 | Preseason Consensus: 47 | Actual Rank: 58

This actually shocked me. I was a big fan of his heading into 2013, but he turned out to be a disaster, as he posted a 4.67 ERA. I figured that for sure, he would be massively undervalued his year. But instead, I was significantly more bearish on him than the other rankers! His ERA did drop, but remained above 4.00, and his velocity averaged below 88.0 mph, which is a big red flag for potentially imminent collapse.

Closer Ranking: Me

Final Tally:
Me: 4
Consensus: 6

We hoped you liked reading Reviewing 2014 Pod’s Picks: Starting Pitcher by Mike Podhorzer!

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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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Roby
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Roby

Injuries saved you big this time.

Though I think a rule should be that if both picks are off by more than 30, than they count in a tie.