Reviewing The 2016 Starting Pitcher Strikeout Rate Upsiders

Let’s continue the strikeout rate theme by reviewing my list of starting pitchers my xk% equation deemed holding strikeout rate upside in 2016. In the original article, I expressed that the list of names was rather boring, so let’s see if that turned out to be the case or if any gems were uncovered.

2016 Starting Pitcher K% Upsiders
Player 2015 K% 2015 xK% 2015 K%-xK% 2016 K% 2016 K%-2015 K%
Tim Lincecum 18.0% 21.6% -3.6% 16.0% -2.0%
Danny Duffy 17.4% 20.2% -2.8% 25.7% 8.3%
Steven Wright 16.8% 19.5% -2.7% 19.4% 2.6%
Chi Chi Gonzalez 10.7% 13.1% -2.4% 11.3% 0.6%
R.A. Dickey 14.3% 16.7% -2.4% 17.3% 3.0%
Chris Young 16.6% 19.0% -2.4% 23.2% 6.6%
Edinson Volquez 18.2% 20.5% -2.3% 16.3% -1.9%
Matt Moore 16.6% 18.8% -2.2% 21.2% 4.6%
Jered Weaver 13.5% 15.7% -2.2% 13.4% -0.1%
Bud Norris 18.8% 21.0% -2.2% 20.6% 1.8%
Marco Estrada 18.1% 20.2% -2.1% 22.8% 4.7%
Nick Martinez 13.8% 15.8% -2.0% 8.9% -4.9%

I think it’s fair to assume that Tim Lincecum’s career is over after a sad 38.1 innings with the Angels. His strikeout rate has fallen every single year since 2009, which is pretty crazy. I will always remember how I declined to go out for dinner for my birthday in order to watch Lincecum’s Major League debut.

Hey! I pegged a breakout in Danny Duffy. Unfortunately, since I posted my Selling Danny Duffy article, his skills declined and he limped to the finish by posting a bloated 5.66 ERA. Talk about good timing! His fastball velocity also trended downward and his chart is ominous. I’m far less optimistic about him next year than I had been earlier in the season and I wonder if fantasy owners will discount him based on the poor finish or remember his earlier greatness and stronger overall numbers.

Steven Wright delivered a nice profit to those who gambled on him winning a spot in the Red Sox rotation. His strikeout rate jumped to nearly match his 2015 xK%. While he’s going to outperform his SIERA thanks to his knuckler, he’s still got some regression as knuckleballers aren’t going to consistently post ERA marks more than a full run below their SIERA marks.

With or without xK%, you kinda figured R.A. Dickey would enjoy at least some rebound in strikeout rate after posting his lowest mark since 2009. He certainly did, but home run issues hampered his results and he failed to exceed 200 innings for the first time since 2010. Now a free agent and heading into his age 42 season, I wonder how much interest he’ll receive.

The rules defying Chris Young endured a truly baffling season, as his strikeout rate surged while pitching mostly in relief, but his BABIP jumped above .291 for the first time in his career and his HR/FB rate was more than double his career mark. It was a strange season indeed.

I liked the Edinson Volquez that brought electric stuff, induced lots of swings and misses, but didn’t know where the ball was headed half the time to the version that now possesses decent control, but no longer misses bats at the same rate.

Matt Moore finished an up and down season in which he posted ERA marks above 5.00 in two months and below 4.00 in the other four months. Moving to the National League obviously helped his strikeout rate, though he was still well above his mark of last year while still with the Rays. Assuming he stays with the Giants, he’ll be a strong candidate to deliver a profit to his fantasy owners.

Poor Jered Weaver couldn’t even increase a 13.5% strikeout rate. I guess an 83 mph fastball is no longer at a velocity that would assist his changeup in fooling anyone anymore.

Marco Estrada outperformed his SIERA once again, but this time upped his strikeout rate to its highest mark since 2013, when he was still in the National League. He kept his pitch mix similar, but his curve was a bit more effective at inducing swings and misses and his changeup also enjoyed a small increase in SwStk% from its already lofty mark.

Of the 12 pitchers listed, eight of them increased their strikeout rates, while three suffered a decline, and one was essentially flat. That’s a pretty good success rate for my xK%-informed strikeout rate surgers.

We hoped you liked reading Reviewing The 2016 Starting Pitcher Strikeout Rate Upsiders 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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sorry to beat a dead horse, but how did xK% fare against Steamer/Zips pre-season K% projections?