Last week I took a look at the best fantasy hitters over the past calendar year by running the results of that split through Zach Sanders’ z-score method for calculating fantasy value. The motivation for that post was to make an argument that when voting for All-Stars the second half of the previous season should be considered. I understand that the “Past 1 Calendar Years” split on the leaderboards includes stats that were pre-All-Star break 2013, but…close enough. And I also realize fantasy value doesn’t necessarily equal All-Star, but, again, close enough. I quickly want to highlight the starting pitchers I’d vote into the All-Star game (ten per league) based on their performance over the last 365 in the image below. After that I want to discuss a few guys whose ownership percentage is out of whack with their performance in the past calendar year.
If you’d like to get a look at the complete rankings of fantasy value for qualified starters over the last 365 days, check out this Google Sheet. Below is a guy who should be owned in more leagues based on performance in the past calendar year and two guys that are owned in way too many leagues.
Jose Quintana, 4.4% owned on ESPN.com
I could spend some time breaking Quintana down, but all I really need to do is convince you that he’s criminally underowned. To do that, I’d like to show you how his stats over the past calendar year compare to the league average so far in 2014.
Better run prevention, fewer base runners and more strikeouts than the league average. There is absolutely no reason that 129 starting pitchers should be owned in more leagues than Quintana. As even more reason to pick him up, he looks to be in line for a little positive regression. He has the fourth lowest strand rate among 94 qualified starters despite allowing home runs at a rate almost half of the league average. His BABIP is also a bit outside the normal range and quite a bit higher than what it has been in his first couple of years in the league. As the 43rd best fantasy starter over the past calendar year, Quintana is probably just above the cut line for pitchers who are more than spot starters in 12-team mixed leagues. But his ownership percentage makes it seems like he’s a risky spot starter. Pick him up.
Shelby Miller, 99.3% owned
Justin Verlander, 99.8% owned
It hasn’t been two weeks since I advised Rotographs readers to believe in the projection systems and not give up on Verlander. But that was in the context of daily fantasy baseball where I do believe Verlander could have value in the second half of the season. But in season long leagues, there’s no reason he must be owned. No more than 50 pitchers are run-them-out-there-every-time starters in 12 team mixed leagues. After 45-50 guys, everyone is just a spot starter. And Verlander ranks as only the 57th best fantasy starter of the past calendar year. Miller ranks 53rd. Both would rank much lower if I compiled rankings that only took 2014 stats into consideration.
If you’re going to hold on to one of them, it should be Verlander. He has more upside just because of the elite level he was once at, and the projections do believe he’ll improve the rest of the way. As for Miller, it looks like he’s keeping it together on the surface with his 3.56 ERA. But his strikeout and walk rates have swung wildly in a negative direction and are both well below league average this year. His SIERA is an ugly 4.72. Drop him and let someone else feel the effects of the regression monster.