Why We Missed: Disappointing Pitchers

After looking at the pitchers and hitters who exceeded expectations, it was time to examine the players who didn’t live up to their ADP. I had a good idea this list would be loaded with pitchers who missed a ton of time and I was correct. Of the 48 pitchers featured, 39 spent time on the IL at some point last season.

To determine who disappointed, I collected the information on any pitcher who saw more than a $10 decline in value from their draft-day price. I didn’t want to just use the difference in ranks because the gap from #1 to #15 could be over $10 but the difference between #250 to #300 might just be $1. I just analyzed the pitchers who had a positive draft day value.

While I combined starters and relievers in the first article, I thought it made more sense to split them apart this time. Here are the starters and then the closers.

Starting Pitcher Disappointments
Name Age ERA Change K-BB% Change IP Change 2019 DL 2018 MLB DL 2017 MLB DL Demoted/Released/Waived Foreign sign Minor Leaguer Past Star
Corey Kluber 33 2.92 -8.60% -179.8 x x
Kyle Freeland 26 3.88 -3.80% -98 x x x
Jameson Taillon 27 0.89 -3.00% -153.9 x x
Carlos Carrasco 32 1.91 -0.50% -112 x x
Luis Severino 25 -1.89 0.60% -179.1 x
Corbin Burnes 24 6.21 5.50% 11 x
Nathan Eovaldi 29 2.17 -6.20% -43.8 x x x
Yusei Kikuchi 28 \N \N x
Nick Pivetta 26 0.61 -7.90% -70.8 x
Jimmy Nelson 30 \N \N x x x
Jhoulys Chacín 31 2.51 1.00% -89.1 x x
Blake Snell 26 2.40 1.80% -73.2 x x
Zack Godley 29 1.22 -6.30% -86.1 x
Alex Wood 28 2.12 -1.20% -116 x x x
Chris Archer 30 0.88 -1.00% -28.9 x x
Chris Sale 30 2.29 -3.30% -10.9 x x
Aaron Sanchez 26 1.01 1.90% 26.1 x x x
Derek Holland 32 2.51 -4.20% -87 x x
Kevin Gausman 28 1.80 5.50% -81.1 x x
Jesus Luzardo 21 \N \N x x
Touki Toussaint 23 1.58 0.70% 12.2 x
Michael Wacha 27 1.56 -1.10% 42.1 x x
Carlos Rodon 26 1.02 11.50% -86 x
Dereck Rodriguez 27 2.82 -2.90% -19.1 x
Jake Arrieta 33 0.68 -1.30% -37 x x
Collin McHugh 32 2.71 -9.40% 2.1 x x
David Price 33 0.70 3.40% -68.9 x x x
Trevor Williams 27 2.26 0.70% -25 x x
Average 28.2 1.87 -1.12% -62 22 9 9 9 1 1 3
Median 28.0 1.91 -0.011 -71

 

Reliever Disappointments
Name Age ERA Change K-BB% change IP Change 2019 DL 2018 MLB DL 2017 MLB DL Demoted/Released/Waived In-season sign
Wade Davis 33 4.52 -13.6% -22.9 x
David Robertson 34 2.17 -23.0% -63.0 x
Cody Allen 30 1.56 -8.5% -44.0 x x
Alex Reyes 24 15.00 -29.4% -1.0 x x x x
Craig Kimbrel 31 3.79 -7.6% -41.9 x x
Arodys Vizcaino 28 0.14 1.8% -34.1 x x x
Jose Alvarado 24 2.41 -11.2% -34.0 x
Hunter Strickland 30 1.58 1.6% -21.0 x x
Brad Boxberger 31 1.01 -8.4% -26.9 x x
Blake Treinen 31 4.12 -16.8% -21.9 x
Drew Steckenrider 28 2.38 -1.8% -50.1 x
A.J. Minter 25 3.83 -9.9% -32.0 x x
Seranthony Dominguez 24 1.07 -7.1% -33.8 x
Dellin Betances 31 -2.70 67.3% -66.0 x
Wily Peralta 30 2.13 -5.2% 6.0 x
Kelvin Herrera 29 3.70 -2.5% 7.0 x x
Edwin Diaz 25 3.62 -7.9% -15.1
Pedro Strop 34 2.71 1.3% -18.0 x
Jeremy Jeffress 31 3.73 -7.9% -24.2 x x x
Jose Leclerc 25 2.76 -6.5% 11.0 x x x
Average 28.9 2.98 -4.8% -26.3 17 4 5 7 1
Median 30 2.56 -7.8% -25.55

 

There is a ton to digest from these tables and most of it won’t get done today.

  • Injuries were the cause for most of the names in the above table with 73% of the starters and 85% of the closers going on the IL at some point last season. An interesting note I need to investigate is how few spent time on the IL in the previous seasons. Only four of the 17 (23%) relievers sent time on the IL in 2018 with the same number in 2017. With starters, it was nine of the 22 (41%) starters on the IL for both of the previous seasons. These rates are lower than those I found last year with the new 10-day IL. It seems like owners had more faith in historically healthy pitchers but were let down. It’s a subject I need to dive into at a later date. I should first probably piece together the 2019 IL since it would increase the testable sample by at least 50%.
  • I’m just not sure how much age matters without a reference point. More on this variable in a future article.
  • Besides the starters having their innings decline on average by 62, they also saw their results decline with their ERA jumping up almost two runs with a small drop in their K%-BB%. For the healthy starters, they saw their ERA jump 1.58 runs and their K%-BB% drop by 3% points.
  • The relievers struggled even more with their ERA increasing by a median value of 2.56 runs and their K%-BB% dropping by 8% points. I wonder if declines in production can be detected early on and used as an injury warning flag. More work for a future date.
  • I wonder if some talent threshold should be used when rostering closers. The median xFIP from the previous season was 3.87 for those who got demoted. It was just 3.15 for those who didn’t.

I’ve created more questions than answers from this investigation. I need to dive into my IL database and see if these pitchers buck any overall trend and can be avoided in the future. Just by eye-balling it, I think the starters were unlucky and fantasy owners put too much value in suspect closers. But I could be wrong. I’ve been before.

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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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I think Rodon was Injured prior to 2019.