wPDI Mid-June Leaderboard – Relief Pitchers

It has been a little while since I introduced to you my Weighted Plate Discipline Index (wPDI) for pitchers. wPDI is a (new) plate discipline index metric that aims to meaningfully aggregate the frequency of pitcher plate discipline outcomes into one composite figure. A pitcher who generates a lot of contact in the zone will have a lower wPDI, while a pitcher who generates a lot of swings and misses out of the zone will have a higher one, etc.

We are now almost halfway into the 2019 season. Let’s check up on the 2019 wPDI Leaderboard for RPs – i.e. the relief pitchers who are excelling in plate discipline.

Current 2019 wPDI Leaderboard – Relief Pitchers
Name IP wPDI
Adam Morgan 18.3 .411
Josh Hader 35.7 .410
Amir Garrett 30.0 .400
Ken Giles 25.0 .396
Giovanny Gallegos 31.7 .393
Hector Neris 30.3 .388
Jake Diekman 29.0 .384
David Hernandez 30.0 .384
Ryan Pressly 31.3 .384
Sergio Romo 24.0 .382
Brandon Workman 33.7 .382
Kirby Yates 30.0 .380
Will Smith 28.7 .378
Mike Morin 15.3 .377
Oliver Perez 20.0 .377
Evan Marshall 16.3 .375
Trevor Hildenberger 14.0 .373
Brad Hand 30.7 .372
Raisel Iglesias 29.3 .371
Wandy Peralta 22.7 .371
Luke Jackson 35.0 .371
Joe Jimenez 28.3 .371
Chad Sobotka 12.0 .370
Noe Ramirez 34.0 .368
Nick Anderson 29.7 .367
Jose Alvarado 23.3 .366
Greg Holland 22.7 .366
Brandon Kintzler 31.0 .365
Kenley Jansen 29.7 .365
Scott Barlow 34.0 .365
Zac Rosscup 15.0 .365
Emilio Pagan 26.0 .364
Matt Barnes 29.3 .363
Yoshihisa Hirano 25.3 .363
Austin Adams 16.3 .362
Edubray Ramos 11.0 .362
Oliver Drake 12.7 .362
Tim Mayza 23.7 .361
Andrew Miller 23.3 .361
Seunghwan Oh 18.3 .360
Matt Wisler 27.7 .360
Tanner Rainey 12.3 .360
Ryan Helsley 10.3 .360
Jonathan Loaisiga 14.0 .359
Joe Biagini 30.0 .359
Tommy Kahnle 26.7 .358
Jared Hughes 30.0 .357
Kyle Crick 24.0 .357
Jordan Hicks 23.3 .356
Aroldis Chapman 26.7 .356
Alex Claudio 29.7 .356
Tony Watson 27.7 .354
Edwin Diaz 28.7 .354
Minimum 10 IP

Above is the current wPDI leaderboard for relief pitchers this season, with a minimum of 10 innings pitched. There is no surprise that Josh Hader can be found close to the top. There are also a few other surprise names that appear.

Let’s go into some detail for a few of the top performers:

Giovanny Gallegos (.393 wPDI)

I was quite surprised to see Giovanny Gallegos this high up. His .393 mark is good for 5th on the current 2019 wPDI RP leaderboard.

When looking at Gallegos’s individual plate discipline outcomes – Gallegos excels in balls thrown in the zone without a swing (Outcome F). Giovanny also gets plenty of swings and misses; his Swinging Strike rate this season is currently at a fantastic 17%!

A full explanation of the plate discipline outcomes can be found here.

It is hard to say whether this elite deception will sustain, as his wPDI last season was a rather poor .311. His fastball sits at 94 MPH, and he’s basically a two-pitch pitcher – fastball/slider. He came over to the Cardinals in the trade for Luke Voit. Prior to coming over to the National League, he owned a career 4.75 ERA, with a 3.98 FIP over 30.1 innings. He allowed too many home runs and generated few groundballs.

His batted ball profile has largely been the same in 2019, however, he is throwing his slider a bit more. Giovanny has been able to increase his strikeout rate from a 10 K/9 last season to a superb 13 K/9 in 2019; his K% is a whopping 39%! His soft-hit contact rate has also gone up 10 percentage points. Gallegos, however, is exhibiting a somewhat lucky BABIP (.242) – and it has somewhat aided his fantastic 0.77 WHIP this season.

Up until this season, Giovanny Gallegos was not especially effective, and certainly was not on anyone’s fantasy radar. But with this fantastic wPDI showing, he has garnered my attention.

I am not picking him up in leagues just yet, as he should not factor into saves in 2019 – but I will now be taking more notice of him. One should always pay attention to what the Cardinal coaching staff does with pitchers.

Ryan Pressly (.384 wPDI)

Ryan Pressly has the 9th best wPDI of all relief pitchers [min 10 IP], yet his wPDI has dropped from last season. Last year, Pressly led all pitchers with a wPDI of .401. He is a wPDI and a plate discipline gem.

I had previously written about Pressly’s plate discipline dominance. In 2018, Pressly exhibited three elite pitching outcome components – A, C and F. This continues to be the case to start the 2019 season – which is a fantastic sign for his rest of season outlook. He is extremely deceptive outside of the zone (generating swings and misses, yet limiting called balls), plus, he generates a large number of called strikes.

His ERA thus far in 2019 is a stellar 0.84. He has only issued 4 walks, and at the same time has struck out 37 batters. He owns a terrific K/9 of 10, which is actually down from last season (K/9 of 13 in 2018).

I continue to believe that Ryan Pressly is the best arm in the Astros bullpen, and should be owned in most fantasy formats. Should anything happen to Roberto Osuna, Pressly would absolutely lock down the 9th inning role. Until then, he is still worth playing in all but the shallowest of formats for his fantastic ratios.

Adam Morgan (.411 wPDI)

Adam Morgan was off to a stellar start this season before landing on the IL with a forearm strain. He was pitching to a 1.96 ERA, 0.71 WHIP with 18 strikeouts in just over 18 innings. Morgan is currently the top wPDI relief pitcher at .411.

Like Gallegos, Morgan has a superior Outcome F (ball thrown in the zone, with no swing). But what is remarkable about Morgan this season, is his Outcome A – for which Adam currently leads all relief pitchers with at least 10 IP. Outcome A enumerates the pitches that are thrown outside of the zone, that are both swung on and missed. It is the most superior binary pitching outcome possible. With very high outcomes A & F – Morgan was a key member of the Phillies bullpen with his successful deception.

Morgan has been somewhat lucky though – his FIP of 3.94 and his .146 BABIP show that some correction may be coming. It is not likely that he will be a going forward sub-2 ERA pitcher; he has been a high-4 lifetime ERA pitcher.

I am not a believer yet. Morgan will be starting a rehab assignment soon and is due to come off the IL shortly. However, I’ll now be keeping an eye on the season’s wPDI leader once he returns.

Amir Garrett (.400 wPDI)

To say that the 2017 season did not go well for Amir Garrett would be an understatement. He started 14 games in ’17 and mustered up 23 homers in less than 71 innings. He pitched to a horrific 7.39 ERA and 1.61 WHIP.

Let’s fast forward now to the current year. Garrett is exclusively being used out of the bullpen. His average fastball has now climbed to 96 MPH. His strikeout rate is up to 36%, with a K/9 of 13. He is limiting hard contact on balls, and he has become a groundball pitcher. A K% rate of 36% with GB% rate of 52% is a fantastic combination.

His ERA thus far in 2019 is at 1.47. Although that might be unsustainable, FIP as well as SIERA still have him under 3.00. He is a vastly different pitcher than he was two seasons ago, and this effort looks sustainable.

Garrett exhibits a very low Outcome E, which is ideal. A low Outcome E means that he hardly throws pitches in the zone that are contacted. He is indeed missing bats, to the tune of a 17% swinging strike rate.

Garrett lies right next to phenom Josh Hader on the 2019 wPDI leaderboard. Much like Gallegos, I am not adding him in fantasy leagues at the moment, as (barring injury) he won’t be a factor for saves this season. However, in deep leagues, he is essentially a free asset who may improve your ratios. He may be a better weekly option than many other low-end starting pitchers.

Ariel is the 2019 FSWA Baseball Writer of the Year. Ariel is also the winner of the 2020 FSWA Baseball Article of the Year award. He is the creator of the ATC (Average Total Cost) Projection System. Ariel was ranked by FantasyPros as the #1 fantasy baseball expert in 2019. His ATC Projections were ranked as the #1 most accurate projection system over the past three years (2019-2021). Ariel also writes for CBS Sports, SportsLine, RotoBaller, and is the host of the Beat the Shift Podcast (@Beat_Shift_Pod). Ariel is a member of the inaugural Tout Wars Draft & Hold league, a member of the inaugural Mixed LABR Auction league and plays high stakes contests in the NFBC. Ariel is the 2020 Tout Wars Head to Head League Champion. Ariel Cohen is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA). He is a Vice President of Risk Management for a large international insurance and reinsurance company. Follow Ariel on Twitter at @ATCNY.

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4 years ago

Garrett has been a revelation in my HLD and SVHD leagues, minor blowup last night notwithstanding

Francis C.
4 years ago
Reply to  jonvanderlugt

And he still got a hold 🙂