2013 Fantasy BaseballBrett TalleyFantasy Baseball

2013 Fantasy Baseball, The Rubber – Week 12: Struggling From the Stretch?

Holland land

I have a type when it comes to both the women and the starting pitchers that I tend to love.

With women, I like blondes that are shorter than me and who are…..how do I say this……chesty. And I also have a soft spot for redheads and Hispanic girls. Nothing wrong with that, right? But the problem is that, for a very long time, looks weren’t the only common characteristic of the women I fell for. I also had a penchant for girls that treated me like shit. Even when I was with them, I still felt like I was chasing them because they were never as committed to the relationship as I was. And for some effed up reason, I loved that. But I’ve remedied that bad habit. Now I’ve got a girlfriend who is blonde, shorter and chesty who let’s me do what I want and isn’t a manipulative bitch.

With starting pitchers, I’m a total sucker for a guy with a good strikeout to walk ratio (I actually prefer K%-BB% as opposed to K/BB). Again, nothing wrong with that, right? But again there is a problem. I’ll fall for anyone with a good K-BB, no matter if their ERA is consistently higher than their xFIP and SIERA. Josh Kay likes to give me shit about this and last week on my podcast he pointed out that so many of these guys I love and get burned by are guys who consistently struggle with strand rate. His idea was that these are guys who tend to struggle from the stretch.

To test this theory, I compiled a list of 14 starters I’ve fallen for over the last five or so years who continually disappointed with an ERA that didn’t match up with their SIERA. No one in the group has an ERA that is lower than their SIERA for their career. I looked at the group’s K-BB, BABIP and HR/FB both from the windup and from the stretch. Here is a chart showing the difference between their numbers from the windup and from the stretch with negative numbers showing the player was worse from the stretch.

Name K-BB BABIP HR/FB
Ricky Nolasco -7.30% -0.005 0.02
Mike Minor -6.50% 0.008 0.014
Francisco Liriano -5.20% -0.014 -0.017
Chris Capuano -4.90% 0.007 -0.003
Gavin Floyd -3.90% 0.006 -0.019
Jason Hammel -3.00% -0.043 0.04
Dillon Gee -2.60% 0.025 0.03
Jon Niese -2.50% 0.014 0.011
Felipe Paulino -2.40% -0.004 0.018
Corey Kluber -1.60% -0.053 -0.072
Chris Narveson -1.50% -0.008 -0.023
Jorge de la Rosa -1.10% 0.002 -0.002
Derek Holland -0.60% 0.002 -0.03
Max Scherzer 0.20% 0.017 0.013
Bud Norris 1.00% -0.011 -0.013

As you can see, all but two of the pitchers in the sample saw their strikeout and walk skills decline from the stretch. As for the stats which are not completely within a pitcher’s control, BABIP and HR/FB, about half were better and half were worse from the stretch. We can throw those stats out as factors.

Back to the K-BB. Yes, most have a lower K-BB from the stretch, but is that different from the rest of the league? So far in 2013, the average K-BB for qualified pitchers from the windup is 13.67%, but the average K-BB% from the stretch is 11.07%. Then again, 60 of the 111 qualified pitchers have a better K-BB from the stretch. Apparently a few guys who are bad from the stretch are really bringing down the average. As much as I’d like to rationalize the near uniformity in our sample of the lower K-BB from the stretch by saying the league as a whole is worse from the stretch, I can’t ignore the fact that almost everyone shows less skill from the stretch.

Because I’m desperate to hold on to those I love, I took a look at this year’s admittedly small sample size to see if any of my mistresses have made improvements from the stretch. Hammel, de la Rosa, Norris, Gee, Kluber and Minor all have a K-BB that is better from the stretch than from the windup this year. However, Hammel, de la Rosa, and Norris have been woeful from the windup, so their “improvements” are an illusion. But Gee, Kluber and Minor have been great from both the windup and the stretch. Of the trio, Kluber and Minor have been exceptional. Gee’s K-BB numbers are above league average (league average is 11-13%), but Kluber and Minor both have a K-BB from the windup and the stretch that is near 20%.

I also wanted to see whose K-BB from the stretch this year was noticeably better than their career K-BB from the stretch. Below are the five guys who have been above average from both the windup and stretch this year and who have a K-BB from the stretch this year that is better than their career mark.

K-BB

I’m fully aware that these guys have a longer track history of struggling more from the stretch. And I know that there’s a good chance that their new found skills may regress. But I still think good strikeout and walk skills are the best indicator of success. Maybe I should take a lesson from my past and learn from my experiences with women. Maybe I should give up what I cling to that hurts me. But I just can’t help myself.

There are days when I miss my old convictions as if they were an amputated limb. – Christopher Hitchens

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