Welcome back to another year of fantasy baseball preparation. Some enthusiasts have been grinding since the 2021 regular season ended and some are just about to set sail on their 2022 journey. This is an article I publish just about every year to share how I typically start my research and draft preparation. As I’ve said in the past, this research is relatively elementary and does not reflect my current starting pitcher rankings. The data is simply a reference point that contributes to my rankings and reminds me of players to target at various points in a draft due to the skills displayed in the previous season.
The fantasy baseball industry is lucky to have many analysts with interesting strategies up their sleeves to target players on draft day or throughout the season via FAAB. One particular strategy I’ve enjoyed using over the years is K%+IFFB%-BB% to target pitchers. Strikeouts and the ability to induce easy pop ups is a recipe for fantasy success. In a perfect world, I’m trying to pair two of the top 25 hurlers on this chart along with a few of the middle relievers found atop of the K%+IFFB%-BB% list and some upside arms late in drafts.
I’m not the first to use this, I’ve tweeted about my use of this strategy back in 2016, Jeff Zimmermann wrote about it here and per his discussion, I believe Rob Silver has been using this for a significant period of time (he may be the first!). Zimmermann expands on this strategy and probably makes the math more sound by placing PAs in the denominator. I encourage you to read more of his discussion and reasoning in the previous link. As always, here’s the link I posted to last year’s version of this research on the site as well (same topic/parameters, different data leading us to a few different names to target).
Although this data is relatively elementary and easy to access, I kept my research to myself during the recent Mixed LABR draft but will make my thoughts public during RazzSlam and prior to Tout Wars Draft & Hold and TGFBI.
For the purpose of this research, I only used data from the 2021 season. Additionally, I set a 50 inning minimum for innings pitched as a starter. You may create a similar sheet and adjust your innings minimums and toggle between starters and relievers, should you choose.
Jacob deGrom, Carlos Rodon and Freddy Peralta are the top three starting pitchers according to this research. Since January 1, 2022, Freddy Peralta is going 19th among starting pitchers in 15-team NFBC drafts. I don’t think he’s getting enough love given his recent body of work, so I’ll have him higher in my rankings than his current ADP. If Peralta can repeat most of ’21 while allowing fewer free passes, there’s a chance he can return top 10-15 SP value. Carlos Rodon posted wild numbers in ’21 but injury history and unknown landing spot (he’s a free agent at the time of this writing) are likely at the root of his slide. If early pitchers are part of your draft strategy I can see taking a chance on Rodon as your #3 in the 9th-10th round of a 15-teamer.
Josiah Gray showed up as a top 20 starter in this model. The Nationals’ projected #3 starter had an ADP of 293 (~19th-20th round in 15-teamers) at the time of this writing which appears to be a great value given the names around him and their current ADPs. I’ll be looking to stockpile shares of Josiah Gray this draft season in mostly all formats.
Following the publishing of this chart, I will run separate pieces on pitchers to target and avoid that reflect this strategy and their current NFBC ADP.