When you pitch for the Yankees, everyone knows your name. When you win 16 games and only lose four outings, everyone really knows your name. When you go 8-0 in your last 11 starts, there isn't a person in baseball who doesn't know your name. Given all of that, I return to the question I just posed – how excited should you be about adding Nova to your roster for the upcoming season?
First off, and I say this all the time, broken record style, there is no way to predict wins and loses. Nova could pitch better than he did in 2011 and his record could end up being 10-13. You just never know. Second, Nova will be overvalued in 2012 because of his win total and the fact that he pitches for the Yankees, so don't buy into that hype because if you do, you'll likely end up being pretty disappointed. Why? Here are some reasons.
(1) Nova had a decent ERA of 3.70. Still, that's not much better than the big league average of 3.94 in the ERA category in 2011. Additionally, Nova's xFIP was 4.16 suggesting that his ERA might have been a wee bit artificially low.
(2) Nova had a decent WHIP of 1.33. Still, that's worse than the big league average of 1.32.
(3) Nova had only 98 Ks last season in 165.1 innings pitched which equates to a 5.33 K/9 mark. That mark is nearly two full batters below the 2011 big league average of 7.13 per nine. As a general rule I never target a pitcher with a K/9 mark under 6.00 (really 6.50 in most cases). That doesn't mean I won't draft a guy with a K/9 mark that is worse than that benchmark, but I will never target an arm that can't get out of jams via the punchout.
(4) Nova walked an average of 3.10 batters per nine innings. That is merely 0.01 better than the big league average.
So to wrap that little review up Nova was barely average in ERA and BB/9, while he was worse than big league average in WHIP and K/9 in 2011. Given the importance of strikeouts in standard 5x5 leagues, the deficiency in that category limits Nova's value substantially. Add in the fact that wins are so variable, and that is another strike against Nova.
On the plus side, I have to give Nova credit for his impressive 1.83 GB/FB ratio, the result of an impressive sinker that resulted in nearly 53 percent of batted balls being pounded into the earth. Don't get me wrong, pitchers can have a ton of extended success with a skill set like this, but that doesn't mean they should be guys you target in the fantasy game. Tell me, which pitcher would you rather have rostered in 2011?
Ivan Nova: 1.83 GB/FB, 5.55 K/9, 3.11 BB/9, 1.33 WHIP in 165.1 IP Pitcher B: 1.77 GB/FB, 5.38 K/9, 3.11 BB/9, 1.29 WHIP in 162.1 IP
Are there a lot of you out there who are going to rush to draft Pitcher B, Paul Maholm, in 2012?
Keep expectations in check with Nova, and that means realizing Nova is a 4/5 starter in mixed leagues and nothing more.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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