Justin Verlander. Clayton Kershaw. Stephen Strasburg. Craig Kimbrel. These are the elite pitchers heading into the 2013 fantasy baseball season if you listen to the scuttlebutt around the water cooler. We all know that. But are there instances where lesser known names, the A.J. Burnett's of the world, are also worth taking note of on draft day? Remember, while we all need production on the field, if you can consistently find value at any spot, pitching is no different than hitting, you can come out well ahead in the fantasy game. You can let someone take Justin Verlander in the first round and if he returns first round value fantastic. But what if you grab Homer Bailey and Alexei Ogando in the 15th and 16th rounds and they return 8th and 9th round value – which move would be the better fantasy play based on a return on investment perspective? In this article we'll hit on some numbers that just might change your perception about hurlers for the coming campaign.
Did you know... Stephen Strasburg didn't throw enough innings to qualify for the ERA title with 159.1 (you need 162 innings)? Were you aware that he has never recorded 22 outs in a big league game? Did you know that he threw 1.2 fewer innings last season than Kevin Millwood? Did you know he had a 4.31 ERA in 14 night starts? Strasburg as a top-20 selection just isn't the lock many believe it to be.
Did you know... Jonathon Niese had 22 quality starts, tied for 5th in baseball? Did you know that he also had more quality starts than Cliff Lee (21), Matt Cain (21), Stephen Strasburg (20) or Madison Bumgarner (19)? Did you know that after the All-Star break that Niese had a 3.01 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP an a 3.76 K/BB ratio? For the year Stephen Strasburg had a 3.16 ERA, 1.16 WHIP an a 4.10 K/BB ratio.
Did you know... Clayton Kershaw has won 13 and 14 games in two of the past three seasons? Tim Hudson has won at least 15 games each of the past three seasons. Did you know that despite a 2.05 ERA at home that Kershaw had a 3.24 ERA on the road in '12? Matt Harrison had a 3.29 ERA last season.
Did you know... Hiroki Kuroda had 16 wins, a 3.32 ERA and 1.17 WHIP last season? Five other hurlers had a 1.17 WHIP – Jordan Zimmerman, Mark Buehrle, Johnny Cueto, Jonathon Niese and James Shields. How many pitchers went 16, 3.32 and 1.17? Only nine others pulled off the trick – Jered Weaver, Matt Cain, R.A. Dickey, Justin Verlander, Kyle Lohse, David Price, Gio Gonzalez, Chris Sale, Johnny Cueto and Kuroda.
Did you know... Fernando Rodney wasn't drafted in mixed leagues last season but in the end he was as valuable, in terms of the dollars he earned in the fantasy game, as Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw? I've written this before, but here it is again. Rodney's ERA last year was 0.60, the best in baseball history for any hurler who tossed 70 innings in a season. From 2007-11 he posted an ERA of 4.24 or higher each year meaning if you multiplied his ERA from last season by SEVEN you would still fall short of his previous five best in ERA.
Did you know... Ryan Cook had 14 saves last year and 21 holds? He was the only hurler in baseball to reach both of those numbers other than the guy across the bay that spent some time closing games for the Giants – Sergio Romo (14 saves, 23 holds). As for Cook, were you also away that his 2.09 ERA was better than Jim Johnson who led baseball with 51 saves last season (2.49 ERA)? Cook's WHIP of 0.94 was just higher than the 0.92 WHIP of Jason Motte, he of the 42 saves, by the way.
Did you know... John Axford had 35 saves last season, the 8th highest mark in baseball? Everyone knows his ERA was high (4.67) as was his WHIP (1.44), but did you know that he blew only two of his last 20 save chances? Or, did you know that he had more Ks (93) than the combined total of Jim Johnson (41) and Jose Valverde (48) who combined for 86 saves?
Did you know... Mike Minor had a 2.16 ERA in the second half over his last 14 starts, the third best mark in all of baseball? The only two to beat him out were Kris Medlen (0.94) and Clayton Kershaw (2.10). Were you aware that if you doubled Minor's second half ERA, up to 4.32, that his ERA would still be lower than the second half marks of Edwin Jackson (4.38), Derek Holland (4.40), Ryan Dempster (4.76), Ryan Vogelsong (4.78) and Roy Halladay (4.93)?
Did you know... Mike Fiers had a 9.44 K/9 mark over his last 15 starts, the fifth best mark in baseball in the second half of the season and just one hundredth behind the mark of Justin Verlander (9.45) after the All-Star break? Only one hurler in the second half had a better K/9 mark but a lower left on base percentage than Fiers. Yu Darvish was second in baseball with a 10.56 K/9 mark (behind Max Scherzer at 10.96) with a 63.4 left on base percentage. Fiers' mark was 69.7 percent. Fiers was one of only two hurlers who struck out a batter per inning in the second half but failed to posted a ground ball rate of at least 36 percent. Fiers mark was 32.9 and Matt Moore was at 34.5.
Did you know... Edinson Volquez led baseball in BB/9 in the second half last year walking 5.02 batters per nine over his last 14 starts? Only one other hurler in baseball had a mark over 4.50 – it was Aaron Harang at 4.63. Volquez struck out more than a batter per inning in the second half while Harang was way down at 5.99 per nine. On the flip side, Cliff Lee's BB/9 mark was 0.63 over his last 16 starts. If you multiple Lee's walk mark by EIGHT you end up at 5.04, just two hundredths above the mark of Volquez. Take a look at the #3 and #4 men on the walk list after the All-Star break. Clayton Richard (1.27 walks per nine) and Blake Beavan (1.30) didn't walk anyone, but get their horrific punchout rates of 3.55 and 3.70. Yikes is right.
Did you know... Gio Gonzalez was the only hurler in baseball, who threw 162 innings in 2012, that wasn't taken deep at least 10 times as he allowed nine homers in 199.1 innings? The previous two seasons Gonzalez allowed 15 and 17 homers in 200.2 and 202 innings, just barely above the 199.1 innings pitched mark he tossed up there last season.
Did you know... Clayton Kershaw led baseball last season with a 6.72 hits allowed per nine innings? That mark was one hundredth lower than Gio Gonzalez at 6.73. Jered Weaver was third in baseball with his AL leading 7.01 mark.
Did you know... Tim Lincecum leads baseball in K/9 over the past three season at 9.38. Three others have punched out more than a batter per inning: Clayton Kershaw (9.32), Yovani Gallardo (.922) and Max Scherzer (9.17). Here are some other leaders the past three years.
Wins: Justin Verlander at 60
Shutouts: Cliff Lee at seven
BB/9: Cliff Lee at 1.21
K/BB: Cliff Lee at 7.16
BABIP: Jered Weaver at .256
WHIP: 1.03 Jered Weaver
xFIP: Cliff Lee at 2.93.
SIERA: Cliff Lee at 2.93
Ground ball rate: Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson at 59.0 percent
Saves: Jose Valverde with 110
WAR: Justin Verlander 20.6 (according to Fangraphs.com).
You think it's time for everyone to give Lee a pass for his six wins last season an admit that the guy is one hell of a pitcher?
THREE HITTER NOTES
Did you know... Garret Jones had 27 homers last season more than Ryan Zimmerman (25), Hanley Ramirez (24) and Mark Teixeira (24)?
Did you know... Hanley Ramirez really wasn't as “bad” as the pundits would have you believe? HanRam hit 24 homers, drove in 92 runs, scored 79 times and stole 21 bases. How many players in baseball reached all four of those marks last season you ask? The answer is two. Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Braun.
Did you know... Kyle Seager had 86 RBIs last season more than Joe Mauer (85), Aaron Hill (85), Paul Goldschmidt (82) and David Freese (79)?
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday at 5 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.
Rounding The Bases - Todd Zola Looks At The First 10 Rounds of a Likely 2014 Fantasy Baseball Draft
Master Fantasy Baseball Notes From Todd Zola - Looking Ahead To The 2014 Fantasy Baseball Season
Rounding The Bases - Master Fantasy Baseball Notes From Todd Zola
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (20 Prospects for '14)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 24
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (September Call-Ups)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 23
Rounding the Bases: A Day For the Little Man
Rounding The Bases: Morse, Willingham On the Move?
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (Roster Expansion)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 22
Rounding the Bases: Five Surging Pitchers & Hitters
Rounding the Bases: Rookies, Veterans & Roster Movement
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (Pitching Help On The Way!)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 21
Master Notes From Todd Zola - Taking A Look at Starting Pitching In Keeper Leagues
Rounding the Bases: Small Names, Big Production?
Rounding the Bases: A First for Stephen Strasburg and the (Near) Final Round-Up
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (Hitting Help On The Way!)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week Twenty