Talking about Adam Loewen’s potential as a high-GB%/high-K pitcher yesterday got me thinking: since, in my opinion, this kind of pitcher has the best chance for success, seeing who rates well in both of these categories is a worthwhile evaluation tool.
These are the pitchers that finished ’06 with at least a 45% ground ball rate and 6.5K/9: Brandon Webb, Felix Hernandez, Chris Carpenter, Andy Pettite, Erik Bedard, Roy Oswalt, Jeremy Bonderman, Carlos Zambrano, David Bush, John Smoltz, Brett Myers, Dan Haren, Josh Beckett, and CC Sabathia. On its own, neither stat does a good job weeding out poor starting pitchers. Combine the two, and you’ve got a list of fantasy aces.
Starters without enough innings to qualify in ’06 included Fausto Carmona, Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett, Roger Clemens, Loewen, Joe Saunders, Josh Johnson, and J.P. Howell (barely). That gives me (one) reason to like Saunders I guess, and Loewen, Carmona, and Howell are all sleepers I already like to varying degrees.
So, how does this information help us as fantasy owners? Well, if you used this criteria to evaluate starting pitchers last year, you might’ve been able to buy low on David Bush or Erik Bedard. Both of those guys are pretty hard to get on the cheap by now. Let’s take a look around the league using this criteria to see who might be the next high-GB%/high-K sleeper to make a leap this year.
I bolded the pitchers I thought would be interesting in very deep leagues. I liked Gonzalez’ K/BB last year, and this is another point in his favor. Wells and Meche could also be finding some new fire with a fresh start on a new team.
The list helps explain the hot starts by Hudson and Gaudin (they’re striking people out) and might show some growth from Willis, Bedard, Capuano, and Blanton, whose improved strikeout rate has rolled over from spring training. Oh, and by the way, Felix is amazing.
Let’s check back in on this soon to see how things are developing. This is something most guys in your league probably aren’t looking at, so we might find some sleepers that everyone else isn’t thinking about. I love it.