September 11, 2012 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2012 Fantasy Baseball: Leaders and Laggards Swinging Strike % Revisited Laggards Edition

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Getting hitters to swing and miss at pitches is useful. More often than not, it leads to strikeouts. Strikeouts are good for fantasy baseball and a statistic that gets consistently underrated. Every year pitchers like Anibal Sanchez and Gio Gonzalez are passed over for guys like Ricky Romero and Chris Carpenter. What you might get in ERA and WHIP isn’t that big of a difference in what you’ll lose in strike out numbers especially in leagues with innings caps. Fantasy GMs should be looking to maximize their strikeout numbers, not minimize them. Those looking for pitchers capable of missing bats…need to look at another list. The guys on this list are all essentially stay aways for fantasy purposes. There’s not much fantasy value to see here. The few guys on this list that are performing are doing so with unsustainable luck numbers. You’ve been warned. Here, there be Laggards…

1. Henderson Alvarez 4.5%
2. Bartolo Colon 4.7%
3. Kevin Correia 5.3%
4. Clayton Richard 6.2%
5. Lucas Harrell 6.3%
6. Kevin Millwood 6.4%
7. Joe Saunders 6.5%
8. Jeremy Guthrie 6.6%
9. Luis Mendoza 6.7%
10. Barry Zito 6.8%

Henderson Alvarez just doesn’t miss very many bats. If you needed any confirmation that his 3.34 K/9 wasn’t a fluke, his embarrassingly low swinging strike percentage is that confirmation. Whatever value he might have as an innings eater(RE:cheap wins and possibly competent ratios depending on how lucky he is) is pretty much canceled out by his utter lack of K’s.

Big, fat, cheating Bartolo Colon is going to enter his age 40 season in 2013 and he’s currently serving a PED suspension. There’s a very good chance that Colon has thrown his last pitch in the majors. His swinging strike percentage has been in decline since 2008 and its clear that his lost some zip on his fastball. He may still have some value as an innings eater, but he’s simply a deep, deep AL or NL only play for next year.

Kevin Correia is a slightly better pitcher at home than on the road(4.39 xFIP at home, 4.76 xFIP on the road), but his K/9 is still under 5.00. He’s not even a guy you can trust in Petco. That says all you need to know about Kevin Correia’s future in professional baseball.

Clayton Richard just isn’t the same guy he was before dealing with an injury plagued 2011 season. Before the injuries, his swinging strike percentage was up around 8.0%. Not great, but competent in deeper leagues. A 6.83 K/9(like he posted in 2010) is worthy of inclusion in most deep leagues. Especially if said pitcher is throwing half his games in Petco. He’s getting by this year because he’s posting a .267 BABIP. That’s almost 30 points lower than his career average and he’s a groundball pitcher(1.91 GB:FB ratio). Richard looks like he’s a solid bet to regress next year and take his sub-4.00 ERA with him.

Lucas Harrell spent parts of three seasons with the Chicago White Sox Triple-A team. The White Sox have competent starting pitching, but it’s not like they couldn’t use reasonably young, cheap arms. The fact that Harrell couldn’t cut it with the White Sox should speak volumes about his future as a professional baseball player. He’s getting by with a .289 BABIP and a 2.55 GB:FB ratio. Those numbers scream regression. Well, those numbers and the fact that Harrell isn’t very good at pitching.

Kevin Millwood is about as mediocre as mediocre gets. His K/9 is a staggeringly boring 6.00. His swinging strike percentage hasn’t been over 7% since 2006. His o-swing percentage is a fairly bad 29.4%. There is nothing exciting about Kevin Millwood and he hasn’t been relevant to fantasy baseball for years.

Joe Saunders doesn’t miss bats, doesn’t strike out very many(5.94 K/9) and should be of little interest to fantasy GMs. The only time he’s been remotely interesting for fantasy baseball is when he’s posting a sub .300 BABIP. His BABIP is .306 this year. He’s also an absolute pitching staff killer in leagues with innings caps. Spending 200 or so of your value innings on a guy like Saunders is the fantasy equivalent of flushing money down the toilet.

How old do you think Jeremy Guthrie is? 28? 29? Whatever number you said is wrong. Guthrie is 33! He’s not a prospect. He’s not even a never was. He’s essentially a guy who takes the ball every fifth day. Guthrie’s poor luck on balls in the air(14.4% HR:FB ratio in 2012, 10.7% for his career) and that accounts for some of his struggles. The more glaring problem is that he doesn’t miss bats and doesn’t rack up K’s.

The only benefit to having Luis Mendoza on your roster is that you can yell, “Mendozaaaaaaah!” like McBain every time he gets lit up(which is often). There is nothing, not even in Mendoza’s minor league numbers, that indicates he’ll be anything more than waiver wire fire in fantasy leagues. The 1.87 GB:FB ratio is nice, but it would be a lot nicer, and more useful, if it came with any kind of strike out numbers.

Barry Zito should not  be owned in any circumstance, in any league. There is simply zero fantasy value.


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