February 25, 2013 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2013 Fantasy Baseball Leaders and Laggards: K:BB Leaders Edition

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Cliff Lee, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

Most of these guys on this list are here for a reason. They are elite. They provide K’s while not leaving behind very many walks. These are the pioneers that point our fantasy teams forward in the standings. They lead in strikeouts while helping to protect our valuable ratios from the guys on the other end of this list. These men, leaders in the truest sense, lead us to glory in fantasy baseball. They promise us K’s and as few BB’s as they can muster, but hey, everyone gives up an occasional walk. These men just don’t make a habit of it the way others do.

1. Cliff Lee 7.39
2. Joe Blanton 4.88
3. CC Sabathia 4.48
4. R.A. Dickey 4.26
5. Cole Hamels 4.15
6. Justin Verlander 3.98
7. Felix Hernandez 3.98
8. Jake Peavy 3.96
9. Madison Bumgarner 3.90
10. Wade Miley 3.89

Cliff Lee has posted a K:BB over 4.00 since 2008. He strikes out a ton of batters and doesn’t walk very many. The K’s may wane as Lee ages, but the control should be a skill that he’s able to maintain late into his career. He’s a solid bet to help your WHIP because he simply doesn’t walk very many.

Joe Blanton has picked up legit sleeper status, but he’s being almost completely ignored in most drafts. Blanton K/9 has been over 7.00 three of the last four years and his BB/9 has been under 2.00 for two years in a row. Homers have been a problem for Blanton since he came to the Phillies. His HR:FB ratio at home was over 17% at Citizen’s Bank last year. The good news is that he’s not pitching in Philly any more. Blanton is a useful pitcher and deserves more attention than he’s been getting.

CC Sabathia has been the closest thing to a metronome that we have for a pitcher. He’s posted the wins, K’s, ERA and WHIP that fantasy GMs have come to rely on to succeed in fantasy baseball. He’s elite because he has posted a K/9 over 8.00 for the last two years and a BB/9 under 3.00 since 2005. The problem surrounding CC this year is his elbow. He’s already declared that he’s going to have to throw fewer innings. He’s thrown fewer than 230 innings exactly once in the last six years. Last year. There aren’t any statistical reasons to stay away from CC. There is one big physical reason to stay away from CC and it’s attached to his left shoulder.

R.A. Dickey has never posted a season anywhere near his 2012 season. He struck out more (8.86 K/9) and walked fewer (2.08 BB/9) than he ever has before. This happened in his age 38 season. Dickey is hard to evaluate statistically because statistics are based on trends. As of this point, Dickey’s 2012 season is the outlier, but we’ve never seen a pitcher thrown the way Dickey has. He averaged 77.1 MPH on his knuckler last year. Tim Wakefield averaged 66.5 MPH on his knuckler for his career. Charlie Haeger only averaged 70.7 MPH on his fastball for his career. Dickey throws a pitch that has never been thrown at the velocity he throws it at. He did benefit from pitching at Metco last year. His home ERA was only 2.59 with a 3.42 xFIP and now he’s moving to Toronto. He should get better run support, but pitching in Rogers Centre won’t be nearly as helpful as pitching n Metco.

Cole Hamels is about as reliable as it gets. He’s never posted a K:BB below 3.00 in his entire major league career. He’s going to post a K/9 over 8.00 and a BB/9 around 2.00. He’s about as safe as it gets. There were reports of a shoulder issue during the off-season, but Hamels is scheduled to pitch the Grapefruit League opener. It sounds like his shoulder isn’t any issue.

Justin Verlander is elite. He strikes out a lot of batters and doesn’t walk very many. Those are very helpful attributes in fantasy baseball. The lowest K/9 he’s posted in the last four years was 8.79. His highest BB/9 in the last four years was 2.79. Verlander is elite. This isn’t news, but it is accurate analysis.

Loogit this! Another elite guy! Sensing a theme? Elite pitchers post high K numbers and low walk numbers. Felix Hernandez has posted a K/9 over 8.00 and a BB/9 under 3.00 for the past four years. Some are scared off by the supposed elbow issue the Mariners found. Well, we know that Felix Hernandez still signed the extension. Baseball teams don’t give $100 million extensions to guys with bad elbows. This is a nothing that someone felt the need to write about. It’s only made the price on King Felix drop slightly.

Jake Peavy isn’t posting the 9.00+ K/9 he posted in San Diego, but he’s cut his walk rate and still posting a K/9 over 7.00. Peavy has lost a few clicks on his fastball (90.8 MPH average last year), but his slider is still essentially the same pitch it was during his days in San Diego. He’s clearly not the pitcher he once was and his shoulder will be a concern until he retires. He managed to make it through 2012 without any major issues. He’s also matured as a pitcher. He’s simply stopped walking batters. Peavy has posted a 1.93 BB/9 and a 2.01 BB/9 in 2011 and 2012. Those are lower than the numbers he was posting in San Diego. The K’s may no longer be at an elite level, but his walk number sure are.

Madison Bumgarner is carving out a solid career and he’s not even 24 yet. His 2011 and 2012 seasons were basically mirror images of each other. His BABIP did drop from 2011 to 2012. Bumgarner posted a .322 BABIP in 2011, but lowered that number to .276 in 2012. His LD % fell from 20.6% in 2011 to 18.8% in 2012. That doesn’t sound like much, but line drives usually go for hits. Even a subtle shift can have a dramatic impact on a pitchers’ numbers on balls in play. The only red flag with Bumgarner is wear and tear. He’s put a lot of miles on his arm early in his career and his slider % was almost 40% last year. That’s the pitch that chews up elbow ligaments. It’s concerning to see someone so young throwing so many innings with as many high-leverage pitches as Bumgarner throws. It’s really more of a concern for dynasty leaguers, but it could quickly become an issue for redraft leaguers as well.

Wade Miley isn’t a name fantasy GMs would expect to see on this list. He had the lowest K/9 on this list (6.66) last year by far. He never posted a sub 2.00 BB/9 at any level before last year and he’s not a good bet to repeat. He was also really lucky on balls hit in the air and posted a HR:FB ratio of 5.4%. He did this with a 33.7% FB rate and a 1.28 GB:FB ratio. He’s a solid bet to regress and fantasy GMs should probably look elsewhere for value on draft day.



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