Gentlemen, take out your staffs! In this edition we are attacking Starting Pitching. We use objective quantitative methods whenever possible with very minimal aspects of the analysis based on subjective theory. In the end, we will rank what we believe to be best starting pitching staffs for this year’s OOTL season. Again, this is an important clarification as we are not evaluating starting pitching by upside or by MLB standards. Our evaluation is limited to expected performance in this year’s OOTL season. It is very difficult to evaluate starting pitching because there are so many external factors affecting wins and losses in the OOTL. Therefore our evaluation of the staffs is purely in a vacuum. It is not an indicator of success per se. We will be creating indexes which will determine the best staffs in a vacuum, but actual results could differ based on any combination of the following:
• Some Owners position their best pitchers against their opponent’s best pitchers.
• Other owners like to match up their best vs. worst and worst vs. best pitchers
.• Still others use a rotation and stick to it regardless of opponent.
• Finally others strategically attempt to match starter attributes such as l/r grade, control, power and K numbers vs. their most favorable opponent matchups.
• Some owners are better game managers than others.
• Bullpen, fielding and hitting quality of a team and its opponent will also affect success of your staff.
• Fatigue, indifference, anger and loss of focus will also affect results.
• Future trades.
• And let’s not forget dice rolls.
Let’s start with some firm data. Our 10 Starting Pitching inventories range from 7 to 12 pitchers. We will elaborate on these different roster strategies in a future edition when we evaluate the final 6 roster spots of each team. Every team has at least one LSP on their roster but some staffs have a higher pct. All pitchers who we expect to see at least one start this year are listed under regular starters except for pitchers we refer to as cheater starters. We will discuss this group more in a future edition when we evaluate cheater cards but for now we include pitchers in this group which have limited starts but are top or above average quality. Finally we also assigned the pitchers who will not be starting this season due to either the veteran or young prospects category. Our service would love to see an evolution of roster size to add two (not eligible to play positions called Veteran prospects) but again we will discuss this in future editions.
We began our analysis by ranking best to worse the 70 starters we believe will pitch this year based on each team needing 90 starts. This was a subjective review based on 5 factors: L/R, Grade, Power rating, Control Rating and strikeout letters. We then broke this ranking into 4 groups graded A-D. As a note there are a couple of pitchers at the grade cutoffs who blur a grade. That is they could easily fit into two different grades based on their metrics. Therefore in a couple cases we assigned some of their starts to multiple grades. The chart below shows this breakdown by how many starts will be made by team by grade this year. The A-D breakdown is 196-351-172-181 for 900 starts (10 teams* 90 games).
Here is where a simple analysis could be done and we could have called it a day. If you use a weighted method (example 4 for A, 3 for B, etc.) similar to a GPA calculation we could develop a valid ranking.
However, there are some limitations. Because of the number of pitchers we assigned to each group and the potential winning pct. of each grade, 4-3-2-1 weighing is not the most accurate way to predict each grades value. Therefore we had to develop an index method. If we combine our total starts by grade number with historic stats on wins/losses we develop a base winning pct. This is only a directional and could change annually but the point is that the base pct.’s lead to a 45-45 record with the base # of starters per grade. Therefore in the end the pct’s used do not matter that much as long as they are curved correctly.
We were also able to back into a base average staff based on 10 teams and the total starts by grade which we had previously identified. We then extrapolated those numbers to develop a base wins per grade of pitcher. As an example, our base team which would be expected to go 45-45 in a league with 196 A starts, 351 B starts, 172 C starts and 181 D starts would have 20 A starts, 35 B starts, 17 C starts and 18 D starts on its roster.
Now we have all we need to best rank the rotations. We use each team’s projected number of starts by grade and index those vs. our developed base 45-45 team’s number of starters by grade. As an example below, The Stars have a positive 16 index under A as they have 36 A starts and our base team has 20 A starts. The Stars also have a -18 index under D because they have no D starts and the base team has 18.
We then applied the projected winning pct. of each grade’s starters to the index to develop the final rotation ranking. A 45-45 record team is the zero base. Therefore our ranking shows that in a vacuum, not considering all the external factors listed in the beginning, there are 4 teams which have staffs better than average.
The Best Rotations:
The Stars, Speakers and Lyme Bees clearly have the best rotations. There are some subtle differences which explain why they are ranked Stars, Speakers and Lyme Bees.
1) Shooting Stars: The Stars have 1 more A start than the Bees and 2 more than the Speakers. While the Speakers and Lyme Bees have more B starts the Stars have more C starts and no D starts. Therefore the additional A start and lack of any D starts carried them to the best rotation.
2) Speakers: The Speakers are the second best rotation and are right there with the Stars with one exception. The Speakers barring trade will have to get 4 starts from R11/16/14 Joe Ross. We rank Ross a D pitcher and those 4 starts cost the Speakers a shot at the top ranking.
3) Lyme Bees: The Bees are also right there but also got by 12 Grade 4 starts by Kyle Hendriks.
Next Best Rotations:
4) Lemonheads: A step below the mighty 3 but comfortably better then the other 6 are the Lemonheads, The Lemonheads are solid in that they have no D starts but not ranked as high because they only have half as many A starts as the top three.
Middle of the Road Rotations:
5) AB’s: Limited A starts and significant D starts but still an average aggregate rotation.
6) Wahoos: A strong number of A&B combined starts but no C and 29 D put them just under the AB’s.
7) Plague: Again a strong number of A&B starts and a few less A starts than the Wahoos, but no C starts and a few more D starts put them just under the Wahoos.
8) Browns: The best of this group but too many C’s and D’s left them just short of the above group.
9) Tsunamis: No A starts but a solid number of B starts gives them the nod over the Eliminators.
10) Eliminators: No A starts and 38 D starts position these guys in the dreaded 10 spot.
But what about playoff rotations? Since only your 4 best are used in the playoffs in limited games and most matchups will be A’s and B’s we cannot use the above analysis. Therefore we will use the following chart and a subjective look:
Best Playoff Rotations:
1-3) Stars, Bees, Speakers: Lyme Bees Arrieta gets nod over Keuchel and Price. Degrom, Gray and Harvey are close but Degrom gets the nod. Lackey also gets close nod over Syndergaard and Archer. Finally the Stars pull out the win as Cheater starter combo Wilson/McAllister eek out the win over McCullers/Bumgarner and Severino.
4) Plague: a solid 4th place driven by Garcia, Matz and Estrada.
5-6): Lemonheads/Wahoos: Greinke is best and wins the tiebreaker.
7-8):Browns/AB’s: Kershaw wins the tiebreaker.
9-10) Tsunamis/E’s: The Tsunamis solid BB rating could make a difference and make them competitive if they can make the dance. The Eliminators rare 6 man lefty playoff rotation could also cause nightmares for some teams. Even at 9 and 10 these two teams staff anomalies could win in the playoffs if they can make it there.
NEXT WEEK: We will look at Cheater Card strategies in 2016.
Craig Dolan for the ASIAN SPORTS NETWORK (ASSN)