Thursday, April 26, 2012

How to Value a Starting Pitcher - Roto

I received a question yesterday that - on the surface - was simple enough.
wouldn't K/start be more valuable info than K/9 in fantasy? If a guy only avgs 5-6 inn but 9K/9, that's mediocre K #'s, right?
From a raw valuation perspective, what we're really looking for are strikeouts. A pitcher that strikes out 200 batters will produce more value with those strikeouts than a pitcher that strikes out 150. So yes, a pitcher's six strikeouts in nine innings are just as valuable as a pitcher's six strikeouts in six innings.

But the pitcher that goes the distance produces more Rotisserie value.

2011 Pitcher Value Per X - Rotisserie
Per Out $0.09
Per Hit ($0.16)
Per Walk ($0.16)
Per Strikeout $0.13
Per Earned Run ($0.25)

Per Out $0.11
Per Hit ($0.16)
Per Walk ($0.16)
Per Strikeout $0.16
Per Earned Run ($0.25)

A strikeout wasn't worth 13 or 16 cents by itself; it was worth an additional four cents (in N.L-only) or five cents (A.L.-only) over a non-K out.

Below are two starts. Which one would you guess is more valuable in last year's American League context?

Start A: 7 1/3 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 3 ER, 12 K
Start B: 9 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 2 ER, 4 K

Given the attention that strikeouts get, you would be forgiven if you answered A. But B's start was worth $1.40 in last year's American League context versus $1.04 for start A.

While owners understandably get more excited by the 12 whiff performance, it's the complete game that is worth more in Roto.

Why bother with K/9 then?

When the season's over, raw numbers give us a descriptive look at what already happened. Prior to and during the season, rate statistics are useful to examine where we think a pitcher's performance may or may not be headed. 

My research last year on the subject showed that K/9 is heavily linked to player earnings. In part, this is because strikeouts do produce Rotisserie earnings. However, BB/9 - which do produce negative earnings - don't quite have the same strong connection to earnings. K/9 isn't as important as raw strikeouts. But it does tell us something about a pitcher and what kind of success he will or won't have in our game.

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