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March 26, 2014

The Darkhorses

WHIP

by BP Fantasy Staff


One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and provide the top overall production in one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer-shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’re taking a look at pitching this week, following our run on offense a week ago. To read the earlier editions in this series, click below:

My gift to you is that I won't make a Devo reference here, even though the acronym WHIP is also a word.

OUTSIDE THE TOP 10

Madison Bumgarner, Giants
While Bumgarner saw his walk rate jump by almost two percentage points in 2013, his strikeout rate responded in kind. I think we can see Bumgarner combine the two skills, lowering his walk rate to below six percent and maintaining a strikeout rate above 24 percent going forward. Bumgarner has also made strides with his WHIP in every season, going from 1.306 to 1.212 to 1.114 to last year’s 1.033. With a staggeringly low rate of 6.5 hits per nine innings, Bumgarner is sure to see some regression in that category, but can offset it, at least in part, by reducing those free passes. Bumgarner is already one of the top pitchers in baseball and coming off a season with a WHIP that was a hair’s breadth from 1.000. If he can just maintain his current abilities, there’s a good chance he ends up on top of the leaderboard in this category. If he continues taking steps forward, there’s no doubt. —Craig Goldstein

A.J. Griffin
Griffin is slated to start the season on the DL with a late-April target return, but that gives him plenty of time to log 162 or more innings and qualify for the WHIP leaderboard He’s a fly-ball pitcher in a perfect park for it, which should keep his BABIP low, and he’s posted a 6.3 percent walk rate in 282 MLB innings. A full season of the 5.7 percent mark from 2012, plus another sub-.250 BABIP, could keep his baserunner count minuscule enough to bring home a WHIP crown. —Paul Sporer

Cole Hamels, Phillies
I would start by reading what Alex Kantecki wrote about Cole Hamels in yesterday’s ERA Darkhorses article; very good stuff there. Alex covers Hamels in both depth and breadth, so I will add what I can. In 2014, the Phillies are employing infield shifts, Ben Revere should play more games, and Delmon Young and John Mayberry will be playing less in the outfield. I’m not saying that Cole Hamels is rooting for Ryan Howard to get his annual injury by the time he returns in late April or early May, but he would do so if he wanted my darkhorse WHIP prediction to come true. —Jeffrey Quinton

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18 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

tballgame

Did Toronto return Dickey to the Mets? Did they get a refund?

Mar 26, 2014 06:12 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Craig Goldstein
BP staff

Limited to store credit at this point.

Mar 26, 2014 06:53 AM
 
BP staff member Daniel Rathman
BP staff

Fixed, thanks.

Mar 26, 2014 07:23 AM
 
Robotey

Is it just me, or do these dark horse stories seem to feature many thoroughbreds? I'm all for targeting a stud pitcher who may be a little undervalued, but honestly, shouldn't there be some true surprises here?

Mar 26, 2014 07:23 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Craig Goldstein
BP staff

It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. There are probably not 8-9 credible true darkhorses for each of the fantasy staff to pick one. We laid out the parameters of the whole thing saying it's someone from outside the top ten and someone from outside the top 25 as determined by PECOTA. I feel like if the 26th ranked pitcher finished first in a category, that'd be a pretty big surprise, but it might speak to the overall depth in quality of pitching.

Sure, we could take Ian Kennedy to lead the league in strikeouts, if you wanted... but that's not going to be very credible either. I certainly get where you're coming from but we also don't want to be making arguments just to be different. I think we all tried to pick people who had legitimate shots at leading the league in the specific category.

Mar 26, 2014 07:27 AM
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

Obviously with the "outside top 10", we're limited by the set number of options, but in the 25th and beyond, I'd agree that we could've gone a little deeper in some spots. David Price, really Craig? :)

Mar 26, 2014 07:32 AM
 
BP staff member Craig Goldstein
BP staff

I played by the rules given to me

Mar 26, 2014 09:53 AM
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

If there's one thing I know for sure about Craig is that he always plays by the rules.

Mar 26, 2014 10:24 AM
 
BP staff member Ben Carsley
BP staff

I asked if I could pick Tyler Thornburg for every category and was told "no." :(

Mar 26, 2014 07:32 AM
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

The point of this series is just to have a little fun with trying to poke holes in some of the PECOTA projections in a fantasy context. I mean, sure, I could have chose Taylor Jordan for my guy, but I would say that R.A. Dickey is a huge longshot to lead the league in WHIP. When you go that deep, this becomes an entirely different exercise--and a much less interesting one in my opinion.

Mar 26, 2014 07:39 AM
 
dcapofari

A true surprise is if anyone besides Kershaw wins the league in WHIP, unless Pedro comes back. Do you have anyone in mind that can lead the league in WHIP? please no Ian

Mar 26, 2014 16:29 PM
rating: 0
 
dcapofari

A true surprise is if anyone besides Kershaw wins the league in WHIP, unless Pedro comes back. Do you have anyone in mind that can lead the league in WHIP? please no Ian

Mar 26, 2014 16:31 PM
rating: 0
 
Robotey

Ok - yes, I hear you, but outside of the top 10 is not a darkhorse. Especially when you consider that drafting must factor in perception as much as numbers. Bumgarner is a top 10 fantasy pitcher in the NL, or at least has been in my leagues the last couple of years. He goes for at least $25.

Maybe we can adjust the parameters to mix in some sleepers? Guys who will shock you by getting $10 of value for only $4?

Years ago my favorite ploy for finding value was just to follow the WHIP. Guys like Harang or David Wells or even Mad Dog in his final years when he could barely last 85 pitches were hidden gems because you could grab them for a couple of bucks but they delivered consistently great WHIP, which usually meant a decent ERA.

I do appreciate that an injury pick such as Hamels is featured here--there's definite value. But I don't feel I'm going to get an edge going into my draft touting Madison Bumgarner. Lance Lynn, that's another story.

Mar 26, 2014 09:10 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

Essentially you're asking for a different project. The parameters of this project were laid out and adhered to by the team. I *get* what you're saying for sure, but within the confines of these parameters, we're still picking "darkhorses" verse PECOTA.

Mar 26, 2014 09:13 AM
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

So essentially what you're asking for, just happens to be right here, no?

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23126

Mar 26, 2014 09:40 AM
 
Robotey

yes, more of that. Edwin Jackson is definitely a guy you could grab for less than $5 in a 10 team NL.

Mar 26, 2014 09:47 AM
rating: 0
 
Robotey

PS - yes, Ian Kennedy is a great darkhorse, because he certainly has a bit of stink on him. Many owners will hold their noses when you put him up for bid, and you could take him home for $5 and he could deliver a season close to what he did a few years ago and bring you some serious value.

In fact, my favorite ploy when I nominate a guy like that is to act dumb when the crickets chirp--oh no, I'm stuck with him for a dollar? I guess I really screwed up!

Mar 26, 2014 09:13 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Craig Goldstein
BP staff

But the point was that Ian Kennedy wasn't realistically going to lead the league in WHIP, and I'm not going to lie through my teeth to try and make that point. As Paul suggested, you're looking for a different assignment - which is fine - but that wasn't what we were trying to do here.

Mar 26, 2014 09:55 AM
 
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<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article My Model Portfolio: A ... (03/26)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article The Darkhorses: ERA (03/25)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article The Darkhorses: Strike... (03/27)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: My ... (03/26)

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