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June 22, 2012 9:14 am

Resident Fantasy Genius: Starting Pitchers to Target


Derek Carty

If the perception in your league is that these guys are ERA-killers, now's the time to swoop.

When it comes to making trades in fantasy baseball, impressions are everything.  It doesn’t matter if R.A. Dickey throws 41 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings and two straight one-hitters; if his owner thinks Dickey’s knuckler is being guided by a ghost named Thaddeus who stormed off after Dickey’s last start, upset that Dickey hasn’t credited him for his help yet and swearing he’ll never help Dickey again, well, that owner is going to be selling Dickey mighty low before the pitcher takes the mound again.  Perception is everything.

While you’ll be hard-pressed to find an owner who believes Dickey is being helped by a potentially egotistical ghost named Thaddeus (and has a cynical view of friendship and forgiveness to boot), there are other forms of perception that can impact a player’s trade value.  One of the biggest ones I like to be on the lookout for is slow starters who have begun to turn a corner.

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February 24, 2010 3:13 pm

Checking the Numbers: The Crystal Orb of SIERA


Eric Seidman

Baseball Prospectus' new metric looks at some pitchers ready to break out and others ready to step back.

Few Phillies fans will forget the date Sept. 27, 2008, when the eventual World Series champions clinched their second consecutive National League crown in quite remarkable fashion. Leading the Nationals 4-3 in the top of the ninth inning, Brad Lidge had found himself in another one of his save opportunities requiring a bottle of Pepto Bismol. The bases were loaded with only one out as the dangerous Ryan Zimmerman stepped into the batter's box. Zimmerman then smoked a 1-1 pitch from Lidge up the middle. Jimmy Rollins dove to his left, flipped to Chase Utley, who fired to Ryan Howard to complete the 6-4-3 double play, ending the game, and sending the Phillies to the playoffs.

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September 22, 2009 12:22 pm

Checking the Numbers: Perceived Velocity


Eric Seidman

Sometimes it's not just a matter of how fast you throw, but from how close to the plate you're throwing it.

Few pitchers utilize their fastballs more frequently than J.A. Happ of the Phillies does, as he throws his four-seamed heater 71 percent of the time. Unlike Max Scherzer, who throws his fastball at a similar rate but routinely registers 95+ miles per hour on the gun, Happ averages a relatively modest 89.7 mph with rather pedestrian movement. Despite these facts pointing towards the idea that Happ's chief pitch is thus somewhat average or below, his plate discipline data has trended in the opposite direction: Happ ranks amongst the leaders in zone percentage yet has very low rates of both swings induced and contact made on pitches in the zone, performance characteristics that portend an ability to deceive hitters when coupled with his velocity and movement marks. Unless we accept that Happ's numbers are fluky, something about his delivery is preventing hitters from picking the ball up and reacting in appropriate fashion, whether that's a question of his hiding the ball well, or having a release that's closer to home plate than hitters are accustomed to seeing.

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