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Rotisserie Duck


Visiting With Bill James PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 12 December 2014 00:00
Many baseball fans from the "Baby Boomer" generation haven't really bought into the immense change in how statistics are viewed. They still look at the game with their eyes and are only concerned with the numbers on the back of the baseball card. For those of us more immersed in the details of the game, the man who guided us through the wilderness is Bill James. Starting in the late 70's, he published an annual "Baseball Abstract" that began the task of analyzing data in new and different ways. By 1985, he wrote the first "Historical Baseball Abstract" and that 700+ page volume still sits on the bookshelf in my office.

For baseball fans in general and Fantasy Baseball players who participate in keeper leagues, Bill also helps us get through the winter while we're longing for box scores. Each November, The Bill James Handbook gives us a review of the season, lifetime stats of every major league player and numerous articles and lists to make the "hot stove" season tolerable. The 2015 version is available now and at 579 pages, offers just about something for everyone. The Old Duck has an annual exercise, where I take my initial cursory glance at the book and begin discovering information that surprises and enlightens me.

So, here are some random observations from my first time through the pages...

> In golf and tennis, fans can easily find current rankings on each player. The systems are set up so that the rankings move up and down based on performance and are not just for the current season. James has developed a similar idea for ranking starting pitchers. The current top five are Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale and David Price. Corey Kluber was 107th going into 2014, now he's 11th.

> Most spectators are much more aware of pitch velocity than they were 10, 20 or 30 years ago. With radar guns in stadiums and in every scout's hands, we focus on that statistic and assume a pitcher's performance will deteriorate with diminished velocity. This year's handbook charts average fastball velocity by age and actually shows how little difference there is for most pitchers. Looking for outliers, however, shows that from 2007 to 2014, Tim Lincecum dropped from 94 MPH to 90 MPH, Felix Hernandez from 96 to 92, Ubaldo Jimenez from 96 to 91, Justin Verlander from 95 to 92, Jonathan Papelbon from 94 to 91 and C.C. Sabathia from 93 to 89. On the flip side, J.A. Happ increased from 88 to 93.

> Fielding metrics are relatively new and not yet accepted by fans or even by many statisticians. The handbook's "Defensive Runs Saved" chart does help us verify what we think we're told by our eyes. The Royals defense in the postseason was a major part of their winning formula, so it isn't difficult to understand that Alex Gordon saved 27 runs during the season and Lorenzo Cain saved 24. Most observers think Andrelton Simmons is the best shortstop in the game and his 28 runs saved seems to verify that opinion. Jason Heyward's 32 runs saved was the best in the game but the Mets’ Juan Lagares chipped in with 28 (for the 2nd consecutive season).

> A consistently debated topic among fans and media is the dramatic increase in defense shifts. In 2013, shifts were utilized over 8,000 times and in 2014, the number increased to over 13,000. To the naysayer, the question becomes, would teams be shifting more if it didn't work? According to the "Runs Saved" statistic, shifting saved 135 runs in 2013 and 195 runs in 2014. As bad as they were last season, the Astros led all of baseball by saving 27 runs through utilizing the shift. Using ground balls and short line-drives as the criteria, the chart of the top 30 shifted batters shines a spotlight on this trend. Slow-footed lefty hitters took the brunt of the abuse as Ryan Howard's BA in no-shift situations was .333 while into the shift, he hit .167. Chris Davis went from .333 to .121 and Carlos Santana from .321 to .144.

> In the past, players were judged as good baserunners if they swiped a lot of bases. Not only weren't their other baserunning skills not considered, even their caught stealing stats were ignored. However, as Tom Boswell pointed out over 20 years ago, a caught stealing is equivalent to two outs because it not only removes a baserunner, it also causes an out. Now we have information that tells us how often a player goes from 1st to 3rd or 2nd to home plate on a single. The handbook grades baserunning on the net amount of bases a player gains in a given season. Some visually fast runners like Carlos Gomez and Yasiel Puig diminish their value by getting thrown out and doubled up on the basepaths. Only one MLB player gained over 50 bases for his team in 2014 and it was the Phillies’ Ben Revere at 54. Leonys Martin came in at 42 and Dee Gordon at 39. Just to prove that raw speed isn't always the answer, how about Brian Dozier at 37 as well as Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth, who both totaled 36?

> If you're wondering why pitchers like C.J. Wilson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Edwin Jackson had lousy years, the answer might align with throwing strikes. Wilson had the lowest strike percentage of any pitcher who faced at least 500 batters (58%) while Jimenez was tied for 2nd at 60% and Jackson not far behind at 61%. 13 hurlers were at 61% or lower and their cumulative ERA was 4.58. Phil Hughes was the best at 73%, followed closely by Price, Jordan Zimmermann and Kershaw. The 13 pitchers with a number of at least 68% combined for a 3.09 ERA. The "Pitcher Analysis" in the handbook gives you this information for every pitcher along with detail such as the number of 3-ball counts and the swinging strike percentage.

> Were there any successful major league pitchers who threw their fastball over 90% of the time? The "Pitchers' Repertoires" section will answer that question by telling you that there were three and all were excellent closers: Kenley Jansen, Jake McGee and Zach Britton.

That's just a taste of the information in this year's edition and we haven't even looked at the individual player stats. No wonder that "stathead" is now an accepted baseball term.

Last Updated on Friday, 12 December 2014 02:19
 
Tasting The Stew On The Hot Stove PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 05 December 2014 00:00
If you are fortunate enough to play fantasy baseball in a keeper-league format, you've learned long ago that there is no off-season. Even in December, you can analyze the rosters in your league, watch the MLB transaction wire, consider trades and play General Manager. The real-world GM's are heading for the winter meetings this week and there's sure to be some action, but lots of moves have happened already. Every fan has their opinion and the Old Duck is no exception, so here's some pondering on this year's hot stove so far. Fantasy values are based on a 5x5 mixed league format and WAR (Wins Above Replacement) equals about $5.5 Million per win.

Trades

> Jason Heyward from the Braves to the Cardinals for Shelby Miller - This deal should be a case study for fantasy players, as the Braves gave up one year of Heyward's production to acquire a young starting pitcher they can keep for four seasons. One of the most common mistakes made in a keeper-league is to look at a deal as player-for-player without considering the future. Heyward earned $17 in fantasy value this past season while Miller barely had a positive value, so the 2015 stats obviously favor the Cardinals. Miller, however, will earn about $600,000 in 2015 and his 1.6 WAR from 2014 is worth almost $9 Million to his team.

> Josh Donaldson from the A's to the Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie and three prospects - We all know that Billy Beane is a very smart guy and this deal probably can't really be judged for years to come. On the surface, however, Toronto looks like the obvious winner for 2015. Donaldson's projected salary in arbitration is $4.5 Million but he produced a 7.4 WAR in 2014, making him worth an astounding $40 Million to a roster and he earned $23 in fantasy value. Lawrie is four years younger and will be much less expensive (about $1.8 Million) but he's had trouble staying on the field. The three excellent prospects help fortify the A's system, which lost some key components during their "all-in" approach to 2014. You can't help but wonder if Billy is sitting in his office saying, "Donaldson can't get any better and Lawrie can't get any worse."

Extensions

> Giancarlo Stanton, 13 Years, $325 Million - This is reminiscent of many NFL contracts that carry a big price tag but aren't necessarily what they seem. The slugger will only make $107 Million over the first six years of the deal (less than $18 Million per season) and his 6.5 WAR is worth double that amount in value to the Marlins. His $34 fantasy value in 2014 was in spite of missing most of September.

> Victor Martinez, 4 years, $68 Million - At age 35, this is a real crap-shoot for the Tigers. His spectacular walk year produced a WAR of 5.3 (without playing defense at all), which justifies the dollars, but how long can he be expected to play at this level? And can he possibly produce another $37 fantasy season?

> Kyle Seager, 7 years, $100 Million - Sometimes teams must understand what they have and the Mariners made the right decision on this player. He just turned 27, has 67 home runs in three seasons and won the AL Gold Glove at 3B. He made $540,000 in 2014 and produced a WAR of 5.8, which was worth over $30 Million to the team. He joins Mike Trout, Buster Posey and Freddie Freeman as the only 4th year players to get a $100 Million payday. His $21 fantasy value could get significantly better.

Free Agents

> Russell Martin, 5 years, $82 Million - To most fans, it appears that Toronto overpaid, but a top-notch defensive catcher who can also produce at the plate is a prized commodity. Just ask the Cardinals, who signed Yadier Molina to a similar deal in 2013. Martin's WAR in 2014 was 5.5, creating a value of $30 Million, while Brian McCann's $17 Million salary with the Yankees produced only a 1.8 WAR. Which catcher would you rather have?

> Billy Butler, 3 years, $30 Million - Another head-scratcher from the A's GM, this signing may not turn out to be as bad as last year's $10 Million bust (Jim Johnson), but Butler wasn't even a positive WAR player in 2014 and this is verified by his $8 fantasy value. Exactly who were they bidding against?

> Adam LaRoche, 2 years, $25 Million - The White Sox paid exactly market value to add a left-handed bat to the lineup. HIS WAR of 2.2 equates to about $12 Million in value per season while he earned $18 in fantasy dollars.

> Pablo Sandoval, 5 years, $95 Million - If his production holds up for the Red Sox, this is another market value deal. The Panda's 3.4 WAR is equivalent to about $19 Million and he earned $14 in fantasy value.

> Hanley Ramirez, 4 years, $88 Million - A fragile player without a position makes this seem like more of a risk for the Red Sox. His 3.5 WAR was worth about $19 Million last season, so he better produce to make this contract work. His fantasy value of $17 clearly shows that he's no superstar.

> Nelson Cruz, 4 years, $58 Million - Leading the Majors in home runs gets you a nice contract, but he'll be 35 in July. A 4.7 WAR is worth $25 Million but what about ages 36-38? And, his $29 fantasy production might not get any better.

Making A Move

> Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes are power-hitting outfielders going into the final year of their contracts and both are rumored to be on the trading block. Which one would you rather have? In the real world, most fans would choose Upton but that might deserve a closer look. Upton's 2014 WAR was 3.1 but thanks to better defense, Cespedes ended up at 4.1. In addition, Upton's 2015 salary is $4 Million higher than Cespedes on the payroll of the team that trades for him. Yes, Upton might be a slightly better fantasy play but these two are very similar players.

So, don't forget, those chilly winter evenings can be warmed up by a hot stove.

 
The Clutch Chronicles - 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 28 November 2014 00:00
The Urban Dictionary defines Clutch as, "To perform under pressure." For decades, baseball pundits and fans have extolled the virtues of players who supposedly had this trait. Their evidence, however, was only visual and anecdotal. Back in the 1970's, most people considered Tony Perez of the "Big Red Machine" one of baseball's best clutch hitters. After all, he had over 100 RBI in six seasons between 1967 and 1975. In fact, some would argue that his election to the Hall of Fame was based on this reputation.

Now that baseball is in the age of statistical analysis, our old observations may be called into question. Even a math-challenged fan understands that you can't get a plethora of RBI without baserunners. And, boy, did those Reds teams have baserunners!

Statistics on RBI Percentage (RBI-HR/Runners On) now go back to 1974, so let's see how our legendary clutch hitter fared in a season where he was an All-Star. Perez had 101 RBI, 28 homers and 489 runners on base for a RBI percentage of 14.93%. That didn't even crack the top 50 for the major leagues in '74! He finished behind household names such as Reggie Smith, Richie Zisk, Jimmy Wynn, Cesar Cedeno and Ted Simmons. The leaders were Jeff Burroughs at 21.18% and Sal Bando at 21.15%.

Our Hall-of-Famer improved considerably in 1975 as he accumulated 109 RBI with 20 homers and 489 runners on base (again). His percentage improved to 18.20% and he just snuck into the top ten for that season. The only hitters at 20% or higher were Willie Stargell at 20.48% and Thurman Munson at 20.00%.

As a fan, you certainly have an opinion on today's clutch hitters, but do the stats back you up? In 2014, there were 17 hitters who exceeded the 18.20% that Perez posted in '75. These are "Quacker's Clutch All-Stars" and we'll see how well their performance aligns with their reputation.

1) Miguel Cabrera, Tigers 1B, 22.5% - The 6th place finisher in 2013 was viewed as having a slightly down season but he was the best in the business in this category.

2) Ryan Braun, Brewers OF, 20.2% - Another perceived disappointing season coming off a PED suspension, he still contributed lots of value to the Brew Crew.

3) Devin Mesoraco, Reds C, 20.0% - An amazing breakout campaign for this backstop, he was hitting clean-up by the end of the season.

4) Michael Brantley, Indians OF, 19.9% - Yes, he's a really good player! 20 homers, 97 RBI, 23 steals and 200 hits.

5) Justin Turner, Dodgers IF, 19.6% - The best utility player in baseball for 2014.

6) Jose Abreu, White Sox 1B, 19.6% - Exceeded the hype, which isn't easy in today's Internet age.

7) Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers 1B, 19.5% - Led all of baseball with 116 RBI...also had the most baserunners. Talk about consistency, his number was 18.7% in 2013.

8) Robinson Cano, Mariners 2B, 19.3% - Big contract, big expectations, big performance...was 7th last year with the Yankees.

9) Justin Morneau, Rockies 1B, 19.2% - Has a John Denver CD on his car stereo at all times.

10) Mike Trout, Angels OF, 19.0% - You have the privilege of watching a once-in-a-generation player.

11) Mark Trumbo, D'Backs OF, 18.7% - Watch out if he's healthy in 2015.

12) Kyle Seager, Mariners 3B, 18.7% - Another reason the Seattle squad won't backslide.

13) Kurt Suzuki, Twins C, 18.5% - Just in case you were questioning his All-Star selection.

14) Corey Dickerson, Rockies OF, 18.4% - Don't worry about his production away from Coors Field. He's not a free agent until 2020.

15) Ian Kinsler, Tigers 2B, 18.4% - A prince-of-a-deal for the Bengals.

16) Adam Lind, Brewers 1B, 18.4% - Yes, Toronto is a launching pad, but Miller is no walk-in-the-park for opposing pitchers.

17) Paul Goldschmidt, D'Backs 1B, 18.3% - Was 8th in 2013...don't doubt this talent.

The three worst clutch hitters in baseball were Brian Roberts at 8.2%, Bryce Harper at 8.3% and B.J. Upton at 8.3%. Roberts has retired, Harper isn't quite ready for the Hall of Fame just yet and B.J. is improving. Last season, he was dead last! His brother Justin had the lowest number (15.4%) of the 12 MLB hitters who had 100 RBI.

Hope all your fantasy players come through in the clutch. For more information on RBI Percentage, go to baseballmusings.com.

 
The Top 10 Baseball Card Sets Ever PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 21 November 2014 00:00
Sometimes you have to wonder how the Internet would exist without top-10 lists. Everything from household appliances to cars to "Black Friday" sales to movies, they all show up on your home page every day without you even requesting the information through a search engine. Of course, those magical software engineers have reviewed your recent website searches and already know you're considering a new car or a trip to Europe or some new underwear, so don't be surprised that some electronic Sherlock Holmes knows your innermost thoughts. The only clue this writer has is that you like baseball and as a consequence, might have interest in the sport's history. And nothing portrays the history of the game better than a baseball card. For well over 100 years, they've been imbedded in the fabric of the game for youngsters and the young at heart.

As with any "best" list, there is a natural bias due to the age of the person making the judgment. Today's median age in this country is about 37 and you won't find any sets listed that didn't appear before Mr. Median was born. Another prejudice takes the form of the reviewer's favorite set from their childhood and for "Baby Boomers", they'll all come from the 50's and 60's. So while some of you will wonder why the beautiful 1975 Topps set isn't on the list, that's the whole point of going through this exercise...if we all agreed, the discussion wouldn't be fun. The values of the sets listed are based on cards in "Excellent" (EX 5) condition.

#10 - 1956 Topps

56_ToppsIn 1955, Topps produced their first horizontal card set and some people prefer it due to the rookie cards of Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax. The '56 set, however, actually improved upon the design and is one of the most beautiful ever issued. The 340-card issue has a profile shot layered over an actual action sequence of the player. The most expensive card is the Mickey Mantle (who was not in the '55 set), representing his Triple Crown season. Included are all the great stars of the 50's such as Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. A complete set would be valued at about $6,000.

 

#9 - 1953 Topps

53_ToppsThis was the second year issue of the Topps Company and it still stands out as one of the most artistic in the annals of the hobby. The 274-card set uses a format that bears a recognizable artistic depiction of the featured player. Both Mantle and Mays were shortprints and are the two most expensive cards in the set. You'll also find many other legendary New York players like Robinson, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and the rookie cards of Jim Gilliam and Johnny Podres. Set aside $10,000 for this one.

#8 - 1953 Bowman (Color)

53_BowmanThis amazing set is famous for its simplicity. The 160 cards  have only a color photo of the player on the front with no name, position or team affiliation. In fact, even for real baseball fans, trying to see how many players you can recognize without looking at the back of the cards is a real challenge. The photography is exquisite and there are many action shots and a few multiple-player cards. The Stan Musial card is a prized collectible and you'll also find a card that has Mantle, Berra and Hank Bauer. $8,000 will put this in your collection.

 

 

 

 

#7 - 1915 Cracker Jack

15_CJ

Yes, they're called Cracker Jack cards because they were inserted in boxes of the molasses-covered popcorn snack...and the entire set was also available through a mail-in offer. The 176 players were from the American, National and Federal League (the third major league in 1914-15) and include Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson and the famous "Black Sox" player, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. A set in "EX" condition is worth $50,000...say it ain't so, Joe.

#6 - 1963 Topps

63_Topps

The most recent of our top 10, this 576-card set was one of many great issues of the 1960's. Its unique format with a large photo of each player as well as a smaller, black and white image in a circle stands the test of time. Topps added many other aspects to the set with theme cards such as "League Leaders", "Managers", "World Series" and multi-player cards including rookie cards that showed four individual players. In that category is the highest valued card, Pete Rose's rookie card (#537) as well as the rookie card of Pirates legend Willie Stargell. Many of the stars from the 50's were still active in '63 and the horizon was filled with new stars like Carl Yastrzemski, Brooks and Frank Robinson, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda. A $4,000 budget should get it into your collection.

 

 

#5 - 1941 Play Ball

41_PBThis was the third year of production for the Play Ball series, but the first to add color to the cards. In addition, 1941 ended up being an enormously historic season with Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak and Ted Williams batting .406. It also turned out to be the last year for the product as World War II changed the landscape of baseball for years to come. In addition to the Yankee Clipper and Teddy Ballgame, you'll find Hall of Famers like Lefty Gomez, Bill Dickey, Bobby Doerr and the rookie card of Pee Wee Reese. Only 72 cards, it will still cost almost $7,000 to collect.

#4 - 1951 Bowman

51_Bowman

The Bowman Company produced baseball cards from 1948-1955 and this is the most coveted of the group. The initial run was 252 cards but late in production, another 72 were added and having the rookie cards of both Mantle and Mays in that "high number" series took the set to another level for collectors. You'll also find Ford, Williams, Campanella, Duke Snider, Bob Feller and many others. $13,000 - $14,000 is the ballpark price.

 

#3 - 1952 Topps

52_ToppsThe "Holy Grail" for collectors of post-war baseball cards, this is the first complete set issue from the Topps Company. It includes 407 cards but #'s 311-407 were issued late in the production run and are very scarce. Ironically, the first card of the difficult series is Mickey Mantle, who went on to be the most popular player of the 50's and 60's. Even though it isn't technically his rookie card, it is his first Topps card and his appeal and the scarcity of the card make it an iconic collectible. Hopefully, you're sitting down because the Mantle card in "EX 5" condition books for $20,000. The set has many other great stars including Phil Rizzuto, Warren Spahn, Richie Ashburn, Larry Doby and the rookie card of Eddie Mathews. Even common cards from the scarce series book for $140 each. The complete set is worth over $50,000.

#2 - 1933 Goudey

33_GoudeyProduced by Big League Gum, these colorful cards set the standard for sports collectibles. They were larger than earlier issues and had great eye-appeal with their artistic illustrations. As with all sets, the real demand is created by the players featured on the cards. The 240 cards in the Goudey line-up comprise a who's-who of Hall of Fame players and in many cases, the most famous ones had multiple cards in the set, including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Also included are Jimmie Foxx, Tris Speaker, Mel Ott and Rogers Hornsby. $50,000+ is the price tag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That brings us to #1 and to hearken back to Saturday morning serials at the movie theater, we'll leave you hanging and talk about the winner in detail during a future visit. Here's a hint - tobacco is a key factor.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 November 2014 09:14
 
Wait 'Til You Get A Whiff Of This PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 14 November 2014 00:00
Being born one year before Jackie Robinson broke the color-barrier in the major leagues, I've always embraced positive change in the game. From Bill James’ early work to the explosion of Fantasy Baseball to expanded media coverage to new analytics, it has all been great fun. There are still some old-school roots, like wishing hitters would choke up with two strikes and put the ball in play, but change is inevitable even if we don't agree with the details at the time.

This concept struck home again recently while watching a MLB Network interview with the new Dodgers GM, Farhan Zaidi. At age 37, Zaidi has worked for the Oakland A's for the last ten years. He is a Canadian of Pakistani decent who grew up in the Philippines and becomes the first Muslim GM in the major leagues. He has economics degrees from MIT (undergraduate) and Cal Berkeley (doctorate) and is obviously well-schooled in statistical analysis, having worked for Billy Beane's "Moneyball" regime. In fact, at least one L.A. sportswriter has already criticized the Dodgers for hiring a front office of nerds who comprise a "geek squad."

In the interview, however, Zaidi came across as a smart, personable guy who clearly understands the ongoing debate of stat heads vs. scouts, and he wasn't even wearing a pocket-protector. The most interesting Q&A for fantasy players was when he was asked if it's tougher to analyze pitchers or hitters. There was no hesitation, as the new GM detailed why pitchers are so much more difficult to assess. He pointed out that something as simple as adding another pitch (like a young Mariano Rivera) can change the career path for a pitcher. And, of course, there’s the injury factor and how each pitcher might recover differently.

From a fantasy perspective, we're always looking for the Holy Grail when it comes to pitching analysis. As one of the better players in my league says at least a dozen times a season, "I hate pitchers." Another owner in the same league had a strong season in 2013 by concentrating on the WHIP/Ratio factor at the draft. While that worked in a 4x4 format, adding strikeouts to the equation would diminish the value of some control pitchers. Using K rate in a 5x5 league makes some sense, but a pitcher who strikes out a batter per inning might also issue a high volume of walks. In an earlier article, this column pointed out the stat of "Fielding Independent Pitching" (FIP) as a way to determine if a pitcher's ERA might have been lucky or unlucky in a given season.

At the recent First Pitch Arizona meeting, a plethora of smart guys discussed all types of baseball related topics. In one session, another pitching statistic was added to the mix of tools to confuse us even further. The presenter indicated that his favorite pitching metric was "Whiff Rate" because it was simple and makes sense intuitively. What you are really trying to determine with this stat are the pitchers who have the best "stuff." By digging around the FanGraphs website, you can find the "Contact %" for every major league hurler. The difference between that number and 100% is their whiff rate, or in other words, how often batters missed a pitch. Over the last three years, whiff rate for starting pitchers averages about 20%. Not surprisingly, many of the top hurlers in baseball are near the top of the list, but others might jump off the page. These numbers are based on a 160-inning minimum.

1) Francisco Liriano (Free Agent), 31.9% - Just in case you're wondering why a mid-market team like the Pirates would offer a 7-game winner $15.3 million.

2) Tyson Ross (Padres), 28.6% - Petco Park doesn't cause swings and misses.

3) Chris Sale (White Sox), 27.2% - Nasty side-winder.

4) Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), 27% - Another Cy Young Award.

5) Felix Hernandez (Mariners), 26.4% - Doesn't seem like slightly diminished velocity has impacted his stuff.

6) Ervin Santana (Free Agent), 25.7% - Another free agent who has been given the $15.3 million qualifying offer.

7) Corey Kluber (Indians), 25.6% - Under the radar in Cleveland, he appears to be the real deal.

8) Max Scherzer (Free Agent), 24.7% - You had better be good to turn down $140+ million.

9) Zack Greinke (Dodgers), 24.6% - In Kershaw's shadow, he's 32-12 over the last two seasons.

10) Garrett Richards (Angels), 24.4% - The injury factor looms.

11) Cole Hamels (Phillies), 24.4% - Might be the asset traded by Philadelphia to rebuild its roster.

12) Stephen Strasburg (Nationals), 23.8% - Has gone from over-rated to under-rated.

13) Alex Cobb, 23% (Rays) - In 49 starts over the last two seasons, his ERA is 2.82.

14) Zack Wheeler (Mets), 22.9% - Won't be 25 until after opening day 2015.

15) Jeff Samardzija (A's), 22.7% - Wouldn't you like to be his agent next off-season?

Where are some of the familiar names? Madison Bumgarner (Giants) is 19th at 22.2%, David Price (Tigers) is 23rd at 21.7% and Jon Lester (Free Agent) is 25th at 21.5%.

And, you might be wondering about the bottom-of-the-barrel? Bartolo Colon (Mets) at 12.3%, Doug Fister (Nationals) at 13.4%, Mark Buehrle (Blue Jays) at 14.1%, Scott Feldman (Astros) at 14.3% and Travis Wood (Cubs) at 14.5% round out the lowest five.

So, if your pitching toolbox isn't already overflowing, take a whiff of this information.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 November 2014 02:17
 
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