This article is part of our The Z Files series.
As many of you know (and if you don't, you're missing out on some cool content), I administer a weekly Tout Table where I pose a question to the 94 participants. Anywhere between a quarter and a half of the group responds and I post the answers on ToutWars.com.
This week's query was:
I started to do the research for my answer when I realized it would make a nice Z Files, so here we go.
Before diving into the players, here's my approach. The first step is comparing actual ERA to ERA estimators as well as getting a feel for luck-oriented metrics such as BABIP, LOB% and HR/FB. For some, it ends here with the luckiest most likely to fall and the one whose actual ERA most closely matches the estimators deemed "for real."
For me, this is just getting the lay of the land. A fortunate hurler can fend off regression via improving skills. A pitcher whose skills support his early success may not be able to maintain them. Perhaps he's benefited from an easy early schedule or has faced teams missing their top players. To consider a skills change sustainable, I want to see something different from previous seasons. This can be added velocity or spin, a new pitch or different usage