This article is part of our Mound Musings series.
You all know my observations and expectations are based on a combination of what is commonly called the "eye test," or what I see, and analytics, that being performance-based results equated to numeric ratings or rankings. When asked what I expect from a pitcher for the rest of the season, or for future seasons, I use my eye test observations (okay, I'm a bit old school) and I try to provide some thoughts on what to expect and why. What you don't always see is an ongoing process of validating those eye test expectations with analytics. This is the basis of fantasy baseball. It's relatively easy to assign estimated value based on past performance. But, success is predicated on predicting the future, and that objective should always be at the forefront.
That said, I would like to explore a recent analysis I did based on my observations of which statistics can be predictive of success going forward. I first focused on two key numbers for starting pitchers:
- BB/9: This number actually contributes to predicting success in several ways. A lower walk rate obviously means fewer baserunners, and with all the homeruns these days, that equates to fewer runs against your pitcher. However, it should be noted that a low walk rate also helps reduce pitch counts, hopefully helping the pitcher qualify for a win (fewer innings from poor relievers), and, in leagues that count them, more chances for that rare commodity – a quality start.
- K/9: Strikeouts are counted as