Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Baseball Trivia: Fantasy Pitcher Roulette

Aside from being able to shame your friends and opponents when you win, one of the most enjoyable aspects of playing fantasy baseball is the FANTASY part of it. You get to dream that you are actually the general manager of a team. You get to test your skills in analysis, evaluation, and intuition. Can you build a winner by passing up the top three starting pitchers while stocking up on catchers and relievers? Probably not, but if you wanted to play fast and loose, you can experiment with odd team-building strategies with minimal real-life damage outside of your own psyche.

So, I wanted to conduct a little fantasy experiment tinted with trivia! I’m going to present you with four options of a pitcher to pick – what round or position in your rotation doesn’t matter – and then we’ll go from there. Cool? Cool.

Here are the parameters for this little exercise in fun. I have picked four pitchers who all rank in the top 25 in active career strikeout leaders. Then, I picked one of their most pedestrian seasons. A season where they threw at least 180 innings and had less than 2.0 bWAR is the cut-off. I will provide extra statistical context for each of the four hurlers’ “meh” seasons. The goal is to see if you can guess the name of your pick (and of all four pitchers, if you’re feeling frisky). Prior to any reveals, I also want you to guess who of the four currently has the highest career bWAR. And hopefully, in a fantasy sense, you pick the guy you would be overjoyed to have on your dynasty team for the peak run of their respective career. Let’s take a look at the candidates, shall we?

PITCHER A: in a season where this lefty threw 180.2 innings and had a 0.6 bWAR, he went 13-8 with a 4.33 ERA and 101 ERA+ (119 career mark as of this offseason). His K/9 was a respectable 9.00, as was his 3.00 K:BB. He stranded a career second-lowest mark of 68.7% of baserunners, but had a spike in HR/9 (1.30) after four straight seasons under 1. He also surrendered a career-high 15.8% HR/FB, but had an under-career-average fly ball rate of 32.4%. A fair number of hitters really got ahold of one when they put it in the air against him this season.

Pitcher A’s ISO/BIP vs RHB for season in question. Photo Credit: Author screenshot/FanGraphs

PITCHER B: went 15-9 with a 93 ERA+ (career 132) and 4.43 ERA in 195.0 IP and just 1.4 bWAR. Amongst seasons qualifying for our search parameters, he struck out the fewest batters (174), while throwing a career-high 12 wild pitches. By any measure, had his lowest K/9 mark of 8.0 and coughed up a career-high 1.3 HR/9. He had a career-worst 14.2% gap in his strikeout and walk rates (K-BB%). In 33 starts, he didn’t throw a complete game and only had one start with double digit strikeouts.

Pitcher B’s SLG/BIP vs ALL. Photo Credit: Author/FanGraphs

PITCHER C: another southpaw whose career is not reflected in a season where he had a record of 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA and 97 ERA+ (123 for his career) in 193.2 IP all leading to a 1.9 bWAR. He gave up a career-high 9.6 H/9 coupled with another career-worst 7.8 K/9. His opponent BABIP of .317 that season is one of only two years batters eclipsed the .300 mark against him, which also lent to a career-worst 102 ERA-. Of qualifying seasons for the sake of our experiment, he had his lowest total in strikeouts at 168.

Pitcher C’s raw ISO vs LHB. Photo Credit: Author/FanGraphs

PITCHER D: in his only season pitching in the National League, our final hurler on the “draft board” pitched 196.0 innings and had a record of 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA (90 ERA+ contrasted with a career mark of 101). A 1.4 bWAR for the season is his worst for qualified seasons. His 1.306 WHIP is second-worst of those qualifying seasons. Interestingly enough, his 8.2 K/9 is his second-best season mark for his career. He also gave up his stingiest 8.8% HR/FB or a meager total of 16 bombs for the season. However, it looks like NL hitters were squaring him up decently well as indicated by a career-high 24.7% line drive rate.

Pitcher D’s season-in-question spray chart vs ALL. Photo Credit: Author/FanGraphs

So, your task is to pick the pitcher, take a stab at who they are, and see if you can call which one has the highest career bWAR as of this reading. A couple quick hints to help you out. Clayton Kershaw is NOT one of these four pitchers and neither is Justin Verlander. All of these seasons came after the first time the Tampa Bay Rays made the World Series and two of these seasons came on the immediate heels of the player winning a World Series ring. All four of these pitchers have surrendered at least 250 home runs in their careers. Happy fantasy!!

Contact me @Rev_Gabelicious with your picks, guesses, answers, or anxiety dreams about your team losing.

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