In a standard 5×5 Rotisserie league, wins encapsulate twenty percent of a pitcher’s value. But because a pitcher has very little ability to dictate whether or not he gets a win, and we have a very limited, if any at all, ability to predict pitcher wins, we must conclude that wins are not sustainable.
Sure it is easy to fall back and say “a pitcher on a bad team cannot get a lot of wins.” Well, Hyun-Jin Ryu has six wins and the Dodgers are in last place, so that cannot be the case.
Conversely, Cole Hamels is 1-8, has a 3.86xFIP, and plays on the same Phillies team as Cliff Lee, who is 6-2 with a 3.63 xFIP. The .23 difference in Lee and Hamel’s xFIP is unlikely the cause between their drastically different records.
Why are wins deceptive?
Simply put, when you place an importance on a pitcher’s record, you place him under scrutiny for a lot of which he has no control over: his team’s bullpen, the opposing team’s bullpen, the opposing team’s starting pitching, his team’s lineup, the opposing team’s lineup, his team’s defense, and the opposing team’s defense. All of these factors come into play when it comes down to whether or not a pitcher gets a win, and none of these are susceptible to a starting pitchers influence.
As a way to look at a more accurate depiction of a pitchers Fantasy value, I thought we would look at what starting pitcher rankings would look like if we counted strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, and not wins.
In order to calculate player value, I used Jefferey Gross’s methodology, which is defined as E.Y.E.S. All of the data used for this article was taken before games on May 29th, but the general idea is still relevant; Fantasy players’ values are artificially inflated and deflated by wins.
Here are the rankings for the top players with wins included (zSCR) and without wins (zSCR-W).
There is some fluctuation between the two metrics, but lets put our results into context and see which pitcher’s rankings are altered the most. The column on the left indicates the pitchers whose value differs the most in a negative way when you do not count wins, and the column on the right indicates the pitchers whose values increase the most when you do not count wins.
As we suggested before, Hamels has suffered mightily this year from a lack of wins, and if he had a pedestrian three wins, instead of one, his player rank might not seem as awful as it currently is.
What can we take away?
The list provides a powerful source from which to buy low on pitchers. Especially when you see pitchers whose rankings are drastically higher when you exclude wins from their value and are on a good team: Kris Medlen, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner. These players have pitched well this year, as indicated by their position on the player rater when you exclude wins, but they have just been unlucky when it comes to other previously discussed factors they have no control over. Just as wins are not sustainable, the losses that these pitchers have incurred are unsustainable and will turn into a change of fortune at a time yet to be determined.
Devon Jordan is obsessed with statistical analysis, non-fiction literature, and electronic music. If you enjoyed him here, follow him on Twitter @devinjjordan.