Last week I discussed starting pitchers that I thought were too lucky last season. They could be considered 2019 fantasy baseball overvalued pitchers, given their luck last season made them look better than they really are. We can’t expect that luck to continue this season.
Using the same process, here I highlight starting pitchers that were too unlucky last season. This helps us identify some starters later in your draft that could be in line for a better year, or 2019 fantasy baseball undervalued pitchers.
Using the same metrics in my analysis – ERA-xFIP, BABIP, LOB%, GB%, HR/FB (check the previous article for details) – I tabulated if each of 128 qualifying starting pitchers were unlucky in 2018. To determine what unlucky looks like, I came up with these guidelines based on a weighted average over the last 5 years:
- ERA-xFIP higher than +0.5
- BABIP higher than 0.305
- LOB% lower than 71.4%
- GB% lower than 42.8%
- HR/FB higher than 14.1%
LUCK COULD TURN AROUND
This analysis resulted in the following potentially undervalued starting pitchers for the 2019 fantasy baseball season, given their high un-luck score and ADP. Stats are from FanGraphs. ADP info is from FantasyPros as of February 18, 2019.
Chris Archer ADP SP #34 · Overall #132
Archer came in as the 14th unluckiest pitcher in this analysis. He has the 2nd highest BABIP and 21st highest ERA-xFIP. Although his 2018 GB% was higher than the league average 43.0%, his career GB% is 45.6%. This tells me that he gets batters to hit grounders more than usual.
You can make the argument that he has been unlucky for the past three seasons, not just 2018. One of these years he’s going to flip the script and give us the season we’ve all been waiting for. Could it be 2019? With a career 9.73 K/9 he will always be drafted. This might be the lowest price you’ll ever have to pay for him. As your 3rd starter in a 12-team league or 4th in a 10-team league. Why not take a chance on him?
Nick Pivetta ADP SP #45 · Overall #171
Pivetta came in as the 6th unluckiest pitcher. He had the 4th highest ERA-xFIP, the 6th highest BABIP, the 20th highest HR/FB rate and the 24th lowest LOB%. The only “luck” he had going for him was his unusually high GB%.
True, we have a small sample size on Pivetta and the numbers are “unlucky” across the board (again, with the exception of GB%). He’s being drafted as a #4 starter in 12-team leagues (#5 in 10-team leagues). Why not roll the dice on him and his career 9.94 K/9?
Jon Gray ADP SP #53 · Overall #188
Gray checks in as the 3rd unluckiest pitcher last season. He had the 2nd highest ERA-xFIP, 6th highest HR/FB rate, 14th highest BABIP and 15th lowest LOB%. Like Pivetta, his GB% was very high last season.
He’s being drafted about a round later than Pivetta as a #5 starter in 12-team leagues (#6 in 10-team leagues). And like, Pivetta he has a desirable 9.53 K/9. Now, I’m not advising you draft both him and Pivetta… but, Gray could serve you well as a late round gamble. Gray has even admitted that he wasn’t healthy last season as is looking to rebound.
Dylan Bundy ADP SP #79 · Overall #290
Ah, we’ve come to our unluckiest pitcher in the 2018 season. Bundy struggled his way to be Top 27 unluckiest in all five metrics, and Top 8 in three (ERA-xFIP, GB% and HR/FB rate). While 2018 is arguably his worst year yet, he did post a career high 9.65 K/9. So there is that.
Bundy is not going to be a difference maker in 2019 but he’s a guy to take a late round flier in deeper leagues (15-teams or more) or keep your eyes on him early in the season. If it looks like he’s righting the ship, stream him occasionally.
* Additionally, the #2 & #4 unluckiest pitchers were Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani, respectively. Bailey recently signed a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royals and is currently being drafted as SP #223. Safe to ignore him in any draft. DeSclafani is being drafted as SP #125 and therefore mostly irrelevant except in deep, deep leagues.