Welcome fantasy Baseballers to another fantasy baseball analysis intended to provide you with an edge on draft day in your upcoming fantasy baseball league. This article takes a look at pitchers who I believe have a better than average chance of providing a positive return for a low cost investment.

Here at The Fantasy Baseball Report, our focus is always on skills first. However, in fantasy baseball, there’s always an element of luck involved. When it comes to pitching, there are a few factors that all of in the industry believe are key to assessing whether a player is the victim of good or bad luck and those are BABIP (batting average of balls in play), LOB% (strand rate) and xFIP as it relates to a pitcher’s actual ERA.

But the FBR doesn’t just look at the luck factors involved. We also take the core skills and other related factors into consideration and combine these factors with the ‘so-called’ luck factors to create a fantasy player analysis that’s becomes rooted in facts. The data below represents 5 MLB pitchers that the Fantasy Baseball Report possess a higher than average likelihood of improvement in the upcoming 2017 season.

The table below takes provides 5 picks we believe could provide a positive return relative to their current ADP based on BABIP numbers that were uncharacteristically low compared to 2016 league averages (.305) and strand rates (LOB%) well below the league average of 70%. We can also see a the differential between their 2016 ERA and xFIP were substantially different with the xFIP being much lower than the actual ERA.

Name Team Core Skills Luck Related Factors ERA Analysis
Michael Pineda Yankees 10.61 2.72 3.91 0.339 -0.135 71% 4.82 3.3 1.52
Aaron Nola Phillies 9.81 2.35 4.17 0.334 -0.177 61% 4.78 3.08 1.70
James Paxton Mariners 8.7 1.79 4.88 0.347 -0.223 66% 3.79 3.35 0.44
Robbie Ray Diamondbacks 11.25 3.67 3.07 0.352 -0.150 69% 4.90 3.45 1.45
Tyler Duffey Twins 7.71 2.17 3.56 0.339 -0.110 60% 6.43 3.89 2.54

Michael Pineda (RHP) NYY – ADP (15 Team) : 215

The Good –
Power pitcher with elite swinging strike rate, elite K/9 with strong control and command.
The Bad
High HR/FB supported by an above average hard hit rate shows a little reason for concern going forward in 2017. Under 6 IP/GS combined with his 2016 ERA shows that we got hit around, he got hit around pretty darn good. The ballpark he pitches in doesn’t help his penchant for giving up the long ball either.
Reasons for Optimism –
Pineda’s xFIP and BABIP differential shows combined with his core skills indicate the potential for some real good numbers in 2017. His ADP along with his raw talent and some 2016 bad luck in my opinion has got me very intrigued here.

Aaron Nola (RHP) PHI – ADP (15 Team) : 214

The Good –
Approaching 10 K/9 which is near elite, with outstanding control and command evidenced by the BB/9 and K/BB rates. Can also not an above average soft hit rate of 23% and league average HR/FB and Swinging Strike rates.
The Bad
If there’s a bad mark to note here it may be that he’s not the most efficient pitcher in the league with 5.6 IP/GS in 2016.
Reasons for Optimism
Absurd low level BABIP and LOB combined with an xFIP that hovering in the low, low 3’s points to 2017 improvement that I’ll be banking on in my league drafts and with a 14th round ADP in 15 team leagues, Nola could provide a large profit for a low cost investment.

James Paxton (RHP) SEA – ADP (15 Team) : 186

The Good –
There’s a lot to like here! Strong K/9 with elite type control make for elite level K/BB. Fairly efficient for a young pitcher with a 6.1 IP/GS along with near 12% swinging strike rate give us a fair amount of confidence that this a highly skilled pitcher with a big future ahead of him.
The Bad
A very low HR/FB ratio tells us that there might be a slight uptick when it comes to total runs allowed that’s supported a bit by a 33% hard hit rate and 30% FB rate indicates that the 8% HR/FB is a bit fluky.
Reasons for Optimism
With a 223 point differential in his BABIP to league average and a 66% LOB rate tell me that there’s room for improvement here. His ERA to xFIP is pretty similar with less that a half point difference and both are in the mid 3’s so even considering there might be an uptick in ER’s due to his lower than average HR/FB, overall we got us a winner here folks.

Robbie Ray (LHP) ARI – ADP (15 Team) : 218

The Good
A LHP with big time strikeout potential sporting a K/9 rate of 11.25. and an 11.6% swinging strike rate
The Bad
Walks too many batters and gives up a few too many HR/FB gives us a bit of concern.
Reasons for Optimism
A 150 differential in BABIP in 2016 that’s over 40 higher than 2015 give us hope that there’s room for ERA improvement to go along with his strikeout abilities. His 14th round ADP says there’s a potential for ROI here also.

Tyler Duffey (RHP) MIN – ADP (15 Team) : 637

The Good
His core skills are pretty good, holding 7.71 K/9, 2.17 BB/9 and a 3.56 K/BB ratio.
The Bad
Doesn’t do a very good job at missing bats as evidenced by a swinging strike rate under 9%, a high HR/FB rate and a team that’s below average in general.
Reasons for Optimism
A 110 point difference in BABIP compared to league average, an extremely low 60% LOB rate and 2.54 difference in ERA to xFIP. Each of these indicators points to better than average probability of a 2017 rebound combined with a decent set of core skills. A possible end game pick that could turn a small profit.

The fantasy baseball analysis above is intended to identify key factors that indicate potential for a rebound in the upcoming 2017 fantasy baseball season. Although there’s never a guarantee in fantasy baseball, there value to be found here in these players that could help your fantasy team in the upcoming season.

As always I welcome your comments and insight so I encourage you leave your comments below. If you’ve found value in this article feel free to share via the social media links below and if you would like to receive instant updates to fantasy baseball news as it breaks, please sign up below.

Good luck in your upcoming fantasy baseball season.

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Doug Lukas

Dedicated baseball enthusiast with a serious passion for helping readers succeed in all areas of fantasy baseball.
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