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Fantasy Pitcher Busts

2015 Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Busts

by Adam, DFS Handicapper,

The 2015 Major League Baseball season is upon us and we all want to know which pitchers will underperform their projections (busts).

We used advanced metrics such as FIP (see bottom), HR/FB%, BABIP, etc. to predict which pitchers are likely to bust in 2015. By bust, we typically mean not live up to expectations. Some pitchers here MAY be okay for fantasy purposes, but we anticipate they will be drafted too early and have salary caps too high for the production they are likely to give you.


Phil Hughes

Phil Hughes had a nice year (16-10, 3.52 ERA) due in large part to being a flyball pitcher in a pitcher's ballpark in Minnesota. However, his 0.7 walks per 9 innings may be a fluke as he has walked over 2 batters per 9 over his career. His WHIP was low because of the low walk total, but he still got hit hard and allowed 221 hits in 209.2 IP. Although he allowed a nice total of 16 homeruns, those hard hits were in fact landing as doubles (46 in 824 AB). I believe the wins go down as Minnesota has no offense, and the ERA trickles back up to the 4.00 area.

Jered Weaver

Jered Weaver had some very deceiving stats in 2014 when he went 18-9 with a 3.59 ERA. His FIP was actually 60 points higher than his ERA, 4.19. The 32 year old had an extremely low BABIP against, .269, with the league average being .299. He was obviously getting very lucky in that respect. Add to that the high line drive rate of 24% against him and you can imagine that Weaver's ERA is bound to increase this year. He is a fly ball pitcher, and gave up about twice as many fly outs as he did ground outs. With an average HR/FB% at 7.7% last year, if that number increases, those fly outs become homeruns. Buyer beware.

Bud Norris

Norris, a starting pitcher who found a resurgence since his trade to Baltimore from Houston, has a similar story to Weaver. Norris went 15-8 with a 3.65 ERA, but his FIP told a different story being 57 points higher at 4.22. As the astute may suspect, his BABIP against was far too low which is what accounts for that difference. The BABIP was a miniscule .280 compared to his BABIP the year before of over .330. He got lucky in 2014. He allows a higher contact rate than the average pitcher and walked 2.8 batters per 9 innings last year despite a career mark of 3.5. I expect Norris to revert back to his normal self and land his ERA above 4.00, closer to his career mark of 4.13.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Ryu's 14-7, 3.38 ERA is deceiving as 4 of his 26 starts were against the terrible Padres offense of which he allowed only 2 runs total in all of those outings. This year will be different, for starters, after the Padres retooled their lineup with some studs. Ryu's last start may be a sign of wear and tear, when he allowed 5 hits and 4 earned runs in the 1 inning he pitched at San Francisco. Ryu allowed only a 3.8% HR/FB ratio which is likely to increase this year. He also allowed a hit an inning and a high rate of 26% line drives. I think duplication of the 14-7, 3.38 ERA season of 2014 is unlikely.

Matt Shoemaker

Somehow, Shoemaker won 16 of his 20 starts in his rookie year in 2014 with these numbers - 3.04 ERA/.241 BAA/1.07 WHIP. Yet, before that, he amassed pedestrian numbers in the minor leagues - 4.52 ERA/.280 BAA/1.36 WHIP. How did he do it? Well he had an unrealistically low .289 BABIP against him. As for the wins, Shoemaker had tremendous run support - 5.6 support runs scored per 27 outs while he was in the game (the league average was only 4.0). I think Shoemaker regresses back to his 4.50 minor league numbers now that teams actually have some video and scouting reports on him.

Rick Porcello

Porcello has had the advantages of Comerica Park in Detroit, but has to now pitch at Fenway. All signs point to a struggle. He allows more than a hit per inning pitched. Also his career batting average against is not good at over .280. Porcello strikes out only 5.5 batters per nine innings so expect all of those batted balls to find their way for base hits. He could be a major bust this year for Boston.



Masahiro Tanaka, Jacob deGrom, Michael Wacha, C.C. Sabathia, Joe Nathan, Huston Street, James Shields, Doug Fister, Sonny Gray, Matt Garza


Fielder Independent Pitching came about because ERA does not tell the whole story. FIP is a statistic that basically tells us what a pitcher's ERA SHOULD be. FIP is calculated with this formula: FIP = ((13*HR)+(3*(BB+HBP))-(2*K))/IP + constant and the constant is calculated with this formula: FIP Constant = lgERA - (((13*lgHR)+(3*(lgBB+lgHBP))-(2*lgK))/lgIP). In English, FIP means is the ERA a pitcher would have had if he suffered the league average results on balls in play, which eliminates the effect of fielders and luck. This is useful because fielders and luck are out of the pitcher's control.

If FIP is what an ERA should be, we can check whose FIP was much higher than their ERA to find bust candidates. These pitchers have falsely deflated ERAs that tend to revert back to what they should be (the FIP). So, here is a table of the pitchers with the biggest difference in FIP-ERA in the 2014 season. Pitchers must have pitched at least 100 IP. The guys at the top are bust and regression candidates.

Miguel Gonzalez3.234.89-1.67
Doug Fister2.413.93-1.52
Josh Beckett2.884.33-1.46
Chris Young3.655.02-1.36
Danny Duffy2.533.83-1.30
Edinson Volquez3.044.15-1.11
Johnny Cueto2.253.30-1.05
Henderson Alvarez2.653.58-0.93
Alfredo Simon3.444.33-0.90
Shelby Miller3.744.54-0.80
Roberto Hernandez4.104.85-0.75
Chris Tillman3.344.01-0.67
Nick Tepesch4.365.01-0.65
Tanner Roark2.853.47-0.62
R.A. Dickey3.714.32-0.61
Jered Weaver3.594.19-0.61
Lance Lynn2.743.35-0.61
Cole Hamels2.463.07-0.61
Julio Teheran2.893.49-0.60
Vance Worley2.853.44-0.59
Wily Peralta3.534.11-0.58
Bud Norris3.654.22-0.57
Hector Santiago3.754.29-0.54
Andrew Cashner2.553.09-0.54
Drew Smyly3.243.77-0.53
David Buchanan3.754.27-0.52
Marco Estrada4.364.88-0.52
Dillon Gee4.004.52-0.52
Tommy Milone4.194.69-0.50
Adam Wainwright2.382.88-0.50
Alex Wood2.783.25-0.48
Jeff Locke3.914.37-0.46
Jason Hammel3.473.92-0.45
Tyson Ross2.813.24-0.44
Jesse Chavez3.453.89-0.44
Yovani Gallardo3.513.94-0.43
Felix Hernandez2.142.56-0.42
Josh Collmenter3.463.87-0.41
Kyle Lohse3.543.95-0.41
Yordano Ventura3.203.60-0.41
Mat Latos3.253.65-0.40
Chris Sale2.172.57-0.40
Nick Martinez4.554.94-0.39
Jake Peavy3.734.11-0.38
James Shields3.213.59-0.38
Sonny Gray3.083.46-0.38
Collin McHugh2.733.11-0.37
Scott Feldman3.744.11-0.37
Alex Cobb2.873.23-0.36
Wei-Yin Chen3.543.89-0.35

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