HEAD-TO-HEAD: Grading On a Curve—2012 Preseason

Introduction

In 2009 we introduced the concept of grading the respective skills of hitters and pitchers on a curve. The premise is that certain skill statistics and counting statistics are individually graded using the average and standard deviation for each category. Within each category, grades of 4.0 to 0.0 (similar to an A-F range) are assigned based upon the standard deviations, and the aggregate of the individual categories are used to assign relative values for Head-to-Head (H2H) 5x5 leagues. The sum of the categories is multiplied by 20 (for hitters) and 25 (for pitchers) to create a 0-100 scale. This article will examine the projected 2012 statistics from BaseballHQ.com, specifically the grades for hitters, starting pitchers and relief pitchers.

Hitters

The four skill statistics that are measured for hitters are: walk rate (bb%), contact rate (ct%), linear weighted power index (PX), and speed score index (Spd). The one counting statistic that is measured for hitters is plate appearances (PA). To minimize the effects of outliers, hitters who are not expected to acquire 162 plate appearances this season are not included in this sample.

Averages and Standard Deviations

There are 396 hitters who are expected to make at least 162 plate appearances this season. The average number of plate appearances among these hitters is 440 with a standard deviation of 159. The average bb% is 8% with a standard deviation of 3%. The average ct% is 80% with a standard deviation of 6%. The average PX is 99 with a standard deviation of 34. Finally, the average Spd score is 91 with a standard deviation of 26.

The Results

When all five categories are graded and aggregated, the list of leaders contains some interesting names among the perennial All-Stars:

Player               PA    GR  bb%    GR  ct%    GR  PX    GR  Spd   GR  TOT
==================   ===   ==  ====   ==  ====   ==  ===   ==  ===   ==  ===
Cabrera, Miguel      680   4   0.14   4   0.83   3   161   4    62   1   80
Ackley, Dustin       612   3   0.11   3   0.84   3    87   2   155   4   75
Bautista, Jose       646   3   0.17   4   0.78   2   168   4    90   2   75
Braun, Ryan          646   3   0.08   2   0.83   3   156   4   105   3   75
Longoria, Evan       680   4   0.12   3   0.79   2   153   4    80   2   75
Pujols, Albert       646   3   0.12   3   0.90   4   151   4    67   1   75
Reyes, Jose          578   3   0.08   2   0.90   4   103   2   154   4   75
Beltran, Carlos      510   2   0.13   4   0.83   3   140   3    89   2   70
Fielder, Prince      680   4   0.15   4   0.82   2   159   4    33   0   70
Fowler, Dexter       612   3   0.12   3   0.74   1   131   3   153   4   70
Granderson, Curtis   646   3   0.11   3   0.74   1   162   4   121   3   70
Hart, Corey          578   3   0.08   2   0.77   2   151   4   107   3   70
Jones, Chipper       476   2   0.13   4   0.83   3   124   3    79   2   70
Kinsler, Ian         612   3   0.12   3   0.87   3   120   3    98   2   70
McCutchen, Andrew    612   3   0.12   3   0.80   2   130   3   117   3   70
Ortiz, David         578   3   0.14   4   0.79   2   155   4    62   1   70
Pedroia, Dustin      646   3   0.11   3   0.88   3    99   2   107   3   70
Tulowitzki, Troy     612   3   0.10   3   0.82   2   155   4    85   2   70
Upton, Justin        646   3   0.10   3   0.75   1   158   4   115   3   70
Utley, Chase         612   3   0.11   3   0.86   3   115   2   113   3   70
Victorino, Shane     646   3   0.09   2   0.88   3   114   2   138   4   70
Votto, Joey          646   3   0.14   4   0.78   2   161   4    77   1   70
Youkilis, Kevin      578   3   0.13   4   0.78   2   145   3    80   2   70
Zobrist, Ben         646   3   0.13   4   0.79   2   134   3    98   2   70
Cano, Robinson       680   4   0.07   1   0.86   3   134   3    87   2   65
Castro, Starlin      646   3   0.05   1   0.86   3    83   2   135   4   65
Davis, Ike           544   3   0.11   3   0.72   1   158   4    88   2   65
Escobar, Yunel       612   3   0.10   3   0.87   3    69   1   115   3   65
Gardner, Brett       578   3   0.11   3   0.81   2    63   1   156   4   65
Goldschmidt, Paul    578   3   0.13   4   0.69   0   153   4    80   2   65
Gonzalez, Adrian     646   3   0.13   4   0.80   2   143   3    67   1   65
Gonzalez, Carlos     612   3   0.08   2   0.78   2   158   4    95   2   65
Hamilton, Josh       544   3   0.08   2   0.80   2   152   4    86   2   65
Heyward, Jason       544   3   0.13   4   0.78   2   110   2    85   2   65
Holliday, Matt       612   3   0.11   3   0.81   2   153   4    70   1   65
Jennings, Desmond    646   3   0.10   3   0.78   2    75   1   166   4   65
Johnson, Kelly       578   3   0.11   3   0.74   1   121   3   109   3   65
Kemp, Matt           646   3   0.09   2   0.74   1   160   4   104   3   65
Lawrie, Brett        612   3   0.07   1   0.78   2   127   3   150   4   65
Lee, Carlos          612   3   0.08   2   0.90   4   117   3    57   1   65
Lowrie, Jed          510   2   0.10   3   0.79   2    89   2   131   4   65
Markakis, Nick       612   3   0.10   3   0.86   3    83   2    89   2   65
Morrison, Logan      578   3   0.12   3   0.81   2   126   3    81   2   65
Pence, Hunter        646   3   0.08   2   0.81   2   134   3   116   3   65
Santana, Carlos      612   3   0.16   4   0.77   2   135   3    69   1   65
Scutaro, Marco       544   3   0.09   2   0.90   4    83   2    95   2   65
Stanton, Mike        646   3   0.11   3   0.68   0   204   4   105   3   65
Suzuki, Ichiro       680   4   0.05   1   0.89   4    43   0   131   4   65
Upton, B.J.          612   3   0.11   3   0.71   1   120   3   126   3   65
Young, Michael       680   4   0.07   1   0.86   3    96   2   105   3   65
Zimmerman, Ryan      646   3   0.10   3   0.81   2   117   3    96   2   65

One does not need to subscribe to a premium fantasy site to be told to draft Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, or Evan Longoria. However, the grading system looks favorably upon young hitters such as Dustin Ackley, Paul Goldschmidt, Desmond Jennings, and Dexter Fowler, who was featured prominently in Ron Shandler’s most recent Mayberry Method column.

Pitchers

The three statistical categories that are measured for all pitchers are: Dominance Rate (Dom), Command Ratio (Cmd), and Groundball Percentage (GB%). The one counting statistic that is measured for all pitchers is Innings Pitched (IP). As with hitters—to minimize the effects of outlying samples—starting pitchers who are not expected to acquire 130 innings, and relief pitchers who are not expected to acquire 50 innings this season are not included.

Averages and Standard Deviations

There are 152 starting pitchers who are expected to accumulate 130 innings this season. The average number of innings pitched among these starters is 180 with a standard deviation of 24. The average Dom rate is 7.0 with a standard deviation of 1.3. The average Cmd ratio is 2.6 with a standard deviation of 0.8. The average GB% is 43% with a standard deviation of 9%.

Further, there are 193 relief pitchers who are expected to pitch 50 innings this season. The average number of innings pitched among these relievers is 63 with a standard deviation of 8. The average Dom rate is 7.9 with a standard deviation of 1.8. The average Cmd ratio is 2.5 with a standard deviation of 1.0. The average GB% is 41% with a standard deviation of 14%.

The Results – Starting Pitchers

The aggregate grades for the leaders among starting pitchers are illustrated in the chart below:

Player              IP      GR   Dom   GR  Cmd    GR  G%   GR  TOT
=================   =====   ==  =====  ==  ====   ==  ==   ==  ===
Halladay, Roy       232.0   4   8.00   3   5.90   4   51   3   70
Greinke, Zack       203.0   3   9.40   4   4.10   4   45   2   65
Hernandez, Felix    239.0   4   8.40   3   3.30   3   53   3   65
Kershaw, Clayton    218.0   4   9.30   4   3.10   3   42   2   65
Lee, Cliff          232.0   4   8.30   3   5.70   4   44   2   65
Verlander, Justin   232.0   4   9.00   4   3.70   3   40   2   65
Gallardo, Yovani    203.0   3   9.40   4   3.40   3   45   2   60
Garza, Matt         218.0   4   8.50   3   3.10   3   42   2   60
Hamels, Cole        203.0   3   8.30   3   3.90   4   47   2   60
Haren, Dan          210.0   3   7.80   3   5.10   4   42   2   60
Lincecum, Tim       210.0   3   9.50   4   2.80   2   48   3   60
Sabathia, CC        232.0   4   8.50   3   3.50   3   47   2   60
Beckett, Josh       210.0   3   8.40   3   3.40   3   43   2   55
Gonzalez, Gio       203.0   3   8.70   3   2.20   2   48   3   55
Jimenez, Ubaldo     203.0   3   8.50   3   2.30   2   49   3   55
Latos, Mat          203.0   3   8.40   3   3.30   3   43   2   55
Lester, Jon         210.0   3   8.80   3   2.50   2   50   3   55
Price, David        210.0   3   8.20   3   3.10   3   44   2   55
Shields, James      210.0   3   8.20   3   3.70   3   44   2   55
Wilson, C.J.        210.0   3   8.80   3   2.80   2   50   3   55
Bard, Daniel        152.0   1   9.10   4   2.50   2   49   3   50
Beachy, Brandon     189.0   2   9.60   4   3.30   3   34   1   50
Bumgarner, Madison  203.0   3   7.30   2   3.40   3   46   2   50
Carpenter, Chris    203.0   3   7.10   2   2.90   2   49   3   50
Cueto, Johnny       203.0   3   6.60   2   2.40   2   48   3   50
Dempster, Ryan      210.0   3   8.40   3   2.30   2   45   2   50
Floyd, Gavin        203.0   3   7.20   2   3.00   3   45   2   50
Hanson, Tommy       174.0   2   9.10   4   3.10   3   38   1   50
Hudson, Daniel      203.0   3   7.60   2   3.10   3   40   2   50
Johnson, Josh       145.0   1   8.10   3   3.20   3   49   3   50
Lewis, Colby        196.0   3   8.10   3   3.40   3   36   1   50
Lilly, Ted          196.0   3   7.70   3   3.30   3   32   1   50
Luebke, Cory        203.0   3   8.10   3   2.90   2   41   2   50
Moore, Matt         167.0   1  10.60   4   3.40   3   42   2   50
Morrow, Brandon     196.0   3   9.80   4   2.40   2   37   1   50
Peavy, Jake         174.0   2   7.80   3   3.30   3   40   2   50
Pineda, Michael     174.0   2   8.60   3   3.40   3   39   2   50
Sale, Chris         145.0   1   9.40   4   2.60   2   50   3   50
Scherzer, Max       203.0   3   8.40   3   2.90   2   41   2   50
Weaver, Jered       210.0   3   7.90   3   3.40   3   33   1   50
Baker, Scott        174.0   2   7.50   2   4.00   4   34   1   45
Blanton, Joe        174.0   2   7.50   2   3.10   3   47   2   45
Buchholz, Clay      196.0   3   6.40   2   1.90   1   51   3   45
Burnett, A.J.       174.0   2   8.10   3   2.10   1   48   3   45
Cain, Matt          210.0   3   7.20   2   2.60   2   40   2   45
Danks, John         203.0   3   7.10   2   2.90   2   44   2   45
Fister, Doug        203.0   3   5.90   1   3.60   3   47   2   45
Garcia, Jaime       189.0   2   7.10   2   2.40   2   54   3   45
Holland, Derek      196.0   3   7.30   2   2.40   2   45   2   45
Kennedy, Ian        203.0   3   7.90   3   2.80   2   38   1   45

Again, it requires no imagination to draft Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez or Justin Verlander.  Less famous players such as Madison Bumgarner, Gio Gonzalez and Cory Luebke could be intriguing picks at much lower prices/draft slots.

The Results – Relief Pitchers

Finally, the aggregate grades for the leaders among relief pitchers:

Player               IP     GR   Dom   GR  Cmd    GR  G%   GR  TOT
==================   ====   ==  =====  ==  ====   ==  ==   ==  ===
Belisle, Matt        73.0   3    7.20  2   4.10   4   51   3   60
Hanrahan, Joel       73.0   3    9.50  3   3.10   3   49   3   60
Kimbrel, Craig       73.0   3   13.40  4   3.40   3   43   2   60
Madson, Ryan         65.0   2    9.60  3   4.10   4   48   3   60
Marshall, Sean       73.0   3    9.10  3   3.70   3   54   3   60
Papelbon, Jonathan   65.0   2   12.30  4   5.20   4   37   2   60
Venters, Jonny       73.0   3    9.40  3   2.00   2   70   4   60
Adams, Mike          73.0   3    9.40  3   3.80   3   45   2   55
Axford, John         65.0   2   10.70  4   2.90   2   48   3   55
Chapman, Aroldis     87.0   4    9.90  3   1.70   1   53   3   55
Francisco, Frank     73.0   3   10.40  3   3.20   3   37   2   55
Marmol, Carlos       73.0   3   12.70  4   2.10   2   38   2   55
Motte, Jason         73.0   3    8.80  3   3.20   3   41   2   55
Mujica, Edward       73.0   3    7.80  2   4.90   4   45   2   55
Pestano, Vinnie      73.0   3   10.40  3   3.10   3   39   2   55
Robertson, David     73.0   3   11.70  4   2.60   2   42   2   55
Romo, Sergio         65.0   2   11.60  4   7.60   4   34   1   55
Storen, Drew         73.0   3    8.80  3   3.40   3   44   2   55
Balfour, Grant       65.0   2    9.00  3   3.00   3   35   2   50
Benoit, Joaquin      65.0   2    9.80  3   3.70   3   36   2   50
Betancourt, Rafael   58.0   1   11.00  4   7.90   4   29   1   50
Brothers, Rex        65.0   2   11.40  4   2.80   2   46   2   50
Clippard, Tyler      73.0   3    9.90  3   3.00   3   24   1   50
Crain, Jesse         73.0   3    8.90  3   2.10   2   37   2   50
Estrada, Marco       87.0   4    7.70  2   2.70   2   40   2   50
Farnsworth, Kyle     65.0   2    8.90  3   3.20   3   45   2   50
Holland, Greg        73.0   3    9.00  3   2.40   2   43   2   50
League, Brandon      65.0   2    7.10  2   3.00   3   59   3   50
Lopez, Wilton        73.0   3    6.30  1   3.90   3   56   3   50
Martinez, Cristhian  73.0   3    6.30  1   3.20   3   51   3   50
Medlen, Kris         73.0   3    7.80  2   3.30   3   42   2   50
Nathan, Joe          65.0   2    9.40  3   3.40   3   38   2   50
Noesi, Hector        87.0   4    7.30  2   2.60   2   42   2   50
O Flaherty, Eric     73.0   3    7.40  2   2.50   2   55   3   50
Parnell, Bobby       73.0   3    8.50  2   2.20   2   50   3   50
Putz, J.J.           58.0   1    9.90  3   4.00   4   43   2   50
Rivera, Mariano      58.0   1    8.70  2   5.60   4   50   3   50
Santos, Sergio       58.0   1   12.00  4   3.20   3   43   2   50
Soria, Joakim        58.0   1    9.80  3   4.20   4   42   2   50
Uehara, Koji         58.0   1   10.60  4   5.20   4   29   1   50
Valverde, Jose       73.0   3    9.00  3   2.20   2   45   2   50

Note the presence of relief pitchers that are not guaranteed closing roles heading into the 2012 season such as Matt Belisle, Jonny Venters, and Mike Adams.  Further, the Cincinnati Reds appear to have an embarrassment of riches with Ryan Madson, Sean Marshall and Aroldis Chapman.

Conclusion

Since the 2012 season is yet to be played, it is certain that these lists will look different at the end of the year. In the meantime, H2H owners should constantly evaluate the skills of the players on their rosters, as well as the skills of players on the waiver wire and on their competitors' teams. While skills sets are no guarantee of future success, the likelihood of highly skilled players succeeding more than their peers when given enough playing time is very good. Further, roles among relief pitchers seem to be more fluid than those of other positions. Savvy H2H owners will heed the HQ maxim, "Roster skills, not roles," and will reap the benefits that "under the radar" high-skill middle relievers can bring to their teams.

Pay attention to playing time battles during spring training, and prepare to adjust your strategy as needed.  Good luck to everyone this year, and happy drafting!


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.